Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About…Anything

Source:  Black Agenda Report

by Glen Ford

Sept 19 2019

Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About…Anything

In any alliance with corporate oppression and militarism, Black America squanders reservoirs of respect among the Earth’s peoples. We betray ourselves and become Black Gringos.

“The epic struggle for Black self-determination is inseparable from the struggle for peace and a livable planet.”

There was a time, not so long ago, when most Black Americans of all classes were highly skeptical of every word that emanated from the mouths of white folks in power in the United States. A substantial body of Black opinion believed nothing at all that appeared in the corporate media – which, back then, we simply called the “white press.”  It was a wise and healthy skepticism, learned over generations of enduring a constant stream of lies and slander against Black people from politicians and mass media of the two governing parties. These organs and mouthpieces of rich white people’s power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than “foxes” (Democrats) and “wolves” (Republicans). The logic of the collective Black domestic experience extended to international affairs, as well. We empathized with the “colored” peoples of the world under attack by the U.S. government and media. If white politicians and press lied about us, we knew they were probably lying about their foreign non-white victims, as well. And we were right.

“The organs and mouthpieces of rich white people’s power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than ‘foxes’ (Democrats) and ‘wolves’ (Republicans).”

Then came the Sixties and our grassroots movement’s victories over official American apartheid. One of the governing parties (the foxes) opened its doors to Black participation, and big business media began putting Black faces in front of the cameras. Racial euphemisms replaced outright slander against Blacks and the lies became more nuanced. But it was not until the advent of the First Black President that African Americans lost much of their traditional skepticism of U.S. government motives, at home and abroad.When Barack Obama threatened to bomb Syria in retaliation for an alleged — and provably false – chemical attack on civilians, in September of 2013, polls showed more Black Americans than whites wanted the bombs to fall. Although only minorities of Americans of all races favored bombing Syria, it was the first time in the history of U.S. polling that Blacks were more bellicose than whites.

Only a decade earlier, in the run-up to President Bush’s 2003 assault on Iraq, the Zogby polling organization had asked a representative sampling of Americans the question: “Would you favor an invasion of Iraq if it resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians?” Large majorities of white men and nearly a majority of white women were in favor of such an invasion, as were 16 percent of Hispanic Americans. But only 7 percent of African Americans  said, “Yes” – meaning, the U.S. government and media demonization campaign against Iraq had been effective among only a very marginal segment of African Americans. Blacks still empathized with the masses of Iraqi civilians, while whites definitively did not.

“With the advent of the First Black President, African Americans lost much of their traditional skepticism of U.S. government motives, at home and abroad.”

The fact that overwhelming numbers of Blacks also perceived George Bush and his party as hostile to African American lives and interests, certainly made them more empathetic towards Bush’s foreign victims, and the specific reference to “civilians” in the Zogby question is significant. But the erosion of Black internationalism – or, at least, Black American solidarity with other peoples of color in the world – is palpable and inarguable. Two years before the false-flag Syria chemical attack crisis, half of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against a bill that would have halted Obama’s murderous and totally unprovoked bombing of Libya– an African country! – with virtually no protest from Black America.

Obama has retired to the luxurious haunts of the rich and famous classes that he served so well as president. Catastrophically, however, his replacement in the Oval Office by overtly racist Donald Trump is viewed as such an existential threat that much of Black America has made common cause with the FBI, the CIA and the worst warmongers in the Democratic Party in a hysteria to be rid of the Orange Menace. Russiagate is perhaps the most successful psychological warfare operation in U.S. history, and has largely neutralized Black America’s traditional aversion to U.S. imperial aggressions.T he Democratic Party and most of the corporate media have for the past three years been furiously mobilized behind a CIA-instigated “resistance” that is NOT directed against Trump’s pro-rich, anti-Black and poor people policies, but rather seeks to solidify public support for U.S. military and economic domination of the world — an imperialism of planetary terror and blackmail and domestic austerity and deprivation.

“The erosion of Black internationalism is palpable and inarguable.”

Black America cannot possibly achieve anything meaningful by siding with corporate Democrat Foxes and CIA Rattlesnakes in their ongoing coup against the Orange Peckerwood and his legions of crackers. Russiagate is a stealth assault on all who disagree with the corporate narrative and rich people’s version of Truth. The only victors will be the oligarchy of Fat Cats and military-industrial complex Wolves. African Americans are admired the world over as a people that Fight the Power, not as conniving co-conspirators with humanity’s enemies. The Foxes need Black votes to get their turn at stealing the eggs, but their leaders have assured the Fat Cats that there will be no Medicare for All, no dignified minimum wage, no forgiveness of college debt, no Green New Deal, no relief from gentrification and no retreat from half a century of militarized policing and mass incarceration of Black America.

There will certainly be no let-up in the campaign of starvation that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of mostly Black, brown and indigenous Venezuelans, a bipartisan, 20 year-long aggression; or the Dem-Rep tag-team’s multi-generational siege of Iran, a country that has not invaded anyone in centuries; or the Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump military occupation of Africa, which has killed more than six million in Congo, alone.

“The Foxes need Black votes to get their turn at stealing the eggs.”

