Black America, an America so different from White America that it might as well be in another continent, votes overwhelmingly for the first black president, who gets inaugurated in front of thousands of his teary eyed supporters, moves into the White House and is never seen again by them, for over 5 years. Could it be his “blackness” faded away and disappeared among all the white billionaire bankers and CEO’s he mingled with? I don’t know. Maybe. But, let’s not expect too much of the man. He had a massive and global surveillance program to lead, people to pick from his “kill list” to assassinate, a drone program to run in several countries, wars to start, lawsuits to file on behalf of Monsanto and a new Transpacific Partnership “free trade” agreement to negotiate for corporations so participating nations won’t be able to ban importing of genetically modified food from the US or to develop their own cheap drugs for their patients. And if all that wasn’t enough, he also had to punish leakers, cut food stamps for the poor and give tax cuts to the rich.
But, don’t think he forgot about the millions of poor and minorities who voted for him. He really did all that for them, even though it may not look like it when the official – official -unemployment rate among young black men is 38% – not counting those who are beaten and incarcerated or shot and killed – and poverty is at a 50 year high, among those teary eyed people. So, maybe those tears didn’t mean what we all thought, after all.
But, no worries. Obama has not forgotten about his people. He brought some young black men to the White House and generously offered them his best and heartfelt advice, with Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly in attendance. He told them he, too, did bad things when he was their age, but look where he is now. He told them to stay in school, and not get involved with crime, so they won’t end up in jail. That’s right. That’s the problem, according to Obama: wrong family upbringing, lack of parental supervision and wrong choices. Policy and priorities had nothing to do with it. Bill O’Reilly must have been nodding his head. And as for Reverend Sharpton, he will nod his head at Obama no matter what he says.
All day, yesterday, US TV networks were showing interviews with Ukraine protesters who were calling the government that people voted for and elected a “dictatorship” and President Viktor Yanukovych a “dictator” and that “now we’re free”. I won’t go into all the past public protests in a variety of countries whose government was acceptable to US corporate owned media, where they never interviewed or broadcast repeatedly that an elected government was a “dictatorship”. Even if they would, they’d make sure to say “this is a small group of people” or that “they don’t represent the views of the majority”, and that the government was elected into office. There are people right here in the US, too, who say President Obama is a “dictator”. Heck, some even say he’s not a legitimate president because, they claim, he wasn’t born in the US. Should foreign reporters tell their audiences that he’s a “dictator” because some say he is? But, even if they did, it wouldn’t have the same effect as it does here because, by all accounts and indications, the American people are much more influenced and their opinions are formed by corporate TV than most of the rest of the world, given the significant place TV occupies in their lives. So, when CNN or ABC or NBC or MSNBC “reports” its lies, those lies aren’t innocent and innocuous. They have political significance. There’s reason why lying to Congress, or in courts, or for that matter, to any government oversight, regulatory or law enforcement agency is considered a crime. That’s because lies have consequences.
They also have been presenting President Putin as a dictator. He may well have dictatorial tendencies, but, such general and sweeping comments in the media give the impression, purposely I believe, that he calls all the shots, himself, and make us forget that they too have a parliament. Now, let’s face it: realistically, how bad of a dictator can Putin be? He might have a “kill list” and the authority to call for anyone’s assassination? Would he decide on his own, without the parliament’s authority, to invade a country? Does he have the authority to detain his citizens, indefinitely, without any charges or trial or legal representation? Can he order a house in another country be bombed without knowing who’s in it and without knowing for certain that there may be a wedding taking place with lots of guests? Well, if all that is true, which I seriously doubt, then he’s only as much of a dictator as Obama. The media makes a huge deal about Putin’s shirtless horseback riding, or brown water coming out of water faucets in a Sochi hotel. If you want to see brown water, go to West Virginia, where the tap water is still “brown” for some 300,000 residents. Or, consider the stupid law they passed in Russia, recently, that criminalizes “homosexual propaganda to children”. But, the Arizona legislature also recently passed a law which allows businesses to refuse service to homosexuals, not to mention US close ally and friend, Saudi Arabia, and many other nations with even worse gay policies. The point is the focus that the media, in collusion with the Pentagon, chooses to put on this or that leader or country, at any given time, such as Saddam’s sword, which they used to show over and over again and again because the Pentagon was planning an invasion and wanted us to go along with it.
