Category: Gerald Horne
LIVE: Historian Gerald Horne on Trump’s Decision to End DACA and Recovery After Harvey
| September 6, 2017 | 12:44 pm | Donald Trump, Gerald Horne | 1 Comment

‘$64 question: Where is US evidence Assad behind Idlib chemical attack?’
‘$64 question: Where is US evidence Assad behind Idlib chemical attack?’
Trump’s ‘Wag the dog’ gambit in Syria echoes the 1983 Reagan invasion of Grenada to distract attention from the tragedy of US marines being blown up in Lebanon. It is also a signal to China and Iran, says historian Gerald Horne.

The US says its missile strike on the Syrian airbase was in retaliation for the chemical attack in Idlib province which killed scores of civilians on Tuesday. However, Damascus firmly rejects any involvement.

America’s UN envoy Nikki Haley held up images, purporting to show child victims of the chemical incident. She said it bears all the hallmarks of the Assad regime’s use of chemicals.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that no probe into Syrian government involvement in the Idlib attack had been conducted yet. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova pointed out that, despite the US calling for an investigation, the country then went on to destroy the planes they wanted to investigate, adding that it has nothing to do with establishing the truth.

The US ambassador to the UN insists though that the evidence exists.

RT: Nikki Haley referred to “classified” evidence proving that Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical incident in Idlib province. If they really have this evidence, why do you think they are withholding it from the UN?

Gerald Horne: That is the $64 question. It reminds us that after the last chemical attack in August 2013, the highly regarded journalist in the US Seymour Hersh did an investigation which pointed to the culprits in that particular attack was not the Damascus regime or President Assad but in fact, the rebels assisted by their external allies. Then, of course, there is a legal question. That is to say, where the UN resolution that authorized this attack on Syria is? I take it that there was no imminent threat of a Syrian attack on the US. So, I am wondering what is the legal justification in international law for the US attack in Syria. Then there is the question of domestic law. That is to say the US Constitution gives Congress the right and the authority to allow the US to go to war, there is no existing credible resolution from Congress that would have authorized this attack on Syria. And then there is a political question. It is well-known Trump was facing a range of scandals, and it is also well-known that there is a history of US presidents facing difficulties at home waging war abroad. This was the plot of the widely popular movie of 1997 called Wag the Dog and certain pundits are calling this the ‘Wag the Dog’ gambit by Mr. Trump. And I also recall that in 1983, the day after US marines were blown up in Lebanon, Ronald Reagan, the US president invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada to distract attention from that tragedy. This attack on Syria has echoes of 1983.

RT: Despite the bombardment, the al-Shayrat base is still functional, and planes have been taking off from there. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s a “serious mistake”. What’s the logic behind that? Should Assad be getting permission from Washington to use his own base in his own country?

GH: Obviously, that is ridiculous and ludicrous, but we have to keep our eye on the ball and recognize that there is a larger game at play. Keep in mind that there had been repeated confrontations in the first few months of 2017 between Iranian speed boats and US vessels in the Persian Gulf. It is no secret Mr. Trump is hostile to the Iranian regime. It is no secret that he would like to see regime change in Tehran. And since Iran is a major supporter of the Damascus-based regime, it seems to me that these missiles aimed at Damascus were also incidentally aimed at Tehran. Likewise, I don’t find it coincidental or accidental that President Xi Jinping was in Florida at the same time that Mr. Trump authorized this attack on Syria. Not only because Mr. Trump was placing pressure on China to place pressure on its ally in North Korea…But also there is a lot of hysteria in the US about the rise of China. And this muscle-flexing on the part of Mr. Trump was also a signal to China just as in 1999 the US “accidently” attacked the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade as a way to give a signal, not so subtle, to China.

Iranian political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi, commented on the US ambassador to the UN’s statement that the US needs to “get the Iranian influence out” of Syria: “I could only conjecture that she means the US is going to increase its creeping intervention inside Syria and throw its weight behind various rebel groups in order to roll back against what the Syrian government, with the backing of Russia and Iran, has made over the past two years.”

“This reflects the roll-backing strategy on the part of the US that is very unfortunate because it transpires at a very delicate time in the peace process when the talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Astana are proceeding as well as a parallel track in the European capitals,” he continued.