The Foxes want to annihilate Russia, while the Wolves would blot out China. Neither can accept a world in which the U.S. ruling class is not supreme over the planet. In an alliance with such evil, Black America loses more than its soul – we squander the reservoirs of respect that generations of African American fighters for human dignity have earned among the Earth’s peoples. We become Black Gringos, while still at the bottom of the American heap – a most ignominious end to our saga.

We find our real allies in struggle against the Lords of Capital — the Fat Cats that have made our world a killing field. The epic struggle for Black self-determination is inseparable from the struggle for peace and a livable planet. Join the Black Alliance for Peace, the Black is Back Coalition and the Black Agenda Report team at the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet, September 20 – 23rd, in New York City.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Michelle Obama Slanders Black Men in Her Book, Adds to the Obama Family’s Long Anti-Black Tradition

Source:  Black Agenda Report
December 19 2018

obama in barMichelle Obama Slanders Black Men in Her Book, Adds to the Obama Family’s Long
Anti-Black Tradition

The Obamas are cashing in on their lifelong project to further the destruction of Black people, while blaming the victim.

“When it comes to imperialism, it pays to be anti-Black.”

Black Agenda Report has spent over a decade analyzing the numerous manifestations of the Obama family’s hatred of Black America. Michelle Obama is currently on a book tour of her latest release, Becoming. The overpriced book is but another addition to the post-Obama Presidency family fortune. Barack and Michelle Obama have been busy building a billionaire brand with book deals and speaking arrangements with Wall Street. As Paul Street noted, the Obama Foundation is putting the donations of Wall Street corporations to good use by opening a “library”in the heartland of Black Chicago. Just as during its tenure in the White House, the Obama family is profiting from the promotion of white supremacist policy and ideology directed against Black America.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the very words that have come out of the mouths of both members of the Obama “power couple.” At a recent speaking event at the Barclay’s Center in New York City, Michelle Obama had this to say about Barack Obama:

“I had never met a black dude like Barack Obama. Not only his background and where he had traveled and who is parents were and he was always very introspective and he had been a community organizer. I hadn’t met a Harvard black dude who had been a community organizer in neighborhoods on the far south side where most people in the firm didn’t know those neighborhoods, he had been all up in those neighborhoods and those churches. So he understood the community in a full way but he was not arrogant, he was humble. I also liked the way he treated others.”

“The Obama family is profiting from the promotion of white supremacist policy and ideology directed against Black America.”

Michelle Obama uses her husband’s falsified credentials as a weapon against all Black men. Her statement that she had never met a “black dude”like Barack Obama represents but another racist dog whistle to please white America. The former First Lady of the United States has met plenty of Black men; she was raised for a period in the South Side of Chicago after all. However, as the Obamas have so plainly demonstrated, it isn’t where you are from but who you serve that matters. Few things please white America and its allies in the Black political class more than the criminalization and demonization of Black men. True to U.S. history, Michelle Obama invokes the image of the pathological, criminal, and lazy Black male who could not possibly live up to the standards of her “cultured” yet humble husband.

Texas A&M professor and scholar Tommy Curry is fighting for the creation of Black Males Studies precisely because the demonization of Black men is central in the shaping race, class, and gender politics in the United States. Curry argues quite convincingly that contemporary theories about race and gender are formulated around the extermination of Black men , especially poor Black men. Black men suffer from disproportionate rates of intimate partner violence, state violence, unemployment and incarceration but are often considered to be sexual deviants and criminals who possess “toxic masculinity.” Black men hold progressive views on gender and poll higher on these views than white women but are often thought to obsess over the patriarchal power of white men.

“As the Obamas have so plainly demonstrated, it isn’t where you are from but who you serve that matters.”

The legacy of mass Black enslavement, now manifested in the incarceration regime, is the foundation from which anti-Black attitudes against Black men and all Black Americans are nourished. One of Michelle and Barack Obama’s signature achievements for the ruling elites of the United States was the creation of massive amnesia in the Black polity around this fact. Black Americans as a group became more pro-warand pro-state surveillance than at any point in its history. Black Americans were further unable to muster any demands on the Administration around issues like forcing the Justice Department to indict murderous police officers or for the state to address the theft of Black wealth, even at the height of the Black Lives Matter insurgency. Not only were the Obamas able to move Black America to the right, but they were able to insult Black America every step of the way.

Michelle Obama’s racist dog whistle against Black men wasn’t the first time that the Obama duo attacked Black people. In 2008, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama castigated Black men as absentee fathers . Obama didn’t mention that data suggests Black men are the most committed fathers of any other group studied in the nation. But Obama’s comments are not about respectability. The myth of the absentee Black father is but a trope for the criminalization of Black men, where massive levels of exploitation and oppression by way of discrimination, police violence, incarceration, and poverty faced by Black people can be erased in favor of the Reaganite mantra of personal responsibility.

“Not only were the Obamas able to move Black America to the right, but they were able to insult Black America every step of the way.”

