Category: Imperialism
Going Crackers Over Caracas: The War Party Demands We Fall in Line on Venezuela
A government supporter holds a heart-shaped placard decorated with an image of Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro during a rally in support of the Constitutional Assembly outside of the National Assembly building in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Going Crackers Over Caracas: The War Party Demands We Fall in Line on Venezuela

© AP Photo/ Ariana Cubillos
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Neil Clark
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Repeat after me: (by orders of the NeoCon Thought Police): “I condemn the evil dictator Nicolas Maduro and support a US-led humanitarian intervention to save the people of oil rich Venezuela! I condemn the evil dictator Nicolas Maduro…”

You might have thought that in the so-called “Free World,” people would be free to support or praise whatever governments or political systems they want to, without any serious consequences to themselves or their livelihoods. But if the country or government you want to praise is an “Official Enemy” of the western elites, it’s a very different story. The War Party’s enemies have to be ours. Yes, siree.

Think of Orwell’s 1984, and the Two Minutes Hate. Right now, it’s the former bus driver Nicolas Maduro who is playing the role of Emmanuel Goldstein — the man who we are expected to shake our fists at when we watch the “telescreen” — giving those regular “bad guys” Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin a bit of a break.

Over the last week or so there’s been a hysterical campaign to get prominent figures in Britain, who in the past had expressed their solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela — like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — to issue public denunciations. Never mind if the individuals concerned were on their summer holiday — as Jezza was. That’s no excuse.

The “Labour silence” was tantamount to treachery, the War Party cried. Cycling around Croatia in your short-sleeved white shirt, shorts and socks and admiring the beauty of the old quarter of Dubrovnik is just not on, when there’s another leftist government sitting on huge reserves (and which has friendly relations with Syria), to urgently topple.

Interestingly there have been no such calls for Tories (or Blairite Labour MPs) to break off from their vacations to denounce the genuinely undemocratic leadership of Saudi Arabia or NATO ally Erdogan in Turkey, who’s has a right old crackdown since the attempt to topple him in a coup last year failed. And the people demanding condemnations of Venezuela for being a “dictatorship” have been very quiet about the eye-catching 98.63% vote achieved by Tony Blair’s friend Paul Kagame in Rwanda earlier in August.

The neocon Establishment — with onion slices concealed in their handkerchiefs — feign humanitarian concern for the plight of the masses in Venezuela, while, at the same time turn a blind eye to the devastating cholera epidemic currently spreading across war-torn Yemen. Any genuine humanitarian who cared about human suffering on this planet would put Yemen as the top of his/her concerns, but its the western bombs which are doing the damage in that country, so the War Party are very keen to divert our attention elsewhere.

Establishment-friendly media has played its full part in The Great Venezuela Inquisition. Earlier in August there was a ludicrous exchange on Newsnight, the BBC’s regime-change addicted “flagship” current affairs program, in which a Corbyn-supporting Labour MP Chris Williamson was asked by presenter Evan Davis if he was closer to Hugo Chavez or Tony Blair. That’s right. A choice between a man who worked tirelessly to help the poor and to make his country independent from the neo-colonialists and a snake oil salesman who invaded Iraq on a lie, and whose warmongering left over one million people dead.

To ask the question “Blair or Chavez?” is to answer it. No genuine socialist or progressive could possibly opt for the man who assured us Iraq had WMDs, which threatened the world and which could be activated within 45 minutes.
As part of the War Party’s propaganda campaign, the words of those who have committed the heinous “crime” of expressing support for “Chavism” have been shamefully distorted. Countering the blatant lie that multi-party Venezuela was a dictatorship, the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone pointed out that the late Hugo Chavez didn’t go around executing his enemies — the sort of thing genuine dictators do. That was twisted into headlines such as “Ken Livingstone: Venezuela Crisis due to Chavez’s failure to kill oligarchs.” Livingstone was forced to respond to the media representations of what he had actually said:

“I have not said that Hugo Chavez should have killed anyone and nor would I ever advocate it. I even dispelled this accusation in the very interview that is being extensively quoted.

