“Somebody with strong views”: likely agenda of the neo-imperial administration

Perhaps the orange menace won’t be a fan of Wikileaks as some media had been claiming. This quote here is no endorsement of the orange menace but is just a quote from his wild twitter.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Jan 10, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. A new graphic was also added!

Every day since November 8, the media blares about a new “decision” by the orange menace and his advisers, something that we should be concerned about, apparently. The bourgeois media, a large chunk of which threw their support behind war criminal Killary Clinton in the presidential election, has been thrown into a tizzy over  picks by the orange menace. Some say it is hard to “glean a political agenda” from the orange menace due to his changing positions, others say that he is assembling a pro-business “conservative dream team,” the “most conservative” cabinet since Reagan, an “unorthodox cabinet” that will lead to deregulation, the “richest administration in American history” which is worth more than $250 million, or a racially homogeneous cabinet, mostly consisting of white, straight men. [1] Hence, there is no consensus in the bourgeois media, or among those opposing him, on what the orange menace will do, or where he will go. However, it is simple to see his agenda, removed from a focus on the his “twitter diplomacy.” Instead, it is best to look the orange menace’s picks for cabinet and high governmental positions to assess how he will be “somebody with strong views…that are maybe a little bit unpopular,” as he told an interviewer Rona Barrett in 1980, assisting the capitalist class with his “old fascist strain” unlike the fascism of the Obama administration.

The individuals who the orange menace has chosen so far show a conservative, right-wing agenda in the works, which includes his informal advisers like Jared Kushner as well. He’s chosen, so far: Reagan conservative Mike Pence as Vice-President, former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, arch-conservative Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, ex-Navy Seal Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, conservative (and wife of Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, former governor of Texas Rick Perry for Energy Secretary, long-time investment banker Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, restaurant CEO Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor, Georgia politician Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, conservative commentator Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, billionaire education “reformer” Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos as Secretary of Education, investment banker Gary Cohn as Director of the National Economic Council, and Director of Ameritrade Todd M. Ricketts as Deputy Secretary of Commerce. He also picked RNC Chairman, Reince Preibus, as White House Chief of Staff, and Steve Bannon, head of the bigoted outlet called “Breitbart News,” as a strategist, to spread his deceptive message. Apart from the patronage to the elements of the Republican Party who supported him, by choosing Chao, Bannon, and Preibus, he chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA, California politician Mick Mulvaney as director of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), pro-wrestling tycoon Linda McMahon as administrator of the SBA (Small Business Administration), and Wall Street lawyer Walter “Jay” Clayton as director of the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission).

As of January 2019, Reince Preibus has been replaced (first by John Kelly, then by Mick Mulvaney who still heads OMB), Jeff Sessions has been succeeded by Matthew Whitaker (and possibly William Barr if confirmed), Ryan Zinke has been succeeded by David Bernhardt, Andrew Pudzer was withdrawn (first replaced temporarily by Ed Hugler, then by Alexander Acosta since), Tom Price has been replaced by Alex Azar, Gary Cohen has been replaced by Larry Kudlow, Todd M. Ricketts was withdrawn (and replaced by Karen Dunn Kelley), Steve Bannon was succeeded by Kellyanne Conway as Senior Counselor (serving with Johnny DeStefano), and Scott Pruitt was succeeded by Andrew Wheeler. However, Steve Mnuchin is still the Treasury Secretary, Mike Pence is still Vice-President, Elaine Chao is still the Secretary of Transportation, Rick Perry is still the Energy Secretary, Wilbur Ross is still the Commerce Secretary, Ben Carson is still the Housing Secretary, Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos is still the Education Secretary, Linda McMahon still heads the Small Business Administration, and Walter “Jay” Clayton still heads the SEC. The interests of those who sit in the cabinet of the orange menace or have cabinet-level positions is shown in a graphic I created on January 11, 2019:

It is clear from this graphic, which took me hours to put together, that the “fossilized” bourgeoisie (i.e. those in fossil fuels), the financial bourgeoisie, and varieties of “free market” think tanks are strong in the cabinet of the orange menace. Runner-ups in terms of influence are the manufacturing bourgeoisie, pharmaceutical bourgeoisie, food industry bourgeoisie, and the military-intelligence establishment. Of less influence in the cabinet is Evangelical Christianity (maybe more so if Betsy BeVos is Evangelical), the warmaking bourgeoisie, Tea Party Caucus, and media bourgeoisie.  While Robert Lighthizer is an important part of his group of advisors (wikipedia calls him “one of the most influential Trump Administration officials and the lead figure in formulating the administration’s trade policy”), but his interests, including as a lawyer and in politics do not fit with the groups shown here, so he is not displayed. Here is the link (noted in the *) on the chart that shows the Chinese state owning 25% of Prince’s company. These interests may change in the future, so visualization may need to be done again. This does not include the informal advisors to the president like Rush Limbaugh, Steve Bannon, Anne Coulter (possibly), and Sean Hannity, along with his two presidential counselors (Kelly Anne Conway and Johnny DeStefano), and those in the White House Office, headed by Mike Mulvaney (Zachary Fuentes, Daniel P. Walsh, Chris Liddell, Bill Shine, Jared Kushner, Hope Renee Hudson, Ira A. Greenstein, Stephen Miller, Ivanka Trump, Avrahm J. Berkowitz, Andrew Brumberg, Larry Kudlow, Everett H. Eissenstat, Andrew J. Olmem, Cletus R. Willems III, Bill McGinley, John Mashburn, Jessica Ditto, Dan Scavino, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Raj Shah, Lindsay Walters, Hogan Gidley, Ory S. Rinat, Lindsay Reynolds, Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd, Chris Herndon, Stephanie Grisham, Douglas Lynn Hoelscher, William F. Crozer, Shahira Knight, Joyce Meyer, Amy Swonger, Marcia Lee Kelly, Monica J. Block, John R. Bolton, Doug Fears, John A. Eisenberg, Joan Virginia O’Hara, Brian Jack, Bill Stepien, Sean E. Doocey, John M. Roscoe, Jana C. Toner, Justin R. Clark, Steve Munisteri, Jennifer S. Korn, Brooke Rollins, Derek Lyons, Alexander B. Gray, Peter Navarro, Pat Cipollone, Stefan C. Passantino, Ann M. Donaldson, Jordan Karem, Madeleine Westerhout, and RDML Keith B. Davids)

What will happen next is clear: the new imperial administration will undoubtedly help big capitalists by scaling back those regulations seen as “harmful” to economic growth, such as the pathetic Dodd-Frank reform law, there will be less enforcement, and an increase in privatization. This means that offending companies will get off scot-free for committing capital crimes, a continuation of the relatively hands-off approach of officials of the Obama administration. In the area of public education, existing policy of school privatization will be continued, but will even more aggressive with a push for school vouchers, charter schools, and opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core), supported by some capitalists and “reformers.” Such policies would be coupled with a “lower taxes” on the capitalist class, “balancing” the deficit by cutting Food Stamps and other programs, while privatizing Medicare and Social Security. Additionally, the federal workforce would be slashed, unions would be under even more attack, and “Obamacare” would be repealed (with arguments about how long it will take to repeal or “fix” the law), the latter angering insurance and pharmaceutical companies who have benefited from the law. At the same time, the surveillance apparatus will continue (and likely expand), a higher minimum wage will be opposed, anti-discrimination and hate crime laws will be stopped dead in their tracks, increased restrictions on abortion will blossom, the “drug war” will be intensified resulting in opposition to medical (or non-medical) marijuana legalization, and oil and gas drilling on federal lands will increase. These changes build off the status quo of surveillance continuing under Obama’s rule and a hostile environment against abortion since right-wing reactionary backlash to Roe v. Wade, and existing large-scale fossil fuel drilling which Obama has boasted about on occasion. This included the time that he approved the southern half of the Keystone XL in 2012, with not much of a peep from bourgeois environmental groups, sometimes called “Gang Green,” like the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, to name a few.

Other aspects of the orange menace’s picks are worth noting. In the realm of immigration, future policy is very evident. For Secretary of Homeland (In)Security, he chose John Kelly, a former commander of U$ Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and long-time Marine Corps veteran who fought in the first (1991) and second (2003) phases of the twenty-five year war with Iraq (1991-2016), and helped quell the 1992 urban uprising by thousands of Black folks in Los Angeles. There is no doubt that his experience with SOUTHCOM, the southern department of U$ imperialism in the Americas, will help him implement strong border control, which would be harsher than existing measures. However, immigration policy would expand Obama’s hardline policy of deporting over two million immigrants during his time in office, along with immigration raids and a militarized border, with drones and other equipment, along with acceptance of reactionary anti-immigrant “militias.” [2]

Imperialism will continue to run rampant with the orange menace’s jingoistic idea of “America First,” declaring last month that “there is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on, it’s going to be America first. OK? America first. We’re going to put ourselves first.” In area of foreign policy, the orange menace has chosen South Carolina governor Nimrata “Nikki” Haley as UN Ambassador, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, retired Marine Corps General James “fun to shoot people” Mattis as Secretary of Defense, lawyer Robert Lighthizer for United States Trade Representative, Kansas politician Mike Pompeo for CIA director, and Indiana politician Dan Coats. Some may say that the imperial policies of bombing seven countries (Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria), using killer drones to “eliminate” supposed terrorists (who are more often than not civilians), use of special forces and small strike forces across the world, and use of private mercenaries (“private contractors”) to do the bidding of empire, will be ameliorated by the orange menace. Such people may say that likely increased investment in Russia (and good relations), with orange menace standing up to the U$ intelligence community, on their conclusion Russia is behind the election hacking (it definitely isn’t even even as he has ACCEPTED U$ intelligence on this matter), along with some supposing he will engage in “non-interventionism.” While the anti-Russian campaign pushed by the Democratic Party, certain Republicans, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with internal (FBI) and external (CIA) police of the empire, and “left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn Greenwald, and other “respected”  publications like Mother Jones [dead link], the orange menace may (seems more unlikely now than ever) pare back the budget of the CIA, if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed in this regard, this analysis misses the bigger picture at hand. Undoubtedly a possible conflict within the administration is brewing about the threat of Russia as some want to take more of a defiant stance and others want to be more cordial. [3]

For one, Tillerson will likely push for expanded energy markets while Lighthizer would push for protectionist policies. It is possible that these two views, along with the orange menace’s economic nationalism, may be balanced in some way or another. Regardless, the capitalist class will pleased if the orange menace can help them gain new markets and create a better “business-friendly” environment, even in the United States. Based on the fact that ExxonMobil (and its subsidies) has locations in 58 countries, along with a number of U$ colonies (Northern Marinas Islands and Guam for example) more than half of which are in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, this might be an area of future U$ policy under the new imperial administration, along with a push for more markets in the Middle East, the South American and African continents, where ExxonMobil does not have as many “operations.”

While the U% has strongly supported the murderous Zionist state since the 1960s, with billions upon billions of dollars in weaponry to “defend” itself from a basically imaginary threat, the orange menace’s administration will amp up the support. This will include, with extremist David Friedman as the US ambassador to the Zionist state, a strong position against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, moving the U$ embassy to Jerusalem, continuing to support Israel to the hilt, continuing the never-ending negotiations for the “two-state solution,” and supporting illegal settlements on stolen (and occupied) Palestinian land. It will also include a possible war with Iran (or threat of such a war) since the orange menace and some of his advisers want to re-negotiate the Iran nuclear deal. Such a move is ridiculous since the existing deal is already beneficial to U$ imperial aims by punishing the Islamic Republic for even having “peaceful” (yet environmentally destructive) nuclear power. If the deal is changed, it is possible that the pro-Western moderates in Iran, like Hassan Rouhani, will loose favor and a more “hardline” Iranian politician will take charge, leading the country to oppose U$ imperialism more effectively and chart its own course more independently.

The military and security establishment will undoubtedly be pleased by the coming policies of new imperial administration. For one, the Guantanamo Bay prison camp (and naval base) will be kept open, continuing Obama’s non-closure policy, CIA black sites across the world will be re-established, and a strong effort to fight terrorism will commence, whatever that entails. Even if the U$ intelligence community stops giving arms and equipment to terrorists disguised as “Syrian rebels,” imperial policy will continue. With Pence declaring that his model for a Vice-President would be Dick Cheney, who concentrated power in that political office, it means we are in for dark times, with a return to waterboarding as accepted policy and harsh “anti-terror” policies.

The orange menace is targeting the revisionist China, possibly with tariffs. The country, since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, abandoned anti-revisionist beliefs. While they clash, as part of conflict between “great” powers, they work with such imperialists on issues such as terrorism and help restrict the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Due to the orange menace’s hardline position on Taiwan, his likely continuation of Obama’s “Pacific pivot,” which encircles China with personnel (and bases), his criticism of the country for seizing a U$ spy drone, and likely demanding that China be labeled as a “currency manipulator,” they have begun preparing for the worst. [4]

The next target of the new administration is the DPRK. On multiple occasions, as part of his “twitter diplomacy,” the orange menace declared that the country’s plan to build a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the U$ “won’t happen” and criticized revisionist China for not doing enough, the former which may come back to “haunt him” as preventing a test will be hard to do. [5] The Koreans take such provocations seriously. An editorial after the U$ presidential election, in the Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), declared that the Obama administration “put the security of the US mainland in the greatest danger” by attacking the DPRK and that the new administration now has the “difficulty of facing the Juche nuclear state.” [6] In months the followed, the DPRK’s state media made similar arguments, brashly attacking the imperialist behemoth, saying that the strategic position of the socialist state has “reached its highest level,” declaring that “no force on earth can block the DPRK’s advance. Neither sanctions nor blockade nor military pressure can ever frighten it,” saying that the Korean people cannot be overpowered by the U$, and arguing that the U$ is not qualified to be the “human rights judge” of the world. [7]

Such viewpoints are a justified form of resistance to the empire. The DPRK believes that “national peace, prosperity and dignity” in the world, by an anti-imperialist (and socialist) state like themselves, hinges on a “powerful nuclear force” and that they should have the ability to build their “powerful socialist country” (even if they are not actually a socialist country in reality) with self-development and self-reliance while fending off U$ attacks. [8] As they are under siege, they have fought back with counter-propaganda to: point out that the U$ electoral system favors capitalists (which is correct), criticize dismal human rights record of the U$, say that the downfall of the U$ empire is inevitable, and otherwise condemn U$ imperial foreign policy. [9]

As a civilized socialist nation, where, in the past year, numerous technical senior middle schools (and a new middle school for orphans) opened, the public health service (part of their socialist healthcare system) was improved, the art and literature sector was invigorated, thousands of new homes were opened, and a Natural History Museum opened its doors, the Korean people will undoubtedly do what they can to resist US imperialism, assisted by the WPK. [10] In his New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the WPK, chairman of the DPRK’s State Affairs Commission, and supreme commander of Korea’s armed forces, offered warm greetings to the Korean people and “progressive peoples across the world,” saying that in 2016 the DPRK consolidated its self-defense by achieving the status “of a nuclear power, a military giant, in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke” which is aimed at people like the orange menace. [11] Kim Jong Un, after reviewing the accomplishments of the previous year and challenging the country to more, then said, referring to the DPRK and the Korean people, “we should turn out again in the new year’s march towards a greater victory…we should concentrate our efforts on implementing the five-year strategy for national economic development.” He later declared, after outlining economic industries to improve, that the country’s defense forces should “politically and militarily and maintain full combat readiness to firmly defend the socialist system and the people’s lives and property” and said that the DPRK will “continue to build up our self-defence capability…and the capability for preemptive strike as long as the United States and its vassal forces [the South Koreans and Japanese] keep on nuclear threat and blackmail.” In sum, whatever the orange menace does to attack them, the DPRK will be ready in force while they continue to push for reunification of the Korean peninsula even if the murderous U$ empire opposes it.

The other country the orange menace has under his radar is less talked out: Syria. While U$ aid to terrorists in the country may end, along with U$ aid to certain Kurds, Bashar Al-Assad saying that the orange menace could be a “natural ally” to help fight terrorism, a military attack on the country is more possible than ever. [12] Other than his claim to relentless bomb ISIS and cut off its oil during the campaign, he also promised safe zones for refugees within the country. [13] After the election, in December, the orange menace reiterated this promise, saying that “when I look at what’s going on in Syria, it’s so sad…we’re going to help people. We’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people will have a chance,” building such zones with money from Gulf monarchies, imperial proxies. [14] Thus humanitarian effort of building these zones sounds like veiled reference to no-fly-zones, which will be difficult to establish and lead to U$ troops on the ground. [15] So, in sum, the orange menace is calling for war in the socially democratic and secular state of Syria, something that all thinking people should oppose.

Some readers may think something is missing in this article. They may balk at conservative Christianity taking more of a role in government and anger by the incoming administration at pushes for diversity and “political correctness,” the latter which be should described as political respectfulness since it is about respecting other people, regardless of their cultures or beliefs. They might also mention possible attacks to come on “public” media like NPR and PBS, and stronger gun rights. While some of these concerns are justified, others are not. For one, it is worth being concerned about the encroachment of religious beliefs on governments, as they are often tied to socially conservative ideals which distort governments in a way that disturbs efforts of human betterment. However, there is no need to defend “public” media like NPR (National Pentagon Radio) or PBS (Petroleum Broadcasting Service) because they have already corrupted themselves by promoting military contractors, agribusiness, and other capitalistic propaganda. The same goes for gun rights. Considering that U$ society is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted, it is criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control. Anyone who is a person of color, whether female, transgender, bisexual, homosexual, intersex, or is otherwise considered a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary. That right is already claimed by white, straight men, so why can’t others in society arm themselves to fight off bigots? You can’t fight a revolution with flowers and sayings, but political power, as Mao Zedong put it, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.

With this article, there must be a plan of action, even as the Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Secretary of Agriculture have not been nominated yet. While there have been some protests of nominees of the orange menace, specifically Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon, there has not been a widespread effort to oppose his nominees. [16] Even, the Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and Marylander Steny Hoyer and Californian Nancy Pelosi in the House, not even Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the like cannot be trusted to stand against the orange menace. They are clearly milquetoast liberals and progressives, with the possibility of the orange menace and Schumer working together in the future, and the Clinton team (Bill & Hillary) attending the inauguration of the orange menace. [17]

There is much that can be done to resist the horrid nature of the coming neo-imperial administration. One can say that there doesn’t need to be a protest against rapprochement with Russia, but instead against a reactionary Russophobic position by Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the like, along with opposing “his overall reactionary program of vile xenophobia, racism and sexism” with a mass movement. Since this is needed, there should be a push to reject every nominee he has put forward, to reject David Friedman, Steve Mnuchin, Jeff Sessions, Ryan Zinke, Elaine Chao, Rick Perry, Wilbur Ross, Andrew Puzder, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Gary Cohn, Todd M. Ricketts, Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney, Linda McMahon, Jay Clayton, John Kelley, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Robert Lighthizer, Dan Coats, and Mike Pompeo. Only a united approach of opposing all these individuals can reject the agenda wholesale. If nothing is done, it is possible that the Republicans will move quickly to enact their reactionary social and economic policies, to say the least, leaving little time for resistance. Such opposition cannot be bourgeois in character, meaning that it cannot be funded by foundation-money or wealthy donors who need not be named, hence involving solidarity to defend states like the DPRK, Cuba, Iran and Syria from imperialist assault. The bourgeoisie cannot be allowed to gain more victories and all efforts to expand their influence and power should be resisted at all costs. What happens next is up to you, the reader, to organize to stop the “orange menace” not because of his supposed “friendly” nature with Russia, but for the fascism he will bring to the homefront, imperialist destruction that will rein down on the peoples of Korea, Syria, and Iran, and unwavering support for the murderous Zionist state.

UPDATE:

Currently, the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions is going on in the Senate, with activists engaging in political theater by calling him out as a racist and allied with the KKK, a position the NAACP has also taken at this time. This in and of itself is not bad, as Sessions has praised law enforcement, representing the “old South,” and claims he wouldn’t participate in unlawful behavior. Confirmation hearings for Sessions and Rex Tillerson will be happening in the coming days.


