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enrica

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New WikiLeaks cable reveals US embassy strategy to destabilize Chavez government

Published time: April 04, 2013 23:56
Edited time: April 05, 2013 00:57


Hugo Chavez (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

In a secret US cable published online by WikiLeaks, former ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to infiltrate and destabilize former President Hugo Chavez' government.

Dispatched in November of 2006 by Brownfield -- now an Assistant Secretary of State -- the document outlined his embassy’s five core objectives in Venezuela since 2004, which included: “penetrating Chavez’ political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital US business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.”

The memo, which appears to be totally un-redacted, is plain in its language of involvement in these core objectives by the US embassy, as well as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), two of the most prestigious agencies working abroad on behalf of the US.

According to Brownfield, who prepared the cable specifically for US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the “majority” of both USAID and OTI activities in Venezuela were concerned with assisting the embassy in accomplishing its core objectives of infiltrating and subduing Chavez’ political party:

“This strategic objective represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela. Organized civil society is an increasingly important pillar of democracy, one where President Chavez has not yet been able to assert full control.”

In total, USAID spent some one million dollars in organizing 3,000 forums that sought to essentially reconcile Chavez supporters and the political opposition, in the hopes of slowly weaning them away from the Bolivarian side.

Brownfield at one point boasted of an OTI civic education program named “Democracy Among Us,” which sought to work through NGOs in low income regions, and had allegedly reached over 600,000 Venezuelans.

In total, between 2004 and 2006, USAID donated some 15 million dollars to over 300 organizations, and offered technical support via OTI in achieving US objectives which it categorized as seeking to reinforce democratic institutions.

Much of the memo details efforts to highlight instances of human rights violations, and sponsoring activists and members of the political opposition to attend meetings abroad and voice their concerns against the Chavez administration:

“So far, OTI has sent Venezuelan NGO leaders to Turkey, Scotland, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay, Washington and Argentina (twice) to talk about the law. Upcoming visits are planned to Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.”

In his closing comments, Brownfield remarked that, should President Chavez win re-election during the December 2006 elections, OTI expected the “atmosphere for our work in Venezuela” to become more complicated.

Ultimately, it seems that the former ambassador’s memo wisely predicted a change in conditions. Following his re-election, President Chavez threatened to eject the US ambassador from Venezuela in 2007, amid accusations of interfering in internal state affairs.

Source RT.com: http://rt.com/news/wikileaks-venezuela-us-chavez-358/

enrica

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The US Plans to End Chávez’s Rule

Documents released by WikiLeaks explain in detail former US ambassador’s strategy to undermine Chávez’s regime.

By Latinamerica Press

April 05, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"LAP" - After the failed coup against President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) in 2002, in the best tradition of the Cold War, the US Embassy in Venezuela launched a plan to put an end to Chavismo (the name given to Hugo Chávez’s left-wing political ideology), as revealed in secret documents released by WikiLeaks.

An investigation carried out and published on March 18 by Pública — the independent Brazilian Agency of Investigative Reporting and Journalism— exposed the five-point strategy implemented between 2004 and 2006 by the former US ambassador, William Brownfield. The plan by Brownfield — the current Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs — included strengthening democratic institutions in Venezuela, infiltrating Chávez’s political basis, dividing Chavismo, protecting US businesses and isolating Chávez internationally.

The plan was implemented through the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, which gave about US$15 million for technical assistance and training to over 300 civil society organizations through its Office of Transition Initiatives, or OTI, created shortly after the failed coup d’état against Chávez.

According to research conducted by Pública on the basis of a cable released by WikiLeaks, “one of the main objectives of USAID was to bring human rights cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in order to obtain convictions and undermine the international credibility of the Venezuelan government. According to the account of the former ambassador [Brownfield], that is what the Venezuelan Prison Observatory did — it achieved a ruling by the court requiring special measures to address the human rights violations in La Pica prison, in the east of the country.”

The 06CARACAS3356 cable, signed by Brownfield, is a brief description of the USAID/OTI activities during those two years. The document notes that the strengthening of democratic institutions was the strategic objective which “represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela.”