These things don’t happen by coincidence. The focus they place on any given leader is for a reason. And, there is no reason to believe Ukraine was an exception. In the leaked phone conversation, in which Victoria Nuland, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, said “fuck the EU”, for which she later apologized, she was discussing the future of Ukraine with U.S. Ambassador to the country. Besides, the CIA is not sent there for vacationing. They have a job to do and are in close and constant contact with the US embassy and the State Department. Generally, CIA agents, who are spies and have nothing to do with diplomacy, are sent as “embassy staff”, which by the way is against rules of international diplomacy or laws. When a CIA agent shot and killed two Pakistani citizens, a few years ago, the US State Department claimed diplomatic immunity for him and flew him home to avoid his prosecution. Back in 1979, when revolution broke out in Iran (now, that’s a revolution, if you want to know what one looks like, not some armed men fighting the police in the capital around government buildings), and protesters were about to enter the US embassy, the first thing the embassy staff did was shred their documents that would show not an institution for diplomacy and aiding its own citizens when they needed help, but, a military style spy agency with connections to local military brass and conspiracies for assassinations, bribery, threats and disinformation (the CIA jargon for lies), etc.
The point is: the State Department works closely with the CIA and they’re not there just for diplomacy. They take an active role in deciding the future of the nation for the benefit of US multinational corporations. Now, add to this mix, the Pentagon and the US corporate media that works closely with them and suddenly, a clear, but ugly and frightening picture begins to appear.
While we’ve been worrying about climate change, radiation from Damaged Japanese nuclear reactors and chemicals seeping into drinking water by oil and gas companies, the world just became a more dangerous place. First, we heard the opposition that battles the government in Ukraine, has neofascist and Nazi elements within its ranks, including in the leadership. Then, we hear the US has been involved in planning a coup with the opposition (did we really need to be told that?), even as they knew about the fascists! McCain and others travel to Ukraine to lend their support to the opposition, and the US media continues and escalates its relentless propaganda against Russia and its president, Putin. And, then, as the government in Kiev seems to be falling, one of the “rebel” leaders does what the US was hoping he wouldn’t: he gives a speech threatening the Jews and then a rabbi in Kiev tells Jews to flee the town and even the country. Replace the neofascists in Ukraine with Al Qaeda in Syria – both part of the opposition to their respective governments and both tolerated by, though embarrassment to, the US – and the similarity is striking in ways and means, though fortunately for the people of Ukraine, not nearly close in the level of devastation and deaths. As the US plays offense, now over Ukraine, and Russia, defense, another nation suffers. As Russia loses its sphere of influence, if not control, to a relentless march forward of world imperialism headed by the US, it knows, eventually, its turn will come, too. So, for now, it’s trying to slow that March and partially challenging US hegemony, from Syria to Ukraine.
So, why are the US, and in a lesser degree its European allies who follow its lead, going head to head against Russia? Why is the US going to such lengths to try and destabilize and overthrow such governments as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and if I may mention their next target Iran? (Not to mention Venezuela where leaked documents have linked the US – who else? – to recent protests). What are they after? The answer ultimately, though not always in the immediate, is economics, which for capitalist countries in their later imperialist stage of development, means profits for their corporations, which drive all the policies, anywhere and anyhow. Capital and profits must grow. Therefore, they always are looking for new markets, new cheap labor and new source of cheap resources. But, acquiring them and ensuring stable and unhindered flow of profits requires exerting control over the politics, economics, military and diplomacy of a given nation, in order to impose their economic and political policies. If an intervention isn’t for immediate economic gains, it’s for advancing their hegemony for maximum global control. Weaker nations are thus made to choose allegiance to the Empire or face its wrath. Neofascist and terrorist elements are a nuisance, but tolerable in the big picture.