Once in office, the Obama Administration made it clear that it was the Presidency of all people, not Black people. Of course, what Obama meant was that he was the President of Wall Street, the ruling elites, and the white Americans who do their bidding. In a 2013 speech at Morehouse College, Barack Obama lectured Black men about personal responsibility. He told new graduates to stop blaming slavery for their problems and focus instead on being good fathers. Thus, the Obamas are no stranger to hurling insults at Black people whenever the opportunity arises. This was an especially useful skill during the Black insurgency that developed in the wake of the police state murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Obama made sure to repeat the mantra of demonic Black men by criminalizing the victims as violent, drug-induced thugs and labeling the righteous rebellion of Black people as “excuse making” and “criminal behavior.”

White supremacy is the fuel that drives the imperialist system. U.S. imperialism is a system of extermination that relies upon the dehumanization of Black Americans, indigenous peoples, and non-whites in the formerly colonized world to justify the capitalist exploitation of the ruling elites. Obama expanded the tentacles of imperialist destruction and the world awaits as to whether Trump will receive two terms to outdo his predecessor. However, the consequences of the Obama Administration’s policies live on into the Trump period. Black Americans were repeatedly insulted during the Obama period all the while the so-called “first Black President” expanded U.S. wars abroad and oversaw the massive theft of Black freedom and wealth through Wall Street and the mass incarceration regime. In a word, Obama helped facilitate the further destruction of the Black condition while placing the blame on Black people.

“Obama told new graduates to stop blaming slavery for their problems and focus instead on being good fathers.”

A diseased politics of respectability gave Obama clearance to do the bidding of the ruling class without any protest from the majority of Black Americans and other “progressive” sections of the population. Because Obama was considered Black, the fact that he spoke and acted like a ruling class white supremacist oligarch was given little attention. Obama gave the ruling class a gasp of air from the political and economic crisis of imperialism by painting the system with a darker hue. The Democratic Party solidified its position as the “diverse” face of Wall Street and war. The politics of respectability gave Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the Democratic Party brass a thin layer of legitimacy that has quickly eroded in the era of Trump. The Democratic Party is struggling to defeat an arch racist billionaire and neoliberal partners such as French President Macron and German President Merkel face a similar fate to the Democrats in their respective imperial nations.

An old dog has trouble learning new tricks, especially if that dog is on the leash of the monopoly capitalist class. Michelle Obama continues to insult Black men because it is advantageous to the family. Barack and Michelle Obama are raking in hundreds of millions from books, speaking tours, and investments in gentrification in cities such as Chicago. When it comes to imperialism, it pays to be anti-Black. Ant-Black tirades are profitable, especially for a family currently building a post-Presidential fortune for diligently serving and directing the forces that incarcerate, murder, and impoverish Black Americans across the nation.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com

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AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?

Source:  Counterpunch
December 11 2018

usa africa commandAmid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini’s daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.

First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.

This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.

This reality is undoubtedly a political liability for Nigerian President Buhari who was elected on the promise of stamping out terrorism and bringing stability and the rule of law to Nigeria. Of course, a number of uncomfortable questions can and should be asked of Buhari, his top military commanders, and other bureaucrats in his administration.

But perhaps the more salient questions should be posed, not to Nigeria’s government, but to the US Government itself, and specifically its African Command (AFRICOM). For it is Washington, not Abuja, that has poured billions of dollars into counter-terrorism and surveillance in the Sahel and West Africa. Considering the laundry list of attacks and killings, one could naturally ask the question: What exactly is the US doing over there, if not counter-terrorism?

Nigeria, Niger, and AFRICOM

These most recent incidents paint a worrying portrait of the on-the-ground reality in the region where terror groups not only continue to exist, but seemingly are thriving. Lucrative trade in illicit goods, drugs, human trafficking, and more has continued to line the pockets of these militant organizations. But the very fact that these killings are continuing calls into question the efficacy of, and agenda behind, the US AFRICOM force.

As the Washington Post reported back in 2013, the US has chosen Agadez, Niger as the site of a massive new drone facility that will act as a “strategic foothold” in West Africa, specifically with regard to the stated mission of surveillance of terrorist networks. And the US has been flying drones from the facility for more than five years.

However, as The Intercept’s Nick Turse has reported, what was originally intended to be a relatively small facility hosting a few US drones and military advisers has ballooned into a more than $100 million investment that will be one of the US’s most costly foreign military construction projects. And instead of simply housing a handful of Predator drones, the facility will be the base for MQ-9 Reaper drones before the end of next year. Naturally, it’s unclear just how many drones are already flying out of the facility, though knowledgeable observers assume a significant number already are.

This base, which will act as a hub of the broader AFRICOM drone surveillance network sprawling over much of the African continent, is just a short flight from where these latest horrific incidents have taken place. And yet, it seems the US either was unable or unwilling to do anything to stop them. Even with the most advanced surveillance and communications equipment, somehow groups of dozens or hundreds of fighters are moving into towns conducting mass kidnappings, pillage, and worse all under the nose of Washington.

And beyond the Agadez base, the US has a military presence in both Niger and Nigeria, with both countries routinely hosting US soldiers and military advisers, often with the specific intent of assisting local forces in the fight against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. An ambush attack against 4 US soldiers in Niger has recently brought the issue into the headlines as Washington considers reducing the number of ground operations its soldiers directly participate in.

