Newsletter – A Peek At Empire

| Newsletter

Its impacts are all around us, but it is rarely mentioned. What is it? Empire, and it’s time to bring it out of the shadows. We take a peek at the history of US Empire and how it continues to grow and be all-consuming today.

1nowarThe Empire Economy plunders our national treasury and robs us of jobs, education, healthcare and a future while serving transnational corporations. The US military is the biggest single user of fossil fuels which pollutes the planet and worsens the climate crisis. Our ‘American Way of War’ targets the basic necessities of life like power stations, hospitals and water plants for destruction and turns peaceful people against each other causing chaos and creating a vacuum for extremism and aggression against the US. The Pentagon cannot be audited but demands more every year.

The war culture pervades our society, brainwashing us from toddlerhood to revere the mass killing of war. Militarism invades our country in the form of SWAT teams and para-military units. People exercising their constitutionally protected political rights by protesting the injustice of a police killing of an unarmed person, or against Wall Street for their corruption and role in inequality, are met by heavily-armored police .

If you stop for a moment and think about it, you will see that this situation is ludicrous. In “Recovering from Militarism,” Robert Koehler urges us to ‘demilitarize the military’. He quotes Gregory Foster, writing, “our only alternative is to ‘reconsider the very purpose and function of the military and to reorient it accordingly. That would mean transforming a cumbersome, stagnant, obsolescent, irrelevant warfighting force — with its own inbuilt self-corrupting qualities — into a peacekeeping, nation-building, humanitarian-assistance, disaster-response force far more attuned to a future it helps shape and far more strategically effective than what we now have.'”

empireIt All Begins With Understanding History

To understand how critical it is to transform the US military, it is important to understand the US role in creating instability throughout the world in order to control access to resources for US corporations. Gen. Smedley Butler described war as a ‘racket’, saying he was a “high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.” This has been done overtly through invasions and bombing and covertly through institutions such as the CIA and its accomplices, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US AID, that foment ‘revolution’ and create coups.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. traces US interventions in the MidEast over the past 75 years in “Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria.” In particular, the US violated the 1941 Atlantic Charter, the formal pledge that all the former European colonies would have the right to self-determination following World War II, that FDR strong-armed the UK and other colonizing countries into signing before the US would join World War II against facism. While this history is not taught in the US, Arab countries are well aware of it and it informs their actions today. Ryan Harvey connects the dots to US responsibility for the refugee crisis and calls for cross-border solidarity to support the refugees and those working for radical change in their countries.

Demonstrators protest against the new security law as they rally outside the Diet building in Tokyo. (Photo: AFP)

Demonstrators protest against the new security law as they rally outside the Diet building in Tokyo. (Photo: AFP)

Under the Obama administration, the US has pointed a large portion of the military at Asia and is forcing bases and changes to laws in other countries to gain access to their land and military. In Japan this week thousands protested new laws that have fundamentally changed their military into an aggressive force rather than a defensive, pacifist force that it has been for decades. On the Island of Okinawa, residents protest the construction of a new US military base in an ecologically-fragile area daily. Similarly, residents of Jeju Island, the ‘peace island’, have been protesting construction of a US military base there. To understand the horrendous US history in Korea, and Jeju Island in particular, read this article we wrote a few years ago.

The US is also forcing its military on the Philippines through the innocently-sounding “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.” There have been mass protests against this agreement and a people’s tribunal has highlighted US responsibility for human rights abuses in the Philippines for corporate profit. This week, Catholic bishops in the Philippines expressed opposition to five new US military bases.

Opposition to US militarism and meddling is also growing in Latin America. After President Obama’s recent visit to Cuba, accompanied by 1,200 big business representatives and government officials, Fidel Castro stated that the people of Cuba would not forget the imperial history of the United States and “do not need the Empire to give us anything.” Mackenzie McDonald Wilkins wrote about US intervention in Cuba, which includes hundreds of attempts to assassinate Castro.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.31.22 AMAfter his trip to Cuba, President Obama traveled to Argentina to meet with the new right-wing president Mauricio Macri, His visit coincided with the fortieth anniversary of the US-backed coup there. Thousands protested Obama’s visit, including burning the US flag near where Obama and his family stayed.

