Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Historical Precedent for Genocide (SOAPBOX REPLAY WITH ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ)

November 23, 2016

Soapbox Re-broadcast
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz author of:
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Dear Friends,

Even though I feel like I have much to be thankful for: my family, friends, supporters, good health, and energy; I recognize that the holiday of ThankStealing should be no day of celebration, but one of mourning for the genocide of the indigenous population of the Americas.

Today, several centuries after the first "Thanksgiving," the US, which has a long and sordid history of dirty-dealings with the sovereign nations of tribal peoples, is sitting idly by while the police state is attacking the water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters and allies. Water and sound cannons along with concussion grenades and other "non" lethal means are being deployed against people in favor of corporations that are compromising the future of our children and planet. 

I majored in US history and I had a professor for a few of my lower-division classes that always stressed that there was not one treaty that the US made with Indian tribes that was not violated, and not after being pushed on to smaller and less desirable locations, the US Corporate State won't even allow the people to live in peace and free from toxicity and poison.

This ThankStealing Day, I remember and honor those people who are fighting for their very lives and peace in North Dakota.

Recently in North Dakota, a young woman from NYC named Sophia Wilansky had one of her arms blown to pieces by a concussion grenade SHOT at her by a class-enemy of the people in North Dakota. Sophia was there to support the actions and was passing out water at the time. (Read an article about it here). 

Lame-duck Obama pardons a turkey at the White House while goons are attacking protesters and Imperial thugs are oppressing and murdering people all over the world. The people need a pardon (and a permanent break) from violence and oppression by the US Empire.

I reflect that it really isn't about Obama, or Trump, or Clinton, but about a long history of oppression and the need of the people to rise up against it: not just against one part of it, or a piece of it, BUT THE ENTIRE thing, if we want real change.

I am sending the money that I am saving on NOT buying a Turkey or going shopping on Black Friday, and sending it to the camps at Standing Rock. 

Read the text of the proclamation by Wamsutta of the Wampanoagan on the occasion of the first Plymouth Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving 1979.

Cindy Sheehan
(I always wish peace and beauty for you all)

The U.S. Presidential Elections and Building the Antiwar Movement Today By Janine Solanki, Azza Rojbi and Alison Bodine

Today, anyone under the age of 15 has never known a world that is not at war. While there have been other times of war, the last 15 years have seen a sustained, increasing and deliberately planned war drive, with US imperialism leading the charge.

This new era of war and occupation started with the 2001 war and occupation of Afghanistan which still continues today and has even become more dangerous, with the United Nations reporting that 2015 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians. In 2003, the invasion and occupation of Iraq began with the claims of "fighting terror" and "weapon of mass destruction," now it has become a new war with the excuse of fighting Islamic State or Daesh (also known as ISIS). Daesh, it must be noted, only existed and grew under the US occupation in Iraq and as a result of US funding and arming so-called “rebel” mercenaries in Syria. The 2011 war on Libya turned the country with the highest living standard in Africa to complete chaos and a failed state. Not to forget, the so-called “forgotten war” in Yemen has seen daily bombings for the last 18 months by the Saudi-led coalition against people of Yemen. Although the US government has tried to downplay their role in this brutal war and humanitarian crisis, the war is carried out with US surveillance and logistical support, as well as US arms deals and even US drone strikes. In Syria, the last 5 years of a US fomented civil war has resulted in more than 400,000 people killed and nearly half of the country's population has had to flee their homes.

This list could continue, from US aggressions in Latin America, especially with sanctions, threats and covert operations in Venezuela, to the US-backed coup in Ukraine, interventions throughout Africa and the build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe on the border with Russia.

Building Anti war Movement Is A Necessity Not An Option

This sustained and increasing new era of war and occupation has come at a human cost, with innocent people killed and countries and lives torn apart. We also have seen what happens after 15 years of war makes so many countries uninhabitable. Today the world is seeing the largest refugee crisis in history, as those fleeing war zones are making the perilous journey to arrive in Europe as refugees.

15 years of the new era of war and occupation has not only continued, it has persisted and expanded under both Republican and Democratic party administrations in the US. While the results of the upcoming US election remain to be decided on November 8th, we can be sure that either candidate, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, will be a war president. 15 years of this war drive is enough to tell peace and justice loving people world-wide that we need an active, united and effective antiwar movement. So far, the antiwar movement has not been nearly active or large enough. As we are moving to an even more aggressive war president, whichever candidate that it may be, it is ever more vital to build the antiwar movement as our immediate task.

Looking at the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, it is easy to see that war is a top agenda point for both candidates. With Clinton, unlike Trump, we have a track record to judge her from decades of political involvement and office. While with Trump his views on war shift from “I want to be unpredictable” to “I would bomb the s— out of ’em”.

