“Slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”: an imperialist act of aggression

One of the victims of the imperialist US airstrike. Courtesy of SANA.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Apr 8, 2017.

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

The Syrian Arab Republic is under attack! Yesterday afternoon, two U$ destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base, in Homs Province, with the U$ government claiming, falsely, that this was where a chemical weapons attack had been initiated. [1] This strike, deemed a “vital national security interest” by the orange menace himself, rests on the idea, reminiscent of Bush’s attacks on the Republic of Iraq in 2003. The  top echelons of the war machine once again claim that “there can be no dispute” that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, and that there is a “high level of confidence” of Syrian involvement, with the U$ striking the air base’s logistics. [2] At the same time, oil man Tillerson has reversed his more reasonable position that Bashar Al-Assad’s “long-term status” should be determined by the Syrian populace to calling for outright regime change. More dangerously was not the orange menace’s predictable argument that past approaches to Assad “failed very dramatically” or that the orange menace is contradicting himself by opposing Obama’s war in 2013 and now authorizing similar action, but that Russians were at the air base hit by U$ missiles! [3] This portends that there will be a wider war. This is hinted by a number of facts.  For one, 900 marines, Army Rangers, and other troops are currently in Syria, which may include or add to the 279 Military and Civilian Personnel who are currently in Syria. [4] It is not known whether they were participate in this war or not. Regardless, the orange menace is a clear warmonger, engaging the same strike plan Obama readied in 2013, building on the imperialist Obama legacy of eight years.

While I am aware that this war is a distraction from the orange menace’s fascist agenda to cut down funding for social services, support police murders, greenlight pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, among many others, that trample on the rights of indigenous people, and many other horrors, I do think this deserves some treatment so this war can be effectively written about, the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives can be exposed, and an anti-imperialist strategy forward to oppose a war that the capitalist class is giddy about can be proposed.

The reasons for war

Like in Bosnia (1999), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and many actions since, this war has a humanitarian reason behind it. While this military action is hypocritical since the U$ coalition killed more civilians than Russia or ISIS (called Daesh in the rest of this post) last month, that the amount of explosives in Syria and Iraq will take 40-50 years to clean up, and that this missile strike is one of the many U$ military forays in the 21st century, with this one putting the U$ in a proxy battle with Russia’s military, the Pentagon doesn’t seem to care about these consequences. [5] On April 4, the orange menace declared that the “chemical attack in Syria” was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” saying that the actions by the “Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” claiming that Obama’s administration “did nothing” (not true), and going on to say that the U$ “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” While this is typical imperialist boilerplate, it should be debunked right here and now.

While the narrative pushed by the Western capitalist government and compliant media claim that Syria is responsible for the attack on Apr 4 in Idlib, indications seem to say this isn’t the case. Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) showed itself to be an organ of imperialism when it declared that “the Syrian regime [needed] to stop using the war machinery, torture and killings against its own people.” Apart from the rush to judgment in this case, the Russian narrative that the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) bombed a terrorist stockpile with chemical weapons, which they didn’t know were in there, seems compelling and credible. [6] This is made further ridiculous by the fact that Syria has already destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile and even if they did, they wouldn’t use them. They have done so in compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is still investigating the attack as I write this. Recently, capitalist Russia, to its credit, stood up for Syria in the UN Security Council by stopping a Western-backed resolution on the chemical weapons attack which presumes that the “guilty” party (who they peg as Syria) cannot be allowed to be innocent, leaving countries like Iran to call for disarmament of all terrorist groups in the country, something the West won’t dare to say.

By April 6, the foundation was set for war. When asked about military action in Syria, the orange menace gave no specifics to the compliant media, only saying that “what Assad did is terrible…what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes,” indicated that he may talk to Russia in the future about it, and declared that “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Such vagueness was in line with the new Pentagon position to not reveal how many troops are fighting Daesh, with 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, as of June of last year, the latest numbers. It also is reminiscent of the orange menace’s “secret plan” to defeat Daesh that he “didn’t want to reveal” during the presidential campaign.

In his speech later that day at his lush resort in Mar-A-Lago, the orange menace showed that he is a murderous imperialist just like the presidents before him. He called Bashar al-Assad a “dictator,” saying that he was responsible for killing “lives of helpless men, women, and children” and declaring that he ordered “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched” which he said was a “vital national security interest” of the U$, along with declaring that Syria used “banned chemical weapons,” violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, that previous attempts to change “Assad’s behavior have all failed,” and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.” It is this speech that the title of this article comes from, although I twisted his phrase to use it in an anti-imperialist manner rather than an imperialist one. He ended with a typical religious message, claiming ridiculously that as “long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” Anyone with sense knows this is an utter lie, that the U$ empire is a ravenous, blood-sucking beast.

Later that day, oil man Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and war criminal McMaster, the National Security Advisor, gave a wide-ranging press conference. Tillerson spoke to the media, knowing that they were not adversarial, declaring that there had been two “chemical attacks” carried out by the Syrian govt. on Mar. 25 and 30th, saying that the US government had a “very high level of confidence” this was the case, sounding eerily like the arguments for the Iraq invasion in 2003, part of the first thirty year war on the country (1991-2011). He went on to blame Russia for being responsible for not following UN resolutions, claimed laughably that Assad is “normalizing the use of chemical weapons” (no, the Western-backed terrorists are), arguing that the strike was  “proportional…against this heinous act,” said that the U$ government did not have any “discussions or prior contacts” prior to the attack with Moscow or Putin, saying that the U$ operated under “military de-confliction agreements in place with the Russian military.” If this wasn’t enough, he went on to expect that the Kurds (the ones the U$ supports) and Turks would applaud the action while Bashar al-Assad and Russia, would oppose it, saying that the US$wants to “stabilize areas in the south of Syria…Restore them to local governance,” use the Geneva Process to “resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure,” and push out Assad, and said out right that “our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.” This is just imperialist rhetoric, but it could indicate a broader war in the future. McMaster, also the NSA Director, had a lot to say as well. He noted that the attack had been two days of planning, repeating that the U$ had a “very high degree of confidence precisely where the location originated, and…the sort of chemicals that were used in the attack” thanks to the intelligence community, going on to give a vague story of “three options” available to the orange menace, but no specifics, and claiming that “the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons we think beyond this particular airfield,” when those committing mass murder is really the murderous U$ empire. McMaster went on to say that “this was not a small strike,” claimed widely that there had been “50 chemical attacks previously, post-2013, when the U.N. resolution went into effect,” saying that this was “entirely a U.S. operation” did not have “Russian permission” (why would it?)

So apart from the imperial lies and distortions, it is important to recognize the consequences of this murderous action by the orange menace’s administration.

The consequences of international murder

As the Russia hacking narrative seems to fade away into the wind or at least will be pushed away by war, people are suffering from U$ military aggression in Syria. Before getting to that, it must be recognized that this came at a time that U$ military aggression in Yemen is increasing, with a U$-made famine, a new U$ drone policy has been declared, more money has been set aside for war, and the SAA is advancing in its fight against Daesh, with the liberation of Aleppo most notably, as the U$ engages in varied war crimes. [7] So, this was comes at an opportune time. With low approval ratings of the orange menace’s presidency from Gallup and Pew Research Center, among others, reported relatively recently, the war provides a way for orange menace to take advantage of the rally ’round the flag effect to boost his approval rating. Also, it is undoubtedly a distraction, like all wars are, and a way to flex U$ muscles.

Each of 59 the 2,900 pound Tomahawk missiles, hit “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at the Al-Shayrat Air Base, as the Pentagon claimed, backed up what they implied was “actionable intelligence.” [8] Early indications are that six to nine people, including four children and three SAA soldiers, were killed, with the Syrian media now saying that 20 were injured and one killed, but there is no doubt that this strike makes the US partner of the Western-backed (and Gulf-backed) terrorists within Syria, with unfounded claims by “experts” in the Western bourgeois media. [9] There are questions whether most of the missiles were shot down, but indications seem to say this was not the case. What is clear is that the air base attacked by U$ missiles had 45 airplane hangers, which were very fortified, reportedly used by Russian jet fighters, along with helicopter gunships, all to fight the terrorists within the country, Daesh and its affiliates. [10] Global Security described more of what the base had:

“…military ammunition and equipment warehouses…fuel materials storage…In 2015, Russia expanded the runways to accommodate Russian aircraft. The forces of the 50th Air Brigade, in particular the 677th and 685th squadrons of the Su-22M3/M4 fighter bombers and the 675th squadron of the MiG-23ML/MLD fighter jets, were based there. Some of the MiG-23s had not moved for many years and obviously were in a state of incapacity. Taking into account losses for previous years, probably, there could be about one and a half dozen of the combat-ready Su-22s at the airbase at the moment of the missile strike…In February of 2016, the Russian military doubled the number of attack helicopters stationed at Shayrat…Russia’s 120th Artillery Brigade with six 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzers was deployed at a Syrian Arab Army base to the south of the airbase. There are reports that the Russians also allowed Iranian Air Force squadrons to utilize the facilities.”

In sum, apart from the smoke and broken fences, the damage was extensive: “runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars” were destroyed, as Russian air defense systems ‘did not act as the Tomahawk cruise missiles flew past them.” One assessment said that “some 20 Syrian waplanes have been destroyed by US cruise missiles.” ISi, a satellite imagery company, said on a webpage which is sadly only available through Google cache, the following:

“…the total of 44 targets [were] hit. Several targets may have hit twice…An in-depth examination of the damage to the objectives shows that 13 double hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) got 23 hits. 5 workshops got hit.  The workshops are not necessarily related to WMD, but to aircraft and their ability to do maintenance and fly…Ten ammunition storages got hit. Seven fuel reservoirs of the AFB got hit at two sites with eight hits total. Two locations remain untouched. One SA6 Battery utterly destroyed along with its radars and control systems. In total, five SA6 Battery elements hit…The results show that the target hits were accurate and that the Tomahawks have been used effectively against quality targets. Although 58 missiles hit the base, it seems that the overall damage to the base is limited because the warhead of the Tomahawk is not considered large”

To get to the point, the base that was bounded was used to fight Daesh, so it only an unsurprising coincidence that Daesh would attack the airbase AFTER the missile attack (also see here). Its almost like they knew it was going to happen. So in that way, the U$ attack, which is aggression and an act of war, seems aimed at stalling the Syrian anti-terrorism effort.

Other consequences are as dire. Attempts to keep in place the UN ceasefire, will be harder than ever. Also, relations between the United States and Russia will become more frayed. With Russia suspending a 2015 agreement of military cooperation with U$, condemning U$ military strike as “aggression against a sovereign government,” there were also claims that the US-Russia communication line was cut, although this was just rumors and untrue since the U$ contacted the Russians before the missile strikes. [11] Beyond this, Russia has pledged itself to shore up Syria’s air defenses, gave its military bases enhanced air cover, and sent a warship bound for Syria’s port of Tartus. The U$, with this aggression, is dangerously close to a military clash with the Russian military, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, saying that the strikes were “one step away from military clashes with Russia. President Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. This step by Washington will inflict major damage on U.S.-Russia ties.” [12] The Russian Foreign Ministry put out an even broader statement condemning the attacks:

“The United States conducted strikes against Syrian government troops in the early hours of April 7, using chemical weapons attacks in Idlib Province as a pretext. The US opted for a show of force, for military action against a country fighting international terrorism without taking the trouble to get the facts straight. It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and  threatens international security. The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. Actions undertaken by the US today  inflict further damage to the Russia-US relations. Russia has expressed on numerous occasions that it was ready to  cooperate on resolving the most urgent issues the world is facing today, and that fighting international terrorism  was a top priority. However, we will never agree to unsanctioned action against the legitimate Syrian government  that has been waging an uncompromising war on international terrorism for a long time. Seeking to justify military  action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts. This was the conclusion reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Over the recent years this organisation inspected almost all the facilities linked or possibly linked to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. As for Idlib, the terrorists operating there used to produce toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq. These manufacturing facilities were put out of operation in a military operation carried out by the Syrian air force. The US pretends that it does not understand obvious things, turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, officially confirmed by Baghdad. The US refuses to believe the evidence provided by certified documents confirming the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. In doing so, the US is abetting international terrorism and making it stronger. New WMD attacks can be expected. There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul,  where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster. It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force. Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US. We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.”

With the UN Security Council meeting on the missile strike, which I’ll discuss in the next section, there is no doubt that this war will not get any easier, even with Mossad supporting U$ imperialism with their false claim that Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack, and Russia standing by Syria. [13]

The condemnations and international reaction

First and foremost, the Syrian government rightly condemned this imperial act of aggression. The People’s Council, or what is called the “People’s Assembly” in Syrian state media, with Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas as its speaker, condemned the missile strikes, saying that “this blatant aggression came in defense of the collapsed terrorist organizations and in an attempt to revive them since that Israel failed to carry out this mission before…This new US aggression…reveals again the falsity of the US allegations on combating ISIS terrorist organization.” Additionally, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, criticized the action as contradictory, the Syrian military said that the attack makes the US partners of Daesh, and duly elected President Bashar al-Assad argued that the attack was “an unjust and arrogant aggression…an outrageous act that clarifies in conclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.” Syria was not alone in this condemnation, with many countries showing their solidarity.

Iran and Russia were the main countries that condemned the attack. Iran argued that U$ strikes were unwise, dangerous, destructive, and violate international law with one Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, saying that it is an “utter lie” Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack and “anti-US” slogans shouted at Friday prayers. [14] For Iran, the attack is worrisome because the possibility of a war with Iran looms larger than ever. The U$ is, as Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, put it, “fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria.”

As for Russia, as previously discussed, condemned the attacks as aggression, saying that they will help bolster Syrian military defenses. Before April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov argued that

“It has come down to us that we do not cover the regime, but that we are in the country at the invitation of a legitimate government and that we are conducting an anti-terrorist operation there. Therefore, if there is a national point of view, it should remain within the national framework, and not be presented as truth in absolute authority…We will review the information, but we do not forget that on April 5, 2003, preparing the ground for the war in Iraq, General Powell, then the US Secretary of State waved a test tube with anthrax. Speaking of intelligence about the…types of WMD which in Iraq have never been found…They are trying through their project to gain access throughout Syria. This is unclear, because the investigation must be conducted at the crime scene.”

The embattled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela showed their solidarity. Their Ministry of the People’s Power for External Relations issued a similar, statement, actually talking about U$ imperialism unlike the Russians:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the unilateral attack, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, perpetrated by the United States of America against the Syrian Arab Republic, by launching missiles at the Syrian air base Ash Shairat in the Province of Homs, yesterday. Venezuela points out that neither the United Nations nor the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet reported the results of their investigation into the chemical weapons incident on 4 April Resulted in a tragic loss of 86 deaths and dozens of injuries. The Venezuelan Government condemns the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by any country, person or entity, in any part of the world, whatever the circumstances and the reasons. It is deeply concerned that imperial factors justify and legitimize military interventions by endorsing actions by terrorist and extremist groups to the Syrian government through false positives. This attack has also allowed the logistical reconstruction of the terrorist groups, who then attacked the Syrian national army. The US attack on the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes an aggression to the sovereignty of this country and violates the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, such as the principle of territorial integrity, self-determination of peoples, non-interference in matters States and sovereign equality. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its deep friendship with the sister Syrian Arab Republic, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), and reaffirms its commitment to all political and diplomatic efforts for the sake of peace. Syria, respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Likely, the DPRK will soon voice their solidarity as well after Syria opposed imperial machinations in the Korean Peninsula aimed against Iran and because of the cordial relations between the two country, along with their brotherly solidarity.

At the U.N. Security Council’s meeting on U$ airstrikes in Syria, streamed live by C-SPAN, numerous member states spoke out against imperial aggression. Bolivia’s representative gave an impassioned speech to UN Security Council, saying, while holding up a picture of Colin Powell, that

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about…I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States…affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found… never were they found”

As for Russia, they opposed war, as did Senegal, although the latter’s reasoning was weak, sounding like an imperial puppet state. As for Kazakhstan they support negotiations, doesn’t want ceasefire to go away and opposes war, saying sovereignty of states must be respected, and said that OPCW is working with Syrian govt., Ethiopia said that if situation worsens the Syrian state could collapse, terrorists win, we need to be wise now, and have good statesmanship. UK, France, Sweden and Ukraine’s representatives supported the airstrikes, even though the Swedish ambassador wounded if the U$ strike follows international law. Then there was horrid Nikki Haley, who happened to be the chair of this meeting of the UN Security Council, for some reason. She claimed widely that the Syrian government has murdered hundreds of thousands, said it is “beyond a doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, claimed that US “destroyed the airfield.” She went on to say that that the Syrian government engaged in “crimes against humanity,” that Iranian and Russian governments have a major responsibility for attack, and that US doesn’t want to strengthen Assad but this will lead to “more murder.” Her charges went further, declaring that Russia is lying about chemical weapons, that U$ strikes are “measured” but they are “prepared to do more” and they want a “political process” to push Assad out. The Syrian representative arguably had one of the best speeches apart from the one by Bolivia’s representative. He argued that the U$ engaged in a “barbaric act of aggression,”leading many to be injured and wide-ranging damage, that the U$ has used false pretexts of chemical weapons, the very same pretext used by terrorists and their supporters in the West. He went on to say that Syria does not have chemical weapons and has not used them, that terrorists had chemical stockpiles, that the illegal American aggression violates UN charter, and that this is a grave extrapolation which came out of US covert assistance to opposition groups. He went further to say that the US has become a partner of terrorists, trying to weaken SAA and its allies, with this action saving Al-Nusra after grave damage by SAA,and that the U$, UK, and France, are spreading the same sorts of lies they used to attack Iraq. He ended by mentioning the Colin Powell speech, saying that US is using fabricated information for attack, saying that US wants to target states and assert their hegemony across the world, that the West haven’t cared about human rights for years, want hegemony and control of resources, and that this military action will lead to more chaos and threatens peace and security in the region. Right after this, Russia’s representative was recognized once again, saying that it is not right for other countries to insult Russia, like Nikki Haley. It was right after that the meeting is adjourned, with no more speakers. With this open meeting showing broad opposition to U$ action, except from a few countries, who were U$ allies.

Numerous international organizations showed their solidarity. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, said that they support any Syrian response to the U$ aggression. Hezbollah, also called the Lebanese Resistance, argued that the U$ missile strikes were a continuation of aggressive policy toward Syria “in the service of the Zionist entity and to achieve its ambitions in the region” and that it is a “stupid action by the orange menace’s
administration will mark the beginning of a major and dangerous tension in the region and increase the complexity of the situation around the world.” The Syrian Communist Party- Bakdash, had one of the strongest statements against the imperial aggression:

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law…This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general…America is the largest international terrorist in the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs. The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

This was followed by a statement by the party’s Secretary General, Ammar Bakdash, toto Damascus Radio, saying the following, in part, in much stronger words:

“What happened today is a continuation of the American aggression on our country. This attack on a military base of the Syrian army is a continuation of the American aggression…This aggression proves once again what we have already pointed out that the main enemy of our people is American imperialism and its ally in the Zionist-Israeli region…America once again proves that it is the world’s greatest terrorist. It practices State terrorism against all the peoples of the world in accordance with its expansionist colonial interests…America has a consistent expansionist policy throughout the world, especially in our region, and all the disasters that have been taking place in the region and the tragedies that our people have been living for more than six years are mainly due to the policy of American imperialism. Our main enemy is America, which has never disappeared from the scene…Therefore, anyone who thinks that America can have a positive role in terms of the peace process in Syria, is also important, this is the catch of the wind, and the void of falsehoods. America is in its interest to subjugate the peoples of the region to its full dominion by setting up its chief agent, Zionist Israel, as an agent for this region.”

The Communist Party of Italy also condemned the attacks in similar terms, saying that the orange menace has “declared war…against a country already destroyed by a violent imperialist war by the US and NATO,” saying (translation of this one is not exact) that “the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be political suicide” and that the

“US military attack against Syria is nothing but an extension of the long and strategic imperialist attack against the entire Middle East region, horrendous and bloody attack that continues, unpunished for decades and has already seen complete destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with hundreds of thousands of dead and missing, of entire peoples thrown into despair and hunger, destruction of entire nations…it is equally clear that the US and NATO, and believe they have done the dirty work in Iraq and in Libya…it must be remembered how, with a fierce apology and cynical, the US and NATO attacked Syria in 2011: then, a vast arc of forces…(USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK) invested politically and economically in the construction of “social movement orange” against Assad and even more invested in the construction of ” Free Syrian Army ‘against Assad, “Free Army” of 100,000 men who joined in the military struggle against the legitimate Syrian government, the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front and the militia of the Caliphate…now that Assad, backed by Putin’s Russia, fought back and defeated on the field is the ‘ “Free Army” imperialist that the Caliphate…the US attack again…Trump “promises” war everywhere. The danger of imperialist world war…it really is time that the communist forces, leftist, democratic, pacifist all, come back, joined in the field, to fight and to reconstruct what is missing too long: a struggle and mass movement against the war. Against the imperialist policies against rearmament and the exit from NATO…THE PCI is in the field, it will be in every street, to struggle and to build the broadest unity against the war.”

The National Secretariat of the same Communist Party said something similar. They strongly condemned the war, saying that is no evidence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, saying it “would be a political suicide for the Syrian government,” that the orange menace has “threatened war against North Korea, he has threatened China. Now he has launched an attack on Syria.”  They further argued that

“A new wind of World War II threatens the world, driven by US imperialism. The struggle for peace is the first task of the communist forces, leftist, democratic. You need to rebuild a mass movement against the war, is now closer than ever. The PCI is in the field and calls on all progressive forces and anti-war unity.”

Additionally, the World Peace Council which denounced the imperial action, saying

“The World Peace Council denounces and condemns the recent missile attacks of the USA against Syrian targets on 6th April,as an act of further escalation of the imperialist intervention in Syria and the region, based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun town near Idleb by the Syrian army, a crime with suspicious motives. The US bombing of Syria constitutes not only the violation of the principles of the UN Charter but is also the continuation of the US policies of the previous US administrations, now by the Trump administration…The WPC expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people and the peoples of the region for their rights to determine freely and without any foreign interference their fortunes. We denounce also the hyprocrisy and double moral of the imperialists, who support and/or carry out attacks on peoples and nations, driving hundreds of thousands to become refugees, and at the same time “shed tears” about the displaced people who run away for their lives. The WPC calls upon its members and friends to condemn the imperialist interventions and plans in the region and to express their solidarity with the peoples in need.”