Notes

[1] Jane C. Timm, “The 141 Stances Donald Trump Took During His White House Bid,” NBC News, Nov. 28, 2016; Andrew Restuccia, Nancy Cook, and Lorraine Woellert, “Trump’s conservative dream team,” Politico, Nov. 30, 2016; Matthew Cooper, “Donald Trump Is Building the Most Conservative Cabinet In U.S. History,” Newsweek, Dec. 9, 2016; Noah Bierman and Evan Halper, “Trump’s Cabinet picks are among the most conservative in history. What that means for his campaign promises,” LA Times, Dec. 15, 2016; Niall Stange, “Trump’s unorthodox Cabinet,” The Hill, Dec. 15, 2016; Stephen Collinson, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet a boon for conservatives,” CNN, Dec. 20, 2016; Nick Timiraos and Andrew Tangel, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet Selections Signal Deregulation Moves Are Coming,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 8, 2016; Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson, “Donald Trump is assembling the richest administration in modern American history,” Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2016; Danielle Kurtzleben, “How The Donald Trump Cabinet Stacks Up, In 3 Charts,” NPR, Dec. 28, 2016.

[2] Its possible that the idea of birthright citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment may be under attack as well, but it is hard to know, but it is clear that harsher immigration laws, possibly emulating the one in Arizona, will be pushed on a national level along with a ban on immigration from certain countries.

[3] Bryan Bender, “Trump’s team tries to stifle rift on Russia,” Politico, Jan. 5, 2017; Reuters, “Trump accepts U.S. intelligence on Russia hacking: chief of staff,” Jan. 8, 2017; Kyle Bullack, “Graham: Trump worried blaming Russia will undermine his legitimacy,” The Hill, Jan. 8, 2017.

[4] Chinese state media reports aircraft carriers conducting drills in the South China Sea and arguing if the country should alone “shoulder responsibility to fight global warming” if climate change denial becomes official policy in the orange menace’s administration.

[5] AFP, “Trump dismisses N.Korea nuclear threat, baits China in tweets,” Jan. 3, 2017; Rebecca Morin, “Trump: North Korea will be stopped,” Politico, Jan. 2, 2017; Choe Sang-Hun, “North Korea will test intercontinental ballistic missile, Kim says,” New York Times, Jan. 2, 2017; Reuters, “North Korea cannot ‘tip’ missile with nuclear warhead: U.S. State Department,” Jan. 3, 2017; David Brunnstrom and Arshad Mohammed, “Trump’s North Korea red line could come back to haunt him,” Reuters, Jan. 3, 2017.

[6] AFP, “North Korea urges policy shift from Trump administration,” Nov. 10, 2016.

[7] Ri Hak Nam, “No Force on Earth Can Overpower Strength of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec. 29, 2016; KCNA, “U.S. Has No Force to Block DPRK’s Advance,” Jan. 4, 2017; Miniu Joson, “Press Review,” KCNA, Nov. 8, 2016;

[8] Choe Yong Nam, “History proves DPRK’s choice correct,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 31, 2016.

[9] KCNA, “In brief,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 8, 2016; Pak Song Il, “Dismal human rights record of the US,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 27, 2016; KCNA, “US downfall is the course of history,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 9, 2016; Choe Yang Nam, “Obama’s DPRK policy a fiasco,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 22, 2016; Choe Yang Nam, “American human rights situation gets worse,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 29, 2016.

[10] Jong Sun Bok, “2016 sees remarkable progress in the building of civilized socialist nation,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 26, 2016; Jong Sun Bok, “With KPA as main force of revolution,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 27, 2016; Yung Kyong Il, “Marked improvement of people’s livelihood under socialist system,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 27, 2016; PT Staff, “Supreme Leader poses with participants in Party conference, sees joint performance,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 29, 2016; PT Staff, “Kim Jong Un presides over first conference of chairpersons of primary Party committees,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 30, 2016.

[11] Rodong Sinmun, “Kim Jong Un’s New Year Address,” Jan. 2, 2017.

[12] Reuters, “Syria’s Assad: Trump can be our natural ally,” Dec. 14, 2016.

[13] Ali Vitali, “Trump on refugees: Create ‘safe zone’ in Syria, don’t ‘destroy all of Europe’,” NBC News, Nov. 16, 2015; Netasha Bertand, “Trump says he wants to set up safe zones in Syria ‘so people can have a chance’,” Business Insider, Dec. 16, 2016.

[14] Mark Landler, “‘It’s So Sad,’ Donald Trump Says of Syria, Promising ‘Safe Zones’,” New York Times, Dec. 15, 2016; Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton, “Trump promises Syria ‘safe zones’, Obama says no easy fix,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016.

[15] Paul D. Stinkman, “Donald Trump Says U.S. Should Establish Safe Zones in Syria,” U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 16, 2016.

[16] Sari Horowitz, “More than 1,100 law school professors nationwide oppose Sessions’s nomination as attorney general,” Washington Post, Jan. 3, 2017; Jay Croft, “Arrests end NAACP sit-in at Jeff Sessions’ office,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2017.

[17] Dan Merica and Theodore Schleifer, “Bill, Hillary Clinton to attend Trump Inauguration,” CNN, Jan. 3, 2017; Eugene Scott, “Schumer confirms Trump told him he likes him better than Republicans,” CNN, Jan. 3, 2017. Such “resistance” that exists now is pathetic and toothless, seeming to go little beyond jingoism in the name of empire. Bourgeois liberal commentators or Democrats won’t save us from the orange menace’s fascism. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, they can easily pass the orange menace’s agenda, and a good number of Democrats will likely fall in line. Existing “resistance” includes a site to resist the “fascist America” of the orange menace organized by activists, artists, indigenous peoples, and writers, but is sadly, although rightfully anti-fascist, is devoid of radical analysis, especially concerning class and capitalism itself, making it an easy appeal to middle-class, bourgeois audiences.

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Acceptance of the orange menace and imperial white propaganda

Not only are Democratic leaders falling in line with the orange menace but so are tech leaders.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Dec 14, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Recently, Congress passed a military spending bill of over $618 billion dollars, with wide margins (92-7 in the Senate and 375-34 in the House) in both houses. [1] Like with the orange menace’s diplomatic maneuvers, there is a level of fake outrage at play once again. Some articles have decried that the spending bill gives the orange menace power over an U$ propaganda arm named “Voice of America” (VOA). [2] While this is correct, there is more to the story than this simplistic analysis pushed around by the bourgeois media.

In order to determine what this media is talking about, one has to look at the actual law itself. The one section they are referring to is section 1288 of the law (titled “Modification of United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994′). This section declares that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will continue to exist but will led by a Chief Executive Officer appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, with a term of three years. This section also abolishes the “Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau” position, with the CEO as the head of the BBG which oversees “RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Asia, or the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.” Additionally, this section also removes the International Broadcasting Bureau, replacing it with an International Broadcasting Advisory Board, with members appointed by the President, and consisting of five members including the Secretary of State, with their terms lasting three years, advising the CEO of the BBG. [3] Of the four other members other than the Secretary of State, they would be appointed from lists drawn up by the Chair and a ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the same in the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. Finally, this section says that the CEO of the BBG may “condition annual grants to RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks on the consolidation of such grantees into a single, consolidated private, non-profit corporation,” with the mission of the BBG to

“counter state-sponsored propaganda which undermines the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States and its allies…provide uncensored local and regional news and analysis to people in societies where a robust, indigenous, independent, and free media does not exist…help countries improve their indigenous capacity to enhance media professionalism and independence…promote unrestricted access to uncensored sources of information, especially via the internet, and use all effective and efficient mediums of communication to reach target audiences.”

Beyond this, not only will the “officers and directors of RFE/RL Inc., Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks” may be named by the CEO of the BBG but “additional [propaganda] brands may be created as necessary.” [4]

Basically, the concern, among some in the bourgeois media, is that the orange menace would appoint the CEO of Breitbart to head this information agency, becoming propaganda that would benefit him. However, most of the articles only focus on VOA, and NOT other forms of (arguably) white propaganda outlets, under the BBG’s umbrella, such as RFE (Radio Free Europe)/RL (Radio Liberty) which is thoroughly anti-Russian, Radio Free Asia (RFA) which promotes imperial policy in East Asia, Radio y Televisión Martí which is anti-Cuban, Alhurra which was imagined as a counterweight to Al Jazeera, and Radio Sawa which has failed in its mission. Three of these outlets (VOA, RFE/RL, Radio y Televisión Martí, and RFA) have their roots in anti-communist propaganda against the Soviet Union (and Communist China until they became “friendly” with the US), and other socialist states, but the white propaganda aim of these outlets is evident. For instance, VOA can publish an article saying that “the gradual collapse of the Soviet Union…had wide-ranging effects across Africa [affecting deeply] Marxist-inspired governments and movements,” with a ripple effect in Angola, Ethiopia, Benin, while “U.S. and European backed anti-communist authoritarian governments also slowly turned to multi-party elections” while also saying that “in Africa…the late Fidel Castro was both loved and despised…Castro is not remembered fondly in Somalia today…Castro’s influence in Africa greatly declined,” which while acting like they are “progressive” is messaging that reinforces U$ imperial power with false “objectivity.”

The other dimension to this is that the Obama administration is giving the orange menace and his cronies more power! So, basically, there is not really an opposition party (who some would say are the Democrats) to his policies. This is buttressed by the fact that outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid declared that the orange menace is “not as bad as I thought he would be” citing the orange menace saying he isn’t going to repeal Obama’s executive order on dreamers, and “not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton criminally,” while also saying  that he does not “have hate in my soul for Donald Trump” but hopes that the orange menace “does well….hopeful that he will lessen his rhetoric and work toward a safer, more productive America.”

The outrage over the orange menace gaining this power over propaganda networks is understandable, but why isn’t the outrage directed at Obama for passing this power to the orange menace? Also, the outrage is misguided because the spending bill has many other horrid elements. Apart from the other aspects of the bill [5], which I will not go into detail here, these elements are worrying enough. The expansion of imperial might by building a new aircraft carrier by 2022 (sec. 127), limits on money to destroy cluster bombs (sec. 143), along with the expansion of expansion of “electromagnetic spectrum warfare” and “electronic warfare” (sections 234, 240) is problematic enough. Additionally, the strengthening of the military’s position into cyberwarfare, possibly with “cyber professionals,” with a “unified combatant command for cyber operations forces” and into space with a the newly created “Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center” which is supposed to “create unity of effort and facilitate information sharing across the national security space enterprise” is also not good (sections 509, 923, 1615).

These efforts are only scratching the surface of this bill which increases and reinforces the duties of empire. The bill also declares that the military will continue to assist in “counterdrug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime” of other Federal organizations, foreign law enforcement, or other government bodies, along with extending the “unified counterdrug and counterterrorism campaign” of the military to Colombia (sections 1011 and 1013). There is also the declaration that no military spending can be used to “transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions” any detainee, at Guantanamo prison at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba naval base, to facilities in the U$ (sections 1032, 1033). Interestingly, not only are detainees from Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are specifically also prohibited from being released from the prison, but no military spending can be used to close to abandon the naval base at Guantanamo Bay (sections 1034 and 1035). If that isn’t enough, the military is apparently interested in “directed energy weapons” and systems, with a senior military official having principal responsibility for them, the Air Force now “piloting” drones instead of the CIA, and the military told to “better align its posture and capabilities to meet the growing array of challenges” in the Arctic, “a region of growing strategic importance to the national security interest of the United States” (sections 219, 1052, and 1095). There are also, in keeping with the anti-Russian declarations across the media, prohibitions on

  1. “bilateral military-to-military cooperation between the Governments of the United States and the Russian Federation” until Russia ends their supposed “occupation of Ukrainian territory and its aggressive activities” and abide by “the Minsk Protocols regarding a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine”
  2. money to “implement any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea”
  3. spending to “invite, assist, or otherwise assure the participation of the Government of Cuba in any joint or multilateral exercise or related security conference between the Governments of the United States and Cuba” until Cuba stops its supposed “human rights abuses against civil rights activists and other citizens of Cuba,” ceases assistance to “the military and security forces of Venezuela,” ceases supposed “persecution, intimidation, arrest, imprisonment, and assassination of dissidents and members of faith-based organizations,” drops its demand that “the United States relinquish control of Guantanamo Bay,” and other measures (sections 1232, 1234, 1286).

The latter section would mean that Cuba would have to be run by a government that is not anti-imperialist and is pro-U$ which is doubtful despite “Cuban moderates” like Raul Castro, who seem to be willing to be friendly with the U$ to an extent, in power at the present. There is no doubt that all of these measures will strengthen the empire and assist the orange menace in his diplomatic maneuvers except for his possible “good relations” with Russia in the future.

The military spending bill also reinforces other elements of existing U$ policy. For one, there is the development and production of the “Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system and Israeli cooperative missile defense program” in cooperation with Israel, taking actions “as may be necessary to…recognize India’s status as a major defense partner of the United States,” helping sub-Saharan African countries develop free trade agreements, with help of USAID and other monies, and preventing the “use of rocket engines from the Russian Federation for the evolved expendable launch vehicle program” (sections 1292, 1293, 1601, 1602, 1690). The U$ relationship with the murderous Zionist state, which will likely remain unchanged under the orange menace, is also supported by one section which says that the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report on “the potential for cooperative development by the United States and Israel of a directed energy capability to defeat ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, mortars, and improvised explosive devices that threaten the United States, deployed forces of the United States, or Israel” (section 1274). Apart from the outlining of a “strategy for United States defense interests in Africa” by the Secretaries of State and Defense in the next year, the bill establishes a Global Engagement Center, by the Secretaries of State and Defense, along with other federal organizations, which will “lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests” (section 1273 and 1287).

Very few articles have mentioned the Global Engagement Center apart from the horrid Human Rights First organization, the Center for Research on Globalization, and a few other places. The Washington Post defended this, with Craig Timberg, the same one who wrote the article promoting Prop Or Not (with its list of “Russian propaganda” news organizations which almost seems like a Cold War relic) and spreading Russophobic propaganda, by declaring that the bill “calls on the State Department to lead government-wide efforts to identify propaganda and counter its effects…[and] would be the most significant initiative against foreign governments’ disinformation campaigns since the 1990s,” a sentiment shared by Senators Rob Portman, Ron Wyden, Chris Murphy, and others to fight a supposed “heavy tide of Russian propaganda” and other “propaganda campaigns by…other foreign powers, including China.” [6]

There are only a number of other aspects of this bill worth mentioning. For one, the bill gives the orange menace tools to increase his hostility toward revisionist China. While one section says that the Secretary of Defense shall “carry out a program of exchanges of senior military officers and senior officials between the United States and Taiwan designed to improve military to military relations between the United States and Taiwan,” another says that the military will revise its assessment of revisionist China to include a “summary of the order of battle of the People’s Liberation Army, including anti-ship ballistic missiles, theater ballistic missiles, and land attack cruise missile inventory…A description of the People’s Republic of China’s military and nonmilitary activities in the South China Sea” (sections 1271 and 1284). So, the orange menace could use, this, in conjunction with the measure in the law allowing the President to impose sanctions on

“any foreign person…[who] is responsible for….gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country who seek…to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials; or to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms” (sec. 1263)

Of course, such humanitarian imperialism was likely meant for someone like President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, or Kim Jong Un of the DPRK, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. There is only one good part of the law I can see: that the military and other departments will “post on the public Internet website of the Department of Defense the costs to each United States taxpayer of each of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria” (section 1090). This transparency obviously will not stop wars, but can be used as propaganda against the national military establishment itself, as much as the counters on the National Priorities Project of military costs can be used.

For now, I think it is important to oppose the horridness of the orange menace while rejecting the liberal fake outrage about him, which seems to be centering around “his ties” to Russia now or the Podesta emails, and standing against U$ imperial propaganda by recognizing the anti-imperialist front of those countries opposed to the United States from time to time.


Notes

[1] Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. Congress passes $618.7 billion annual defense bill,” Reuters, December 9.

[2] David Folkenflik, “An Obama-Backed Change At Voice Of America Has Trump Critics Worried,” NPR, December 14, 2016; Lauren Fox, “Report: Big Changes To Voice Of America Could Make It Trump’s Mouthpiece,” Talking Points Memo, December 12, 2016; “VOA promises editorial ‘firewall’,” BBC News, December 13, 2016; Taylor Link, “Will Donald Trump have complete control of America’s propaganda arm?,” Salon, December 12, 2016; Tara Palmeri, “Trump to inherit state-run TV network with expanded reach,” Politico, December 12, 2016; Howard Kurtz, “Double Standard? Media warn Trump could exploit US ‘propaganda’ arm – under bipartisan law,” Fox News, December 13, 2016.

[3] Those who are currently on the BBG board will be the first members of this board until vacancies are filled.

[4] Finally, this section also says that if RFE/RL is not carrying out its functions in an economical and effective manner, another entity may be granted its duties. The section also talks about the duties of the Inspector General in “checking” the BBG, the foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State.

[5] Other provisions include: (1) says the Secretary of the Army can purchase AH–64E Apache helicopters (sec. 111 and 112); (2) says secretary of army can order training of certain military units (sec. 113); (3) determination of delivery of navy vehicles (sec. 121); (4) construction and design of “the LHA Replacement ship designated LHA 8” (sec. 122); (5) report on Littoral Combat Ship (sec. 123); (6) limits on some naval shipbuilding (sec. 124); (7) limit on funds for advanced arresting gear on numerous vessels such as the U.S.S. Enterprise and U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (sec. 125); (8) limit on funds for procurement for the U.S.S. Enterprise (sec. 126); (9) report on P-8 Poseidon Aircraft (sec. 128); (10) design of a landing ship (sec. 129); (11) Compass Call aircraft (sec. 131); (12) repeal of requirement (secs. 132, 133); (13) A-10 aircraft cannot retire (secs. 134, 135); (14) Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft cannot retire (sec. 136); (15) elimination of annual report on aircraft inventory (sec. 137); (16) standardization of certain rifle ammunition (sec. 138); (17) fire suppressment and other standards for vehicles (sec. 142); (18) report on military use of munitions for combat situations (sec. 144); (19) reporting on combat ammunitions is annual instead of quarterly (sec. 145); (20) review of F-35 Lightning II (secs. 146, 147); (21) briefing on ground utility vehicle (sec. 148); (22) capabilities of aircraft (sec. 149); (23) technology reinvention labs created and still funded (secs. 211-213, 217); (24) research and development at National Defense University (sec. 214); (25) manufacturing engineering education program established (sec. 215); (26) certain activities (sec. 216); (27) Distributed common ground system (sec. 220); (28) Limiting funds for “countering weapons of mass destruction situational awareness information system commonly known as “Constellation”” (sec. 221); (29) Limiting funds for experimental military unit (sec. 222); (30) limitation of funds for JSTARS program (sec. 223); (31) annual reports on f-35 strike fighter modernization (sec. 224); (32) access to trusted microelectronics (sec. 231); (33) evaluating commercial information technology (sc. 232); (34) more technology testing (sec. 233); (35) pilot program on disclosure of certain information to federal research and development centers (sec. 235); (36) advanced interaction between DARPA and service academies (sec. 236); (37) review of certain procedures (sec. 237); (38) b-21 bomber development program (sec. 238); (39) study on helicopter crash prevention (sec. 239); (40) fielding of certain systems (sec. 241); (41) energy installations (sec. 311); (42) alternative fuel requirement (sec. 312); (43) data management for facilities (sec. 313); (44) alternative technologies for munitions disposal (sec. 314); (45) report on how to reduce military costs of installations (sec. 315); (46) sense of congress related to climate change (sec. 316); (47) rating system (sec. 321); (48) guidance related to corrosion control (sec. 322); (49) manufacturing and retooling initiative (sec. 323); (50) repair, and other duties at drydocks (sec. 324); (51) private sector port loading (sec. 325); (52) revitalizing organic “industrial base” of the army (sec. 326); (53) modifications to quarterly readiness report to congress (sec. 331); (54) report on travel costs (sec. 332); (54) report on certain helicopter rescue program (sec. 333); (55) air navigation (sec. 341); (56) contract working dogs (sec. 342); (57) review related to explosive ordinance disposal (sec. 343); (58) process of communicating for surplus ammunition (sec. 344); (59) cords in military units (sec. 345); (60) access to military installations (sec. 346); (61) secretary of army should assess capacity of Apache helicopters to attack, “chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear capabilities and modernization needs” and capability of field artillery (sec. 114); (62) outlining specifics of claims of retaliation with report of sexual assault in the military (sec. 543); (63) creation of anti-hazing database (sec. 549), (64) Defense Sec. will “ensure the effective organization and management of the electromagnetic spectrum used by the Department of Defense” (sec. 1065), (65) “not later than the last day of the first fiscal year quarter beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report describing any confirmed ballistic missile launch by Iran during the previous calendar quarter” (sec. 1226); (66) “not later than the last day of the first fiscal year quarter beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report describing any confirmed ballistic missile launch by Iran during the previous calendar quarter” (sec. 1226), (67) military has a “biological select agent and toxin biosafety program” which is supposedly safer now (sec. 218) and many more.