Clinton and Trump, The Modern Ares and Enyo (goddess and god of war)

Although Hillary Clinton is trying to back-peddle on her opinion now, the facts are that Hillary Clinton did very well support, with her vote as senator of New York, the war on Iraq. As for Afghanistan, she has supported the war and in 2009 as Secretary of State she supported the troop surge that saw over 30,000 more US troops enter Afghanistan. She also supported President Obama's plan to keep a US troop presence in Afghanistan through the end of his term which, if she becomes president, leaves her with US troops still in Afghanistan.

Clinton's most famous military spotlight was in Libya, where she was the face for US involvement in the 2011 undeclared war on Libya. This included the extent of US Special Operations in Libya, backing the Libyan so-called rebels, orchestrating a massive demonization campaign of the former Libyan President Ghaddafi, conducting, with NATO, a no-fly zone which was effectively a massive bombing campaign against Libya, right down to the assassination of Ghaddafi. Her callus and war-hungry nature was famously caught on video when her reaction to news that Ghaddafi had been killed was to laugh and say "We came, we saw, he died!"

Clinton's next step, if she is to make it to the Presidency, is to implement a “no-fly zone” over Syria. That is, as we saw in Libya, not a no-one flies zone but an only US can fly zone… in other words, a way to escalate US airstrikes in Syria and create provocations with the Syrian government and Russia.

Donald Trump, besides being on the Republican ticket which has it's own deadly track record, also speaks to and activates the most dangerous underbelly of Republican Americans. Trump is a war monger demagogue, using fear mongering and appealing to racist, discriminatory and jingoist tendencies among the American public. While constantly changing his foreign policy statements, there is enough evidence to prove that one of his few consistencies is that he would most definitely be a war president, of unknown proportions.

Despite his assertions that he didn't mean what he said, there is more than enough proof (as in audio recordings) to show his support for the initial invasion of Iraq. However, there is much more current proof of his war mongering disposition, and it's not just his claim that "I'm really good at war". Regarding Libya, in a 2011 video blog post Trump proposed “we should go in” and suggested that those who "end up taking over the country eventually" will "appreciate" the US intervention and that "they should pay us back" for the military assistance with their oil. More succinctly, in an April 2011 interview with Wall Street Journal Trump said “I’m only interested in Libya if we take the oil. If we don’t take the oil, I’m not interested.” He did clarify his support for the assassination of former Libyan President Ghaddafi in a more recent June 5, 2016 CBS interview in which he said "It could have seen surgical, where you take out Gaddafi and his group. You do a surgical shot and you take him out.”

How to combat Daesh has been a major election position, Trump laid out his plan at a November 12, 2015 rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left.” A few months later during a March 10th, 2016 debate he said “We have to knock out ISIS," "I would listen to the generals, but I'm hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000." How and where, as in is this his prescription for Iraq, Syria or both, is not clear.

Trump has also laid out his plans to build up the US military, when during an NBC “Meet the Press” interview in October 2015 he said "I'm gonna build a military that's gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It's gonna be so strong, nobody's gonna mess with us.” Trump also called for increasing the number of ships, submarines and fighter jets, and to bolster the US's missile defense systems, including modernizing Navy cruiser ships.

Trump's preference for a hard line approach in matters of war abroad is echoed in his policies at home. He is well known for his inflammatory Islamophobic statements, which include a call to ban Muslims from the US. He even stated that he would send Syrian refugees accepted to the US back by saying, "I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they're going back" at a September 30, 2015 event in Keene, NH.

We Need An Urgent and Serious Political and Organizational Preparation

The bottom line is: Trump and Clinton both are promoting a bigger military, tougher policing and more troops in Iraq. The antiwar movement needs to stand for our rights to protest and any attempts to take them away, and needs to do so by exercising them. The antiwar movement needs to prepare and start organizing now, not wait for what type of Trump-style attacks may be in store if he ends up as president.

While this article is a call to antiwar organizations and peace-loving people to come together in building the antiwar movement, the next question is, how? For an antiwar movement to be strong and effective it must have a clear and unwavering antiwar position, it must organize consistently and not on an occasional basis, and be always working to unite with different groups locally, nationally and ,very importantly, internationally.

In Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver, Canada, we recently marked 13 years of antiwar organizing. From the beginning to today, MAWO has been organizing on the basis of the principles prescribed above, and this has enabled us to grow to being the most active and consistant antiwar organization in Canada. It is with the experience of the last 13 years that we are taking on the new turn towards an escalated war drive that is sure to come with the election of the next US president.

In order to have any sort of legitimacy, our antiwar positions need to make sense and not waver, even if they may seem unpopular in the face of right-wing mainstream media spinning confusion and manipulating public opinion. The guiding line always comes back to self-determination for all oppressed nations. Those who have the most genuine interests at heart are the people of a particular nation, and certainly are not a foreign government crying crocodile tears while their track record shows that every foreign imperialist military intervention only resulted in more bloodshed. We must fight the amnesiac and uncritical attitude that mainstream media promotes, which looks at a given situation without any background or history, and remember that we have the truth on our side, we just need to make it heard. As Fidel Castro once said, “The truth must not be only the truth, it must be told.”

