U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's official visit to Africa had the typical hallmarks of paternalism and hypocrisy the U.S. exhibits toward Africa but this time with a subtle difference. Blinken’s trip to meet with heads of state in Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal was ostensibly to address the COVID-19 pandemic, “building back” to a more inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis, revitalizing democracies, and advancing peace and security. The U.S.’s poor performance in all of these areas is now notorious, making it difficult to be as condescending as it tends to be toward Africa. Even though this predicament hasn’t been lost on Blinken who admitted to a group of human rights activists in Nairobi, Kenya “[t]he United States is hardly immune from this challenge” of being vulnerable to misinformation, corruption, political violence and voter intimidation. He was making an apparent reference to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capital.
Red Lines host Anya Parampil explores a new report issued by USAID's Office of the Inspector General which admits the agency's policy on Venezuela was driven by the State Department and National Security Council's push for regime change. The report specifically investigated USAID's attempt to use the US military to force aid through Venezuela's border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. Anya highlights the most interesting findings in the audit, including that USAID failed to put proper fraud controls in place in order to appease US officials seeking to overthrow Venezuela's elected government.
Some people think that a change in government actually changes things. Not so. Moon of Alabma demonstrates through a series of tweets, the striking consistency of US foreign policy from one administration to the next regardless of whether it is Democratic or Republican.
Joe Biden has certainly paid his dues to and reaped rewards from the same corrupt political and economic system as Trump, as the latter delightedly trumpeted in every stump speech. But Biden must understand that the young voters who turned out in unprecedented numbers to put him in the White House have lived their whole lives under this neoliberal system, and did not vote for “more of the same.” Nor do they naively think that deeply-rooted problems of American society like racism, militarism and corrupt corporate politics began with Trump.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani Saturday announced that the U.S. lied about the seizure of four Iranian gasoline tankers headed towards Venezuela. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that the country’s authorities had confiscated four Iranian fuel tankers bound for Venezuela. “We have successfully executed the seizure of four vessels, that were carrying a total of 1.116 million oil barrels. With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now under U.S. custody,” the U.S. Justice Department stated. However, "non of the seized tankers were Iran-flagged. It was all just fake news,” Rouhani said.
The Grayzone has confirmed that former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson traveled to Venezuela on Monday, July 13, following conversations with the families of former Green Beret soldiers Luke Denman and Airan Berry. Venezuelan authorities detained Berry and Denman on May 4, after they participated in a failed mercenary invasion of Venezuela with the stated goal of kidnapping the country’s elected president, Nicolas Maduro. Mark Denman, the younger brother of the detained mercenary Luke Denman, told The Grayzone that Richardson had agreed to help his family after the US Department of State failed to offer assistance.
The latest chapter in the ongoing effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government reads like a bad spy thriller: a group of mercenaries piloted speedboats from Colombia to Venezuela; half of them were killed or captured by Venezuelan security forces immediately upon landing, while the other half – apparently delayed by mechanical issues with their boat – surrendered to local police and militia the next day. Thirty-nine attackers have been captured so far, including two Americans, both former special forces soldiers. Their plan was to capture or kill high-value targets, including Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Instead, it failed miserably and raised more concerns about the leadership of opposition figure Juan Guaidó.
United Nations - The United States rejected a request by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Iran’s United Nations ambassador in a New York hospital where he is being treated for cancer, the U.S. State Department and Iranian U.N. mission said on Friday. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Zarif’s request would be granted if Iran released one of several American citizens it had detained. In July the United States imposed tight travel restrictions on Zarif before a visit that month to the United Nations, as well as on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York, which Zarif described as “basically inhuman.” Unless they receive prior approval from Washington, they are only allowed to travel within a small area of Manhattan, Queens and to and from John F. Kennedy airport.
In par with its belligerent policy towards Latin America, United States President Donald Trump appointed Thursday Michael Kozak as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, a U.S. diplomat known for his expertise in regime change. “Kozak is one of those rare diplomats without fear of using force for what the U.S. considers a noble goal," journalist and Director of the Andes section of the Associated Press Joshua Goodman tweeted on Thursday. This comes as Trump warned that with former National Security Advisor John Bolton out he will enforce an even harder policy against Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, thus Kozak will likely become his ‘go-to-guy’. The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is no stranger to the implementation of interventionist tactics in the region, where for thirty years he learned and perfected the tactics to oust governments, a craft that was later exported to Eastern Europe and the former USSR.
What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing -- and arguably quite a lot. Abizaid’s proposed appointment is both a non-event and an opportunity not to be wasted. It means next to nothing in this sense: while once upon a time, American diplomats abroad wielded real clout -- Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams offer prominent examples -- that time is long past. Should he receive Senate confirmation, Ambassador Abizaid will not actually shape U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia.
By Misión Verdad of Tele Sur - The Council on Foreign Relations, or CFR, is a think tank founded in 1921 with money from the Rockefeller Foundation. It is aimed at creating a group of experts to shape U.S. foreign policy and its leadership positions, including the president and the State Department, which does not act for its own reasons but rather according to the interests of these lobbyists. Since it was created, the council, which is made up of 4,500 members, has placed a number of senior officials in positions to implement CFR strategy. These include Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, responsible for the war in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Iraq respectively, and in the case of Powell, a major player in the April 2002 coup. Moreover, an honorary member and ex-vice president of the think tank was David Rockefeller, the former owner of Standard Oil Company who has great interests and influence in Venezuela. His penetration in the country's national political life reached such a point that he was one of the sponsors of the Punto Fijo pact that gave rise to the Fourth Republic.
By Wires and David Martosko For Dailymail - Rex Tillerson, the nominee of President-elect Donald Trump for secretary of state, is severing ties with Exxon Mobil through a $182 million retirement package ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing. Tillerson was expected to step down as CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. in March when he turned 65, the company's mandatory retirement age. Exxon said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that Tillerson has agreed to give up approximately 2 million unvested shares. If his appointment is confirmed, the value of those shares – worth about $182 million at Tuesday's closing price – that Tillerson would have received over the next 10 years will be transferred to an independently managed trust, the company said in a statement.
By Maureen Clare Murphy for The Electronic Antifada - The Obama administration just handed Israel the largest military aid deal in US history. Now it is feigning outrage that Israel keeps colonizing the occupied West Bank, as it has done for decades, in defiance of the White House’s wishes. “We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner saidon Wednesday.
By Robert Parry for Consortium News - Some 51 State Department “diplomats” signed a memo distributed through the official “dissent channel,” seeking military strikes against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad whose forces have been leading the pushback against Islamist extremists who are seeking control of this important Mideast nation. The fact that such a large contingent of State Department officials would openly advocate for an expanded aggressive war in line with the neoconservative agenda, which put Syria on a hit list some two decades ago, reveals how crazy the State Department has become.