The Inhumanity of ‘Maximum Pressure’

From The American Conservative:

Francisco Rodriguez explains how the U.S. has helped Maduro to consolidate his hold on power with its harmful sanctions and regime change policy:

In weathering all these pressures, Maduro has benefited from the actions of an unsuspecting accomplice: the United States. Maduro can rightly blame Washington for contributing to the country’s economic crisis, pointing to the aggressive sanctions that the administration of US President Donald Trump has placed on Venezuela. The specter of a foreign aggressor has helped Maduro rally the military around his leadership. And the deepening economic crisis has only increased the power of the state over ordinary Venezuelans. US policymakers must grapple with the uncomfortable fact that they have abetted Maduro in maintaining his grip on power.

Sweeping sanctions typically hurt the most vulnerable, weaken the political opposition, and strengthen the government’s grip on power. This has happened several times before, and it will keep happening wherever these inhumane tactics are employed. The reasons for this are not hard to understand, but policymakers seem determined not to understand them. Corrupt, authoritarian governments are least susceptible to the effects of such sanctions because they are largely unresponsive to the needs of the people and because they are most concerned with looking after the interests of top officials and their cronies. The government and its cronies use their position to benefit from smuggling and other illegal activities, which become even more valuable to them as normal commerce disappears. As sanctions strangle an economy, they also make the rest of the population more dependent on whatever aid the government still provides. Far from aiding civil society and political dissidents, sanctions are frequently a death knell for both. Throttling the legitimate economy along with everything else impoverishes the opposition that the sanctions advocates claim to support, and exacerbating the existing economic problems encourages many young people to leave the country to find some way to make a living elsewhere. Because the sanctions are being imposed by the world’s superpower, it is extremely easy for the targeted government to whip up nationalist sentiment and resentment against foreign interference, and that in turn makes it easier for them to deflect blame and attention from their own role in the country’s ills. In trying to dislodge an authoritarian ruler with sanction, the US helps that ruler to entrench himself and his allies in their positions. This was entirely foreseeable, and many people warned that it would happen in Venezuela. We see the same results in Iran and Syria today, and we saw much the same thing in Iraq and Myanmar before that.

Trump’s push for regime change in Venezuela has been one of his worst policies, but it is also the one that has had the most support in Washington. Even though all signs pointed to the failure of “maximum pressure” in Venezuela from the start, there has been broad and bipartisan backing for this destructive policy from members of Congress and much of the foreign policy establishment. “Maximum pressure” on Venezuela is every bit as cruel and monstrous as the administration’s Iran policy, but for some reason it doesn’t receive the same amount attention or criticism. There have been a few notable exceptions to this reckless consensus. Sen. Bernie Sanders was one of a handful of members of Congress to speak out early on against the pursuit of regime change in Venezuela. His foreign policy adviser, Matt Duss, pointed this out again this week:

The standing ovation Duss refers to was the one given to Guaido during Trump’s State of the Union address at the start of this year. Our Venezuela policy over the last several years has been one of the more shameful episodes in recent US history, but as long as it can be dressed up as supporting democracy it will receive thunderous applause in Congress. The fact that the US is engaging in collective punishment against tens of millions of people does not seem to matter, and it is doubtful that many of the clapping politicians are even aware of what they are cheering on.

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Ex-OPCW Chief Defends Syria Whistleblowers and Reveals He Was Spied on Before Iraq War

From The Grayzone:

In a Grayzone exclusive, José Bustani, the former head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, speaks out in support of two veteran OPCW inspectors who challenged a US-backed cover-up of their investigation in Syria.

Bustani also reacts to the recent US-UK-France-led effort to prevent his testimony at the UN Security Council about the OPCW’s Syria cover-up scandal. And Bustani reveals new details of how he was targeted in the lead-up to the Iraq war, when the Bush administration engineered his ouster for impeding its plans to invade.

Bustani discloses for the first time that his office was bugged – and that the OPCW’s then-head of security, a U.S. citizen, vanished right after this was discovered. It’s a case of history repeating itself, with the world’s top superpower once again trying to silence a veteran diplomat from the Global South, whose courage and principle challenges a pro-war deception.