How to make the message against war and for peace heard is of course a difficult task when you don't have access to media outlets. So we must educate, organize and mobilize with consistency and creativity. The ruling classes, whether administered by Obama, Clinton or Trump, do not occasionally promote their war drive, or occasionally carry out military operations. It is day in, day out for them, and it must be day in day out for the antiwar movement if we are to be effective. Without the same kind of money or resources as the ruling class, we have to be creative in finding every way we can to promote antiwar politics. Needless to say that also to be successful we must become united. Unity in action is our secret to success.

As social media has advanced it has become an outlet and tool that antiwar organizations can utilize but by no means should it replace the importance of organizing and mobilizing on the streets.

In MAWO we know consistency through every monthly rally and petition campaign we hold, through our at least monthly public forums, and through newsletters and literature, statements and press releases. Creativity catches people's attention, for example when our rally includes a photo exhibit of the war on Yemen, or a forum opens with a poetry reading. Also, MAWO has held nine Hip Hop Festivals for Peace which have broadened the scope of antiwar politics to the Hip Hop community and especially towards youth. The festival has helped to promote the message that antiwar politics are for everyone, and artists and youth have an important role to play in the antiwar movement. MAWO's Film Festival for Peace has been held 10 times, and is truly a one of a kind example of how the medium of film can bring the brutality of war and occupation home for people and encourage them to get involved. These festivals, as well as MAWO’s regular antiwar cultural nights, are not just “using” art to bring forward an antiwar message, but recognizing that art reflects our human experiences which in today’s world include experiences of war, occupation and oppression.

Three Factors of Success: Unity, Unity & Unity

While we can do great work in one organization, it is no match for when we are united, coordinated and collaborating with other organizations in our own city, across the country and around the world. We cannot build a movement in just individual organizations, but when we join together we can become an effective and powerful movement. In MAWO we have worked to connect with communities in Vancouver, such as the Muslim and Middle Eastern communities, as well as the Indigenous and Latin American communities. We have established connections with students organizing on their campuses and with environmental activists, bridging the gaps of singular issues to build the understanding that antiwar and social justice issues are often fighting the same battles. We are much stronger when supporting each other and working together. This continues nationally and internationally, MAWO has hosted antiwar organizers and activists from across the US for events in Vancouver and in the last year alone has taken MAWO organizers to Montreal to participate in the World Social Forum and to London, England for an International Conference on Yemen.

We have now recently joined as a founding member to an important initiative called the Hands Off Syria Coalition. A basis of unity has been circulating worldwide, with currently 206 organizations signed on and 1183 individual signers. This is a great step forward for uniting social justice and antiwar organizations and individuals around the world to bring an end to the foreign intervention and sanctions against Syria. Today Syria is focal point for imperialists to advance their attack on us and oppressed people worldwide. We cannot afford to be defeated by imperialists in Syria, period. Humanity is at stake. More on this new coalition can be found at

With the days counting down to the results of the US election, for antiwar activists we already know the result will be a war president. We must not hesitate or wait for the new president to move, but immediately increase our efforts to build a united and effective antiwar movement. After 15 years of the new era of war and occupation showing no signs of slowing down, building the antiwar movement is a vital task for not only antiwar and social justice activists but for all peace and justice loving people around the world. Let's join together to bring an end to the brutal wars killing our brothers and sisters, destructing humanity and civilization and work for a world without war and for peace. We are not just a dreamers, we are many, we are the majority.

No to war and occupation! Yes to self-determination!
US Hands Off Syria!
US/UK Saudi Arabia Hands Off Yemen!

* Janine Solanki, Azza Rojbi and Alison Bodine are central organizers and members of executive commitee of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Congressional Hawks Rush to Intensify War in Syria by Rick Sterling

First appeared in Dissident Voices

Congressional Hawks Rush to Intensify War in Syria

Hawks pass HR5732

Late in the day Tuesday November 15, Congress convened in special session.  With normal rules suspended, they passed House Resolution 5732 the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”.  The resolution calls for intensifying already harsh sanctions on Syria, assessing implementation of No Fly Zone in Syria and escalating efforts to press criminal charges against Syrian officials.  HR5732 claims to promote a negotiated settlement in Syria but, as analyzed by Friends Committee for National Legislation, imposes preconditions which would actually make that more difficult.

There was 40 minutes of “debate” with six representatives (Royce, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Kildee, Smith, and Curbelo) speaking in favor of the resolution.  There were few other Congressional representatives present in Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the resolution was passed “unanimously” without mentioning the special conditions.

The “Non Controversial” Resolution that could lead to World War III

According to wikipediaSuspension of the rules is a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills in the United States House of Representatives ….such as naming Post Offices…”  
 In this case, the resolution calls for evaluating and developing plans for a “No Fly Zone” which is an act of war.  This is obviously controversial and it seems clear the resolution should have been debated and discussed under normal rules with a normal amount of Congressional presence and debate.

