Obama, Putin on the “wrong side of history”– A short list on the irony of intervention.

obama

NEW YORK-The headlines are rife with irony laid bare before the world. On March 3rd, Obama said that the U.S. is doing all it can to work towards isolating Russia over its incursion into Crimea. Russia, according to Obama, has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, its territorial borders and shown disdain for international law. He stated that Russia’s actions in Crimea are illustrating that Putin is on the “wrong side of history.”

Secretary of State John Kerry was on “Face the Nation” on Monday where his statements could be seen as nothing more than ludicrous to anyone that has knowledge of U.S. foreign policy and aggression. He stated,”You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.” Kerry said that Russia’s actions are “an incredible act of aggression.”

The Russians must find these allegations amusing and many in the world are surely confused: How can the largest purveyor of violence in the world today say such things without looking uninformed, belligerent and downright ridiculous?

The United States has a habit of condemning other nations when they intervene in the affairs of others yet reserves the right to insert itself anywhere in the world at any given time for any reason, often times intervening on “humanitarian” grounds. Many people wonder how the U.S. can lambaste Russia while it is raining down bombs from drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and has over 700 military bases abroad . There are more than 50 examples of the U.S. intervening militarily or clandestinely since WWII alone. This short list only serves to provide serves to provide some context on the ironies of U.S. imperialism abroad with a few of the lesser known recent interventions.

2003, Iraq – The Bush Administration fabricates intelligence that Saddam Hussein developed weapons of mass destruction and supported Al Qaeda terrorists. Who remembers Colin Powell’s fabricated presentation at the UN to make his case for war?

2001, Afghanistan – After the September 11th terrorist attacks the U.S. gets even with the Taliban for aiding and abetting known Al-Qaeda terrorists. Consequently, the U.S. involves itself in one of the longest and most costly wars ever. The toll on the Afghan people is immeasurable, with nearly 20,000 civilians killed, and many arguing that the U.S. is not safer and that the Taliban is no weaker than before.

1994, Haiti – The U.S. first occupied Haiti in 1915 with 330 Marines to safeguard the interests of U.S. business interests. One of the most famous Marines and two time Medal of Honor recipient, Gen. Smedley Butler, wrote a book entitle “War is a Racket” describing how he was a “gangster for capitalism” and U.S. corporate interests. In 1994, the U.S. carried out Operation Uphold Democracy, which overthrew the elected president, John-Bertrand Aristide.

1989, Panama – One of the main reasons for the invasion of Panama, among several others, given by President George H.W. Bush on the morning 20 December, 1989, was to protect the 35,000 U.S. civilians living there. The relationship between President Manuel Noriega, who was a paid up to $200,000 a year for his contractual services for the CIA and DEA, had fallen out of grace with U.S. officials after his double dealing shenanigans were revealed by Seymor Hersh. He refused to surrender himself and shortly after the de facto leader of Panama was ousted in Operation Just Cause to international condemnation.

1960, Republic of the Congo – Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected leader of the Congo, was ousted in a coup supported by the Belgian and U.S. authorities. President Dwight Eisenhower along with Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, advised “eliminating” President Lumumba. The U.S. was not directly involved in his murder but there are documents that now prove the CIA conspired to kill him.

1971-1973, Chile – Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, was ousted in a coup led by General Agusto Pinochet, with the active support of the CIA. Documents from the National Security Archive show the extent to which President Nixon and his cohorts assisted in destabilizing and overthrowing Allende’s regime.

For a more complete list from Wounded Knee to Libya click here.

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Syria, Obama set to pour gasoline on the flames of war.

Photo: theaustrailian.com.au

Photo: theaustrailian.com.au

by Louis Michele

NEW YORK – As the drums of war continue to beat lounder, the U.S. government continues to ratchet up its rhetoric against the Bashar al Assad regime in Syria. On Saturday, August 31st, Obama announced that he would seek congressional approval before he took military action against  Assad  for the alleged use of banned chemical weapons in the country’s civil war. And on Tuesday the odds seem to be increasing that the U.S. will unleash the hounds of hell into yet another conflict in the Middle East that will have grave consequences not only for Syria and the millions affected in the surrounding region, but for the U.S. as well.

After the gross fabrication of evidence in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq one would think that the burden of proof would be extremely high on the Obama administration to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Assad regime is responsible for using chemical weapons on its own citizens, or any citizen for that matter. However, this seems to be far from what is happening. Either the bar that congressmen and the public writ large has set for the proof that the Assad regime is responsible is very low or we have a president and Congress that is anxious on intervening, or both. There is a compelling case that chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime but there is still no conclusive case that government forces are responsible.  And even if Assad was responsible beyond any doubt what would the consequences be  not only for Syria and the United States, but for the various regional players in the conflict.

Despite the talk in many news outlets about the legality of military action or the legitimacy of such action by the United States and its allies, there seems to be little talk of what the consequences and implications would be in a region where the sectarian tensions are already high. The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the colonial legacy of the Western powers still resonates in the collective consciousness of many people in the Middle East and once the Western bombs start dropping on Damascus the political and sectarian lines will sharpen even more. This has the potential to vastly destabilize the region and lead to more countries becoming embattled in the war. After all, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia have a definite stake in the conflict and if their interests feel threatened then there may be an escalation that could have catastrophic consequences for the everyone involved. Furthermore, a military strike by the U.S. will potentially embolden Assad even more because he will be seen as someone who stood up to foreign intervention and prevailed.  Assad himself said that foreign military intervention in Syria could set off a “powder keg” that could very likely spark a terrifying regional war.

So just like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is anxious to involve itself in a conflict it has no long term plan, resolution or exit strategy from, not to mention any moral claim to.  And just like the conflicts of the past the United States will continue to use the rhetoric  and hubris of humanitarianism and human rights while at the same time, as Martin Luther King said, retaining is position as the largest “purveyor of violence in the world.”