eva bartlett on blinken & co

New US admin stands for same grotesque & brutal policies against Venezuela, shows just how little they actually CARE for people
Eva Bartlett, RT.com, Mar 4 2021

Venezuelan non-president, Juan Guaido, is back in the headlines after the new US Sec State Antony Blinken called him to discuss America’s favorite talking points: “a return to democracy” via “free and fair elections.” I’m sure the irony will not be lost on those who question the legitimacy of the US election that saw Biden take power. Anyway, you would have to have been offline or in a coma for the past couple of years not to be aware of some key facts about ‘interim president’ Guaido and US “concern” for Venezuelans. Venezuelans didn’t vote for Guaido to be president, he hasn’t even stood for president. Venezuelans voted for Maduro. America can huff and puff and whine, but that won’t change the reality.

Guaido named himself ‘interim president,’ to the support of only roughly 50 countries, leaving a glaring nearly 150 countries not recognizing this Western-groomed stooge as Venezuela’s leader. Further, Guaido not only isn’t president of the country, he is no longer president of the National Assembly. As a result, recently, even the EU dropped its recognition of Guaido as interim president. He is a Western-groomed thug who fully backs America’s aggression and sanctions against his own country. Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it “the best in the world.” On the other hand, Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections. As for America’s grave “concern” for Venezuelans, the US in Feb 2019 staged a “humanitarian aid” delivery via Colombia (“aid” which contained nails and wire, likely meant for opposition barricades), blaming Maduro for “burning food & medicine,” when in fact the trucks were burned by “opposition” supporters. That same month, President Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela. The US allegedly sabotaged Venezuela’s power grid in Mar 2019, and then blamed the Maduro government for the power failure. And two former US Special Forces soldiers were arrested in May 2020 in a failed invasion (with the goal of capturing Maduro) which allegedly the Trump administration and Guaido himself were involved in. President Maduro blamed the Aug 2018 drone assassination attempt on Colombia and elements in the US. The US was also linked to the kidnapping and coup against former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But aside from those and many other provocations against Venezuela, it is the brutal sanctions against the country that is a clear indicator of just how little America cares for the people. As many have already surmised, the Biden administration is a continuation of the previous admin’s policies, and Blinken is the new Pompeo. They even sound the same.

  • Blinken to Ukraine’s foreign minister: “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “Russian aggression…”
  • Pompeo  to the same: “support for #Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is ironclad,” “Russia and its proxies’ intransigence, aggressive actions…”
  • Blinken on Crimea: “Russia’s invasion and seizure,” “we call on Russia to end its occupation,” “#CrimeaisUkraine” (newsflash: it’s not, and there was no invasion).
  • Pompeo  on the same: “#Crimea is #Ukraine,” “We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.”

And of course, their American-speak on Guaido is also the same, with both Blinken and Pompeo feigning concern for the lives of the Venezuelan people. The US just continue flogging a dead horse named Guaido. The guy just isn’t popular in Venezuela, not now, not back in early 2019 when America & allies tried to foist him onto Venezuelans. When I traveled to Venezuela in Mar 2019, aside from documenting the lack of chaos that Western pundits and media insisted was ongoing at the time, I also tried to find evidence of the massive support the same pundits and media claimed Guaido had. I had seen on various occasions massive demonstrations of solidarity with President Maduro, the man who average Venezuelans support, particularly impoverished indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans who are conveniently ignored by Western media. On Mar 30, I spent a good chunk of the day riding around on motorcycle taxi trying to find pro-Guaido protests which had been advertised, instead at designated sites and times finding none, a trickle, or pro-Maduro protesters instead. Later the same day, I saw another massive pro-Maduro demonstration. In encounters with Venezuelans during my few weeks in Caracas, I met people who made clear they didn’t support Guaido and what they were fighting for. In a hilltop community, one such man told me:

We are poor people, but we are proud, we have dignity. We are fighting against Imperialism, against rich people that want our country, that want us as slaves, that want our oil, our water. But we will win. The governments of the United States and other nations want to tell everybody that we are starving, we are dying in the streets, we are being oppressed by our government. But we’ve never been more free than now, in spite of all the problems we do have.

He and others spoke of the extreme racism and discrimination Afro-Venezuelans and indigenous Venezuelans faced before Chavez came to power.

Before, we were treated like nothing, we were treated only as workers, that was it. Say to your governments, this isn’t a fight against Maduro, this is a fight against the people that are trying to be free.

I won’t even repeat some of the unbelievable racist slurs they were subject to. Some months later, back in Ontario, I met Ronald Abache, an Afro-Venezuelan who attended a lecture I gave. During the question period, he was so articulate about racism in Venezuela, “very alive, but hidden under class status,” that I asked to record his words.