The motivation for bypassing normal rules and rushing the bill through without debate was articulated by the bill’s author and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel: “We cannot delay action on Syria any further…. if we don’t get this legislation across the finish line in the next few weeks, we are back to square one.”  The current urgency may be related to the election results since Trump has spoken out against “regime change” foreign policy.  As much as they are critical of Obama for not doing more, Congressional neoconservatives are concerned about the prospect of a President who might move toward peace and away from war.

The Caesar Fraud  

HR5732 is titled the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Ca) explained that the resolution is named after “the brave Syrian defector known to the world as Caesar, who testified to us the shocking scale of torture being carried out within the prisons of Syria.”

In reality, the Caesar story was a grand deception involving the CIA with funding from Qatar to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations. 

The 55,000 photos which were said to show 11,000 torture victims have never been publicly revealed. Only a tiny number of photos have been publicized. However, in 2015 Human Rights Watch was granted access to view the entire set. They revealed that almost one half the photos show the opposite of what was claimed: instead of victims tortured by the Syrian government, they actually show dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of car bombs and other terror attacks! The “Caesar” story, replete with masked ‘defector’, was one of the early propaganda hoaxes regarding Syria.

False Claims that the US has been doing nothing

One of the big lies regarding Syria is that the US has been inactive. Royce says:
The administration has decided not to decide. And that itself, unfortunately, has set a course where here we sit and watch and the violence only worsens. Mr. Speaker, America has been sitting back and watching these atrocities for far too long. Vital U.S. national security interests are at stake.
The ranking Democrat Eliot Engel said:
Four years ago I thought we should have aided the Free Syrian Army. They came to us in Washington and begged us for help… they were simply looking for weaponry. I really believe if we had given it to them, the situation in Syria would have been different today.
This is nonsense. The US was actively coordinating, training and supplying armed opposition groups beginning in late 2011. When the Qadaffi government was toppled in Fall 2011, the CIA oversaw the theft of the Libyan armories and shipment of weapons to Syrian armed opposition as documented in the Defense Intelligence Agency report of October 2012.

These weapons transfers were secret. For the public record it was acknowledged that the US was supplying communications equipment to the armed opposition while Saudi Arabia and Qatar were supplying weaponry.  This is one reason that Saudi purchases of weapons skyrocketed during this time period; they were buying weapons to replace those being shipped to the armed opposition in Syria. It was very profitable for US arms manufacturers.

Huge weapons transfers to the armed opposition in Syria have continued to the present.  This past Spring, Janes Defense reported the details of a U.S. delivery of 2.2 million pounds of ammunition, rocket launchers and other weaponry to the armed opposition.
Claims that the US has been inactive are baseless. In reality the US has done everything short of a direct attack on Syria. And the US military is starting to cross that barrier. On September 17 the US air coalition did a direct attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, killing 80 Syrian soldiers and enabling ISIS to launch an attack on the position. Claims that it was a “mistake” are highly dubious.

The claims by Congressional hawks that the US has been ‘inactive’ in the Syrian conflict are part of the false narrative suggesting the US must “do something” which leads to a No Fly Zone and full scale war. Ironically, these calls for war are masked as “humanitarian”.  And never do the proponents bring up the case of Libya where the US and NATO “did something”: destroyed the government and left chaos.

Congress as a Fact-Free House of Propaganda

With only a handful of representatives present and no debate, the six Congress members engaged in unrestrained propaganda and misinformation. The leading Democrat, Eliot Engel, said “We’re going into the New Year 2017, Assad still clings to power, at the expense of killing millions of his citizens.” That number is way off anyone’s charts.

Rep Kildee said “The world has witnessed this terrible tragedy unfold before our eyes. Nearly half a million Syrians killed. Not soldiers – men, women, children killed.”
The official text of the resolution says,
It is the sense of Congress that–
(1) Bashar al-Assad’s murderous actions against the people of Syria have caused the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians…
The above accusations – from “millions of citizens” to “half a million” to “400,000 civilians” – are all preposterous lies.
Credible estimates of casualties in the Syrian conflict range from 300,000 to 420,000. The opposition supporting Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the documented 2011-2016 death toll as follows:
killed pro Syrian forces – 108,000
killed anti government forces – 105,000
killed civilians – 89,000
In contrast with Congressional and media claims, civilians comprise a minority of the total death count and the largest casualty group is those fighting in defense of the the Syrian state. These facts are ignored and never mentioned because they point to the reality versus the propaganda narrative which allows the USA and allies to continue funding terrorism and a war of aggression against Syria.

The Congressional speakers were in full self-righteous mode as they accused the Syrian government of  “committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians including murder, torture and rape. No one has been spared from this targeting, even children.” A naive listener would never know that the Syrian government is primarily fighting the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda including thousands of foreigners supplied and paid by foreign governments.