[6] Craig Timberg, “Effort to combat foreign propaganda advances in Congress,” Washington Post, November 30, 2016; Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, November 24, 2016. Other articles show where Timberg stands and how he spreads propaganda, with examples including “Why Facebook and Google are struggling to purge fake news” (November 15, 2016), “Could better Internet security have prevented Trump’s shocking win?” (November 10, 2016), “Tech investments show an Iran eager to end isolation” (April 6, 2015); “Sony Pictures hack appears to be linked to North Korea, investigators say” (December 3, 2014), “Iraq tries to censor social media to disrupt ISIS communication, but its success is limited” (July 13, 2014), “Vast majority of global cyber-espionage emanates from China, report finds” (April 22, 2013); “Chinese cyberspies have hacked most Washington institutions, experts say” (February 20, 2013).

“If he can put a few dents…I’ll fucking take it”: the orange menace and imperial diplomacy

The orange menace attacks a union leader, who called out the orange menace on his lies about the Carrier deal, foreshadowing his anti-union moves in the future

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Dec 8, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Recently I read a post by Sassy Sourstein (@rancidsassy) about the orange menace’s diplomatic maneuvers as you could call them. To his credit, he writes that “I’m not ready to stop gloating about the loss of Hillary Clinton yet. When Trump is inaugurated I’ll turn the knives on his administration — for now, it’s still the Obama-Clinton administration and I’m still focusing on these cretins.” This article will go through his post and address it, arguing that it is best to not be as optimistic about “changes” under the orange menace but to rather recognize the general continuance and continue fighting.

The orange menace, Taiwan and China

There isn’t a lie but the broader implications matter:

Liberals don’t even know there’s a forest, forget seeing it for the trees. This week in Facebook includes people horrified that Trump would even acknowledge the government of Taiwan, let alone congratulate its new president! This will enrage China, our largest trading partner! They even brought out the specter of WWIII, which they laughed at when it was said it would be Clinton who would start it. Thing is Clinton was going to start it by following through on a promise to bomb Russian troops in Syria.

There is no doubt that liberals have engaged in what can be accurately called fake outrage, which is when someone is “outraged” at something but doesn’t see the whole picture simply put. Sassy has a point that Clinton would likely have started WWIII with bombing Russian troops in Syria and that liberals exhibited this fake outrage on this issue.

However, the orange menace’s position is not something out of the blue. He is tapping into the sentiment of angry American multinationals. Even Ho-Fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University Sociology professor who seems to be in the liberal camp of critics of China’s government by supporting the Western-backed “democracy” movement in Hong Kong, described the orange menace’s call with Taiwan’s new President, Tsai Ing-wen, who is part of a Taiwanese nationalist bourgeois liberal party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as “signaling a deeper shift in Washington’s Asia policy rather than just an impulsive act.”

As it turns out, that sentiment is well-placed. The call was reportedly “an intentionally provocative move that establishes the incoming president as a break with the past” which was the product of preparations stretching before he even “became the Republican presidential nominee.” [1] Talking with Tsai Ing-wen reflects, according to the article, views of the orange menace’s advisers “to take a tough opening line with China,” even as it is publicly portrayed as just a “routine congratulatory call” (and non-political) which removes the fact that “it appeared calculated to signal a new, robust approach to relations with China,” to make Taiwan a “more strategic ally in East Asia.”

All Trump did was talk to the leader of a country that the United States arms and is sworn to protect — from China. And hey, China knows this. If these morons think China is just concerned with being “dishonored” *gong sound, deep bow* they’re not just racist, they’re also so stupid as to be dangerous. Give felons back their vote and disenfranchise these criminals of common sense.

Once again, Sassy makes a good point that the orange menace did talk to the president of Taiwan, a country whom the US has generously armed over the years with thousands upon thousands of weapons, including almost $2 billion in armaments sold to them almost a year ago in December 2015, trying to prevent them from “burning.” [2] There is no doubt that revisionist China is not just concerned with being “dishonored” with the call, but that they recognize U$ relations with Taiwan, and that liberals should be mocked for their response. However, as always, there is something deeper here.

Apart from what was said before, Bob Dole was behind the scenes in setting up the call with Tsai Ing-wen. Dole works currently as “a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan,” working for six months secretly (praised $140,000) to establish “high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff,” is a lobbyist for the multi-million dollar law firm Alston & Bird, and was part of a “well-orchestrated plan by Taiwan to use the election of a new president to deepen its relationship with the United States” which was assisted by Dole. [3] It might be worth remembering that Dole voted against even moderate social safety net proposals that were part of the revolution-calming “Great Society” while in the U$ Senate, was much in favor of the Vietnam War, and became a spokesperson for many corporate interests after his political career ended with Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996.

Apart from the misplaced optimism of the revisionist Chinese government about the orange menace (like many governments across the world), liberals and the corporate media have, as Sassy was criticizing, went all up and arms about this phone call:

Some actually praised the action by the orange menace, a view promoted by William Arkin who helped found a branch of Human Rights Watch in the 1990s! In related news, the Taiwanese alleged that the revisionist Chinese circled the island a week before the orange menace’s call, but this is likely a lie. What isn’t a lie is a statement by former adviser to the orange menace, Stephen Moore, likely in line with the position of the orange menace  and his advisers: “Taiwan is our ally. That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We oughta back our ally, and if China doesn’t like it, screw ’em.” [4]

Beyond this is the actual response of the revisionist Chinese government. There is no doubt that he call made the revisionist Chinese angry, but officials blamed Taiwan for setting it up rather than the orange menace and hardly criticized the call. [5] The revisionist Chinese know that the Taiwan Relations Act not only “ended US recognition of Taiwan but also made the US responsible for military intervention in the case of an attack or invasion from China.” However, the anger goes deeper than that and goes beyond asking the U$ to bar Taiwan’s president from traveling through the U$.

The People’s Daily Overseas Edition took an interesting tone. [6] This article by a researcher from the China Institute of International Studies, Wang Hai Lou, notes that the orange menace has consistently criticized revisionist China and could become “the weathervane for US future policy toward China” especially based on the fact he is “surrounded by a group of neo-conservative thinking” which is not good. Hai Lou goes on to say that the orange menace has a “lack of diplomatic experience” and is “ignorant of China-US relations” especially when it comes to “the exchange rate, trade and the South China Sea,” that provoking “friction between China and the United States…will only be counterproductive.” He ended by saying that

China is well aware of the dual nature of US policy toward China…China’s foreign policy in line with international trends, the United States no matter…the…foreign strategy, it is difficult to exclude cooperation with China…China should develop itself according to established goals, build up a circle of friends, build a favorable international environment by cooperation and win-win, and limit US hostile choice and willful choice…the transition of Sino-US relations requires a long-term and long-term strategic plan.

Very strategic thinking, no doubt. More directly, the revisionist Chinese government lodged “solemn representations with the relevant party on the US side both in Beijing and Washington” and got its “message across to the world as a whole with regard to Taiwan-related issues,” with the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Lu Kang, saying, not surprisingly, “we will not speculate on what motivates President-elect Trump and his team into taking certain moves. But we will surly make ourselves clear if what they say concerns China.” The comment of the other foreign ministry spokesperson on the issue was not much different. Differently, some of the readers on People’s Daily criticized the orange menace for his rhetoric, all while keeping the connections between the U$ and Chinese bourgeoisie intact. Other writers took a similar stand.

On a related note, in the English-language China Daily, they wrote that the leader of Taiwan “is desperate for support from the United States in her cross-Straits standoff with the Chinese mainland” and that the orange menace “values the island as a business partner,” and that the response from Beijing “indicates a strong desire for healthy China-US relations in the coming Trump era.” Just like other writers have noted, “Trump broke a decades-old bilateral diplomatic consensus and touched an ultra-sensitive diplomatic nerve” and that he should “stop acting like the diplomatic rookie he is…otherwise, he will make costly troubles for his country, and find himself trying to bluster his way through constant diplomatic conflagrations.” This is a point that even Sassy didn’t bring up.

In comparison, other publications were more strident. In the Russian publication, pravada.ru, Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova) argued that “China resorted to tough rhetoric,” noting that the US welcomed Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui in 1995 which made Beijing mad, while noting that the orange menace’s position “could provoke not only a military, but also an economic confrontation with revisionist China that will not be easy to win” with China vetoing “other US initiatives in the UN Security Council, for example, a resolution against the proliferation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons or the sanctions policy against Iran” which could lead to a better position for Russia.

Liberals and Fidel Castro

These same “pragmatic” types will nonetheless spend their time shitting on the legacy of Fidel Castro who despite lifting millions out of extreme poverty, did terrible things to innocent people that objectively pale in comparison to anything the US has done to its own minorities, but forget that. It’s about the morality — but just in that case.

Terrible things to innocent people? Who? Which innocent people? I do think Sassy makes a good point about liberal analysis of Fidel here. All I have to say is that Fidel was a great revolutionary (Evo Morales of Bolivia agrees not surprisingly) and those in Cuba have memorialized him rightly so:

Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Theresa May

That’s not all Trump “fucked up” on the foreign policy front. In less than a week he praised the “dictator” of Kazakhstan, said he’d — horrors!! — like to visit Pakistan, “a terrific country,” and treated the British Prime Minister as if she were the leader of any other of the world’s countries. That last “disaster” involved him calling Theresa May only after calling NINE probably non-white leaders.

At this point Sassy bunched together a number of different issues: meeting the leader of Kazakhstan, visiting Pakistan, and talking to Prime Minister Theresa May. Once again, the anger over this translates to fake outrage. However, it is still worth addressing each topic on its own merit.

The orange menace praised that Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s leader, and said that the country,  since its independence “achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle.’” [7] Now, that’s much more than just an ordinary phone call. It was enough for the Washington Post to write a thinkpiece about it and some scholars to say that Kazakhstan will fair well under the orange menace, possibly finding the supposed “key” to fighting the Islamic State. We must recognize that Kazakhstan is a country that is utterly open for business and relations with many countries, such as capitalist Russia, revisionist China (also see here), Qatar, other Gulf states, and South Korea, along with the United States of course. [8] This state, apart from being part of OPEC, is its strategic importance to the US, likely in part because of its “wonderful” economic transformation. [9]

Sassy put “dictator” in quotations like it was something not true, something trotted out by the Western media. I think there should be no doubt that the leader of the country is a bit self-absorbed to say the least. Apart from the arrests of Daesh-supported citizens (which isn’t necessarily bad), the country had jailed activists for dissenting (also see here) and might have a “great firewall” like China. Considering that could be twisted into propaganda, it is best to consult other articles. These articles show that the government seems repressive, supports a higher education system pushed by the World Bank (part 1, part 2, part 3), was praised by the Bushes as freedom-loving, is part of “Eurasian integration,” poured money into a Clinton Initiative project (also see here), and provides the U$ with logistical support in the Afghanistan imperial war. If that’s not enough, consider that apart from Kazakhstan as part of revisionist China’s New Silk Road (also see here) partially driven by oil resources in the country and part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (it also works with Russia), benefits Western oil companies, along with other companies, and such. Now, you can say that the Western media isn’t portraying the country fairly, with some thinking of Borat as the image of the country, but even the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which is disappointed with the country’s “progress,” says that there have been “large-scale privatizations” and that the economy is not in a great state. So, it’s not a country anyone should consider part of an anti-imperialist front, with thirteen US soldiers in the country according to the most recent data.

Now we get to Pakistan. Some media say that the orange menace called Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a “terrific guy,” others noted that the orange menace’s advisers claim he will “solve” the problems in the Kashmir region, while others said that Pakistan was trying to “woo” the orange menace. [10] There is no doubt that Pakistan is key to “fighting terrorism” in the region with their strong-armed approach, however, it is worth remembering that Pakistan helped in the past in funding the anti-Soviet Islamic reactionaries from 1979 to 1989 at least, but also has been angered by recent U$ efforts. The drone bombing, which is basically Obama’s project (Bush started it, but he didn’t engage in as many bombings), is part of war which spans seven countries: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, along with the interventions in multiple African countries. So, Pakistan’s government, on the face, not very happy with U$ bombing, including outing at least three CIA station chiefs. In fact, the citizens of Pakistan have said they do not approve of the U$’s mass surveillance, and a wide swath of the population since 2002 (ranging from 73-90% over the years) they declared that they have an unfavorable view of the U$ and the U$ President (since 2005) while they have a much more positive view of revisionist China. In fact, the government is playing a double game. The Pakistanis have long ties to the imperial client state, Saudi Arabia, which is in an imperial interrelationship with the U$, and have a powerful military which, of course, served U$ interests for the most part and dominates the country’s politics.

Prime Minister Sharif, who the orange menace talked to, is not only one Pakistan’s most wealthy people, but he is very conservative, supported the 1991 invasion of Iraq, and pushed a direct privatization program, in his first term (1990-1993). In his second term of office (1997-1999), he expanded Pakistan’s nuclear program, had better relations with the Muslim world, and had good relations with the Pakistani military. In his third, and more recent term of office, he took a centrist stand on social policy, worked with the IMF to restructure Pakistan’s economy, engaged in privatization, strengthened Pakistan’s security establishment, seemed to have better relations with revisionist China than before along with good relations with Afghanistan and Russia, and the U$ claimed it was assisting Pakistan in fighting terrorism…by bombing the country! Not surprisingly, there was criticism of Sharif from the left and right, definitely more principled on the left.

Now we get to Theresa May, the UK’s new Prime Minister, and the orange menace. The media says that the orange menace told May that he values the “special relationship” (while recognizing NATO’s importance) while May said that talking to the orange menace was “easy.” [11] Other media said that the orange menace also said that Nigel Farage should serve as the UK’s Ambassador to the U$, who has been a long-time friend of the orange menace (and tied to the GOP) for some time now. [12] May is the second female Prime Minister of the UK, after arch-conservative (and war criminal) Margaret Thatcher, supported mass surveillance in the UK, gave police more powers to crack down on the citizenry, and said that immigration to the island should be reduced as Home Secretary. In her recent days as prime minister she has supported the horrendous Saudi bombing in Yemen backed by the US and seems favorable to Brexit. As for Farage, who is part of a basically fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP), he has spread Islamophobic opinions on Muslim immigrants, hates wind power and takes a conservative opinion on the economy even if he has “good” positions on the EU, funding “rebels” in Syria, Putin’s role in Europe, UK-Saudi relations, and so on.

The orange menace putting in a “few dents” in the imperial diplomatic system?

Anything that makes US diplomats “aghast” is fabulous by me. These slimebags deserve much worse for what they’ve done to the world’s people. They’re the ones who keep every country softened up for the plunder and just in case any objections arise, war…I’m not interested in whether or not Trump knows that what he’s doing is destructive to the diplomatic system. It’s irrelevant. I know that the outcome must be good if these enemies of all good people are upset by it. That tells me all I need to know. Diplomacy as a tool of empire predates the birth of Donald Trump and unfortunately will outlive him. If he can put a few dents, intentionally or not, in these fuckers’ Mercedes well I’ll fucking take it.

Now, we get to one of the “kickers” of Sassy’s piece: the argument that the orange menace shocking US diplomats is good, since diplomacy is “a tool of empire” and that “if he can put a few dents…in these fuckers’ Mercedes well I’ll fucking take it.” This viewpoint is the fundamental belief in his post and what is mentioned in the title of this post. That viewpoint makes sense in that Sassy is clearly optimistic. However, as I’ve laid out in this article, the orange menace’s diplomatic maneuvers are not this simple. Already, the orange menace will align with those who feel “anti-terror policies” are not adequate enough, stay the course with US participation in NATO (despite his comments during the election), say that “the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria is especially worrisome,” and deal with domestic problems before addressing international issues as a poll in May of this year noted. There’s not really anything else I can say here other than that diplomats, like liberals are engaging in “fake outrage” of course but that the orange menace’s maneuvers are still important.

The orange menace, Boeing, and Air Force One

Trump tweeted that the new Air Force One planes being built by Boeing were too expensive and should be canceled. When the markets opened this morning the Boeing stock took a dive! Can you think of a more deserving corporation to take such a hit?

I completely understand Sassy’s optimism here. I also think that Boeing is a horrible company since they are a huge military contractor, making bombers, fighters, satellites, and numerous other military equipment. Sassy is not alone in this commentary, with some describing it as a “brilliant move.”

As always, there is a deeper explanation needed. One article in the Chicago Tribune said that Boeing likely cringes every time the orange menace’s “riffs on foreign policy, especially when it comes to dealing with China” with the possibility that the neo-imperial administration will “test the Boeing CEO’s statesmanship, especially when it comes to dealing with China.” It also says that since it seems “Trump is eager for a China confrontation,” this goes against the interest of Boeing, which doesn’t want “an international trade war that could raise tariffs or greatly disrupt long-standing, albeit imperfect, global agreements.” The article goes on to quote Boeing’s CEO who said that “one of the overarching themes [of the recent election] was apprehension about free and fair trade,” says that an influx of jet orders from revisionist China “means more work for Boeing’s thousands of U.S. workers” and that the orange menace should heed his (Boeing CEO’s) advice (which is very economically nationalist ironically enough: “if we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us.” The article then asks how nationalist the orange menace will be, with a “lot of unanswered questions and concerns.”

Of course the Chicago Tribune piece is pro-business and takes the side of Boeing, there is still important insights there on the further implications of the orange menace’s remarks, which are worth recognizing, which Sassy doesn’t even address.

Concluding words

In the last sentence of Sassy’s piece, he declares facetiously “I’m loving the Trump presidency and it hasn’t even started.” I’m not sure that such optimism is warranted, even if a majority of Americans say Trump can keep his businesses, which isn’t arguably an “empire.” Already, Trump is trying to court the capitalist class, many of whom supported Killary for her more overtly pro-corporate policies, including those in the technology sector mainly based around Silicon/Sexist/Surveillance Valley. [14] At the same time, he may moderate his opinions on issues like the Affordable Care Corporatist Act (“Obamacare”) if he follows the lead of Republican leaders in the houses of Congress, follows a similar “political blueprint” to Obama, and his expected energy policy which includes: (1) more oil & gas drilling, (2) approval of LNG terminals quicker, (3) reducing energy subsidies, and other destructive policies to the environment, going even farther than Obama’s destructive (and deceptive) nature on the environment. [15] Beyond this, with the “new” rules of the “Trump game,” the militarization of space will be quickly expedited, brinkmanship will be even more prominent with Michael T. Flynn as National Security Adviser, the continuing privatization of public education, and billionaires will benefit, with a cabinet that reeks of cronyism, and lies about “great deals” for new jobs (see here, here, here, and here for example).

It is best to move beyond the “tweet shaming” that people claim the orange menace has done, the fake outrage (also see here), fake news, or that one guy who is a faithless elector. The same goes for Al Gore meeting with the orange menace, Obama handing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) off to the orange menace, and numerous other issues. [16] Not only has the orange menace said he will approve the pipeline, but his advisers have declared that “we should take tribal land away from public treatment [privatize it]…As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country,” a move which is broadly opposed by indigenous peoples, represented by groups such as the Indigenous Environmental Network and Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, among others. [17] I think is valid to say that the orange menace will unleash neofascism (assisted by Obama continuing his harsh immigration measures), and that the orange menace is a showman, with governing style that makes Corporate America nervous. [18]

The most uneasy of all about the orange menace are the Iranians. The Western-backed moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said, in a speech at Tehran University, after expressing anger that the U$ would tear up the nuclear agreement (with cheers of “Death to America), “America cannot influence our determination, this nation’s resistance and its struggle. America is our enemy; we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can.” [19] Beyond this, with this tone because of more pressure from “hard-liners,” some analysts in Iran said that Rouhani has proved that “trusting America is useless and a waste of time, energy and money” and should not be re-elected, but there is continued dedication to the nuclear agreement as some Iranian lawmakers “have proposed a boycott of American products…[and 88 others] have even suggested restarting nuclear activities and the enrichment of uranium.” The renewal of U$ sanctions on Iran for the next ten years has vindicated the “hardliners,” as some still try to bring in foreign companies to invest as the country’s leaders want the sanctions to expire. As I noted on this blog before, Iran is currently beset by the forces of Western imperialism.

There really isn’t any more to say here, even about the optimistic comments of Putin about the orange menace (which despite his previous comments should be more wary), the Pentagon burying evidence of $125 billion in waste, and the widening income gap between the wealthy and the mass of the population. [21] Perhaps we should, other than recognizing the successes of socialism in the USSR, go farther than Sassy, who said, as I noted in the beginning of this post, “when Trump is inaugurated I’ll turn the knives on his administration,” and turn the knives on the orange menace NOW, instead of buying into delusions of optimism when it comes to the orange menace, his cabinet, and his policies which will most definitely benefit the bourgeoisie, even more than Obama, who the capitalist class liked very much.