It is this relentless pursuit of profits that not only impoverishes the vast majority of the world’s population, including many within the Empire, and gradually, taking back Europeans’ gains of the past, but also keeps pushing the world towards war.
But, why wouldn’t the population of the Empire rise up against all this? Why would the Empire not brainwash them so they wouldn’t?
If the deaths and injuries taking place in Ukraine are sad to watch and hear about, watching and hearing the US, and specifically, the Obama Administration’s reaction to the protests is so outrageous that it’s amusing, if also boringly predictable. It’s become like lame Hollywood movies where you can predict the ending, hardly five minutes into the film, except that they’re not nearly as amusing as Obama’s world famous hypocrisy, which he acts out impeccably. Only he can look genuine and without the slightest sign of shame, as he reads his lines, handed to him by his corporate billionaire bosses. I’ve become convinced he didn’t go to law school. He must have gone to an acting school.
His Administration keeps protesting and lamenting the harsh reaction of the police against protesters who are lobbing cocktail molotov at the police, with some even shooting live ammunition at them killing some. They’ve occupied the city hall and have taken some police officers hostage. Would Obama call on the police in US cities to refrain from harsh reactions were such violent protests to break out in US cities? Would he, if such violent protests were to take place in countries with “friendly” (read: subservient) governments, such as in Turkey? The Occupy Wall Street protesters committed none of such violent and bold actions, and still, the Homeland Security was coordinating with police departments and working with the NSA, through and with consultations at the White House, and even with consultations with the military how best to clamp down on the protests. There was even CIA participation in New York (all these were reported by some reputable news agencies). US police beat, pepper sprayed and arrested many demonstrators who were completely peaceful. Likewise, when protests broke out in Turkey, last year, or more recently in Thailand, the US didn’t admonish the police to exercise restraint. As I’ve written in previous pieces, the US police departments, such as LAPD, NYPD and CPD have at times sent their forces to other countries to train the police to better crack down on their protesters.
In Bahrain where a mass movement began protesting against the dictatorship, the Administration began sending arms, tear gas and police equipment to help crush the movement that was for justice and equality. Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US, even took it upon itself to send troops to crush the movement there! The King’s police were not only shooting and killing demonstrators, but, were also shooting at ambulances that were carrying the wounded. They were even raiding hospitals and beating and arresting nurses and doctors who were treating the wounded. Did Obama or anyone from his Administration complain about any of that? They also supported the Yemeni Kingdom against their protesters where, unlike in Ukraine, millions would pour into the streets and squares. One photo taken from the space showed the immensity of those protests and how widespread they were. Still, no word of support for the people from the Administration. Obama’s Vice President, Jo Biden, even demanded that the Kiev police pull back from the positions of the protesters who have occupied buildings and have been firing at the police (who gave them their weapons and why didn’t the Bahraini or Yemeni people get those weapons? I can’t help but wonder, since the CIA has been there in force during the last few years).
And, all this pales in comparison with the treatment that the Palestinian people have been getting everyday, for the last 65 years, not from a police force which, after all, doesn’t use heavy weapons, tanks and fighter jets, but, a brutal occupying army, armed with the most sophisticated and deadly weapons of the superpower. Knot only does Obama not shed any crocodile tears for them, after every Israeli bombing campaign that kills hundreds of people, he increases the military aid.
Ukraine, which has a long border with Russia, is seen by the US and its allies, not only as a nation to sell their products to and have their bankers and other corporations make profit, but also as a pawn in the long term strategy of offense against Russia, which is itself not viewed as a competitor, as Europe or Japan might be to US, as they all compete for market share and trade advantage, but as a strategic adversary to try to weaken and eventually make subservient to their agenda for global domination for profits. That’s also the reason why the US empire kept insisting on placing missile shield in Poland and Romania facing Russia to eliminate its ability to strike back, in the event of a US first strike which in their calculation might eventually come. For Russia, on the other hand, Ukraine is an important piece of their defense against advancing US imperialism at their borders, imperialism which has already won over some nations such as Georgia and Azerbaijan and is eyeing others. The “Orange Revolution” which brought a pro-US government to power in Kiev, a few years ago, was a big setback to Russia and a strategic victory for US and its European allies.