OTI allocated $1.1 million for training and technical assistance to local human rights organizations through Freedom House — a non-governmental organization based in Washington that promotes democracy, political freedom and human rights — and through Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI, the company that administered the funds.

OTI’s work focused on counteracting Chávez’s alleged strategy of “divid[ing] and polariz[ing] Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence.” OTI funded over 50 social projects throughout the country with the aim of “fostering confusion within the Bolivarian ranks.”

“OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3,000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas [a common name for the supporters of Hugo Chávez’s political ideology], with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo,” the cable says.

In addition, DAI has brought professors, nongovernmental organizations’ members and political leaders — mainly from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, United States, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru — to Venezuela to participate in workshops and seminars who would then return to their countries with “a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.”

Brownfield’s diplomatic work in Venezuela ended in mid-2007 and he soon took over as an ambassador to Colombia, where he remained until October 2010, when he was appointed to his current position in the State Department. Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.

Latinamerica Press

Source: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34515.htm?utm_source=ICH%3A++Washington's+Plan+to+Provoke+North+Korea&utm_campaign=FIRST&utm_medium=email

---

Mentioned cable:

 USAID/OTI PROGRAMMATIC SUPPORT FOR COUNTRY TEAM 5 POINT STRATEGY

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06CARACAS3356.html

enrica

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The related cable looks very clear on what were the US plans toward Chevez' govt.:

---

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 CARACAS 003356
 
SIPDIS
 
SIPDIS
 
HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPT PASS TO AID/OTI RPORTER
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2026
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM VE
SUBJECT: USAID/OTI PROGRAMMATIC SUPPORT FOR COUNTRY TEAM 5
POINT STRATEGY

 
CARACAS 00003356  001.2 OF 004
 
 
Classified By: Robert Downes, Political Counselor,
for Reason 1.4(d).
 
-------
SUMMARY
-------
 
¶1.  (S)  During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has
systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and
governance.  The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela
focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces
through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of
Venezuelan society.
 
¶2.  (S)  In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country
team's 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in
Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the
referendum to the 2006 presidential elections).  The
strategy's focus is:  1) Strengthening Democratic
Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3)
Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5)
Isolating Chavez internationally.
 
¶3.  (S)  A brief description of USAID/OTI activities during
the aforementioned time period in support of the strategy
follows:
 
-------------
Strengthen Democratic Institutions
-------------
 
¶4.  (S)  This strategic objective represents the majority of
USAID/OTI work in Venezuela.  Organized civil society is an
increasingly important pillar of democracy, one where
President Chavez has not yet been able to assert full
control.
 
¶5.  (S)  OTI has supported over 300 Venezuelan civil society
organizations with technical assistance, capacity building,
connecting them with each other and international movements,
and with financial support upwards of $15 million.  Of these,
39 organizations focused on advocacy have been formed since
the arrival of OTI; many of these organizations as a direct
result of OTI programs and funding.
 
¶6. (S)  Human Rights:  OTI supports the Freedom House (FH)
"Right to Defend Human Rights" program with $1.1 million.
Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI),
OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights
organizations, totaling $726,000.  FH provides training and
technical assistance to 15 different smaller and regional
human rights organizations on how to research, document, and
present cases in situations of judicial impunity through a
specialized software and proven techniques.  Following are
some specific successes from this project, which has led to a
better understanding internationally of the deteriorating
human rights situation in the country:
 
Venezuelan Prison Observatory:  Since beginning work with
OTI, OVP has taken 1 case successfully through the
inter-American system, achieving a ruling requiring BRV
special protective measures for the prison "La Pica".  Also,
on November 7th - 12th they will be launching the
Latin-American Prison Observatory, consolidating their work
with a regional network.  OVP receives technical support from
FH, as well as monetary support from Pan American Development
Foundation (PADF).  Due to the success of the OVP in raising
awareness of the issue, the BRV has put pressure on them in
the form of public statements, announcing investigations,
accusing them of alleged crimes as well as death threats.
 