Bourgeois progressives and libertarians also opposed the war. The socially democratic Green Party of the United States, condemned the attack, only for the reasons of not having congressional approval, international support, while Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party went further, saying that the “U.S. has no moral right to wage war on Syria.” Then, there was the people of bourgeois peace organization, CodePink. Medea Benjamin, of the latter organization, and Ann Wright, said that in 2013, “four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria,” said that “the U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire,” and cited the Iraq War as an example. Of course, neither the Green Party peoples, Benjamin, or Wright declared their solidarity with the government of Syria or mentioned the word imperialism. This was reflected in the fact that CodePink blared out that there should not be a war in Syria, that war is not the answer, that there is congressional authorization, and rejecting U$ escalation, showing that they have a bourgeois analysis. The same goes for Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation‏, who only said there is no “military solution” to the “crisis” in Syria, Rep. Ted Lieu who opposes US war in Syria but has no solidarity, or libertarian Senator Rand Paul who condemns what happened in Syria and says that intervention in Syria will not make the U$ safer, that there needs to be congressional authorization. Even Ben Norton and Max Bluementhal teamed up to write an antiwar article which says “U.S. intervention would be the last hope for Syrian rebels, and a shot in the arm to al-Qaeda, which has grown to record size thanks to America’s military meddling across the Middle East” but barely mention the words “Russia” and “Assad,” while never using the words imperialist or capitalist.

Worst of all are the statements of bourgeois progressive groups. CREDO, Peace Action, Win Without War and MoveOn put out a joint statement saying that the attack was  unilateral, reckless, and without an “apparent plan for what comes next and with no legal authorization,” saying that “this was an illegal act of war, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law” and saying that “Trump cannot bomb his way to peace,” adding that the orange menace should “be leading the world in a diplomatic effort to end the war, increasing American support for humanitarian assistance, and welcoming Syrian refugees to the safety of America.” As I have discussed before on this blog, diplomacy of the U$ is a form of imperialism. Then there’s Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs for Peace Action, who argued that “only a political solution can end the carnage in Syria” and that if we go too far, the U$ would “risk retaliation against U.S. troops stationed in Syria, and could dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and Iran,” adding that “Congress has not authorized the use of military force against the Assad government, which should be a prerequisite to any military action.” [15] These pathetic, milquetoast statements will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, Martin’s statement is basically an imperialist one, worrying about risks to U$ footsoldiers of imperialism! These bourgeois progressives are clearly, and likely will never be, comrades of the Syrian people. They are as bad as the dumb liberals who are still complaining about Russian involvement, saying that “Assad is a butcher” (progressive talk radio host Sam Seder), which just leads to more war. Even Democracy Now! is entertaining the notion that the orange menace’s attack “could” violate international law, not saying it DOES violate international law. Even British politician Nigel Farage, formerly of the fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and self-declared orange menace’s supporter said that Assad is secular and that “previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” with the same in this case.

We then get to the people who support the war. Clearly, the Democrats want more war with pathetic words from people like Rania Khalek which do not inspire confidence. More directly, U$ Senators Mitch McConnell, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain applauded the action, Barbara Lee called for a vote, like Nancy Pelosi, Seth Moulton and Steve Russell, former vets, only are concerned because there is “no plan” presented yet. [16] Beyond this, NATO’s Secretary General, Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Carl Bildt of Sweden, Donald Tusk of EU Commission, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, and the governments of the UK, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, France, Britain (also see here) Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia, support the attack while the UN Secretary General, who caved to Israeli and US demands recently, tried to take a middle position. They were joined by Shlomo Bolt of Syrian-American Council who said that says the orange menace’s made “right decision” to go to war, horrid Erdogan of Turkey, who clearly wants more war, the Democratic “Socialists” of America clearly as anyone can see, and last, but not least, Bernie Sanders, an imperialist worth despising. Of course, the big capitalist enterprise of Rayethon supports the war since their stock is rising as a result of the use of their Tomahawk missiles in the strike, as does the Syrian National Coalition and the pro-market NDP (National Democratic Party) in Canada with its weak response, as does the oil companies with oil prices rising since the attack. [17] Even Chomsky continued his imperialist run, declaring that “the Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”

Then there’s the bourgeois media. Some, of course, went further, saying that the orange menace is taking a “stand for humanity,” while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who earns $10 million a year, said that he was wowed by the “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments,” which some were angry about ONLY because Rachel “Madcow” Maddow wasn’t allowed to give her warmonger speech, saying that MSNBC was being sexist. [18] It is a silly complaint not because the allegation of sexism is wrong but because the imperial warmongering would have delivered either way. If that wasn’t enough as the U$ beats drums for WWIII with its illegal missile strike, the bourgeois media in the U$ was gushing for war, from CNN to the New York Times, with Fareed Zakeria even saying that air strike made orange menace a “president,” and beyond, along with opinions saying that there cannot be any peace under Assad, that orange menace should “commit” to Syria, and that we shouldn’t be shocked by chemical weapons in Syria. [19]

A conclusion

There is no doubt that wars have been escalating under the orange menace’s watch, even with Steve Bannon seemingly out of the picture, and that this war should be opposed. Speaking of Bannon, it seemed like suspicious timing that ONE DAY before the military strike McMaster replaced Bannon on the National Security Council. Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of CounterPunch agrees with me on that point, while seeming to not side with the Syrian or Russian governments, a weird sort of middle position:

“I don’t know who was behind the grisly chemical attack in the northern Syrian city of Khan Shaikhoun…Obama…made the right call in 2013, when he rejected the demands of many in his inner circle and in Congress to escalate the US intervention in Syria…All of the incentives for launching this attack favor those who want the Syrian war prolonged and the Assad regime overthrown. And it seems to have worked…Trump…swiftly followed suit, mumbling his own fatwa against the Assad regime a few hours before those missiles hit Homs…So mission accomplished for the neocons and the Hillaroids…Little Marco Rubio said Congress would be “open to ground troops” in Syria and the New York Times’ Lt. Gen. (honorary) Nicholas Kristof advised that it was “Trump is right to make Syria pay a price for war crimes, and taking out airfields is the best approach.”…A few hours before Trump fired his volley of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Force Base, Hillary Clinton…advised Trump to “take out Assad’s airfields”…Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon…went into a rage and threatened to quit after getting 86’d off of the National Security Council, but stayed after Trump assured him he can continue to attend meetings…Bannon needed to be evicted from NSC before the Syrian airstrikes could be launched.”

Other than what St. Clair says, we should recognize that for one, the Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, welcomes the senseless missile strike, which may just “reinforce the balance of power between the combating factions rather than lead to a turning point,” even though it is evident that that the orange menace’s policy is now regime change by military action. [20] It is interesting that Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said the country is “concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria.” Of course the bourgeois media declares that Syrians are “split” over the U$ missile strike, with the narrative that those in rebel-held regions supporting the strike, and those in government-held regions think differently, although there is no doubt broader opposition than their claims. [21] There will be even more opposition since it seems evident that only ground forces in Syria itself can topple the duly-elected government of Bashar al-Assad and the National Progressive Front.

For any of those who said that the orange menace would be non-interventionist because of his campaign promises and not understanding how he took a more pro-military position as the campaign progressed forward, like the often cited and anti-leftist analysis from the libertarians at antiwar.com, Zero Hedge, or anywhere else, they were completely wrong.  Even as the Syrian government is open into international inquiries of the chemical  attacks, the future of the war seems bleak, with more money going to war, and the Senate not coming out of recess to vote on Syria war. [22] But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the progressive state of Syria against the imperialist monster which threatens to tear the country apart.

With the slim, but affirmed victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno, there is still hope on the horizon. There is a possibility for opposing “limited action,” an imperialist war, in Syria, and we don’t have to listen to the propagandists like Avaaz who declare that “some have gone so far as to suggest that the Syrian Army did not actually drop the Sarin gas. This is such a far-fetched claim I can only assume they have been captured by Russian propaganda media,” or the bourgeois media who reprints commentaries by U$ generals about what is “happening” in Syria. There is no doubt that the orange menace angered his base, those who voted for him originally, while an approval rating bump is in question.

As radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, communists, or what have you, the first step as of now is to protest this horrid imperialist war which will benefit the capitalist class, causing them to smile in glee. This strike, I feel, is only the beginning of something greater, which was hinted at by Tillerson and Haley in recent days. This will again support terrorist propaganda that the “Christian nation” of the United States is bombing a “Muslim” nation in Syria. I don’t want to say it will lead to blowback, which is a distorted version of what former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson declares in his many books about U$ empire since he is talking about foreign response to covert actions, not overt actions like military strikes, but also because I think the idea of blowback seems to bring with it, at least how it is commonly interpreted, a sort of Orientalism. I have credit my fellow comrade, Karen (kazahann) with that insight, which I’ve built upon here.

I don’t see this as a one-off strike which will go away. While we can stay critical of independent capitalist Russia, as William Blum has called it, we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian state and the proletariat therein. As most of the readers who encounter this post likely live in the core, we must do what we can to stop the imperialist beast. What that entails is up to personal discretion. But, a powerful peace movement would be a welcome addition to what currently exists now. As critics and those trying to spread our ideas to the masses, we must counter the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives, exposing their milquetoast ideas as garbage, showing that there are better ideas to move the world forward. I would have provided a more through analysis here of Syria, its history, politics and whatnot, but do to certain complications, I cannot do that at this time, but promise that such a post may come in the future. For all of those comrades out there who stand against this hideous war and those living in Syria especially, I stand with you.

UPDATE:

There are numerous statements and sayings that I missed in working through this article. Just today, the DPRK’s state media released a statement saying that Kim Jong Un, chairman received a reply from Bashar Al-Assad two days ago, thanking the former for “his kind congratulations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party” and expressed thanks for him “having appreciated the role of the Party guiding the Syrian Arab people in the struggle to meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world’s terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail.” [23] The statement also said the relations between the two countries should stay strong. There was also, as international media reported that the DPRK said that “the U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this,” even though the KCNA did not report ANY articles with such words. There was then, the stories that the U$ wants more intervention in Syria, just like I had said yesterday, that no proof of chemical weapons use from the Syrian airfield has been presented. Apart from statements by other groups, a study guide of articles on the Syrian conflict has been assembled by a fellow comrade.

Now, for the statements of differing groups. I start with the statement of the anti-revisionist American Party of Labor which was issued yesterday:

“The American Party of Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack of April 6, 2017 of the United States Navy against a Syrian airbase…this attack is clearly an effort to bolster the hegemony of the United States in the midst of Trump’s own catastrophic incompetence and a myriad of evolving geopolitical environments…Trump has openly vilified refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, showing that his administration and its supporters have little care or respect for the lives of oppressed people except when it is politically expedient. Both Trump and his administration are but the newest faces in the evolution of American imperialism…this attack by the U.S. is not done for the sake of humanity or any ethical principle. The U.S. has been sinking its teeth into Syria for years now…The pronounced ethics of the imperialist state are nothing more than a sham. This attack also demonstrates the strengthening of the international antagonisms between the imperialist powers…The threats of war are now being expressed more openly than ever. Imperialism sees war as a solution to the economic crisis and stagnation…There is an increasing risk that regional wars instigated by the imperialist powers, particularly the USA, may escalate to world war. This attack is another blatant example of “humanitarian” imperialism and has grave consequences for the peoples of the world…The American Party of Labor…condemns in the strongest terms the neo-fascist Trump regime, its warmongering and militaristic aggression, and its violation of the sovereignty of Syria.”

Of course, the Trotskyists had to get their foot in the door too, with their group, In Defence of Marxism (part of the International Marxist Tendency). They condemned the attacks but said, almost parroting imperialist propaganda, that “…the Assad regime is fully capable at carrying out such an attack…It has the upper hand in the civil war, thanks to Russia’s backing,” and going to claim that the “Russians and the Syrians were bombing Aleppo” without saying that this was part of the liberation of Aleppo! Even if you said their statement was partially anti-imperialist, they said that the war is a plan to “divide the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and to prepare to negotiate the future of Assad,” even as they said that “there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime or in the dirty games of Russia in Syria,” although this is ridiculous especially when it comes to the Syrian government, and they add that “the only real solution is a clear independent class position…we cannot give any support to the competitors of our own imperialists, to Putin, Assad or the Mullahs in Iran.” Such absurdist reasoning shows why for one Trotskyists cannot be trusted and two that they are not believing in international solidarity.

BAYAN-USA, a progressive Filipino organization took a more principled position:

“President Trump’s decision to launch 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian Air force base in Homs province was not driven by his humanitarian desires to help the Syrian people against the Assad regime…the US war in Syria will never resolve the problems in the country and will only create more chaos, destruction, and death. The proxy war in Syria can seem very complicated, but underneath all the political rhetoric of good versus evil…thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed and thousands having to flee their home country as refugees is due to US monopoly capitalist interest…The root of all US wars of aggression lies in imperialist geopolitical interest to expand its hegemony over land, natural resources, trade routes, consumer markets for US surplus products and cheap labor markets…Both the Trump and Assad regimes are using the same exact rhetoric of “Fighting the War on Terror” as their reasoning behind their attacks on the Syrian people, but we must uncover the truth behind their interest in this war which is economic power in a centrally located oil rich region of the world…We demand an end to US warmongering and intervention for the sake of humanity. We call on all peoples of the world to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and their rights to self-determination for their own country.”

In news beyond this, CNN spouted imperialist propaganda about “another” chemical weapons attack, citing unnamed activists (like we should trust that), the U$ engaged in an airstrike supposedly aimed against Daesh but actually killing 13 Syrians when it hit an internet cafe, along with protests outside US embassy in Turkey, UN Office in Syria, followed by condemnation from Turkey’s Patriotic Party. [24] Beyond this, while the Saudis praised the attack, pro-Western moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it, while Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the “US’s open aggression against Syria.” There’s also the reported news that the SAA attacked a a U$ recon aircraft in Northern Syria.


Notes

[1] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017; Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[2] Ibid; Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017; Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017.

[3] Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” and Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”.”

[4] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017. Also see the recent data (Dec. 2016) from the DMDC for the data on the 279 military and civilian personnel in Syria

[5] Rachel Roberts, “US-led coalition killed more Syrian civilians than Isis or Russia in March, figures show,” The Independent, Apr. 3, 2017; Edith M. Lederer, “UN: 40-50 years needed to clear weapons in Iraq and Syria,” ABC News (originally an AP story), Apr. 4, 2017; Josh Lederman, “Syria Strikes Add to List of 21st Century US Military Forays,” Bloomberg News (originally an AP story), Apr. 6, 2017. The missile strike in Syria adds to the list of US military forays in Afghanistan (started 2001), Iraq (started 2003), Libya (2011, recent years), drone wars (esp. 2009-2014), and ISIS (2014 onward).

[6] Darius Shahtahmasebi, “What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Yesterday’s Chemical Attack in Syria,” The Anti Media, Apr. 5, 2017; Scott Horton, “4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative,” The Libertarian Institute; Paul Antonopoulos, “Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack,” Information Clearing House, Apr. 4, 2017; Curt Mills, “Was Assad Behind the Idlib Chemical Massacre?,” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 6, 2017; Sarah D., “‘Shame on you!’ Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Syrian attacks rings hollow,” Twitchy, Apr. 5, 2017; From “ashamed” to a defense of Assad: Republican lawmakers offer varied reactions to recent chemical attack in Syria,” Salon, Apr. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “Syria denies using chemical weapons in Idlib,” Al Jazeera, Apr. 6, 2017; “US Syria Strike Was Illegal, No Matter Who Carried Out Gas Attack,” The Real News, Apr. 7, 2017; Phyllis Bennis, “Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead,” The Real News, Apr. 2017; Vijay Prashad, “Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria?,” AlterNet, Apr. 5, 2017. Basically, Tulsi Gabbard and Thomas Massie were wary of making conclusions yet, with people claiming they are “Assad apologists” as a result.

[7] For more information, and other related articles, see: PressTV, “Syria launches counterattack near capital after militant incursion,” Mar. 21, 2017; PressTV, “Syrian forces retake Damascus areas from militants,” Mar. 20, 2017; PressTV, “Iran commander: US will regret any adventurism,” Apr. 3, 2017; PressTV, “Russia: US covering up Daesh crimes in Iraq’s Mosul,” Apr. 2, 2017; Prensa Latina, “Syria, six years of manufactured war,” Granma, Mar. 30, 2017; PressTV, “Iran urges ‘war crime’ hearing into US killings in Mosul,” Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “UN deeply concerned over US-led airstrikes on Mosul,” Mar. 25, 2017; PressTV, “Over 230 killed under rubble after ‘US-led raid’ in Mosul,” Mar. 24, 2017; Julie Ray and Neli Esipova, “Economic Problems, Corruption Fail to Dent Putin’s Image,” Gallup, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Trump hails US troops in Iraq despite deadly Mosul raid,” Mar. 29, 2017; BBC, “Mosul battle: US ‘may be responsible’ for civilian deaths,” Mar. 28, 2017; OIC, “OIC Regrets Casualties among Citizens in Mosul,” Mar. 27, 2017; PressTV, “Daesh shelling, US airstrikes raise Syria dam breach fears,” Mar. 29, 2017; PressTV, “Russian general criticizes US-led coalition’s bombing of Syria dam,” Mar. 28, 2017; Mike Whitney, “Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below,” CounterPunch, Mar. 28, 2017.

[8] Pentagon, “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria,” Apr. 6, 2017; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, “Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria as ‘significant blow’ to relationship,” Chicago Tribune (originally AP article), Apr. 7, 2017.

[9] What you need to know about US strike on Syrian air base,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; CNNWire, “At least 6 killed in Syria: Russia calls U.S. military strike an ‘act of aggression’,” Fox8, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria attack: US ‘deliberately avoided bombing sarin stockpile at Assad airbase’ during Trump air strikes,” The Independent, Apr. 7, 2017; Holly Williams, “Russia, Syria’s explanation for chemical attack countered by experts,” CBS News, Apr. 6, 2017; Raja Abdulrahim, “Rebels Hail U.S. Strike, Syria Says 16 Killed,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas likely weapon used in Idlib as experts say Russian claims ‘don’t add up’,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017. In the latter article, Dearden cites the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, Hasan Haj Ali; a research fellow at Chatham House and former member of NATO, Beyza Unal; a volunteer with the traitorous White Helmets, Hamid Kutini; analyst at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and bourgeois “expert”, Hassan Elbahtimy; and a citizen journalist and Reuters photographer, Ammar Abdullah, as “experts.” Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also mentioned, but no specific person is quoted. Clearly, their “experts” are total crap. Lest us forget that Jan. 2013 article in the horrid Daily Mail, which has now been deleted, which said that the US planned to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on Assad. Did that happen in this case? Its hard to know.

[10] Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova, “Russia’s military presence in Syria is as ‘powerful’ as ever,” Reuters, Apr. 15, 2016; Tom Parfitt, “Russia sends MORE jets to Syria in bid to wipe out evil ISIS as Putin builds ANOTHER base,” Express Newspapers, Dec. 1, 2015; Reuters, “Syrian Observatory: Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province,” Dec. 3, 2015; Now News, “Russia plans new Syria airbase: report,” Nov. 30, 2015.

[11] David Filpov, Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement, Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2017; BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017. This article also says that Syria used to have an effective air defense system but it has been weakened by civil war and that the fact that there are Russian surface-to-air systems makes airstrikes by US warplanes unlikely and cruise missile strikes continuing as a possibility.

[12] Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “U.S. strikes on Syria came close
to clash with Russia: Medvedev,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[13] Associated Press, “The Latest: US calls for transparency in UN Syria summit,” Apr. 7, 2017; Bethan McKernan, “Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun approved by ‘highest levels’ of Assad regime, Israel’s Mossad finds,” The Independent, Apr. 6, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “World powers clash with Russia at UN over Syria suspected chemical attack,” Apr. 2017; Thomson Reuters, “Russia stands by Syria at UN over chemical weapons attack,” Apr. 5, 2017.

[14] Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017.

[15] Congress wants a say on Syria strategy, split on timing, what to do,” Kaine: ‘No legal justification’ for Syria strike,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; Deirdre Shesgreen, Nicole Gaudiano, and Bill Theobald, “Syria strikes draw Capitol Hill support, calls for greater congressional role,” USA Today, Apr. 7, 2017; Leah Barkoukis, “Even Schumer, Pelosi Applaud US Airstrikes in Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Courtney O’Brien, “Pelosi Demands Immediate Debate on AUMF for Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Syria Attack Launched Without Congressional Authorization,” Apr. 7, 2017; Susan Jones, “Rand Paul, Barbara Lee, Tim Kaine: ‘Unconstitutional’; Schumer Tells Trump, ‘Come Up With a Strategy’,” CNSNews.com, Apr. 7, 2017.

[16] Twitter, “World reacts after US forces launch strikes on Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. lawmakers back Syria strikes, ask for broader strategy,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Pope Francis appeals to ‘conscience’ of culprits as Russia vows to support Assad,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017.

[17] BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Michelle Nichols, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “Russia warns of serious consequences from U.S. strike in Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Jessica Resnick-Ault, “Oil rises after U.S. missile strike in Syria, weekly gain 3 percent,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Fred Imbert, “Stocks close mostly flat despite Syria attack, mixed jobs report,” CNBC, Apr. 7, 2017.

[18] Associated Press, “Brian Williams calls images of US missile launch ‘beautiful’,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[19] Sam Sacks, “Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war,” Apr. 6, 2017; Sam Sacks, “I mean, we’re just weeks removed from her Trump tax return spectacle & now is making the Trump admin’s case for war to her audience,” Apr. 6, 2017; CNNI, “”What is it going to take?” Watch ‘s emotional appeal to the world about Syria after gas attack,” Apr. 4, 2017; NBC News, “So, what IS a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile?,” Apr. 6, 2017; John Harwood, “on CNN, ex-CIA director Jim Woolsey suggests that Trump respond to Assad gas attack with military strikes against both Syria and Iran,” Apr. 6, 2017; earwulf, “fuck the New York Times, seriously,” Apr. 7, 2017; Walid, “CNN hits a new low with its interview with Bana on alleged Sarin attack. How can this interviewer go through with this charade?,” Apr. 6, 2017; Walid, “Congressman is a known supporter of the Jihadist insurgency in . CNN asked him how he would respond to Bana,” Apr. 7, 2017; Kersten Knipp, “Opinion: No peace under Assad,” Deutsche Welle, Apr. 2, 2017; Farzana Hassan, “Trump needs to commit to Syria,” Toronto Sun, Apr. 6, 2017; Michael Petrou, “No decent politician should profess to be shocked by the latest chemical attack in Syria,” CBC, Apr. 5, 2017.