Notes

[1] Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker, and Simon Denyer, “Trump’s Taiwan phone call was long planned, say people who were involved,” Washington Post, December 4, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016. Reportedly this was only one of many calls with foreign leaders that were planned after the orange menace’s election on November 8th. There was also a “tougher language about China” in the GOP platform this year than before, and a number of pieces in Foreign Policy (the orange menace’s transition advisers) and the Council of National Interest (the orange menace’s transition adviser) may give clues to his future moves forward.

[2] Obama administration authorizes $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan,” Reuters, December 16, 2015. Accessed December 7, 2016. This article says that “the Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan, including two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment, drawing an angry response from China…Although Washington does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, it is committed under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensuring Taipei can maintain a credible defense…”Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China strongly opposes the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan,” Xinhua quoted Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned Lee, as saying. Zheng said the sales went against international law and basic norms of international relations and “severely” harmed China’s sovereignty and security…the arms package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million of Javelin anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; $268 million of TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and $217 million of Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon, and $375 million of AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles.”

[3] Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Eric Lipton, “Bob Dole Worked Behind the Scenes on Trump-Taiwan Call,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016. Dole also pushed for the plank in the GOP Party Platform which took a harder line on China than previously.

[4] Other articles I don’t feel like relating here are: (1) an apparent US-China-Japan space race, with Japan wanting to send explorers to Mercury and Venus instead of Mars like the U$ and China, connected with growth of the “space industry,” along with related tweets and (2) rejection of a China-linked semiconductor, displaying the fanatical economic nationalism at play.

[5] Associated Press, “Trump speaks directly with Taiwan’s leader, irking China,” Mercury News, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016; Damian Paletta, Carol E. Lee and Jeremy Page, “Donald Trump’s Message Sparks Anger in China,” Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[6] Ting Shi and Taylor Hall, “China Seeks ‘Strategic Composure’ in Trump Era of Diplomacy,” Bloomberg News, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[7] Louis Nelson, “Trump praises Kazakhstan ‘miracle’ in call with president,” Politico, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016; Reena Flores, “Kazakhstan: Trump praised “miracle” achieved under our president,” CBS News, December 2, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[8] Theodore Karasik, “Kazakhstan: At the Crossroads of Security,” U.S. News and World Report, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[9] “Kazakhstan to join talks with OPEC, undecided on output cut,” Reuters, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[10] Seema Guha, “Donald Trump may play hardball on Kashmir, but India is no pushover,” First Post, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rama Lakshmi, “Trump can resolve Kashmir impasse with ‘dealmaking skills,’ his running mate claims. It won’t be easy,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Carlos Munoz, “Pakistani aide sees opening for better ties with Trump administration,” Washington Times, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Denis Slatery and Cameron Joseph, “Donald Trump speaks to Taiwan, Philippines and Pakistan leaders over the phone — signaling a major U.S. foreign policy shift,” New York Daily News, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Joshua Berlinger and Sophia Saifi, “Donald Trump reportedly praises Pakistan’s ‘terrific’ PM,” CNN, December 2, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Damien Paletta and Saeed Shah, “Pakistan Says Donald Trump Called Its Leader ‘Terrific Guy’,” Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Shashank Bengali and Aoun Sahi, “In phone call with leader, Trump lavishes praise on Pakistan, ‘fantastic place of fantastic people,”” Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Jackie Northam, “Trump Gushes About Pakistan In Call With Its Prime Minister,” NPR, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Jeff Nesbit, “Donald Trump’s Call With Pakistan Was a Hypocritical Mess,” Time, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Matt Bearak, “Pakistan’s surprisingly candid readout of Trump’s phone call with prime minister,” Washington Post, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Steve Benen, “Trump has ‘bizarre’ conversation with Pakistani leader,” MSNBC, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Charles Tiefer, “Trump’s Ignorant Call To Pakistan’s Sharif May Send India An Unwelcome Message,” Forbes, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[11] Joe Watts, “Theresa May praises ‘easy to talk to’ Donald Trump despite previous criticism,” The Independent, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Donald Trump values special relationship with UK and is ‘easy to talk to’, says Theresa May,” The Telegraph, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Robert Nisbet, “Theresa May: Talking to Donald Trump is ‘very easy’,” Sky News, December 7, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Theresa May calls Donald Trump to discuss ties, transition and NATO,” Sky News, November 29, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Ian Silvera,”Donald Trump and Theresa May agree on Nato importance in second phone call,” International Business Times, November 29, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Peter Walker, “Concerns over ‘special relationship’ allayed as Trump calls May,” The Guardian, November 10, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[12] Martin Pengelly, “Nigel Farage is willing to serve Donald Trump ‘formally or informally’,” The Guardian, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Nigel Farage meets with top Republicans raising fresh questions for Theresa May,” The Telegraph, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Feliz Solomon, “Donald Trump Says ‘Many People’ Want Nigel Farage to Become Britain’s Ambassador to the U.S.,” Time, November 21, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rowena Mason, “Nigel Farage: I share concerns with Donald Trump,” The Guardian, July 15, 2015. Accessed December 8, 2016; Karla Adam, “Nigel Farage: Trump is ‘a very loyal man’,” Washington Post, November 22, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[13] Robert Reed, “Boeing CEO waits for Trump’s trade play,” Chicago Tribune, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[14] David Streitfield, “Donald Trump Summons Tech Leaders to a Round-Table Meeting,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[15] Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, “GOP still splintered over Obamacare after Pence meeting,” Politco, December 7, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett, “GOP may delay Obamacare replacement for years,” Politico, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rich Lowry, “Trump Follows Obama’s Blueprint,” Politico, December 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[16] See Michael Rosenburg’s article in the New York Times titled “Trump Adviser Has Pushed Clinton Conspiracy Theories,” December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. Other articles of note from Russia Today (about US role in the arms trade), Mint Press News (US tolerance of war crimes), Military Times (returning Okinawa to Japan), New York Times (“House G.O.P. Signals Break With Trump Over Tariff Threat,” by Jennifer Steinhauer), Slate (the orange menace’s congratulated Duerte on his anti-drug crackdown), Raw Story (KKK membership increasing after the orange menace’s s election), PressTV (huge military budget passed by the US house), LeftVoice (inadequate criticism of Sanders’s opinion on the Carrier deal), Reuters (Dustin Voltz, “FBI to gain expanded hacking powers as Senate effort to block fails,” December 1, 2015, accessed December 8, 2016), Twitter (Cordelier’s thread), Guardian (what the orange menace means for Africa), CNN (the orange menace’s conflicts of interest), Forbes (the orange menace may not propose a budget in 2017), The Hill (Union leader at Carrier plant mad at the orange menace, saying he lied), and Pakistan Observer (the orange menace claiming he will mediate the conflict in Kashmir).

[17] , “Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations,” Reuters, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[18] Drew Harwell and Rosalind D. Harman, “Trump’s unpredictable style unnerves corporate America,” Washington Post, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[19] Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s President Says Donald Trump Can’t Tear Up Nuclear Pact,” December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[20] Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[21] Patricia Cohen, “A Bigger Economic Pie, but a Smaller Slice for Half of the U.S.,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

“The bumbling empire?”: the murderous US empire trudges on

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on July 10, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Recently, President Obama extended the imperial war and occupation in Afghanistan beyond his time in office, leaving more troops “than planned” as bourgeois CNN declared on their website a few days ago. This, if one follows events of the last few years, is not a surprise. Still, some may say that the murderous empire is falling down/“bumbling” (like Jeremy Scahill) or on the road to collapse. This view is widespread across bourgeois “Left” circles: famed journalist Chris Hedges talks about the “failures and discontents” of the US empire, that democracy and imperialism are “incompatible,” and that the empire has been “declining” since the end of the Vietnam War; political theorist Sheldon Wolin says that “American imperium” can be rethought; former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson says that not dismantling the empire will lead to “likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union” and that “decline and fall [of the empire] is foreordained.” [1] This article aims to point out why these approaches and perspectives are flawed, while looking at what the actual nature of the murderous empire.

Regardless of what some think, the empire is as strong as ever. Sure, there is a growing U$ debt from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the U$ is still the “neighborhood bully” of the world neighborhood, and it still carries a big stick. Perhaps this is because of the lack of domestic opposition to the adventures of empire. Some Gallup polls show opposition to the Afghan and Iraq wars due to war-wariness caused by the cost and length of those wars but there is no firm public opposition to war. At the president, such opposition can easily be softened by imperialist propaganda projected by the military establishment and bourgeois media. The imperialist ideals can become ingrained in people’s minds, but likely not as much as in 1961. The U$ public is currently politically demobilized, as you could put it. As for the “peace movement” in the United States, it is basically a joke and non-existent. There are few groups like CodePink, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, and others but for the most part these groups are bourgeois in nature. There’s also the  Answer Coalition, led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), a neo-Trotskyist group, and likely includes many Workers World Party (WWP), also a neo-Trotskyist group, members, but that is also little hope.

As comrade Emma Quaragel (EQ), who was doxed and exposed by imperial agents mainly centering around Molly Crabapple, argued in a recent post, the U$ government “acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people,” that the Black Panther Party was arguably “the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century” (which is understating U$ history in the 20th century) and that in the U$, a revolutionary movement can “only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism.” EQ goes on to argue that today there can’t be an “antiwar movement…because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence,” that since it is hard to find reliable figures on U$ empire, it opens the door for propagandists to deride/discredit “any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US,” meaning that building “an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle,” even among those small groups that currently exist. This argument is valid and should be listened to.

Some may see the continuing actions of empire with dismay. After all, with the U$-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016) [finalized in late 2018 with Bolsanaro], coupled with drone strikes across the Muslim world from secretive drone bases, shadowy attack teams (JSOC, CIA, and so on), private mercenaries-for-hire, and imperial proxy states such as Saudi Arabia, one may begin to lose hope. The murderous empire does not exist in a vacuum. However, without a country like the Soviet Union, there is no force, with organized (and equal) strength, to oppose this continuous empire. Sure, there are countries dubbed as “enemies” of empire such as Bolivia, Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Syria, and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), but they have little strength.

It must be acknowledged that that Russia and China cannot be depended on to form part of the anti-imperialist front. Russia may have low approval of US leadership, be opposed to NATO’s movement near its borders, and thwart actions of empire but it is a capitalist state and has a bourgeoisie which is often called “the oligarchs.” These bourgeoisie are content to work with US bourgeoisie on certain issues such as anti-terrorism actions and the Syrian conflict, meaning that Russia is not fundamentally opposed to US empire.

As for China, it has removed itself from its communist roots, as it has a thriving market economy. Since the Nixon visit to China in 1973 and Mao’s death in 1976, the Chinese government has been willing to work with the United States, which, during the Cold War, used China as a wedge to undermine the Soviet Union.

There are only a few countries which can truly be described to be part of an anti-imperialist front. These countries are Cuba and the DPRK. Meanwhile, Venezuela is under threat from imperial forces overtly (ex: public support to the opposition by NED and State Department for example) and covertly (ex: CIA agents pushing for a coup) which is exacerbating and contributing violent situation within the country. While Venezuela would fall into the same category as Cuba and the DPRK, it has been, basically compromised as the government, which one could call socially democratic, is hanging on by a thread. Perhaps I do not know as much about Venezuela as I should but, to me, the current situation could have been mitigated, if not prevented, if the bourgeoisie had been expropriated. Obviously this action, which is not as simple as flicking on a light switch, could have changed the current predicament since the expropriation would have weakened the bourgeoisie in Venezuela, making it harder for the “opposition” backed by NED, USAID, and other imperial organs to gain a foothold and destabilize the country, like has been done in other countries dubbed “enemies.”

As it currently stands, there is no vote in the U$ presidential contest against the murderous empire. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary, who should accurately be called Killary, Clinton is a “hawkish” imperialist who contributed to the destruction of Libya after the 2011 imperialist war and turned the State Department into an arm of the war machine as even Ralph Nader noted. Republican Party presidential candidate the orange menace is sought by some as a “lesser evil” or “corrective” to the elitism (and warmongering) of Clinton, but he is an unpredictable, bigoted, and fascist monster. Still, Clinton is no better than the orange menace as both are basically egoists and megalomaniacs. From the edges of “acceptable debate” one may be shouting: “What about Bernie!” As it turns out, like the orange menace and Clinton, Bernie is also an imperialist, even if he is of a “moderating” or “dovish” flavor. Sanders, as the record shows, supports the continuation of the Afghanistan War, drone strikes of a “selective” quantity, and pushed for a policy to defeat ISIS via imperial proxies. To some it may have seemed that only person talking about “peace” was former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee even though his rhetoric clearly was wrapped in jingoism. Even in the October debate where one may think he was farther “Left” than Sanders on war, he just talked about the Iraq war, ending “perpetual wars,” was against arming Syrian “rebels,” and then talked about imperial “failures” along with repairing “American credibility,” finally casting himself as a “proven peacemaker.” He was almost like Dennis Kucinich who seemed very “pro-peace” but comfortably situated himself within the bourgeois Democratic Party, meaning that he cannot be relied upon to be part of an anti-imperialist front. There is no hope in the Socialist Party USA, WWP, or PSL, as they are almost splinter parties, the last two of which are neo-Trotskyist.

One can say that the Green Party is the most successful alternative party to the bourgeois Democratic and Republican Parties, which can be classified correctly as one capitalist party with “right” and “left” wings. However, the Green Party has tried to court the Sanders campaign and has reflected the campaign’s rhetoric, especially the laughable call for “political revolution” which was, as it turned out, just code for increasing voter turnout for his campaign and not at all revolutionary. So, this puts the Green Party into question itself as another bourgeois party.

Some have asked if it is possible to maintain an empire without imperialist methods. This question is important to keep in mind considering that old established and informal national security “wise man” Zbigniew Brzezinski language of U$ imperial power so he could advocate for U$-coalition building, then, as a result, incorporate and subordinate those countries considered “potential rivals.” Sure, one could define imperialism as forming and maintaining an empire, sometimes by conquest, in order to control world markets and raw materials or as the policy and practice of “seeking to dominate the economic and political affairs of underdeveloped…or weaker states.” [2] However, this definition could easily pop up in the column of some bourgeois “radical” writer as it is divorced from capitalism and ignores how imperialism is an activity for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. In his classic work, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Vladimir Lenin writes about the concentration of production in bigger enterprises, rise of monopolies (and cartels) and centralization of production as essential parts of capitalism, and that imperialism is the highest stage of development (and the monopoly stage), historically, of capitalism. [3] Many years before those bourgeois writers, like Matt Taibbi or Glenn Greenwald, would balk about corporate concentration in society, Lenin wrote that monopoly had become a fact, that capital and banking were becoming concentrated, that competition had been “transformed into monopoly,” and that a “handful of monopolists control all operations…of the…capitalist society.” [4] To any informed observer this sounds familiar to the same types of calls today, to some degree. On the topic of imperialism, Lenin argued that capitalists divide the world not due to greediness but because they are forced to by concentration of forces within capitalism and such concentration occurs in the powers of “monopolist capitalist combines” which place a few wealthy countries in a “monopolist position” in the world market, which was created by capitalism. [5] Lenin went further and said that capitalism itself had grown into a “world system of colonial oppression and financial strong violation” of much of the world’s people by a small group of so-called “advanced” states which involve the world “in their war over sharing of their booty.” [6] Beyond his comment that imperialism is “striving for annexations” and that the world is divided between usurer states and debtor states, Lenin proposed five essential features of imperialism. [7] These features are as follows [8]:

  1. “concentration of production and capital”
  2. “the merging of bank capital with industrial capital”
  3. “export of capital”
  4. “formation of international capitalist monopolies”
  5. “territorial division of the whole world among the greater capitalist powers”

There is no doubt that at the current time, a society, like in the early 20th century as Lenin put it, “for the benefit of monopolies,” still exists as does these essential aspects of imperialism. [9] The Amerikanized form of imperialism is not the same as European imperialisms before, during, and after the Berlin Conference. The U$ certainly has colonies like the “empires of old” manifested in its inhabited territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa (supposedly “self-governing” since 1967), Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. [10] However, the mainstay of the murderous empire comes in the hundreds of military bases, numbering 500 at minimum (most of which the military calls “installations” [11]), scattered across the world. The U$ imperial monster is building upon the colonial policy of capitalist states that Lenin described as completing the seizure of unoccupied territories, or those territories that do not belong to any state, on the planet. [12] U$ military bases, in foreign states that are not formally territories/colonies, states that are politically independent, can serve the same purpose of “old” imperialism: they enmesh such states so they are financially and diplomatically dependent on the United States. [13] The best example of this at the current time is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The country is formally independent but its economy, and the state itself, its dependent on foreign aid from Western capitalist powers as even “mainstream” sources admit. [14] While none of those in bourgeois circles will say it, at least not openly, there is no doubt that such dependence means that Afghanistan is effectively a colony of Western capitalist powers, mainly of the U$, despite those resisting this imposition.

Taking this into account, along with what was said earlier, it is important to chart a way forward or at least provide some thoughts. In 1939, some argued it was time for the British working class to change the British colonial system by helping to liquidate capitalist imperialism, showing they stand in a different camp than those seen as imperialist robbers” and said that imperial exploitation of South African natives is worse than the tragic condition of Jews under Nazi oppression and that such natives can easily sympathize with victims of Nazi oppression such as Jewish people. Years earlier, MN Roy (Manabendra Nath Roy), before he moved away from Marxism after World War II, had argued that the British empire was tottering, in a “state of decay,” and that it must be broken up and replaced with a “union on a socialist basis” that frees the “present industrial organism” from capitalist ownership and transforms the empire into a “voluntary economic commonwealth.” Commonwealths of that nature were created by the French and British after their respective formal empires fell with the wave of anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia from the 1940s to the 1960s, and these commonwealths have basically become a form of neo-colonialism. So, Roy’s conception does not seem to be a workable solution. Since the imperialist monster of the United States is a unique beast in many ways, different approaches will have to be tried. But, at minimum, the United States would need to close down all “foreign” (overseas and in colonies) military bases and free its colonies, formally called “territories,” from subjugation. The size of the military would need to drastically reduced, possibly turned into a defense force, as would the number of “domestic” military bases situated within the United States. The latter would require an economic re-orienting of communities dependent on the military and such. Of course, these aspects will not happen on their own. We can’t wait for the empire to fall on its own or hope that it will. Such waiting would be like boiling spaghetti without water and hoping it cooks: it isn’t going to happen unless you add water.

Sure, the ideas I floated could easily be construed as reforms and limited in their scope. That is a valid criticism. After all, the empire is more than colonies and military bases, and is more complicated, basically acting almost like a living being. Like the British empire, the US empire is “indeed in danger” but is not a “self-contained economic unit” unaffected or not threatened by “economic and industrial conditions of other countries.” An anti-imperialist front against the murderous empire is only possible if it is not only anti-capitalist but interlinks with other movements in the U$ and those standing against imperial presence in other parts of the world. Specifically such anti-imperialism could easily interlink with Black Lives Matter, regardless of what some could categorize as  a diffused and sometimes bourgeois nature, or anti-racist actions since people of color are killed by the murderous empire, an empire that is inherently ingrained with White supremacy. Additionally, with the spread of “excess” military equipment, the military and “local” police are interlinked, bringing together different struggles for justice. Many groups in the past, including the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, and the Red Guard, engaged in such interlinking, so this idea is not a new one in the slightest.

They way forward isn’t even possible by looking at definitions or word origins. As noted earlier, an empire is much more than a state that unites “many territories and peoples under a single sovereign power” but it is a stage and part of capitalism itself. [15] Even defining war was an open-ended hostility, conflict, armed conflict, or prolonged fighting does not go far enough either as such a definition is absent in mentioning of capitalism or even class. [16] Still, the origins of the word empire (and imperialism) derive from a Latin word meaning “command” which implies authority, a helpful reminder that empire and imperialism are dominating and authoritarian structures. [17] Beyond all of this, those that care about bringing the empire to its knees should participate in trying to make connections of imperialism to race, class, and whatnot. At the same time, an important component is critically supporting those peoples and countries standing up to imperialism while countering those on the “Left” that scoff about “human rights” and refuse to stand in solidarity with active anti-imperialists.


Notes

[1] Chalmers Johnson. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. p. 184, 190; Chris Hedges. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. New York: Nation Books, 2010. p. 103, 147-148, 150-151.