Much of the US intervention in Latin America has been done to gain access to land oil and minerals. Last month, a very high-profile trial took place in Guatemala to expose the violent human rights abuses inflicted upon those who tried to protect their land from being stolen from them. Similar abuses are committed to stop people from protesting megadam projects backed by Wall Street. In the Honduras, Berta Caceres and Nelson Garcia were recently murdered for such activism. We are happy to announce that Gustavo Castro Soto,who witnessed Berta’s murder, has returned safely to Mexico.

Right now Brazil is in crisis as President Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment. Eric Draitser connects the turmoil in Brazil to Wall Street and Washington. Of course, Brazil is a key member of the BRICS bank which is challenging global financial elites.

US coups of governments is not history but current affairs. People are aware of the coup in Ukraine that we have covered extensively and the current effort to remove Assad in Syria which began in 2003.  Latin America is a good example of consistent US coup efforts, e.g. Venezuela (2002), Haiti (2004), Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009), Ecuador (2010), Venezuela (2014) and Brazil (2016).

1saChallenging Empire

It seems pretty clear that the United States does not have an effective plan for resolving conflict in the Middle East, so activists are stepping up to put pressure on US allies in the region. European Union countries and Canadian activists are passing resolutions and using the judicial system to halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to end Israeli Apartheid was started in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian organizations to put pressure on Israel in a non-violent way to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. It has grown into an international movement that is having a substantial impact, much like the divestment movement targeting South Africa in the 1980’s.

In response, extremist pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC are organizing to stop the BDS movement. This was a major theme at the recent AIPAC meeting in Washington, DC where efforts that included stopping campuses from participating in the divestment were discussed. Celebrities are being drawn in to oppose the BDS movement and the Israeli intelligence minister went so far as to call for the ‘targeted killing’ of BDS activists. Arguing that these efforts violate constitutional rights, a few members of Congress in the US put forth legislation to stop these anti-BDS efforts.

honduras_caravan_for_peace_life_justiceThe failed ‘War on Drugs’ is receiving greater attention. It is directly connected to US efforts to invade, militarize and dominate Latin American countries. A new study finds that the War on Drugs has harmed public health and points to positive outcomes in countries that have decriminalized drug use. The ‘Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice‘ is traveling from the Honduras to New York and Washington, DC so that victims can tell their stories of ways the War on Drugs has led to violence against their families. It will conclude with the School of Americas Watch Spring Days of Action.

There are many solidarity efforts being organized to build a more peaceful and just world. We can end the centuries of US Empire and repair  the damage it has done. Majorities of people around the world desire peace.

When asked if such a giant task is impossible Robert Koehler responded, “Only if we concede that we have no future.” In fact, we do have a future and it is not yet defined. It is our job to create the future we want to see.

  • Show Up!

    Truly excellent article. If only we could draw public attention (while they are up from their nap) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s promotion of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ along with its militaristic components.

  • kevinzeese

    Thanks. Share it and urge people to sign up for our daily and weekly newsletters. Spread the word!

  • potshot

    Splendid writing. Lucid thinking. Unique perspective. I had no idea that RFK, Jr. was part of the anti-war movement. Isn’t he that anti-marijuana zealot? Or is that Patrick? I’m intuiting that Nietzsche’s assertion that often times what is lie in the father is conviction in the son somehow applies to here. I echo Show Up! Outstanding reporting. Notice how a lot of people use the word amazing when they mean astonishing. As in, it’s amazing that that cop shot that unarmed black man. Or it’s amazing that the world we live in is even more dystopian than the one Orwell envisaged in 1984. I want to be careful I don’t say astonishing when I mean amazing here: amazing reporting admirably comprehensive in scope. Poetic and gorgeous at the same time. What a coda-close! In days of yore you’d a had to pay for this kind of content.