Central Venezuelan University Human Rights Center:  This
center was created out of the FH program and a grant from
 
CARACAS 00003356  002.2 OF 004
 
 
DAI.  They have successfully raised awareness regarding the
International Cooperation Law and the human rights situation
in Venezuela, and have served as a voice nationally and
internationally.
 
Human Rights Lawyers Network in Bolivar State:  This group
was created out of the FH program and a grant from the DAI
small grants program.  They are currently supporting the
victims of a massacre of 12 miners in Bolivar State allegedly
by the Venezuelan Army.  Chavez himself was forced to admit
that the military used excessive force in this case.   They
will present their case to the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights in February 2007.
 
¶7.  (S)  Citizen Participation in Governance:  Venezuelan
NGOs lack a long history of social activism.  In response,
OTI partners are training NGOs to be activists and become
more involved in advocacy.  The successes of this focus have
been as follows:
 
Support for the Rights of the Handicapped:  OTI has funded 3
projects in the Caracas area dealing with the rights of the
handicapped.  Venezuela had neither the appropriate
legislation nor political will to assure that the cities are
designed and equipped in a handicapped sensitive fashion.
Through these programs, OTI brought the issue of the
handicapped to the forefront, trained advocacy groups to
advocate for their rights and lobby the National Assembly,
and alerted the press regarding this issue.  Subsequent to
this, the National Assembly was forced to consider
handicapped needs and propose draft legislation for the issue.
 
Por la Caracas Possible (PCP):  Once-beautiful Caracas has
decayed over the past several years due to corruption and
lack of attention.  PCP is a local NGO dedicated to bringing
attention to this problem.  They have held campaigns with
communities shining a light on the terrible job elected
leadership are doing resolving the problems in Caracas.
During their work they have been expelled from communities by
the elected leaders, further infuriating communities that
already feel un-assisted.
 
¶8.  (S)  Civic Education:  One effective Chavista mechanism
of control applies democratic vocabulary to support
revolutionary Bolivarian ideology.  OTI has been working to
counter this through a civic education program called
"Democracy Among Us".  This interactive education program
works through NGOs in low income communities to deliver five
modules:  1) Separation of Powers, 2) Rule of Law, 3) The
Role and Responsibility of Citizens, 4) Political Tolerance,
and 5) The Role of Civil Society.  Separate civic education
programs in political tolerance, participation, and human
rights have reached over 600,000 people.
 
--------------
Penetrate Base/Divide Chavismo
--------------
 
¶9.  (S)  Another key Chavez strategy is his attempt to divide
and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and
violence.  OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista
strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to
counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working
together on issues of importance to the entire community.
OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through
over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering
alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition
activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the
desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo.  We
have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over
$1.1 million.  There are several key examples of this:
 
¶10.  (S)  Visor Participativo:  This is a group of 34 OTI
 
CARACAS 00003356  003.2 OF 004
 
 
funded and technically assisted NGOs working together on
municipal strengthening.  They work in 48 municipalities
(Venezuela has 337), with 31 MVR, 2 PPT and 15 opposition
mayors.  As Chavez attempts to re-centralize the country, OTI
through Visor is supporting decentralization.  Much of this
is done through the municipal councils (CLPPs).  The National
Assembly recently passed a law that creates groups parallel
to the mayor's offices and municipal councils (and that
report directly to the president's office).  These groups are
receiving the lions share of new monies Chavez is pumping
into the regions, leaving the municipalities under-funded.
As Chavez attempts to re-centralize all power to the
Executive in the capital, local Chavista leadership are
becoming the opposition as their individual oxen are gored.
Visor has been providing these leaders with tools and skills
for leadership to counter the threat represented by the new
legislation.
 
¶11.  (S)  CECAVID:  This project supported an NGO working
with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th
largest city in Venezuela.  The training helped them
negotiate with city government to provide better working
conditions.  After initially agreeing to the women's
conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut
down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the
bargaining table.  This project is now being replicated in
another area of Venezuela.
 