[20] Harout Akdedian, “Will the US missile strike be the turning point in Syria’s shifting war?,” Asia Times, Apr. 7, 2017; Reuters, “UPDATE 3-U.S. allies show support for strikes on Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[21] John Davidson, “In divided Syria, U.S. strike both welcomed and condemned,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Asharq Al-Awsat English, “Syria: Khan Sheikhun Families Grateful for US Strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Hamin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017.

[22] Reuters, “Syrian government sets terms for any inquiry into gas attack,” Apr. 6, 2017.

[23] KCNA, “Reply Message to Kim Jong Un from Syrian President,” Apr. 8, 2017; Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, “North Korea calls U.S. strikes on Syria ‘unforgivable’,” Reuters, Apr 8, 2017.

[24] Associated Press, “The Latest: Syrians protest outside UN office in Damascus,” Apr. 8, 2017; Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again,” CNN, Apr. 8, 2017.

 

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Has The U$ Corporate Media Become “Adversarial”?

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 21, 2017.

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

Editor’s note: Originally posted on CounterCurrents on February 18 but I did not find it until yesterday. The aspects in the article were compiled on February 17, I believe, so some of the stories cited are dated, but the ideas of the post are still valid. There actually were mentions of the orange menace’s use of the term “legendary warriors” in the Washington Post, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner, but only the latter actually interpreted his remarks, saying that he was talking about “U.S. special operation commandos.” The names of the current president have been changed to the following term: “the orange menace” or a close variation in this printed version.

With the  orange menace’s claims of the “dishonest media” and “fake news” at his recent press conference, and liberals defending the corporate media as a “watchdog,” the reality of the situation is hard to determine. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines adversarial as “of or characterized by opposition, disagreement, hostility” and watchdog as “a person or group that keeps watch to prevent waste, unethical practices.” Using those definitions, I looked at the U$ corporate media garnering the most praise by liberals currently, apart from any Fox affiliate which is pro-orange menace.

I look at CNN’s website, and there are stories about the orange menace’s recent press conference, ousted National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, the orange menace issuing a new immigration order, the border wall, a “Russian spy ship” off Connecticut, and the liberal sketch comedy show, SNL. As I look at MSNBC’s website, it isn’t much different. Other than obviously promoting their TV shows, the stories range from the orange menace’s admission to a wrong claim about the Electoral College, why Kellyanne Conway isn’t booked on Morning Joe, an interview with Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Netanyahu on the two-state solution. Other stories include Chuck Todd declaring that the orange menace has an “anti-media” stance, an interview with Rep. Seth Moulton saying that the orange menace is a “serial liar,” a GOP senator defending the orange menace Congress removing a Obama gun law, resistance against the orange menace’s deportations, and Susan Sarandon on the orange menace. NBC News has a similar feel. There are stories about Mike Flynn, the orange menace’s Muslim immigration ban, the orange menace’s EPA pick Scott Pruitt, ICE startling lawmakers, the Congressional Black Caucus, anti-Muslim groups, “the Russians” according to U$ officials, immigrants in the U$, and the orange menace’s new labor pick, Alexander Acosta. Additionally, a number of MSNBC stories are reprinted on NBC News’s website.

CBS News and ABC News aren’t any better. CBS News has a story on the orange menace’s “achievements,” the orange menace’s lie about Electoral College numbers, Mattis speaking with Russian counterparts, Flynn’s replacement turning down the job, the orange menace asking a black reporter about the Congressional Black Caucus, and the orange menace blaming the media for the Flynn firing. Stories also focus on the pro-immigrant protest across the country, “Day Without Immigrants,” Elijah Cummings wanting to meet the orange menace, the orange menace overturning a coal mining debris law, Nikki Haley on the two state solution, and the Russian “spy ship.” As for Disney-owned ABC News, the stories are about the same. They focus on the orange menace’s recent press conference, a new immigration order to be issued by the orange menace, the “Russian spy ship,” Acosta’s nomination by the orange menace, rise of hate groups across the country, undocumented immigrants, the “Day Without Immigrants,” Russian spies and the White House, and the orange menace’s “battle with the press,” Other stories include the vital role of immigrants in the U$ economy and the House GOP considering an investigation into leaks which discredited Flynn.

The Washington Post and New York Times might be seen as reputable by some but looking at their stories, this is thrown into question. The Post has stories about Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador, Flynn’s replacement turning down the offer, the orange menace’s family lifestyle, the orange menace’s recent news conference, federal immigration raids, EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, House GOP plan to eliminate Obamacare, and possible review of US intelligence agencies discarded. Other stories focus on depleted uranium used by the Pentagon, ICE detention, and many more. The New York Times, often called “The Grey Lady,” now days, is not any better. Its top stories include the orange menace’s recent press conference, the 2 state solution, the orange menace’s new pick for labor secretary, Flynn’s replacement turns down the job, EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, and GOP plan to replace Obamacare. Other articles focus on powers of border agents, claims of a “deep state” in the US, the “Day Without Immigrants,” bookstores resisting the orange menace and a number of other subjects.

All in all, none of these stories fulfill the “adversarial” or “watchdog” role the corporate media is claimed to have. The orange menace thinks that the media is “too tough” on him, which a third of Americans agree with, however, the media’s realm of criticism covers very small area. For one, the corporate media has not challenged the orange menace on his obfuscation over Afghanistan. The orange menace recently, in a call with Afghani President Ashraf Ghani, seemed to advocate a continuation of the war, by pledging to continue to implement the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed in 2012. The agreement declares that Afghanistan is a “NATO ally” and that US forces will be in the country until 2024 in order to fight “al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” among other aspects. By advocating for the continuation of this agreement, the orange menace is also supporting, by extension, the Bilateral Security Agreement, signed in 2013. This agreement, in force until 2024, declares that U$ military operations “to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism,” allows U$ forces to control certain facilities and areas within the country, frees U$ vehicles, vessels, and airplanes from “inspection, regulation, or registration requirements,” exempts U$ military contractors from certain requirements, and exempts U$ forces from paying taxes or other charges, to name a few aspects.

There were no stories challenging the orange menace’s views of Iran, Cuba, or Venezuela, largely because the media agrees with them, as those countries are seen as “enemies” of the empire. Of course there were no stories on the orange menace’s endorsement of Special Forces across the world. Earlier this month he called them “legendary warriors” engaged in the “most secret, sensitive and daring missions,” showing that the golden age of the “gray zone,” started under Obama, will continue. There were also no stories, except in progressive media, about the implications of the orange menace’s pro-cop and anti-Black Lives Matter executive orders.

While it is right to call out the orange menace’s lies, deceptions, and deceit, the corporate media is largely ignoring many of his policy maneuvers. Instead, it is better to engage in solidarity with countries under attack by U$ imperialism and resist the orange menace’s fascist moves, especially when it comes to anti-immigrant and pro-cop measures, but not get caught up in the supposed the orange menace-Russia “connection.”

The orange menace and the “Ruskies”

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 16, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made, such as in word choice, but generally it is the same. I removed a line at the end being “if there is a pro-Russian direction by the orange menace’s government, this would be positive for the world and possibly reduce conflict, even if it is hard to maintain that posture with attacks from Russophobes” as I no longer agree with it due to deeper criticism of Russia itself.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Oriental Review under the title “Trump and the “Ruskies”” and has been reprinted here for the subscribers to this blog’s email list. It also includes the original first link instead of to Vox, in the official article on Oriental Review, a link to which I did not originally intend even though I understand the reason for including it rather than a link to Wikipedia. There have been some developments (including this and this) since I wrote this yesterday but many of its conclusions still ring true. All mentions of the current president’s name have been changed to the orange menace in this printed version.

Recent days in U$ politics almost seem like a plot out of a Hollyweird movie, except that they are happening and have real consequences. After Gen. Mike Flynn was ousted from his post as National Security Advisor, for daring to speak to the Russians, possibly about sanctions, but also possibly not, tensions by Russophobic politicians and compliant corporate media have heightened.

The question worth answering is: how “pro-Russia” is the orange menace’s administration?

Throughout the recent presidential campaign in the United States, Hillary Clinton and her lackeys accused the orange menace of being “Putin’s puppet.” It is worth remembering that Clinton was making such accusations back in 2014, claiming that there were “phony environmental groups…funded by the Russians” that opposed fracking, a claim often made by those in the oil & gas industry. There’s no doubt that during the campaign the orange menace had a more moderate tone toward Russia than establishment Democrats or Republicans by far, with cries of “impeachment” in the present, as some Democrats clap at the “scandal” the orange menace’s administration is facing.

While Tillerson and Dunford are meeting with their Russian counterparts, relatively little has changed from the Obama Administration. For one, the orange menace’s administration has declared, through Nikki Haley, and Sean Spicer, that Russia has to “return” Crimea to Ukraine and reduce violence in the country for sanctions to be removed. The Russians have rightly rejected this ridiculousness. If the orange menace was really “pro-Russia” he would have removed the U$ military troops near Russia’s borders and engaged in more efforts to remove the sanctions. Clearly, the same policies of the Obama Administration on Russia are being continued under the orange menace’s watch.

The national security establishment, often called the “intelligence community,” has been directly supported by Russophobic Democrats who declare their allegiance, claiming what these spooks are saying is 100% true. Clearly, they don’t remember their history and are making the orange menace-Russia connection the new “conspiracy theory” of liberals, almost discrediting the Democratic Party wholesale. These same people, along with Russophobic Republicans, have a bill in Congress proposing a review of possible efforts by the orange menace’s administration to ease sanctions on Russia, are declaring that the administration engaged in a “cover-up,” and are uniting around an investigative probe to “discover” any Russian connections in the new Administration, which might not even happen anyway.

The corporate complaint media has also played up the “Russia threat,” peddling the claims of a magical “Russian spy ship” off Connecticut, while they twiddle their thumbs about “what happened” during the phone call between General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Other outlets have been more perceptive. The Chicago Tribune and The Atlantic had columns saying his ouster by the orange menace has been a victory for the “deep state,” which is more accurately called the national security establishment. Even the arch-conservative National Review called for Flynn’s conversation, captured by the FBI and NSA, to be released in full.

Taking this all into account, with every day, there is less and less of a possibility that the orange menace will lessen tension with Russia. For one, the “establishment coup” to oust Flynn was pushed by same spying machine he helped create, making it valid for he orange menace to directly blame them for the result. Apart from the arguments that “the Left” needs meaningful critiques of the orange menace and that Flynn had a mind for “conspiracy thinking,” Flynn’s resignation will likely have a negative effect on the possibility of “Russian detente” by the orange menace’s administration.

Some may counter these determinations by noting that the orange menace has taken a “positive” tone toward Putin since he has been in office. They might exclaim that when, in his recent interview with Bill O’Reilly, the orange menace said that Putin was reasonable and “glossed” over the idea that he was a “killer” by saying that the empire has made mistakes, shows his “loyalty” to the Russians. This is completely bunk. For one, the orange menace’s administration is taking a strong anti-Iran and pro-Zionist position, which fundamentally hurts Russian interests. This position could even result in the war with Iran, despite the fact that Flynn’s ouster is good news for Iran, since he was outspoken in condemning the “terrorist” acts of that country’s government. The real acts of terror were by tens of thousands of U$ bombs dropped on Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan last year, along with Special Forces in areas across 70% of the world, people whom the orange menace has called “legendary warriors” fighting in far off places against “radical Islamists.” To Iran’s credit, it is resisting the aggressive moves of the orange menace’s administration, deriding them as uncalled for.

Regardless of what Flynn was fired for, whether it was lack of trust or something else, there is no doubt that the efforts of the Russophobes within the national security establishment and within the Democratic and Republican political parties will intensify their efforts in the coming days. It’s almost like they think the Soviet Union has “returned” like in Simpsons Tide, a 1998 episode of The Simpsons, when the Russians had deceived the U$ to think that the Soviet Union had disappeared.

Perhaps more accurately, the present political conundrum, resembles the 1964 British political satire Dr. Strangelove. The Russophobes are like General Gen. “Buck” Tergidson, only differing in degree from out-of-his-mind jingoist Gen. Jack D. Ripper who wants a nuclear war with Russia no matter the cost, who claims that the Communists are tricking the President, saying that they “will clobber us!” The orange menace’s administration is like President Merkin Muffley, who tries to take a more balanced, cool-headed approach to Russia until it is evident, that war cannot be avoided.

As we stand now, we are at the crossroads, with the future of the world in the balance. As long as the orange menace’s administration takes a strong stand against Iran, Venezuela, and the DPRK, a multipolar world is threatened. What happens next is up to us, the people of the world.

The orange menace’s strategy to fight Daesh: more imperialism?

This comes from a recent article by Whitney in CounterPunch.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 8, 2017.

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

While the bourgeois media is focused on the orange menace’s racist immigration ban, something has been missed by these complaint media outlets. I’m not talking about the five-year lobbying ban (which may not be fully enforced) or the negotiating with Big Pharma, the pharmaceutical bourgeoisie, to “bring down” drug prices (which just seems like an elaborate nothingness) but rather the long-awaited strategy of the orange menace to fight Daesh which has “arrived” on our doorstep.

A memorandum, published on January 28, declares a “Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Apart from the preamble which paints Daesh as a horrid, brutalist, and barbarian organization, the short memo says that “it is the policy of the United States that ISIS be defeated” (section 1) with the policy coordination, review, guidance, and other aspects of this memo described elsewhere (section 2). The document referenced in section 2 is one issued the same day, a document that reshuffles the organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. It declares that the National Security Advisor and Homeland Security Advisor will determine the agenda of each of these committees, headed by the orange menace (or Pence in his place), with regular attendees including the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, State, and Treasury, the Attorney General, and U$ Ambassador to the United Nations, along with allowing, depending on the issue at hand, the Secretary of Commerce, U$ Trade Representative, and National Intelligence Director Without getting into any more detail, this memo could be said to engage in a major overhaul of the upper echelons of the National Security apparatus in the U$.

The document outlining the anti-Daesh “Plan” goes on, saying that a “new plan to defeat ISIS (the Plan)” will be developed “immediately” with the Secretary of Defense writing a draft. This draft will be, within a month, submitted to the orange menace, comprising “a comprehensive strategy and plans for the defeat of ISIS…recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions…public diplomacy, information operations, and cyber strategies to isolate and delegitimize ISIS…identification of new coalition partners in the fight against ISIS…mechanisms to cut off or seize ISIS’s financial support…[and] a detailed strategy to robustly fund the Plan.” The memo ends by saying that the Secretaries of Defense, State, Treasury, and Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence (DIA), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor, and Homeland Security Advisor, will develop the plan, compiling all the relevant information, and seeking any further information from “any appropriate source,” likely even right-wing and bigoted ones.

The two memos issued on January 28 don’t exactly outline the actions that the orange menace’s administration to “fight ISIS,” only proposing possible avenues. One way to tell how the policy will unfold in the coming months is to look at who will be developing the plan: Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, DIA Dan Coats, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. If Mnuchin, Bosser, and Coats are confirmed, working with Tillerson and others, then the policy will involve working with NATO, working with regional U$ imperial proxy states like Jordan, and continued support for the Saudi bombing in Yemen. Beyond this, the formulated policy would likely include a push for more markets, “ground troops” in countries like Syria, striking at “Islamist terrorism” with Islamophobic policy, and a continued war in Afghanistan. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story.

Recent actions shine a light on how the possible strategy will unfold. Raids by U$ special forces will continue as part of national policy, along with drone strikes, to fight Daesh and any group deemed as “radical Islamic terrorists,” the new code words for the “enemy” in this era. While some thought that the recent raid in Yemen, which the orange menace’s administration justified even though dozens of civilians were killed, including young children, would result in the government there stopping such strikes, this does not seem to be the case at all. Such raids may even bolster Al-Qaeda, though in saying this one should not be caught in the idea of “blowback” which many bourgeois progressives use as a reason for why the bombing is “bad.” Simply, the orange menace has revealed himself to be a war criminal, there’s no other way to put it.

As Nick Turse wrote on January 5, on the eve of the orange menace’s administration, we live in, as a result of the Obama presidency, a “gray zone,” a time when there is a “murky twilight between war and peace,” a time when elite troops were deployed in 138 countries across the world last year, with deployments across the African continent and ringing revisionist China, capitalist Russia, and Iran. For what we know so far, especially from his recent speech in which he called SOCOM’s troops “legendary warriors” who engage in “the most secret, sensitive and daring missions in defense of the United States of America” with no enemy standing “a chance against our Special Forces — not even a chance.” Additionally, it seems evident that this horrid reality, coupled with private mercenaries for hire, will continue full force under the orange menace’s watch.

In terms of seeking “new coalition partners” to fight Daesh, there is a possibility these new partners would include Russia or maybe even Syria, the army of which is advancing in their fight against Western-backed terrorists. However, cooperation with Syria may be too optimistic since “safe zones” still seem to be on the mind of the orange menace. A Reuters report, on January 29, said that the orange menace and King Salaman of Saudi Arabia agreed to mutually “agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen,” purportedly for refugees. As anyone with sense knows, this is just a dressed up version of no-fly-zones and expanded U$ imperialism in the Syrian Arab Republic. In terms of safe zones in Yemen, this implies continued U$ support for the Saudi aggression in Yemen, which has, already, killed over 11,000 people, and destroyed much of the country, including its vital infrastructure. There is no doubt that the orange menace’s administration will ally with Gulf autocracies such as the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar, along with Yemen of course.

In the same Reuters report, it says that the White House agreed to work with Saudi Arabia to counter “Iran’s destabilizing regional activities” and debating if the Muslim Brotherhood should be deemed a terrorist organization by the U$, then subject to sanctions. Clearly, on the issue of Iran, fundamentally little will change from Obama under the orange menace’s administration. Sure, the agreement on Iran’s non-existent nuclear program will go away and Western mega-corporations will lose out on the “new” market in Iran, but the aggressive feelings of the United States toward the Islamic Republic will not go away. This much was indicated when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, in a “muscular” response, declared that recent Iranian actions “underscore…Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” saying that the missile launch violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, claimed that the Iranians backed the Houthi forces in Yemen, and said that the Obama Administration was “weak and ineffective” in responding to “Tehran’s malign actions” but that the orange menace’s administration will condemn “such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk,” with this stance meaning that they are “officially putting Iran on notice.”

After the recent immigration ban, under which the orange menace gave the Saudis a free pass, which will likely harm the U$, there have been calls to ban Americans from Iran, which will lead to continued aggression of an imperial nature. This also means that Saudi funding of terrorists in Syria (and across the region) may also get a pass, which would show the continuation of policy from Obama to the orange menace. Additionally, it seems very evident that war may be in the cards, with the orange menace directly threatening Iran, and possible war with Iran in the cards.

Other articles recent add to this, noting that more threats and sanctions (also see here) are being used against Iran by the United States (which could inflame the region), with the orange menace’s administration wanting to contain Iran, with capitalist Russia (and revisionist China for that matter) standing on the side of Iran in this war of words and actions. Iran is also preparing itself for self-defense if need be with new military equipment and other measures (also see here) while the orange menace’s cabinet pick paid by MKO terrorists, Iran stands against partition of Iraq, and Iranian army commanders seeing the threats as nonsense, as they defy the U$ to the best of their ability.

It is worth quoting what Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said in a recent speech:

“The new U.S. president says Iran should thank Obama! Why?! Should we thank him for creating ISIS, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, or the blatant support for the 2009 sedition in Iran? He was the president who imposed paralyzing sanctions on the Iranian nation; of course, he did not achieve what he desired. No enemy can ever paralyze the Iranian nation…Trump says fear me! No. The Iranian nation…will show others what kind of stance the nation of Iran takes when threatened. We actually thank this new president [Trump]! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections. Now, with everything he is doing—handcuffing a child as young as 5 at an airport—he is showing the reality of American human rights. The incident of the February 8, 1979 [referring to the day that the Army Air Force began its allegiance with Imam Khomeini (Homafaran Allegiance) and about the final days of the Iranian revolution] was unexpected for the regime and a blessing from God we were not counting upon. An unexpected provision should be hoped for in anything that the believing front does: it is true that logical and material calculations are necessary, but sometimes we should open up to counting on the supernatural too…if we use wisdom and prudence along with trusting the Satan, the result will be a mirage. In any matter, including diplomacy and the country’s problems it is true that trusting demons and the materialistic power, which oppose your essence, leads to a mirage.”

James Petras, a Marxist who seems to take the side of the orange menace (which is an oxymoron in and of itself), even said, in a recent piece, that the orange menac will continue the murderous reign of the empire. While he praised the orange menace for his seeming “protectionism” and certain “critiques,” Petras admitted that the orange menace ignores “the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran” and has proposed to “re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain” possibly to placate the Zionist state, and then said that “Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes.” Petras, who describes the orange menace as a “market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and…losing economic proposition for the US” who views “Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally” and sees revisionist China as a “powerful economic competitor,” said that the orange menace is a “capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist.” Still, he seems unsure about what will happen next in his administration.

Of course, Petras is not seeing through the smoke of “economic nationalism” of the orange menace, which is tied with his anti-worker nature and racist imperialism. While there is no doubt that the orange menace is different from Obama in his actions or behavior, on US imperial foreign policy, to say the least, it is clear that the orange will support the Zionist project and US imperialism worldwide in his own patented way, even if that includes playing both sides of the “anti-ISIS war.” Hence, all of the orange menace’s “critiques” of elites are worthless junk not worth paying attention to since he will benefit the capitalist elites, already infusing his advisors with Goldman Sachs, engaging in a “globalism of the 1%” which supports empire and buttressing Islamophobia, making it national policy. Of course, he will also not oppose continued militarization of the country (and world) and expansion of the security apparatus, coupled with mass surveillance. Hence, it is accurate to describe the orange menace as a president who has “openly exhibited racist, nativist, sexist, arch-authoritarian, police-statist, Islamophobic, pro-torture, and even neo-fascist sentiments and values.”