In 1999, for the first time ever in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of color. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.

He also challenged the opposition to answer one question:

What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!

These are just some of the people marginalized by Western media and politicians. The ones who claim concern for Venezuela. As Mr Abache noted, Venezuelans themselves aren’t going to accept US hegemony, not only the leadership. I got a powerful sense of that in the demonstrations I observed and from the people I spoke with. The new Biden administration may want to pressure Venezuela into compliance, but the people won’t accept that.

Blinken’s vow to avoid ‘costly military interventions’ isn’t worth the paper it’s written on – sanctions cause just as much damage
George Szamuely, RT.com, Mar 5 2021

In his first major speech, US Sec State Antony Blinken promised a foreign-policy vision that would improve Americans’ lives. Instead, he offered platitudes about spreading so-called American “values” around the world. More remarkably, while embracing the cause of global democracy, Blinken appeared to have little time for democracy as practiced in the US. The goal of Blinken’s speech, delivered virtually to the American people on Wednesday, was to introduce the Biden administration’s newly-issued “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” that is supposedly offering a distinctive Biden vision of America in the world. This vision, it turns out, is a very gloomy one. It depicts a world beset by rising authoritarian powers and full of countries pursuing their own narrow, selfish national interests. “American leadership” is under threat everywhere, even in the US:

At a time when the need for American engagement and international cooperation is greater than ever, democracies across the globe, including our own, are increasingly under siege. Free societies have been challenged from within by corruption, inequality, polarization, populism, and illiberal threats to the rule of law. Nationalist and nativist trends, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, produce an every-country-for-itself mentality that leaves us all more isolated, less prosperous, and less safe. Democratic nations are also increasingly challenged from outside by antagonistic authoritarian powers. Anti-democratic forces use misinformation, disinformation, and weaponized corruption to exploit perceived weaknesses and sow division within and among free nations.

The Biden-recommended solution is to cobble together US-led alliances to fight these dark foes. Over and over, the Biden document issues stirring calls for the “uniting of the world’s democracies to combat threats to free societies. The document reads:

We must join with like-minded allies and partners to revitalize democracy the world over. We will stand with our allies and partners to combat new threats aimed at our democracies, ranging from cross-border aggression, cyber-attacks, disinformation, and digital authoritarianism to infrastructure and energy coercion. We will defend and protect human rights and address discrimination, inequity, and marginalization in all its forms.

The Biden administration document is of a piece with its foreign policy as a whole: long on talk about “values,” short on specifics as to tangible American national interests. The word “values” comes up no less than 25 times in 24 pages. In this, the Biden administration has charted a course very different from that of its predecessor. Donald Trump had campaigned in 2016 on the theme of restoring American manufacturing supremacy; confronting China’s global ambitions to become the world’s #1 economic power; ending America’s wasteful military interventions, particularly in the Middle East; renegotiating trade agreements with Cold War allies that worked to the detriment of the US; and improving relations with Russia with a view to possibly forging a geopolitical alliance directed against China. For a variety of reasons, Trump failed to pursue most of these goals with any real consistency and determination. Nonetheless, they were goals that involved the securing of real, material benefits for the American people and pointed the way toward a world of nation-states, each pursuing its own national interests, and unencumbered by rickety, museum-piece military alliances such as NATO.

It was obvious that Biden, a long-standing member of Washington’s foreign-policy-making elite, would have very little time for any of this. His familiar bromides during his State Dept speech last month came as music to the ears of the American national security establishment: a resounding endorsement of the policy of perpetual wars and perpetual sanctions directed at global miscreants who fail to live up to American “values.” Biden said in his speech earlier this year:

We must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity. That’s the grounding wire of our global policy. That’s our inexhaustible source of strength. That’s America’s abiding advantage.

Blinken, to his credit, appears to have grasped that public support for a foreign policy promising a global crusade on behalf of “values” and “democracy” will be in short supply unless the administration can specify real US national interests it intends to secure that will materially benefit the American people. For this reason, he started his speech with a promise “to make your lives more secure, create opportunity for you and your families, and tackle the global crises that are increasingly shaping your futures.” He explained condescendingly:

Foreign policy can sometimes feel disconnected from our daily lives, because it’s often about people and events on the other side of the world, and it’s about things you don’t see. But it’s also because those of us who conduct foreign policy haven’t always done a good job connecting it to the needs and aspirations of the American people.