“The point I was making is that, contrary to some misrepresentations, Hugo Chavez didn’t repress the former ruling elite in Venezuela.”

Even condemning “all violence” in Venezuela, as Jeremy Corbyn did after he returned from his holiday, won’t be enough to get the regime-change obsessives from snapping at your heels. Only violence carried out by government supporting forces counts. The violence carried out by opposition activists against United Socialist Party supporters, the police and the security services does not qualify. Those killed or injured in such attacks, like the young black man burned to death in early June are “un-people,” like the victims of terrorist attacks by CIA-backed “rebels” in Syria, those killed in the 2014 Odessa fire, and the 16 media workers who lost their lives when NATO bombed Serbian TV in 1999.

The double standards of the “You Must Condemn Maduro” Thought Police are truly breathtaking. Anti-government street protesters at home are routinely labeled “thugs and scum,” but violent ones, who go out on to the streets in “Official Enemy” countries to try and topple their governments are lauded. Establishment respect for “law and order” and condemnation of ”anarchy” and “mob rule” is not universal — it only applies in “approved” nations. Call for a riot in the UK, and you’ll be arrested before you have time to do your next weekly shop in Aldi, but call for one in Venezuela and you’ll probably get State Department/NED funding (that’s if you aren’t already on the CIA’s or MI6’s payroll).

If what’s playing out before our very eyes in Venezuela seems familiar then it’s not surprising. This is a movie we’ve seen many times before. Think of the “pro-democracy” US-backed anti-government protests in Yugoslavia in 2000, which toppled the Socialist-led administration there, and the “pro-democracy” US-backed-ones in Ukraine in 2014. On both occasions, the “target” governments — and their leadership — were placed in a very difficult position. If they responded to what were clear attempts to usurp power by force — by using force themselves — they knew they would be condemned by the War Party and its media stenographers as “dictators, human rights abusers, war criminals, Nazis, Stalinists” — take your pick. If they did nothing and allowed the protesters to act with total impunity, they’d lose power.

It’s important for the neocon regime changers that we don’t see the bigger picture. We’re not supposed to reflect on the millions of dollars which has poured into opposition coffers from the US —just imagine the outcry if the Venezuelan government bankrolled anti-government activists in western countries.

We’re not expected to focus either on the economic warfare that the US and the western financial/corporate elites have waged on Venezuela for the country’s refusal to toe the line. Of course, Maduro’s government has made mistakes, with the biggest being the failure to diversify the economy when oil prices were high — a point that Jeremy Corbyn made earlier. But acknowledging this is a very different thing from joining in with State Department calls for “regime change” against a legitimate and democratically elected government which still has sizable popular support.

The excellent media monitoring organization Media Lens has compared and contrasted the “deep concern” shown by War Party media propagandists for “human rights” in a “target” country, before a western-sponsored regime change takes place, and their lack of interest in the people’s plight afterwards, when things invariably get much worse. Neocon/liberal-imperialist hacks couldn’t stop writing about Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003, and the need to “liberate” its people and make the world safe from its non-existent WMDs, but after the invasion, when the country descended into total chaos and bombs were going off on a daily basis, Iraqis were of no interest to them. The papers were full of op-eds calling for “action” to save the people of Libya in early 2011, but after Gaddafi was toppled and Libya became a failed state and a jihadists playground, it all went very quiet.

The same will happen again if Maduro falls. The War Party are going crackers over Caracas only because they want Venezuela’s government forcibly removed from office. Nothing else matters to them.