Where the murderous empire goes next is clear. While countries like the Philippines are plying the double game by claiming to resist the U$ but also crack down on communist forces and allow U$ troops in the country, revisionist China is rising more so on the world stage. The latter will hopefully pose as a possible counter to the horrid (and racist) imperialism that will spew out of the orange menace’s administration like left over trash falling out of a garbage truck, policies that leave destruction in their wake.Perhaps Chinese media has a point in saying that “the court,” “the media,” “the public,” “domestic and international politics,” and the “economy” could  keep the orange menace in check, but they might be believing too much in those elements.

Those who think that the orange menace will change U$ policy, be anti-interventionist, or end the slew of wars, are dead wrong. As he declared in a speech just a couple of days ago, he said, following typical dogma, said that the U$ military is “fighting for our security and freedom,” while also saying that “defense of our nation” is important to him, at least in his mind, that the military will never be “forgotten” by the orange menace’s administration (i.e. it will get more money), and that the U$ strongly supports NATO. In his speech, he declared that SOCOM and Central Command will be the “very center of out fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” saying that more focus will be placed not only on Central Asia, the Middle East, and Egypt, but across the world. He also declared to the “forces of destruction” by which he means Daesh, Al Qaeda, and “associated forces,” that “America and its allies will defeat you.  We will defeat them,” while saying, as typical militaristic boilerplate, but also showing his loyalty to the war machine, that the “men and women of the United States military provide the strength to bring peace to our troubled, troubled times.”

It seems obvious that the military will expand, with the orange menace acting as a bully for Western capitalists to gain new markets, using his “twitter diplomacy” and imperial might, along with other “tools” at his disposal. Cuba and the DPRK will remain under imperialist assault as will Zimbabwe and Venezuela. In the end, one must cast off any illusions about the orange menace, recognizing his racist and imperialist nature, while rejecting the arguments of bourgeois liberals and progressives who do not challenge the fundamental nature of the murderous empire.

“Our country is in deep trouble”: the orange menace’s fast-moving repression

Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid orange menace of course.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Jan 29, 2017.

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

In November 2015, in a campaign ad, the orange menace declared that “our country is in deep trouble because let’s face it: politics are all talk and no action…I don’t disappoint people, I produce.” These same words can easily (and reflexively) apply to his presidency at the present, only nine days old at the writing of this article. I could have added more analysis here, but I think this is a good stab at what has happened so far. This is basically almost like a stream of consciousness, so pardon me if I missed something along the way.

Before January 20

In order to recognize the reality, it is best to provide some context, which goes beyond the likely policies of his administration or Obama’s legacy. Frank Newport, the CEO of Gallup, one of the firms that publishes polls for the interest of PR peoples across the United States, not the general populace of course, declared on December 20 that

“the U.S. president is the CEO of the government…the government will soon become President-elect Donald Trump’s biggest responsibility. This is no minor challenge…Trump has appointed high-level business and military executives to his Cabinet posts, individuals who presumably have experience in making large organizations work well. Only time will tell how effective they can be in using this expertise to affect the operations of massive federal bureaucracies…Trump’s most important governmental challenge, in my view, will be dealing with the public’s basic lack of confidence in the men and women they elect and send to Washington to represent them…Trump’s best course of action may be to move in a positive direction — attempting to work with Congress, cooperating in a rational way, getting things done and in general helping convince Americans that the legislative branch can actually work.”

Not surprisingly, Newport does not expand on this analogy whatsoever. If the President of the United States is the CEO of the government, then the board of directors is the capitalist class, not just Wall Street, and the “people” of the United States are the shareholders, who really don’t have a vote or voice unless they hold a large amount of shares (i.e. big campaign contributors). Hence, the orange menace, or any president, is managing the affairs of the country for the capitalist elite, not engaging in his own policy. While the capitalist class would have preferred Killary of course, they can adapt and work with the orange menace easily.

The orange menace’s management of the country won’t be easy in the sense that he could incur popular resentment. As another Gallup poll earlier this year noted, while most of those in the U$ think that “the country is on the wrong track,” there are also divisions between views of former Clinton and the orange menace’s backers, but there is also agreement on high healthcare costs, the “threat” of Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons, worries of loss of U$ world leadership, that the US should be the “world’s top military power,” opposition to “building a wall along the border with Mexico,” favoring legalization of marijuana, “favoring the death penalty,” critical of more gun control measures, and even agreement on gay marriage. Still, public opinion can be manipulated no doubt, even if he doesn’t “like tweeting” or the differing sources of election news for the orange menace and Clinton voters, so he may have no trouble after all.

In the days before the orange menace’s inauguration, an event which is a spectacle for every President, Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy (despite the fact that his legacy is actually atrocious), he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders. [1] Of course, many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic as it did not challenge or undermine the reality of mass incarceration in the United States as a whole but instead contributed to an image of Obama as a “hero” or “savior.” It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, the orange menace likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life, with the head of the military, Ash Carter opposing this move from what I’ve read.

As the days toward inauguration neared, the signs of “change” became clear. Fewer people said they would watch the orange menace’s inauguration, with lower numbers likely coming from distraught bourgeois liberals and progressives along with those angry at the U$ capitalist system, and more than before, people said they were satisfied with immigration levels into the US which actually may not be a bad thing. And finally, a report was released saying that the orange menace and his team were aiming for dramatic cuts in the Departments of State, Justice, and Education, along with other social programs while growing the budget of the Pentagon. Not only does this show that those who thought that the orange menace was non-interventionist, like the libertarian goofs at Antiwar.com, are wrong, but it shows that he is playing a key role in the coming years of capitalism in the United States. Such a report indicates that cuts on social spending will increase, aggressive imperial posturing (and wars) will spike, and the proletariat will suffer.

In order to indicate the events of the orange menace’s administration so far, it is best to break down the events day by day since the orange menace is acting very quickly indeed.

Day One: January 20

On the day of his inauguration, the orange menace made a speech written by two of his closest advisors: white supremacist (and bigot) Steve Bannon and anti-immigrant political operative Stephen Miller, which set a tone for dark days ahead. On the streets, some were rightfully restless, with smashing of windows “of a Starbucks and Bank of America in Washington, DC.” [2] While some may criticize these actions as counter-productive or that we should be “peaceful,” it is clear that they are a justified form of resistance in a society that values capitalist property so highly.

With the media focusing on that, they clearly passed over the orange menace’s first executive order, which targeted Obamacare, in preparation for legislation to ultimately repeal it. While the law is absolutely horrid, leading to a growth of underinsurance in the United States which had not been there before and benefits pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, the GOP replacement for this law will make conditions worse. Of course, Democrats are not pushing for universal healthcare at this stage but instead are clinging to their sacred cow of Obamacare.

Also, the same day, the U$ Senate pushed through three of the orange menace’s appointees. One of them was only approved to go forward, while John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security and James Mattis for “Defense” Secretary were passed with overwhelming supermajorities, indicating yet again that the Democrats are not an opposition party, but are easily falling in line.

There is one more aspect to note about the events of January 20. On that day, Rex Tillerson, the orange menace’s nominee for Secretary of State, was interviewed by a site which declares that “the tendency to view Latin America and the Caribbean in isolation of world policy and under the shadow of U.S. hegemony is anachronistic,” as noted by Libya 360 a few days later. In the interview, with the imperialist news outlet almost handing him the answers, Tillerson declared that the U$ would continue cooperating with Mexico on “important issues of common interest,” endorsed the imperialistic Plan Colombia, thought that a “calamity that has befallen Venezuela” as a product of “its incompetent and dysfunctional government-first under Hugo Chavez, and…Nicolas Maduro,” arguing that there should be a “negotiated transition to democratic rule in Venezuela.” This not only gives an indication of continuation of U$-backed coups in the region but a continuation of U$ policy. Beyond this, Tillerson said that he would “denounce the Maduro government’s undemocratic practices,” engage with Cuba but “reform of its oppressive regime” by supporting supposed “human rights defenders and democracy activists,” promote TV and Radio Marti, work to extradite Assata Shakur to the U$, try to “mobilize international support to share the burden of U.S. assistance for Haiti,” and enforce “all congressionally-mandated sanctions including the measures in the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act of 2016,” along with much more.

Five days before, one article in the bourgeois liberal Huffington Post, written by those who want to privatize state organs in Venezuela, argued that Tillerson had a troubled relationship with the country. [3] They wrote that “ExxonMobil’s history in Venezuela starts in 1921,” that Venezuela’s ties to the company were “severed in 1976, when president Carlos Andres Pérez sought to nationalise the oil industry” and were “reestablished in the 1990s” but then ended in 2007 when Hugo Chavez re-nationalized “the oil business” under the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA. The article went on to say that ExxonMobil, then under Tillerson’s leadership (since the year before), won an arbitration decision by the World Bank to “compensate ExxonMobil $US1.6 billion” and that when “ExxonMobil launched oil operations off the coast of neighbouring Guyana,” the Venezuelan government not surprisingly, and rightly so, accused the horrid oil company of “trying to destabilise the region by siding with Guyana.” The article ends by saying that while “Tillerson and ExxonMobil have been against economic sanctions as international policy,” the current relationship with Venezuela could lead to increased sanctions, maybe even including “severing diplomatic relations or suspending or significantly reducing Venezuelan oil purchases” but that another possibility is that Tillerson would “compel Venezuela to honour its international financial commitments” and privatize its oil (and other) “unproductive industries” (in the minds of the writers).

Day Two: January 21

On this day, the second day of the orange menace’s administration, the opposition began to come to more fruition, giving hope for the future, maybe (unlikely though). There were clearly mixed ideologies among the millions joining women’s marches that day, but of course, anti-imperialism from the marchers was absent. Some may be right that such marches were “a watershed mark in American activist history” and that “the list of speakers was impressive and widely divergent” but that “tone and militancy of marches in other areas were mixed.” However, I think, it had more problems that and was almost a “Farce on Washington” like the famed 1963 March on Washington, as Malcolm X put it, with saying that everyone should be “nonviolent” not defending themselves with force. I think there could be some change and the movement could separate from the Democrats, I also think it will dissipate and not go on an independent path. But we’ll see.

The same day, apart from an article showing how connected the Obama Foundation was to the capitalist class, the orange menace gave a speech to the spooks at the CIA. In a speech which was first reprinted by the UK tabloid, The Daily Mirror, was boastful but also telling on what the orange menace won’t change. In the speech, which of course was praised by the orange menace himself and by CIA apologist David Ignatius, calling the CIA “very, very special people,” saying that “we have to get rid of ISIS.  Have to get rid of ISIS.  We have no choice,” praising his team, while saying that the Senate will get through all the intelligence and military appointments “through, but some will take a little bit longer than others.” There’s need to even quote anything else in the speech other than noting that the orange menace being arrogant while praising the military and CIA as “important” and “special,” not changing their current role in the imperial structure of the United States, saying that he is behind the CIA “1,000 percent” and that he respects them. The fact that his first real speech, was to the CIA, apart from the inaugural speech which is usually worthless listening to or reading in any way, shape or form, is significant and should be noted.

Day Three: January 22

On the same day that hundreds protested in Northern Italy against an U$ military base, media in East Asia decried the “isolationist” nature of the orange menace, fearing possible diplomatic turmoil. Such concerns, of course, are not unfounded due to the increasing aggression the orange menace’s administration has shown to revisionist China as I noted in my post about his “diplomacy” late last year. On this day, the libertarian Antiwar.com folks declared that there had been the first U$ drone strikes under the orange menace. This was also confirmed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which has noted four confirmed drone strikes, some engaged in even without Presidential approval. Further strikes were noted on January 25 and numerous days before. So the global assassination program is not ending, clearly. Yet another set of powers that Obama literally handed to the orange menace.

The same day, the orange menace had a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing extremist who rules the murderous (and Zionist) state. They spoke on “ways to advance and strengthen the U.S.-Israel special relationship, and security and stability in the Middle East,” including consulting “on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran” and promising Netanyahu that the US will have an “unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security.” Of course, Netanyahu would praise the orange menace’s push for a border wall, as both him and the orange menace are engaging in racist policy as right-wing reactionaries. [4] It is worth considering the horrid settlements the orange menace is supporting in the “West Bank,” a region given that name because is is west of the Jordan River, claimed previously by the state of Jordan.

Day Four: January 23

On this day of the orange menace’s administration, he fulfilled one of his key promises during the presidential campaign. He issued a memorandum which withdrew the US from TPP. While some complained that “foes of war should rejoice and congratulate Trump” but didn’t do so, this seems silly because to “give credit where credit is due,” it is better to thank the grassroots movement and numerous individuals across the spectrum against the deal which the orange menace was responding to, rather than thanking the orange menace for killing the agreement. There is no doubt there was “imperial aspects of the TPP” but this aspect has been replaced by aggressiveness toward revisionist China. While Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary has been more cautious and less hawkish than Tillerson who outwardly pushed for imperialism, he did say that “The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there [in the South China Sea]. It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.” [5] Some have noting that Tillerson and Spicer’s comments imply U$ military action or a naval blockade against “China’s growing naval fleets would risk dangerous escalation.” [6]

Beyond this imperial aggressiveness, the orange menace enforced his ideological supporters. He restricted abortions, with more official sanction to “pro-life,” more accurately anti-abortion sentiment, than before. The same day, the orange menace ended the mortgage rate cuts, which the National Realtors Association was not happy about whatsoever, saying it will hurt homeowners. If that wasn’t enough, the U$ Senate approved another one of the orange menace’s nominees 66-32-1, Mike Pompeo, to be the head of the CIA. As a reminder, Pompeo supports NSA surveillance, opposes the current “Iran deal,” wants the CIA’s “black site” prisons to come back, and wants the Guantanamo Prison to stay open.

The only other news that day was about the orange menace’s approval rating, mainly. Some sources said that he had a low approval rating coming into office, while others noting that the orange menace’s positions broadly do not “resonate with majority public opinion on a number of his most visible policy and issue positions” except in his “direct attack on the federal government itself.” Another worthwhile poll is a Pew Research Center survey finding that “65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy sources” while only 27% “would emphasize expanded production of fossil fuel sources.” Other than this, some wondered, considering the orange menace’s focus on Cuba and Mexico, how much of Obama’s “soft” coups that the orange menace’s admin will continue. It is also worth mentioning the orange menace’s other memorandums that day and staying the course with military appointments.

Day Five: January 24

On this day, the orange menace’s administration took a hard stand against environmentalism. Apart from a memorandum “streamlining regulations,” the orange menace passed memos that approved the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for now, declaring that TransCanada can resubmit its application to the Keystone XL pipeline, and declaring that all new pipelines have to use materials from within the United States. The memo on DAPL received the most attention, with some saying that it clearly benefits capitalists who funded him and others saying that it violates indigenous law. As for the Keystone XL pipeline which is barreling ahead more than under Obama’s deceptive “rejection” of it, seemingly under pressure from the environmental movement and bourgeois environmentalists, resubmitted its application for the pipeline which is likely to be approved.

Beyond orange menace’s pro-business and anti-environmental moves, he reinforced imperial inter-relationships. In a readout of a call with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, the orange menace declared that “the United States considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world” and continued this imperialistic relationship, obviously as a way to ensure “security in the region of South and Central Asia” which means countering the influence of revisionist China in the region, while maintaining the sphere of influence of the murderous U$ empire. Also on the foreign policy front, Nikki Haley was confirmed by the US Senate in a 96-4 vote in which only four senators voted against, showing once again the milquetoast nature of the Democratic Party in relation to the orange menace.

On another topic entirely, the orange menace reinforced his ideological supporters and economic nationalism (some of which is likely a put on). He met with big automakers, from General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, telling them to create factories in the U$ and saying he would change environmental regulations to make them more business-friendly. [7] Interestingly, “foreign automakers such as Toyota and Honda were not invited” which may indicate where his interests lie and which companies will be benefited by corporate subsidies and which will not in the years to come. In terms of ideological supporters, the orange menace’s administration declared support for a bill to end federal funding to abortion completely. It is worth noting that Obama supported abstinence-only education in Africa up to at least 2013, if not later. [8]

Day Six: January 25

The repression of the orange menace’s administration began to show even quicker than it did under Obama, of course. In one executive order, it was declared that it would be administration policy to crack down on sanctuary cities (called “sanctuary jurisdictions” in the order) for undocumented immigrants, that such immigrants would have to be removed, and that 10,000 new immigration officers would need to be hired. The order also put sanctions on individuals from numerous countries and, to continue the racist, anti-immigrant measures, an office on immigrant crimes was established, tasked with producing quarterly reports on “the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States,” along with engaging in surveillance and data gathering on immigrants.

To give even more specifics of the order, in section 12, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State work together to implement sanctions, with the Secretary of State specifically ensuring that “diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.” Like his other executive orders, the specifics are shrouded in legalistic language. The specific provision of law, available here and here  says that the Attorney General is the person who determines that if an “alien who is a citizen, subject, national, or resident” of a certain country is banned, with the Secretary of State ordering “consular officers in that foreign country to discontinue granting immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas, or both, to citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country” until the Attorney General let the Secretary know if “the country has accepted the alien.” Basically, this implies that such refugees or immigrants would be detention until they can be fully deported.

This executive order was only the beginning. The same day the orange menace declared that the US-Mexico border wall will be built, he declared that sanctuary cities would be stripped of funding. The same day, the New York Times claimed that “Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen” were listed in draft executive order, but the exact law cited, which was Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, only lists the Iraq and Syria, along with “any other country or area of concern.” [9] Clearly, this means that this draft would only apply to Iraq and Syria, meaning that mentioning Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen is just guesswork.

It is worth also mentioning that the draft of the order, apart from obvious “Muslim Ban,” as it is accurately called, creates “safe zones” in Syria. However, considering this was not on the final order, which will be noted later in this article, but it is in consideration. This means that “safe zones” which are obviously just code for a no-fly-zone and increased U$ imperialist intervention in Syria are under consideration by those in the highest parts of the orange menace’s administration. This is not a good sign and it would not be a surprise if something like the “safe zones” surfaces again at some point.

Even more disturbing is the draft executive order of the orange menace to review the use of CIA “black prisons” overseas. [10] The order declares that the U$  needs “critical intelligence” on “developing threats” and that it was wrong for Obama to push for civilian trials for those at Gitmo. Even more than that, it says that the push to “close” it should end, military commissions should return, and Gitmo should remain open. If that isn’t enough, the order complains that the CIA is limited in maintaining an “effective and lawful interrogation program” by NDAA in 2016 and revokes executive orders 13491 and 13492 while reinstating executive order 13440. This means that E.O. 13491 which pushed for “lawful interrogations” and E.O. order which ordered the closure of Gitmo are taken away while E.O. 13440, a Bush order in 2007, allowing only limited compliance with the Geneva Convention among those captives captured by the CIA and held in extrajudicial detention. If this isn’t enough, this draft order declares that keeping Gitmo open is critical to fight “radical Islamists” across the world, says that the U$ remains in global conflict with ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and “associated forces” across the world (a continuation of language of the Obama era) and says that any existing transfer efforts out of Gitmo will be stopped. The order ends by saying that the DIA director, Attorney General, CIA director, and other senior members will recommend if interrogation of “high-value” terrorists should be reopened, if “black sites” of the CIA should reopen, if executive order 13440 should be revised, and recommend how “enemy combatants detained in the armed conflict with violent Islamic extremists” should be tried swiftly and justly. It then claims that no one will suffer cruel or unusual punishment, which seems silly with such torture chambers revived.

The weirdest part about this order is that is was basically denounced by the orange menace’s administration. First of all, it was blasted by Rand Paul and John McCain, while other Republicans took a “wait and see” approach. [11] However, reportedly, the order “shocked” Mattis & Pompeo, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, saying he didn’t know where it came from. [12] Now, this could be denial just for the case of denial. At the same time, they could also be covering their tracks and bring back the order at an “opportune” time. If the order is not a statement of administrative policy, then who would draft this and why? I don’t know.

As for immigrants, they took even more of the brunt on January 25, just like on other days. One article said that the orange menace basically called for concentration camps for immigrants while the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a bourgeois group as I have previously described, declared that the orange menace’s Muslim ban is “real and even more draconian than many anticipated,” saying that it is “written in such a broad manner that it may also prohibit dual nationals of those countries who are citizens of non-targeted countries from entering the U.S. on a visa.”

More directly, the orange menace issued another immigration-related executive order, which was as racist as his previous pronouncements. In order to understand it, it is best to look at specific sections. One section, section 7, declares that the Secretary of Homeland Security will “take appropriate action, consistent with the requirements of section 1232 of title 8, United States Code, to ensure that aliens described in section 235(b)(2)(C) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(C)) are returned to the territory from which they came pending a formal removal proceeding.” Once again, this is legalistic language, and needs to be broken down. The section of US code referenced talks about “treatment of aliens arriving from contiguous territory,” saying that immigrants arriving on land from a foreign country “contiguous to the United States,” like Canada or Mexico, can be returned by the Attorney General to the country “pending a proceeding.” Going further from there, in the case of an immigrant (called “alien” throughout the code) who is applying for admission to the US, if an “examining immigration officer” determines that an immigrant seeking to enter the US is “not clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted,” then they are detained. If this happens, then an immigration judge conducts proceedings, with determination whether the immigrant is deported, with such a judge having the power to “administer oaths, receive evidence, and interrogate, examine, and cross-examine the alien and any witnesses,” even to issue “subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and presentation of evidence” if need be. Such powers of a judge may seem fundamentally undemocratic, but apparently it is allowed. The judge also has the ability to “sanction by civil money penalty any action (or inaction) in contempt of the judge’s proper exercise of authority under this Act,” meaning that an immigrant can be sanctioned for not following “proper procedures” or accused of not following them, then fined. The proceeding for the immigrant can take place either in person, through a video or telephone conference, and the immigrant can be represented by a lawyer of their choosing, who can “examine the evidence” against the immigrant, present evidence on their behalf, and cross-examine witnesses. However, immigrants do not have the right to “examine such national security information” used to justify their deportation, which almost dooms the immigrant to losing their case. After this is all done, then the immigration judge decides whether the immigrant is to be deported, with their decision based “only on the evidence produced at the hearing” and the immigrant will have access to their visa or entry document, or otherwise which is “not considered by the Attorney General to be confidential.”