In Afrasiabi’s view, the US’ attack on the Syrian airbase “was meant to torpedo the peace process” which is part of the strategy “held by the leadership in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.”

“They see growing Iranian influence, and they want to reverse that,” Afrasiabi told RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

‘Dakota pipeline is about big money, not indigenous people rights’

Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline stand-off with police in this aerial photo of Highway 1806 and County Road 134 near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., October 27, 2016. © Morton County Sheriff's Office
When it comes to the rights of people of color in the US, government officials often side with corporations and Wall Street, said Solomon Comissiong, founder of the Your World News’ Media Collective. The same is happening with North Dakota protests, he added.

At least 141 Native Americans and other protesters were arrested in North Dakota in a clash with heavily armed US police officers. Demonstrators were camping on private grounds in an effort to halt the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said pepper spray and armored vehicles were used to scatter the protesters.

The demonstrations against the construction of the pipeline have been going on for months, and at times have been dealt with violently by police. However, the issue has received little media attention. RT asked analysts why that could be.

“When it comes to people’s rights, especially indigenous rights, and rights of people of color in this country, the rights of poor people, that the government – whether it’s local governments, state governments, or the national government – often times they side with corporations, with finance capital, Wall Street. So I think that is what’s going on right now. They are siding with this large company, this corporation,” said Solomon Comissiong, founder of Your World News’ Media Collective.

Authorities are “marginalizing” rights of indigenous people “whose land it is” and it was theirs in the first place before it “was ripped away from them, when this country was stolen from them.”

“It comes down to big money – it doesn’t come down to their rights. It’s par for the course when it comes to the government, government officials, and the non-action that they are taking in terms of not protecting the rights of these indigenous people in the first place,” Comissiong told RT.

Native American resistance growing stronger

The Dakota Access pipeline protest was largely ignored by the mainstream media because “it conflicts with the dominant narrative of the media, which likes to present this false allegation that Native Americans have been extinguished in this country,” said historian Gerald Horne.

However, he said, Native American resistance is growing stronger by the day.

“One of the striking characteristics of what’s happening in North Dakota is that not only has the Standing Rock Sioux nation rallied to this cause, but Native Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific have all descended upon North Dakota in order to express solidarity. This is a very important political development that the mainstream media would prefer to ignore,” Horne added.

Police used equipment same to that in Iraq, Afghanistan

William Griffin, of the Veterans for Peace organization, visited Standing Rocks a week before the protests broke out.

“The protests have been going on more than a week, for months now. They all have been nonviolent; peaceful prayer ceremonies showing nonviolent direct action against this pipeline. I was there for 11 days; I just got back a week ago. Never did I see any weapons, never did I see any drugs; everyone called each other ‘brother’ or ‘sister’,” he told RT.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray and armored vehicles while dispersing protesters at Standing Rock.

“This is a part of the national problem we have in the US – the militarization of police forces. Me being an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, I recognize a lot of the same equipment that I used in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is built and made for combat zones – when you’re fighting an armed enemy. Now, again these people were peaceful, nonviolent, they have no guns on them – I see MRAPs – Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles out there; I see officers with military grade body armor, rifles,” Griffin said.

The campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn, New York, was taken over Thursday by protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline who demanded the Democratic presidential candidate openly takes a position on the matter.

“There’ve been very few leaders in this country to abide and respect the wishes and lawful treaties of the Native Americans. And I would love to see Hillary Clinton and I call her out to speak about this issue; even visit and speak with the Natives. But I think we all know that it is highly doubtful that she will even mention this and anything anytime soon,” Griffin told RT.

Chance for Obama to leave a better legacy

What is needed to address the situation “is real leadership,” said Elizabeth Murray, veteran intelligence professional, writer and activist. Now that Obama is leaving office soon and is concerned about his legacy, this would be an opportunity for his administration to step up and cancel the pipeline project, she added.

“The chief of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe issued a very comprehensive media statement just today. The press release said that they continue to pray for peace; that they want the state officials to ensure that peace and justice prevail,” said Murray.

Murray said that the statement repeated its call on President Barack Obama to send observers from the Department of Justice to the Dakota Access pipeline friction areas “to make sure that people’s First Amendment rights are being respected, and to make sure that no harm is done to the people who are protecting the water for their future generations.”