[2] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 715

[3] Vladimir Lenin. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1972. Reprint from 1939. p. 13, 16, 20, 22, 34, 59, 88.

[4] Lenin, Imperialism, p. 20, 25, 32, 25, 37.

[5] Ibid, 62, 68, 75, 82.

[6] Ibid, 10-11.

[7] Ibid, 91, 101.

[8] Ibid, 89.

[9] Ibid, 53.

[10] The U$ also controls a number of uninhabited territories all acquired before 1900: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island (claimed by Haiti), Palmyra Atoll (partially owned by The Nature Conservancy), and Wake Island. Additionally, the Guantanamo Naval Base is an illegal outpost of “extraterritorial jurisdiction” in Cuba and the U$ exercises a high degree of control in three countries, almost treating them like colonies: Palau, Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia. There are also two territories administered by Columbia but claimed by the United States: Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank. Magical Ben Norton thought he would have a short and silly post about the “5 US colonies” in which he talked about the Insular Cases, along with colonial exploitation briefly, piggybacking off what bourgeois liberal John Oliver said, and claiming that colonies can become independent by voting to do so which assumes that the vote would be honored by the U$  and discounts revolts against the colonial status by assuming the approach for independence needs to be nonviolent. This is utterly ridiculous. It also seems that Norton does not understand how capitalism and imperialism are interlinked, not even mentioning the world in his silly little article.

[11] On page five of the PDF it says that the military counts 513 “active installations” worldwide but on page 7 of the PDF the number of “DOD sites” worldwide (not inside the United States) is 704, a number that combines such sites “overseas” and in “territories.” This number apparently does not include the 42 Army National Guard Sites, noted on page 17 of the pdf, which brings the number up to 746. Now, this number is completely different from what is noted on page 19 of the PDF: that there are overseas and in US territories: 24 large military sites, 16 medium military sites, 561 small military sites, and 101 other military sites, which combine to a grand total of 701 military sites worldwide!

[12] Lenin, Imperialism, 76.

[13] Ibid, 85.

[14] Sources include: “Afghanistan’s Addiction to Foreign Aid” in The Diplomat, “Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan” in World Affairs Journal, “Afghanistan at the Crossroads” in The Diplomat, “A decade of Western aid in Afghanistan: mission unsustainable?” in Reuters, “A Blessing or a Curse? Aid Rentierism and State-building in Afghanistan” in E-International Relations, “Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy,” report by Congressional Research Service, CIA World Factbook entry on Afghanistan which says under economy heading: “…Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years,” “Afghanistan’s Dependence on Foreign Aid,” Council on Foreign Relations, “The Limits of U.S. Aid in Afghanistan” in Foreign Policy, “The Hand that Feeds” in The Economist, “The Afghanistan Mess: Fed Report Says We’ll Pay Up The Nose Long After Troops Return” in New York Daily News,Fiscal Sustainability and Dwindling Foreign Aid” in Outlook Afghanistan, “After 10 years of Karzai’s rule, has life improved in Afghanistan?” in NBC News and Allissa J. Rubin’s article in the New York Times titled “World Bank Issues Alert on Afghanistan Economy” (Nov. 22, 2011).

[15] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 465

[16] Ibid, p. 1611; Roget’s II The New Thesaurus (Expanded Edition, ed. Anne H. Soukhanov). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988. p. 1164-1165; Marc McClutcheon. Roget’s Super Thesaurus. Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998. p. 643-644.

[16] John Ayto. Dictionary of Word Origins. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990. p. 200. The word “war” derives ultimately from a German prehistoric word meaning “strife” (p. 566) but this origin does not enhance the understanding of the word war in a meaningful way to be used in anti-imperialist struggle.

Iran at a crossroads

Nelson Mandela meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, a screenshot from 0:12 of this video, which is related to an article where Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjami said that Mandela has told him that “Iran is the most important ideal destination for South African people as [the] Islamic republic has experienced many difficulties over its resistance and dictatorship.”
Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on May 10, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Back in January, I wrote about Iran beset by the forces of Western imperialism. I gave a more informed view of the capture of ten US sailors and two navy boats at the time, gave a broader picture of US imperialism, noted that Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist, in  a sense (probably more accurate to call them anti-U$), but is also religiously conservative. I concluded by saying that Iran has a choice: “either it bows to…Western imperialism…or it resists Western influence as the hardliners want…[but] whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the capitalist system more now than it has [been] in the past.” This article aims to expand on this by examining responses to the U$ Supreme Court decision forcing Iran to pay $2 billion to victims of terrorist attacks, with this accusation based on only one NSA intercept, apparently. Additionally, I aim to provide an even more holistic viewpoint of Iran’s place on the international stage.

The US Supreme Court’s ruling and the Iranian response

As the bourgeois media noted, the 6-2 ruling meant that Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, lost and that over $2.6 billion of Iranian assets were frozen in 2012 by President Obama. [1] It was said this money was needed to be seized to satisfy a previous judgment and pay the American plaintiffs, giving them “justice” and “accountability” for supposedly backing the 1983 bombs in Beirut, among other attacks. Interestingly, John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg which justified a 2012 law passed to help the plaintiffs as aiding “in the enforcement of federal-court judgments,” with Roberts saying that Congress was “commandeering the courts to make a political judgment look like a judicial one.” [2] Ginsburg also declared that this decision “provides a new standard clarifying that, if Iran owns certain assets, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks will be permitted to executive against those assets,” so expect more cases supporting such seizures in the future. I could go on, examining how the Supreme Court assisted victims of what they declared was “Iran-sponsored acts of terrorism,” and the judgement itself, but I think it just best to let the reader read the judgment for themselves. Instead, I wish to, in this section, mention the responses from figures in the upper echelons of Iran’s government,representing the Iranian bourgeoisie, which have been not mentioned in the bourgeois media.

The Iran was rightly up and arms about this ruling. On April 22, the spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Jaberi Ansari said in a speech in New York that “the ruling has mocked international law…such [a] verdict is stealing the assets and properties of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and added that the US government should compensate Iran for any damages “inflicted on Iran as a result of the ruling,” with Iran, long “rejected allegations of involvement in the 1983 Beirut bombing.” The same day, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the ruling. He said that Iran does “not recognize the court’s ruling and the US government knows this well…whatever action it [the United States government] takes with respect to Iran’s assets will make it accountable in the future and it should return these assets to Iran.” Also that day Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, also condemned the ruling. He told reporters in Vienna that this move is “exactly in violation of international law and it can be considered as an international robbery. We do not officially recognize the U.S. court’s decision because it has confiscated and in fact robbed Iranian assets in a completely non-judicial manner by violating international norms.” Many days later, Zarif again blasted the ruling with even harsher words that almost echoed what Araqchi said. He argued in an interview with The New Yorker, with some quotes reprinted in Iran Daily, that he had lost “every respect for U.S. justice,” adding powerfully the following:

“…the judgment by the Supreme Court and…by a New York circuit court deciding that Iran should pay damages for 9/11 are the height of absurdity. How would you explain Iran being held accountable for the damages to the victims of 9/11—and others being absolved of any responsibility, those who were actually responsible for it? These cases cannot stand in any serious civilized court of law…people can legislate in other countries to confiscate American assets. [similar to what was said on Twitter by VNGiapaganda]  Would you be happy with that? The United States has committed a lot of crimes against Iranians, against the people of Vietnam, the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq. Can they legislate in their own countries for every collateral damage suffered because of American bombing, for every person who was tortured by the Savak, which was created by the United States, those people can claim money from the United States and go confiscate it? Would you be willing to accept it? So why should we accept the Supreme Court ruling? The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It [the recent court decision] is theft…highway robbery. And believe me, we will get it back.”

In the rest of interview, there were numerous other observations by Zarif. He said that the Saudis stymied Iranian efforts to work with neighbors in the Persian Gulf, that he wants to see European banks doing business in his country “without fear of U.S. retaliation,” that hostile policies aimed at Iran have to stop, and that the U$ owes Iran for giving Saddam Hussein “intelligence to hit our civilians with chemical weapons.” He also said that Iranian defense is “not  subject to bargaining,” that the process forward in Syria should be put “in the hands of the Syrian people” and declared that people shouldn’t consider Iran a monolith. Elsewhere, in a statement picked up by conservative media, it quoted Zarif as saying that “the Iranian government does not recognize U.S. extra-territorial law and considers the U.S. court ruling to blockade Iranian funds null and voice and in gross violation of international law…if they [Iranian funds] are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the ICJ for reparation.” The original source of this quote clarified that there was a wrongly translated part about lodging a complaint with the ICJ, with Zarif saying that Iran will “claim compensation from the US administration” if Iranian assets are confiscated, that John Kerry has “got to know our protest since the US court made such illegal action,” and that a committee was formed to investigate how this happened, in order to prevent “repetition of such cases and…how to prevent such an illegal action to take effect.”

Later in April, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, spoke in a related note about the U$ intimidating foreign banks so they don’t engage in business with Iran, representing a part of the bourgeoisie. He said, and I quote,

“the major reason for major international banks’ refusal to cooperate with Iran is the Iranophobia that Americans have been promoting…there is no place in the region more secure than Iran and the conditions in our country in more secure than in the US where several people are killed every day and is even more secure than the European countries.”

Earlier this month, Iran’s parliament also voted against the verdict. Iranian legislators reiterated that the U$ court ruling contradicts “international law and order,” with the Vice-Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Hassan Abourorabifard, saying that the ruling is “baseless, unreasonable and invalid, “also saying that “the Iranian nation will strongly safeguard its rights.” The article, and one that is similar to it, also quoted the Iranian Vice-President for Legal Affairs, Elham Aminzadeh saying that Iran had filed a lawsuit against the US at the International Court Justice, and that “the government has powerfully stood against the practice of this ruling because the assets belong to the (Iranian) nation and should be spend on its welfare.” The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, was also quoted as saying that “US officials have not been bound to their promises towards Iran since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, but they should know that Iran’s hands are not tied for taking reciprocal measures.” Even the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, representing the pro-Western moderate faction of the bourgeoisie, said at a cabinet meeting

“that a court or judiciary in a corner of the world wants to decide about the Iranian nation’s rights and properties is fully illegal and against the international laws and the central banks’ legal immunity…The Iranian nation will stand against this incorrect ruling, and the Islamic Republic and its government will use all their power to restore the Iranian nation’s rights.”

Some strange readers may still laugh and say that there is evidence that Iran was involved in 1983 Beirut bombings, maybe even that they should be “punished.” Some may even  think that Iran somehow owes U.S. victims, of what some laughably call “Iranian terrorism,” $53 billion dollars! Anyway, I looked at some of the available evidence that claims this is the case. The claims that Iran was involved include accusations that it gave Hezbollah “approval and funding,” funding from “Iran’s senior government officials” as this CNN article claims, with the lawsuits just happened to be filed after 2001, and as claimed by one federal judge (also noted here), that “Hezbollah was formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was completely reliant on Iran.” The best evidence of all of this is a magical document, revealed at the March 2003 trial (note: this is the site of horrid anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman): a NSA “intercept of a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran to Hojjat ol-eslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus,” which is not available to the public only summarized by a judge. The plaintiffs who just won their case, in what was an act of robbery, must have been overjoyed when in 2003 a court found that the Iranian Central Bank was “legally responsible for providing material financial and logistical support to help carry out this tragic attack on the 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.”

Anyway, a section of a wikipedia page on this subject claims that at the time a group called the “Islamic Jihad” claimed responsibility for the bombings but that Reagan officials believed that Iran and/or Syria was responsible for the bombings, and eventually Hezbollah, with a Lebanese author claiming that Iran and Syria helped “organize the bombing,” while some others even say that Mossad was responsible. Interestingly enough, the CIA was the first to blame Iran groups and then claim there was “Iranian-sponsored terrorism” and it was the bombing of an embassy by what the CIA claimed was “overwhelming…evidence” pointing to someone opening with “Iranian supporter under the cover name of Islamic Jihad” and some magical callers claiming they were part of Hezbollah. As the CIA said on their website, the Islamic Jihad Organization “claimed responsibility for the Beirut embassy bombing.” In a 2009 article by Muhammad Sahimi argues the following:

“…to this date, no one can point to the true culprits with any great deal of certainty. Iran may have had an indirect role in the attacks, but…the evidence is not conclusive. If Iran played a role, it was in the context of the Iran-Iraq War…an unknown organization calling it the Islamic Jihad [not the Palestine group] took responsibility for the bombings…some experts believe that the Islamic Jihad was the forefather of Hezbollah…there is however no consensus about when the Lebanese Hezbollah was formed…Hezbollah…has always vehemently denied that it had any role in the attacks. Due to close relations between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, those who insist that Hezbollah already existed in 1982 or 1983 tend to also accuse the Islamic Republic of being behind the Beirut bombings. Iran did play a fundamental role in the formation of Hezbollah…it is also true that with Syria’s support, Iran began stationing military personnel…in Lebanon…but departed by 1989…Robert Baer, a CIA agent in Beirut…had concluded that Iran…was the key player behind the embassy bombing…many books and articles have been published on the attacks, but…we still remain in the dark.”

A conservative site, which takes the view that Hezbollah was responsible, notes that the bombing killed 63 people, with many of those killed being from “the CIA’s important Beirut station,” almost implying that the group that engaged in the attack knew of the CIA’s presence. Similarly, libertarian James Bovard, in CounterPunch, does not challenge this placing of responsibility, but says that “the U.S. embassy was a sitting duck for terrorist assault” and how this connected to the “debacle” in Lebanon. As noted in the quote above, Robert Baer and his team concluded, at the time, that Hezbollah was not responsible for the bombing in Beirut, but that it was the Islamic Jihad, one of the “three dozen militias of various persuasion[s] operating just in Beirut in the early 1980’s,” or maybe even the PLO was involved. Then there’s the supposed mastermind of the attacks (if you trust U$ officials) who was claimed to be part of Hezbollah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, by unknown assailants.

I could go more into this, but I do think it is clear that it is not clear cut that there was Iranian involvement in this 1983 bombing of the U$ embassy in Beirut.

Iran’s geopolitical role in the region and its history

In recent years, the geopolitical role of Iran has undoubtedly increased. After all, it is in a strategic location bordering the Persian Gulf, along with U$-allied states of Afghanistan and Iraq, which could arguably be called imperial proxies. The U$, which should more accurately be described as a murderous imperial monster, is continuing to restrict Iran’s economy. Back in March, this monster and its allies urged more sanctions for Iranian missile tests, which were obviously a defensive measure.  As Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Araqchi, who was mentioned earlier, put it correctly, “US enmity is endless and still continues against the Iranian government and nation.” This has shown itself to be true when in April, the spokesperson for the State Department, Mark Toner, declared that “the administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the US financial system,” which was echoed by President Obama. If even a legal fellow of the bourgeois National Iranian American Council, which I’ll talk about more later, says that Obama should engage in more sanctions relief, then that is telling.

In response to such imperial assault, there have been, not surprisingly, measures and statements that Iran will not hesitate to defense itself. Most recently, even President Rouhani said that Iran would take drastic measures if there were any delays in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif added to this that Iran was requiring the Western countries to honor their commitments to this deal. The most insightful comment was from the defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. He implied that U$ presence in the region “stirs insecurity” in the region and then blaming Iran, furthering saying that “Iran will decisively confront any menacing passage through the Strait of Hormuz” and that it was Iran’s right to hold military exercises. His insight manifested itself in this comment: “We warn the Americans not to repeat their past mistakes and they should learn from historical realities.”  Others, such as Zarif said that Iran would not use force except in defense, a statement falling in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states: “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Also, Ayatollah Khamenei argued the following at a meeting on the occasion of the birth of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, Hazat Fatemah Zahra:

“If the Islamic establishment seeks technology and negotiations but does not have defensive power, it will have to back down in the face of any petty country that threatens [it]. That they say the future of the world is one of negotiation and not one of missiles…if that is said of ignorance, well it is ignorance, but if it’s said knowingly, it is treason. The Islamic Republic must use all tools. I am not opposed to political dialog, not with everyone of course. I am fine with political dialogue on the level of global issues. These are times of both missiles and negotiations. Negotiations should be carried out in such a way that we do not get cheated. That we negotiate, put things on paper, but sanctions don’t get removed, and trade doesn’t get going is a sign that something is wrong.”

There is no doubt that Iran is under threat by imperialist machinations. After all, as Khamenei said himself, “American presidential candidates are racing in saying bad words against Iran which is their hostility” and, as he argued later, the West is not serious about confronting terrorism. Because of this threat, it is not surprising that despite Saudi efforts to restrict Iran as noted here, for example, an ex-Saudi Price admitting to arming terrorists in the Southeastern part of Iran, that Iran would engage in a foreign policy aiming to stabilize the region. As Zarif noted, with removal of sanctions, the country will try to “restore peace and stability in the region” in part by trying to “quell region tensions” even though some try to thwart this initiative. Rouhani added to this that Iran is concerned about instability in regional states. More than just meetings and such, this policy manifests itself in numerous ways. For one, it includes standing with Syria as a “main chunk in the resistance front against enemies,” in part by sending Iranian commandos to the country on an advisory mission to help Syrian military forces fight foreign-backed militants.

I could also talk about here about the UN apparently censoring press coverage of the meeting of Kerry and Zarif on April 22 at the UN, Khameini reminding people of the history of the Islamic Republic as one of resistance, or the  non-“revolution” engineered by the CIA to overthrow Mohammad Mossadegh. Instead, I’d like to focus on Iran and the drug trade. Recently, the Secretary General of Drugs Control Headquarters, Abolreza Rahmani Fazli, criticized the UN for failing to live up to their promises, saying that “up until now, the UN has failed to live up to its promises to aid Iran in fighting illicit drugs…what we need from the UN is the necessary facilities and equipment to combat drug trafficking, particularly detection dogs…Iran, due to sharing borders with Afghanistan, which the origin of production and transit of drugs, has paid the highest price in counteracting illicit drugs.” From this, some could speculate this means that sanctioning countries may be involved in the drug trade, like the United States for instance. This brings us to the history portion of this section, which focuses on Iran and the drug trade. For this, one must turn to a book I am currently reading, The Strength of the Wolf, by Douglas Valentine, which follows a number of agents, or characters, within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from the 1940s until the 1960s. Valentine who has written about the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam in a book titled The Phoenix Program, the secret history of the war on drugs, with a specific focus on the DEA, titled The Strength of the Pack, the successor book to The Strength of the Wolf, and more.

Valentine specifically talks about Iran’s place in the drug trade at numerous junctures.  For one, it was clear, from the surveys by FBN agent Garland Williams in 1948 and 1949, and as FBN Commissioner Henry Anslinger knew, that Iran’s most influential families had gained fortunes through the opium trade, intending to keep anti-drug laws weak so their fortunes could continue to grow, with opium shipped to Indochina “through Greek and Armenian brokers,” a trade from which Chinese nationalists were also profiting. [3] More specifically, this trade meant that there were “more than a million addicts” in Iran, but the espionage Establishment cared little, with their goal of keeping the Shah in power rather than pushing Iran to reform its narcotics policies. [4] Interestingly enough, Mohammad Mossadegh, who is well-known for nationalizing Iran’s oil fields in 1951, led a parliamentary coalition, and was hoping to also reform Iran’s narcotic laws, but this was not “the sort of anti-narcotic action that Anslinger appreciated.” [4] Mossadegh also banned opium production in Iran, as he was aware of Iran’s drug addiction problem, but his nationalization of British and American oil firms led to a “bloody coup engineered by the British and CIA,” that was, more specifically, concocted by Kim Roosevelt and the CIA, with Roosevelt working with known CIA asset Faround Nashibi, who was employed as chief of security for Pan American Airlines in Beirut at the time. [5]  In the aftermath of Mossadegh being overthrown in a coup, which the CIA only admitted engaging in a document released in 2013 publicly and Obama tacitly admitted in 2009 (also noted here), the Amerikan and British oil companies “regained their properties in Iran,” Roosevelt became the vice-president of Gulf Oil, and the CIA moved in, launching “penetration operations inside the Soviet Union” from Iran. [6] With this change of government, supporting the Shah was a matter of national security eclipsing the “local issues of drug law enforcement” as the royal families in Iran “never stopped overproducing or selling black-market opium.”