The U$ code goes on. Other sections of related code say that any immigrant claimed to have a “communicable disease of public health significance,” who has a “physical or mental disorder” which “threatens” others, a “drug abuser or addict,” who wants to enter the U$, will be denied on the spot! Now, if that doesn’t sound racist, I don’t know what is. The last section of code I’ll reference here is one about “classes of Deportable Aliens.” saying that immigrants can be deported if they: (1) overstay their VISA, (2) fail to maintain their “nonimmigrant status,” (3) are convicted “of a crime involving moral turpitude” committed within five or ten years depending on their status, (4) if they are convicted of a crime with a sentence of more than one year, (5) if they are convicted of “two or more crimes involving moral turpitude,” (6) if they violate supposedly (or in reality) any drug laws, (7) if they are a “drug abuser or addict,” (8) if they sell, purchase, or exchange “any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device,” (9) if they are convicted of “domestic violence…stalking…child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment,” (10) if they lie to immigration authorities, (11) if they engage in any “activity to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage,” (12) if they engage in “any other criminal activity which endangers public safety or national security,” (13) if they engage in an activity opposing the control or advocating “overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means,” among many other aspects. Apart from some of these measures, like #13 being anti-communist, others of these measures, even if you agreed with them, are part of a racist immigration system aimed at Latin American immigrants clearly, especially with crimes like “moral turpitude” which can be so broadly defined as it can mean something that isn’t “socially acceptable.” It is also worth noting here that an immigrant owning a gun, which is justified under the Second Amendment as the “right to bear arms” is a deportable offense, saying that immigrants, under law do not have the legal right to defend themselves with force and showing that gun control is again used as a form of social control like I noted in my previous post.

On January 25, there were many other developments. A National Security Advisor was announced by the orange menace’s administration, the orange menace promoted a positive image of himself, personal propaganda on the official White House website (a shocker, not really), and guidance on the orange menace’s federal hiring freeze was released publicly. If that wasn’t enough, news media reported that Steve Bannon was registered in two places which says that maybe the “major investigation” into voter fraud that the orange menace wants should begin in his own administration, and the orange menace seemingly backing away from efforts to scrub climate change information from EPA websites even as “political appointees are exerting more oversight over the agency’s scientific communications.” [13] Other news worth noting is that Ben Carson, a person who believes that the housing market should be deregulation, was approved by a Senate committee, even by bourgeois progressives like Elizabeth Warren who apparently believed in his lies and that the millions of dollars John Kerry handed to the Palestinian Authority (was it just a PR stunt?) was canceled by the orange  menace, with Kerry’s action seeming very last-minute.

Day Seven: January 26

On this day, the war of the orange menace’s administration with the media took another step forward. Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist, declared that because of the election result, “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” [14] He went on to say that “the elite media got it [the presidential election] dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong…[the election was] a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there. The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign. Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: They were outright activists of the Clinton campaign…That’s why you have no power. You were humiliated.” He was also quoted as saying that “you’re [the media are] the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party” with Bannon citing The New York Times and Washington Post, saying that “the paper of record for our beloved republic, The New York Times, should be absolutely ashamed and humiliated. They got it 100 percent wrong.”

While I am critical of the bourgeois media, I don’t think what Bannon is saying should be brushed off so easily. There is no doubt that much of this media favored Clinton over the orange menace, some predicting that the orange menace would lose. However, to say that the media is the “opposition party” and to be so opposed to the press in the manner he is acting is utterly repressive, there is no doubt. While restricting newspapers in socialist countries and those under U$ imperialist attack is justified, in this case, it is dangerous since it could mean that all we will get is orange menace’s propaganda, allowing no sort of room for opposition to his reactionary, right-wing nature.

Again there was more about the orange menace’s anti-immigrant policy. Reuters claimed that they had seen a “draft executive order” which would “block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.” [15] Coming days would prove if this was true or not. What was clearly true was the payment of the expanded border wall with a 20% tariff on Mexico. One article noted that Republicans support the 20% tariff on Mexico, called a “border adjustment,” but major retailers oppose it. [16] The same article said that such retailers argued that it would drive up consumer prices and violate WTO rules, the former which is more of a valid concern than the latter. Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog argued that the wall would grease the way for a “handful of gas pipelines proposed to cross the U.S. border into Mexico, several of them owned by Keystone XL builder TransCanada and another one owned by Dakota Access pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners,” sending fracking gas south of the border, but that if the 20% tariff passes, then the volume of oil from Mexico to the US could rise. Horn also argued that this proposal has “split the oil refining and oil-producing sectors, with producers supportive and refiners critical of the tax scheme” with companies like American Fuels and Petrochemical Manufacturers and Koch Industries against it, and Rex Tillerson for the measure, with Goldman Sachs mildly for it.

The other news of that day was not any better. The orange menace’s declared national school choice week showing that he endorses school privatization (continuing the anti-public education policy of Obama), the impact of the anti-Obamacare order was explicated. Shockingly, one poll, released the same day said that almost half of Americans think that there are “some circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.” Luckily there was also resistance to the  orange menace brewing. Raul Castro, like many in Latin America, is wary and not trusting of the orange menace which is part of the reason he told the orange menace to respect Cuban sovereignty (and also to protect the island from imperialist assault. One article in Consortium News, argued that the orange menace was continuing to lie and disdain the truth, so that people think it is true, with the consequence of this action leading to “an ill-informed constituency, incapable of engaging in the kind of well-informed debate that serves as a check against ill-advised foreign policies and can muster solid support for well-advised ones.” Of course, such a development should be criticized. Finally there was a new poll saying that the orange menace fared poorly with the public, claimed that few supported the border wall, many wanted the orange menace to “fully divest from his business interests” and few with a “favorable opinion of Russia” or of Putin reportedly.

Day Eight: January 27

Statements of imperial policy became even clearer on January 27. Mattis, the new head of the Pentagon, declared that the US would continue to be committed to the NATO alliance, citing that importance of Germany as an U$ base, and that NATO is important to fight against terrorism. [17] The same day Mattis also told the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, that he had “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.” Such statements are not a surprise since the orange menace declared the same day to the Pentagon’s top brass that the military should be bulked-up, even as he “pointed to expensive programs,” calling for an increased “military campaign against the Islamic State,” likely expanding the “about 6,000 military personnel in Iraq and Syria, including trainers, advisers and special operators.” [18]

In terms of foreign policy, more imperial inter-relationships were reinforced. In the first press conference of the orange menace’s presidency, it was clear that May, the first foreign leader to meet the orange menace in the Oval Office, wanted to discuss “post-Brexit trade opportunities” with him, while the British government made it clear that Britain was still a “fully engaged member of the European Union.” What more comes of this will only be known in the days ahead.

Beyond this, it as clear that other relationships were supported. This included support for the existing one with Australia and possibly an improved relationship with Mexico though these is unlikely. Before moving onto the horrendous executive order, it is worth noting that since 2012, net flow of migration from Mexico decreased, with people who were “fleeing gang-related violence spiraling out of control in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” with stricter enforcement of “immigration laws and greatly expanded its use of deportations” by Obama. [19] Along with more Asian immigrants recently who are “well educated and as such compete with a different set of Americans for jobs, but also contribute to faster-growing sectors of the American economy.”

With this background it is worth discussing the horrid executive order. The Guardian described the order as a “draconian shift in US policy,”says that the action would close “US borders to refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Syria,” with a de facto ban of those across North Africa and Middle East, with “a 90-day block on entry to the US from citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia” and runs counter to the principle in the U$ Constitution of discrimination on basis of religion, with the orange menace saying that he would elevate “persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa” above Muslims. [20] The article also noted that Republicans were embraced the order, while “Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi…invoked dramatic images of a sorrowful Statue of Liberty” and the pro-Syrian war Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said they would challenge the order with a lawsuit.

Beyond The Guardian’s quibs is the text of the executive order itself. The order says, in section 2, that U$ policy is to protect U$ citizens “from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.” The following section said that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence, conducting a review to determine information needed from any country to determine “that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” The section adds that all of those individuals will then submit to the President “report on the results of the review” within 30 days of the order, with reducing investigative burdens during the review “to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals.” The orange menace declared that “the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from [certain] countries…would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” After that, the Secretary of State requests that all foreign governments “start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification,” and after this expires, then the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State would submit to the President a list of different countries that were “recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation,” with such secretaries submitting “the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.”

The specific law referenced in section 3 of the executive order notes two specific countries: Iraq and Syria, but also says that it can include those from

“a country that is designated by the Secretary of State…a country, the government of which has repeatedly provided support of acts of international terrorism; or any other country or area of concern designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

The law adds that by Feb. 16, 2017, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence determines whether other countries will be part of the ban, with the Secretary considering

“whether the presence of an alien in the country or area increases the likelihood that the alien is a credible threat to the national security of the United States…whether a foreign terrorist organization has a significant presence in the country or area; and…whether the country or area is a safe haven for terrorists.”

If this is taken to its fullest extent, then it would imply that people could ultimately be banned, if the executive order was expanded, from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Senegal, India, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and the Philippines. [21]

Getting back to the executive order, the DIA director, Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, FBI director, in section 4, would be told to implement a program which will identify those individuals “seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission,” which they would report on within 60 days, then again within 100 days, and another report within 200 days. Section 5 of the order than declares that the Secretary of State would “suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days,” with the “entry of nationals of Syria as refugees” suspended until the program is improved so that Syrian refugees can be admitted in a way “consistent with the national interest,” that there can only be 50,000 refugees entering “in fiscal year 2017,” that Secretaries of State and Homeland Security can jointly “determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis.” Then section 6 says that Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, along with Attorney General, might rescind certain authority, and section 7 says that the Secretary of Homeland Security would “expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States,” another racist measure, with reports every 180 days until the horrid system is “fully deployed and operational.” Also, the Secretary of State, is told in section 8, to suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program, while requiring “that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions,” while expanding the Consular Fellows Program in part by “substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service.”

To end the discussion of the order, section 9 and 10 need a some attention. Section 9 says that the Secretary of State will “review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification” and section 10 says that the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General, will collect and publicly display “information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons.” Yet again, this is meant to attack immigrants in a racist and bigoted way which fuels those anti-immigrant organizations on the right-wing that already exist. Other than this, in the order, sections 11 and 12 are basically boilerplate, as is section 1.

There are a number of other aspects of January 27 worth noting. For one, the orange menace reinforced his “economic nationalism” by meeting with business leaders from across the U$ to improve manufacturing which make the capitalist class smile with glee. Also, it is worth noting that the orange menace signed his bigoted executive order on the SAME DAY as Holocaust remembrance day, which shows how insensitive and disgusting he is. Additionally, the “pro-life”/“right to life,” actually anti-abortion, received official sanction as Pence addressed their rally in DC on the behest of the orange menace. Pence then declared that

“we will not grow weary. We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity…next week President Donald Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee who will uphold the God-given liberty enshrined in our Constitution in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia…Life is winning again in America. That is evident in…the historic election of a president…who I proudly say stands for the right to life.” [22]

Of course, the orange menace’s advisor Kellyanne Conway, addressed the crowd too, saying that “yes, I am pro-life…This is a new day, a new dawn, for life…[the right to life] is not a choice. It is God-given…This is a time of incredible promise for the pro-life, pro-adoption movement. We hear you. We see you. We respect you. And we look forward to working with you.” It seems that with anti-abortion to gain such official sanction is dangerous as it hurts any effort to advance reproductive rights, and hurts impoverished women, whether cisgender, transgender, or otherwise.

The same day there were a number of news releases. One was a poll showing that many of those in the US still support Obamacare, many are concerned about health insurance convergence, many oppose cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood by a large martin, even among Republicans, only 31% think that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, with everyone else thinking it should be legal in all or most cases, and 70% support Roe v. Wade. In the realm of foreign policy, Hollande, the horrid (neoliberal and disgraced) leader of France declared that “there are challenges, there are the challenges the US administration poses to our trade rules, as well as to our ability to resolve conflicts around the world.” [23] Others commentators noted that the orange menace is making up facts, ignoring realities, which mirrors the lies during the Obama administration about chemical weapons by the Syrian government (proven false) and concealing evidence about “who was behind the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014,” but that the orange menace is not helping himself by “making easily debunked claims about crowd sizes and voter fraud” meaning that for now he “has gotten off to a very rocky start by telling some very petty lies.” Other commentators went beyond the orange menace. One specifically noted that Rex Tillerson “confirmed before the US Congress that hostilities and agitation toward both Moscow and Beijing will only expand over the next 4-8 years,” saying that U$ foreign policy won’t change, as the U$ will “continue meddling across Asia and provoking conflict with China,” just like under Obama, tensions with Russia will continue, and that “nothing, short of war, will backup Tillerson’s statements about a sea literally an ocean away from US shores.” The final commentary was on Global Research Center. This commentator noted the orange menace’s horrible policies, ranging from the DAPL construction resuming, a border wall between the US and Mexico, an immigration ban, some of the orange menace’s tweets, the orange menace’s lies, and declared that there is hopefulness of resistance to the orange menace, despite Wall Street seeming to warm up to him but saying such resistance should change:

“…The ascendancy of Trump provides an important opportunity for the building of a broad-based united front of democratic forces including African Americans, Latin Americans, Native peoples, immigrants, women, LGBTQ communities, environmentalists and other working class constituencies. However, this alliance which represents the majority of the population within the U.S. must be based on sound political principles and not opportunism…This coalition of genuine popular forces should be organized outside the framework of the Democratic Party which represents the same ruling class elements as the Trumpist Republicans and their Wall Street and Pentagon supporters…A revolutionary mass party of the working class and the oppressed is the only solution to the current political and economic crises.”

Day Nine: January 28

Note: I published this right at midnight on Jan. 29, meant to cover everything Jan. 28 and before, so when it says “today” it is referring to Jan. 28, not today

The racist and bigoted immigration order of the orange menace played out today. For one, many “refugees and migrants holding valid visas” who were en route to the US were stopped, specifically “detained at U.S. airports and restricted from the country as a result of President Trump’s executive order,” with such people detained or not allowed in including Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, and Iranians, to say the least, with groups like the International Refugee Assistance Project on their side. [24] Even those who have green card holders from target countries, all of which are Muslim majority but do not include Saudi Arabia or any of the Gulf autocracies of course, are banned.

Rightly so, many reacted with anger. Arabs and Iranians who planned trips to the US were angry, saying that the ban was “insulting and discriminatory,” and some said it made them feel humiliated. [25] Even the director of an Oscar-nominated film, Asghar Farhadi, was apparently not allowed to attend the Academy Awards next month as a result of the ban. [26] His film is a French-Iranian drama, titled The Salesman, which tells the story of a couple who play lead roles in Death of a Salesman, have a fraught relationship. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley, also called Sexist Valley or Surveillance Valley more accurately, was at least partially mad. Google and Facebook CEOs slammed the orders as “loss of talent,” detracting from those who are “real threats,” and making people live in “fear of deportation.” [27] This of course was driven more by the fear of loss of profit by these mega-corporations than caring about actual people, no doubt.

The reality of the order has been playing out all day. One Iraqi man was released even as another is detained (or was before he was released also) as a result of the order. Additionally, as a result of the ban, enforced by Customs and Border Protection officials on the ground, led to warnings from Qatar Airways to travelers, Iran criticizing the ban, The International Rescue Committee, The International Organization for Migration, UNHCR, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and weepy Democrats slamming the order, while House Speaker Paul Ryan defended it, saying that “our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland.” [28] The same article even claimed that “the list of seven countries [Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia] whose citizens are now banned from the US was likely just a starting point” with the administration weighing it if could add even more countries to the list! The racism clearly continues.

Many other organizations and individuals condemned the ban today. These included Jewish organizations ranging from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and J Street to the Anti-Defamation League,” the latter of which are horribly pro-Israel, without a doubt. [29] The revolutionary Iranian government struck back as well. The Iranian Foreign Ministry declared that while respecting people of the US is important, with it being vital to distinguish between them and hostile U$ actions, “Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,” as they argued that “restrictions against travel by Muslims to America…are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists.” [30] Additionally, President Hassan Rouhani said earlier today that there is no reason to build walls between nations, implying the orange menace, saying

“Today is not the time to erect walls between nations. They have forgotten that the Berlin wall fell years ago. To annul world trade accords does not help their economy and does not serve the development and blooming of the world economy. This is the day for the world to get closer through trade.”

While he makes a valid point against walls, he is also endorsing corporate globalization which has devastated indigenous peoples across the world and allows capitalism to gain new markets wherever it nests, leading to exploitation and destruction, including in Iran. So, his statement is wrongheaded (in part because he doesn’t note the anti-fascist nature of the Berlin Wall) but also aligned with Western business elites without a doubt.

Sudan echoed the statement of Iran. Their foreign ministry declared that the ban was unfortunate after progress on sanctions, saying that “It is particularly unfortunate that this decision coincides with the two countries’ historic move to lift economic and trade sanctions…and just as economic and financial institutions as well as businessmen in the country were set to continue developing their investment projects.” [31] Then there’s education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who seems she has been taken in by the glamor and acceptance of Western bourgeois institutions, saying that she is “heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants – the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life…I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.” [32]

I’ve also heard recently that the bigoted immigration order has been stayed by several federal judges which turns it to be correct. It was after a case filed by the ACLU which has a horrible history, along with other cases across the country. It is also clear that the orange menace will stay in defending it, saying it isn’t a “Muslim ban,” working out as he planned, with the former an utter lie. [33]

Beyond his bigotry, the orange menace made outreaches on the foreign policy front. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin today in hopes of having “a great relationship” between the US and Russia (and stabilizing US-Russia ties), along with calls to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on “security and trade issues between the two countries and the mutual threat posed by North Korea,” speaking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with likely calls with French President François Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. [34] It has also been reported that there has been a “sudden resignation” in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Norman Bay, resulting in leaving the commission with only two commissioners, “not enough for the required quorum to make decisions,” meaning that “even if the president chooses someone quickly, the process will likely take several months,” with an appointment process that “requires Senate confirmation.” [35]

Beyond January 28

There is much still to come in the later days of the orange menace’s presidency. For one, seemingly on January 30, the orange menace will announce that the US embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also will continue to advocate on path, making it worth looking at those financial disclosures of his nominees who include as I previously noted:

“…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…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).”

At the same time, it is worth noting that the orange menace has only signed, so far, a small number of executive orders” but is in a “long line of incoming commanders-in-chief flexing their executive muscles the first week on the job” and likely many of those before him, “the President is using his new executive powers to make his campaign promises a reality.” [36]

That’s not all. The Japanese government is apparently fearful, trying to “please the new foul-speaking lord,” with “10 billion dollars will be spent…in the United States by Toyota car giant, in order to appease the new Emperor” but notes at the orange menace is “preaching protectionism and an extreme form of nationalism” while he also “decides to exceed all previous rulers by his brutality and aggressiveness, and re-hire the old and well-tested samurai, Japan, for his deadly onslaught against humanity.”  It is also worth noting that Russia is still quite muted about the orange menace, likely even after the call today, as they are “carefully reading the signals from Trump” and that Moscow is “literally gun-shy of America, the distance between micro-events, like my treatment a couple of days ago on Russian television, and macro-developments, like improving bilateral relations, is very small indeed.”

I don’t have much else to add here, other than saying that for one the capitalists must be made extinct, and that two, the  orange menace should be resisted at all costs but bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives cannot be trusted, instead independent and radical structures (and movements) should be built and expanded, because otherwise fascism of the orange menace will roll right over the U$ without a real fight, something that none of us really should want if we care about the world around us.


Notes

[1] Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe, “Obama shortens sentence of Manning, who gave secrets to WikiLeaks,” Reuters, Jan. 18, 2017.

[2] Daniella Diaz, Sophie Tatum, Amanda Wills and Alysha Love, “Inauguration live coverage,” CNN, January 20, 2017.

[3] Sary Levy-Carciente and María Teresa Romero, “Rex Tillerson Has A Long, Troubled History With Venezuela,” HuffPost, Jan. 15, 2017.

[4] Rory Jones, “Israel PM Netanyahu Praises Trump’s Plan for Mexico Border Wall,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 28, 2017.

[5] Alex Lockie, “White House: The US will stop China from taking over territory in international waters,” Business Insider, Jan. 23, 2017; Reuters, “Trump White House Pledges to Block China from Taking South China Sea Islands,” Jan. 23, 2017, reprinted in Newsweek.

[6] Reuters, “Trump White House Pledges to Block China from Taking South China Sea Islands,” Jan. 23, 2017, reprinted in Newsweek.

[7] Bill Vlasic, “Trump, in Meeting, Urges Automakers to Build in United States,” New York Times, Jan. 24, 2017.

[8] Michaeleen Doucleff, “U.S. Spent $1.4 Billion To Stop HIV By Promoting Abstinence. Did It Work?,” May 3, 2016, NPR News; Andy Kopsa, “Obama still funding failed ‘faith-based’ programmes,” Al Jazeera, March 27, 2013.

[9] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Trump Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built and Is Expected to Block Syrian Refugees,” New York Times, Jan. 25, 2017.

[10] Greg Miller, “White House draft order calls for review on use of CIA ‘black site’ prisons overseas,” Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2017.

[11] Katie Bo Williams, “Trump review exposes GOP divide on torture,” The Hill, January 25, 2017.

[12] Austin Wright, “Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report,” Politico, January 25, 2017.

[13] Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, “Trump administration backs off plan to scrub climate pages from EPA website,” Washington Post, January 25, 2017; Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, “After His Claim of Voter Fraud, Trump Vows ‘Major Investigation’,” New York Times, Jan. 25, 2017.

[14] Michael M. Grynbaum, “Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 2017.

[15] Julia Edwards Ainsley, “Trump moves ahead with wall, puts stamp on U.S. immigration, security policy,” Reuters, Jan. 26, 2017.

[16] Neil Irwin, “How to Interpret the Trump Administration’s Latest Signals on Mexico,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 2017.