If we are to issue public condemnations, then let it be of the serial warmongers and “regime-changers,” who caused so much devastation in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria — and who have the nerve to always point the finger of blame at others.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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Corbyn denies to condemn imperialist interference in Venezuela

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Corbyn denies to condemn imperialist interference in Venezuela

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/corbyn-denies-to-condemn-imperialist.html
Once an opportunist, always an opportunist. The leader of Britain’s Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn declined to take a firm and clear position about the developments in Venezuela. Instead, he condemned “violence done by all sides”, thus calling for dialogue to end civil unrest.
 
Speaking after an event in Crawley, West Sussex, Corbyn sounded more like the Pope who wishes “the end of violence”. “I’m very sad at the lives that have been lost in Venezuela” he said. “The people who have died – either those on the streets or security forces that have been attacked by people on the street – all of those lives are terrible for the loss of them” he said.
“There has to be a dialogue and a process that respects the independence of the judiciary and respects the human rights of all” said Corbyn. Asked by the reporters whether he condemned Maduro’s actions, Corbyn said: “What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this. Violence is not going to solve the issue”.
Apparently, Mr.Corbyn didn’t find a single word to say about the- led by the U.S.- imperialist interference in Venezuela. A supposed supporter of Venezuela’s Bolivarian process, Corbyn decided to remain silent about the threats of the U.S. government against Venezuela and the imperialist plans for regime overthrow.
Being a political ‘Pontius Pilate’, Jeremy Corbyn said he supported France’s call for peace talks, and said it “should be regionally based to improve the situation there”. “There has to be respect for the constitution and respect for the independence of the judiciary,” he added.
This controversial and opportunistic stance of Corbyn doesn’t surprise us at all. It is in the political nature of social democrats, pure servants of the capitalist system who appear with a supposedly left-wing “radical” mask, to avoid taking a firm and clear position against imperialism. Despite their rhetoric, social democrats like Corbyn will be always, sooner or later, exposed as pure servants of the bourgeois interests.
Trump the Warmonger: U.S. imperialists escalate provocations against North Korea
| August 9, 2017 | 7:50 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK, Imperialism | 1 Comment

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/trump-warmonger-us-imperialists.html

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trump the Warmonger: U.S. imperialists escalate provocations against North Korea

In a move that escalates the dangerous situation in the Korean peninsula, U.S. President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire on Tuesday, cautioning North Korea that they “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

 
The tensions between the US and North Korea were exacerbated by the adoption of a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council last week. Apart from trading verbal punches, both parties are flexing military muscle as well. In response to two test-fires of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) by North Korea last month, the US and South Korea repeatedly fired surface-to-surface missiles into neutral waters close to North Korea.
Responding to the threats by President Trump, a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) commented, among other things, in an statement: 
“Timed to coincide with the fabrication of the heinous “sanctions resolution” against the DPRK at the UN, the U.S. war-thirsty forces are engrossed in war hysteria without discretion. […] All these military actions being conducted in the ground, sea and air clearly go to prove that the nuclear war hysteria of the U.S. authorities including Trump has reached an extremely reckless and rash phase for an actual war after crossing the red line. Under the prevailing grave situation, the General Staff of the KPA clarifies at home and abroad its resolute stand as follows to mercilessly smash all sorts of military provocation, being planned by the U.S. imperialist warmongers, with the inexhaustible military might of the powerful revolutionary Paektusan army which has so far been built”
“War is by no means a game”, pointed out the KPA spokeman and underlined that “the U.S. has gone hysteric, being quite unaware of the army and people of the DPRK”.
According to the KCNA news agency, Pyongyang is “carefully examining the operation plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-12″.
The government of the United States of America is responsible for the dangerous escalation of the situation. The Trump administration not only continues threatening the DPRK, but does everything in order to limit any options for peaceful resolution. Another characteristic example is the U.S. travel ban to North Korea (effective from September 1st), which shows that Washington is heading down the road of military tension and conflict escalation. 

With info from: Reuters/KCNA/RT.

KCNA Commentary: DPRK Will Never Step Back from Road of Justice.