The Congressional speakers go on to accuse the Syrian military of “targeting” hospitals, schools and markets. A critical listener might ask why they would do that instead of targeting the Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies who launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of hell cannon missiles into government held Aleppo every day.

The Congressional propaganda fest would not be complete without mention of the “White Helmets“.  House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said:
We (previously) heard the testimony of Raed Saleh of the Syrian White Helmets. These are the doctors, nurses and volunteers who actually, when the bombs come, run towards the areas that have been hit in order to try to get the injured civilians medical treatment…They have lost over 600 doctors and nurses.
This is more Congressional nonsense.  There are no nurses or doctors associated with the White Helmets. The organization was created by the USA and UK and heavily promoted by a “shady PR firm”.  The White Helmets operate solely in areas controlled by Nusra and associated terrorist groups.  They do some rescue work in the conflict zone but their main role is in the information war manipulating public opinion. The White Helmets actively promote US/NATO intervention through a No Fly Zone.  Recently the White Helmets has become a major source of claims of innocent civilian victims in east Aleppo. Given the clear history of the White Helmets, these claims should be treated with skepticism. What exactly is the evidence?  The same skepticism needs to be applied to video and other reports from the Aleppo Media Center. AMC is a creation of the Syrian Expatriates Organization whose address on K Street, Washington DC indicates it is a US marketing operation.

What is really going on?

The campaign to overthrow the Syrian government is failing and there is possibility of a victory for the Syrian government and allies. The previous flood of international jihadi recruits has dried up.  The Syrian Army and allies are gaining ground militarily and negotiating settlements or re-locations with “rebels” who previously terrorized Homs, Darraya (outer Damascus) and elsewhere. In Aleppo the Syrian army and allies are tightening the noose around the armed opposition in east Aleppo.

This has caused alarm among neoconservative lawmakers devoted to Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. empire.  They are desperate to prevent the Syrian government from finally eliminating the terrorist groups which the West and allies have promoted for the past 5+ years.

“Pro Israel” groups have been major campaigners for passage of HR5732. The name of Simon Wiesenthal is even invoked in the resolution. With crocodile tears fully flowing, Rabbi Lee Bycel wrote  “Where is the Conscience of the World?” as he questioned why the “humanitarian” HR5732 was not passed earlier.

Israeli interests are one of the primary forces sustaining and promoting the conflict. Syria is officially at war with Israel which continues to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria has been a key ally of the Lebanese resistance; and Syria has maintained its alliance with Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton urged Syria to break relations with Hezbollah, reduce relations with Iran and come to settlement with Israel. The Syrian refusal to comply with these Washington demands was instrumental in solidifying Washington’s hostility.

Congressional proponents of HR5732 make clear the international dimension of the conflict. Royce explains “It is Russia, it is Hezbollah, that are the primary movers of death and destruction…it is the IRGC fighters from Iran”.  Engel echoes the same message: “Yes, we want to go after Assad’s partners in violence…along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces”.

These statements are in contrast with the analysis of some writers who believe Israel is not deeply opposed to the Damascus government. For example, Phyllis Bennis recently wrote that belief in an “arc of resistance” has been “long debunked” and that “the Syrian regime …. often plays a useful role for US and Israeli interests.”

It’s remarkable that this faulty analysis continues to be propounded. In words and deeds Israel has made its position on Syria crystal clear.  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained in an interview:
We always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran … the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.
These statements have been fully backed up by Israeli actions bombing Syrian positions in southern Syria and providing medical treatment for Nusra/Al Qaeda and other armed opposition fighters.

What Will Happen Now?

If the Syrian government and allies continue to advance in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, outer Damascus and the south, the situation will come to a head.  The enemies of Syria – predominately the USA, Gulf Countries, NATO and Israel – will come to a decision point.  Do they intervene directly or do they allow their regime project to collapse?

HR5732 is an effort to prepare for direct intervention and aggression.

One thing is clear from the experience of Libya: Neoconservatives do not care if they leave a country in chaos. The main objective is to destabilize and overthrow a government which is too independent. If the USA and allies cannot dominate the country, then at least they can destroy the contrary authority and leave chaos.

What is at stake in Syria is whether the USA and allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. are able to destroy the last secular and independent Arab country in the region and whether the US goal of being the sole superpower in the world prevails.

The rushed passing of HR5732 without debate is indicative that:
* “regime change” proponents have not given up their war on Syria
* they seek to escalate US aggression.
* the US Congress is a venue where blatant lies are said with impunity and where violent actions are advanced behind a cynical and amoral veneer of “humanitarianism” and crocodile tears.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at Read other articles by Rick.

Monday, November 21, 2016






A Letter to our Readers

A Special Feature Article in each of our 2017 Newsletters
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the
Great October Socialist Revolution
by RAY LIGHT, editor


Poking the Bear


The opening words of our (ROL, USA) first comprehensive statement on the 2016 Presidential Election, back at the very beginning of the year, explain the most dramatic result of the November 8th election, the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA.