It should also be noted that the US operates a number of other clandestine surveillance hubs throughout the continent, at least one of which is in relatively close proximity to the area where the attacks took place. As the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported in 2012:

“A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou, the…capital of Burkina Faso… Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.”

Moreover, AFRICOM leads annual, large-scale military exercises throughout the region, as well as focusing on broad strategic initiatives that embed US military forces into the military command structures of these countries.

A Little History

It should be noted that the US has been involved in the Sahel region going back to the early years of the George W. Bush administration, even before the establishment of AFRICOM, which was later greatly expanded by the Obama administration.

After 9/11, the United States began to grow its military footprint on the African continent under the guise of a ‘War on Terror’, selling this notion to a United States gripped with fear of terrorism. With programs such as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, later broadened into the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, Washington managed to provide military and financial assistance to compliant countries in North Africa – a policy whose practical application meant that the US military became the dominant force in the Sahel region, supplying the human and material resources for which the governments of the region were starved. Naturally, this meant an implicit subservience to US military command.

And with the establishment of AFRICOM, these relationships were further cemented such that today we see annual, massive military exercises such as Exercise Flintlock which brings together numerous African countries under the auspices of US military leadership. While this year marked the first time that the more than 20 nations’ militaries were led by African forces, it remains US military at the head of the table.

Any guesses where Flintlock 2018 took place? That’s right, Niger.

It’s the Resources, Stupid

President Obama was not the architect of AFRICOM, which was established in 2007 under Bush, but he was perhaps its greatest champion, greatly expanding its scope and funding.

Obama grandly proclaimed in 2014:

“Today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized Al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized Al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in the countries where they operate…We need a strategy that matches this diffuse threat; one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military thin, or stir up local resentments.”

As with all things Obama, the truth and disinformation so seamlessly blend together that it can be difficult to parse one from the other. While no doubt there is truth in what he stated, the underlying subtext is much more interesting to consider. For while Obama and his cohorts would endlessly wax poetic about security and stability, the true mission of AFRICOM is neocolonial in nature.

Yes, it must be said that in fact AFRICOM is an occupying force that in no way functions to guarantee the security of African people (see Libya, among others), but rather to guarantee the free flow of resources out of Africa and into the Global North, particularly former colonial powers like France and Britain, and of course the US.

In case there’s any doubt, consider the following statements from Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller, military deputy to former commander of AFRICOM General William ‘Kip’ Ward, who told an AFRICOM conference in 2008 that AFRICOM’s goal was “protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market.” Furthermore, Moeller wrote in 2010, “Let there be no mistake. AFRICOM’s job is to protect American lives and promote American interests.”

So, if we strip away the flowery rhetoric about stability and security, both, of course, vital to resource extraction and export, it becomes clear that it is, in fact, natural resources that drive the US strategic interest in Africa, along with countering the growing Chinese footprint on the continent.

Major oil discoveries

The last decade has seen major oil discoveries throughout the Lake Chad Basin which have transformed how the states of West Africa view their economic future. At the heart of the basin is Lake Chad, surrounded by the countries of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.  According to a 2010 assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Chad Basin has “estimated mean volumes of 2.32 billion barrels of oil, 14.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 391 million barrels of natural gas liquids.”  The potential size of these resources has attracted the attention of political and business leaders, both in the region and internationally.

Those oil reserves have gained the attention of each of the Lake Chad littoral states, and led to something of a scramble among them to siphon off as much oil from their neighbors as possible. Of course, it’s not only oil and gas that are of interest, especially since the US has become a net exporter of oil.

But for France, the former colonial power in the region, which still maintains a large military presence in the Sahel under the auspices of Operation Barkhane, oil remains an essential priority in Africa.

As a top oil executive in Chad told Nigerian daily This Day that, “Currently, oil from Lake Chad being drilled by the Republic of Chad is…shipped through tankers to the international refineries at the Port of Le Havre in France.”

And in Niger, a country rich in mineral deposits such as uranium which are vital to France’s vast nuclear energy sector, France remains the dominant economic player. As Think Africa Press reported in 2014:

“France currently sources over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy and is dependent on Niger for much of its immediate and future uranium supply. This dependence could grow even further when production at the recently-discovered Imouraren uranium deposit is up and running in 2015. The mine is set to produce 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year and would help make Niger the second-largest uranium producer in the world. Areva, which is 87 percent owned by the French state and holds a majority share in three out of the four uranium mining companies operating in Niger, is funding the new mine.”

And oh, by the way, Niger’s president Mahamadou Issoufou is a former employee of Areva, the French company that dominates the uranium trade in Africa.

Perhaps then we should return our thinking to the recent attack that killed seven employees of the French drilling company Foraco. Was this part of the broader efforts by French capitalists to continue extracting uranium and/or other minerals for shipment back to the “mother country”? One has to wonder, considering Foraco does not confine itself solely to drilling wells for water.

Is the US surveillance architecture so brittle and inept that it simply missed the movement of hundreds of members of the very organizations Washington is allegedly fighting in the region? Is it simply that the US is unable to effectively spy on this area until its massive Agadez base is complete? Is it that these terror groups have grown in sophistication such that they are able to elude the most advanced military and spying capabilities in the world?

