Human Rights Records Do Not Stop At The Border

Lots of people try and claim moral superiority for the US in relation to Russia and China regarding human rights records. In each case, they attempt to use histories dating back at least 27 years, typically far more.

Do these countries have distant histories of human rights abuses? Yes, they do. However, they fail to look at the human rights records of the US even from that time frame. If one wants to look at old human rights records, then we have to look at the US history of genocide of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, Japanese internment camps, women’s rights and the abuses they suffered, forced sterilization, frontal lobotomies, electroshock therapy, involuntary imprisonment of women in asylums based on their husband’s word, seizure of private property for corporate interests (DAPL), the civil rights movement…

Getting the point here?

Yet ancient history is not the point of this article. The point of this article is the apparent belief by many people that when you discuss the human rights records of a country, that such record should be limited to inside a country’s borders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Human rights are humanrights.The term has no geographical boundaries attached to the meaning.

Nor are human rights records limited to governmental actions. That record can be even more related to government inaction in the face of known abuse or suffering at the hands of non-government entities. From the Pinkerton massacre at Homestead to Dow Chemical poisoning the Ohio River and thousands of abuses in between and happening now.

The US government has a long, storied history and present of direct and indirect involvement in the abuse and outright murder of millions of people around the globe. From our entry into WWI under false pretenses to the decimation of North Korea to the blatantly false circumstances that took us into Vietnam and Iraq, regime change operations by our military and CIA in dozens of countries dating back at least as far as the early 50’s. Even earlier when we look at the Panama Canal and invasion of Hawaii, the Hidalgo Treaty and who knows what else? Talk to a real historian who is not a propagandist.

Right now we are actively bombing 8 countries and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia who is conducting outright genocide in Yemen in the worst human rights situation globally since Cambodia. We have actively supported the Saudi regime for decades while in full knowledge of their abuse of human rights, with imprisonment and mass public decapitations of dissident journalists, oppression of women’s rights which continues with US corporate created cell phone apps which track women’s movements so they can be reported to authorities if they attempt to escape abuse with a single button. Do our politicians and corporate media scream to the heads of the Saudi royals? Or make weak, failed attempts at ineffective sanctions? Is anyone (and I mean anyone) calling for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia?

Those claiming American moral superiority over other countries fail to consider any of this or the fact that most of this history has been for the sake of capitalist interests. They will point to Stalin or Mao but never remotely realize that the US has killed multiple times more people than Stalin and Mao combined. There is no way to accurately count the death toll of the United States because the numbers will always be hidden, distorted, diverted, blamed elsewhere and that moral imperative always claimed.

It is always telling that our corporate media never opposes any military action. They attempt to whip up support for the next war and the next and the next. They don’t bother mentioning our current military actions as a comprehensive statement. The bombing of 8 countries mentioned above, the military forces in 50 African nations, the millions starved by our typically sanctions. Yet we hear endlessly how we need to intervene in Venezuela because Maduro is a tyrant.

Corporate media does not broadcast the reports coming back with video from Progressive journalists on the ground in Venezuela at this moment. Aaron Mate, Max Blumenthal, Abby Martin. Their video evidence shows the lack of violence, the store shelves full of items corporate media claims do not exist in the country, the rallies in protest against US intervention. They don’t mention the humanitarian support being provided by less affluent countries who are not trying to seize rights to Venezuelan oil. European countries, Mexico, Russia, China are all providing support without any suspicion of them attempting to sneak in weapons for the opposition to enact a coup. An opposition which is known to have used violence against civilians, including burning people alive. Corporate media does not mention that Venezuela has the lowest rate of homelessness in the western hemisphere. Can’t talk about that, can we?

The US truly has no right at all to dictate ethics or morality to other countries. Americans have no right to believe we are the “good guys” or that the governments that oppose us are worse than our own. Especially when many of those countries have universal healthcare and adult education while we do not. To include Russia and China. Countries that spend more money on their own citizens than on warfare by magnitudes of ten. Countries that have lower rates of homelessness and lower prison populations than ourselves. Countries that often have US sanctions limiting the options available to them to provide for their citizens.