There’s more. For one, the FBN had been receiving reports from at least 1951 that the younger brother of the Shah, Mahmoud Pahlevi was “trafficking in narcotics between Tehran, Paris, New York and Detroit,” with the Pahlevi family having holdings in opium fields, and the first documented report of his involvement in February 1951. [7] FBN agent Jim Ryan was surprised to find out that the Shah’s younger brother was engaged in drug smuggling, but as his supervisor, Charlie Siragusa, told him, Prince Ruspoli, another member of the Iranian royal family, was also an addict, and hinted that Pahlevi may have had a drug habit as well, supplying his “jet-set friends so they could all enjoy the same exclusive kick.” [8] It is also worth noting that the family of Prince Ruspoli, “owned huge opium farms” in Iran and how a Corsican even “asked him to supply raw opium to build a heroin conversion factory in Tehran.” This one of the many FBN cases, with a narco boss, Armen Nercessian, set up in a trap and arrested by FBN agent Paul Knight in a garage. The arrest caused quite a stir, but since, at time, the CIA was engaged in Operation Ajax, a plan to reinstall the Shah and overthrow Mossadegh, the FBN never revealed that “Pahlevi’s address was found on Nercessian,” but later Siragusa told Anslinger that the “surplus opium in Iran” could be part of a broader trend. [9] Many years later, the drug trade was still alive and well in Iran. In 1956, while working with General Alavi Moghaddam, Paul Knight and Charlie Siragusa, both working for the FBN, raided a lab “in Tehran that was producing 100 pounds of heroin a week!” [10] This huge bust was only the beginning, with Knight escorting FBN agent Garland Williams to Tehran, at the personal request of President Eisenhower to “solve” the drug problem in Iran, but this was complicated by the fact that CIA officer Bryon Engle with them, who had a job to “create a narcotics squad in Tehran,” at the same time that him and the “were forming, with the Mossad, Iran’s brutal secret police force, SAVAK.” This was further compromised by the reality that America had been “enmeshed in Iran’s opium business since 1943,” when the Third Millspaugh Mission came to Iran to take over Iran’s economy, but not only gave “oil, air transport, and various other commercial rights to American industrialists” but collected “opium revenues, managed the Pharmaceutical Institute, and directed the Royal opium factory,” which prompted some critics to call this team “drug sellers.”

From this history, it is obvious why Iran would be serious about combating the flow of illicit drugs within its country. Additionally, with the explosion of heroin production after the imperial occupation of Afghanistan began in 2001 by U$-led forces, this is even more of a pressing issue for them. Perhaps Iran is also doing this in an effort to engender more Western cooperation but that is up for debate.

Where we are now: the crossroads

As Iran currently stands, there are roughly two competing forces, which divide the bourgeoisie: the reformists and the religious so-called “hardliners.” The reformists are newer, emerging since the 1990s, at minimum, and are backed by the West, specifically the imperialist monster, or “Great Satan” as some Iranians call it. The religious so-called “hardliners” are those who won in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, establishing an Islamic Republic, and are much more anti-U$, which manifests itself in even further strengthened nationalism.

A recent tweet brought this to my attention. It was a tweet from the National Iranian-American Council or NIAC, citing a CNN article which declared, citing magical unnamed “experts,” that the election of reformists “will give Rouhani a less hostile environment to push his reforms.” Before I get into analysis of what these “reforms” are, it is important to analyze NIAC. Their sister organization, NIAC Action, the tweet of which I cited, has five goals: supporting the 2015 nuclear deal (and preventing war), strengthening U$-Iran diplomatic relations, lifting sanctions on Iran, promoting “human rights” in Iran, and fighting discrimination against Iranian-Amerikans and Iranians in the U$. Some of these goals may seem laudable, one must recognize that the board of these organization is staffed with a former Congressional policy advisor, a former intern with the neocon think tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), former American Cancer Society vice-president, former intern for Fund for Peace, a research assistant for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) which tries to support Iranian dissidents (a.k.a. the Iranian opposition like the “Green Movement”) and seems to have connections to NED (but supposedly no funding), and much more. [11] From here, it is best to move onto NIAC itself. On its page about its funders, NIAC says that 82% of its funds came from Iranian Americans and that the rest came from foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Arca Foundation, and Ploughshares Fund. Then, almost oddly, is the declaration that “NIAC does not receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments” which should make anyone a bit suspicious.

Doing a little digging, one finds out that NIAC openly admitted in a 2003 annual report that it received money from NED, and as noted by SourceWatch, received money in the years of 2005 and 2006 as well. Furthermore, there are two reports, which relate to the 2005-2006 grant. One of these notes that NIAC only came into existence in 2002, and then says that this nonprofit “will use renewed Endowment support to create an interactive website for Iranian civic groups to develop their capacity and improve their access.” If that doesn’t sound like assisting imperial destabilization, I don’t know what is. The other report, a follow-up from the previous one, declares that with NED funding, NIAC continued to develop its website for the civic groups mentioned previously, and also “continued to cultivate relations with Iranian NGOs and intensified its marketing.” I also found in my searching that the personal project of a neocon I mentioned earlier, Timmermann, hated the president of NIAC for apparently opposing U$ regime change in Iran and pushing for diplomacy instead.

This implies that NIAC does not support such regime change anymore and that everything is just happy and dandy. However, let us not forget what types of things the RBF has funded in the past, including anti-BDS NGOs at the present, and funds many liberal groups, especially environmental groups, along with a role, in tandem with other groups, to, in the words of Jay Taber, “subvert democracy and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.” When it comes to NIAC, perhaps it is best to look at their campaigns themselves. One recent “action” item of theirs, about lifting visa waivers for Iranian-Americans, cites the support of 35 “tech entrepreneurs,” which are really just capitalists, for justification. [12] Other posts show that NIAC seems to care about “U.S. foreign policy interests” not being trampled, wants there to be “economic reintegration of Iran into the global economy,” and thinks that Iranian-Americans can “make a change” by voting for Democrats. Other posts showing NIAC praising  social-democrat-imperialist Bernie Sanders, thanking Obama, calling out the “regime” in Iran. If that isn’t enough, NIAC argues that House Republicans opposing the Iran nuclear deal threatens “U.S. national security interests.” [13] What is a bit worrisome is one of the justifications sent to Congress for why the Iran nuclear deal should be approved and I quote directly: “a successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.” I could go more into NIAC, but it seems clear that they serve as an organization that supports the Iranian opposition and hence are in line with U$ imperial interests, even if they do not receive direct funding from NED. It is also evident that NIAC is a bourgeois organization, a bourgeois NGO to be precise.

Having covered NIAC, it is vital to return back to the two competing forces in Iran, roughly. The “reforms” proposed by Rouhani are not something that any person, especially those on the “Left,” broadly or narrowly defined, should stand for. According to a few articles I looked at, his reforms include: (1) privatizing the automotive industry; (2) opening up the economy more to the West; (3) engaging in “economic liberalization” which are code words for privatization; and (4) weaken state involvement in the economy. [14] There was an article on a site that is a project of the German Green Party, a social democrat party mind you, which noted that Rouhani’s administration has “hewed to rather conventional austerity measures, curbing inflation and cutting costs,” and saying that if this approach is maintained, along with the slow amount of foreign investment, “the economy is in danger of shrinking rather than growing.” Then there was a rash of articles quoting numerous Iranian high-level ministers who declare that Iran wants to fully join the WTO, a mainstay of the existing capitalist system since 1995. [15] This is not very promising, but neither is the fact that one of the leading members of the “neoconservative advocacy community,” the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sided with Rouhani, declaring that “the elections appear to have given the Rouhani-aligned moderates and reformists a plurality in the new parliament,” praising the harsh cuts to food and fuel subsidies, supporting his “reform agenda,” and that the best option is for “the United States…to do nothing.” This praise is not surprising when, as one Reuters writer declared, after claiming that the idea of a “resistance economy” was bunk, that “Rouhani’s reforms…in many ways resemble policies of a center-right European government.” [16] To me, this is deeply troubling as it implies that Rouhani is doing the “right thing,” in the mind of such imperialists, in that he is doing something that governments of Europe, have done, in an effort to implement austerity, destroying social programs and social services.

The elections this past February proved whether this agenda was “winning” in Iran or not. The Economist declared that this parliamentary election was part of a “backlash” against conservatism. The election results showed that reformists won 66% of the parliamentary seats in the province of Tehran. According to the election results, the Principalists, which is another name for the “hardliners,” seemed to win a majority of the seats, even when I recounted them a second time. However, that was before all of the results were in, which shows that the reformist coalition called “List of Hope” won against “hardline” coalitions like the Principalist Grand Coalition and People’s Voice Coalition. It is also important to note here that Khamenei called for full participation of Iranians in elections and that, as noted by Iranian state media, “more than 60 percent of some 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots at around 53,000 polling stations across the country.” It worth also pointing out that at one point some wanted electronic voting in Iran without a secure system, so it was abandoned, which seems to eliminate one possible avenue of Western manipulation or tampering.

Some may ask what this election means. For one, I’m not sure if these new legislators will heed Khomenei’s message after the election which said that “I shall remind all authorities…[of] preferring national interests over personal or party requests, courageous resistance against foreign intervention, Revolutionary response to plots by the malevolent and traitors,” and so on. Sputnik, a Russian state-funded news outlet posited, around the same time, that “the decline of Islamic clerics…demonstrates that the Islamic revolution in 1979 is a distant memory.” Some Westerners may be cheering at this announcement, but it vital to dig more into what this means. It is clear that Rouhani’s reformist administration is trying to court Western companies like BP (despite its role in the 1953 coup), which recently opened an office in Tehran and a recent “major oil, gas and petrochemical convention” which attracted over “900 international firms…for four days of showing, stalking and cutting deals with 900 domestic companies” including Asian enterprises and European firms such as ABO Value (Czech), Camfil Power Systems AB (Swedish), Carbon Energy Club (Belgian), Sichuan Huagong Petroleum Steel Pipe Co. (Chinese). [17] This obviously will mean that the economy will continue to move from one that is centrally-planned, albeit not entirely; to one that is more of an open market, making the Iranian bourgeoisie perhaps richer and benefiting bourgeoisie of the West. [18]

There is no doubt that Western capitalists must be jumping up and down and so excited about this opportunity to tap into a new market, exploiting more people for their personal gain, of course. But it also means that NED’s efforts have been relatively successful. NED, as must be remembered, is an appendage of the murderous empire. In terms of Iran, they have given awards to leading Iranian political activists such as Ali Afshari and Manouchehr Mohammadi, awarded the Green Movement with the 2010 Democracy Award, as noted here, here, and here, supported “democracy” efforts in Iran. NED also portrayed Iran as an authoritarian monster that was repressive, gave money for an online journal, radio station, organizations, and activists, honored more activists (also see here and here), and much more. At the same token, one could say that NED has not been successful. For a time that was true because the Green Revolution was pushed back in 2010, a movement which obviously was a method to gain control, like the other movements NED has honored, and put in place a Western-friendly government. Of course NED is not the only organization at play here; likely the CIA has secret operations afoot in Iran, along with USAID, and a number of other organizations like BBG and others that spread imperial propaganda.

Looking forward, there is isn’t even a need to talk about the size of Iran’s economy, a silly pseudo-“left” statement on Iran, or how oil prices were supposedly tied to the outcome of Iran’s recent elections. Instead it is best to remember that Khamenei is the one who, along with others, opposes privatization but supposedly supports an “illusion of privatization.” But the deeper reality is that if such privatization which the reformists, and their Western capitalist backers, want is fully implemented, then the “resistance economy” will be utterly destroyed. Such an economy, which existed under UN sanctions, is one that has five-year development plans, has expanded production of “knowledge-based products,” increased production of “strategic goods,” markets in neighboring countries, increased exports of raw materials, and yes, privatization despite Khomenei saying in 2013 that trust in “imposed economic theories of the West and the East” was harmful, a description which was mostly echoed by the Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The Guardian claimed that this type of economy, a term first used in 2010, which includes a “push for self-sufficiency and domestic production…a commitment to the central place in the economy of…bodies like the IRGC,” but is flexible term and depends on what happens in the US.

There are some who oppose Rouhani’s policy of privatization. One such article is by Drake University Professor Ismael Hossein-zadeh on the website of the sometimes good, sometimes wacky, Global Research Centre. In this article, Hossein-zadeh writes that the efforts of Rouhani’s administration, unlike the “opening of China to foreign capital” (another sly reformist defense of China) has been inspired by “the doctrine of economic liberalism/neoliberalism” which is a break from the past when Iran viewed economic sanctions as an opportunity to be self-reliant. He further argues that the “open-door economic policy” of the Rouhani administration undermined these past gains, the industrialization strategy of import-substitution is ignored, and that soon Iran would be experiencing deindustrialization if it does not temper the opening of itself to foreign trade. He also adds that Rouhani and his administration are taking on foreign debt to improve the country, that the approach forward would lead to dependence of Iran, and that Rouhani and his economic advisors are “West-centric in a misplaced, inappropriate and mistake way” that follows the strategies of “mature or advanced capitalism.” He concludes by saying that unless such neoliberal policies are reversed then Iran’s markets will be “flooded with foreign products,” the manufacturing base will be weakened, foreign debt will escalate and national sovereignty compromised.

Where do we go from here?

After reading this article, some readers may have little hope in Iran changing. Some readers may remember that communist parties in Iran are almost non-existent, with the suppression of the Iranian communist party, Tudeh, in the 1980s. Some readers may say that Iran does, in its current form, serve as an anti-imperialist state. While you could say that is true (even though they are really anti-U$), with the Rouhani administration, there have been efforts  to pull Iran closer to the West. Others may even say that with these new developments, maybe there is a possibility for a push in Iran for a more expanded communist presence. To be honest, I’m not very optimistic about the latter possibility. At this current time, I’m fully willing to support those forces that resist Western imperialism in Iran. I’m not sure the bourgeois reformist government in Iran will ultimately be enough.


Notes

[1] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” Also see: an NPR article by Eyder Peralta (April 20, 2016) titled “Supreme Court Rules Frozen Iranian Money Be Turned Over to U.S. Terrorism Victims”; an AP article (April 20, 2016) by Mark Sherman titled “High Court sides with families of ’83 Beirut bombing victims”; a Bloomberg News article by Greg Stohr (April 20, 2015) titled “Iran Terror Victims Win at U.S. Supreme Court, Can Collect $2 billion.”

[2] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” In its defense, the Iranian bank argues that “Congress unlawfully changed the legal rules in a pending case” while Roberts also said in his dissent that after this decision, “with the court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases” as noted in an April 20, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal by Brent Kendall titled “Supreme Court Upholds Terrorism Victims’ Ability to Collect Frozen Iran Funds.” For more on an analysis of Robert’s dissent, from an unabashedly conservative source, of course, see here.

[3] Valentine, Douglas. The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs. London: Verso, 2004. Print. pp. 78-9, 102, 117.

[4] Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf, 105.

[5] Ibid, 105, 170.

[6] Ibid, 170.

[7] Ibid, 117.

[8] Ibid, 118.

[9] Ibid, 119

[10] Ibid, 169.

[11] Other positions held by those on the board include a former “Physical Therapy Assistant,” former organizer for United for Peace and Justice, a graphic designer, and a former reporter.

[12] This is also cited in a post here.

[13] In their ad, NIAC claimed that opposing the deal threatened a “chance for peace.”

[14] See Arthur MacMillian’s March 1, 2016 AFP article titled “After Iran elections, Rouhani aims for economic reform,” Ian Black’s February 29, 2016 article in The Guardian titled “Iran election results put Hassan Rouhani on cautious path to reform,” and Michael Kaplan’s January 25, 2016 article in the International Business Times titled “After Iran Nuclear Deal, Rouhani And Supreme Leader Battle Over Domestic Reforms.”

[15] Valiollah Afkhami Rad, the Deputy Industry Minister, was quoted as saying in January of this year the following: “Iran will soon form a working group to negotiate its way to join the World Trade Organization and a total of 40 countries have expressed willingness to join the group which marks the prerequisite for permanent membership to the WTO…structural reforms in Iran’s economy need to take place and reduction of tariff levels has been put on the agenda.” A post by a person who formally worked at the United States Institute for Peace declared that “Iran is increasingly vocal about its readiness to join the World Trade Organization…Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh…announced that finalizing its WTO membership is “a priority” for Iran…domestic lobbies…are particularly wary of foreign competition. Iran will thus need not just structural changes but also political mobilization.” In a television talk show in December 2015, Iran’s minister of industry, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said that “our country can join the World Trade Organization in less than two years,” and noted that Iran has been requesting to be a WTO member since 1995.

[16] See Andew Torchia’s May 1, 2014 article in Reuters titled “Politics, markets complicate Rouhani’s rescue of Iran economy.”

[17] It is worth reading the letter written by President H.E. Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China which says, in part: “…In history, China and Iran made important contribution[s] to opening the Silk Road and promoting exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations…since the inception of our diplomatic ties in 1971, the China-Iran relationship has stood the test of international changes and maintained a momentum of sound and steady development…Our development strategies are highly compatible, which creates huge potential for cooperation…the long distance between Beijing and Tehran is no obstacle to the interaction or cooperation between China and Iran, nor to the friendship and exchanges between out peoples. China is ready to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an even better future for China-Iran relations.”

[18] For proof that Iran is moving in this direction, see a webpage on Economy Watch’s website, this website, this post on the USIP website, this country brief by the World Bank, this book, and much more.


Addendum

As I continue to read about this subject, I have had some interesting responses. One reader, VNGiapaganda, asked me what I thought of the possibility that “Afghan opium is being used to destabilize Iran” and commented that this is “something I’ve been wondering about, because Iran has been having HUGE problems with narcotics from what I’ve gathered.” I think this a definite possibility. UNODC puts it this way about Iran:

“Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geographical location of the country, particularly its porous 1,923 km-long Eastern border with Afghanistan – the world’s largest illicit opium producer – and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years…[in 2014] Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012…More than 3,700 national law enforcement officials have been killed and over 12,000 have been maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades…the Islamic Republic of Iran also faces emerging trends of illicit production and trafficking in Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS).”

In addition, as NarcoNon puts it, “Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin,” and that “Ethnic Kurds…are thought to be heavily involved in the movement of drugs across this border.” Let us not forget the imperial monster has allied with Kurds, at least since the 1990s, a “strong, deep partnership” or “close relationship” as a November 13, 2015 New York Times article (by Tim Arango and titled “Sinjar Victory Bolsters Kurds, but Could Further Alienate U.S. From Iraq) put it, which manifests itself in military strikes, for example (see Morgan L. Kaplan’s September 9, 2014 Washington Post article titled “Why the U.S. backed the Kurds). There are probably more articles than this on this relationship, but one could speculate that the U$ government, covertly of course, was working with Kurdish traffickers to destabilize Iran. However, that may seem to be too much of a stretch. Still, as an Iranian state media outlet put it, Iran sees itself, among other countries as the “frontline of the fight against narcotics trafficking” and has fighting to stop “infiltration into the country” by drug smuggling groups.

It is clear that Iran is facing “huge problems with narcotics” as VNGipaganda pointed out. The corporate-backed Middle East Institute claims that NGOs are doing the best work in stopping drugs, but this disregards the huge seizures of drugs like tons upon tons of opium (and other illicit drugs), a drug control organization that is part of the Iranian government, which is all part of their “war on narcotics.” Bourgeois media have declared in the past that “Iran is the main gateway for the region’s top drug exporter, Afghanistan” with more than 2.2 million Iranians who are drug addicts, that punishments for those trafficking illicit drugs often result in execution, and that there have been massive public awareness campaigns about illicit drugs. This media has also declared that drug trafficking soared in 2012 even with Western sanctions ravaging the economy, claiming wildly that even that Iranian forces and Hezbollah were involved (see a Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, on November 1, 2012 titled “In Iran, drug trafficking soars as sanctions take bigger bite”), and another quoting a prominent Iranian official is a member of the Expediency Council, Saeed Sefatian apparently illustrating “legalisation of cannabis and opium use under specific circumstances outlined by ad hoc laws.” Some, like High Times, have used the latter quote to call for “opening up” of democratic dialogue in Iran which inherently means to assist the reformists and therein privatization, while others have said that Iran’s drug policy is just paradoxical. Others argued that Iran, “as one of the world’s primary frontiers in the fight against opiate and illicit drug trade, should be actively encouraged and assisted to take a more prominent role.” You can bet that isn’t happening.