A membership in European Union which the protesters want for Ukraine and especially one in NATO that could come later, would secure that victory for the West, a victory that was cast in doubt when the pro-West government was discredited and replaced. The current president, Viktor Yanukovych ditched an offer by the European Union for an International Monetary Fund. (IMF) loan and instead took Russia’s offer which included lowering the price of gas it imports from Russia by a third which Ukraine relies on, in addition to Russia’s purchase of $17 billion of Ukraine’s government bond, in order to avoid defaulting on its loans and going bankrupt, as was predicted to take place next year.
Protesters are angry at the government for ditching the EU offer for Russia’s which means distancing from European imperialism for a closer ties with Russia. Not to defend Russia or to imply that theirs is out of the kindness of their hearts, but, closer relations to European and US imperialism will not be any better and can in fact mean worsening of conditions and more impoverishment of Ukrainian people. Though it may be hard to side with Russia, it’s even harder to side with US and European Union, if our concern is for the people of Ukraine.
Let’s face it: the “Stand Your Ground” law is basically a legal cover for and an invitation to white racist men with guns to shoot and kill young black men. And, don’t tell me that those who wrote the law didn’t know how it would be interpreted or that they didn’t mean it as such. They damn well knew and that was the purpose of it.
The law basically says that if you encounter someone who threatens you, or as it’s usually interpreted by jurors, if you feel threatened, justifiably or not, you can “stand your ground”, instead of walking away from the perceived “threat”, which often is nothing but a false perception and which you might otherwise do if you’re so afraid or to simply avoid escalation. And, who more than armed white men would be afraid of unarmed teenaged black boys, so afraid in fact that they have to shoot and kill them?
The “mistake” Mr. Dunn made was to shoot at the SUV in which three other boys were sitting, too whom he couldn’t claim any threat from since they didn’t tell him off. Jordan did and that was enough for him to feel threatened and act on “stand your ground” to “defend himself”. Had he not shot at the vehicle, or had Jordan been alone, he would not have faced the attempted murder charges and in the worst case, he would have faced a hung jury, with most agreeing with the claim of “self-defense”, as they did on the murder charge.
It doesn’t surprise me that most white jurors could relate to a big armed man fearing for his life when one or a few black kids play loud “thug music” and must be “up to no good” (George Zimmerman) and must be “bad” (Michael Dunn), without knowing them. Most white jurors, too, know that black teenagers must be bad and up to no good, and so dangerous that you have no choice, but to shoot and kill them. But, Mr. Dunn didn’t just shoot at Jordan who, as he claims, posed a “threat”; he shot 10 rounds, 3 of which killed Jordan, and continued to shoot even while they were fleeing from him. The jury separated the killing of Jordan which was supposedly for self-defense from his continued shooting at the vehicle which obviously could not have been for self-defense. The “Stand Your Ground” law doesn’t just give cover to white men with guns to kill black teenagers; it also gives the juries in such cases the pretext to acquit the killer.
But, that’s not all; the courts taking up these cases also contribute to these incomprehensible outcomes by pretending that race is not a factor and forbidding even its mention, giving more ammunition to white jurors to dismiss the real issue which is at the very heart of such tragedies.