It’s time to define the human rights records of all countries by how they treat not only their citizens but how they treat human beings in general. Define human rights by each country’s actions as a whole. Define human rights by the divide between rich and poor, free and incarcerated, treatment of the ill, housed and homeless, diplomacy versus war, free versus oppressed, freedom of speech and press to include corporate censorship. Because human rights should include life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, medical care, shelter, security, freedom of dissension, food security, political freedom of affiliation even if that includes Conservatism or Communism. Human rights records do not stop counting at your border and you cannot treat citizens of other countries as you see fit for your own greed.

Define Terrorism

Define terrorism.

Since 2001, the US has incited the world to engage in “the war on terrorism”.

The biggest problem with this entire concept is that “terrorism” is never truly adequately defined. It is an amorphous, vague term which can be applied to basically any activity by any authority against anyone they please.

Non-military combatants? Traditionally, terrorism is defined as armed actions by non-military personnel against either a civilian or militarypopulation. Yet in the case of Palestine, this poses a problem in and of itself. Palestine is not allowed to have their own military force by decree of the occupying Israeli Defense Force (IDF) under command of the Israeli government, who refuses to recognize Palestinian human rights. Therefore, any military actions in aggression or defense taken by Palestinians is deemed terrorism. Look at the living conditions of Israeli citizens and Palestinians and consider, whom do you think lives with more terror?

Non-traditional tactics. Historically, the term of terrorism also denotes nontraditional military actions, also known as guerrilla tactics. By this very definition, the American Continental Army was a terrorist force. They engaged in guerrilla tactics against the occupying British military, using methods described by the British as uncivilized and barbaric. It was also a fully civilian force at the outset of the American Revolution against a formal militia. Yet we consider our forefathers heroes for using those tactics.

More recent times. More recently, Muammar Qaddafi was described as a terrorist, even as he was the formal ruler of a country with a formal military. Many in our government and media describe Bashar Al-Assad as a terrorist, while he is also a democratically elected leader of a country with a formal military.

Military force is terrorism. Nobody can incite more terror in a populace than a formal military force. Interviews with civilians in countries subjected to US “humanitarian interventions” reveal just how terrorized the civilian population can be with very good reason. Children describing how they fear blue skies because that’s when drone strikes are most likely to occur. Just the fact that those children have that knowledge is horrifying in itself. How terrifying do you think it is to see family, friends, neighbors, playmates or your own children scattered in pieces or so torn apart as to be unrecognizable?

Refugees. To date, millions of people from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and other countries have been driven from their homes and countries from the terror visited upon them by terrorists and US military intervention. Forced to evacuate over land on foot, over sea in unstable boats where many die on the way. Only to arrive and seek shelter in countries where they, the victims, are treated with suspicion, hate and derision when all they really wish is survival at that point.

Camera angles and editing. Our media is fond of showing sanitized video of individual car bombs or suicide bomb attacks but never pan out to show the absolute destruction caused by our 121 bombs dropped per day, every day, relentlessly. Cities in rubble covering many bodies that may never be identified, if they are ever found. Cities where millions once lived. No longer inhabitable.

Skin color and religion. In America, a person of a certain religion or ethnicity can be deemed a terrorist by owning a firearm legally, wearing a traditional scarf or speaking their native language. Meanwhile, a white Conservative male can shoot over 50 people, massacre the patients and staff at a clinic or kill dozens of children in cold blood, only to be called a “mass shooter” who was “troubled”. But that’s not my point in this article.

Resources. Right now, in multiple countries on different continents, citizens are terrified. They are not terrified of some mad suicide bomber in the marketplace or driving across an IED. They are terrified of the US government, our foreign policy. Our “humanitarian interventions”. People right now are terrified in Iran, North Korea and especially Venezuela. In most cases, they sit atop oil resources envied by American corporate interests.

