Overthrow: 100 Years of U.S. Meddling and Regime Change, From Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba – By Amy Goodman, Juan González / Democracy Now!

News & Politics
America committed a variety of human rights abuses, all under cover of “spreading democracy.”

Photo Credit: Przemek Tokar

As special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, we take a look back at Washington’s record of meddling in elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And that doesn’t count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. We speak to former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, author of “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.”




This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 election, we take a look back at Washington’s record of meddling in elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And that doesn’t count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently joked about the U.S. record of meddling overseas, during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Oh, probably. But it was for the good of the system, in order to avoid the communists from taking over.


JAMES WOOLSEY: For example, in Europe in ’47, ’48, ’49, the Greeks and the Italians, we—CIA—

LAURA INGRAHAM: We don’t do that now, though? We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Well, mmm, yum, yum, yum, never mind. Only for a very good cause.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Can you do that—let’s do a vine video and—as former CIAdirector. I love it.

JAMES WOOLSEY: Only for very good cause—


JAMES WOOLSEY: —in the interests of democracy.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The list of countries where the U.S. has interfered is long. In 1893, the U.S. helped overthrow the kingdom of Hawaii. Five years later, in 1898, the U.S. invaded and occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico. A year later, it was the Philippines. Early 20th century interventions included Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, all in the 1910s.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1953, the U.S. helped overthrow the Iranian government. A year later, in 1954, U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz. Then, in the ’60s, the list grew to include, once again, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Congo. And that’s just a partial list. Even with the end of the Cold War, U.S. interference overseas did not end. Next week marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple the government of Saddam Hussein.

We now go to Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, who writes about world affairs for The Boston Globe. He’s the author of a number of books, including Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to IraqAll the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. He’s written the book Bitter Fruit about the coup in Guatemala. And his latest book is The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.

Stephen Kinzer, we welcome you back to Democracy Now! to talk, sadly, about the very same issue. I’m not quite sure where to begin, whether to go back to the beginning, but let’s start, since it was 65 years ago, in Iran, in 1953, in March of 1953. The U.S. was in full swing making plans for overthrowing the government of the democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Can you talk about what the U.S. did in Iran then? So well known throughout Iran, but most people in this country have no idea.

STEPHEN KINZER: Early in the 20th century, the people of Iran began moving towards democracy. It was a very difficult struggle. It was back and forth. But finally, after the Second World War, democracy did emerge in Iran. It was the one parenthesis, the one period of real democracy that we’ve had in Iran over the last hundred years. So, the problem came when the Iranians chose the wrong leader. They did something that the United States never likes: They chose a leader who wanted to put the interests of his own country ahead of the interests of the United States. And that alarmed the West, and particularly the United States.

Mosaddegh’s first move was to nationalize Iranian oil. We thought this would be a terrible example for the rest of the world. We didn’t want to start this process going in other countries. So, in order to set an example, the United States decided we would work with the British to overthrow the elected democratic government of Iran. We sent a senior CIA officer, who worked in the basement of the American Embassy in Iran organizing the coup. The coup finally succeeded in the summer of 1953. Mosaddegh was overthrown.

And, more important, the democratic system in Iran was destroyed forever. This was not just an attack on one person, but an attack on democracy. And the reason why we attacked that democracy is the democracy produced the wrong person. So, we like elections and democratic processes, but they have to produce the candidates we like; otherwise, our approval disappears.

AMY GOODMAN: And the person he sent—that the U.S., the Dulles brothers, sent in to Iran with the suitcases of money to begin the process, Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson?

STEPHEN KINZER: That’s right. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something genetic in the Roosevelt family that predisposes them toward regime change. It is a kind of a quirk of history that the person who effectively projected the United States into the regime change era at the beginning of the 20th century, Teddy Roosevelt, had a grandson who went to Iran in the 1950s and carried out a regime change operation there. And there were similarities—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to go—

STEPHEN KINZER: —between the operations that they carried out.

AMY GOODMAN: Before you go on, Stephen, I wanted to go to a part of a trailer from an upcoming documentary titled Coup 53 about the 1953 British-American coup in Iran and the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, directed by the Iranian physicist-turned-award-winning-documentary-filmmaker Taghi Amirani.

TAGHI AMIRANI: This man, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, he was our first democratically elected prime minister.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Nobody knows who Mosaddegh was. Democratically elected prime minister of Iran.

TAGHI AMIRANI: In 1952, Time magazine named him Man of the Year, because he had nationalized Iranian oil and kicked the British out.

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Mosaddegh came along and threw them out. They were gone. Gone! Gone!!

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] The Iranian people had rejected the Shah’s rule with blood, with blood, and bare hands in front of tanks.

INTERVIEWER: You had a million dollars in cash to run the coup, right?


DAVID TALBOT: Kermit Roosevelt was prepared to do whatever he had to do, when he was given this mission by Allen Dulles to overthrow the democratic government of Iran.

ALLEN DULLES: But may I say this? At no time has the CIA engaged in any political activity or any intelligence activity that was not approved at the highest level.

AMY GOODMAN: That last voice, Allen Dulles, head of the CIA from 1952 to 1961. At the time, his brother—his brother, Secretary of State Dulles, was secretary of state. We’re talking about the overthrow of Iran for the British oil company that would later become British Petroleum. Is that right, Stephen Kinzer?

STEPHEN KINZER: Yes. That company is now called BP. So, you’re seeing long-term effects of these interventions, and what you’re seeing in Iran today 100 percent ties back to what we did in 1953. We like to have this idea that these operations are discreet, they’re not going to have any long-term effects. We’ll remove one government, place another favorable government in power, and anything will go fine. Everybody will forget it, and it won’t have any long-term effects. But if you look around the world, you can see that these kinds of operations to interfere in other countries’ politics, what the CIA calls “influence operations,” actually not only often wind up devastating the target country, but, in the end, undermine the security of the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Stephen Kinzer, I’d like to move to another part of the world: Nicaragua. Most people are familiar, obviously, with the Reagan-era attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government or the period during the Roosevelt era of the attempts to get rid of Sandino as a force in Nicaragua. But, further back, José Santos Zelaya, at the beginning of the 20 century, could you talk about the efforts of the U.S. government to overthrow Zelaya?

STEPHEN KINZER: Zelaya was a fascinating figure, certainly the most formidable leader Nicaragua ever had. He was a slashing reformer. He was a liberal, a progressive. He built ports and roads, tried to build up a middle class in Nicaragua. He brought the first automobile into Nicaragua, the first streetlights. He organized the first baseball league. He was a true modernizer.

But he had one characteristic the United States really didn’t like. And that is, he wanted Nicaragua to have an independent foreign policy. When he needed to raise money for a planned railroad across Nicaragua, rather than seek loans from the Morgan bank in the United States as we wanted him to do, he floated the loan offers in London and in Paris. The United States tried to get those governments to forbid the offering of those loan agreements, but they refused. Sure enough, the money was raised. And America became very alarmed. Nicaragua was trying to diversify its international relations. It didn’t want to be just under the power of the United States. And that was a fatal decision by Zelaya.

Once he decided that he wanted to pull Nicaragua out from under the thumb of the United States, he became a target. And we did overthrow him in 1909. That was the beginning of a century of American interference in Nicaragua. I think you can argue that there’s no country in the world where the cycle of American intervention—imposition of a dictator, rebellion, repression, and a return of American power to impose another leader—is so clear, over such a long period of time, the way it is in Nicaragua.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writes the world affairs column for The Boston Globe.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you about another invasion that is rarely talked about these days: the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson and the efforts of the United States, again, to control the affairs of the Dominican Republic over many, many years, because, obviously, there were two invasions of the Dominican Republic. There was one at the early part of the century that led to the rise of Trujillo, and then there was one after the fall of Trujillo to attempt regime change against President Juan Bosch, who had been elected into office.

STEPHEN KINZER: You have placed it very well, because if we remember this operation at all, we remember the American Marines landing on the beaches in the Dominican Republic. But the cause of that intervention was the foolish mistake of the Dominican people of electing a leader who was unpalatable to the United States. Juan Bosch was a figure a little bit like Zelaya had been half a century earlier in Nicaragua. He didn’t want the Dominican Republic to be under the thumb of the United States. He wanted it to be an independent country. And this was something the U.S. couldn’t tolerate.

All these movements in the Caribbean Basin have been—have had, as a fundamental part of their political program, measures to limit the power of foreign corporations in their countries, and often measures to limit the amount of land that foreigners can own in their country. These are the kinds of measures that are hateful to the American corporations that have gotten so rich from taking the resources of the Caribbean Basin, and leaders who promote those policies always find themselves in Washington’s crosshairs.

