Caracas, October 1, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—On Saturday, October 1, the US government confirmed through a statement the release of seven US citizens, four of whom are naturalized US citizens and one is US residents. Among the released prisoners are five of the CITGO 6. In a similar manner, the Venezuelan government reported in an official statement about the release by US authorities of “two young Venezuelans who had been unjustly detained,” without providing their names. The seven freed US nationals, sentenced by the Venezuelan justice system for committing corruption and/or terrorist crimes, are now on their way to the US and are in good health, according to White House officials who provided more detail on the issue in a press conference. It was also informed that US President Joe Biden “spoke to the families of those detained in the CITGO case and shared the good news.”
US Foreign Policy
Every day the republican governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, eagerly announce that they are sending people generically labeled as migrants to what are known as sanctuary cities. The corporate media report that thousands of people have been convinced to board buses to New York City or Washington DC or Sacramento or Chicago or even chartered flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. What they don’t explain is who these migrants are and why their status is highly problematic and a function of imperialist foreign policy. Republicans rail against what are called sanctuary cities and imply that federal law doesn’t apply in these places or that undocumented people get some sort of special deal. However, the term sanctuary city doesn’t really mean very much.
Joe Lombardo is the co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and has been an organizer in the anti-war movement and a labor activist for decades. He is a cofounder and lead organizer for Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, a local anti-war group based near Albany, New York, a member of the Troy Area Labor Council, and former staff person of the Vietnam era National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC). He is the author of many articles and a frequent radio and TV commentator. We focus here on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time, specifically addressing the role of the U.S. in the tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We are looking for paradigm-shift ideas for improving the prospects for peace. His responses below of are exactly as he provided.
Learning no lessons from the failure and mass slaughter of the Korean War in the previous decade, the US military commenced widespread bombing of Vietnam and sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers. At the time, spring 1965, about 400 US soldiers had died in the conflict. The war was not yet widely unpopular. Americans who protested against the Vietnam War were a small minority. It would be two years before Martin Luther King’s famous denunciation of the war. Years later, after hundreds of thousands had been drafted into the military with the deaths of tens of thousands, the war became widely unpopular. Ultimately, over 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese civilians and soldiers died in the war. The cost in human lives and wasted resources was immense.
A little known fact, even to those who work there, is that the AFL-CIO organizes in support of US imperialist policies that drive a global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, negatively impacting US workers too. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is one of the four core components of the National Endowment for Democracy. Clearing the FOG speaks with Kim Scipes, a co-founder of the new Labor Education Project on the AFL-CIO's International Operations (LEPAIO). Scipes describes the long history of labor imperialism and how unions are challenging it. Adrienne Pine provides a brief report on workers protesting the brutal labor practices of the State Department's main contractor, BL Harbert, building the US Embassy in Honduras.
Brzezinski was a very powerful National Security Advisor to President Carter. Before that, he founded the Trilateral Commission. Later he taught Madeline Albright and many other key figures in US foreign policy. Brzezinski initiated the “Afghanistan Trap”. That was the secret 1979 US program to mobilize and support mujahedin foreign fighters to invade and destabilize Afghanistan. In this period, Afghanistan was undergoing dramatic positive changes. As described by Canadian academic John Ryan, “Afghanistan once had a progressive secular government, with broad popular support. It had enacted progressive reforms and gave equal rights to women.” The Brzezinski plan was to utilize reactionary local forces and foreign fighters to create enough mayhem that the government would ask the neighboring Soviet Union to send military support.
The issue of illegal Jewish settlements is in the news again, this time owing to a recent attack by Palestinian fighters who opened fire on a car carrying Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank. One of the settlers was killed and two were injured as their car was traveling near what Israeli sources call an “illegal settlement” named Homesh, an outpost erected and maintained without Israeli government or military permission. The settlers were traveling home to another settlement, Shavei Shomron. Settlers in the region are militant fanatics known to be particularly violent, and have on numerous occasions attacked Palestinians who live in neighboring villages.
Donald Trump thinks he’s still president according to no more reliable a source than Rachel Maddow on her February 5th show. This was confirmed in May by Vanity Fair. Right-wing conspiracy theorists echo this analysis as recently as this month. Left-liberals are smugly confident that Kamala Harris’s running mate is in the White House, snoozing in the presidential bedroom. Inquiring minds ask what is the evidence nearly a year into the alleged Biden presidency that there has been a change of guard in Washington? +The Obama-Biden union card check proposal was not on Mr. Trump’s political horizon, nor is it on that of the current occupant in the White House.