¶12.  (S)  PROCATIA:  OTI has partnered with a group widely
perceived by people in the large Caracas &barrio8 as
opposition leaning.  Due to incompetence of the local elected
leadership, the garbage problem in Catia is a messy issue for
all those who live there.  This group has organized brigades
to collect and recycle trash, in the process putting pressure
on the government to provide basic services and repositioning
the group as a respected ally of the "barrio."
 
¶13.  (S)  Finally, through support of a positive social
impact campaign in cooperation with PAS, OTI funded 54 social
projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing
Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate
US concern for the Venezuelan people.  This program fosters
confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the
attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a "unifying
enemy."
 
---------------
Isolate Chavez
---------------
 
¶14.  (S)  An important component of the OTI program is
providing information internationally regarding the true
revolutionary state of affairs.  OTI,s support for human
rights organizations has provided ample opportunity to do so.
 The FH exchanges allowed Venezuelan human rights
organizations to visit Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Chile,
Argentina, Costa Rica, and Washington DC to educate their
peers regarding the human rights situation.  Also, DAI has
brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela,
university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to
participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to
their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan
reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan
opposition.
 
¶15.  (S)  More recently, OTI has taken advantage of the draft
law of International Cooperation to send NGO representatives
to international NGO conferences where they are able to voice
their concerns in terms that global civil society
understands.  So far, OTI has sent Venezuelan NGO leaders to
Turkey, Scotland, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay,
Washington and Argentina (twice) to talk about the law.
Upcoming visits are planned to Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.
 
CARACAS 00003356  004.2 OF 004
 
 
OTI has also brought 4 recognized experts in NGO law from
abroad to Venezuela to show solidarity for their Venezuelan
counterparts.  PADF supported visits by 4 key human rights
defenders to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission
meetings in Washington in October of 2006.  These have led to
various successes:
 
Civicus, a world alliance of NGOs, has put the Venezuela
issue on their Civil Society Watch short list of countries of
concern.
 
Gente de Soluciones, a Venezuelan NGO presented their
"Project Society" to the OAS General Assembly.  While there,
they met with many of the Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers
of OAS member states to express concern about the law.
 
Uruguayan parliamentarians met with NGOs at a special session
of the Foreign Affairs commission, and have promised to help
where they can.
 
The Human Rights Commission of the OAS has made several
public statements and sent private letters to the National
Assembly expressing concern with the law.
 
The most prestigious law faculty in Buenos Aires, Argentina
has committed to hosting an event to deal with the draft law.
 
The Democratic Observatory of MERCOSUR plans to hold an event
early next year to discuss the draft law.
 
So far the Venezuelan National Assembly has received many
letters and emails of opposition to the law from groups all
over the world.
 
A private meeting between 4 Venezuelan human rights defenders
and Secretary General Jose Miguel Inzulsa during the October
2006 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (please
protect).
 
The press, both local and international, has been made aware
of the proposed law and it has received wide play in the US
as well as in Latin America
 
¶16.  (S)  OTI has also created a web site which has been sent
to thousands of people all over the world with details of the
law in an interactive format.
 
-------
Comment
-------
 
¶17.  (S)  Through carrying out positive activities, working
in a non-partisan way across the ideological landscape, OTI
has been able to achieve levels of success in carrying out
the country team strategy in Venezuela.  These successes have
come with increasing opposition by different sectors of
Venezuelan society and the Venezuelan government.  Should
Chavez win the December 3rd presidential elections, OTI
expects the atmosphere for our work in Venezuela to become
more complicated.
 
BROWNFIELD

Full cable: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06CARACAS3356.html

enrica

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The Anti-Empire Report #115

By William Blum – Published April 8th, 2013

Would you believe that the United States tried to do something that was not nice against Hugo Chávez?

Wikileaks has done it again. I guess the US will really have to get tough now with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:

During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.

USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.

OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.

Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.

OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.

“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”

Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:

OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.

“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”

This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.

OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’

One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.

The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1

The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2

Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?

Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.

Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.