[17] The article also says correctly that “the US accounts for nearly 70 percent of the NATO budget and has long urged its European allies to step up their contributions, particularly in the face of what Washington calls the “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.”

[18] Greg Myre, “At Pentagon, Trump Declares His Aim Of ‘Rebuilding’ The Military,” NPR News, Jan. 27, 2017.

[19] Max Bearak, “Even before Trump, more Mexicans were leaving the U.S. than arriving,” Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2017.

[20] Sabrina Siddiqui, “Trump signs ‘extreme vetting’ executive order for people entering the US,” The Guardian, Jan. 27, 2017.

[21] These countries come from ISIL territorial claims, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Islamic group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, other organizations listed by the State Department, and state sponsors of terrorism.

[22] Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Mike Pence tells March for Life in Washington: ‘We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life’,” Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2017, reprinted in National Post.

[23] This article also says and I quote, “the US president is also expected to scrap the agreement’s European equivalent, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Area (Nafta),” but this is ultimately questionable.

[24] Emma Brown and David Nakamura, “Refugees, migrants detained at U.S. airports challenge Trump’s executive order,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Kulish, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Blocks Travelers at Airports Around Globe,” New York Times, Jan. 28, 2017; Amy R. Connolly,”Syrian refugees detained at N.Y. airport file legal challenge,” UPI, Jan. 28, 2017.

[25] Eric Knecht and Maher Chmaytelli, “In Middle East, US travel curbs decried as unjust, insulting,” Reuters, January 28, 2017.

[26] CBS, “Oscar-nominated film’s director can’t attend amid Trump immigration ban, group’s leader says,” Jan. 28, 2017.

[27] Laura Mandaro, “Google CEO troubled by Trump refugee ban that ‘creates barriers’ to talent,” USA TODAY, Jan. 28, 2017.

[28] Jeremy Diamond, “Trump’s immigration ban sends shockwaves,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017

[29] Laura Koran, “Jewish groups pan Trump for signing refugee ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017.

[30] Parisa Hafezi, “’An open affront against the Muslim world’: Iran says it will ban Americans in response to Trump’s refugee order,” Reuters, Jan. 28, 2017, reprinted in Business Insider

[31] Reuters, “Sudan calls Trump ban unfortunate in light of sanctions progress,” Jan. 28, 2017

[32] The same article notes that in December 2015, those who denounced the orange menace’s proposed ban included “Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who said the ban was “not what this party stands for.” “More importantly,” Ryan added at the time, “it’s not what this country stands for.”” Ryan, of course, has switched his position in favor of bigotry now.

[33] Doug Stanglin and Alan Gomez, “Trump says immigration ban working ‘nicely’ as protests, detainments hit airports,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[34] Philip Rucker and David Filipov, “Trump holds calls with Putin, leaders from Europe and Asia,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; Laura Smith-Spark and Ivan Watson, “Trump and Putin talked about stabilizing ties, Kremlin says,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017.

[35] Marie Cusick, “As Trump Reboots Pipeline Expansion, An Unexpected Delay Emerges,” NPR News, Jan. 28, 2017.

[36] Lauren Said-Moorhouse, “What’s Trump done so far? His productive first week and how it stacks up to previous presidents,” CNN, Jan. 26, 2017.

Snowden’s “adversarial” deception

Snowden as spotted in Russia in October 2013

Originally  published on the Leftist Critic blog on May 12, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. At the time I read Tarzie’s blog, The Rancid Honeytrap, regularly. The posted there in August 2017, over a year ago. Since, the blog has been totally silent, the same going for Sassy Sorenstein’s 100 Flamingos and a wordpress called sillroasty, linked to on the side of Tarzie’s blog, while some of the blogs linked like Once Upon a Time (on blogspot), blckdgrd (blogpost),and Nathan Fuller’s wordpress still seem active.

Recently, I was pursuing Twitter when an interview with celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden popped up. I’ve criticized Snowden before on this blog as supporting Apple, a company that collects much data but claims it is “pro-privacy.” This post looks at a recent Q&A with Snowden in the Columbia Journalism Review which was promoted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a foundation which has Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Snowden himself, John Cusack, John Perry Barlow, Laura Poitras, Micah Lee, Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, and Xeni Jardin on its board of directors. This organization, founded in 2012, also thinks Pentagon projects like Tor are great. This post could examine such a foundation, but since Snowden, as he admitted himself, is already a celebrity whom has wide influence it is best to look at his words and their symbolic meaning. [1] In sum, I read it, as Tarzie would say, so you don’t have to.

Snowden, of course, in his privileged position, can talk about the bourgeois media from afar. He claims that there is a “changing nature of the public’s relationship to media” with the media “strong” but less willing to “use that sort of power and influence because of its increasing commercialization.” He goes on to say that back in the past, the media culture assured that media was “intended to be a public service” but now that is lost because of “the 24-hour news cycle.” This “observation” fundamentally misses the role of the bourgeois media in and of itself. Snowden by almost acting nostalgic in acting like media in the past served the public is almost in line with the speech by Edward R. Murrow in 1958 saying that television “can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire…[but] only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box” which arguably removes the role of television in capitalist society. Even if one pushes that aside, it is silly to say there is a “changing nature” of mass media in U$ society considering that the bourgeois media has always been tied to the profit motive to sell more papers (in the case of newspapers) and garner a bigger audience, while keeping in place the existing capitalist system. Did Snowden not watch the classic movies Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) and Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), both of which warned of the dangers of concentration of media control and power? This is not anything new, not in the slightest.

Worst of all is Snowden’s comments on The New York Times. He almost acts aghast that even the Times, which he implies is a paragon of virtue, is not challenging the government. As the Times‘s own media kit shows, their audience is predominantly male, over 35 years old, college graduates, and in a professional/managerial position, along with total expenditures for the audience as a whole in the hundreds of millions, making them all some level of the bourgeoisie. The International Business Times has similar data showing a predominantly male and college graduate audience with differing political perspectives mostly ranging from moderate to liberal. Similarly, the International New York Times has even more high-level audience with a high percentage in senior management and a household income over $367,000 a year. This shows that Times basically has a bourgeois audience to give it “All the News Lies That’s Fit to Print” which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Snowden goes on to claim that competition in the media environment means that “institutions are becoming less willing to serve the public to the detriment of themselves.” He further adds that this role is “typically exercised through the editors” and that “the distance between allegation and fact, at times, makes all the difference in the world.” This “observation” makes a number of assumptions. For one, it implies that bourgeois media outlets have a “duty to the public.” That is utter crap and he knows it. Any capitalist or capitalist business that does not make a profit will go out of business. Secondly, his focus on editors is misleading. I say this because he NEVER mentions the role of advertisers in determining media content, as even Noam Chomsky has outlined in his Propaganda Model or Michael Parenti noted in his varied books on the subject. This shows the weakness of his analysis and how it fails to take into account the reality of bourgeois media.

There’s more horribleness. Snowden goes on to say that there is more competition in the current media environment despite the fact that a small handful of companies have control of much of the bourgeois media in the U$, especially in the print, telecom, cable, and tech sectors, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Gannett, and Tribune Publishing Company, to name a few:

Made using Chartgo. Data from a reformist NGO called Free Press. Usually it is said that six corporations (GE, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS) control 90% of the media in the U$, but this may misconstrue the power of corporate control in certain areas more than others as one has to define what qualifies “media” and “news” which is harder and harder to do these days. Free Press says, themselves, that “giant corporations own more and more of our news media. Focused only on the bottom line, they’re cutting journalists and gutting newsrooms nationwide” but makes no claims about media consolidation. If one measured by reach of their stations, this could create a different picture, perhaps.

Snowden then claims that such competition among publishers has led to “hybrid publications” like BuzzFeed, which in his words creates “an enormous amount of trash and cruft” with their “content…engineered to be more attention getting, even though they have no public value at all” and that “they have no news value at all.” He later tempers this by saying that “if it’s not going to be BuzzFeed, it’s going to be somebody else” and that “this isn’t a criticism of any particular model” and that these outlets “don’t have a journalistic role, it’s a reportorial role.” I think he has a good point about BuzzFeed. However, I think his description of attention-getting content and having no public value applies all of the Celebrity Left personalities. Hence, his own words could be used to describe his own Twitter stream, which has, as he said about BuzzFeed, “no public value at all.” After all, aren’t secretive oligarchs basically controlling media and social media?

Snowden goes on to talk about the James Rosen and AP case. He argues that this is “suddenly chilling” because it silences “the traditional work of journalism” but then claims that journalists need to use tradecraft used by the CIA because using VPNs could “get you in real trouble in these areas of the world” like Bangladesh. Yet again, this perpetrates the idea that the “West is best” and even justifies the CIA as something to model after. This shouldn’t be a surprise since he admits that before he came out as the NSA whistleblower he had “never talked to a journalist in any substantive capacity” and that he worked as an intelligence officer for the CIA and NSA, saying “everything is a secret and you’ve got two different kinds of cover.” This is disturbing to say the least because it makes it seem that Snowden is proud of what he did for the NSA and CIA, not calling them out and even calling for them to be abolished, at minimum. What he did for the CIA for SIX YEARS he hasn’t talked about much, if at all. Remember when he said this in 2013: “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.” What utter bullcrap is that? Anyway, the most laughable thing he says is that “the secrets are becoming public at an accelerated pace.” I doubt that very much. After all, as Cryptome reported in February at the current rate “it will take 20-620 years to free all documents” gathered by him, with governments and business benefiting the most, along with media and NGOs benefiting as well. I’ll get to the Panama Papers later.

It doesn’t get any better. Snowden states that the government may even engage in prior restraint and that there need to be “institutions working beyond borders in multiple jurisdictions” so that “the journalists could play games, legally and journalistically more effectively and more quickly than the government.” He then goes on to engage in one of his many self-congratulatory statements claiming that “I was, in fact, quite famous for criticizing the press.” Putting aside his ego-supporting statement, the fact that he supports those he considers journalists (whether  they are or not) “playing games” is worrisome. It basically means that journalists, or those he considers journalists, can just be pawns in “challenging” the government!

From here, there are a number of self-congratulatory and hence egoist remarks from Snowden himself. He claims to be surprised by the  “impact” of his revelations, claims they are special, claiming that unlike in 2006 when “there was a warrantless wiretapping story in The New York Times” and that his revelations “transformed” the public debate. Then he tries to act humble by saying “I personally see myself as having a quite minor role” and that “I was the mechanism of revelation for a very narrow topic of governments,” that he didn’t have access to court orders from the Department of Justice. He then goes on to boast that he predicted how people would treat him, that the media were useful in making an argument and reporting his leaks. He then almost claims like he is an authority who can tell journalists (or those he considers journalists) how to report a story and says that “my ultimate goal was simply to get this information back in the hands of the public” despite the fact that much of what he found has NOT been released as of yet. He then goes further and claims that he believes in “traditional American democracy” whatever that is, a term that refers to an idolized form of bourgeois democracy in the US. He even goes further and says that “if I had stayed in place at the NSA as a source and they had asked me for this document…[it] actually brought risks upon them that could have led to new constraints upon journalism.” That’s so nice of him to look out for the NSA. Not! Snowden also claims that working with journalists (or those he considered journalists) changed his “understanding of journalism” and that “public knowledge of the truth is more important than the risks that knowledge creates for a few.” I don’t even think is worth analyzing what he says in a self-congratulatory fashion as it is all wrapped up in puffing up his ego like a puffer-fish blows itself up to take in air or water so they aren’t as vulnerable to predators.

His self-congratulatory statements couple right with those in which he says that Glenn Greenwald and co are great. In his magical view, Glenn Greenwald. Ewan MacAskill, and Laura Poitras, along with the Washington Post‘s Barton Gellman, “simply represented a system that I did not believe could be overcome before the story could be put out. By the time the government could get their ducks in a row and try to interfere with it, that would itself become the story.” Once again, this implies that all of these writers are somehow adversarial, a view that is utterly laughable. It’s about as bad as the “glowing” response they had to the new fawning Snowden movie by Oliver stone. Lets not forget that Greenwald was once a lawyer for Big Tobacco companies. As Mark Ames writes,

And this is where whistleblower-irony becomes so dense, it collapses on itself: Because one of Wachtell Lipton’s young associates working on the Philip Morris lawsuit against ABC-TV was a lawyer by the name of…Glenn Greenwald. We know Greenwald worked at Wachtell Lipton’s New York office at the time of Wachtell’s lawsuit because Greenwald himself has talked about working for Wachtell, beginning in 1993 as a summer associate, then joining out of law school in 1994, and staying on until the end of 1995…Perhaps Greenwald had no idea that the law firm he chose to work for was representing Philip Morris in the most talked about case of 1994. That even though his own boss, Henry Wachtell, was a regular on national TV news defending their tobacco clients, he was still oblivious. Greenwald perhaps didn’t watch television. Or read newspapers? It’s reasonable to assume Greenwald—ever the diligent researcher—must have joined Wachtell fully aware that they were helping gag whistleblowers and threatening journalists: Greenwald says that he chose to work for Wachtell in 1994 after being recruited by over a dozen top law firms. But of course that doesn’t necessarily mean he worked on the specific Philip Morris case. Except that a billing ledger discovered in the tobacco library shows Greenwald’s name in a Wachtell Lipton bill to Philip Morris…Other Wachtell Lipton memos show Greenwald’s name prominently displayed on the letterhead in aggressive, threatening letters against ABC-TV, against whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, and against whistleblower Merrell Williams…One Wachtell letter to ABC’s lawyers with Greenwald’s name up top, dated December 14, 1995, warns that Wigand’s testimony in a Mississippi tobacco trial is “in direct defiance of a Kentucky Court order”— and demands that ABC turn over their source’s private testimony to Wachtell Lipton…Greenwald’s name appears on the Wachtell Lipton letterhead of threatening legal letter after letter—targeting ABC-TV and tobacco whistleblowers …the question is, why has he never said peep about Wigand and Merrell Williams? Greenwald styles himself as the most fearless outspoken defender of whistleblowers today—and yet he has absolutely nothing to say about the most famous whistleblowers of the 1990s, a case he worked on from the other side…Again, in the two decades since, whistleblower champion Glenn Greenwald has never said a single word about this case or about the role his law firm played in crushing TV investigative journalism. As far as our research can tell, Greenwald has never taken a position on tobacco laws or  spoken about the horrific death toll smoking is taking…Besides Greenwald’s belief that Big Pharma should be able to sell all of its drugs to any adult who wants them, a very tobacco-industry-esque argument—there’s little to suggest anything like regret, remorse, or any reaction whatsoever to his work on behalf of Philip Morris’ lawsuit against adversarial journalism and whistleblowers. Quite the contrary, Greenwald went on to a close friendly (and paid) relationship with the CATO Institute, one of the tobacco industry’s most active friends in the think tank world.

Back to Snowden, he claims that “the more powerful the institution, the more skeptical one should be,” talks about Daniel Ellsberg, how Greenwald represents the “purest form” of journalist that he doesn’t see it as a problem that he has “too much faith” in the press. He goes on to say that what need to be changes are “the values of the people in these institutions that are producing these policies or programs.” Yet again, this pseudo-change sentiment is a joke. Snowden of course does not want the system to crumble or even challenge entrenched bourgeois values. But neither does Greenwald or any of the other Celebrity Left personalities.

Most interesting of all is what he says about Twitter, claiming that “individuals can build audiences to speak with directly” which is deceptive because inherently some will be able build bigger audiences than others. He claims that “whether it’s a hundred people or a million people, individuals can build audiences to speak with directly” which is a way that new media actors and “malicious actors” end up exploiting “what are perceived as new vulnerabilities in media control of the narrative.” He goes on to say that on Twitter “there are a lot of celebrities out there on Twitter, but really they’re just trying to maintain an image, promote a band, be topical, remind people that they exist. They’re not typically effecting any change, or having any kind of influence, other than the directly commercial one.” Once again, like what he said about BuzzFeed, this analysis can easily apply to himself and other Celebrity Left figures. Arguably they promote an image (a brand to be perfectly frank) and aren’t really making any change, at least not that which matters. At the same time, these personalities do have an influence and he is wrong to say that celebrities do not typically have an influence because they definitely do. For instance, if Beyonce did not have the influence she did, supported not only by her own wealth but thinkpieces across the internet, then there would be no one pushing her songs and image (or brand) as pro-“feminist” or  pro-“black power.”

Near the end of the interview, Snowden claims that there is much that can be done to move forward, at least in the way he wants. First of all, he does not call for eliminating espionage laws, but he claims that there should be “an international framework” for protecting whistleblowers, and claims that the way to implement this is “culture” and a “press that’s more willing and actually eager to criticize government than they are today.” He goes on to say that countries across the world “are embracing the idea of state secrets” and that “we’re increasingly monitored and tracked and reported, quantified and known and influenced” while politicians are “becoming less reachable and also less accountable.” Yet again, Snowden is acting like everything will work out and that capitalist governments will serve their subjects. This is patently absurd. Additionally to claim that the media will  criticize the government, he is once again pushing away the importance of the profit motive, a motive that shows that no one can just push for the bourgeois media to be reformed as it is a press that is fatally flawed.

Beyond his self-congratulatory message that his revelations has an impact on “the publication on the culture of government,” his laughably optimistic (and incorrect) ideas that “secrecy will not hold forever…the secrets are becoming public at an accelerated pace,” he then goes into almost defending Facebook. He claims that everything will be fine if companies like Facebook are “selective” about certain posts to take down and have no restrictions whatsoever, but then asks if private companies should determine “the limits of public conversations.” He then spews some words which aren’t important to mention. At the end of his Q&A Snowden claims he has an answer: moving to “public policing”:

“The real solutions here are much more likely to be in terms of entirely new institutions that bound the way law enforcement works, moving us away from the point of military conflict, secret conflict, and into simply public policing. There’s no reason why we could not have an international counter-terrorism force that actually has universal jurisdiction. I mean universal in terms of fact, as opposed to actual law.”

Regardless of his qualification about what “universal” means, this proposition of an “international counter-terrorism force” is ridiculous. After all, he is naive to think such a force would not be used for imperialist purposes. At the same time, he may think his idea is fine since he is ignoring and/or doesn’t recognize where power lies in capitalist society and in capitalism worldwide: with the bourgeoisie whom oppress the proletariat

We finally move onto the Drone Papers. Snowden claims that “releasing” these “papers” was an “extraordinary act of public service on the part of a whistleblower within the government to get the public information that’s absolutely vital about things that we should have known more than a decade ago.” He goes onto say that these papers are “things that we really need to know to be able to analyze and assess policies” but that this was denied by”major” media outlets like the Times but that The Intercept “saved” the day as “one journalistic institution that breaks the story.” To be honest, this is utterly ridiculous. For one, as Cyrptome’s most recent tally shows, at most, 15.24% of data/files of the Panama Papers have been released but more accurately, the percentage released to date is .0021%. If Snowden, Greenwald and co actually had courage they would call for all of the documents to be released and put in a searchable archive like the Cablegate search, which now includes cables from the 1970s and 2000s.

There is more I’d like to say about the Panama Papers here. For one the whistleblower who revealed the information frames himself almost as a crusader for justice and goes on to explain his ideas, along with claiming he is bringing about a “digital revolution.” which fall into the bourgeois political spectrum nicely. But then at one point he declares the following:

For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own, as was my decision to share the documents with Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International  Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.

To me this almost seems like a dodge. He is claiming that he is independent of such forces. However, even if he did not work such entities it is still possible one could say that he could be manipulated, I don’t see why not. Let us consider before going forward that VOA, an U$ government propaganda outlet promoted the Panama Papers with a guide to read them. Also, we should recognize that one of the organizations that is releasing this information, the Center for Public Integrity, is funded by big foundations such as the Open Society Foundation and Ford Foundation along with George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Should we ignore the views of Swiss banker whistleblower Bradley Birkenfield who said the following to CNBC:

“The CIA I’m sure is behind this, in my opinion. The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, Argentina and we don’t see one U.S. name. Why is that? Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation.”

Should we ignore that USAID is basically funding ICIJ and by extension this Panama Papers release? After all, USAID is basically an appendage of the murderous empire. Should we ignore how media, such as The Guardian, which Snowden would laud with praise, twisted the revelations to implicate Russian President Vladmir Putin in corruption? Should we ignore how the liberal media outlets like Truthdig, Slate, New York Magazine, and PBS News Hour are promoting the Panama Papers? Should we ignore who funds the Center for Public Integrity or how Wikileaks and Greenwald are promoting the releases? There is much more on the Panama Papers, but it can be convincingly argued that the releases and the papers themselves are a form of negative propaganda.

I could go on with this post, even citing some of the articles by Douglas Valentine, but I think what I have said so far is sufficient. Perhaps I could have said more, but this post is just one of the many criticisms of Snowden and celebrity left personalities, something that few do because they are sucked in by the allure of celebrity or their veneer of being adversarial. That is all.


Notes

[1] In a fawning interview with The Nation, this exchange ensued:

The Nation: Speaking of films, we understand that in addition to Laura Poitras’s documentary Citizenfour, a couple of others will be made about you.

Snowden: Anything to get people talking about the issues is great. I’m not a movie guy. I don’t know all this stuff that comes with celebrity. I don’t know who the actors will be and stuff like that. But anybody who wants to talk about the issues—that’s great.

The Nation: You already are a celebrity.

Snowden: People say that, but I’ve only had to sign autographs for “civ-libs” types. And I autograph court orders.

The Nation: Maybe, but you need a strategy of how you’re going to use your celebrity, for better or worse. You own it. You can’t get rid of it.

Snowden: [laughs] Well, that’s kind of damning!

Is the Star Wars series fascist?

Originally published on Leftist Critic on Feb 13, 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 recently encountered a post, promoted by “Crypto Cuddlefish,” and I decided to look into if this post, published three years ago, which has a number of movies as referents, has any basis. As a moderate Star Wars fan, it only makes sense to look at this post, which a transcript of a video by improv and standup comedian Dave Gutteridge. This article will respond to specific elements of the transcript with my own commentary. While this may not seem politically important, it is because of the effect that the Star Wars franchise has on the bourgeois public sphere and the minds of the populace, especially in the United States, and elsewhere across the world. Anyway, here it goes.