This is not just ancient history. We had an episode in Honduras in 2009 where a president who was very much in this line, trying to pull Honduras away from subservience to the United States, was overthrown in a coup by the military, dragged out of his house in the middle of the night in his pajamas, sent into exile. The U.S. was so happy, members of Congress even went to Honduras to congratulate the leader of the coup. And then, just last year, a new election was held to ratify the results of the coup. The election was so fraudulent that for the first time in the history of the Organization of American States, the OAS called for a new election. And the leader of the OAS, Almagro, had to do it, because he had been denouncing attacks on democracy in Venezuela and figured he couldn’t just stand by while something even worse was done in Honduras. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have that kind of shame, and we cheered that election. We refused the call for a new election. And Honduras today is under the rule of a regime that is the product of a coup, supported by the United States, against an elected government.

So, this is not something that we used to do in ancient history. This is something that’s happening right now. And that’s why those of us familiar with this history roll our eyes a little bit when we hear these outraged allegations that Russia has been doing something so dastardly as to try to influence our politics.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer, can you take us on a brief, kind of thumbnail journey from the overthrow of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines—all before the turn of the 20th century?

STEPHEN KINZER: This was a fascinating period, and it really was the moment when the United States went from being what you could call a continental empire—that is, inside North America—to being an overseas empire, a crucial moment of decision for the United States. That was not inevitable, but that was the choice we made.

So, in 1893, at the behest of sugar growers in Hawaii, the United States promoted the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The idea was that Hawaii would then immediately become part of the United States. That didn’t happen, because there was a change of presidency in Washington, and the new president, Grover Cleveland, hated that intervention and didn’t want to take Hawaii in. Then, five years later, in 1898, when Grover Cleveland was gone, the Spanish-American War broke out. The United States became interested in the Pacific, because we destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Philippines. Then we decided we should take the Philippines for ourselves. We became interested in the China market. This was a real, fantastic Fata Morgana out there for American business. The American press was full of stories about how many nails we could sell in China, if we could get the Chinese to use nails; how much cotton we could sell there; how much beef we could sell there, if we could get the Chinese to eat beef. So, we decided we needed stepping stones to China. And that was the moment when we decided, “Let’s take Hawaii as we’ve taken the Philippines.”

So, that happened at the same time the United States was consolidating its rule over Cuba and Puerto Rico. In Cuba, we staged a presidential election, after we consolidated our power there in 1898. We found a candidate that we liked. We found him in upstate New York. He spoke good English, which is always essential for the people that we promote. We brought him back to Cuba. As soon as it became clear that the campaign was rigged, the other candidate dropped out. He became president of Cuba. Sure enough, six years later, the United States had to send troops back to Cuba to suppress protests against him. They occupied Cuba for three more years. Then they left. They had to come back again about six or seven years later, in 1917, because again the Cuban people had had the temerity to elect a leader who was unpalatable to the United States. So, this was a great model for an idea, a concept, that has reverberated through the whole period since then, which is: Have your elections, but you must elect someone we like; otherwise, we’re going to go to Plan B.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break, and then we’re going to come back with Stephen Kinzer and talk about James Woolsey’s latest comment. When asked on Fox if the U.S. is still interfering with people’s elections, he chuckles and says, “Only for a good cause.” Yes, we’re talking with Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writing a world affairs column for The Boston Globe, has written many books, one on the coup, U.S. overthrow of Guatemalan democratically elected government, called Bitter Fruit, one called Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, one specifically on Iran, All the Shah’s Men, and his latest book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “Nicaragua” by Bruce Cockburn, here on Democracy Now!. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest is Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writes for The Boston Globe. He’s author of a number of books, his latest, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to ask you, in terms of the Spanish-American War and, of course, of the bitter guerrilla war that developed in the Philippines in the 1899, 1900, the birth of the Anti-Imperialist League in the United States—it was a widespread movement of Americans opposed to this overseas empire. Could you talk about some of the figures and the impact of the Anti-Imperialist League? Because we don’t see that kind of organization these days, even though the U.S. empire continues to grow and make itself felt around the world.

STEPHEN KINZER: The story of the Anti-Imperialist League is a central part of my new book, The True Flag. And I like my books always to be voyages of discovery. I’m always looking for some really big story that shaped the world but that we don’t know about. And this really is one. Here’s a story that has almost completely dropped out of our history books.

But the Anti-Imperialist League was a major force in American life in the period around 1898, 1900. It was based in Boston, later moved to Washington, had chapters all over the United States. Some of the leading figures in the United States were members. The leaders of the Anti-Imperialist League included billionaires like Andrew Carnegie and social activists like Jane Addams and Samuel Gompers, Booker T. Washington. Grover Cleveland was a member. It was really a remarkable group. It staged hundreds of rallies, published thousands of leaflets, intensely lobbied in Washington, and actually had quite an impact.

This was a debate that seized the attention of the entire American people: Should we begin taking territories outside North America? Or should we now stop, now that we’ve consolidated our North American empire? Everybody in the United States realized this was a huge decision. It dominated newspaper coverage. When the treaty by which the United States took the Philippines and Guam and Puerto Rico was brought before the Senate, there was a 34-day debate. That’s the center of my book. In this debate, you will see every argument, on both sides, that has ever been used, for the last 120 years. Every argument about why intervention is a good idea or a bad idea starts there. And the Anti-Imperialist League played a great role in that debate. And interestingly enough, that treaty, that set us off on the path of global empire, was passed in the Senate by a margin of one vote more than the required two-thirds majority.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, the—

STEPHEN KINZER: And when it was challenged in the Supreme Court, it was five to four.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, the most eloquent spokesman—the most elegant spokesman for the Anti-Imperialist League was none other than Mark Twain, no?

STEPHEN KINZER: This is another discovery I made while I was writing my book. I grew up with what I now realize was a partial, a kind of false, image of Mark Twain. I always thought of him as Mr. Nice Guy. He’s a sweetheart. He’s everybody’s favorite old uncle, who has nice curly white hair and rocks on his porch and tells nice, funny stories that everybody laughs at. This is not correct! This is not the real Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was an eviscerating anti-imperialist. He was militant. He was intent. He used to write that Americans fighting in foreign wars were carrying a polluted musket under a bandit’s flag. And he even wanted to change the flag of the United States, to change the stars to skull-and-crossbones symbols. So, I now realize that we have sort of sanctified and bleached Mark Twain for public consumption. Many of the quotes I use from Twain in my book do not appear in many biographies or anthologies. That part of Twain has been dropped out of his legacy, and I’m trying to recover it, because he speaks to us today.

AMY GOODMAN: Makes me wonder if his books will start to be taken out of libraries around the country.



Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.

Juan González is the co-host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.

What do we mean by socialism? – By Ben Hillier (RED FLAG)

What the hell is socialism, anyway? Over the last decade, it has been one of the most frequently looked up words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. And it’s easy to see why so many people feel the need for clarification.

Right wing politicians and commentators call anything they are against “socialist”. Federal finance minister Mathias Cormann last year described Australian Labor Party policies as “socialist, absolutely”. US National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre recently warned that “socialism is a movement that loves a smear” and that the backlash against mass shootings in the US was freedom-hating totalitarianism in disguise. And last month, in a speech to a £15,000-a-table Conservative Party function, British prime minister Theresa May vowed to “defeat socialism”.

The left is often vague about the term’s meaning as well. We hear about Scandinavian countries being socialist, about US senator Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism”, about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reviving socialism in the UK.

The one thing obvious in this is that socialism is a catch-all word for, or a label used to dismiss, policies that would make society more equal. And while that’s a good starting point – socialism is about equality – it only gets us so far.

To understand what Marxists mean by socialism, you first have to understand not just that we are against certain things – inequality, wage cuts, anti-union laws, oppression based on class, race, gender or sexual orientation, imperialist war and so on – but how we see the connections between and underlying causes of those things.

For example, you don’t have to be a socialist to be against racism. Socialist are opposed to racism, but so are many others: anarchists, small “l” liberals, environmentalists, people who don’t consider themselves political. But different people, and different political currents, have different ideas about why racism exists and what function it serves.

Some say it is a product of ignorance, so to do away with it we just need to educate people. Others say it exists to benefit all white people – from multi-millionaires in boardrooms to poverty-stricken families skipping meals to pay their rent – and that it can’t be eradicated until all whites acknowledge and renounce their inherent “privilege”. Similar arguments are made about sexism and homophobia.