For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3

The latest threats to life as we know it

Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.

But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s. Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?

“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.

It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)

In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.

Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.

I have written much of the above in previous editions of this report, going back to 2003. But I’m afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating these observations for years to come. Myths that reinforce official government propaganda die hard. The mainstream media act like they don’t see through them, while national security officials thrive on them to give themselves a mission, to enhance their budgets, and further their personal advancement. The Washington Post recently reported: “A year into his tenure, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has proved even more bellicose than his father, North Korea’s longtime ruler, disappointing U.S. officials who had hoped for a fresh start with the regime.” 4

Yeah, right, can’t you just see those American officials shaking their heads and exclaiming: “Damn, what do we have to do to get those North Korean fellows to trust us?” Well, they could start by ending the many international sanctions they impose on North Korea. They could discontinue arming and training South Korean military forces. And they could stop engaging in provocative fly-overs, ships cruising the waters, and military exercises along with South Korea, Australia, and other countries dangerously close to the North. The Wall Street Journal reported:

The first show of force came on March 8, during the U.S.-South Korean exercise, known as Foal Eagle, when long-range B-52 bombers conducted low-altitude maneuvers. A few weeks later, in broad daylight, two B-2 bombers sent from a Missouri air base dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range.

U.S. intelligence agencies, as had been planned, reviewed the North’s responses. After those flights, the North responded as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had expected, with angry rhetoric, threatening to attack the South and the U.S.

On Sunday, the U.S. flew a pair of advanced F-22s to South Korea, which prompted another angry response from the North. 5

And the United States could stop having wet dreams about North Korea collapsing, enabling the US to establish an American military base right at the Chinese border.

As to North Korea’s frequent threats … yes, they actually outdo the United States in bellicosity, lies, and stupidity. But their threats are not to be taken any more seriously than Washington’s oft expressed devotion to democracy and freedom. When it comes to doing actual harm to other peoples, the North Koreans are not in the same league as the empire.

“Everyone is concerned about miscalculation and the outbreak of war. But the sense across the U.S. government is that the North Koreans are not going to wage all-out war,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They are interested first and foremost in regime survival.” 6

American sovereignty hasn’t faced a legitimate foreign threat to its existence since the British in 1812.

The marvelous world of Freedom of Speech

So, the United States and its Western partners have banned Iranian TV from North America and in various European countries. Did you hear about that? Probably not if you’re not on the mailing list of PressTV, the 24-hour English-Language Iranian news channel. According to PressTV:

The Iranian film channel, iFilm, as well as Iranian radio stations, have also been banned from sensitive Western eyes and ears, all such media having been removed in February from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform serving the United States and Canada.

In December the Spanish satellite company, Hispasat, terminated the broadcast of the Iranian Spanish-language channel Hispan TV. Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat, whose French-Israeli CEO is blamed for the recent wave of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.

The American Jewish Committee has welcomed these developments. AJC Executive Director David Harris has acknowledged that the committee had for months been engaged in discussions with the Spaniards over taking Iranian channels off the air. 7

A careful search of the Lexis-Nexis data base of international media reveals that not one English-language print newspaper, broadcast station, or news agency in the world has reported on the PressTV news story since it appeared February 8. One Internet newspaper, Digital Journal, ran the story on February 10.

The United States, Canada, Spain, and France are thus amongst those countries proudly celebrating their commitment to the time-honored concept of freedom of speech. Other nations of “The Free World” cannot be far behind as Washington continues to turn the screws of Iranian sanctions still tighter.

In his classic 1984, George Orwell defined “doublethink” as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” In the United States, the preferred label given by the Ministry of Truth to such hypocrisy is “American exceptionalism”, which manifests itself in the assertion of a divinely ordained mission as well in the insistence on America’s right to apply double standards in its own favor and reject “moral equivalence”.

The use of sanctions to prevent foreign media from saying things that Washington has decided should not be said is actually a marked improvement over previous American methods. For example, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 8 And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-bombing of the Balkan country which posed no threat at all to the United States, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 9

Source/ read more: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/115