Guest: José Bustani, veteran Brazilian diplomat and the first Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

American Bombings of Allied Cities in World War II (video)

One of the mysteries of World War II was the senseless aerial destruction of Axis occupied cities by American bombers. These weren’t bomb strikes to support ground forces, but carpet-bombing raids on city centers. Several cities in Axis occupied China, Italy, Yugoslavia, and France were blasted by American mass bombings. These events are inexplicable and thus overlooked by historians.

Sources here

Stop Arming Azerbaijan’s ‘Armenian Genocide’ in Artsakh

I’m an American citizen who’s outraged over his government’s complicity in the human-rights catastrophe in Artsakh. This is a letter which I’ve mailed to my U.S. Congressman, Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Slightly different versions have also been sent to my US Senators, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL). This letter has been slightly edited for Antiwar.com.

Stop Arming Azerbaijan’s ‘Armenian Genocide’ in Artsakh

Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

My name is James Rutledge Roesch and I’m one of your constituents in Florida’s 12th Congressional District. I’m writing to you today to urge you to take action against Azerbaijan and Turkey’s joint war of aggression on Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) and Armenia.

Given your "A+" rating from the Armenian National Committee of America, I assume that you’re already aware of the situation, but just in case, I recommend reading "Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Fight over Nagorno-Karabakh, Explained in 500 Words" by Alex Ward at Vox. For even greater detail, see Alex Ward’s full article on Vox,"The Conflict Between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Explained."

Turkey is enabling and escalating Azerbaijan’s war on Artsakh in a contemporary continuation of its longstanding policy of genocide against the Armenian people, to which it has never admitted (let alone apologized for). This war also fits a wider pattern of Turkish aggression, Turkey has backed "Muslim Brotherhood"-esque Islamist forces and "Al Qaeda"-esque Sunni jihadists in Libya and Syria, is at the brink of war with Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, and threatens that its large immigrant population throughout the EU is a potential fifth column. With "allies" like these, who needs enemies?

Continue reading “Stop Arming Azerbaijan’s ‘Armenian Genocide’ in Artsakh”

Mainstream Media Finally Covers Israel Lobby Corruption in Virginia

Why did it take a full year before a single mainstream mass media outlet reported on Virginia Israel Advisory Board corruption?

They had the free book: The Israel Lobby Enters State Government Project Biodiesel – The Jerusalem Connection and the Tobacco Commission

They had the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Special Report

There was the free Audio Book: The Israel Lobby Enters State Government

Antiwar.com was on the case!
Virginia Israel Advisory Board Deal Improper Says IG Head of a billion-dollar state funding pool promises to behave

The Scott Horton Show was all over it.
Grant Smith on the Unscrupulous Dealings of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board

It is now a Full Year Later….and Mainstream Media is only scratching the surface

Watch this short YouTube video!

The Ridiculous Distortions of the Iran Obsession

From The American Conservative:

Mike Pompeo gave an interview with Newsmax TV this week, and during that interview he made one of the most ridiculous statements he has uttered during his short, embarrassing tenure as Secretary of State:

The most important thing that President Trump did was recognize that the nuclear deal was dumb, that it was bad for America, that it presented real risk. And so he ripped America out of that back in May of 2018. Since then, we have taken a fundamentally different approach to stability in the Middle East. We recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran as the greatest threat to that peace – the greatest threat, frankly, to Americans all across this great country [bold mine-DL]. And so we have put enormous costs on the regime itself.

Pompeo knows as well as anyone that Iran poses no real threat to Americans in the U.S., so it is risible and dishonest for him to assert that Iran is somehow the “greatest threat” to Americans here.

Iran does not have the ability to attack the US, and it likely never will have that ability, but the more important point here is that the deranged exaggeration of the threat from Iran comes at the expense of neglecting other much more obvious and immediate threats to this country. While Pompeo has been traversing the globe to cajole other governments into normalizing relations with Israel and berating our allies for refusing to dynamite the JCPOA at the U.N., Americans continue to die from a pandemic that this administration has done very little to get under control. Our political leaders obsess over minor foreign threats that can do us no harm while neglecting the real dangers that claim American lives on a daily basis. As the pandemic continues to spread in this country and the death toll rises over 210,000, our government’s priority remains piling sanctions on a medium-sized country on the other side of the planet in the vain hope of collapsing their state. Instead of focusing on international cooperation to protect Americans from this scourge, our top officials are fixated on vilifying a country that can’t do anything to us. You could hardly ask for a foreign policy more divorced from the real, vital interests of the United States than this one.

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