Or take inequality. Some people say that it’s due to the insatiable greed of those at the top of society, so we just need governments to enforce limits on it. Others, using a secular version of original sin, insist that all humans are naturally selfish, so nothing can be done. Others preach charity, believing that the wealthy can be convinced by example to give up much of what they have to help out those at the bottom.

So what marks out our socialist politics?

Understanding capitalism

First, we argue that, no matter what the problem – war, inequality, oppression, climate change – at its root is our world being organised around the principles of private property, competition and profit maximisation. When we say private property, we’re not talking about people owning their own phone, car or collection of books. We’re talking about the property required to make the world function: factories, mines, telecommunications infrastructure, office buildings, arable land and so on. That sort of property is concentrated in the hands of a small minority of people – capitalists or bosses – who own and oversee the big companies.

For example, in Australia, the Department of Industry estimates that the 4,000 largest firms account for 44 percent of industrial growth and 95 percent of exports. These big businesses determine how natural resources are used, who gets work and where, which things are produced and how they are distributed. Their decisions are the greatest determinant of how the rest of us live.

Because all the companies compete against each other, they have to maximise profits. That means screwing over workers, ruining the environment and churning out products designed to fall apart or break down so that customers continue buying new things. This isn’t a product of innate human greed. The people at the top may be greedy, but their greed is the product of society being structured this way, not its cause.

And because we are many and those at the top are few, they devise systems of control to keep us oppressed and divided. That can involve straight-out violence, using the police and the prison system, or even the army, to quell resistance. In places such as Australia, it more often involves holding particular groups down and playing people off against each other – the age-old strategy of divide and conquer.

That can be seen in various ways today. There’s the anti-Muslim bigotry spewed out by the press, the appalling treatment of Aboriginal people, the gender discrimination and grossly sexist stereotypes in film and on almost every advertising board in shopping centres.

Then there’s the ongoing creation of a user-pays society: privatising essential services, underfunding public education and health and so on. Some of this is about private companies making profits. But it’s also about creating a world in which people feel they must rely on themselves and their families to get by, which adds to the idea that life is one giant competition, and that if you don’t look after your own self-interest, you will be left to rot.

All these things turn people against each other in various ways, leaving the capitalists to continue making money while homelessness, poverty and inequality remain or increase.

So wherever you look, the capitalists with one hand are destroying things and ripping us off, and with the other are holding us down and making us blame each other for the problems they create.

The working class

The second thing that marks out our politics is a focus on working class people’s collective action. The working class is basically anyone who works for a wage, owns no business and isn’t a manager. That’s 70-80 percent of the working population in most advanced, industrialised countries. We argue that the working class is the only group with both an interest in and the power to transform society.

It has an interest, because it is exploited and also because it is oppressed. Workers lack almost all control when at work: we’re told what to do, what to wear, when to turn up and when to go home, when we can eat, how we can and can’t talk etc. The things we produce don’t belong to us, and we get no say over how they are produced or the purpose they will serve.

we get home, our lack of control is reinforced: turn on the news and watch reports of the world-defining decisions that were made while we were doing whatever the hell it was that we’d rather not have been doing.

Working people have an interest in uniting to get a better deal, because as individuals, we have no power in the face of the capitalists. But workers have collective power. That’s why we have trade unions, to get at least some influence over our pay and conditions of work.

And the essential tasks of society are performed by workers; the bosses are dependent, unable to make a profit or to get table service when workers collectively go on strike, i.e. stop working. This is the most powerful weapon of workers – no other social force can paralyse a city, or an entire country, in the way workers can.

We hear a lot today about minorities and people of different identities having shared interests as groups – so we have the LGBTI community, the women’s movement and so on. There obviously are things for individual groups to unite around, and socialists support those. Socialist Alternative, the group behind Red Flag, was at the forefront of fighting for marriage equality, for example, and we understand that racism and sexism affect all people in a particular group, be they workers or bosses.

But we also acknowledge the limits of identity. For example, while all women endure sexism and misogyny, there nevertheless is no fundamental basis on which all women can unite. Women in the capitalist class have an interest in perpetuating the oppression and exploitation of working class women – they cannot maintain their economic privilege otherwise. When working class women fight back collectively, they find their natural ally in working class men, even the sexist ones, while their “sisters” in the establishment generally turn against them.

Note, for example, that in the Democratic Party primary contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, it was the capitalist feminist, Clinton, who opposed raising the US federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, even though the biggest beneficiaries of such a raise would have been women.

It’s important to see that the working class is the most diverse force on the planet. It is male and female, black and white, gay and straight, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and atheist. It speaks all languages. This diversity is a source of immense strength, because it means that when workers stand together, all the divisions that the capitalists sow are capable of being overcome in common cause.


The third thing that marks out our socialist politics is an understanding that capitalism has to be abolished, not just tinkered with. Marxists argue that, otherwise, socialism is a utopian pipe dream. That might sound counter-intuitive. Isn’t it more realistic to use the existing parliament to legislate for things like a living wage for all people, the (re)nationalisation of utilities such as electricity and water, free health and education etc? Isn’t that basically socialism?

The short answer is no. On one hand, while some gains are possible, even when we win things such as decent wages or health care, the capitalist system ultimately erodes them. You can see that today in the relentless attacks around the globe on social welfare as capitalists compete on the world market, holding living standards down to prop up their profits.

And when governments try to change things, the capitalists invariably fight back – they do everything they can, including sacking or overthrowing governments, and up to unleashing the force of the military on the civilian population, to stop genuine social advance.

One the other hand, socialism is not simply about the economics of resource distribution. It’s about creating a world in which, as the Communist Manifesto argued, “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”; it’s about liberating human potential and creativity.

Human creativity and freedom are developed only in momentous circumstances that involve and challenge the people themselves. Workers are not angels. Every one of us is scarred by the world as it is – internalising or accepting prevailing prejudices and narrow world views, and limited in our lives to menial tasks that stunt our ingenuity and wear down our spirit.

To overcome the capitalist class and to transform not only the world, but ourselves, we need a revolution. As Karl Marx wrote:

“Both for the production on a mass scale of this [new collective] consciousness, and for the success of the [socialist] cause itself, the alteration of [people] on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.”

Ultimately, this is what we mean by socialism. It’s not “nicer capitalism”; it’s a new system run by workers, who put society’s resources under democratic control and produce goods and services for human need, rather than profit, ending the domination of a minority over the majority.

Why Fracking Is a Symptom of the Eco-Destructive Neoliberal Order—and a Serious Human Rights Issue – By Anna Grear / Center for Humans and Nature

The battle over fracking pits corporate power against communities whose very health is imperiled.

Protesters against fracking at a rally in New York City, October 19, 2013. New York state banned fracking in 2014.
Photo Credit: a katz/Shutterstock

[Editor’s note: This article was originally published by the Center for Humans and Nature as part of their Questions for a Resilient Future series: Does fracking violate human rights? To read more responses to this question and to share your thoughts, click here.]

Which human rights?” By positioning this question next to the central question driving this discussion (“Does fracking violate human rights?”) I don’t mean to imply that we examine various individual human rights as selected from a general list of rights protected by human rights law. That interpretation of my question is well addressed by others in this discussion—as is the nature of fracking and its dangers.I mean “Which vision or version of human rights?” and—relatedly—“Whose human rights?”


In response, you might think to turn to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and to its progeny in multiple instruments since. That’s the true vision of human rights, some will say. And the closely related question of whose human rights is likewise addressed, you might think, by looking at the “human being” whose “inherent dignity” grounds human rights. This response has powerful appeal and the accumulated weight of official human rights progress stories behind it.

But the critical legal scholar in me interjects, “Not so fast! Human rights are not as benign as they look!” And if that is the case, it should matter to us in discussing if and how fracking violates human rights—not least because human rights are a central element of the overarching, environmentally-destructive neoliberal order of which fracking is such a potent symptom.