The answers to these questions might take some time to fully emerge. But what we do know is that US military in Africa is effectively an occupation and resource extraction force that uses local militaries as proxies for its own agenda. The terror groups operating in the region have made untold millions and committed countless atrocities right under the noses of the purportedly benevolent American military forces.

So, if counter-terrorism is really what the US is interested in in the Sahel and West Africa, then the AFRICOM mission is an abject failure. Of course, seen as a neocolonial occupying force utilizing both hard and soft power to entrench US hegemony and guarantee the free flow of resources from Africa, it is a rousing success.

Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.

Source:  Black Agenda Report
March 15 2018

going down with the bad ship.jpgGoing Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.

“All that it can offer to the emerging nations of the world is a bad example and the threat of annihilation.”

There is no mystery to the ideological collapse of U.S. ruling class politics under late stage capitalism and imperial decline. Simply put, the corporate duopoly parties have nothing to offer the masses of people except unrelenting austerity at home and endless wars abroad. A shrunken and privatized Detroit serves as the model for U.S. urban policy; Libya and Syria are the scorched-earth footprints of a demented and dying empire. The lengthening shadow of economic eclipse by the East leaves the U.S. Lords of Capital with no cards left to play but the threat of Armageddon.

As China reclaims its historic place at the center of the earth, alongside the huge and heavily armed landmass of Russia, Washington flails about in a frenzy of firewall-building, buying time with the blood of millions, hoping to somehow preserve its doomed hegemony. But the “exceptional” superpower has no Marshall Plan to rescue itself from the throes of systemic decay, and all that it can offer to the emerging nations of the world is a bad example and the threat of annihilation. Its own people tire of the “Great Game,” finally realizing that they are the ones who have been played.

“Washington flails about in a frenzy of firewall-building, buying time with the blood of millions.”

George Bush drawled the “last hurrah” of empire with his declaration of “Mission Accomplished,” 15 years ago — and was quickly contradicted. With the failure in Iraq, the pretense of “spreading democracy” came ingloriously undone. A refurbishing of the imperial brand was attempted, with a bright and shiny new face – a Black-ish one — plus a new logo to justify invasion and regime-change: “humanitarian” intervention. But Obama’s assault on Syria revealed that the U.S. and its junior partners could only project power in the region through an alliance with Islamic jihadist terror. The architects of the War on Terror were, in fact, the godfathers of al Qaida.

“Do you realize now what you’ve done?” Vladimir Putin demanded of the Americans, at the United Nations, in 2015. “It is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.”

The U.S. and its junior partners could only project power in the region through an alliance with Islamic jihadist terror.”

Washington’s jihadist strategy has rapidly unraveled ever since. The empire was unmasked in the world’s most public forum, revealing the utter depravity of U.S. policy and, more importantly, the weakness of Washington’s position in the region. The mighty fortress of global capital, the self-appointed defender of the world economic “order,” was revealed as, not just in collusion with head-chopping, women-enslaving, sectarian mass-murdering terrorists, but militarily dependent on the very forces it claims to wage a twilight, “generational” battle to destroy. The U.S. has been spouting The Mother of All Lies, and most of humanity knows it. Deep down, most Americans suspect as much, too.

With its intervention in Syria as a stalwart foe of jihadism and in defense of the principle of national sovereignty, Russia spoke the language of international law and morality, presenting a fundamental challenge to U.S. imperial exceptionalism. By deploying his forces against Washington’s jihadist proxies, in a region infested with American bases, Putin put muscle behind his call for a “multi-polar” world order.

China understands clearly that the ultimate U.S. aim is to block China’s access to the region’s energy and markets, at will. Beijing has praised Russia’s military role in the war, and stood with Moscow in vetoing western Security Council resolutions targeting Damascus. China routinely joins with Russia – and most other nations on the planet — in pursuit of a more “multi-polar world.”

“Putin put muscle behind his call for a “multi-polar” world order.”

The U.S. now uses the desperate Kurdish militia as surrogates in Syria, in an attempt to justify its presence in the country, while continuing to arm, finance and train other “rebel” groups, reportedly including former ISIS fighters. The U.S. has always avoided targeting the al Qaida affiliate in Syria, formerly known as the al Nusra Front — which, with ISIS on the run, remains the most effective anti-government force in the country.

The Trump administration declares that it will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future — without even a fig leaf of legal cover. Although there is now no possibility for a jihadist victory, Washington seems intent on drawing out the war as long as possible. The truth is, Washington doesn’t know how to extricate itself, because to do so would amount to yet another admission of defeat, and lead quickly to the dissolution of the jihadist networks the Pentagon has so long cultivated.

Withdrawal from Syria — and, sooner rather than later, from Iraq, whose parliament this month called for a timetable for U.S. forces to vacate the country — would totally unravel U.S. strategy to dominate events in the oil-rich region. Obama launched the jihadist war against the Syrian government in 2011 to force his way into the country. ISIS’s seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, gave the U.S. the opportunity to return to that country, militarily. There will be no third chances, in Syria or Iraq.