Pyongyang, August 9 (KCNA) — The U.S. and other hostile forces, taken aback by the powerful might of the DPRK’s nuclear force, challenged it through the harshest sanctions and pressure and provocative moves.

 
On August 6, the U.S. framed up “sanctions resolution” 2371 by abusing the name of the UNSC, branding the DPRK’s ICBM test-launch as a “threat to global peace and security.” Meanwhile, it is running amuck, uttering imprudent remarks for military option against the DPRK.
 
This is a wanton violation of the sovereignty of the DPRK and another provocation to it as it is a product of the U.S. heinous hostile policy toward the DPRK to stifle the ideology, social system and people in the DPRK.
 
The U.S. is the sworn enemy of the Korean nation as it has incurred the bitter grudge upon the nation hard to be settled through centuries.
 
From long ago, the U.S. regarded invasion of Korea, gate to the Asian continent, as the important key for implementing the strategy for world domination. It artificially divided Korea, which is neither a war criminal nor the defeated in the Second World War, and unhesitatingly committed the most monstrous crimes unprecedented in history.
 
The U.S., from its gangster-like nature not to allow the existence of the DPRK, has cooked up a lot of illegal anti-DPRK “sanctions resolutions” and increased them while resorting to the nuclear threats and blackmail to it.
 
It is the instinct of human being to protect himself or herself from the attack of brutes and it is a righteous step to defend the safety of each nation and security of its country from the aggression of outsiders.
 
The DPRK took the option of having access to the strongest nuclear force to defend its sovereignty and the right to existence of the nation from the highhanded and arbitrary practices of the U.S.
 
By taking the option the DPRK declared an end to the gangster-like logic and Yankee-style way of existence that all the countries on the earth should be colonies serving the U.S. interests or fall victim to the U.S.
 
Now standing before the “only superpower in the world” are the heroic people of Juche Korea, who created the legendary war victory by shattering the myth of “mightiness” of the U.S. imperialists with rifles 60 odd years ago. Today they have the most powerful strategic weapons, Juche weapons with the U.S. mainland in their striking range.
 
It is a foolish calculation for the U.S. to think that its mainland would be safe across the ocean.
 
The more “sanctions resolutions” aimed at depriving the DPRK of its sovereignty and rights to existence and development would only stir up the hatred of the Korean army and people toward the gangster-like U.S. and harden their will to retaliate against it thousand times.
 
The way out for the DPRK is to bolster up the state nuclear force, and the DPRK will never step back even an inch from the road of justice chosen by itself, no matter what others may say. 
KKE: Statement on the 72 years since the imperialist crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Sunday, August 6, 2017

KKE: Statement on the 72 years since the imperialist crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/kke-statement-on-72-years-since.html
On the occasion of the 72 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Press Office of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued the following statement:
 
“This year marks the 72nd anniversary since the U.S. imperialist crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an act which did not serve any military need against the- already defeated- Japan, but the intimidation of the people, of the Soviet Union and the then rising socialist system and communist movement. Thousands of people lost their lives from the dropping of the atomic bombs, while thousands continue dying every year as a result of radioactivity’s consequences. 
Today, 72 years later, the people continue facing the most repulsive product of capitalist barbarity, the imperialist war. The sharpening of the antagonisms between states and monopolies, for the distribution of markets and energy resources, across the world and especially in our region, consist the cause of military interventions, of the dozens local and regional wars, of borders’ redrawing, with the people being the victims and thousands of refugees and uprooted ones. They increase the risk of a generalized imperialist war. They confirm the need for the workers-people’s movement to be firmly in the direction of the struggle against imperialist war and its causes. 
 
All the above prove how fake and misleading is the argument of the SYRIZA-ANEL government that Greece consists “an ‘islet’ of securityand stability” in a burning region. And all these when the current government, like the previous ones, willingly and actively participates in all the dangerous plans of the USA, NATO, EU in the region. The government has legitimized NATO’s presence in the Aegean, expands NATO’s bases in Greece and has supported all NATO’s decisions which, within the context of competion especially with Russia, move towards actions that can cause a real holocaust to the people of Europe and general. 
 
