black agenda report for dec 3

Israel and the US Assassinate Peace
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Review, Dec 2 2020

The US and Israel have once again shown themselves to be the world’s foremost criminal organization. The assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrazideh is just the latest act carried out by two nations that behave like international mobsters. They aren’t content to deprive Iranians of food and medicine with crushing sanctions, but they take no chance that peace may be allowed to break out in the region. While Donald Trump’s rants about staying in office and fears of a coup created anxiety, the threats from his foreign policy actions were largely ignored. In recent weeks that lack of attention has proven to be very dangerous, as his administration ramped up efforts to tie the hands of Biden in regards to Iran.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are doing everything in their power to prevent Biden from rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear agreement. It isn’t clear if Biden is serious about resuming this Obama-era US commitment, but the Israelis and Saudis aren’t taking any chances, and they are getting plenty of help from Trump. Pompeo met with MbS and Netanyahu in Saudi Arabia. The meeting was confirmed by Netanyahu’s leak to the press shortly thereafter. There have also been conveniently-placed stories about Trump wanting to attack Iran before he leaves office. The killing of Fakhrazideh was also an effort to kill US involvement in the JCPOA by goading Iran into responding. Israel is like a gangster musing, “It would be a shame if the US had to attack Iran.” The scheme is an old one. They want the US to do their dirty work, and a new administration provides the perfect opportunity to fulfill their modus operandi, or even to stay out and let the mafia act as it pleases.

There has been no official US response to the assassination. A Trump twitter post is seemingly sufficient to confess to the crime and to alert the public to the risk of hot war involving Iran or its ally Russia, which could also involve Saudi Arabia or Israel. Nor have Biden or his team said anything. Supposed progressives in Congress are silent. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy made the typical mealie-mouthed case that the US isn’t safer because of the killing. He said nothing about the violation of international law and the dangers of war created by this act. Trump and Pompeo aren’t the only villains in this story. They know that Congress will either act as cheerleaders or remain silent. Even those who ordinarily boast of progressive credentials will not risk opposing their party leadership, corporate media or the pro-Israel lobby in the US. The NYT led the way in support of the official narrative with references to Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.” The IAEA long ago confirmed that Iran never had nuclear weapons capability. After Trump left the JCPOA, the Iranians would have been within their rights to do just that.

Of course, Fakrazideh was not the only scientist in his country, but the assassination was not intended to put an end to Iranian technological capability. The goal is to show the world that Israel can do what it wants with impunity and that Iran, the victimized country, is the one expected to be diplomatic in the face of provocation. Israel often uses US presidential transitions to accomplish this effect. In Dec 2008, Israel began a murderous assault on Gaza, just one month after Barack Obama was elected. The assault didn’t end until Jan 18, just two days before Obama’s inauguration. After 1,400 people were killed, the president-elect did just what his predecessors did in regard to Israel. When asked about the ongoing massacre, he managed to say:

We have only one president at a time.

There are seven more weeks to go before the Jan 20 2021 inauguration, and that is plenty of time for Trump and Netanyahu to make mischief. Iranian scientists, Palestinians and anyone else seen as an obstacle to Israel getting its way will be in grave danger. If Israel is willing to kill hundreds of Gazans to make a point to a new president, they are willing to do just about anything else.

Woke Capitalism: The Poison Pill of Liberal Anti-Racism
Andrew King, Black Agenda Report, Dec 2 2020

Right after Biden and Harris won the presidency by slim margins, hordes of “woke” progressives of all colors, the majority of whom had rejected Bernie Sanders’ broadly appealing economic redistributive platform, began expressing complete shock on social media about the state of America and outrage at how 73 million ‘backward and racist’ voters (the vast majority of whom were white, including millions of white workers, but also yes, an increasing percentage of workers of color) did not cast their vote for establishment Democrat Joe Biden and instead voted for Donald Trump. Why would these self-righteous progressives (or liberal elites (depending on who you ask) expect rural working-class whites to vote for Joe Biden in the first place, a candidate who offered absolutely zero bold policies to improve their material lives or conditions? On the contrary, Biden was selling the status quo, corporate diversity and woke capitalism. He ran on a platform of “I’m a nice guy, and I’m not a racist like Trump.” This seems akin to wondering why these rural voters didn’t just go to their local Barnes and Noble to purchase a copy of “How to be an anti-racist” before the election.