Anyway, onto other issues of note. Ali Akbar Velayati, head of the Strategic Research Center, which is part of Iran’s Expediency Council, told reporters in Tehran that “I have had five meetings with Mr. Putin and I never saw his hesitation in supporting the legitimate government of Syria,” and he asserted that Iran regards “Assad and his government as a “red line”” as the Iranian state media outlet summarized it. Yet again, this shows that Iran is staking out not only an anti-terror position but an anti-U$ one by standing with an arguably Arab nationalist government, regardless of that fact that the latter is secular. Another article I stumbled across said that a “Russian S-300 missile defense system delivered to Iran has been brought to Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base,” further noting that “Moscow and Tehran signed a contract for the delivery of five battalion sets of S-300 PMU1 air defense missile systems in 2007” and that “Iran displayed the first S-300 air defense missile system imported from Russia in April.” This sort of trade probably angers imperial elites as they see Russia as a “threat” despite the fact that it only has 10 military bases worldwide compared to hundreds upon hundreds of bases by the murderous empire. Two other articles I found related to the section of this article on the US Supreme Court case relating to Iran. One of them cited a PressTV video showing the Iranian Parliament speaker condemning the decision. Another quoted Rouhani, the Western-backed reformist, as saying in a speech, following the denouncement by the Non-Aligned Movement, the following:

“The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation be easily gobbled up by the Americans…[Iran will] take this case to the International Court [of Justice] in the near future and will not spare any effort towards the restoration of the nation’s rights through legal, political and banking channels.”

A statement like this could imply that even with reformists in power that Iran may still remain anti-U$. However, one must consider that with more cooperation with Western forces there is no doubt that the reason to be anti-imperialist will be left, with Iran ultimately, if Rouhani’s center-right policies are fully implemented, becoming a dependent state. Hence, an anti-U$ position won’t even be on the agenda.

Finally I write about here a little bit on NIAC and NED. From what I found, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment and one of the pillars of the empire, has a transcript of a 2011 press conference with participants including: the NIAC President, Trita Parsi; Congressperson Keith Ellison; former New York Times correspondent Nazila Fathi; Nader Hashemi, a person who edited a book about the Green Movement; the Swedish Ambassador to the US, Jonas Hafstrom; an international policy analyst for the RAND Corporation, Alireza Nader; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Suzanne Nossel; and a director of Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson. At this press conference, hosted by NIAC, and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ploughshares Fund, participants moaned and groaned about “the human rights situation in Iran,” citing International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) and Amnesty International as sources, along with trying to hold Iran “accountable” for its “human rights violations” maybe even refer them to the International Criminal Court! Other participants claimed that Iran is a “very nationalistic country,” claims that US politicians should publicly support Iranian opposition figures, heap more sanctions in Iran, and many more horrid “observations.” I think it also worthy quoting a bit of what Keith Ellison has to say, as it shows what side he is on. He says, in part the following which sounds like an apology for empire:

“The United States has done a lot of good things in the world. There’s no doubt about that. I’m proud of that. We’re one of the largest donor nations in the world, and I’m proud of that. But it’s also true that our relationship to the Middle East in particular has been somewhat limited to a few factors. Oil, our historic relationship with Israel, and counterterrorism basically have been the three prongs of our relationship with the Middle East…When we’re in a relationship with a government that somehow meets some of our economic and strategic needs, but at the same time they’re human rights violators, it’s easy to take a blind eye and not look in that direction…fundamentally human rights do lend to long‑term overall stability in a nation where people can raise their own voices, can speak their own truth without fear of being carted off and being on the business end of a jail cell, or worse. I believe those societies will be more stable over time…in the 1953, the democratic initiative of Iranian people was undermined and so, for so many years, we followed that policy because it met our own economic and strategic interests. That policy changed radically in 1979, and we’ve been dealing with the aftermath ever since that time…as Americans living in the United States, we can form the basis of a peace constituency that says human rights has got to be the way we interact with the rest of the world…I was happy to see that the “smart” sanctions President Obama signed into law last year contain some of the provisions of the legislation that I introduced…The legislation was basically ‑‑ NIAC was an indispensable resource, as I mentioned already — it’s really our legislation…Gaddafi was able to crack down brutally in part because of the absence of foreign media…the international community needs to remind the Iranian government that we are watching…it’s legitimate for the United States to have interests and legitimate for them to pursue them, but I also think that human rights is an interest of ours too…I believe that there is room for sanctions; I’ve actually introduced sanctions bills myself. But the greater history of sanctions is that it doesn’t do much to change the conduct of the country at whom the sanctions are targeted…our default position should be multilateralism…I think we should have an interest section or an embassy everywhere we can, without regard to whether we like that government or not.”

This suck-up to the murderous empire also reveals that NIAC is completely fine with sanctions on Iran, as long as they are “smart,” implying that other sanctions are “dumb.” Additionally, the fact that he only says that “the democratic initiative of the Iranian people was undermined” in 1953 without saying that there was a US and British bloody coup to overthrow Mossadegh is just disgusting.

As much as I would want to go more through that press conference, I must move on. NIAC pops up in a newsletter for the US Embassy in 2011, making one think it could just be a foreign destabilization operation. Beyond this, some of the results from a search of the State Department’s website makes it seem like they are a pawn of the US government itself. Readers may remember the declaration on NIAC’s website that they do not “receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments.” Last night, when I was attempting to look for the NED reports, I had archived before my laptop was stolen, I looked specifically through the reports of 1984-2004, the results of which will be explained later. As it turns out, NIAC received $25,000 from NED in 2002 for implementing a two-day workshop for “forty members from five civic groups” to help them develop their publicity efforts. If you don’t think this is an effort of imperial destabilization than I’ve got to say that you are sadly deluded. Additionally, this proves that NIAC is not really telling the full truth with their disclaimer, a disclaimer which implies that people have criticized them for U.S. government funding in the past and that people have accused them of being pro-Iranian government when they obviously are not. Other tweets, with a thread beginning here, show the following:

  • $316,860 for the Iran Teachers’ Association (1991-4, 2001-3)
  • $105,000 for the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) (2002-4)
  • $55,949 for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) (2004, incorrectly called “the Center for the International Private Enterprise”)
  • $50,000 for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (1995)
  • $40,500 for Vital Voices Global Partnership (2004)
  • No grants for Iranian groups for the years of 1984-1990 and 1996-2000.

Most of the grants for the Iran Teachers’ Association related to distributing their publications, including eventually a journal published by them titled Mehregan. As for the ABF, the descriptions of the grants make it seem that the ABF was given money to create a “human rights” website for “victims” of the “Iranian regime,” code for Iranian opposition activists. CIPE tried to “inject the voice of business” into Iranian society, which is not surprising considering one of its goals is to “help improve the functioning of market economies and build democratic societies” with “partners” to advance their capitalist policies across the world. Like the other organizations, the Vital Voices Global Partnership pushed to help Iranian opposition activists, specifically Iranian women. As for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran, the grant money should be obvious: it tried to monitor “human rights violations” in Iran.

While words from such organizations may seem nice on the surface, it is important to remember that these organizations are part of a broader push for imperial destabilization of Iran. There is no doubt about that. If one adds up the money from the organizations listed above, it is clear that between the years of 1991-1995 and 2002-2004, $568,309 was given to NED grantees in an effort to destabilize Iran. Some may laugh and say this a paltry sum, but lest us forget that there are still reports from 2005 on which are not noted here and that making this reality clear is still significant. Again, I welcome your comments and look forward to future interactions.

Imperialism besets Iran

Originally published on Leftist Critic on Jan 18, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. At that time, some changes were made. I likely will write more on this subject as this post doesn’t seriously look into the Iranian bourgeoisie.

You’ve probably heard of the capture of ten U$ sailors and their two navy boats by Iranian authorities. This post aims to tie this to the reality of the existing U$ imperialism. What is presented here is only part of the picture, challenging not only the bourgeois media  but Celebrity Left figures like Greenwald who claim they hold a higher Truth.™

What the bourgeois media and others have to say

The bourgeois media in the United States assuredly did not approve of the capture of U$ military personnel by the Iranians and likely scowled at it from their ivory towers of “wisdom.”[1] Jim Michaels of the crappy USA Today claimed, relying on military sources, that it there was a mechanical failure that caused the boat to drift into Iranian waters. The article also quoted CENTCOM (Central Command), a force founded on maintaining US imperialism in the Mideast, which admitted that the crew was not “physically harmed during their detainment” even as they wanted to ask the crew about the possibility of “interrogation by Iranian personnel.” Not surprisingly Iranians were portrayed as brutes first conveyed by showing ONE IMAGE of the captured Marines in a video and implying to the reader they were about to be executed even though this was not the case. The article also declared that “one of the crew is shown apologizing for straying into Iranian waters but it is not clear whether the statement was coerced or how the video was edited…The Americans were escorted “at gunpoint” to a port facility on Iran’s Farsi Island.” Later the article noted that despite “more than three hours after losing communication with the boats, the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Anzio heard from the Iranians that the American sailors were in Iranian custody and were “safe and healthy,”” noting a CENTCOM statement which claimed that “two SIM cards from handheld satellite phones” were removed. The article also quoted Obama’s address to the nation about this, saying that “we worked directly with the Iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours,” with the exact time being 15 hours. Eyder Peralta of NPR basically repeated this narrative, as did Fox News and Reuters which claimed that foreign sailors had been captured in the past by Iranian authorities. One article in CBS News followed this same narrative as did CNNThe Atlantic and The New Republic acted like their pieces had “new” information that other news sources didn’t, but they towed the same line. A number of pieces in bourgeois media relied on a New York Times article which claimed that Iranian authorities had seized GPS equipment so that it would prove that U.S. ships were trespassing. The Times declared in the article title that the sailors were seized “amid claims of spying” despite the fact the article itself and no other sources show this to be the reality. These faulty conclusions were also shown in a Times editorial.

Other media weren’t much better. The dependably pro-military Navy Times declared that

“the sailors seem to have mistakenly entered Iranian waters aboard their top-of-the-line riverine assault boats…a refueling rendezvous gone awry is the likely explanation…Top officials say they’re still piecing together what led up to the confrontation at sea…Iranian officials searched for advanced technology and sensitive communications…some of the crew members were exhausted and anxious after their detention but none were harmed.”

The British publication, The Independent was not much better: it quoted numerous anonymous U$ officials, and was short with few details just like this article in an Arab publication. Some deluded individuals may think that people like Glenn Greenwald would come, riding on his white steed as Juice Rap News laughably portrayed him some time ago, but that is not the case. As I noted on twitter, his article reads like a Washington Post column, not even using the words empire or imperialist which is almost as bad as this article by Justin Raimondo on the libertarian-leaning publication, antiwar.com. The latter article declares that the U$ military is spewing bullshit in its story, asks “what in heck were those two boats doing in Iranian waters” and says that this “isn’t an accident…[but] was a military incursion” and claimed that “Iranians who are riven with factions and conflicting lines of authority: the American empire is overseen by a vast national security bureaucracy.” That may sound nice, but its this part that assumes that “we” implies everyone and is almost childish in tone, unnecessarily sexualizing the situation: “There’s no denying we were caught by the Iranians with our pants down. The only question is – how were we trying to f—k them over?”

Back to Greenwald, who claims he is revealing a hidden truth and/or challenging the U.S. media. His article quotes CBS News, Bloomberg News, Reuters, AP, New York Times, The Daily Beast, LA Times, along with Pierre’s pet publication, The Intercept.  He does claim that the US media is lying, saying that “there are multiple reasons to suspect otherwise” and notes the video taken by Iran, despite what I wrongly said on twitter, which shows a U$ sailor who said on state TV that they made a mistake, but only mentions it in passing, saying “one of the sailors in the video taken by Iran claimed they were “having engine issues”” and doesn’t elaborate. Greenwald then continues to advance his High and Mighty™ viewpoint of the U.S. media in an article which also quotes The Guardian, his own publication (even linking to @tinyrevolution, another Intercept writer), CNN, Middle East Eye, a UN maritime treaty, and Slate. He then claims that “no matter how many times the U.S. government issues patently false statements about its military actions, those statements are entitled to unquestioning, uncritical treatment as Truth the next time a similar incident occurs.” A good way for those who are critical of the Celebrity Left to challenge Greenwald would be to challenge him on this as he sticks with an “unquestioning, uncritical” approach which is enough analysis to make progressives salivate and want more, but is not a necessary and radical analysis.

Looking at Iran’s state media

Due to these shortcomings it is best to look at Iranian state media. To start with there is a short video (as shown here and here) which shows equipment from one of the ships, that the 10 marines captured eating a good meal, and seeming to be treated well. This video begins to disprove the idea that Iran is a “brute” that is “aggressive” toward the United States, when in reality the opposite is true as the U$ is the real imperial bully. Other articles noted statements from Iranian and U$ military authorities saying that the U$ crew of ten marines, 9 men and one woman, were released after there was proof their entry was unintentional (see herehere, here, and here). A number of other articles quoted a IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) Rear Admiral, Ali Fadavi, as saying that the U$ marines were dealt with respectfully, which the White House and the IRGC in general confirmed, saying the crew was healthy and well-situated. Beyond the confirmation by the Pentagon and IGRC that two U$ navy boats were taken into Iran’s custody (see here, here, here, and here), Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying that

“The marines were crying when they were being captured, but they later felt better after the IRGC forces treated them with kindness. The Americans humbly admitted our might and power, and we freed the marines after being assured that they had entered the Iranian waters unintentionally and we even returned their weapons.”

That article also noted that

“each of the two US Navy boats that were 3 nautical miles deep into the Iranian waters when they were captured by the IRGC Navy’s second naval zone were equipped with three 50mm caliber machine guns and other light and semi-heavy weapons. IRGC officials said the coordinates recorded on the GPS devices taken from the 10 US marines confirmed their trespassing as well.”

While I could look at other articles in Iranian state media about a U@ apology, there’s one video, which the Navy Times predictably called a “propaganda video,” that is revealing. In the video, which is actually an interview with someone from PressTV and isn’t an interrogation or propaganda per say, an unnamed US captain apologizes for going into US waters saying “that was our mistake, admitting that they penetrated Iranian territorial waters, and saying that “it was a misunderstanding, we did not mean to go into Iranian territorial water.” In the interview the captain also says that they were captured by an Iranian patrol boat when they were “having engine issues” and tried to talk to them until “more boats came out and took us in.” Interestingly, the captain says that “the Iranian behavior was fantastic…we thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance,” and that they had “no problems” when in Iran. In the interview, the captain also says that their departure was from Kuwait and destination was Bahrain. You won’t see a description like this in the bourgeois media because this same video was cut short by CNN as an “exclusive” despite the availability of the FULL VIDEO, which distorts what the captain said, making it harder to recognize what happened.

Before going on and putting this into a broader context, it is important to look at some other state media articles. I’m not talking about what the Pentagon has to say, Kerry thanking Iran for releasing the 10 marines (also noted here), and GOP being unhappy that the marines captured were released. The IRGC, which globalsecurity.org describes as security for the revolutionary regime and “considered the military vanguard of Iran” and the elite Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) describes as an institution founded after the 1979 revolution which was “charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats,” predictably had a number of things to say about this incident. One commander, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Hassan, said that the incident showed how vulnerable the U$ is in front of “powerful” Iranian forces, connecting to an earlier article saying that the Iranian navy has a good amount of strength and is capable enough to save lives on the high seas. Another commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi declared that the foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, took a strong position on the incident by calling for “US officials to apologize for the issue” but also said that while there could be a harmless crossing of the Persian Gulf, “US presence has never been harmless.” Fadavi was also quoted as saying that while the crew, that was detained for a short time, didn’t resist much at all, but that “a US aircraft started doing provocative behavior for 40 minutes.” He said this was, the article summarized, an “indication of the US unfaithfulness to regional tranquility” and he predictably argued that the IRGC restored such tranquility. Other IRGC members conveyed the seriousness of the situation. Rear Admiral Fadavi said that they were ready to strike the USS Truman Aircraft carrier for any hostile movies, a craft as noted earlier, which, in his description, “showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers.” The article continued by noting that eventually after communicating an announcement that

“they came to realize the IRGC Navy has the first and the last word in here. The US and France’s aircraft carriers were within our range and if they had continued their unprofessional moves, they would have been afflicted with such a catastrophe that they had never experienced all throughout the history. They could have been shot, and if they were, they would have been destroyed…In the end they and their diplomats acknowledged their wrong action and undertook not to repeat such mistakes.”

The article also quoted Fadavi as saying almost triumphantly:

“the US and its Navy rest assured that they won’t be the winner of any battle with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz as destruction and sinking of their warships will be the end result of any such war. But in those 40 minutes, the Americans were clearly under intense psychological pressure and they did not act like a professional and responsible force.”

Such statements are not a surprise considering imperialist bullying behavior of the U$ in the Middle East and beyond.

There were other statements from IRGC commanders that are worth noting. Another article, which was an earlier version of the article previously noted, quoted Fadavi as saying: “had the US continued its unprofessional deeds after the detention of its 10 marines by the IRGC, all its warships could have gone sinking.” Based on Islamic guidelines, as the article summarized, “the Iranian military should not mistreat the captives, he said the US marines who were detained earlier this week were even privileged to watch the European Cup football tournament.” Another commander, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firoozabadi, even challenged Iran war halks in the U$ Congress:

“those US congressmen who plot a new problem for Iran each day are apparently fed with incorrect information and take their actions with closed eyes and away from the realities and, thus, harm the American nation. I hope that the incident in the North of the Persian Gulf that will likely be not the last by the US troops gives a lesson to those in the US congress that rock the boat.”

Another article quoted Fadavi as saying that

“the territorial waters of every country are those waters that the presence of foreign vessels should take place with the prior information and permission of that country…Mr. Zarif has adopted a strong and firm stance and told Kerry that they have been in Iran’s territorial water and they should apologize.”

The same article also quoted IRGC Spokesperson General Ramezan Sharif as saying that

“Iran never jokes with anyone about its national interests and won’t show any ignorance either…our behavior will be based on Islamic kindness. If investigations show that there hasn’t been any purposeful action, they will be treated differently, but if the information taken through interrogations reveal that their trespassing has been done for intelligence work and irrelevant jobs, officials will definitely take the necessary actions.”

Another article quoted Fadavi as going even further than Firoozabadi, saying that if anyone wanted war with Iran they would be committing suicide. Yeah, neocons, like those who want an armed intervention in the DPRK, and Hillary Killary Clinton, get this message which Fadavi said at a naval ceremony in the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas:

“Today, if any country thinks of military confrontation against the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is either looking for a way to commit suicide and being annihilated or it has become mad and drunken and has developed dementia.”

I could explain in more detail other statements by those associated with the IRGC (see here and here), but readers are open to read those on their own. It is worthy to note that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Seyed Abbas Araqchi declared that

“this shows Iran’s internal power as we powerfully seized the military vessel of the world’s big military power and then freed its personnel powerfully after ensuring of their unintentional entry into our territorial waters. This is a sign of our might.”

Whether you agree with them or not, the Iranians are justified in feeling this way about their action. Then there’s the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezayee, who said that “the US pilot [of the boat] shouldn’t have made the move and Mr. Zarif [Iran’s foreign minister] needed to certainly lodge a complaint with the Americans since if they embark on such a provocative move again, it can lead to a confrontation.” On that I agree, they should file a complaint and call out the U$ military on this action, though I’m not sure it is enough. In another article, this same Secretary argued that “if the Americans really believed that Iran is a terrorist state, [they] would they lie down and rest so calmly and relaxed while they were in IRGC’s custody,” putting to rest US allegations about Iran’s behavior. Two other articles in Iranian state media. The first of these noted the following statement from Iranian national legislature, called the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iranian Parliament or Iranian Majlis, praising the actions of the IRGC navy as showing enemies that Iran is serious about defending its “national security and interests”:

“Seizure of the US warships and capture of the US marines for illegal and unallowed voyage through the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territorial waters and then releasing them after their apology [was a valuable action]”

Another article quoted a senior MP (member of Parliament), the Chairperson of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi. In the article, Boroujerdi said the following:

“The divine Islamic establishment and the great Iranian nation’s national honor and might were displayed again by the IRGC Navy’s wise and mighty measure. The measure by the IRGC Navy forces in the Persian Gulf showed that safeguarding security of this sensitive region is in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s hands and even the US cannot ignore the rules of this game.”

What actually happened in this incident?

Earlier in this article I mentioned an articles by Raimando and Greenwald which claimed to offer alternative approaches to what happened but actually based their articles mostly if not completely on bourgeois media accounts. There were also some on twitter who said the incident was either: a Gulf of Tolkin-like situation intended to provoke war, which the Japanese rejected prior to WWII; just plain weird; was a “big” incident which resulted in some U$ Navy members being mad at the U$ government for its response; and was a “delicate diplomatic situation,” a term which downplays what happened. But this doesn’t really help clarify the incident itself.