As the protests in Kiev, Ukraine, turn violent and deadly and begin to look more like a civil war, bringing to mind all past CIA-instigated protests against “unfriendly” governments staged to destabilize and overthrow them, three things stand out:
1. President Obama, as usual, had to, just had to, remind us of his unbelievable hypocrisy. Look, I understand he, as the leader – or CEO, if you will – of the US corporate empire, has to express condemnation against and issue warnings to any government that the US does not approve of, when that government faces protests, including even violent protests in which the police are shot at and killed and government buildings are set on fire or occupied by protesters, actions that would certainly be dealt with much more severely and brutally, were they to be committed in the US. I get that glaring double standard. But, what I don’t understand is how he can keep a straight face when he warns such “unfriendly” governments against crackdowns, while his administration has been, not quiet, mind you, but actively aiding and supporting with shipment of arms, ammunition, tear gas and police gear, the harsh and brutal crackdown on Bahrain protesters, where an uprising against the dictatorship and for social justice has been raging for 3 years. Or those by defenseless Palestinians who protest against demolition of their homes and imprisoning, torturing and killing their youth and conducting bombing raids on defenseless and heavily populated Gaza. He does have something to say there: he says: “Israel has the right to defend itself”. That’s his “warning” against “use of excessive force”, when it comes to Israel. After the last bombing campaign on Gaza, Israel received guarantees for more arms and sophisticated weapons from the US, as if as a reward! And, in Yemen, not only his administration, or shall I say the US military industrial complex led by him, has been aiding and supporting the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy movement, he’s been sending drones to attack people in the name of fighting Al Qaeda, the same Al Qaeda, by the way, that the US has been cooperating with in fighting another “unfriendly” government, namely Syria. And, he still has the gull to issue a warning to Kiev against using excessive force. Truly, one of the job requirements for US presidency must be to not show any signs of shame. That takes talent, and Obama takes the gold, hands down.
Vice President Jo Biden demanded that the police withdraw from protesters’ positions and occupied government buildings! Withdraw! Just as US police would withdraw and let Occupy Wall Street protesters occupy whatever streets and squares and buildings they wanted and where they could keep police officers as hostage, as the Ukraine protesters are doing. Yes, sure. And, of course, the FBI never even made a move on Civil Rights movement protesters! No, of course not! And, of course, we all saw how the police in most US cities quietly withdrew from Occupy protesters’ positions and let them do as they pleased! Obama warned the government to refrain from using its military to stop the protests, just as it would never occur to US policy makers to use their military to stop a movement that would challenge their corporate rule. Of course not!
2. I don’t know all the details of the deal between President Viktor Yanukovych and Putin, but, according to reports, he accepted Russia’s offer to help avoid a looming default, in leu of a deal with the European Union (EU) which would have been implemented through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and involve austerity measures in order to pay back the loans with interest, making European bankers richer, as has been done to other nations. When, such loans can’t be paid back, creditor nations, or rather their banks, end up taking real assets of the debtor nation, exasperating the situation. This isn’t speculation. It’s been done to others before.
This is what BBC quoted Prime Minister Mykola Azarov saying: “the deal with Moscow saved the country from bankruptcy. Russia has agreed to buy $15bn (11bn euros) of government bonds and slash the price of gas by about a third”. “There was no way Ukraine could have signed the EU agreement as Kiev would have had to accept unfeasibly stringent IMF conditions for economic reform, he added.
Ukraine urgently needs to cover an external funding gap of up to $17bn next year to avoid defaulting on its debts. The country relies on imports of Russian gas and some 75% of Ukraine’s engineering exports go to Russia”.
Now, I’m not saying the deal with Russia will not come with any strings attached or that Russia does not have any ulterior motives from making the generous offer, but, it probably won’t be any worse than the one offered by European imperialism. The opposition complains that ditching the deal with EU for the one with Russia will make them dependent on Russia. Ironically, independence is the last thing you get to keep in a deal with EU. The opposition wants closer ties with EU, including membership in the Union. But, that won’t make them independent or equal to German, French or British imperialists. Far from it. Just ask Greece, Ireland, Portugal Spain and Italy. The opposition has reportedly said they’re not rushing to enter NATO, but, wouldn’t that be next? And who can blame Russia for not wanting to see its neighbors, with whom it has long borders, join a military organization that acts as the rabid attack dog of Western imperialism that keeps attacking and toppling governments?
3. Whatever your position on these protests, which I wouldn’t be surprised if the CIA had a role in, one thing that’s irrefutable is that governments everywhere are vulnerable to the protests of a determined people and can and often do fall if protests continue and manage to stop business as usual. Sustained and determined protests can dismantle Congress, send judges of the Supreme Court home for good, force the president to resign, and make billionaires leave what they have and run for the border. Are you paying attention American people?