What to fear most? They have no idea what to fear most. Cooperating with the US, which would bring crushing poverty as in Haiti, with destruction of their culture and land. Or not cooperating and being prone to drone strikes, proxy or direct invasion by military or mercenary forces bringing rape, interrogation by torture, torture for torture’s sake, looting and leveling of their homes, disease and murder of their country’s people. While US media hails the attackers as “liberators”.

They understand what they are facing. These countries have seen what we are capable of, not only in the countries I mention above but closer to home, in their own histories. Americans do not know what regime change and fascism looks like. They do. Many of the older citizens of these countries have seen regime change and CIA-directed coups up close and personal. They’ve seen US military and proxy mercenary interventions in Venezuela, Honduras, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Iran and many others. They have watched Qaddafi accede to every demand placed upon him, only to be assassinated, cities destroyed and the citizens of Libya sold at slave markets on the streets of what was once their relatively peaceful land.

No surrender. So these countries have no reason to surrender to the will of the US. Even if they have problems in their country it is their right as a sovereign nation to solve their problems on their own without our “help”. Help which has already been defined openly by numerous US politicians as having nothing to do with the plight of the people and everything to do with oil. The other problems are caused by US sanctions, now being made worse by more sanctions.

Define terrorism. Has that definition changed for you yet?

US Interventionism In Venezuela

Right now, the US government is actively and openly endorsing interventionism in Venezuela.

I know many people are going to claim this is only Trump but have you heard “The Resistance” oppose this? At what point have you heard any organized faction of our government or media oppose the illegal invasion or attack of any country in our history? Ever? I’d be really interested if anyone can name one single time that has happened which they can recall.

First of all, I am going to address Trump supporters on this. Trump campaigned on and has promised a policy of no interventionism or regime change. Yet here he and his administration is, endorsing some guy to replace the democratically elected president Maduro. The endorsed replacement is some guy whose name has been basically never heard in corporate or independent media until this week. So now Trump supporters have to face the fact that Trump is no better than Hillary or Obama, because this is a move they would have performed. Exactly, to the letter.

Trumpbama. In fact, Obama was the one who got the ball rolling on Venezuela. Assisted, of course, by then SoS Hillary Clinton.

While Trump and the neoliberal media (who completely support Trump on this) rage about the conditions in Venezuela, they fully neglect to mention that the problems the country is facing have been caused by US sanctions on Venezuela. Those sanctions began with Obama/Hillary, before Maduro ever took office. Those sanctions have continued under Obama and made worse by Trump. So, with his actions, Trump has proven himself to be exactly the same as Hillary and Obama.

I’ll get back to the sanctions below.

False image. Maduro is being portrayed as an authoritarian who oppresses his people, starves them and crushes opposition. That’s interesting, since Venezuela has the lowest rate of homelessness of any nation in the western hemisphere. There are open protests in the streets which have been going on for at least 2 years.

Food shortage. Abby Martin has reported that there is no shortage of food. Note that she spent months on the ground in the country. There is a lack of specific common items, like wheat flour. In many cases, these items were available but were locked in warehouses by capitalists who oppose the price controls put in place by the Maduro government. Those price controls were not so harsh that goods were sold at a loss. They just placed a cap on profit levels. So the capitalists allowed the food to sit in warehouses and rot. If you look, you can images of this. You can also find video of citizens tearing down the walls of warehouses to get to these items.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of specific items like toilet paper. Yet paper towels are easy to acquire. Try and explain that.

The effects of sanctions. The sanctions placed on Venezuela have limited the government access to funds and trade. They have been banned from selling gold to other countries. There are limits on their oil trade. They are unable to borrow money for greater than 30 days. Government bonds cannot be purchased by US citizens, nor can the government-issued cryptocurrency, the Petro.

The government cannot purchase military or police equipment from other countries, which places limits on efforts to control violent riots.

The lack of funding and trade restrictions insure a lack of availability to medications, food and other supplies, leading to a growing humanitarian crisis in the country.

Right now, the Bank of England is holding $1.3 billion (in gold) in escrow which belongs to Venezuela at the direction of the US. Money which could help relieve the humanitarian conditions in Venezuela.