Capitalism cannot be humanited, it can neither give solutions to the basic problems of the people nor secure peace for the people. The imperialist wars will exist as long as the power is in the hands of the capitalists.
 
For that reason, the struggle for disengagement from NATO and all the imperialist organisations, the struggle for the defense of the country’s borders and sovereign rights, for the disengagement from imperialist wars and interventions, is inseparable from the struggle for the overthrow of the capital’s power, with the sovereign peoples and their power. 
 
Source: 902.gr / Translation: In Defense of Communism.
 
* On the 72nd anniversary of the imperialist crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Greek Committee of International Detente and Peace (EEDYE) organises in Athens an event in honor of the victims, Tuesday 8 August 2017, at 8 pm at the Acropolis. A similar political event will take place in Thessaloniki, also on Tuesday 8/8. 
Communists condemn Minister Freeland’s violations of sovereignty of Venezuela

Communists condemn Minister Freeland’s violations of sovereignty of Venezuela

Aug 01, 2017

The Communist Party of Canada condemns the latest flagrant violation of the national sovereignty of Venezuela by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.Going far beyond the bounds of diplomacy, Minister Freeland attacked the July 30 voting to elect a Constituent Assembly which will have powers to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela. The Liberal government’s claim that the election was “contrary to Venezuela’s Constitution”, and therefore illegitimate, is a lie. Article 347 and 348 of the Bolivarian Constitution outline the president’s right to initiate a National Constituent Assembly.  

These statements are a form of blatant interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, and openly support efforts by the United States to prepare for outside intervention against the country’s elected government.

Despite the boycott of the constituent assembly elections by the right-wing opposition, and their open calls for violence, over 41% of citizens cast ballots, and 94 percent of polling stations were open. The turnout exceeded the participation in the 1999 referendum that ordered the previous Constituent Assembly to be convened, which was responsible for drafting the current constitution. These figures are highly significant, since the opposition had tried to prevent voting, urging its supporters to set up barricades, block roads and take over the country.

Such threats are far from idle, since most of the recent killings in Venezuela have targeted government supporters. Among the latest reports of violence was an attack by opposition protesters in the community of Borburata, Carabobo state, where stones and petrol bombs were thrown at National Guard members protecting a polling station located in a school.

Over eight million people voted on Sunday, choosing from 6,120 candidates for the 545-member Constituent Assembly, which will allow the Venezuelan people to exercise their popular sovereignty in a truly democratic fashion. The Communist Party of Canada welcomes the outcome of the Constituent Assembly voting, and we urge the labour movement and all democratic-minded and progressive peoples in Canada to speak out against the attempts of US imperialism and its faithful ally the government of Canada, to set the stage for a reactionary coup against the Maduro government.

Central Executive Committee, CPC

Venezuela Crisis: Washington Wants ‘Its’ Country Back
A  woman holds her infant as she casts her vote in front of a mural of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela, July 30, 2017.

Venezuela Crisis: Washington Wants ‘Its’ Country Back

© REUTERS/ Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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John Wight
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The word for what has been taking place in Venezuela is an attempt at counterrevolution. Washington wants “its” country back, which is why it is providing both overt and covert support to an opposition determined to return the country to its previous status as a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington.

What needs to be emphasized is that in establishing a Constituent Assembly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is acting in full accordance with the Bolivarian Constitution. To wit:

“Article 348: The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly, by a two thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.”

As to the opposition’s attempts to derail the establishment of the Constituent Assembly with street protests, rioting and a call for a nationwide boycott of the election of delegates to the new assembly, these have been undertaken in contravention of the Constitution, of which Article 349 stipulates: “The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution.

“The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way.”