“If harm comes to any of the people who have traveled from all around the world to join them in solidarity there against the Dakota Access pipeline that it would be on Obama’s watch that this happens. And that is absolutely right,” she said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

‘If elected president, Hillary Clinton plan for Syrian no-fly zone could trigger WWIII’

© Toby Melville
Talking about America’s exceptionalism, Clinton is trying to provide a rationale and an argument for US hegemony and domination of the world, says Gerald Horne, author and historian.

In an attempt to offer voters a different perspective on the United States than her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, who is pushing an “America First” platform, Clinton this week promoted the idea of the United States as the “exceptional” nation in the world.

“If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this: The United States is an exceptional nation,” Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, told a meeting of the American Legion’s national convention.

RT spoke with author and historian Gerald Horne for his opinion on these sentiments and what they mean for global politics.

RT: In her latest interview to NYT, Hillary Clinton stressed the importance of the US going as far as to call the country “exceptional” and “indispensable”. What are your thoughts on that?

Gerald Horne: Well, I would suggest that Secretary Clinton take lessons from President Barack Obama, who was asked if he believed that the United States was an exceptional country. He said yes, but he also said he’s sure that the British leadership feels that Britain is an exceptional country, that the Greek leadership feels that Greece is an exceptional country and on down the line. I think that Secretary Clinton must realize that, and so when she goes down that road, about so-called American exceptionalism, what she’s really trying to do is provide a rationale and an argument for US hegemony and US domination of the world.

RT: During one of her rallies this year the Democratic candidate explicitly accused Vladimir Putin of raising the popularity of ‘extreme nationalism’. Do you think her stance on the Russian leader goes at odds with her recent statement?

GH: She gives away the game when she talks about the so-called alliances, the military alliances, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which lost its reason for being when the Soviet Union collapsed, but continues plotting along nonetheless and is moving ever closer to the borders of Russia, which is a direct provocation. When she talks about US exceptionalism, I would also urge her to go to her history books and study about the dispossession of the Native Americans and the enslavement of the Africans, which formed the foundation of this country. If she ingested and digested those lessons, I think she would be much less inclined to talk about so-called US exceptionalism.

RT: The idea of exceptionalism is something Hillary Clinton also dismisses as a part of the US patriotism, yet many deem it to be a flimsy comparison. What’s your take on that?

GH: Well, it’s very odd for Secretary Clinton to be talking about extreme nationalism. If you read those words that forms the basis for our conversation, you could easily conclude that the word chauvinism, which is actually a French derivation, might be of US derivation. That is to say, her words reeked with US national chauvinism, so it’s rather odd that she would accuse another leader of what she is actually guilty of.

RT: Boosting patriotism through imposing the ideas of being superior to other nations seemed like a worrying trend to quite a few people on social media, with some of the users even bringing up the policies of Adolf Hitler as an example. How fair is this comparison, in your opinion?

GH: Well, to repeat the United States is an exceptional nation. It’s exceptional in its level of violence, particularly in terms of the founding of this so-called republic. It’s exceptional in its level of racism, particularly towards black people as reflected in police killings that have pot marked the landscape on a regular basis for months if not years now, so yes, she is correct when she talks about US exceptionalism. The problem is that she’s looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

RT: The US exceptionalism can be also seen through the role of the “international police” the country has long assumed.

GH: Let’s put it this way. Like many people in North America right now, I’m very much concerned about the prospect of war right now. When Secretary Clinton talks about establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, she is basically saying that if she’s sworn in to the highest office in the land, in January 2017, she will be challenging Russian jets over Syria. This is a direct provocation. It could easily devolve into World War III. I’m very much concerned about the hawkish language coming out of Washington that in a very cavalier fashion is talking about confronting and challenging Moscow, a major nuclear power. This is insanity. This is lunacy. This is extremely dangerous.

The United States styles itself as the police officer of planet Earth. The problem is no one has appointed the United States to be the police officer of planet Earth. I would advise Secretary Clinton as I would advise others in Washington that they should take their demands and their claims to the United Nations Security Council and United Nations New York and hash them out there, and come to a compromise, rather than unilaterally seeking to impose their diktat all over the world, most recently in Syria.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.