Apparently, the American people are too dim to realize that fighting pointless wars in the Middle East, expanding NATO, antagonizing Russia, sanctioning Iran, interfering in the internal affairs of China and promoting regime change in countries such as Syria and Venezuela are bringing tangible benefits to their lives. The American people fail to grasp that any threat to democracy anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. To his dim-witted American listeners, Blinken strove to explain that fighting for “democracy” and building coalitions of “democracies” are in their interest. Showing up America’s “adversaries” will bring peace and prosperity to the lives of ordinary Americans:

Authoritarianism and nationalism are on the rise around the world. Governments are becoming less transparent and have lost the trust of the people. But the erosion of democracy is not only happening in other places. It’s also happening here in the United States. Disinformation is rampant here. Structural racism and inequality make life worse for millions. Our elected leaders were targeted in the violent siege of the Capitol just two months ago. Shoring up our democracy is a foreign policy imperative. Otherwise, we play right into the hands of adversaries and competitors like Russia and China, who seize every opportunity to sow doubts about the strength of our democracy.

By attending to its own democratic inadequacies, the US will be laying the “foundation” for “defending democracy around the world for years to come.” And this segues pleasantly to the familiar policy of US-sponsored regime change:

We will encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practices. We will incentivize democratic behavior.

Incentivize, of course, by using the usual instruments the US uses to bully and coerce weak, recalcitrant states. Amusingly, Blinken promised that the Biden administration would abjure the use of force to bring about democratic change. He said:

We will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. We have tried these tactics in the past. However well intentioned, they haven’t worked.

Such promises are of course not worth the paper they are written on. Direct military intervention isn’t the issue. US-sponsored insurgencies such as the one in Syria or the ones in Central America in the 1980s have been as catastrophic as direct bombings and invasions. Economic sanctions also often cause at least as much damage and loss of innocent lives as military intervention. The Biden administration is two months in, and the horrific sanctions regime in Syria remains in place. Trump’s sanctions on Iran also remain in place, as are the sanctions on Venezuela. Regime-change is the order of the day. Blinken declared the other day that he and Venezuela’s bogus “interim president,” Juan Guaido, “discussed our unwavering support for democracy in Venezuela.” Most incongruously, Blinken promised that, under Biden, “diplomacy, not military action, will always come first.” Really? What about last week’s air strike in Syria that (reportedly – RB) led to the loss of at least 22 lives? Where was the “diplomacy”? Was the sovereign state of Syria consulted? Was Russia? The UNSC? Of course not. However, Blinken hastened to reassure his audience:

We will undertake such action only when the objectives and mission are clear and achievable, consistent with our values and laws, and with the informed consent of the American people. And we’ll do it together with diplomacy.

In other words, mellifluous-sounding verbiage that plays well in the American media but triggers bemusement and rage everywhere else. The foreign-policy vision articulated by Blinken is a familiar one. It is the defining characteristic of Democrat administrations, those of Clinton, Obama and to an extent Jimmy Carter: US aggression and interventionism, but justified by reference to high-falutin’ notions such as democracy, human rights and humanitarianism. The resulting misery is always the same.

Biden administration wastes no time in provoking Russia with more military aid to Ukraine
Daniel Kovalik, RT.com, Mar 5 2021

The US DoD has announced that it would be appropriating an additional $125m of “lethal” aid to Ukraine, adding to the over $2b of such aid the US has provided the country since the coup of 2014. As the DoD explained earlier this week, in addition to two armed patrol boats:

The package also includes capabilities to enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness of Ukraine’s forces through the provision of additional counter-artillery radars and tactical equipment; continued support for a satellite imagery and analysis capability; and equipment to support military medical treatment and combat evacuation procedures.

The continued arming of the Ukrainian forces is of great concern for a few reasons. First, the government in Kiev is involved in a brutal war against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Donbass region of the country. So far, this war has cost the lives of over 13,200 Ukrainians, and, according to Amnesty International, has been marked by torture, enforced disappearances, illegal detention in secret prisons and other serious human rights abuses. For the US to provide aid with the explicit purpose of “enhancing the lethality” of the Ukrainian armed forces is greatly alarming in such circumstances. In addition, what few in the mainstream press have been willing to discuss is that the Azov Battalion, a significant element of the Ukrainian armed forces, is openly neo-Nazi in its philosophy and tactics. The beloved former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica was quoted as saying that it is not even correct to call this battalion “neo-Nazis.” Rather, they are straight-up “Nazis.” And after the Maidan coup in 2014, these Nazis became an integral part of the Ukrainian armed forces. As an article in the Nation explains:

Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriots of Ukraine. Andrei Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to ‘lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.’ In the fall of 2014 Azov, which is accused by HRW and the UN of human-rights abuses including torture, was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard.