It matters that a wide range of scholarship insists that “the human” of human rights is not what it seems.[1] It matters that stripping back the surface of the dignified universal human at the heart of human rights exposes a very particular historical subject that simply cannot stand for all of us. It matters that serious historical studies reveal that once human rights leave behind the abstract language of their enunciation to become concrete, human rights mostly reinscribe the historical priority of the interests of white, European, property-owning men.[2] It matters that the system-critical energies of human rights, which so often are authored by human beings collectively crying out against injustice, are tamed when human rights become institutionalized.[3]

It matters too, that human rights have operated as ideological cover for the political and economic imperialism of Western/Global North capitalist state powers. Human rights—after all—are central components of an entire international legal order predicated upon unjust capitalistic “relations between imperial and subordinate states.”[4] And accordingly, it shouldn’t surprise us that serious comparative sociology of human rights reveals that the UDHR order of human rights has already mutated into a recognizably “trade-related, market-friendly” order of rights for global corporate interests or that human rights are core components of a de facto global constitution for neoliberal corporate capital and its powerful transnational elite.[5, 6] After all, corporations now claim human rights for themselves extensively.[7] All this matters. And it matters for the present debate not least because the battle lines over fracking fundamentally reflect corporate power and profit-driven imperatives lined up against communities whose very health and wellbeing as living beings is imperiled.

It is not even certain—at this point—if human rights can survive the assault of legalism.[8] Douzinas, a well-known human rights scholar, argues that human rights are set against themselves by their instantiation as positive law.[9] What does this mean? It means that human rights are schizoid. On the one hand, they rise in the heart-cries of communities burning with a sense of injustice and pain. On the other hand, human rights are made to speak in legal rules and precedents—to invoke ideals and legal abstractions that, in the final analysis, all-too-often cloak the law’s formalization and legitimation of unjust structural relations.

This, then, is our background context, and we’d best remember it when calling upon human rights to argue against fracking. Yes, human rights law addresses the kinds of violations enacted by toxic fracking practices—as others have rightly argued in this discussion. But human rights also serve those who line up to exploit the ambiguities of human rights law armed with a phalanx of well-paid lawyers.

Douzinas once put the paradox of human rights like this:

A new ideal has triumphed on the world stage: human rights. It unites left and right, the pulpit and the state, the minister and the rebel, the developing world and the liberals of Hampstead and Manhattan. Human rights have become the principle of liberation from oppression and domination, the rallying cry of the homeless and the dispossessed, the political programme of revolutionaries and dissidents. But their appeal is not confined to the wretched of the earth. Alternative lifestyles, greedy consumers of goods and culture, the pleasure-seekers and playboys of the Western world, the owner of Harrods, the former managing director of Guinness Plc as well as the former King of Greece have all glossed their claims in the language of human rights.[10]

We cannot afford to forget that human rights can be turned back against the violated by the violator. We cannot afford to ignore the complicity of human rights in an international legal order predicated upon unjust structural relations—nor the way in which human rights have been deployed to marginalize those whose interests and identities were (and are) oppressively colonized by that same international order.[11]

The question is important: Which human rights? Whose rights?

Which human rights do we call upon against fracking as a violation? Not merely the pallid shadows that human rights become in law. Yes, use law: Deploy the legal rights that human rights become—but retain a critical distance. For we urgently need also to speak with the prophetic fire of human rights—to speak the poetry of human rights as claim-making, as a politics untamed by law. We need to call on human rights beyond human rights to summon them in pursuit of the justice that slips beyond law’s horizon.

Whose human rights do we call upon? Not those of the bloodless abstract human universal. Not the market-friendly human rights of corporate capital. No, our passion for justice must burn in defense of all those systemically disadvantaged even by human rights.

Author’s note: Human rights are also criticized for being anthropocentric. The “human” of human rights can be re-imagined to embrace the rights of non-human animals and living systems—but space did not allow for a nuanced discussion of this important theme.

NOTES (show)

[1] See, for example, the arguments in D Otto, ‘Disconcerting Masculinities: Reinventing the Gendered Subjects of International Human Rights Law’ in A Manji and D Buss, International Law: Modern Feminist Approaches (Oxford, Hart 2005) 105-129.

[2] M Ishay, The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era (California, University of California Press 2008).

[3] N Stammers, Human Rights and Social Movements (London, Pluto Press 2009).

[4] EM Wood, Empire of Capital (London, Verso 2005), at 12.

[5] U Baxi, The Future of Human Rights (Oxford, OUP 2008).

[6] T Evans and A Ayers, ‘In the Service of Power: The Global Political Economy of Citizenship and Human Rights’ (2008) 10/3 Citizenship Studies 289-308.

[7] C Mayer, ‘Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights (1990) 41 Hastings Law Journal 577; Baxi, above n 5; M Emberland, The Human Rights of Companies: Exploring the Structure of ECHR Protection (Oxford, OUP 2006); A Grear, ReDirecting Human Rights: Facing the Challenge of Corporate Legal Humanity (Basingstoke, Palgrave McMillan 2010).

[8] C Gearty, Can Human Rights Survive? (Cambridge, CUP 2006).




Anna Grear is Professor of Law and Theory at Cardiff School of Law and Politics in the United Kingdom.

Iran could soon join Russia-led free trade zone – By RT

Iran could soon join Russia-led free trade zone
The Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could welcome Iran as a new member in May, according to Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

“The move to enter into a temporary agreement making for a free trade zone to be set up between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, which is currently at an advanced stage, will obviously trigger further development of our bilateral trade and expansion of investment cooperation,” said Novak, who is also co-head of the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission.

Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei told TASS earlier that work on a free-trade zone agreement between the sides that started in 2015 was close to completion.

A trade bloc established in 2015, the EEU is based on the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. It was later joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In 2016, Vietnam officially became the first non-regional country to join the bloc. The union is designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and workers between member countries.

More than 40 countries and international organizations, including China, Indonesia and Israel, as well as some South American countries, have expressed interest in a free trade deal with the EEU. The trade bloc has also held negotiations with South Korea, Egypt and India.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Serbia could be also included in the EEU’s free trade zone in the future.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

The US Can’t Revive the Monroe Doctrine or Expel China from Latin America, but it Can Inflict Pain on the Region – By Elliott Gabriel (MINTPRESS)

 A mural of U.S. President Donald Trump depicting him wearing a Nazi swastika covers a wall along a sidewalk in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 14, 2017, along with the Spanish message: "We are those of peace.” (AP/Ariana Cubillos)
Terror, Geoeconomics and the Latin American Right


In this MPN exclusive, we speak to Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster and Latin America studies scholar Harry L. Simón Salazar about the U.S. fight to maintain hegemony in Latin America, the rise of the right wing, and the danger of “regime change” in Venezuela.

WASHINGTON (Analysis) — Is the United States getting its groove back in Latin America?

It’s certainly talking like it is. In February, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson toured the region in a bid to drum up support for Washington’s regime-change agenda in Venezuela. He began the tour in a bizarre fashion, celebrating the relevance of the long-expired 1823 “Monroe Doctrine.” In effect, Tillerson was asserting — with typical Trump administration hubris — Washington’s sovereignty over the entire Western Hemisphere, a response to China’s regional presence.

Washington’s bellicose tone comes amid a regional resurgence of the neoliberal right wing that has seen the once-dominant left – gathered under the banner of “Socialism of the 21st Century” – face multiple setbacks across Central and South America.

Despite its growing structural weakness and international isolation, the U.S. is still willing to do what it can to retain primacy in its historical “backyard,” the Western Hemisphere. Its current wounded-beast insecurity is only forcing it to desperately rethink its strategic approach.

Speaking to MintPress News, sociology professor at the University of Oregon and Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster said:

U.S. economic hegemony is in decline and Washington is using every means at its disposal to develop its geopolitical and geoeconomic power — that is, its imperial power — as a way of countering this decline.

The biggest current thrust in U.S. military and imperial strategy circles is directed at the articulation of what is called geoeconomic warfare as a definite strategy and as a means to geopolitical power. This involves the development of a whole new arsenal of weapons.”


21st century socialism: from red dawn to star-spangled dusk?

“What is taking place today across Latin America comes in the wake of an unusually long period of progressive advancements across the region,” author and University of California San Diego lecturer Harry L. Simón Salazar told MintPress News.

Continuing, Simón explained:

What was labeled by the bourgeoisie as the ‘pink tide’ can be tracked as beginning in the mid-to-late 1990s as a leftist trend that influenced regional politics for approximately 20 years, with theright wing increasingly isolated and limited to operating with impunity within Colombia, Florida, and Mexico. The leftist trend that spread across Latin America was primarily institutional and electoral, developing within the framework of diminished neoliberal states across Latin America and often influenced by Bolivarian oil wealth.”

In 1998, Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela, signaling what he called at the time a “social revolution.” He soon became the ideological lodestar of the new 21st-century socialist trend. By 2009, eight out of 10 South American governments were ruled by leftist parties backed by social movements, indigenous communities, and the traditional socialist and communist left. For a time, these social-democratic administrations proved massively popular and won more votes and elections than any prior government.