It goes without saying, of course, that people cannot eat a Constitution. With food shortages, a shortage of medicines, and rampant inflation the norm, only the most foolish would attempt to suggest that Mr. Maduro and his government have no questions to answer over a crisis that has turned Venezuelan society upside down.

People stand in line to cast their votes at a polling station during an unofficial plebiscite against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017
© REUTERS/ Christian Veron
People stand in line to cast their votes at a polling station during an unofficial plebiscite against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017

But those questions are not the same as the ones being asked amid the welter of anti-government media coverage in the West. In what has been tantamount to a frog’s chorus of condemnation, Maduro and his government have been calumniated with the kind of vituperation reserved only for those which dare embark on a program of wealth redistribution in favor of the poor and working class. For such people socialism is anathema, a mortal threat to their conception of freedom as a mechanism by which, per Thucydides, “the strong (rich) do what they can, and the weak (poor) suffer as they must.”

Here is CNN’s treatment of the election, held on 30 July, to mandate the establishment of the Constituent Assembly. “Critics in Venezuela and abroad argue a Maduro mandate would erode any last signs of democracy in the country. ‘It would give the government the opportunity to turn Venezuela into a one-party state without any of the trappings of democracy,’ says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business association.”

Two things stand out in this passage. The first is the claim that the Constituent Assembly is undemocratic. Given the aforementioned articles of the country’s constitution this is entirely false. The second is Mr. Farnsworth’s position as “vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business association.”

The Council of the Americas is an organization based in the United States with offices in Washington DC, New York, and Miami. In its mission statement it describes itself as “the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.”

Reading this passage, you will struggle to find a more concise, if cryptic, support for free market capitalism and the rights it confers on the rich to exploit the poor in the name of democracy. As author George Ciccariello-Maher points out, “the opposition’s undemocratic aspirations come draped in the language of democracy.”

Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 2017.
© REUTERS/ Ueslei Marcelino
Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 2017.

Moreover, when we learn that US Vice President, Mike Pence, has been in direct contact with Venezuelan opposition leaders, our collective memory should immediately transport us back in time to Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia in 1965, Chile in 1973, and of course Ukraine in 2014 — previous examples where the US has actively supported coups that have unseated leaders with the temerity to refuse to obey their imperial overlord.

It really isn’t rocket science, especially in the case of a country where a Washington-backed coup was previously attempted and failed in 2002.

Venezuela’s economic problems are predominately down to the collapse in global oil prices that has ensued in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018 the price of crude plummeted from US$96.29 to US$40.68 a barrel, a mammoth drop of over 40 percent. And though the price has recovered in 2017, at US$50.31 a barrel it remains a long way off its peak 2012 price of US$108.45 a barrel.

For a country whose economy is dependent on the price of oil, such a seismic drop can only produce an equally seismic economic shock. Crucially, with oil being Venezuela’s only export commodity of note, the crisis has exposed structural weaknesses in the economy that long predate the arrival on the scene of Hugo Chavez never mind his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017
© REUTERS/ Miraflores Palace
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017

This is not to suggest that President Maduro is without blame for the ongoing crisis. Returning to George Ciccariello-Maher, we learn that a “failing system of currency controls governing the distribution of oil income was never fully dismantled. The result was a destructive feedback loop of black-market currency speculation, the hoarding and smuggling of gasoline and food, and an explosion of already rampant corruption at the intersection of the private and public sectors. Confronted with street protests and food shortages, Maduro responded erratically, supporting grassroots production by communes while simultaneously courting private corporations in a bid to keep food on the shelves.”Events in Venezuela are not taking place in a vacuum. This oil rich country, once a beacon of hope for the continent’s poor, indigenous, and oppressed with the coming of Hugo Chavez to power in 1999, is experiencing the particular challenges involved in trying to create an island of socialism surrounded by a sea of US-dominated capitalism.