“Washington doesn’t know how to extricate itself, because to do so would amount to yet another admission of defeat.”

The American people will not stand for another such adventure. They feel tainted by the experience in both Syria and Iraq, and don’t trust what their government says about the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in the Arab world. If only for reasons of racism, they want out.

Everyone smells U.S. defeat, inside and outside the empire. It is a stink that only Americans that were conscious in the Vietnam era can remember. It makes folks anxious — like the loss of a cocoon. Just as whites reaped a “psychological wage ” from Jim Crow privileges, according to W.E.B. Dubois, even if they were poor, so do citizens of empire feel psychological benefits, even when the cost of the war machine is impoverishing the country. U.S. politics in the era of imperial decline will be nasty, stupid, petty and racist — just as we are already experiencing. There must be scapegoats for the national de-exceptionalization. The Russians fit the bill, for now, and so does anybody that talks like a Russian, or a Chinese — for example, people that would like to live in a “multi-polar world.”

Do not expect the Republicans or the Democrats to make any sense of a world of diminishing empire. The duopolists are incapable of seeing any future beyond their rich patrons’ vision –- and the rich have no vision beyond continued accumulation of wealth, which requires a harsher and harsher austerity.

Most dangerous, they cannot imagine a world in which they are not on top. We will have to fight to keep them from blowing us all up, in rich man’s despair.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .

Why is the US at War in West Africa?

Source:  “Information Clearing House“/ wsws.org
October 15 2017

By Eddie Haywood

American military operations throughout the African continent have been conducted almost entirely in secret

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The October 4 killings of four US Green Berets in Niger has provided a rare glimpse into the far-reaching American military operations throughout the African continent which have been conducted almost entirely in secret.

Pentagon officials on Friday told reporters that the ambush was carried out by a self-radicalized group supposedly affiliated with ISIS. The Pentagon additionally admitted that at least 29 patrols similar to the one that was fatally ambushed have been carried out by American soldiers in Niger.

According to AFRICOM, the US military command based in Stuttgart, Germany, the US special forces deployed to Niger are tasked with providing training, logistics, and intelligence to assist the Nigerien military in fighting militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Mali and Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria. AFRICOM has officially stated that its forces interact with the Nigerien army in a “non-combat advisory” capacity.

US military forces arrayed across the continent taking on the character of an occupying army

The circumstances surrounding the ambush which resulted in the deaths of the four Green Berets expose AFRICOM’s claim of non-engagement as a lie. The killings occurred during a joint patrol of elite American soldiers and Nigerien forces in a remote hostile region on the border with Mali known for frequent raids conducted by Islamist militants. Some 800 US commandos are deployed to bases in Niamey and Agadez making quite clear the offensive role that the American military is playing in Niger.

Underlining the incident is Niger’s configuration in Washington’s imperialist offensive across Africa. The expanding levels of US military forces arrayed across the continent have increasingly taken on the character of an occupying army. According to the Pentagon, there are a total of 1,000 American troops in the vicinity of the Chad River Basin which includes northern Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. An additional 300 troops are stationed to the south in Cameroon.

Related:  AFRICOM’s Secret Empire: US Military Turns Africa Into ‘Laboratory’ Of Modern Warfare

After its establishment in 2008 as an independent command, AFRICOM has significantly expanded American military influence and troop deployments on the African continent. Measuring the breadth of US military expansion is the construction of a $100 million base in Agadez in central Niger, from which the US Air Force conducts regular surveillance drone flights across the Sahel region.

Augmenting the special forces contingent in the region are military personnel stationed at several dozen bases and outposts including a US base in Garoua, Cameroon.

The genesis in 1980

The special operations units in Africa have their genesis in 1980, after the Pentagon created Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to conduct a raid on the US embassy in Tehran, Iran to rescue American hostages. Over the years, SOCOM has vastly broadened its scope, and currently has forces stationed on every continent around the globe.

Made up of various units of the US military, including Green Berets, Delta Force, and Navy Seals, SOCOM carry out a broad spectrum of offensive operations including assassinations, counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, psychological operations, and foreign troop training. Under AFRICOM, these forces form a subgroup of SOCOM designated as Special Operations Command in Africa (SOCAFRICA).

A 2000 per cent increase and the renewed scramble for Africa under Obama

Between 2006 and 2010 the deployment of US special forces troops in Africa increased 300 per cent. However, from 2010 to 2017 the numbers of deployed troops exploded by nearly 2000 per cent, occupying more than 60 outposts tasked with carrying out over 100 missions at any given moment across the continent.

The scale of the military expansion which began in earnest under the Obama administration is part of a renewed “scramble for Africa”, comprised of a reckless drive for economic dominance over Africa’s vast economic resources which threatens to transform the entire continent into a battlefield.

The immediate roots of the Niger ambush

The immediate roots of the Niger ambush can be traced to the 2011 US/NATO war in Libya which resulted in the removal and assassination of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. Under the Obama administration, Washington cultivated and armed various Islamist militant groups with ties to Al-Qaeda as a proxy force to carry out its aim of regime change. The resulting US/NATO bombardment left Libyan society in shambles, and the Islamist fighters spilled forth and out across North Africa and south to the Sahel.