  • kevinzeese

    Patrick Kennedy is the anti-drug zealot.

  • History301

    I share this Newsletter each week and this one is especially relevant and one Americans certainly should be able to read. If we didn’t have what amounts to state run media, along with all the other mechanisms used by this empire singing a far different tune, our population might learn things previously unknown to most. I think Prof Sheldon Wolin called it right when he described our form of government as; “Inverted Totalitarianism” but many don’t agree with that viewpoint.
    In any case, many thanks to Kevin Zeese and Dr. Margaret Flowers for their tireless efforts to shed light on the truth in all ways possible for them to do.

  • Pingback: Newsletter – A Peek At Empire–Popular Resistance | PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS VOICE()

  • Jon

    But RFK Jr. (correctly) is a vehement opponent of toxin-laden vaccines (think mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde) and the damage, including multiple deaths, of infants to whom they are given, often MANDATED! He came to Maine last year to testify at our legislature.

  • Jon

    FRACK THE EMPIRE! Break it up, as akin to what happened, almost totally peacefully with the late USSR which long ago had become state capitalist, not socialist. Hawai’i has by far the strongest (and irrefutable) case. In my book, “Liberate Hawai’i!” I use the parallel case of Lithuania, similarly “annexed” fraudulently by Stalin’s USSR in 1940, contradicting what Lenin had promised in writing only 20 years earlier. That breakthrough by Lithuania triggered a chain reaction that resulted (for better or for worse) the end of that empire. Reviews on Amazon for any interested.

  • Pingback: A Peek at Empire. Popular Resistance. | amnesiaclinic()

  • Aquifer

    I would caution a bit, however, as to advocating for the military as a “peacekeeping, nation-building,” force – we have been “treated to” reports of the atrocities committed by UN “peacekeepers” in Haiti and Africa, and the abysmal results of attempting to use them as “nation-builders” are obvious in Afghanistan … A military, IMO, trained for war cannot be used to “keep the peace”, you need another, separately trained force for that. And as for “nation building”, let the folks who live in the “nation” do that … As for “disaster assistance” and “humanitarian relief” – a military’s expertise in “delivering goods” and setting up distribution centers, etc, may be valuable, but then again, how often have the disasters and humanitarian efforts been an excuse to get the military’s nose under the tents they set up – I think the military needn’t be “transformed” but shrunk considerably, kept to a core function of “defending the homeland” from invasion and these other functions best served by separate agencies, funded with the same funds we save by shrinking that military – if you just say we are “transforming” the military, that still would leave it under Pentagon control, would still provide justification for all those bases overseas, under the guise of its “new’ functions …

    Just a thought ….

  • AlanMacDonald

    Margaret and Kevin, I love it when you guys talk dirty about Empire —- but I sure do wish that Bernie would start talking dirty about it too.

    Before the 4ht of July this year, 2016 — only 240 years after America’s First (and only successful) Revolution against Empire (the old British one, Red Coats and all obvious to all colonial ‘subjects’) it sure would be great to hear Bernie honestly, loudly, and publicly fire a non-violent “Shout heard round the world” to really ignite his promised, and our hopeful, “Political Revolution against Empire” (as a full sentence with an ‘object’ and the ‘object’ being Empire).

    Now wouldn’t that be something to celebrate the 4th with?

    Maybe, just maybe, Bernie would also do something to incorporate and consolidate the solidity of the intellectual and moral horsepower of a lot of the hard left principled progressives and solid socialists by publicly saying that he will ask a significant portion of the Green ‘Shadow Government” to join his cabinet when he is elected president of the new United States of America in forming a more perfected union. eh?

  • potshot

    Right right. My question answered itself as soon as I asked it. Although I haven’t read Jr.’s article, I am extremely heartened that he is part of the anti-war movement. I’m looking forward to it.

  • Sic_Semper_Tyrannis

    Someone needs to put a bullet thru Bernietard’s head….