The fact that liberals and progressives believed Biden and Harris could be the great racial exorcists to convert the hearts and minds of racist white workers speaks both to their arrogant naivete and to their deep lack of understanding of how the economics of racism work. This is not to let off the hook the white supremacists and quasi-fascist elements of Trump’s base. They certainly need to be isolated and crushed. But there are millions of other working-class people who have valid resentment towards the Democrat establishment due to decades of neoliberal policies, and corporate neglect of rural and working-class communities. Many people will vote for the wolf over the wolf in sheep’s clothing. In the aftermath of the George Floyd uprisings, we have seen the rise in the media, among politicians, non-profits and academics, of a liberal anti-racism which decouples racial justice from economic justice. This watered-down anti-racism of the Democratic Party looks all the more attractive when juxtaposed to the naked bigotry of Donald Trump. This translates into a false radicalism and ultimately the rise of a “woke capitalism” which liberal corporate elites from Jeff Bezos to Joe Biden have enthusiastically endorsed.

In response to the crisis of police violence, this Jeff Bezos-endorsed doctrine of liberal anti-racism has been promoted by the Democrat establishment, the mainstream media, liberal policymakers, and academics precisely because this wing of the ruling class wants to quell the possibility of a true interracial working-class assault on the economic underpinnings of racism. Like the Obama administration was for the anti-war movement, the Biden administration may very well be the graveyard for the movement against racist police violence. As Glen Ford explains in his insightful article, “Corporate Democrats Want to Run Against Trump-Like Republicans Forever,” race-based campaigns will always serve both corporate parties. That is, neoliberal Democrats want to keep playing identity politics ping-pong with Trump-like Republicans indefinitely, which allows them to avoid addressing inequality and poverty through a broad economic redistributive program, much like the kind that Bernie Sanders offered. As Ford explains:

The Democrats wanted to run on race as much as Trump did, because only a race-based campaign allows them to avoid any commitment to bread-and-butter issues like universal free health-care, job and income security, free public higher education, that threaten the bipartisan austerity regime (the Race to the Bottom). Bernie Sanders, not Donald Trump, was seen as the near-existential threat to corporate governance. Therefore, the Democrats and their corporate media partners twice ruthlessly eliminated Sanders from the equation so that they could run against Trump on race, and virtually nothing else.

While an alarming 140m Americans are suffering from poverty or near-poverty conditions according to a report from the Poor People’s Campaign, both capitalist parties (and members of the Black misleadership class) intentionally play the game of racial politics in order to obscure and ignore issues of class and poverty, Trump as the overt champion of the white man’s party, and Biden as the supposedly woke and tolerant capitalist who pays lip service to anti-racism and advocates for a more diverse face on US empire. Biden and Harris play a corporate identity politic and leverage the liberal anti-racism narrative simply to distinguish themselves from Trump, who is overtly racist, and in order to provide cover for the Democrat Party’s corporate program of austerity, mass incarceration, endless war and pro-Wall street policies. A gentler, and more diverse war on the poor, draped in a Nancy Pelosi-style Kinte cloth.

After all, over the last 40 years the Democrats have been the quintessential party of neoliberal capitalism, instrumental in the gutting of the welfare state, key architects of mass incarceration and the war on black people, champions of corporate free-trade agreements that devastated working-class communities across the country, shameless servants of the Pentagon in their pursuit of endless imperial ventures, often more hawkish than Trump was, as well as the municipal managers overseeing racist police violence and gentrification in virtually all US cities. Through their corporate neglect of the poor and working class, the Dems laid the very groundwork for the Tea Party and then Trump to come in and exploit people’s economic despair. The compromising of progressive and union leadership to get a seat at the table under Obama was disgraceful, and we are gearing up to repeat the same mistakes, make another deal with the devil, and drive more working-class folk into the arms of Trumpism in four years. The poison pill of Democrats’ liberal anti-racism is that it is completely detached from class and economic justice, and intentionally so. Woke capitalism will never be anti-racist, nor will it relieve the suffering of poor and working-class people. Vast swaths of the working class will continue to reject the superficial political correctness of woke capitalism, and thus the neo-liberal Biden administration may very well swing the country back towards another Trump-like presidency in four years, unless there is a serious multi-racial mass movement against capitalism that transcends liberal identity politics through multi-racial class unity.

Biden’s Proposed Cabinet: A Kinder and Gentler Imperialism
Dr Wilmer J Leon III, Black Agenda Report, Dec 2 2020

In his first address to the nation as president-elect on Nov 7, Joe Biden told America and the world that power comes first. Power is the key. He said, among other things:

Tonight, the whole world is watching America. And I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. We will lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses. It’s time for our better angels to prevail.