People hold up images showing Fidel Castro, second from right, Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez, center, and Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, bottom left and right, during a May Day march in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The image of Chavez carries the words in Spanish "Chavez : Our best friend." (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

To differing degrees, these governments broke with the Washington consensus of unquestioned market rule and focused more on the social, economic, and cultural rights of regional populations. In the spirit of what was called buen vivir (good living), the state strengthened its role — as social investment, labor market regulations, and other progressive reforms redistributed income and lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and into a new middle class. Even sections of the capitalist class in these countries were forced to begrudgingly accept these positive results and, in many cases, conservative and pro-U.S. electoral parties were delegitimized and pushed to the margins.

Multilateral institutions like the Washington-based Organization of American States and the World Trade Organization were likewise marginalized, as intergovernmental groups like Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) were forged. Meanwhile, the China Development Bank and Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank increasingly took over the role of the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and IMF.

The past several years have taken a grim toll on the Latin American left. As the popularity of incumbent left-of-center governments sagged, neoliberal presidents came to power in ArgentinaChile, and Peru through electoral means. In other countries, right-wing forces managed to devise new strategies beyond simply getting out the vote: in Paraguay and Brazil, leftist administrations were impeached in parliamentary coups that made way for pro-U.S. governments. In Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno – fresh from narrowly being elected with outgoing leftist leader Rafael Correa’s support – quickly used the “anti-corruption” rhetoric of the right-wing opposition to purge the ruling party of Correista “Citizen’s Revolution” stalwarts through unconstitutional means.

Read more Elliot Gabriel

Colombia’s FARC insurgents have disarmed in a peace deal widely criticized by the right, but killings and disappearances targeting rural activists and social movement organizers have continued unabated. Most recently in Honduras, the U.S. threw its weight behind the illegitimate and widely-resisted reelection of Juan Orlando Hernández.

Simón explained:

The current imperial/neoliberal offensive taking place across Latin America shares what might be labeled as an insurgent quality — the willingness among derechistas [rightists] and their U.S. sponsors to dismantle what is left of the neoliberal state, particularly any leftist manifestation of it, however innocuous it may be.”

In some cases, notable right-wing elites, landlords and local oligarchs like former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe are hardly distinguishable from mafiosi, and retain their seats in power despite their close ties to fascistic paramilitaries and death squads tied to the drug trade.

In Venezuela, the government of President Nicolas Maduro has struggled with plummeting oil prices and sabotage that has paralyzed sections the economy and empowered the U.S.-backed opposition. The U.S. is now openly discussing a “military option” while urging officers in the Venezuelan military to act as “the agent of change” in a manner similar to Augusto Pinochet’s violent overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973.

“In some Latin American countries this insurgent right wing [is] striking out against populations using methods not seen since the days of Operation Condor and the counterinsurgent wars of the 1980s,” Simón noted, continuing:

Latin American reactionary elites [are] demonstrating a class-based consensus that there is no need to mask their current power grabs with bourgeois legality, and instead they demonstrate a willingness to disrupt the constitutional order and tear apart ‘el tejido social’ [the social fabric].”

Meanwhile, China has continued to consolidate its presence in the region while forging close economic relationships with Latin American and Caribbean governments, irrespective of whether they lean left or right. Beijing’s repeated assertions that “Latin America is the natural extension of the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road” were without a doubt seen in Washington as an implied strategic threat to the U.S. and a signal of its receding power in Latin America.

“The object of the continued incorporation of Latin America within the U.S. Empire has remained consistent, though the methods in which this has been approached have naturally varied depending on historical circumstances,” Foster explained.


“America First” meets the Monroe Doctrine

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, front, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrive to hold a press conference after a meeting at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 6, 2018. (AP/Fernando Vergara)

In a speech kicking off his Latin America tour last month, Tillerson hailed the Monroe Doctrine for being “as relevant today as it was the day it was written.” The announcement was a direct reversal of former President Barack Obama’s policy signaling that the era of U.S. military intervention in the region was over – a declaration “worth applauding,” as Tillerson’s predecessor John Kerry told the Organization of American States in 2013.

Liberal beltway analysts saw Tillerson’s speech as a gaffe and possible result of a shortage of regional experts in his State Department, yet the assertion brought a sense of foreboding to critics of U.S. imperialism.

“U.S. imperialism in Latin America is of course nothing new, now going back at least two centuries, with the [bicentennial] anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine only five years away,” Foster explained, continuing:

The Monroe doctrine, which has frequently been glorified in the United States almost as an ancillary to the Constitution, is primarily a declaration of U.S. hegemony over Latin America, and against any interference in the region by powers outside the Americas. It has been used to justify U.S. imperialism, including military interventions, in the region over a period of two centuries.”

When the Monroe Doctrine was authored by then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1823, Washington claimed that it was necessary to prevent a European imperial presence in the Americas. The doctrine was eventually extended to Hawaii and the Philippines. Throughout the 20th century, the doctrine was used to justify U.S. imperialism’s fight against socialist and communist governments and national liberation movements seen as friendly toward the Soviet Union.

In his landmark 1944 analysis, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, German political scientist Franz Neumann laid out how Nazi Germany saw the American exceptionalist assertions in the Monroe Doctrine as a model for geopolitical hegemony — unlike traditional international law, which was seen as a “creation of the Jews and as a cloak for British imperialism.” For the ideologists of Nazi-era geopolitics, the Monroe Doctrine became a justification for Germany’s own grossdeutsche Reich. Neumann explained:

The Monroe Doctrine [became] ‘the most successful example of a large-scale principle in international law’ … Ever since the first Hague Peace Conference of 1909, the United States has insisted that the Monroe Doctrine occupies an exceptional position … In German hands, the exception now becomes the rule. There is no longer one international law but as many as there are empires, that is, large spaces. The grossdeutsche Reich is the creator of its own international law for its own space. Interventionists must keep their hands off.”

The policy is now being reimagined as an “America First” imperialist strategy to reduce Chinese investment in the region – in Tillerson’s words, to prevent China from using its “economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit.”


The geoeconomic battle with China for the Americas

Bolivia's President Evo Morales, right, gives a handcrafted bust of Bolivia's indigenous leader Tupac Katari to Houlin Zhao, left, from China, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, during a meeting at the presidential residence, in La Paz., Oct. 13, 2017. (AP/Juan Karita)

Tillerson’s remarks were a result of ongoing discussions in Washington about how best to reassert the U.S.’s flagging economic and military power,  Foster noted, pointing to the “the hottest book in U.S. imperial circles” – the Council on Foreign Relations’ War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft.

In the 2016 book, authors Robert D. Blackwell and Jennifer M. Harris highlight China’s threat to U.S. hegemony in the region, unfavorably comparing Washington’s coercive power to Beijing’s ability to offer development assistance and condition-free aid to increase its geopolitical leverage:

More and more states are waging geopolitics with capital, attempting with sovereign checkbooks and other economic tools to achieve strategic objectives that in the past were often the stuff of military coercion or conquest … The United States has no coherent policies to deal with these Chinese geoeconomic actions — many of which are aimed squarely at America’s allies and friends.

… [A]s economic techniques of statecraft have become a lost art in the United States, the rest of the world has moved in the opposite direction. Russia, China, and others now routinely look to geoeconomic means, often as a first resort, and often to undermine American power and influence. In ignoring the ever-greater role of geoeconomics in the international system, the United States squanders opportunities and dilutes its own foreign policy outcomes … It gives China free rein in vulnerable African and Latin American nations.”

“So the Monroe Doctrine is now being revived and reinterpreted to extend to geoeconomic statecraft and warfare,” Foster said. “The United States is essentially insisting on its total economic as well as military domination of its Latin American ‘backyard.’” Foster added:

“I believe that Venezuela in particular has become a test case for this new strategy of geoeconomic warfare. But it is not just Venezuela that is the target, and in different places different weapons are used.”

With the U.S. embroiled in various “regime change” efforts and low-intensity conflicts across the globe, aimed at securing its dominance – a state of perpetual warfare known to Washington policymakers as the New Thirty Years War – the U.S. capability for a direct military intervention against the formidably-armed National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela has been significantly eroded. Even Trump, surrounded as he is by former top-brass generals like Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, can understand this.