At that time, even before the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary, we observed that, “The 2016 Presidential Race thus far reflects the bitter experience of the working class, the urban and rural poor, and the middle class with capitalist austerity for the 99% and the almost unprecedented boom years for Wall Street and finance capital. The assault on our conditions of life has been provided by the bipartisan ‘Republicrats’ under Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama since the economic crisis hit in 2007 and 2008.” (“A Revolutionary Approach to the Sanders Presidential Campaign,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #94, January-February 2016)

We continued, “… the TV debates, polls, rallies, and constant media coverage have revealed that there is remarkably little support for the ‘Republicrat’ ‘2016 heavy favorites’ (mainstream Democratic and Republican candidates, Hillary Clinton and especially Jeb Bush).” “Instead, the strong showing of right wing, fascistic Tea Party candidates such as Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Cruz, Rubio et al. on the Republican side and the social-democrat Sanders on the Democratic side reflects some level of popular mass rejection of ‘Republicrat Rule’ and the Wall Street imperialist ruling class they represent.”(ibid. Emphasis in original.)

Throughout this year, “popular mass rejection of Republicrat Rule and the Wall Street ruling class” has remained a constant feature of the campaign. In the Republican primary season, Trump’s crude, militantly populist, as well as chauvinistic and disrespectful, rhetoric resonated with the angry and desperate white Republican voters and paved the way for his nomination over all the career politicians connected to each other and to wealthy patrons.

During the Democratic Primaries, the Sanders campaign made an excellent showing, attracting thousands of enthusiastic old and young (but also mostly white) voters to his rallies and millions of small campaign donations to his coffers. Like Trump, Sanders, too was angry but his anger was more consistently and constructively focused against Wall Street and its rigged system. On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, thanks to Wikileaks, the fact that Sanders was being cheated out of the Democratic Party nomination by the Democratic National Committee was exposed. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to abruptly resign and forfeit her prominent role in the Convention. Cynically and brazenly, the Clinton Campaign immediately hired her “because they could.”

Sanders had made a deal to support the ultimate Democratic nominee when he joined the Democrats (he was previously “an Independent”).  Even when it turned out that the DNC had rigged the Democratic primaries against him and in favor of Hillary Clinton, he refused to break with them. During the convention, Sanders tried to convince his disillusioned and devastated supporters to transfer their allegiance to Clinton. But, for the most part, this most enlightened sector of the electorate didn’t buy it. Despite Sanders, and despite the skillfully choreographed Democratic Convention featuring a superstar line-up of entertainers, politicians including the sitting president and first lady, war heroes, military leaders and intelligence chiefs all praising Hillary Clinton to the skies, the Clinton campaign could not hide the fact that it represented “business as usual.” In a year when the voters were passionate about making “change,” could there have been a more compromised and entrenched representative of the status quo?!

In our leaflet passed out at the Democratic National Convention site, we addressed “the Trump menace.” We pointed out that, “In style and substance, Donald Trump is a fascist politician in the classic Adolph Hitler and ‘National Socialist’ (Nazi) sense.” He combined “demagogic populist rhetoric proclaiming the system is rigged against  the majority of us, on the one hand,  with hatred toward Latino immigrants, Muslim religious believers, Afro-American citizens and many other ‘non-white American’ ethnic groups here and around the world , on the other.” We continued, “But Trump’s similarities to Hitler and German fascism of the 1930’s does not automatically make him the main political target who must be stopped at all costs at this particular historical moment. Fascism comes to power through different paths...”

In this context, we then stated that, “Clinton, the Democrat, is the absolute worst candidate to support ‘against Trump.’ As a loyal tool of Wall Street, Clinton will not educate the voters against the financial oligarchy but will apologize and cover up for Wall Street. Coupled with her Democratic Party rhetoric, this will only enrage the voters all the more, moving them further into the Trump camp. It was precisely Sanders’ focus on the rigged Wall Street economy and politics that allowed his candidacy to thrive against all odds. With Sanders out of the race the same old ‘Republicrat’ rhetoric will provide new fuel to the Trump fire.” (“Wall Street Has Rigged the System,” Revolutionary Organization of Labor (USA) leaflet distributed at DNC, July 2016)

This is precisely what occurred. As the campaign unfolded, no matter how scandalous Trump’s personal conduct and how massive the media exposures of Trump became, starting way behind after an amateurish Republican National Convention, Trump’s strength continued to grow. Clinton remained the candidate of Wall Street and the status quo; Trump remained the candidate of “change.” The defection from the Trump campaign of such Republican ruling class mainstays as the Bush family, including the last two Republican presidents, 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and so many others, only served to convince impoverished, angry and alienated voters that Trump represents them. In fact, 37% of union members and 41% of union families voted for the billionaire who blatantly stated that workers are paid too much! Indeed, there can be no doubt that many of those who had supported Bernie Sanders, the leftist Democratic candidate, ended up voting for Donald Trump, the rightist Republican candidate.