It is time for America’s “better angels to prevail,” but I think Biden has it backwards. He should have said, we will lead by the power of our example and if necessary, by the example of our power. Like his predecessors, he is defaulting to the Military Industrial Complex. When you look at Biden’s cabinet announcements, it takes me to former Giants coach Bill Parcels, who said:

You are what your record says you are.

In this case, you are what your cabinet says you are. It is the people who make the policy. Policy does not make itself. The history of many of these nominees reflects America’s darkest impulses, not its better angels. What was good about America “green-lighting” the NATO bombing of Libya and the resulting execution of Muammar Gaddafi? This led to the destabilization of the country and the region. According to The Atlantic:

The Libya intervention marked the third time in a decade that Washington embraced regime change and then failed to plan for the consequences.

America’s better angels? I think not. What good has come from America “green-lighting” Saudi Arabia’s invasion in Yemen and the continuing logistical support for what the UN has called the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world? Per the UN, after nearly six years of conflict

14.3m people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2m requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. That includes 2m children under five, and more than 1m pregnant and lactating women.

If America were winning the battle of our better angles, we would stop our support of the Saudis and provide these starving people with food, water and medicine. Instead, America is losing the battle to the MIC, big oil and its darkest impulses. These impulses convince you that it is more important to sell weapons and take resources than provide humanitarian aid. America’s imperialist, hegemonic and evil regime-change policies did not make themselves. Again, it is the people who make the policy.

Look at the record of some of Biden’s cabinet nominees and their involvement in these atrocities. Biden’s choice for Sec Def is projected to be Michele Flournoy. She was the Asst Sec Def for Strategy during the Clinton administration. During her tenure she authored the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The founding principle of this document is that the unilateral use of force is acceptable to defend any US interest the US deems important, and the US is the sole arbiter of these issues. She is the proponent of permanent war, or as she calls it, “full spectrum dominance.” As the Under-Sec Def for Policy during the Obama administration, she was instrumental in designing the horrific regime change policies that led to the invasions of Libya and Syria. Biden’s choice for Sec State is Tony Blinken. He was a top advisor to Biden when the latter was Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They played a major role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

We can also thank Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to be DNI for her role in the Yemen, Libya and Syria policies. Haines also supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia. On the domestic policy front, Biden has named Neera Tanden as his nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. It should be troubling that a nominee for this position has advocated for cuts to Social Security and other vital social safety net programs. During a pandemic, an economy in recession and 30m to 40m Americans facing eviction, austerity is not the appropriate response. Tanden also has a hawkish foreign policy side. Leading up to the Libya bombing she was advocating taking Libya’s oil as repayment for the US backed bombing of the country. She wrote:

If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.

This is the same mindset that Trump articulated in Syria. In his speech “Time to Break Silence,” Dr King warned us about austerity:

A few years ago, it seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, through the poverty program. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

Just replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen etc. We are still “a society gone mad on war.” As the “Manhattan Mussolini” aka President Trump talks about withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, what does Jeh Johnson (possible nominee for a defense position) have to say?

In trying to strike a deal, you don’t unilaterally surrender your greatest point of leverage by unilaterally withdrawing troops before the Afghan government and the Taliban have stuck a deal.

Greatest point of leverage? We’ve been there almost 20 years and gained nothing! What leverage is he talking about? These are just a few examples of the individuals Biden has said he will nominate for key positions in his administration. I have been very consistent in warning that Nov 3 was especially important, but it is what Americans are willing to fight for that will matter on Nov 4 and after. For as ugly and racist as Trump’s politics are, America will have to be vigilant and diligent if there is to be substantive positive change in the future.

These nominees indicate to me that Biden et al are planning to take us back to a romanticized Clinton and Obama eras whose policies sometimes did not lead to a better America. Biden has been touting a “diverse” cabinet and administration. He is introducing prominent “firsts” of their gender or ethnicity in cabinet positions. Diversity in gender or ethnicity is not as relevant as diversity in ideology and agenda. Don’t get fooled by this identity/gender politics “diversity” veneer. Look at the records of these people. Look at the think-tanks they are tied to, and how many of them have been and/or are currently being paid by Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and the other defense contractors. Look at how many of them were involved in the Libya fiasco, the Yemen catastrophe, Rwanda, and the blunder in Syria. Progress this is not. If the people don’t force change in policy, it will just be a nicer fascism. A warmer and fuzzier hegemony. A happier time for neoliberalism. A kinder and gentler imperialism.

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