An asymmetric approach is thus a preferred option to effect “regime change,” Foster explained, continuing:

The U.S. strategy in Latin America has been to focus on altering various parameters in its favor, weakening and dividing Latin American states, and diminishing China’s role … Isolation of Venezuela and the other ALBA states is key, with the U.S. exerting pressure for coups or even military intervention by a combination of states. [For example], the Venezuela opposition has been promoted under the mantle of a ‘civil society’ revolt.”


Mediated terror

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles speaks to the media following his meeting with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, at the OAS building in Washington, March 31, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

For Harry L. Simón Salazar, the current U.S. neoliberal offensive in Latin America is increasingly becoming a role assigned to the mass media. Even In countries like Ecuador and Venezuela, media outlets remain in the hands of either U.S.-based transnational corporations or Washington- and Miami-loyal elites.

In his recently-published book, Television, Democracy, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics, Simón analyzed Chile’s 1990 transition from Pinochet-era dictatorship to civilian rule. In Simón’s view, the 1988 Franja de Propaganda Electoral campaign was a case study of how the media plays a key role in proliferating neoliberal cultural values and the “politics of the possible” in the minds of the populations.

The campaign was a collaborative effort between the outgoing dictatorship and the democratic opposition. In the 2012 Chilean film, No, it was memorably portrayed as the crass product of an advertising agency.

Watch | Trailer for the 2012 Chilean film ‘No’ 


Simón explained:

Since the late 1980s, Latin American mass media was not just instrumentalized by the right to frame political struggle, but it became a mass media that often became the central field of political struggle primarily for the right wing (with a few cases for the left), with organized parties and organizational forms assigned a secondary position.”

His perspective was underscored by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in a recent opinion piece for Cuba’s Granma daily, where the once overwhelmingly popular and now widely-defamed leader stressed:

Our democracies should be called mediated democracies. The media are a more important component in the political process than the parties and electoral systems; they have become the main opposition parties of the progressive governments, and they are the true representatives of business and conservative political power.

It does not matter what best suits the majorities, what has been proposed in the election campaign, and what the people — the main actor in every democracy — has decided at the polls. The important thing is what the media approve or disapprove of in their headlines. They have replaced the Rule of Law with the State of Opinion.”

Simón, like Correa, sees this new reality as an important moment for self-criticism and the need to examine the actual feasibility of breaking from imperialism’s grip through peaceful democratic means:

We must reconsider the relative importance of electoral struggle within the context of the neoliberal bourgeois state, and as part of the Latin American left we must put into balance this history and reconsider our priorities.

If neoliberalism in Latin America proved to be so resilient as to survive the so-called ‘pink tide’ – and be capable of rising up and pushing back the progressive gains of the past 20 years – then it is essential that we understand that its power and influence weren’t just a function of presidential and constitutional power alone.”


Venezuela versus the “giant with feet of clay:” a new David versus Goliath?

Government supporters perform a parody involving a Venezuelan militia up against Uncle Sam, a personification of the U.S government, during an anti-imperialist march to denounce Trump's talk of a "military option" for resolving the country's political crisis, in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 14, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

In South America, only two real leftist governments remain standing: Bolivia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For now, Washington’s regime-change obsession has focused on the latter. In response, Caracas has met a stream of U.S. sanctions and threats with a deepening of radical measures aimed at consolidating the Bolivarian state, ranging from civilian-military exercises to the introduction of the Petro digital currency and formation of a National Constituent Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to isolate itself with its incoherent policies and all-sided hostility to friend and foe alike.

“Venezuela has been declared to be an official enemy, but the list of official and unofficial enemies of the United States is now very extensive,” Foster said. “Venezuela is not alone and the whole world can see the economic sanctions and other coercive measures being imposed to bring Venezuela to its knees.”

Continuing, Foster explained:

I think a lesson here can be taken from Cuba. There is not a day where Cuba has not stressed to its population and the whole world the deleterious effects of the U.S. embargo on Cuba. It is a simple and powerful message.”

The United States remains far from its goal of fully reasserting itself in its historic stomping ground, in Simón’s view, but it remains capable of corralling its local proxies:

What I believe is happening now in Latin America is more along the lines of a terroristic rightwing insurgency, aligned with organized crime and transnational economic elites, that has monetized chaos and is willing to make a country ungovernable if that is what’s required for reconquering political power and purging what’s left of the so-called ‘pink tide.’”

In a 21st century marked by repeated defeats for U.S. imperialism and the rise of “multipolarity” across the globe, the United States remains a “giant with feet of clay,” as Immanuel Wallerstein has argued. The empire still has a strong ability to overwhelm its adversaries in conventional combat, but it’s also restrained by its economic fragility, diplomatic fecklessness, and unease over the costs of a bloody, prolonged intervention in Venezuela.

“Venezuela is now the target of clearly-articulated geoeconomic warfare at every level, designed to soften it up for a coup or military intervention,” Foster said. “This message has to be conveyed to the world on a daily basis.”

Despite its aggression, any attempt by Washington to launch a unilateral war against a Latin American government would doubtlessly result in a tsunami of anti-imperialist fervor from the region’s numerous social movements. The reinvigoration of the popular left is a likely prospect in this scenario, not to mention sustained resistance on the military front.

The danger remains that in the present crisis-racked geopolitical arena, the United States government’s propensity to wreak havoc could lead to a disaster in the region or another “long night” of right-wing dictatorships — keen on steering their countries back toward repressing the poor, enriching corrupt elites, and exporting raw materials to the imperialist core countries of North America, Asia, and Europe.

It would be a mistake, however, to exaggerate Washington’s potential to prevail in the “great game” of 21st-century imperialist statecraft and geoeconomic warfare — let alone its ability to revive lost hegemony by bringing the long-dead Monroe Doctrine back from the grave.

Top Photo | A mural of U.S. President Donald Trump depicting him wearing a Nazi swastika covers a wall along a sidewalk in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 14, 2017, along with the Spanish message: “We are those of peace.” (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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America is a System Not a Democracy – Chris Kanthan (Sott.net)

US democracy

Are you perturbed by what’s happening in America? Are you shocked by inequality, disappearing middle class, declining quality of health, police brutality, gun violence, ever-growing national debt, government’s Orwellian monitoring etc.? You are not alone, but all these are confusing only if you think in terms of an “American government” or “American corporations” or “American banks” that have, or should have, unique loyalty or consideration towards the American people.

But that’s the wrong way to think about American today. Everything becomes clear if you think of it as a “System”.

Why would we be surprised that there are millions of Americans who work full time and yet live in poverty, when the System exploits people in other countries for much, much lower wages? In the cost-savings Excel sheet of the System, a Walmart worker is still 10x more expensive than the worker from that ‘other’ country.

We cease to be surprised that Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase defraud American homeowners when we realize that the System brought down whole countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal using the same financial engineering schemes, lies and manipulations. Most of these countries are now being looted by the austerity programs demanded by the same System.

How can we be shocked by gun violence in America when the System is the #1 exporter of guns and weapons in the world? The System thrives on violence. The System loves perpetual wars – Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger … just to name a few countries the System has bombed in the last decade. The System is also planning for bigger wars with North Korea, Russia and China.

If police brutality and militarization of police is disturbing, we have to realize how the System supports, and has supported, dictators all over the world when it is/was profitable to do so. Many ruthless dictators in Latin American countries, Africa, Middle East and Asia were handpicked and put in power by the System. Some were even trained in a special school in the U.S. The system gladly funds and arms terrorists in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. All that valuable experience can’t be wasted.

When it comes to child poverty, no one should be surprised that America ranks at the bottom among developed nations. From Apple to Calvin Klein to Hershey’s, many corporations depend on child labor for their stocks to outperform the expectations of Wall Street analysts. When the System profits from ten-year-olds working in toxic mines in third-world countries, American kids on food stamps look quite spoiled. The ‘poor’ in America don’t realize how good they have it.

For anyone who is enraged by our exploding national debt, don’t be. Debt is the ultimate tool for the System to enslave nations. The economic hit men of the World Bank and the IMF have, over the last 75 years, mastered this art of drowning nations in debt in order to control them. Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that Russia – the country the System loves to hate – has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 17%? Compare that to America’s 105% or Japan’s 250%. The System doesn’t like countries with low debt, just like it doesn’t appreciate people trying to go off-grid in America or people thinking for themselves. This is also the same reason that Americans save only 2.4% of their income while US households have a record debt of over $13 trillion. Credit cards, student loans, auto loans and mortgages are all different tools with the same purpose.