In 2012, as a consequence of a US and French backed coup against the government in Bamako, Tuareg rebels in Northern Mali took advantage of the chaos resulting from the coup to stage a rebellion. After the Tuareg militants began taking control over cities and territory as it cut deeper into southern Mali, France with the Obama administrations backing deployed 4,000 troops to the country to neutralize the Tuareg rebels, eventually stabilizing the government it placed in Bamako.

While the Tuareg rebellion may have been halted by the US-backed French offensive, Islamist fighters from Libya were pouring into Mali, with many taking up arms against the Western backed puppet government. The Islamist fighters largely united into one large group, declaring allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). The military forces of Niger and Chad which participated in the US/French intervention in Mali have become frequent targets by the Islamist militants who began conducting cross-border raids and launched attacks on patrols and garrisons.

Transforming West Africa into a battlefield is the end result of Washington’s works

The rise of these warring Islamist militias which have transformed West Africa into a battlefield is the end result of Washington’s decades-long strategy in cultivating these forces as a proxy army in its wars for regime change, at first, in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and subsequently in Africa.

Underscoring France’s military deployment are the French economic interests it seeks to protect not only Mali, but throughout West Africa, the region which was once part of its colonial empire. In Niger, the French energy giant Arven has established mining operations extracting the country’s rich uranium resources.

For its part, Washington has enlisted the participation of the military forces of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Mali in its drive for dominance of the Sahel and West Africa, with all of these countries featuring US outposts or bases.

Washington’s military expansion in response to China’s economic influence

A key element of Washington’s military expansion in the region are the significant economic resources that it aims to secure for American corporate interests. On behalf of these interests, and complimentary to its military operation, Washington has constructed a $300 million embassy in Niamey.

Washington’s military interventions in Africa must also be seen as an effort to offset China’s growing economic influence on the continent. Beijing in recent years has secured investment deals with African governments in nearly every sector of Africa’s economy.

China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) purchased the permit for oil drilling in Niger’s Agadem Basin, and CNPC also constructed and operates the Soraz refinery near Zinder, Niger’s second largest city. Deals by Beijing for the construction of pipelines traversing through Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon are currently in the development stage, causing no small amount of consternation in Washington.

This article was originally published by WSWS 

Copyright © 1998-2017 World Socialist Web Site

Obama Declares Cuba and Venezuela National Security Threats

The executive order allows the president to use national emergency resources to fight the threat, such as enforcing sanctions against the country.

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In March, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years. | Photo: Reuters

Consistent with their new strategy of planning and working for regime change in Cuba through indirect and covert means,  the US government, through President Obama, has extended for another year economic sanctions against Cuba despite abstaining recently in the vote to end the blockade at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

A national emergency

The United States declared a national emergency to deal with perceived “threats” in Cuba and Venezuela on Friday, along with Iran, Libya, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and countries Washington claims “support terrorism.” The declarations effectively extend for another year economic sanctions already in place.

RELATEDObama Declares Venezuela a Threat to National Security

President Barack Obama warned that one of the main national security threats to the U.S. is mass undocumented immigration from Cuba, days after he ended the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy, which granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the U.S. without visas, reported Sputnik.

Obama used an executive order in March 2015 to declare that the situation in Venezuela has “not improved.” He cited human rights violations, persecution of political dissenters and restrictions on the freedom of the press.

When a national emergency was declared against Venezuela in 2015, Obama also ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, saying they would be banned from traveling to the United States and any and all assets and properties belonging to them would be frozen.

Under the National Emergencies Act sanctions must be renewed every year, however, the executive orders Obama signed Friday are not set to expire until two months into the Trump administration. The move appears to suggest that the Obama administration is concerned that the renewals could get overlooked in the expected chaos of Trump’s White House. If he chooses to, Trump could rescind the sanctions by executive order.

OPINIONThe Audacity of Obama’s Farewell Address

The extension of U.S. sanctions against Iran come despite the historic agreement reached last year between the two countries. The extension of sanctions against Russia, imposed in response to their actions in Ukraine and Crimea, come amidst recent hysteria about suspected interference in the U.S. election by the Putin regime. Some have speculated that Trump’s pick for foreign secretary, Rex Tillerson, may soon move to remove the sanctions given they block a multi-billion dollar project he negotiated with Russia while CEO of ExxonMobile.

The United States currently has 31 officially declared national emergencies.

Sources:  TeleSUR, Curacao Chronicle

Obama Is Pathetic on Human Rights in North Dakota

Source:  readersupportednews.org

November 4 2016

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

human rights in north dakota.jpg

 Police use pepper spray against protesters trying to cross a stream near an oil pipeline construction site near Standing Rock Indian Reservation, north of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, November 2, 2016. (photo: Jason Patinkin/Reuters)

We’re monitoring this closely. And, you know, I think, as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way…. So—so, we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans….

– President Obama on the Now This News website, November 1, 2016

Isn’t that sweet? The President gave lip service to “the traditions of the first Americans.” He didn’t mention treaties between sovereign nations, of course, because he’s not about to break with the traditions of the second Americans: that such treaties are only a means to a genocidal end and aren’t to be taken seriously by the United States of exceptional, manifestly destined Americans whenever such treaties interfere with what the US wants.