By and large, Biden’s foreign policy already seems stuck in the militarist quagmire of the past twenty years, a far cry from his campaign promise to reinvigorate diplomacy as the primary tool of U.S. foreign policy. In this respect, Biden is following in the footsteps of Obama and Trump, who both promised fresh approaches to foreign policy but for the most part delivered more endless war. By the end of his second term, Obama did have two significant diplomatic achievements with the signing of the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of relations with Cuba. So progressive Americans who voted for Biden had some grounds to hope that his experience as Obama’s vice-president would lead him to quickly restore and build on Obama’s achievements with Iran and Cuba as a foundation for the broader diplomacy he promised.
It's a very interesting environment, and it's interesting that you connect up the issue of media, CNN, for example, and Facebook. That's a very important and interesting kind of connection. Why? Oh, I think we forget that Facebook is supposed to be merely a platform for the exchange of information and ideas. But there's tremendous pressure on Facebook to, in fact, operate as a publisher by deciding what content is appropriate for users to share and what content is inappropriate. CNN, of course, is a privately owned corporation. But Black Alliance for Peace suggests that CNN is part of what we refer to as the ideological apparatus of the state. That is, even though it's privately owned, there's not much space between its positions, the worldview that it advocates, and that of the US state and the ruling elements that we say control the US state. So, in the current media environment, private Western corporations—which pretend to be "objective" media outlets—work in tandem with the state.
“Clear Differences Remain Between France and the U.S, French Minister Says,” is the headline to a remarkable piece appearing in the New York Times. The Minister, Bruno Le Maire, is brutally frank on the nature of the differences as the quotations below Illustrate. (Emphases in the quotations are jvw’s.) In fact, they amount to a Declaration of Independence of France and EU from the U.S. It is not surprising that the differences relate to China after the brouhaha over the sale of U.S. nuclear submarines to Australia and the surprising (to the French) cancellation of contracts with France for submarines. Mr. LeMaire, sounding very much like a reproving parent, characterized this as “misbehavior from the U.S. administration.”
In 1985, when President Reagan declared Nicaragua “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” his words were followed by a trade blockade, a ban on commercial flights and—most seriously of all—the financing of the “Contra” war, which led to 30,000 deaths. When, 33 years later, Donald Trump made the same declaration, its effect was far more limited. Yet presumably neither president saw the absurdity in designating a country as an “extraordinary threat” when it has just six million people, is one of the poorest in the hemisphere, and has only a tiny military budget. Nor, apparently, does President Joe Biden, who has renewed the declaration and added to the sanctions.
As some readers may have noticed, Antony Blinken has the State Department festooning its embassies around the world with “BLM” banners and the rainbow flag of the sexual identity movement known commonly as LGBTQI+. As our virtuous secretary of state explained in April, when he authorized these advertisements for America’s splendidly raised consciousness, the BLM pennant commemorates the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year; the familiar LGBTQI+ colors will fly on our flagpoles in foreign capitals “for the duration of the 2021 Pride season.” So our guitar-strumming chief diplomat put it when announcing this… this policy, I suppose we are to call it. Taking the very serious cause for equal rights and turning it into cover for an extremely aggressive foreign policy, it makes for a pretty weird sight, if you have seen any of the pictures. Then again, so does our Tony as he flits around the world on the wings of an angel.
Carlos Lazo and a small band of Cuban Americans are on a 1,300-mile pilgrimage from Miami to Washington, D.C., to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba. Despite the blistering summer heat and occasional death threats (including a trucker who tried to run them off the road), the marchers persist. Lazo’s group is called Puentes de Amor, Bridges of Love, and this grueling walkathon is certainly a labor of love. While right-wing Cubans in Miami call him “comunista,” Lazo has no time for ideology. He is neither for or against the Cuban government; he is for the Cuban people, the Cuban families. And he is disgusted by the cruelty of the U.S. blockade and by politicians who use the Cuban people as a political football--especially during this pandemic.
Silvia from Miami, Eduardo from Hialeah, Abel from Lakeland. The names pour in on the donations page for “Syringes to Cuba” as Carlos Lazo promotes the campaign on his popular Facebook livestream. An energetic Cuban-American high school teacher in Seattle, Lazo created a group called Puentes de Amor, Bridges of Love, to unite Cuban Americans who want to lift the searing U.S. blockade that is immiserating their loved ones on the island. Puentes de Amor is the latest addition to the Syringes to Cuba initiative, which was started by the Saving Lives Campaign and the humanitarian organization Global Health Partners to help Cuba vaccinate its people against COVID-19.