Once you understand the System, you can’t feign surprise that wages are stagnant while the cost of living keeps going up. With all the advancement in science, one would think that healthcare cost would go down every year, but that would be naive. Healthcare (“sickcare”) is the best extraction tool, since people will give up a kidney (sometimes literally) for medical care when they are sick. The only things that are cheap are processed food and mass entertainment that are toxic to your body and mind respectively. Does anyone ever wonder if that’s just a coincidence?

This is why America’s education ranks at the bottom of developed nations. As a Wikileaks email revealed, the elites “conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.” Translation: Dumb and Subservient.

Do you wonder why fracking and GMOs are allowed to destroy America’s environment? The System couldn’t care less about the environment. It has destroyed an unimaginable amount of rain forest all over the world, and couldn’t care less about the thousands of species that are going extinct every year. The System hates sustainability and freedom. Just like how the older version of the System wiped out the Native Americans, the current System despises tradition, culture, religion, spirituality, consciousness, holistic medicine, anything that involves people taking care of and responsibility for themselves.

By now, hopefully, you understand why lobbyists have taken over the American government and why we really don’t have a functional democracy. The System is not a fan of democracy. You really don’t think that the psychopathic elite would agree to run their lives and plan their grand strategies on the basis of the needs of millions of pesky little people, do you? Democracy and elections are just nice illusions so that we feel content, be passive, go to work, watch lots of TV, get into debt, spend our money on things we don’t need and, most importantly, believe in the righteousness of the System.

Are you mad? You should be. The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.


Chris Kanthan (Profile)

Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Deconstructing the Syrian war.. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto.. Follow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel

Imminent collapse of US dollar & other major currencies will push gold to $10,000 – bullion analyst – By RT

Imminent collapse of US dollar & other major currencies will push gold to $10,000 – bullion analyst
An ounce of gold will cost $10,000 as soon as global currencies crash and central banks have to appeal to a gold-backed monetary system, according to Byron King, editor of Jim Rickards’ Gold Speculator.

“If you take the global money supply, back it with 40 percent gold, you need $10,000 gold to make the math work, and that’s just using a 40 percent backing,” he said in an interview with Kitco News on the sidelines of the annual event set by Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). “And it has to do with the eventual demise of modern currencies.”

The analyst didn’t specify the timeframe for the gold price surge from the current $1,325 per ounce, but stressed that it would have to happen, as the current cash bubble, consisting of dozens of trillions in USD, cannot exist forever.

“It’s kind of like a story about the man who went bankrupt, slowly at first and then all of a sudden. It’s the same thing with the US dollar, with the euro, with the yen. We’ve created trillions and trillions, dozens of trillions, almost hundreds of trillions of dollars, of obligations that simply can never be repaid. It will have to happen,” the analyst said.

King noted that gold stocks at current valuations are rather more attractive at the moment than they were two years ago. The expert also said that today’s miners are backed by “better numbers” and “smarter geologists.”

“We are in a new gold bull cycle, we’re in a blip of six- or eight-month downturn, but it will turn around. These are fundamentally good companies with great value behind them,” he said.

The PDAC International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange is an annual event for investors, companies and organizations connected with mineral exploration. The event, carried out in Toronto, reportedly attracts 1,000 exhibitors, 3,800 investors and 24,000 attendees from 130 countries.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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World’s top 5 ‘most evil’ corporations – By RT

World’s top 5 ‘most evil’ corporations
Most companies become successful thanks to their stellar reputations. But not always. RT Business scraped the bottom of the barrel to find the most hated companies trending on the internet.


The company that needs no introduction, creator of DDT and Agent Orange, Monsanto is one the world’s largest pesticide and GMO seed manufacturers. It is known for being the first company to genetically modify a seed to make it resistant to pesticides and herbicides. Monsanto’s herbicides have been blamed for killing millions of crop acres, while its chemicals were added to blacklists of products causing cancer and many other health problems.


Once the darling of Microsoft-hating gadget lovers, Apple more recently has been accused of mistreating or underpaying their employees, hiding money offshore, and not paying taxes. It has also been accused of violating health or environmental legislation, and misusing its position where they have a monopoly in the market. And, oh yes, deliberately slowing older iPhones and overcharging for its products to boot.


The world’s largest food and beverage company Nestle says it is committed to enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. However, it has been dragged through numerous scandals involving slave labor. The multinational is one of the most boycotted corporations in the world, as violations of labor rights have been reported at its factories in different countries.

Philip Morris

The products of the American multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company are sold in over 180 countries outside the United States. Philip Morris owns Marlboro, one of the world’s biggest brands. Back in 1999, Philip Morris courted officials of the Czech Republic by explaining how smoking would in fact help their economy, due to the reduced healthcare costs from its citizens dying early.


American fast-food company McDonald’s was founded in 1940. The company serves more customers each day than the entire population of Great Britain, but has a long history of terrible labor practices. It has been constantly under fire for serving unhealthy junk food, which contributes health problems. Researchers have found that McDonald’s burgers cannot decompose on their own.

Notable mentions of corporations not quite evil enough to make the top list:

Goldman Sachs
JPMorgan Chase
British American Tobacco
Dow Chemical

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

‘Listen to us now’: Putin unveils new Russian nuclear arsenal – By RT

‘Listen to us now’: Putin unveils new Russian nuclear arsenal
Russia has developed a number of advanced weapons systems, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile, which make all US capabilities aimed at undermining the Russian nuclear deterrent obsolete, President Vladimir Putin announced.

The latest advances in Russian strategic deterrence have made America’s anti-missile systems obsolete, so Washington should stop trying to diminish Russia’s security and start talking to Moscow as an equal partner, not the dominant military power it seeks to be, Putin said.

The Russian leader made the comments during his state of the nation address on Wednesday. While the first part of the address was a straightforward description of domestic goals and achievements, the second became a defiant challenge to the US. Putin announced that Russia has successfully developed several new weapons systems, which basically negate American anti-ballistic missile capabilities.

The Russian president accused the US of arrogance, saying that it thought that Russia would not be able to recover anytime soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that its interests can simply be ignored. One particular move – the withdrawal by George W Bush from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 – resulted in Russia being increasingly surrounded by American assets, which undermined the country’s nuclear deterrence.

“In the end, if we did nothing, this would render the Russian nuclear potential worthless,” Putin said. “They could simply intercept all of it.”

Without a nuclear deterrent, Russia would be exposed to US military pressure and would not be able to pursue a sovereign policy, Putin said. The president warned as early as in 2004 that Russia would not sit idle and that it would respond to this threat by developing new weapons systems.

Russia’s new ‘big stick’

Russia has now done this, according to Putin, who went on to present a number of new systems, some of which don’t yet have names, and which are all meant to counter current and future ABM systems. His speech was accompanied by a series of video clips showing those new systems, partially as footage of tests and partially as computer-generated images showing their capabilities.

One system is the new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) called Sarmat, or RS-28. It’s already well-known, but Putin stressed that its increased range allows the missile to reach US territory from Russia via a South Pole route. The US has dozens of interceptor missiles deployed in Alaska on the presumption that Russia’s ICBMs would approach from that direction, which would not be the case with Sarmat.

In fact, the Soviet Union had a missile that could approach the US from any direction. It was not a regular ballistic missile but rather one that put the warhead into low-earth orbit. The warhead would then deorbit when close to its target, thanks to its own engines. However, the R-36orb missiles were scrapped as part of nuclear reduction process.

Putin then went on to weapons systems that were not previously known to the public. One is a yet-to-be-named cruise missile with an almost unlimited range.

This is achieved thanks to a highly-efficient on-board miniaturized nuclear reactor, which powers the flight. Such a missile can fly low enough to avoid early detection, can change course to avoid enemy anti-missile assets along its path, and maneuver to pierce the anti-missile systems protecting its target.

According to Putin, Russia successfully tested a nuclear-propelled cruise missile at the end of 2017. It is now developing a new class of strategic weapons, he added.

The idea of a nuclear-powered projectile is hardly new. The US tried to develop one as part of Project Pluto in the early 1960s, but abandoned it since strategic missiles with chemical propellants proved to be a more viable alternative. Russia has reportedly made a breakthrough in this technology, becoming the first nation to bring it to maturity.

Putin also said that miniaturization of a nuclear reactor gave Russia another advanced weapons system in the form of a high-endurance underwater drone. The drone can dive “really very deep” and travel between continents at a speed that is several times higher than that of a submarine, a modern torpedo or even a surface ship, he said.

According to the president, such drones can attack enemy aircraft carrier groups, shoreline defenses or infrastructure, and cannot be countered by any defense system in the world. Both conventional and nuclear-tipped versions can be made, he said.