As the Nation further explains, the Azov Battalion is not merely Nazi in theory, but also in practice in present-day Ukraine:

There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.

It is important to note that the US DoD makes it clear that, in addition to the $125m already being allocated to Ukraine, another $150m is there to be released under certain conditions, and purging the neo-Nazis from the ranks of Ukraine’s armed forces is tellingly NOT one of them. Lest there be any doubt about the US’ views on the rise of neo-Nazis in Ukraine, in Dec 2020, the US and Ukraine were the only two nations in the world to vote against a UNGAR which called for “‘combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. This was done as they felt the resolution could be used to target the Ukrainian government and the US continued funding of it.” Another revealing action was Biden’s appointment of Victoria Nuland as his USSPA, effectively the third-ranking US diplomat. This is significant given that Nuland, as revealed in recordings of conversations she had on the subject while serving as Obama’s ASS, was instrumental in the formation of the post-Maidan government in Ukraine, a government openly hostile toward Russia.

All of this taken together will surely cause great alarm in the Kremlin as to Biden’s intentions toward Russia, and will further erode relations between the US and Russia at a time when the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is already sounding the alarm about the increasing risk of nuclear war between these nations. Indeed, the DoD statement about the most recent round of aid to Ukraine makes it clear that Russia should be alarmed by the Biden Administration’s posture toward it. Thus, as the DoD explained in its press release of Mar 1 2021, one of the purposes of this “lethal aid” is “to improve inter-operability with NATO.” The idea of Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic on Russia’s border, being brought even further into the embrace of NATO is an openly provocative act, and Russia will surely see it that way, just as the US would feel provoked if Russia were actively trying to bring Mexico into a military alliance.

It cannot be understated how dangerous Biden’s moves in regard to Ukraine are, especially from the point of view of Russia. In the midst of a global pandemic, and before providing any of his promised assistance to the American people to weather this pandemic, Biden has decided to provide “lethal aid” to a country on Russia’s borders which is not only adversarial toward Russia, but which also contains neo-Nazi elements. Russia still suffers from the painful memories and scars of the Nazi invasion of its territory and the loss of millions of souls in defeating Nazi Germany during WW2. That Biden is prioritizing deadly assistance to Ukraine at this time sends an unequivocal message to Russia that peace and diplomacy are not in the offing, and that Russia must remain in a defensive posture. In my view, this is a tragic beginning to the presidency of Joseph Biden as it belies his promises of a more diplomatic United States on the world stage.

‘Attempt at genocide’: Russian representative to OSCE slams Ukrainian blockade of water to Crimea as humanitarian crisis looms
Jonny Tickle, RT.com, Mar 5 2021

Ukraine’s policy to deprive the residents of Crimea of water is an attempt at genocide, according to Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, who blasted Kiev’s long-term blockade of a vital canal to the peninsula. In 2014, the Ukrainian government constructed a makeshift dam on the North Crimean Canal, which previously provided 85% of the local water supply. It connected the region to the River Dnieper, the fourth-longest river in Europe. Following the reabsorption of Crimea into Russia, the same Kiev ordered the channel to be blocked off. The area is now suffering from a water shortage, with climate change and a lack of rainfall also having an effect. Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday, noting a UNGAR from 2010:

The right to water is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights. Depriving the population of access to water can be equated with an attempt at genocide. Can it be called caring about the people who Kiev nominally considers to be their citizens?

As things stand, much of the region is suffering from a severe lack of water, and cities such as Simferopol and Yalta have enforced rationing, with taps only working for a few hours each day. With reservoirs running low, Russia has accused Ukraine of human rights violations and has criticized international organizations for remaining silent on the matter. In addition, Lukashevich noted that the water blockade could eventually become a disaster for the predominantly Russian-speaking Ukrainian region of Kherson, which borders Crimea. He said:

This clearly would not add popularity to the post-Maidan authorities in the eyes of their own citizens, who themselves have become hostages of Kiev’s Russophobic policy.

Lukashevich’s words come a month after a Ukrainian official revealed that the temporary blockade would soon be made permanent, with Kiev planning to beef up the makeshift dam. According to Anton Korinevich, the man designated by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to oversee policy on Crimea, the peninsula will be blocked off until Russia leaves. He said:

The position is unambiguous: no water to Crimea until deoccupation.

In 2020, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin revealed that the federal government would spend 5b rubles ($64.5m) to fix water supply issues, with regional authorities proposing to build desalination plants. Ukraine has also pledged to try to stop their construction. Crimea was reabsorbed into Russia in Mar 2014, following a referendum. Kiev has not recognized the vote, and most nations view Crimea as an illegally occupied Ukrainian peninsula.

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