Its vulnerability to the volatility of oil prices merely confirms the presence of large reserves of oil can distort rather than enhance a nation’s economic development, particularly in the Global South where economic diversification bumps up against the reality of the domination of global markets by Western financial institutions and corporations.

In the last analysis, it is capitalism not socialism that has failed the people of Venezuela. However socialism is being made to carry the can.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’
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A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’

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Neil Clark
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https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201708021056106300-russian-aggression-neocon-narrative/

Repeat after me (by orders of the Neo-Con Thought Police): “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.” The phrase has become a mantra, to be repeated (with all the correct arm movements and feigned expressions of outrage), by anyone wanting to be regarded as a “credible” foreign policy commentator in the elite western media.

So let’s talk “Russian aggression” shall we? There’s been quite a lot of it, comrades.

Yugoslavia

In 1999, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies illegally bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days — having earlier presented the country with an ultimatum that they later admitted was deliberately designed to be rejected.

Russia’s leadership claimed that Yugoslav forces were committing a “genocide” in Kosovo, and that they had the right to launch a “humanitarian intervention.”

Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.
© AFP 2017/ SERBIAN TV
Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.

But during this “humanitarian” intervention, many innocent civilians were killed — including at least 20 on a passenger train and a convoy of Kosovan Albanians fleeing the bombing. “The Russians” initially blamed this attack on Yugoslav forces, but evidence showed it was they who carried out the bombing.

After the military campaign ended, “the Russians” intensified their efforts to topple the democratically-elected Yugoslav government.

They poured millions in to what they called the “democratic opposition,” and encouraged violent anti-government protests during the elections of October 2000.

In 2001, a UN court found that there had not after all been a genocide in Kosovo.

An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.
© AFP 2017/ RUSSELL BOYCE / REUTERS POOL
An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.

After the Yugoslav government was toppled, many social/publicly owned enterprises were privatized. Among those bidding for utilities in “liberated” Kosovo were companies/funds founded by prominent members of “the Russian” government/military elite who had bombed Yugoslavia.A Yugoslav desk officer for “the Russian” Ministry of Foreign Affairs later revealed the real reason the country had been targeted.

“In post-Cold War Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

Afghanistan

In 2001, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded Afghanistan. “Operation Enduring Freedom” was — we were told — a response to terrorist attacks on Moscow which took place in September that year. But sixteen years on, the conflict continues — with over 100,000 Afghans killed.

“Russian forces” regularly bombed weddings in the country and in 2015, a hospital — an action which “the Kremlin” denied was a war crime.

In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
© AP Photo/ Najim Rahim
In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

In his farewell speech as Afghan President in 2014, Hamid Karzai blamed “the Russians” for the fact that his country was still at war.

“Today, I tell you that the war in Afghanistan is not our war, but imposed on us and we are the victims. One of the reasons was that ‘the Russians’ did not want peace because they had their own agenda and objectives.”

Iraq

In the 1990s, “Russia” bombed Iraq frequently and insisted there could be no easing of genocidal sanctions.

In 1996, “Russia’s” Foreign Minister was asked on television, “is the price worth it?” in relation to the death of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions. He replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

In 2003, “Russia” and its allies launched a full-scale “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq, claiming the country possessed weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the entire world.

“He [Saddam] claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighborhoods,” declared “Russia’s” Defense Minister.

A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.
© AP Photo/ Yonhap/Jin Sung-chul
A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.

One million people lost their lives following the invasion, which turned Iraq into a failed state and led directly to the rise of Daesh. The WMDs — surprise, surprise — never showed up.As in Yugoslavia, “the Russian” leadership had lied.

Libya

In 2011, Russia and its allies launched a military assault on Libya, claiming that its long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was about to massacre the inhabitants of Benghazi.

The country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009, was transformed by the “Russian-led” bombing into a failed state, and one vast training ground for various radical jihadist groups including Daesh.