In December 2017, Russia completed the trials of a nuclear reactor which gives the drones such capabilities. The reactor is “100 times smaller” than those used by nuclear-propelled submarines and generates more power, Putin said. It can also reach its peak power 200 times faster than a conventional nuclear power plant.

The video shown for this weapon system didn’t include any actual test, but presumably the claimed miniaturization of a nuclear reactor, which was used for the cruise missile, can also work for a watercraft.

Putin then showcased two variants of a hypersonic weapons systems already developed by Russia. One is an air-launched vehicle that is already deployed in southern Russia for test combat duty. The projectile travels at a speed of Mach-10 and has a range of 2,000km (1,240 miles). The weapon, which is called Kinzhal (“dagger” in Russian) is available in conventional and nuclear forms, Putin said. A video shown to the audience included the moment the weapon was deployed by a fighter jet and the fire from its engine.

Another weapon that is being developed, but which was not shown being tested because its appearance is classified, according to Putin, is a hypersonic glider warhead deployed from space. Russia first tested one back in 2004 and has made significant progress since, the president said. The glider can fly in the atmosphere at speeds of over Mach-20 and can withstand a heat of up to 2,000C (3,632F) generated by air fiction. The system is in series production and is called Avangard (“advance guard” in Russian).

The last weapon system showcased by Putin during his speech was a combat laser, which he said Russia had started to deploy last year. A small video clip showed what presumably is an anti-aircraft laser system, but no test footage was shown.

‘Speaking softly’: Russia wants negotiations, not confrontation

Putin stressed that Russia would not need all these new weapons if its legitimate concerns had not been ignored by the US and its allies. “Nobody wanted to talk with us on the core of the problem. Nobody listened to us. Now you listen!” he said.

He suggested that the US abandon its costly and inefficient hostile plans towards Russia and start negotiating a security arrangement which would take Moscow’s interests into account.

“To those who for the last 15 years have been trying to fan an arms race, achieve unilateral advantage against Russia, impose sanctions, which are illegal from the standpoint of international law and are aimed at holding back the development of our country, including in the military area, I have this to say: All the things you were trying to prevent through your policies have already happened. You have failed to hold Russia back,” Putin said.

“You now have to acknowledge this reality, confirm that everything I said is no bluff – which it isn’t – think for some time, send into retirement the people stuck in the past and incapable of looking into the future, [and] stop rocking the boat that we all ride in and which is called planet Earth,” he said. Russia would be responsive if talked to as an equal partner, Putin added.

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Top Ten Signs the US Is the Most Corrupt Nation in the World – By Juan Cole (MINT PRESS)

Rit Picone of Newpaltz, N.Y., carries an American flag upside down as a symbol of protest against the influence of money in politics. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Those ratings that castigate Afghanistan and some other poor countries as hopelessly “corrupt” always imply that the United States is not corrupt. This year’s report from Transparency International puts the US on a par with Austria, which is ridiculous. All kinds of people from politicians to businessmen would go to jail in Austria today if they engaged in practices that are quite common in the US.

While it is true that you don’t typically have to bribe your postman to deliver the mail in the US, in many key ways America’s political and financial practices make it in absolute terms far more corrupt than the usual global South suspects. After all, the US economy is worth over $18 trillion a year, so in our corruption, a lot more money changes hands.

1. A sure sign of corruption is an electoral outcome like 2016. An addled nonentity like Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes a predatory behavior in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. The permitting of massive black money in our elections was taken advantage of by the Russian Federation, which, having hopelessly corrupted its own presidential elections, managed to further corrupt the American ones, as well. Once ensconced in power, Trump Inc. has taken advantage of the power of White House to engage in a wide range of corrupt practices, including an attempt to sell visas to wealthy Chinese and the promotion of the Trump brand as part of diplomacy.

2. The rich are well placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. The Koch brothers and other mega-rich troglodytes explicitly told Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in 2017 that if the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of government, could not lower taxes on its main sponsors, there would be no billionaire backing of the party in the 2018 midterms. This threat of an electoral firing squad made the hundreds of bribe-takers in Congress sit up and take notice, and they duly gave away to the billionaire class $1.5 trillion in government services (that’s what Federal taxes are, folks, services–roads, schools, health inspections, implementation of anti-pollution laws–things that everyone benefits from and which won’t be there anymore. To the extent that the government will try to continue to provide those slashed services despite assessing no taxes on the people with the money to pay for them, it will run up an enormous budget deficit and weaken the dollar, which is a form of inflation in the imported goods sector. Inflation hits the poor the worst. As it stands, 3 American billionaires are worth, as much as the bottom 150 million Americans. That kind of wealth inequality hasn’t been seen in the US since the age of the robber barons in the nineteenth century. Both eras are marked by extreme corruption.

One sign of American corruption is the rapidity with which American society has become more unequal since the 1980s Reagan destruction of the progressive income tax. The wealthier the top 1 percent is, the more politicians it can buy to gather up even more of the country’s wealth. In my lifetime the top one percent has gone from holding 25% of the privately held wealth under Eisenhower to 38% today.

3. Instead of having short, publicly-funded political campaigns with limited and/or free advertising (as a number of Western European countries do), the US has long political campaigns in which candidates are dunned big bucks for advertising. They are therefore forced to spend much of their time fundraising, which is to say, seeking bribes. All American politicians are basically on the take, though many are honorable people. They are forced into it by the system. The campaign season should be shortened to 3 months (did we really need 2 years to get an outcome in which a fool like Trump is president?), and Congress should pass a law that winners of primaries don’t have to pay for political ads on tv and radio.

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated in 2012, soon thereafter French police actually went into his private residence searching for an alleged $50,000 in illicit campaign contributions from the L’Oreale heiress. I thought to myself, seriously? $50,000 in a presidential campaign? Our presidential campaigns cost a billion dollars each! $50,000 is a rounding error, not a basis for police action. Why, George W. Bush took millions from arms manufacturers and then ginned up a war for them, and the police haven’t been anywhere near his house.

American politicians don’t represent “the people.” With a few honorable exceptions, they represent the 1%. American democracy is being corrupted out of existence.

Read more by Juan Cole

4. Money and corruption have seeped so far into our media system that people can with a straight face assert that scientists aren’t sure human carbon emissions are causing global warming. Fox Cable News is among the more corrupt institutions in American society, purveying outright lies for the benefit of the fossil fuels billionaire class. The US is so corrupt that it is resisting the obvious urgency to slash carbon production. Virtually the entire Republican Party resists the firm consensus of all respected scientists in the world and the firm consensus of everybody else in the world save for a few denialists in English-speaking countries. This resistance to an urgent and dangerous reality comes about because they are bribed to take this stance. Even Qatar, its economy based on natural gas, freely admits the challenge of human-induced climate change. American politicians like Jim Inhofe are openly ridiculed when they travel to Europe for their know-nothingism on climate.

4. That politicians can be bribed to reduce regulation of industries like banking (what is called “regulatory capture”) means that they will be so bribed. Scott Pruitt, a Manchurian candidate from Big Oil, has single-handedly demolished the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of polluting industry. This assault on the health of American citizens on behalf of vampirical corporations is the height of corruption.

6. The US military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next twelve major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside. Precisely because it is a cesspool of large-scale corruption, Trump’s budget will throw over $100 billion extra taxpayer dollars at it.

7. The US has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jail and penitentiary. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system. It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for e,g, three small thefts.

8. The National Security Agency’s domestic spying was a form of corruption in itself, and lends itself to corruption. With some 4 million government employees and private contractors engaged in this surveillance, it is highly unlikely that various forms of insider trading and other corrupt practices are not being committed. If you knew who Warren Buffett and George Soros were calling every day, that alone could make you a killing. The American political class wouldn’t have defended this indefensible invasion of citizens’ privacy so vigorously if someone somewhere weren’t making money on it.

9. As for insider trading, it turns out Congress undid much of the law it hastily passed forbidding members, rather belatedly, to engage in insider trading (buying and selling stock based on their privileged knowledge of future government policy). That this practice only became an issue recently is another sign of how corrupt the system is.

10. Asset forfeiture in the ‘drug war’ is corrupting police departments and the judiciary. Although some state legislatures are dialing this corrupt practice back, it is widespread and a danger to the constitution.

So don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Watch | Corruption Perceptions Index 2017


Top Photo | Rit Picone of Newpaltz, N.Y., carries an American flag upside down as a symbol of protest against the influence of money in politics. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, his new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st; he is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan)l He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon; he has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles; His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

© Informed Comment

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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