That’s what “properly attentive” means historically. Freely translated, “properly attentive” means “make a show of peace talk, them roll over them with whatever force necessary after it’s too late to affect the election.” The legal mind is nothing if not properly attentive to elegant turns of phrase in its unyielding hypocrisy.

Sacred lands

If the President had any intention of honoring anything relating to the sacred lands of Native Americans, he would not be planning to “let it play out for several more weeks.” Sacred lands have already been destroyed. Sacred lands are being destroyed no, not only by the pipeline construction but also by the massive militarized police response to nonviolent protest. Letting it play out for several more weeks only opens the door to the destruction of more – even all – of the sacred lands in the path of this lethal-to-the-planet pipeline.

What is happening, what has been happening for months in North Dakota, is a travesty – of justice, of common human decency, of the rule of law and standards of international law. And our president is on the wrong side of all of it, just barely responding in his docile, passive, articulate evasiveness.

“We’re monitoring this closely,” says the President

If the President is monitoring this closely and remains willing to let it play out for several more weeks, that’s a pretty clear signal that he has no serious problem with the creation of police state conditions in North Dakota. Besides an unknown number of private security forces working for Energy Transfer Partners (the pipeline sponsor), there are law enforcement officers from at least seven states that have cost about $10 million so far. That seems a ridiculously high price to pay to contain peaceful protest. And it’s an even more ridiculous price for taxpayers to shell out to protect private profits.

If the President is monitoring this closely without responding, that is a tacit admission that he has no serious problem with any of the egregious behavior so far by official and quasi-official paramilitaries and their wide-ranging mistreatment (apparently including criminal assault) of American citizens. In particular, he has allowed and continues to allow himself to be seen as approving:

  • Unlicensed, apparently untrained private security forces using dogs to bloody peaceful protesters (who call themselves water protectors).
  • State officials arresting and over-charging journalists for committing journalism.
  • A local sheriff inflaming the public with false reports of “pipe bombs,” when what he had actually heard was talk of “peace pipes.”
  • Law officers shooting nonviolent water protectors in the back and front with rubber bullets.
  • State officials housing arrestees in dog cages and conditions that violate international law against torturing prisoners.
  • Law officers on the riverbank using mace and pepper spray against nonviolent water protectors standing in the water.
  • Official surveillance helicopters flying low to panic horses.
  • Official surveillance helicopters mysteriously going off duty just before “persons unknown” start a prairie fire (with such ineptitude that the wind blows it away from the Standing Rock Sioux gathering ground).
  • Apparent contempt of court by Energy Transfer Partners, who sent its bulldozers to destroy a burial ground that, once destroyed, could no longer be a reason for a federal court to rule against the pipeline. Desecration is not a criminal act, apparently, when you have a government permit for it, even when that permit is under litigation.

That’s a lot of official abuse to tolerate, even for a president, and that’s just a sampling of the police state techniques being tested in Middle America these days.

“And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way …”

The President paused there, leaving the thought unfinished. The pipeline has already been re-routed, away from the state capital city of Bismarck after residents there expressed fear that the pipeline threatened their water supply. Now the pipeline threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux (and thousands of others), but that is more acceptable to the American power structure. The President has expressed no dismay at the idea that a pipeline rupture along the Missouri River would devastate huge numbers of “the first Americans,” who have no other source of water. As one water protector put it: “If it were to be contaminated,… it would be a death sentence.”

Protecting  Energy Transfer Partners

Why does the President think rerouting a climate-hostile pipeline is any kind of an answer to anything other than protecting the speculative bets of Energy Transfer Partners? If he were to consider this pipeline (any new pipeline) in terms of its impact on global climate values, this would be a no-brainer: no more pipelines. This is the Army Corps of Engineers we’re talking about – the Army – and the President is the commander in chief who has no difficulty blowing up wedding parties and funerals with drones in some imaginary defense of national security. Why does he have such reluctance to protect planetary security? Why does he not just order the Army Corp of Engineers to go back to square one and re-do this process which was fast-tracked in the first place, for reasons that remain murky, and with the exclusion of interested parties with legal standing. But President Obama, on full salary as he campaigns for Hillary Clinton, shows no inclination to do any of this well or right. He’s apparently much more confortable with false equivalencies and blaming the victims (also on Now This News):

Yeah, I mean, it’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials, whenever they’re dealing with protests, including, for example, during the Black Lives Matters protests, is there is an obligation for protesters to be peaceful, and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint. And, you know, I want to make sure that as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard, that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt.

For someone supposedly monitoring this closely, the President might be expected to know that people have already been hurt and most if not all of those hurt were nonviolent, peaceful protestors set upon by dogs and assaulted by rubber bullets, sound cannons, and chemical weapons. What fundamental, callous irrationality prompts this president to bring in Black Lives Matter? That is strange beyond comprehension. But perhaps it shines a light on that dark place in his soul that allowed him to react with almost no help or pity for the people of Flint, poisoned by their own governments, including the one President Obama is supposed to lead.