-What was surprising about the Trump Triumph-

What the pollsters and pundits of the monopoly capitalist controlled media got wrong was based on voter turnout. They universally overestimated the turnout of the Clinton voters and underestimated the turnout of the Trump voters, especially the white working class vote that many ignored entirely.

Corporate media’s arrogance and complacency was strengthened by the following:  The rich and powerful and the political, cultural and media movers and shakers of both the Republican and Democratic parties were promoting Clinton. And it served the interests of the Wall Street ruling class to offer as few promises to the voters as possible while getting their candidate elected. What resulted was a “scandal of the week”campaign by Clinton, echoed and magnified by the monopoly capitalist-controlled media, that played into the hands of the petty, ignorant and imperious Trump.

Moreover, the Trump campaign was amateurish from beginning to end. By contrast, the Clinton campaign, was the slickest and most traditional that money could buy — so slick that even the labor leaders at the Democratic National Convention were prevented from saying “working class” or “TPP.” Thanks to the Sanders campaign, the Democratic National Platform was the most progressive in memory. But once Sanders was disposed of and Clinton was battling Trump, there was hardly any mention of issues that might motivate desperate and dissatisfied voters to support Clinton. On the contrary, reflecting the widespread difficult circumstances of the 99%, Trump wanted to make “America Great Again.” In a year that voters were seeking “change,” Clinton countered with, “America is still great – everything’s coming up roses.”

Clinton and the Democrats also allegedly had a strong “ground game,” a well organized machine for identifying, mobilizing and turning out their voters. But the union men and women who generally staff such a machine were especially uninspired by the status quo candidate and the campaign. Many top bureaucratic and corrupt AFL-CIO and Change to Win union leaders were privately concerned about their members’ alienation from Clinton and the Democrats but kept their mouths shut and continued to play the same old game with the Democrats. Likewise, most Congressional Black Caucus members, NAACP leaders and other privileged Black leaders had fronted for Clinton in helping to block and cheat the Sanders campaign and they did the same. In light of Obama’s record number of deportations of undocumented workers and their families, a point emphasized by Trump in the last debate, the fact that Clinton clung so tightly to President Obama’s coattails, also had to have diminished her Latino support. Thus, the corrupt and bureaucratic labor, Afro-American and Latino leadership tied to the Democratic Party’s corporatist candidate played right into the hands of the white supremacist Republican forces carrying out voter suppression efforts.

The powerful influence of the monopoly capitalist-controlled mass media was reflected in the expectation among all strata of the population that the question was not whether Clinton would defeat Trump but by how much Clinton would win the presidency and whether she could lead a Democratic sweep that would bring about a Democratic Senate and maybe a Democratic House. Indeed, though he received a phenomenal amount of TV time that amounted to tens of millions of dollars of free advertising, only one major city newspaper in the entire USA endorsed Trump.
-The white working class vote-

Elsewhere we have pointed out: “In the post World War II period, during sixty years of U.S. imperialist hegemony in the world capitalist camp, the U.S. working class, especially its more privileged sector, was bribed out of the U.S. imperialist super-profits. Even more problematic for the U.S. working class was the dissolution of the socialist camp as well as the dismantling of the international communist movement. Taken together, this resulted in extreme political isolation of the U.S. working class from the rest of the international working class.” (page xviii, Introduction to Ray O. Light’s “Nothing to Lose But our Chains – A World to Win!,” 2013)

Especially the white sector of the U.S. working class became politically subordinate to the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class, helping to provide a relatively stable home base area as U.S. imperialism expanded its exploitation and domination of the world’s peoples. Thus, as the U.S. Empire has begun to decline and the workers, under “Republicrat political rule” on behalf of Wall Street have been forced to shoulder the main burden of economic crisis and decline, it is “natural” that many white workers would seek to “make America great again” under the baton of an egotistical, perhaps maniacal, billionaire bully such as Donald Trump who offered a chauvinistic path backwards and even appeared to be “independent” of Wall Street. Trump’s flights of fancy and combination of chauvinism and populism is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler’s appeals to the defeated and humiliated German people in the 1930’s.

While Sanders was in the running, there was the opportunity for some union workers and others to rally around pro-labor, pro-worker demands on Wall Street finance capital in unity with the Afro-American people, Latino immigrants, and Muslim workers. Once Sanders was out of the race, however, Trump was the only “serious” candidate for “change.”


During this 2016 election campaign, the voters, especially those who backed Trump and Sanders have expressed their disgust with Wall Street and its Republicrat political puppets. And this disgust and rejection of Wall Street needs to be nurtured and activated in the period ahead. In the 2016 presidential election, after critically supporting the Sanders Campaign in the primary season, ROL, USA urged a boycott of the presidential vote coupled with down ballot voting or promoted a third party (Green Party, etc.) presidential vote in opposition to the Republicrat Parties with the most unpopular “major” candidates in memory.