Addressing Dave Gutteridge’s argument

“I’m actually not a Star Wars fan anymore. But I want you to appreciate just how far I’ve come when I say I’m not a fan. When I first saw the very first Star Wars movie , I was so young and naive that I didn’t know that in movies the hero always wins. When Luke Skywalker was flying down that trench, and he was being chased by Darth Vader, and he had to hit that target just right… I honestly didn’t know if he was going to pull it off. I was genuinely scared the universe could be doomed. It made a deep impression on me, and to this day, when I see that scene, I can’t help but feel tense. I loved Star Wars. I had all those action figures they made, even the Boba Fett you had to write away for . I had Star Wars wallpaper in my bedroom. On Halloween I dressed as a Jawa. I watched, and enjoyed, that shitty holiday special they made. So you’d think I’d be the kind of guy going to conventions dressed like an Ewok and having furry sex or whatever.”

I must admit that one time I was as sorta that type of fan, when I was younger. I even saw two of the movies in the 2000s (Episode 2 and 3) in a local movie theater which had a huge screen, one of the last of its kind. That always made an impression on me when I watched the movies from time to time. As of now, I’m just a moderate fan but I wouldn’t buy any merchandise, toys or such from the Star Wars franchise. There’s no need.

“Sadly, those days are gone. As more movies were made, it got harder and harder to ignore the ugly truth.”

Well, this should be interesting.

I started to have doubts even before the new series of movies was made. Everyone had a “whoah, what the…?” moment when they first saw Jar Jar Binks . And for good reason. Jar Jar Binks apparently comes from a whole race of ready made Amos and Andy style sidekicks . They have built in Jamaican dreadlock-things and the whole “Me so happy massa” Uncle Tom attitude. What’s the racial message here Lucas? And what about the aliens that the Jar Jarians were fighting, these creatures that had flat faces and yellow, slanted eyes, and were all secretive… There hasn’t been this much sublimated racial stereotyping in a science fiction series since the wildly anti-Semitic Ferengi in Star Trek.

I haven’t seen Star Trek but I can say something about Jar Jar Binks. I think that Lucas did stick him in his movies as a sort of comic relief. However, I do think there is a racial stereotype in place, almost like his a modern version of Stepin Fetchit. Even if one countered this this stereotype, Binks is a horrid character in general who acts like a goof and is extremely mindless. But perhaps that is the point. I’m not sure what the racial message is there, or with the greedy Neimodians of the Trade Federation who could represent an Asian stereotype. As one writer points out, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace clearly invokes imagery and audio from racist ethnic stereotypes. The fact that the recipient of these stereotypical characteristics are non-human aliens does not change this fact.” As a personal admission I’d need to know a bit more about racial stereotypes to see if this is the reality. Still, I think this a valid concern.

“But the clumsy racial metaphors aren’t what bugged me.”

This bothers me. The six Star Wars movies are white and male-dominated with female characters mostly pushed to secondary roles (except for Princess Leia and Padme Amidala) and male characters are put in the primary role. Literally there are only two black characters I can think of: Mace Windu, who gets pushed out a window in Episode 3, and Lando Calrissian, a black capitalist/racketeer who betrays the Rebels to the Empire in Episode 5 then turns around and “good” in Episode 6. Not a good track record. Yes, the most recent Star Wars movie does have a black main character, Finn, and a female lead character, Rey, but this doesn’t change the nature of the previous six movies in terms of racial and gender diversity.

“If anyone here has seen the movie Clerks , you might remember the scene where they are talking about Return of The Jedi . In it, one of the characters describes The Rebellion as a bunch of leftists. That got me thinking. A bunch of “leftists”.”

I don’t think I’d think of them as leftists necessarily, just a rebellious force, the details of which I’ll explain later.

“In the first movie, it was all about saving Princess Leia. Then in the new movies, there’s Queen Amalamadabadoo , whatever her name is. If you’re a princess, you’re in a royal family… and monarchies are not democratic . Now, the far left is not always democratic either, but since the left is usually socialist in some way, I don’t know a lot of far left extremists who are pro-monarchy.”

Hmm, that’s a good point. However, Leia is only part of the rebellion, she isn’t necessarily leading it. As for Amidala, she is controlling a planet, Naboo, that likely embodies what some have called “capitalist peace” since it was, according to Wookiepedia, “considered a world of classical beauty due to the aesthetics of its population centers” and was “peaceful.” As a result, I don’t know if I’d consider the Galactic Republic, of which Amidala was part of, to be leftist in the radical sense. After all, as it is described, it sounds kinda elitist but a little like the Amerikan federal system, which could be endorsed by today’s liberals and conservatives:

“The Galactic Republic, commonly referred to simply as the Republic, and later also known as the Old Republic, was the democratic union that governed the galaxy for a thousand years prior to the rise of the Galactic Empire. The Republic was aided by the efforts of the Jedi Order, who stood as the guardians of peace and justice, enabling the Republic to be free of full-scale conflict for over a thousand years.”

Then you come to the Empire:

“Now take a look at the “Empire”. They come across as hard core right wing authoritarians. But if you look at how they operate, they have a republic, a senate… it’s not too clear if they have universal suffrage . Maybe only the wealthy planet owners can vote. But still… even if it’s a primitive Grecian style democracy, it’s still a democracy.”

I’m not completely sure about this. The reason about this, is that in Episode 3, that evil Palpatine/Sidious who killed most of the elitist force, the Jedi in what was basically a “surprise” extermination campaign, took power and created the Galactic Empire, a day referred to as “Empire Day” in other series. Palpatine in that movie declares that “In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society.” That doesn’t sound very democratic to me. After all, Wookiepedia notes that this Empire replaced the republic, with authority going to the Emperor:

“The Galactic Empire…was the government that rose to power in the aftermath of the Clone Wars, replacing the Galactic Republic. Central authority was given to Darth Sidious, publicly known as Emperor Palpatine, who was also the Dark Lord of the Sith. For nearly two decades, the legislative body was the Imperial Senate, but it was dissolved by the Emperor shortly before the Battle of Yavin. During the reign of the Empire, countless star systems were conquered and dissident actions ruthlessly stamped out by the rapidly expanding Imperial Army and Navy. The Empire also oversaw the near extermination of the Jedi, with the destruction of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and its renovation into the newly named Imperial Palace.”

I know one could say this is a Star Wars wikia and it will biased. However, what this says makes it obvious that the Empire was a dictatorial regime. Also in Episode 4, the Imperial Senate was DISSOLVED. The legislative body was a joke, as noted in the following passage from this article:

“…By its fourteenth year of existence, the new Senate had started growing weaker as the Emperor’s planetary governors assumed more responsibility over their territories. However, the Emperor preserved the Senate in order to make the Empire’s member worlds believe that they still had a part to play in government. Secretly, he planned to disband the Senate from the start but he needed it to preserve order until the Death Star was completed.”

So, I just don’t buy the idea that Empire was a democracy. That goes against the events in the Star Wars animated series and the movies (4, 5, 6) in general. The same goes for the First Order in the new movie which is described as a military junta that was inspired by the Galactic Empire, led by a Supreme Leader and his right-hand man, Kylo Ren who “would oversee the colonization of the Unknown Regions and destruction of the last Jedi” but lacked an official capital.

So back to Gutteridge. He writes that “we’re cheering a bunch of monarchists fighting a democracy? How’d that happen?” then tweets comparisons between the Rebel Alliance, which was a “military resistance government” just like the Resistance. So, in that way the Rebel Alliance are right-wing one could argue. However, one could say they are a resistance force to the empire, almost a guerrilla movement, and don’t really constitute a state like the Empire or the First Order which has, as Max Weber notes about all states, “monopoly on the use of force.” But I’ll address this later on.

“The hints were there from the start”

Ok. Let’s see what you have to say.

“Who exactly are these “rebels”? When you look at it, they don’t seem like an uprising of working class people. When we very first see Luke Skywalker on the farm on Tattooine , his Uncle owns the farmland. It’s droids who do all the blue collar work. It seems the rebellion is led by landed gentry and dispossessed monarchists who’ve had their traditional power structure threatened by an emerging republic.”

Hmm. You could say that and perhaps the rebellion is made up of middle-class folks. By this description Luke would be part of the petty bourgeoisie since he could be arguably part of a strata that “rely entirely on the sale of their labor-power for survival…and thus can buy the labor-power of the proletariat [the droids in this case] and lumpenproletariat to work the means of production.” At the same time the Rebellion could arguably include lumpenproletariat people like gangster Han Solo and his companion Chewbacca. But I agree its not a rebellion of the proletariat in a Marxian or radical sense. That can even be said about the group of rebels in the new animated series Star Wars Rebels in one sense or another.

Now onto the other claims. According to Wookiepedia, the Rebel Alliance had their origins in a group of Senators who “were vocal opponents of Palpatine’s reformations” and was “found itself increasingly at odds with the Chancellor’s increasing executive powers, and often had trouble gaining an audience with him.” Two of the individuals were key in what became the Rebel Alliance. Jumping ahead, another page notes that this rebellion had a mission to restore “liberty” to the galaxy, at least initially and eventual establishment of a Republic like the Galactic Republic in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. Another part of the same page notes that the Rebel Alliance constituted of a government and a military command led by the Chief of State who was led an “elected dictatorship, [since] the Chief of State had virtually unlimited power over the Alliance” and was taken out of power after the Emperor died. Other parts of the Rebel government included an Advisory Council comprises of representatives from “seven Alliance governments who had given the most lives in battle to defeating the Empire” and it was “responsible for approving or disapproving the proposals of the Chief of State.” There was also an alliance cabinet which allowed the Chief of State to “maintain and run the Alliance,” Alliance Allied Commands, or the “the individual governments of worlds, organizations, and groups that were members of the Alliance” and then the military which was led by the Chief of State. In this way, the Rebel Alliance can be considered a state but also a guerrilla movement at the same time. Undoubtedly it can be considered right-wing but so can the Empire.

“There was one time I was talking about this, a guy said to me, “actually Queen Abadalamadingdong was “elected” to her seat in the senate.” I looked it up on the interwebs, and that’s technically true. She was elected. When she was 14, though. Now, I know this was probably written this way because,George Lucas wanted to line things up so that Princess Allibabababoo [actually Amidala] wouldn’t be too much older, years later when she got it on with young boy-band-era Vader. I don’t know why that was a problem, because there ain’t nothing wrong with a little cougar action, but that seems to be what happened at the script writing level.”

Yes, this is true and Anakin was a creeper. Naboo definitely had what one could call an elected monarchy.

“Whatever, though. Lucas might have been more focused on character time lines than the politics, but it doesn’t excuse anything. We’ve still got the story we’ve got.”

I guess you could say that.

“No functioning democracy elects a 14 year old girl to anything higher than hall monitor, so she has to have been ushered into power by a ruling elite.”

That’s a good point, except not everything in the world that is considered a “democracy” is not necessarily a democracy. So in this way, yes, Naboo isn’t a democracy.

“If the rebellion were just the landed gentry, that might be a excusable. Hell, George Washington was the wealthiest land owner in the colonies , but there was still some merit in his rebellion. But the situation gets worse. Because at the heart of the rebellion are the Jedi.”

Ok, I don’t know how that would be excusable. Well, the Jedi are sort of at the heart of it, but they also aren’t.

“At first glance, the Jedi seem all Zen and spiritual and peaceful. You first see Obi Wan out wandering in the desert, fighting injustices, like Caine in Kung Fu . So, you know, you think they’re all a bunch of counter culture revolutionary warrior monks. But then in the movie The Phantom Menace , which historically is further back in time, you see the Jedi in the penthouse suite of some deluxe high rise on the capital planet of the galaxy. They have this Star Chamber with bay windows overlooking the metropolis. They’re casually chatting over Earl Gray tea about how to influence politics and alter the fates of all the citizens of the galaxy.”

That is kinda true if you think about it. I can remember some scene in a Clone Wars episode when a clone calls the Jedi slavemasters literally:

“As they present Slick before the Jedi, Slick snaps that his brothers are enslaved by the Jedi, that he was striking a blow for all clones and that he loves his brothers, but Cody and Rex retort that he has now exposed them all to certain doom. Cody orders the other clones to take the traitor to lockup.”

Not only that but I can remember people in the animated series saying there’s a hypocrisy for “defenders of the peace” (Jedi) to be warriors. This part from the Episode 3 screenplay is also relevant here:

MACE WINDU: I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor.

Kl-ADI-MUNDI: If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, then he should be removed from office.

MACE WiNDU: That could be a dangerous move … the Jedi Council would have to take control of the Senate in order to secure a peaceful transition . . .

Kl-ADI-MUNDI: . . . and replace the Congress with Senators who are not filled with greed and corruption.

YODA: To a dark place this line of thought will carry us. Hmmmmm. . . . great care we must take.

Seriously they want a coup in a republic, arguably a bourgeois democracy. Yikes! This really would make them theocrats and actually kinda philosopher kings too in a sense. However, without this they are neither of these labels.

“Nobody elected these guys. Nobody voted for Yoda. What the hell happened to the separation of church and state? They’re like the evangelical movement in the US Republican party, pushing their agenda behind the scenes.”

Ok. However, they were basically treated as elite warriors who would defend the Republic. But in some sense you could say they are religious leaders. They aren’t really like the evangelical movement in the US. Here’s a relevant passage from the Episode 4 screenplay which sounds almost like the Force is a religion in a sense:

HAN: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

LUKE: You don’t believe in the Force, do you?

HAN: Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.

Ben smiles quietly.

HAN:  It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

BEN:  I suggest you try it again, Luke.

Then the post notes that:

“Not only are we cheering for anti-democratic monarchists, they’re also fundamentalist theocrats. These guys aren’t just out to stop gays from becoming stormtroopers. These guys start whole ground wars that get who knows how many people killed.”

I wouldn’t say the Jedi started the war. I think Darth Sidious wanted the invasion of Naboo. Even if the Jedi “ambassadors” hadn’t been there, showing their high status, then the invasion and blockade of Naboo would have included. But, yes in a sense we are cheering for right-wingers/rightests. However, there is a bourgeois democracy in the form of the Galactic Republic which sorta seems like the U$ in some way or another. This “democracy” as it will, which Marx and Engels called “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” mirrors the dictatorship that ruled Mexico with an iron fist from the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 until the 1990s which constituted a corporatist political structure led by the PRI and had the legislature as merely a rubber-stamp.

“For example, in Phantom Menace they go down to planet Jamaica where the Jar Jarians live, and convince them to fight a robot army and get mowed down like Aztecs being slaughtered by conquistadors. What do the Jedi offer in return? They send in two human white guys to rescue a human white girl.”

I guess you could say this. However, the Jedi do offer something in return. They help clear the hangar with the help of the Queen and her forces so that Naboo starfighters can destroy the Trade Federation ship of which Anakin succeeds in but by accident. Anyway, it is true they rescue a human white girl (the Queen). At the same time, the Gungans fight a robot army but are quickly surrounded and have to surrender, so I don’t think it accurate to say that they are slaughtered by Aztecs as that almost implies that the movie condemns imperialism which it obviously does not.

“Why do the Jar Jarians agree? ‘Cause the leader of the Jar Jarians is a fucking king… another monarchist. He’s got a divine right to rule to protect, so of course he’s on board.”

I guess you could say that but I think the Gungans are willing to side with the humans (“the Naboo”) because they see their planet under attack by a foreign force (a robot army led by the Trade Federation).

Now, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, but just look at the Empire, they’ve got lots of black, dark atmospheric mood lighting, and lots of heavy breathing. They’ve got to be evil, right? And the Jedi have all soft earth tones, lots of brown, long hair, and eating granola, they’ve got to be good, right? What makes them so good, all deep down?

No I wasn’t wondering that at all. Not sure who would be wondering that.

“Here’s where it gets really fucked up. In the new series of movies, George Lucas revealed to us what it is that makes a Jedi a Jedi. In order to be a part of “the force”, you have to have this stuff in your blood called “Midi-chlorians”. So… you have to be born with the right blood… Not just antidemocratic monarchist fundamentalist theocrats… they’re also racial supremacists! Holy fuck!”

I don’t think that is necessarily racial supremacy. I guess it could be considered genetic supremacy but not racial supremacy necessarily. This is because Jedi do NOT have to be humans to be Jedi. But I will agree it is strange. In fact, as they note in the movies, EVERYONE has medi-chlorians to some extent. As Qui-Gon said in Episode 1 to a young Anakin, who was literally a slave, but freed:

“Midi-chlorians are a microcopic lifeform that reside within all living cells and communicates with the Force. [they are] In your cells. We are symbionts with the midi-chlorians [or] Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you.”

So, I don’t think this constitutes racial supremacy akin to the Nazis. In fact, this kinda just says “the Force” comes from within you, but doesn’t have to do with if you have “the right blood.” One could argue this means it constitutes eugenics, but I don’t agree.

Now it makes sense why the Jedi wear the brown shirts! We’re supposed to cheer for these fascists?

I don’t think they are fascists. Sure, you could argue convincingly they are theocrats, though I don’t agree with that viewpoint, but since the part of the movie about midi-chlorians was wrongly interpreted, this undermines that they are fascists. However, I see the Jedi and the Sith, who are basically conflicting sects of “The Force” religion, as religious warriors, not necessarily as totally theocrats since they don’t completely rule or govern “as a representative of God or a deity, or is a member of the ruling group in a theocracy, as a divine king or a high priest.” Remember there’s still the Senate and the Chancellor. True, these warriors are rogue, but I’m not sure if they can be considered totally part of a “ruling group.” 

“We’re supposed to be happy, singing “yub yub”, along with the Ewoks, when these authoritarian assholes win at the end of Return of the Jedi?”

Well, the Rebels are rightists but aren’t necessarily “authoritarian assholes.” Also by this time most of the Jedi in the galaxy are killed so they aren’t leading the Rebellion.

“A victory which is ludicrous when you think about it. I don’t know what it takes to build a death star, but apparently a death star is something an empire the size of a galaxy can only build one at a time. I think it’s safe to assume that they’d devote their best troops to protecting this thing. The best troops in an entire galaxy.”

Well it could be considered ludicrous except I think the Empire was over-confident and the Ewoks helped the Rebels turn the tide of victory.  So its sorta unbelievable but this is fiction. What do you expect? You could say the same about the destruction of the Starkiller Base in the newest Star Wars movie. Additionally, it is possible for the best troops to be beat by troops that aren’t the best. Its happened in world history before in military battles. It is possible.

“We’re seriously meant to believe that they couldn’t defend a shed in the woods from a pack of plush toys with pre-bronze age technology? It’s so incredulous, it defies all reason… Unless… you think about what the far far away galaxy is like after the final battle that defeats the Empire.”

Well, they couldn’t defend it because of the Ewoks who were able to destroy much of the Empire’s technology in their guerrilla tactics. Also, they only sent a legion of troopers down to Endor, and the Rebels had fought the Empire for years, so I’d imagine there were seasoned enough troops who knew how the fight the empire. Also, what’s so bad with a “primitive” force defeating a “modern,” technologically-advanced force? It happened in Avatar, a movie which had issues considering the white male savior of indigenous people, so it can happen here most definitely.

“There’s probably some tough questions being asked during Luke Skywalker’s thousand year Reich. Questions like, “We fought all these battles, all these people died, We got rid of the evil overlord Darth Vader, and now… his son is in charge? Another Skywalker and his crypto-incestuous sister are running the show now? What kind of revolution was this?””

No, no one is asking those questions. Luke and his sister were NEVER in charge, they were just part of a broader rebellion. Sure, Leia was arguably more part of the ruling class, but she wasn’t directly in charge of the Rebels and Luke most definitely was not, but basically was just like a high-ranking officer in the military. Also, Vader (whose full name could mean “dark father” but it is contested) was never in charge, that was the Emperor. I do think this part of episode 4 is relevant here:

HAN:  It is for me, sister! Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money!

LEIA: You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive!

Later Han becomes a loyal footsoldier of the Rebellion, but this still relevant here.

“Not only has all the power in the galaxy been passing around within one family, but with the death of exiled Pope Yoda, Luke has moved into the position of head of the official state religion. Church and state have been unified, and Ayatollah Skywalker reigns supreme over his dystopian theocratic dictatorship.”

I just don’t think that interpretation is correct. Yoda was never the head of the “official state religion.” The Force can be argued as a religious force or feeling but was NOT the official religion of either the Empire, the Rebellion, First Order, or Resistance. Hence, there was no “theocratic dictatorship.” However, there is a convincing argument that two rightist forces were fighting each other.

“And that’s when it hit me. I saw it, man, I saw what was going on. Maybe George Lucas is the most brilliant film maker of all time.”

What in the world. This is almost half sarcastic.

“You see, think of it like this. History is written by the victors. So maybe what George Lucas is doing is writing this whole series from a meta-contextual point of view, showing us history as it would be depicted if the forces of evil had won.”

Um, ok history is written by victors. As for the next part of this quote, I just don’t think so.

“The story is shown from the point of view after Dear Leader Skywalker went all Stalin on the historical records. The photos have been airbrushed , the scrolls have been burned , the statues knocked down … we’re seeing the revisionist history the House of Skywalker wants us to believe.”

Luke Skywalker never did that. He never was really in a leading position of power. It is true he was a valued footsoldier of the Rebellion, but he was NOT the leader of the Alliance. I don’t even know what to say about the comparison to Stalin here.

“If that’s what George Lucas is doing, it’s fucking brilliant. The hints are there, but you have to peel back the layers of propaganda to look for the real story. What’s really going on?”

Oh boy here we go with the “layers of propaganda.”

“Before the story depicted in the movies begins, democracy was emerging in the galaxy in the form of a republic, with a democratically elected senate. The monarchists and elite were seeing their tyrannical rule coming to an end. They tried to maintain power by filling the sentate with their own kind, like they did with Queen Amadamadingdong. That failed, and they were marginalized.”

I don’t think its that simple. I think there was the pretense of democracy but it was, as even Sheldon Wolin puts it, a managed democracy, in the Galactic Republic. But more accurately it was a bourgeois democracy. Yet, Gutteridge doesn’t say this.

“[Referring to an above picture.] In this telling scene, Anakin Skywalker argues against the extra-judicial summary execution of a political leader by a Jedi zealot, and calls instead for a trial by jury. For this, he is depicted as a villain.”