Effects of coming sanctions.. on you. Venezuela is currently the third largest supplier of oil to the US. Proposed new sanctions on Venezuela will mean that you will pay more money for oil and gas. Of course, American oil companies and the propaganda wings in the media are completely in favor of this. Considering that oil is the major source of what funding the country has, that will cause the social and humanitarian crisis to grow far worse.

Compare to other countries. The US has a long history of claiming to intervene in other countries for “humanitarian reasons”. There are too many examples to list, so let’s go with current comparisons. In 2011, the CIA orchestrated the assassination of Qaddafi, followed by merciless bombing of Libya. That has led to the current conditions in Libya, with open slave markets in the streets. One need only look at images of Syria in 2009 compared to what it looks like now to know the horrors caused by US backing of “moderate rebels” to overthrow Assad. The refugee crisis affecting Europe so badly was created by US interventions. We sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, even with full public knowledge of the worst humanitarian crisis since the Korean war being caused by that.

If our government or media cared so much about humanitarian distress, then why are none of them screaming thunderously for peaceful humanitarian assistance to those countries?

Complete hypocrisy. You will not hear elected officials on either side calling for easing of sanctions on Venezuela. Even as the media and Democrats cry crocodile tears about unproven “Russian interference” in our election, the only proof of which has been a few FB ads. Half of those were only posted after the election, 25% were never seen by anyone, many which had nothing to do with the election and Google stated the total amount spent with them was $4700. There was no violence, no humanitarian crisis caused in this country or even claimed. There was no effect on trade. Until we did what? Oh, yeah. Imposed sanctions.

Maduro was elected by a majority of the people of Venezuela. That election was monitored by international observers and declared valid. Jimmy Carter has said of elections in Venezuela, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

By comparison, Jimmy Carter has said of the US that, “The United States does not have a functioning democracy at this time.” That had nothing to do with 2016. He said that in 2013 but it still applies.

Bigger problem than most realize. US intervention in Venezuela is a much bigger problem for us than most Americans realize. Because of who is backing Venezuela. Last year, China loaned Venezuela $5 billion to develop their oil trade. There have been talks of Venezuela selling part or all of their oil business to Russia. While that has not happened, talks are still ongoing.

The US has suggested possible military intervention in Venezuela. Most Americans are unaware that Colombia was extended an offer to join NATO in 2016. Anyone care to explain to me what part of the North Atlantic Colombia occupies? The purpose of that was to have full NATO support against Venezuela.

If the US does attempt to invade Venezuela, there is the distinct possibility that both Russia and China will defend their own vested interests in the country. Other countries backing Maduro are Mexico, Cuba, Iran and Turkey.

US Diplomats (sic). Maduro ordered all US diplomats out of the country. The diplomats refused to leave. To which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said if our diplomats are placed in danger we will respond militarily. First of all, our “diplomats” are not being diplomatic. Diplomats are supposed to engage in rhetoric which decreases tensions and work toward peaceful solutions. Second, refusing to leave is a conscious decision whereby they place themselves at risk. Maduro could very well place them under house arrest in the embassy and not allow them to leave except to go to the airport. No danger involved. Be sure and deliver the same kind and amount of food to the embassy that the average citizen of Venezuela is being forced to eat right now. And give them paper towels, no toilet paper.

The only right step. The US has no right to step in and determine the future of Venezuela. A country that has been deemed by one of it’s own past presidents to have no functioning democracy, that has engaged in regime change around the globe, that has been at war for 17 years, is bombing 8 countries and threatening numerous others, that has armed troops in 50 of 54 African nations and is $21 trillion in debt has no right to dictate what happens in Venezuela.

The only right step which could possibly happen is for the US to leave the country and lift the sanctions. Allow Venezuela to do what they deem best for themselves, unimpeded.

Actions. Call or write your elected officials and tell them to leave Venezuela alone. To lift the sanctions. Tell them you do NOT support military or economic actions against the country.