One line in a recent article in the Washington Post about the incident claimed, which Raimondo blindly quoted without further analysis or fact-checking, that the two vessels captured are “known as riverine command boats, are agile and often carry Special Operations forces into smaller bodies of water.” [2]  An article the Post linked to describes the vessels, Riverine command boats, also called RCBs, as “actually Swedish CB-90s and are a type of fast attack craft” which raises further questions. The article also notes the following which puts more of the incident into question:

RCB’s can carry contingents of infantry and special operation forces and are often crewed by sailors in Riverine squadrons, known by some as River Rats. The riverine force came of age in the Vietnam War in what was then known as the Brown Water Navy. In the 1960s and early 1970s boats such as Patrol Boat, River (from ‘Apocalypse Now’ fame) and Swift Boats were the River Rats vessels of choice.

The Wikipedia article on these RCBs notes the following, making them seem like they are attack boats used for military assault:

“[this boat] is a class of fast military assault craft originally developed for the Swedish Navy by Dockstavarvet…The CB90 is an exceptionally fast and agile boat that can execute extremely sharp turns at high speed, decelerate from top speed to a full stop in 2.5 boat lengths, and adjust both its pitch and roll angle while under way. Its light weight, shallow draught, and twin water jets allow it to operate at speeds of up to 40 knots (74 km/h) in shallow coastal waters…In July 2007 The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) specified the CB90 for testing as its Riverine Command Boat. Safeboat International of Port Orchard, Washington, was given a US$2.8 million contract to produce one prototype.”

From there one is brought to a 2007 article in the  pro-military Navy Times which notes the following about these boats:

“…the CB90, a Swedish-designed shallow-water vessel that’s fast, lethal and flexible enough to be an ambulance or a fast-attack craft. The Navy has decided to buy two of the boats, now known in certain Navy circles as the Riverine Command Boat, for use by the newest incarnation of the brown-water navy, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s riverine group…The RCB is designed for maximum adaptability. It has an airy, aircraft-style cockpit with two operator seats and a middle jump seat that swings into and out of place. It has a head just below the cockpit divided by a passageway that leads to a bow ramp, so troops can be put ashore quickly. The bow and hull are heavily reinforced so operators can run the boat up on a rocky stretch of beach to disembark riders without worry, Wood said. “There are not many environments it can’t pull into and away from,” he said. “That’s one of the things the Navy found desirable, that it’s capable and proven.”…While the Navy declined to offer details on how or where the RCB will operate in the near future, a Navy official at the Pentagon said in a written statement that the boats are intended for use in the command role…The ship has cabin space that can be configured to carry more than 20 troops or serve as a floating command post with extra communication gear…The Navy replaced bolt-on Humvee armor with a lighter material, wired up electrical power supply at the gun mounts and improved the optics and communication equipment…The new RCB has stirred up a lot of interest in the Navy, Wood said — both from the new conventional riverine force, the naval special warfare community and surface warfare operators.”

In order to complete the picture it is important to look at Iranian state media once again. The first of these articles asked what would happen if there were Iranian boats in U$ waters. Here’s some selected quotes:

“As soon as the news was out, US media condemned Iran’s interception of the US naval boats that infringed its waters as an “aggression”…The Riverine Command Boat (RCB) is a watercraft designed to patrol rivers and other shallow water, fully equipped with GPS systems, radars, sensors and weaponry. Their speed and small size makes them useful for patrolling busy waterways such as the Persian Gulf and protecting larger navy ships…The US anti-Iranian fever was flowing through social media as soon as the news was out…The 10 sailors on the boats did not report the navigational error to their superiors before they were taken by the Iranians…The question in fact should not be about how Iran dealt with the situation. The question should rather be: if the scenario was exactly the reverse, and it was Iranian boats that had “mistakenly” drifted into US waters what would have happened?”

The other article raises questions about what happened during the incident itself. Sadly is broadly relies on Glenn Greenwald’s supposed “better analysis.” Still, here’s some quotes from that article:

“On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the sailors “obviously had misnavigated.” At the same time, mechanical failure was ruled out as a reason for the incident. This means that the boats were not in distress when they sailed near Farsi Island, which houses a naval base of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. This also means that Iran was within its right when it detained the soldiers, Sputnik reported…the US sailors….were most likely familiar with the route, since they often traveled between Bahrain and Kuwait. After all, the US Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain. Second, not a single sailor on the vessels reported the error to their superiors…Yet, many US media accounts of what transpired presented the incident as a hostile act committed by Iran…One could only imagine front page headlines if the US and Iran switched places and those were Iranian boats that had inadvertently drifted into US territorial waters.”

While it seems clear from Iranian state media sources that U$ warships engaged in provocations that could have escalated conflict if the IRGC hadn’t used their forces and messaging wisely, whatever actually happened in up to the reader. Hopefully the articles in this section help readers think more about what was the actual trajectory of events.

The broader picture of U$ imperialism

In order to fully understand the incident it is better to take a step back and look at US imperialism as a whole. According to the most recent Base Structure report, the U$ had 951 bases worldwide, outside the U$ itself, where there are many more bases. This calculation comes from 110 US bases in territories, plus those 576 overseas, those not in the U$, 42 Army National Guard sites and 223 bases in “other sites” outside the US which don’t meet other criteria for being bases. There may be even more than this since what is considered a “base” by the report must be a military site, which must be “must be larger than 10 acres AND have a Plant Replacement Value (PRV) greater than $10 million” if it is within the U$, and if the site is in a foreign country “it must be larger than 10 acres OR have a PRV greater than $10 million to be shown as a separate entry.” From this I came up with two different charts showing where the most U$ bases are located:

The last chart is most relevant here, as it shows that in Bahrain alone, the U$ has ten military bases. This is key because, if one uses the major naval base in Bahrain which claims on their website to cover 152 acres and is “home” to over 7,000 “military personnel and DOD Civilian employees,”  then Farsi Island, with land on the small island mostly restricted to a IRGC base, is only over 90 miles away as calculated using this site. A recent AP article noted that Farsi Island was “in the middle of the [Persian] Gulf and home to an Iranian military facility.” [6] Old Times articles from the 1980s say that the island is “where the Iranians have a base,” apparently serving as “a base for Iranian high-speed naval launches used to attack gulf shipping” as another article alleged. The L.A. Times at one point even noted without criticism that Western officials believed that “Farsi Island…was used as a base by Iran to carry out attacks on Gulf shipping and to lay mines in the area.” Another article claimed that some of the dolphins were used as U$ military weapons to scout for supposed Iranian frogmen who would, in their minds, sabotage barges used as floating bases, ” were taken near Bahrain and “near Iran’s Farsi Island” in order to apparently “protect them from sabotage.” If the U$ military couldn’t get any more out of their minds, you were wrong! Also of note here is the expansive reach of the U$ empire just in buildings alone, with the U$ Army controlling over 250,000 buildings!

Moving on, there are a number of maps showing U$ bases around Iran at this current time, which sorta update a map created by Al Jazeera years ago. They are as follows:

Civilian personnel in bases around Iran. The fact that these are based of a Black woman as one of the personnel is in a way an indication of existing “multi-racial” imperialism
Number of U$ troops surrounding Iran
Drone bases around Iran
U$ military bases around Iran

These maps alone, not even including their position in terms of black gold, make it clear why Iran would be in a defensive posture to U$ imperial and military aggression. The same could be said about a fear of being bombed, considering that Micah Zenko of the CFR in a blogpost admitted the following: “…last year, the United States dropped an estimated total of 23,144 bombs in six countries [Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia]. Of these, 22,110 were dropped in Iraq and Syria.” However, this seems to be more minimized now than in the past.

Still there is the looming power of US imperialism as Obama declared in his recent State of the Union, really State of the Empire, in which he claimed that China and Russia look to the U$, suspiciously promoted before it was spoken by the Vox folks. In his militaristic, nationalistic, and imperialist speech as some on twitter recognized (see here, here, here, and here), and which I chronicled in a set of tweets (see here, here, and here). However, in order to make it easier for the reader, sections of the speech are quoted below, and bolded for emphasis, so it is evident the imperialist bullcrap he is saying:

“…The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin…when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us…the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality. It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities. Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks…We just need to call them [ISIS] what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed…We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us…Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight…American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right… that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example.”

Still, this isn’t the full picture.

A fuller picture of Iran’s situation

Iranian state media fills out a bit more of this picture. One article declares the U$ and EU ended economic warfare against Iran, noting that the Iran nuclear deal, officially called JCPOA, with the lifting of UN sanctions “related to Iran’s nuclear program.” This article also said that

“Iran never negotiated out of fear and never feared to negotiate…Iran has now joined the club of nuclear countries and the warmongers can do nothing about it…It is not necessary to wait for positive signals from media outlets to find out more about the world community’s position towards this latest development. The global economy is in turmoil and they need Iran’s lucrative market and trade…Despite the political theatre of “distrust,” Europe has equally come to terms with the fact that Iran has gone nuclear, which means the Congress’s anti-Iran rhetoric is superficial. Otherwise, Western companies and investors would have never come to Tehran to ink deals in business and trade…Iran has every right to master civilian nuclear technology and that many in the West are more than happy to distance themselves from the warmongers on the Capitol Hill and Israel…Iran knew the value of the cards in its hand and knew where it was going.”

This article connected to others which said that Iran is willing to work with the IAEA, that Iranian banks are reconnecting to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), foreign assets will be unfrozen, and a conversation between Iran’s president and the Afghan’s president. Other articles touted Iran as a place for Italian companies to thrive in a post-sanctions world and that an ex-German Chancellor is leading a business delegation to Iran. As such, the Western bourgeoisie, especially those from Europe, are hungry to get into Iran’s “untapped” market.

Most interesting of all was the Deputy Trade Promotion Organization Chief for Commercial Aids Mohammad-Reza Modudi telling a business conference that Iran is not only was one of the largest closed economies which hasn’t joined the WTO but that:

“We were hosting a huge wave of foreign economic delegations visiting Iran in the hope to establish economic ties with Iran. Over the past two years, though, the Iranophobia campaign was diminished to the verge of extinction. In export field, we need to work to set brands which has somehow developed inside Iran, but yet to develop abroad. The advancements achieved in the world are indebted to sound competitions, not supportive policies of the governments.”

To me, this indicates that people such as Modudi are fine with Western companies coming in to build and improve Iran but that they do not want those companies to be a mode of regime change. Hence, they don’t want another Operation Ajax or Western regime change program, likely led by the CIA, in Iran. However, there is something else here. Modudi wants Iran to develop its own brands to compete with Western brands in a capitalist marketplace, to strengthen their domestic bourgeoisie.

This is because Modudi, is part of the pro-Western moderate sect of the Iranian bourgeoisie, like the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhini, who is about to visit Western Europe soon. These people are content that Iran is buying Airbus planes and opening itself more to Western investment. However, such pro-Western moderates clash with so-called “hardliners” such as leading religious clerics and the Iranian military enshrined in the IRGC. A recent Christian Science Monitor article said that Iran’s course ahead “depends on the results of an internal struggle raging within the Iranian elite over whether the supreme leader…Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should continue to hold [his]…political powers and be respected as the instrument of God in secular matters.” The article, which clearly took the side of the pro-Western moderates, also argued that “this debate over clerical rule is also central to Iran’s economic recovery…The power of religion lies in its spiritual attraction to individuals, not its authority over the state.” Such so-called “hardliners” are opposed to increased Western influence and investment in Iran, wanting to continue the domestic effects of the Islamic/Iranian Revolution of 1979 but seem to have made some level of peace with the Iran nuclear deal. That is because such hardliners while they take an arguably anti-imperialist stand, they are part of a country that is neither communist, socialist, or truly radical. Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist, especially toward the U$, which some would characterize as “anti-Western,” but also religiously conservative and not socially progressive like Cuba after 1959 or Venezuela after 1999.

The gap between the moderates and the so-called “hardliners,”  among the Iranian bourgeoisie, is likely to be exploited, with the U$ empire slapping on more sanctions  which were linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program according to multiple sources (see here and here). The British news source and bourgeois media outlet, the BBC, declared that

“…the new sanctions prevent 11 entities and individuals linked to the missile programme from using the US banking system…They  [the sanctions] were triggered by Iran conducting a precision-guided ballistic missile test capable of delivering a nuclear warhead last October, [supposedly] violating a United Nations ban…[Obama] said differences with Iran remained, and the US would “remain steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilising behaviour elsewhere” – such as its missile tests.”

The article noted that Rouhani welcomed the nuclear deal along with “many governments, the UN and EU” but criticized by some U$ Republicans and the murderous Zionist state as allowing Iran to “spread terror.” The article noted the effects of these sanctions is huge:

“The economic sanctions being lifted now were imposed progressively by the US, EU and UN in response to Iran’s nuclear programme[.] The EU is lifting restrictions on trade, shipping and insurance in full[.] The US is suspending, not terminating, its nuclear-related sanctions…The UN is lifting sanctions related to defence and nuclear technology sales, as well as an asset freeze on key individuals and companies…Non-nuclear US economic sanctions remain in place…Nearly $100bn (£70bn) of Iranian assets are being unlocked…Share prices in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest stock market, fell more than 6% following the lifting of sanctions…Iran has always maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful, but opponents of the deal say it does not do enough to ensure the country cannot develop a nuclear bomb.”

The supposedly independent paper, which largely takes a pro-U$ military bent since it operates within the military, Stars & Stripes, reprinted an AP article that claimed that “U.N. experts said in a report in December that the missile test in October violated sanctions banning Iran from launches capable of delivering nuclear weapons. A U.S. Treasury official [named Adam J. Szubin as noted in another article] says Iran’s ballistic missile program poses “a significant threat to regional and global security.”” Then there was an article in Telesur which noted the following:

“The United States imposed new sanctions against companies and individuals connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program just hours after four U.S. citizens had left Iran after being freed from jail in a prisoner swap deal between the two countries…According to the U.S. Treasury Department, 11 companies and individuals were blacklisted for supplying Iran with material and funds for its ballistic program. The United Arab Emirates-based Mabrooka Trading, and its owner Hossein Pournaghshband, were placed on the U.S. blacklist for helping Iran produce carbon fiber for the missile program…Iran unveiled a secret missile program in October when it conducted its first ballistic missile test…Iran says a United Nations Security Council resolution, approved in July, would only ban missiles specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads so it would not affect its military program as Tehran does not pursue nuclear weapons…The new sanctions also came a day after the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world leaders went into effect Saturday, effectively lifting decades-long economic sanctions against Iran in return for Tehran’s commitment to a civilian nuclear program…the U.S. State Department also announced it had agreed to release $400 million and $1.3 billion in interest for Iranian funds that had been frozen by Washington since 1979.”

Still, likely the best article on this did not come from a tweet saying that Obama stayed harsh on Iran but an Iranian state media source. This article quoted Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, arguably as slamming the new sanctions slapped on Iran and saying that work would continue on “missile advancements”:

“Attempts to impose new sanctions under the pretext of irrelevant excuses show the United States’ continued hostile policies and hatred towards the Iranian nation and its useless attempts to weaken Iran’s defense power, which are not helpful to regional security, stability and tranquility. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile industries are fully home-made and reliant on knowledge, expertise and infrastructures of the defense industry, and imposing sanctions against people and companies don’t affect the trend of its development and strengthening”

The article also quoted a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry which declared that:

“As explicitly stated before, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to such propaganda and harassing measures with pursuing its legal missile program more seriously and enhancing its national defense and security capabilities. Iran’s missile program has not been designed for carrying nuclear weapons at all and therefore, it doesn’t violate any international rule”

These statements show that Iranian (so-called) hardliners and likely Iranian moderates [4], the two competing sections of the Iranian bourgeoisie, are not happy about these new sanctions and will have none of it. Still, the Iranians were willing to make a prisoner swap, which Obama praised, which resulted in 28 Iranians having charges dropped or being released under this swap deal. It is possible that two of the Amerikans released were CIA agents since their pictures were NOT shown on national television. [5] Not surprisingly, Borzou Daragahi, a “correspondent” of the anti-Russian and pro-U$ joke of a media outlet, which classifies as part of the bourgeois media, BuzzFeed had a field day over this. Basically, Daragahi acted like Iran’s government was the bad, evil oppressor and that the Westerners were “innocent victims.” Yeah right.

Despite the new U$ sanctions other countries are opening their doors while some like Saudi Arabia (see here and here) are closing them. Such countries include Japan which is ready to lift its sanctions, in lieu of Iran dismantling a “large section of its nuclear program” and take advantage of the “new” opportunity of an “untapped” market, strengthening the hold of their bourgeoisie on Iran itself:

“The government will swiftly lift Japan’s sanctions on Iran based on a new U.N. Security Council resolution, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said. The Japanese government “welcomes” Iran’s compliance with a final deal…Kishida said [that] “Japan will further strengthen the historically friendly relationship with Iran. Japan will actively cooperate for the steady implementation of the final agreement (on the nuclear issue).” To support the deal’s implementation, the government will send nuclear energy experts to Iran, officials said…Japanese sanctions on Iran include a halt in investment in the energy field. Japanese companies expect removing the punitive measures will boost economic relations with Iran, which is rich in oil, natural gas and other natural resources and has a market of 78 million people…After scrapping the sanctions, probably this week, the government will conclude a formal investment pact with Iran, to help Japanese firms expand into not only oil but other market segments expected to attract economic reconstruction demand, such as the auto, high-speed rail and aircraft sectors, sources said. The government was also to dispatch a team to Iran as early as Monday to explore business opportunities there, the sources said.”

Closing remarks

I could focus on  a number of things like Greenwald’s nasty reply to me by declaring “is publishing exposés on chemical giants & prison diaries from a victim of US Penal State a violation of Twitter-radicalism?” to which I criticized by saying The Intercept was not that adversarial, causing a back-and-forth conversation to ensue with some of his mindless supporters. [3] But there is something more important. I’m talking about the U$ empire, an empire that engaged in numerous bloody occupations over the years, and an empire that defines the modern meaning of imperialism in this day and age.

It seems that Iran has a choice: either it bows to increased Western pressure/influence, which assuredly would come in the form of Western imperialism, as pro-Western moderate sect of  the Iranian bourgeoisie wants or it can resist Western influence as the so-called hardliner sect of the Iranian bourgeoisie wants. Some may say that this is a false dichotomy, as one could support a non-Western backed people’s revolution in Iran to overthrow the existing state and replace it with one that serves the masses, a socialist state.. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the global capitalist system more now that it has in the past. What happens next depends on this clash between differing Iranian elites, Western pressure, pressure from non-Western states, the people in Iran itself, and beyond.


Notes

[1] Jim Michaels, “US Navy Boats veered into Iranian waters before mechanical breakdown,” USA Today, Jan 2016; Eyder Peralta, “Mechanical failure led boats to Iranian waters, US says in new account,” NPR, Jan 18, 2016; “Iran releases 10 US Navy sailors after boat drifted in Persian Gulf,” Fox News, Jan 13, 2016; Phil Stewart and Parisa Hafezi, “Iran holds 10 U.S. sailors; White House expects prompt return,” Reuters, Jan 12, 2016; “US military reveals missing items after sailors’ Iran detention,” CBS News, Jan 2016; “10 US  sailors in Iranian custody,”CNN, Jan 2016; Marina Koren, “What Led American Ships Into Iranian Waters?,” The Atlantic, Jan 18,2016; Gwyweth Kelly, “Iran has detained two U.S. Navy ships but will release 10 crew members “promptly.” (Updated),” The New Republic, Jan 2016; “Iran Seizes U.S. Sailors Amid Claims of Spying, New York Times, Jan 13, 2016.

[2] “Iran captures two US navy boats but will return crew soon,” Washington Post, Jan 12, 2016; “These are the US Navy riverine boats that Iran just took into custody,” Washington Post, Jan 12, 2016.

[3] , “US Navy sailors released unharmed by Iran in less than a day,” AP, Jan 13, 2016; “US says copters answering shots sank 3 Iran boats,” New York Times, Oct 9, 1987; “A Kuwaiti tanker under  US escort hits mine in gulf,” New York Times, July 25, 1987; Charles P. Wallace, “Gulf Tanker War Truce Shattered by Iraq Raids : Aircraft Hit Iranian Offshore Installations; Vessel Docked at Island Terminal Set Ablaze,” Los Angeles Times, Aug 30, 1987; “Dolphins On Patrol In Persian Gulf,” UPI, Oct 24, 1987.

[4] See the following tweets by Rouhini as proof of this:

[5] Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I think this could be the case. Some also slammed Fox News for this, but I think that’s letting CNN and MSNBC off the hook (referring to this tweet)

[6] For these tweets, see conversation threads starting here and here.