The “political leader” who speak of was actually also a theocrat in a sense and led his own branch of “The Force” religion. Hence, Palpatine was more like a religious leader who masqueraded as a political leader than the latter. He is almost more a theocrat than the Jedi since he holds a leading position in government while the Jedi don’t technically hold such a position but just kinda do their own thing, which has some consequences (good and bad). Also, Palpatine was trying to kill the Jedi warrior. Yes, Anakin was trying to call for a trial, but Windu’s point that he is “too dangerous to stay alive” if I remember the words right, is valid. In my thinking Palpatine knew something like this would happen, so he made it so the Jedi would say he should die and then Anakin would come to Palpatine’s aid. Also, Anakin is a bit selfish and out for himself, so he can’t be painted as the “good” guy here. Anyway, here’s the relevant passage showing that Anakin is painted an agent of evil for good reason, even though he advocated a right for trial of Palpatine even as the courts are corrupt (bolding is my emphasis):

ANAKIN lands his speeder, jumps out, and runs down a long corridor toward the Chancellor’s office.

In the heat of battle, MACE cuts the window behind the Chancellor’s desk, and it crashes away. MACE is forced out onto the ledge, which is twenty stories up. They fight over the precipice. ANAKIN arrives to see PALPATINE and MACE fighting.

They stop as MACE forces PALPATINE to drop his sword. PALPATINE and MACE start yelling at each other.

MACE WINDU: You are under arrest, My Lord.

PALPATINE: Anakin! I told you it would come to this. I was right. The Jedi are taking over.

MACE WlNDU: You old fool. The oppression of the Sith will never return. Your plot to regain control of the Republic is over . . . you have lost . . .

PALPATINE: No! No! You will die!

PALPATINE raises his hands, and lightning bolts shoot out. They are blocked by MACE’s lightsaber. PALPATINE is pushed back against the window sill.

PALPATINE: He is a traitor, Anakin.

MACE WlNDU: He’s the traitor. Stop him!

PALPATINE: Come to your senses, boy. The Jedi are in revolt. They will betray you, just as they betrayed me.

MACE WlNDU: Aarrrrggghhhhh . . .

PALPATINE: You are not one of them, Anakin. Don’t let him kill me.

MACE WlNDU: Aarrrrggghhhhh . . .

PALPATINE: I am your pathway to power. I have the power to save the one you love. You must choose. You must stop him.

MACE WlNDU: Don’t listen to him, Anakin.

PALPATINE: Help me! Don’t let him kill me. I can’t hold on any longer. Ahhhhhhh . . . ahhhhhhh . . . ahhhhhhh . . .

MACE pushes PALPATINE out to the edge of the ledge. As the Jedi moves closer, the bolts from Palpatine’s hands begin to arch back on him. The Chancellor’s face begins to twist and distort. His eyes become yellow as he struggles to intensify his powers.

PALPATINE: I can’t … I give up. Help me. I am weak … I am too weak. Don’t kill me. I give up. I’m dying. I can’t hold on any longer.

MACE WlNDU: You Sith disease. I am going to end this once and for all.

ANAKIN: You can’t kill him, Master. He must stand trial.

MACE WlNDU: He has too much control of the Senate and the Courts. He is too dangerous to be kept alive.

PALPATINE: I’m too weak. Don’t kill me. Please.

ANAKIN: It is not the Jedi way . . .

MACE raises his sword to kill the CHANCELLOR.

ANAKIN: (continuing) He must live . . .

PALPATINE: Please don’t, please don’t . . .

ANAKIN: I need him . . .

PALPATINE: Please don’t . . .

ANAKIN: NO!!!

Just as MACE is about to slash PALPATINE, ANAKIN steps in and cuts off the Jedi’s hand holding the lightsaber.

As MACE stares at ANAKIN in shock, PALPATINE springs to life.
The full force of Palpatine’s powerful Bolts blasts MACE. He attempts to deflect them with his one good hand, but the force is too great. As blue rays engulf his body, he is flung out the window and falls twenty stories to his death. No more screams. No more moans. PALPATINE lowers his arm.

PALPATINE: Power! Unlimited power!

His face has changed into a horrible mask of evil. ANAKIN looks on in horror. PALPATINE cackles.

ANAKIN: What have I done?

Hence, its not as simple as just “defending” the right to a trial. There’s a bit more there.

“Even worse for the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father and their chosen messiah, is won over by democratic values. Anakin becomes so keen to distance himself from the cult that has tried to brainwash him since childhood that he dons a Subcomandante Marcos mask and renames himself Darth Vader.”

Well, he doesn’t completely distance himself. He still accepts The Force but just in a different form. In this way he is a religious warrior who will serve an authoritarian Empire and/or the Emperor. So, NO he is not “won over by democratic values.” Don’t you remember when he KILLS all those Jedi in the Jedi Temple literally. Isn’t that basically a religious massacre or what is called a pogrom? Come on now.

“He then aggressively, and for a time successfully, tries to purge the Jedi from the halls of power, making him a champion of the separation of church and state. Which, in my books, is a good thing.”

There never really was a state religion, hence there can’t be a separation of church and state. No one was EVER forced to believed in The Force. It was almost like the Jedi were like high-level thinkers or philosopher kings to some extent, except that they didn’t really have political power but had political prestige.

“By the time we get to Luke Skywalker, democracy is everywhere and things might have gone well, except no one could have anticipated just how ruthless Luke Skywalker would be. Luke was probably moisture farmer on Tatooine as much as George Bush was a Texan rancher. No, Luke was a demagogue laying in wait.”

I really don’t think that was accurate at all. There definitely isn’t democracy everywhere. The Republic at least had a Senate of some value. However, the Empire has a useless and mock-powerful Senate which is abolished in Episode 4. Of not is an episode of the new Star Wars animated series, Star Wars Rebels where Vader orders the burning of a city (Tarkintown) on one of the character’s home planets, Lothal in order to spread fear. Then there was the massacre, which has a My Lai quality, of the town’s inhabitants and the destruction of the town in the newest Star Wars movie as noted in this screenplay:

“Lor San Tekka moves sadly through the village as STORMTROOPERS wielding FLAME THROWERS destroy structures. Surrendering Villagers are ROUNDED UP. Penned ANIMALS panic…The Troopers and villagers in battle — as one Trooper is HIT and goes down. Another — OUR TROOPER — KNEELS to help. The hit trooper raises a torn, bloody glove — his HUMAN HAND visible — and MARKS OUR STORMTROOPER’S MASK WITH BLOOD just before he dies. Our Trooper, stands — overwhelmed by the battle.”

Then this goes on.

“The Skywalker name gives Luke the backing of the Jedi, but they need the money and resources of the monarchists and land owners to fund the Jedi’s jihad against the secular government. To convince the monarchists to come along, Luke and his cohorts concocted this whole story about how he discovered a weapon of mass destruction that only he could destroy. How convenient.”

No, they didn’t concoct the story. Come on. If the Empire is secular, it is a murderous secular state. Who would want to support that?

“Was there really a death star? Everyone who supposedly witnessed a planet being destroyed by a “death star” are all dead now, except, by no coincidence, for Luke’s sister.”

Um, all the rebel pilots saw the death star. Anyway, at the end of Episode 3 the Death Star was under construction and the Geonosians were apparently constructing it or at least had the plans for its construction in Episode 2.

“It was Luke and the Jedi cabal who blew up Alderaan! It was a galactic Reichstag Fire , Gulf of Tonkin , Manchurian railway in space. Great disturbance in the force my ass. It was a great disturbance by the force!”

This isn’t what actually happened and the writer of the original post knows this. It WAS the Empire that blew up the planet. Its almost sarcasm at this point.

“The monarchists were convinced, and supplied Luke with all the resources he need to launch his bloody coup d’état . Luke then makes a huge display of blowing up a star base that could have been a medicine factory for all we know, and the monarchists adorn him with medals for his “Mission Accomplished” moment, which, like similar moments , was only the beginning of the bloodshed.”

Um, it wasn’t a medicine factory. Also, they once again were NOT monarchists. And yes, the end of Episode 4 could said the reminiscent of Nazi rallies, but this was convincingly more the case in the newest Star Wars movie with a rally of the First Order. Seriously, those First Order folks were fascists.

“The final twist of the propaganda knife is claiming that his father renounced democracy just before dying. Again, anyone on the second death star who might have witnessed Vader sacrificing the emperor in an act of atonement to his son – they’re all dead now too.”

This is ridiculous. How is a system that is led by an EMPEROR a democracy? What movies did you watch? Jeez this is so far off that all I can do is laugh.

“That’s how Luke rolls. He kills all witnesses.”

Um no he doesn’t. He blows up the first Death Star, sure, but NOT the second one which is blown up by the Rebel starfleet. Also, the second Death Star killed people on the two ships it destroyed with its blasts to show off its power.

“The whole Star Wars series is Ayatollah Skywalker’s whitewashed history of his brutal ascent to power. It’s his Triumph of the Will !”

Gosh this is getting ridiculous. Skywalker, once again did NOT hold a leading position in the Alliance but was just one of the best fighters. Come on now.

“It even explains the terrible storytelling set against incredible scenery. I mean, it’s a state sponsored propaganda film. It has all the brilliant special effects of a Chinese Olympic opening ceremony , but the stilted story telling of a North Korean news report . Even in the very production of the films the historical revisionism is hinted at. I mean, we all know that the free market neocon mercenary Han Solo shot Greedo first, but even that detail got suppressed to support the official state narrative.”

What? It isn’t a state propaganda film. It is also is not like Chinese or DPRK news reports or ceremonies. Sure, Han Solo could be considered a “free market neocon mercenary.” However, from what I remember the movie NEVER says that Greedo shot first or is this detail expressed. Come on. Jabba the Hut, the head of the underground criminal network, is mad Greedo is killed but that’s about it.

“If it’s the case that the whole Star Wars series is a post modern metacontextual propaganda for the Skywalker regime, then maybe George Lucas is a brilliant writer working on so many more levels than we’ve even discovered yet!”

You got to be kidding me. There was NO “Skywalker regime.” There was just two rightist forces fighting each other. Additionally, the Rebellion was almost a tent for those of different viewpoints. However, it is evident that neither of the forces fighting each other can be seen as truly part of the Left.

“And then I saw Indiana Jones part four , and was reminded that, Lucas is just a hack.”

I’ll agree that movie was horrible. I’m not sure if calling Lucas a hack is fair though even though I think he was broadly a conservative and wanted to reinforce “traditional” values coming from the 1950s from what I’ve read.

“Still, we’ve got the story we’ve got, the most deceptive and seductive pro-fascist narrative ever written. The Jedi mind trick has been played on all of us. “This is not the hero’s journey you were looking for.””

I just don’t agree with this at all. Considering the faulty interpretations elsewhere, this is just totally wrong. Yes, the six major movies have a conservative element and reinforces traditionalism along with arguably patriarchalism. The same could be said about the new movie, but there is some level of a corrective with a female lead character (Rey) and a black stormtrooper who refuses to commit a war crime, an equivalent of the My Lai massacre, named Finn. The same could be said about the new Star Wars Rebels series which has a number of female characters even know the cast is still male-dominated, and the second animated clone wars series, not necessarily the first one.

“So… I’m not a Star Wars fan anymore. If it ever happens again that I see that scene where Luke is going down the trench, I’ll still get tense… but I’ll be cheering for Vader.”

Good for you. Cheer for an empire, which is kinda fascist just from the name of its footsoldiers: stormtroopers. How about cheering for NEITHER side since both sides are kinda rightist? Just an idea.

While I think that comedian Dave Gutteridge makes some valid points about the Star Wars, but his makes a number of conclusions which are not based on evidence from the series itself (ex: that the Empire is a democracy or that Jedi are theocrats). I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but I just think there are a number of fundamental issues that he gets totally wrong as I note above. Perhaps I interpreted this all wrong and he is trying to be really really sarcastic but I sincerely doubt it.

Some additional thoughts

There are a number of historical analogies one could make in relation to the Star Wars series. Tom Engelhardt, argued in one written piece that George Lucas challenged the view that Americans shouldn’t be reminded about the Vietnam war, “decontaminating war of its recent history through a series of inspired cinematic decisions that rescued crucial material from the wreckage of Vietnam.” Engelhart continues by rightly pointing out that Lucas started the Star Wars series in its “own self-enclosed universe in deepest space and in an amorphous movie past…an era of civil war, an evil empire, rebels, an ultimate weapon, a struggle for freedom” and that “he uncoupled the audience from a legacy of massacre and atrocity” with Skywalker’s family suffering “its own My Lai,” He writes that this allows the audience and Luke to “set off on an anti-imperial venture as the victimized, not as victimizers” and that later on, “Lucas’s white teenage rebels would glide effortlessly among the natives. They would learn from value-superior Third World mystics…and be protected by ecological fuzzballs like the Ewoks.” Engelhart writes that after the 1970s, “Star Wars-like themes also began to penetrate the world of adult entertainment” and this allowed G.I. Joe to be reintroduced along with other “action figures” to released as Star Wars knock offs.

While Englehart makes valid points, I think it important to recognize the different interpretations of Star Wars before putting forward my own analysis. Steven Belletto and Daniel Grausam argue that the film quickly undermines the reading that it is critical of the United States, saying that Episode IV’s premise “associates the Rebels with Western settlers and heroes” and then populates the Empire “with soldiers and henchmen outfited for a Stanlist regime.” [1] They further argue, on the same page, that the movie also puts forward the idea that the West is represented by “technologically inferior Rebels” rather than an invading war machine, which revives the narrative that “the South Vietnamese Army comprised the freedom fighters” and that the North Vietnamese were “agents of a monolithic, evil, Communist empire set on world domination.” In writing about Episode 5, Belletto and Grausam argue that the movie is just “dumbed down Emerson” and claiming that Yoda has a resemblance to Reagan. [2] They argue that for Episode 6, Luke is an “optimistic Reaganite” who continues to underestimate the power of the Dark Side, that the Rebels aren’t for freedom from the Empire’s grasp but they want to supplant it as the governing force of the galaxy. [3] They later write that there is the triumph of the Rebels in episode 6 means that class distinctions are dissolved, with nobility, who they describe as Luke and Leia, along with Ewok and Wookies participating, meaning that, in their interpretation, “the Eastern establishment and European aristocracy acknowledge their appreciation for the lone ranger, just as he acknowledges his commitment to their benevolent monarchy.” [4] Belletto and Grausum also write that three patriarchs, redeemed Vader, Yoda and Obi-Wan, in their interpretation, return in Episode 6 at the end “to celebrate this marriage of Western adventurism [symbolized by Han Solo] and Eastern monarchy that confirm the union’s implicit hierarchy as part of the natural order.” [5]

Then, there’s Stephen McVeigh who looks at what the engine that drives the Star Wars narrative. He argues that the original trilogy (episodes 4-6) constitutes ” a post-Vietnam critique of military superiority whereby a technological superpower is defeated by smaller, more humanized forces” and that the films present “a dual reading of U.S. military might” as either a “morally bankrupt oppressor” or that U.S. interests and actions are just. [6] He also argues that while some critics tend to argue that the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany is represented by the Empire, that “the dark truth at the core of Lucas’s evil Empire is that it presents a version of America itself” and that the Star Wars movies are more than about posturing of Cold War superpowers, and by recognizing “that the rebels and Empire are one and the same side” only does Lucas’s mission come to the surface. [7]  He goes on beyond this, but this alone is worth mentioning.

It is worth mentioning, last but not least that there is a group of writers that assert that Star Wars is related to Vietnam, as Englehart alluded to. McVeigh writes that Star Wars Episode 4 has to be seen in light of the Vietnam War and that instead of detailing the horrors of Vietnam, he “decided to offer a balm…ramp [of] the mythic landscape that had been so badly traumatized by  American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia.” [8] His mission, as the writers argue, is to repair “the damage done by the Vietnam War on the American people.” [9] McVeigh also writes than later also argue that Episode 1 fit into fears of U.S. culture (conspiracy and paranoia) and that the relevance of Star Wars to “stories that connect to become an account of passage of American self-concept through the aftermath of Vietnam” assures the series a “unique place within American popular culture.” [10] Other than McVeigh, Dan Rubey argues that Episode 4 uses “an image ourselves from the past,” referring to dogfights during WWII which Lucas used as a basis for fights in the Star Wars movies, and that it has direct relation to Vietnam. [11] He also writes that the film feeds on the feelings of the audience of frustration along with numerous desires (escape, mobility, and power) and satisfies them with a good/evil dichotomy, numerous metaphors and endorse “traditional structures of racism, sexism and social hierarchy that have helped to create and maintain those frustrations.” [12] The same write also argues that Lucas has a “conservative ideological bias,” that Star Wars is a “chivalric romance plot” that is about power of the Force which is gendered as male, that the Rebels are restorers of the old order, and that “Lucas dooms Star Wars to repeat all the ideological cliches of our society” [13] 

These assessments are validated in numerous ways by the franchise itself. In one Lucasfilm book titled Star Wars and History, Vietnam is mentioned 19 times. More directly are sections from J. W. Rinzle’s The Making of Star Wars (Enhanced Edition). In the book, it says that George Lucas originally wanted to make Apocalypse Now, which is as any viewers know, a very antiwar and anti-Vietnam War film. As Rinzle writes in a section titled “Vietnam Wars in Space,” “the Vietnam War was just too controversial” meaning that Lucas, who was apparently poor and in debt, turned to an unnamed science fiction project which became Star Wars. In the book, Rinzle quotes Lucas as saying he had “very strong feelings” about Apocalypse Now, implying that Star Wars was about the Vietnam War with political ideas he was going to put in that movie going into Star Wars. [14] The most telling quote from Lucas which basically confirms that Star Wars is about reclaiming the Vietnam War (with “selective” concepts) is as follows:

“A lot of my interest in Apocalypse Now was carried over into Star Wars. I figured that I couldn’t make that film because it was about the Vietnam War, so I would essential deal with some of the same interesting concepts that I was going to use and convert them into space fantasy, so you’d have essentially a large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters or human beings.”

I could go on and mention numerous other books that mention how Star Wars is a reflection on the Vietnam War. However, I think it best to give my other thoughts at this present time. The argument that the Rebels and the Empire are just two sides of the same coin, representing different elements of the United States, is relatively convincing. [15] I was thinking about this today and if the Empire represented the Soviet Union, the process of events doesn’t make much sense. I say that because there was no major military defeat of the Soviet Union by the United States before the 1970s, which would be represented by the Death Star’s explosion, and America was not defeated by the Soviet Union as they were by the Empire at the beginning of Episode 5. This would get even more confusing because the Empire was originally a Galactic Republic, which Russia was NOT before the Russian revolution of 1917. I also thought that maybe Episode 1 referred to WWI and that the Clone Wars referred to WWII but in terms of the events that happened in Star Wars, this doesn’t make much sense either. Neither does the destruction of the Death Star refer to the Korean War or the battle of Hoth in episode 5 refer to the Bay of Pigs invasion (and disaster), as one could think.

Still, there are a number of important observations to make and I don’t need to read the Star Wars and Philosophy book in order to assert them. Both forces, “good” and “evil,” are arguably right-wing. The Galactic Republic in episodes 1-3 is basically a bourgeois democracy, the Trade Federation in episodes 1-3 which was “an interstellar shipping and trade conglomerate,” while the CIS in episodes 2-3 is a confederacy led by a Sith lord. It is also possible that Lucas is condemning certain ideas since, as noted in this Wookiepedia entry, the trade groups that supported the CIS’s cause were nationalized by the Galactic Empire. As for the Rebels in episodes 4-6, they were, as noted earlier, an authoritarian government that aimed to bring back the bourgeois democracy of the Galactic Republic (of which they succeeded in Episode 6). Then, the Empire is obviously a fascist force which is authoritarian in nature as well. The same dynamic is the case in the newest Star Wars movie with the First Order as obviously fascist and after the New Republic, which representing the bourgeois democracy, is destroyed, the Resistance is just like the Rebels.

After reading through these different books on the subject, I am more critical than ever of the series. Still, I guess unlike Gutteridge and others,  I guess I still have some hope in the Star Wars series and think that it has at least some value due to its deeply problematic aspects. But, this hope could obviously be shattered into many pieces, and that is why I look forward to your comments on this issue. In the end, I plan to write another article on this topic but I hope that this is the beginning of a more critical approach to the Star Wars series which is lauded too often, especially after the recent movie.


Notes:

[1] Belletto, Steven and Grausam, Daniel. American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War: A Critical Reassessment. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2012. 197.

[2] Ibid, 198-9.

[3] Ibid, 200, 203.

[4] Ibid, 205.

[5] Ibid, 206-7.

[6] Sweet, Derek R. Star Wars in the Public Square: The Clone Wars as Political DialogueJefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. 8.

[7] McVeigh, Stephen. The Galactic Way of Warfare. Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, & Critics (ed. Matthew Kapell and  John Shelton Lawrence). New York: Peter Lang, 2006. 38.

[8] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 39.

[9] Ibid, 46, 54.

[11] Rubey, Dan. No So Long Ago nor Far Away: New Variations on Old Themes and Questioning Star Wars‘ Revival of Heroic Archetypes. Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars: An Anthology (ed Douglas Brode and Leah Deyneka). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press Inc., 2012. 51.

[12] Ibid, 52

[13] Ibid, 53, 57-8, 63.

[14] The book also notes that Vietnam, along with conflicts and government affected his thinking about the series. Also, in one part of the book it reprints a telling quote from a legal pad he used when writing ideas for the original movie which shows he is not necessarily against American empire: “Theme: Aquilae is a small independent country like North Vietnam threatened by a neighbor or provincial rebellion, instigated by gangsters aided by empire. Fight to get rightful planet back. Half of the system has been lost to gangsters…The empire is like America ten years from now, after gangsters assassinated the Emperor and were elevated to power in a rigged election…We are at a turning point: fascism or revolution.” Elsewhere the book quotes Lucas as saying that the movie is a reflection on the Vietnam War: “to not make a decision is a decision…what usually happens is a small minority stands up against it, and the major portion are a lot of indifferent people who aren’t doing anything one way or the other. And by not accepting the responsibility, those people eventually have to confront the issue in a more painful way, which is essentially what happened in the United States with the Vietnam War.”

[15] Also, since there is the division of the galaxywide religion of the Force which is divided into “light” and “dark”, Jedi and Sith, it is clear once again that we are talking about two sides of the same coin.