But, as we repeatedly pointed out, even while we critically supported the Sanders campaign, none of the candidates of either the Democratic or the Republican wing of the Republicrat party, including Sanders, opposed the U.S. Empire and its brutal imperialist wars and occupations in the Middle East and North Africa, in Latin America and elsewhere across the globe. It is this international dimension of the U.S. Empire that has been the leading edge of the drive toward fascism in the USA. 

In that light, a Clinton presidency would have been more dangerous for the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world. One example: The anti-Russia hysteria fomented by the Clinton/Democratic Party campaign in concert with the monopoly capitalist-controlled mass media turned Clinton’s Wikileaks problem into a Trump problem of allegedly being “soft” on Russia and promoting Russian interference in the U.S. election. A President Clinton could have led in short order to a major war between Russia and the USA, as Clinton’s bloody record as Secretary of State in Libya, Syria, Honduras et al. demonstrates. Certainly the Trump election has made this specific horrific prospect less likely at least in the near future.

 Indeed, all the world’s forces outside of the USA that are in contradiction with the U.S. Empire, with U.S. finance capital, with the U.S. state apparatus, including the international working class and oppressed peoples, should have a period of opportunity to advance their causes and to hasten the decline of the U.S. Empire. For Trump’s orientation is that of an isolationist, and an ignorant one at that, and it will take time for the Republicrats to take control of his foreign policy, including his military policy. But proletarian revolutionary forces should be seeking maximum proletarian internationalist unity in the struggle against international capital. Comrades around the world should be awakened to their own narrow nationalism and self satisfied sectarianism that has plagued international communism for decades and helped create the electoral base that produced Trump in the USA.

In our view, a fascist was elected U.S. president, but strong elements of fascism had already arrived here long before Trump’s election. In our leaflet at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the Revolutionary Organization of Labor (USA) pointed out that, “U.S. fascism has significantly advanced on the shoulders of every U.S. president at least from Reagan to Bush I to Clinton to Bush II to Obama.”

While Clinton was more immediately dangerous regarding the U.S. Empire’s unceasing war abroad against the rest of the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world, Trump represents a more immediate danger to the workers and oppressed nationalities within the U.S. multinational state. The Trump campaign with its outrageously chauvinistic attacks on Muslims, Latino immigrants, Afro-Americans, its misogyny toward women as well as antipathy toward LGBT, disabled and other marginalized folks, the violence encouraged toward so many by Trump himself, all point toward an increasingly fascist culture and society to match the fascistic bipartisan Republicrat foreign policy that has included an unending war of terror over the last 15 years against the peoples of the world, including those of us in the belly of the beast itself.

Certainly, the unprecedented role of the FBI, the domestic national police arm of the U.S. Empire, during the last week of the campaign, helped carry Trump to victory. And it is a sign of  Trump’s capacity to be the catalyst for a consolidated fascist U.S. society.

At the same time, with Trump as president, promoters of harmful illusions about Obama, Clinton and the Democrats such as the social democratic gatekeepers at the helm of the AFL-CIO unions, most Afro-American and Latino NGOers, etc. will be in a weaker position to subvert and defuse anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and democratic struggles against Wall Street capital and the U.S. state apparatus. So activist forces around issues like Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15/hour and a union, and opposition to deportation of Latino immigrants should immediately take on a more militant and determined character. The spontaneous protests following the election of Trump reflect this potential to a degree.

Even though Trump ran “against Wall Street,” there is little doubt that accommodation is already well under way. It should not take too long before the white working masses who voted for Trump have had enough experience to begin a serious struggle against this reactionary billionaire. Proletarian revolutionary forces around the world, including the few in the USA, should reach out and struggle for the hearts and minds of all the workers in the USA, including those who voted for Trump, to point out the need and path toward a Socialist USA.

In the meantime, militant Afro-American, Latino, Muslim, Native American and white workers, men and women, need to unite in struggle against Wall Street. As we concluded in our leaflet to the DNC protesters in Philadelphia and is even more urgent as the Trump Regime takes the helm of the U.S. Empire:

    We need to organize to oppose the drive toward fascism in the USA — including defense of the Afro-American people against police brutality and Latino immigrants against ICE raids, against increased militarization of the domestic police and U.S. society [and against the tyrannical TPP and other international treaties that “legally” deprive us of our rights.]

    We need to stay in the streets and ... protest the ... U.S. imperialist wars, including the current wars throughout the Middle East.

    We need to involve our newly organized political groupings in Referenda campaigns on Sanders Campaign-type issues like single-payer universal healthcare, defense of the environment and breaking up the big banks, and run independent candidates in local elections around the country.

    We need to expose and isolate the Democratic Party [which set up the U.S. population for the Trump presidency] and work to build an anti-fascist labor/oppressed nationalities Third Party.

    We need to make “a political revolution.” If you are serious about a political revolution leading to socialism, we would love to hear from you.

Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples Unite!