Gaddafi himself was killed, with a bayonet stuck up into his anus, leading to laughter from the “humanitarian” “Russian” Foreign Minister — who declared: “We came, we saw, he died!”

Five years later, a report from parliamentarians in one of “Russia’s” key ally states concluded: “The proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benhgazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

But by now, it was too late. Libya had already been destroyed.

Syria

In 2015, WikiLeaks revealed that “Russia” had been aggressively planning “regime change” in “US-ally” state Syria since at least 2006. A leaked cable from the “Russian” charge d’affaires in Damascus outlined strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.

Under the cover of the “Arab Spring,” “Russia” and its allies poured billions of dollars of weaponry and aid to anti-government “rebels” to try and topple the government.

This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.
© AP Photo/ Hassan Ammar
This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

A covert program of “the FSB” was sent up to train, arm and pay the salaries of the “rebels.” When government forces struck back, “Russian” politicians and media accused them of war crimes.

“Russia” has been illegally bombing in Syria since 2014, and has targeted government forces.

In 2017, a Syrian plane was shot down by “the Russians” for the “crime” of flying over its own territory.

Between 300,000-475,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.

And this is not all.

Other examples of “Russian aggression” include:

  • Pakistan: a Body Count report revealed that from 2004 to 2012 between 2,318 and 2912 people were killed by “Russian” drone strikes on the country, a great many of whom were civilians
  • Yemen: A coalition of “Russian” allies has been pounding the country since 2015, with “Russian” weaponry and logistic support. Over 10,000 people have been killed, with the war helping to cause what has been described by the UN as the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War Two. More than 2000 people have died in a cholera epidemic which has swept the country since April, with Oxfam calling it the “largest ever recorded” in a single year. But “Russia” continues to support the military campaign.
  • Sudan/South Sudan: “Russia” heavily funded the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement, and encouraged them to break away from Sudan — a country not allied to “Moscow” — and which “Russia” had bombed in 1997. But South Sudan has been wracked with war — and famine. Yet another Russian intervention resulting in violent chaos.

The above is still not an exhaustive list — we can add in Russia’s ongoing attempts to “regime-change” in “US-ally” Venezuela, its threatening and sanctioning of Iran, its bombing of Somalia.

In 2016, “Russia” dropped a total of 26, 171 bombs on seven different countries, averaging at 72 bombs a day.

The devastating impact of Russian aggression in recent years can be seen in the Body Count report which revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in “Russian-led” wars/military operations in the period from September 2001 until 2013 — in just three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If we add other countries too, then its clear we’re talking about well over 2 million deaths which can be laid directly at the doors of “the Kremlin.”

Pretty shocking eh? But of course, the above didn’t happen. Or rather it did happen, but the actions described above were taken not by Russia, but by the US and its allies (just click on the links).

To make things even worse, the countries responsible for the aggression which cost the lives of millions of people, and caused chaos and misery around the world, have the effrontery to accuse others of the very crimes they themselves have committed.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Georgia in 2008, but in fact the aggression was from the US-backed Georgian government which attacked South Ossetia.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Ukraine, but again the crisis started because of actions from the US and its allies who backed the violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.
© Sputnik/ Andrey Stenin
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.

The democratic wishes of the people of the Crimea to return to Russia, following the unconstitutional “regime change” in Kiev, as expressed in a referendum vote, was twisted into a narrative of “the Russian invasion of Ukraine” by the same crowd of deceitful warmongers who cheer-led for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Here you can listen to the US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland discussing who should/shouldn’t be in the new “democratic” government in Ukraine with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt:

Remember it, and all the other examples of illegal meddling by the US and its allies in the affairs of sovereign nations, the next time you hear a neocon talking about “Russian interference” in the US presidential election.

Remember too, how the Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991, but the US-led Cold War military alliance NATO actually expanded, right up to Russia‘s borders.

Repeat after me: “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.”

Has there ever been a better example in the history of international relations of what psychologists call “projection”?

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The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.