The Ongoing Agony of the Obama-Trump War on the People of Yemen!

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“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation.” (M.L. King, “Beyond Vietnam”)

Yemen, the poorest Arab nation on Earth, is the victim of a savage, illegal war waged by the Saudi Arabian monarchy.  Armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated weapons in the world manufactured and supplied by the merchants of death in the United States, the Saudis are providing another grotesque example of what happens when a powerful nation with modern weapons is unrestrained by law and basic human decency.

Flying hundreds of sorties and targeting the civilian infrastructure—water and sanitation plants, the electrical grid, agricultural fields, food storage facilities, hospitals, roads, schools the result is over 20 million people, or 70 percent of the population,  are now dependent on food imports; 7 million of them are facing famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid to survive. Conservative reports put the number of dead from the Saudis’ barbaric air war since March 2015 at over 11,000, with the vast majority being innocent civilians. Meanwhile, untold millions have been displaced.

All of the above acts against the Yemenis are war crimes.

But the trauma and devastation of the people doesn’t end here.  

For the last two weeks, the gangster family running the Saudi state has imposed a murderous air, sea and land blockade preventing vital aid to those millions now dependent on it for their basic survival.

However, the Saudis are not the only ones implicated in this unfolding international crime. Like most of the egregious, international human-rights crimes of the late 20th and 21st centuries, the U.S. state is once again complicit.  

The fact is the Obama administration gave the green light to the Saudi war on Yemen. This is a war that could not then or today have been launched and executed without direct support from the U.S. military. The United States provided critical support in the form of intelligence sharing and targeting, air-to-air refueling, logistics support, participation in the naval blockade, and billions of dollars in weapons sales.

That support continues under the Trump administration, including the finalization of the multi-billion-dollar arms deal with the Saudis that was initiated under the Obama administration.   

Starvation is rampant, and the innocents are dying but who cares when there is money to be made and geopolitical interests to protect. As the indispensable nation, the nation above all nations, it is of no real concern that starvation is a war crime. Rogue states, especially if they believe in their “exceptionality” don’t restrict themselves to the rules that apply to others. So like other elements of international law that the United States ignores, starvation according the Department of Defense the U.S. Department of Defense considers starvation a legitimate weapon. Therefore, its use is strategic, and morality or its legality is of no concern to the masters of the universe.   

Mass starvation is not the only tragedy the people are facing. Yemen is also experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of cholera in the world since the epidemic in Haiti that began in 2010. The Red Cross reports that there are over 750,000 cases of infection with the number expected to rise to over 900,000 by the end of the year. So far there have been over 3,000 deaths.   

In this period when the corporate capitalist press and social media companies coordinate with the U.S. state to determine the range of acceptable information and selected facts presented to the U.S. public, it is not surprising Yemen has received scant coverage. Yet, in those few instances when the Obama administration felt compelled to comment on the situation—usually when the foreign press asked—it downplayed its role. When pressed, the Obama administration provided a ludicrous explanation: Apparently, Saudi Arabia was justified in intervening for its own security and to restore democracy in Yemen!

Today, the Trump administration doesn’t even need to bother to provide an explanation for continued U.S. support to the barbarism in Yemen. More focused on domestic political intrigue, his critics are not concerned about the crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed by the U.S. administration in Yemen. Recent legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in the form of a resolution to compel the administration to comply with the War Powers Act on Yemen or withdraw U.S. forces has stalled after generating miniscule interest. Since the people who are dying are “over there,” to borrow from Senator Lindsey Graham, who cares, and who cares if U.S. involvement is constitutional or not!

Once again, the hypocritical morality of the U.S. and the West is exposed. With all of its moralistic pontificating about human rights, humanitarianism, the responsibility to protect, the global public is reminded that U.S. and Western geo-political interests will always “trump” their supposed commitments to the rule of law, human rights, and all of the other high-sounding principles that they have consistently violated through practice.

Dr. King suggested 50 years ago that the United States was approaching spiritual death, that the deep malady in the “American” spirit was producing a sick people and making the United States a danger to the world. With mass shootings, the epidemic of suicides, pervasive drug addiction, intensifying anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, white supremacy, generalized narcissism, and the normalization of war, the conclusion should be obvious today, the United States is a much sicker nation and an even more dangerous threat to the world.

The people of Yemen are suffering. They cry out for help, for an end to their misery, respect, and protection of their human right to live. But their voices are unheard, drowned out by the noise of Russia-gate, arguments about the meaning of Trump’s latest tweet, and the latest episode of the TV show “Scandal”.

While many activists in the U.S. who are aligned with the democratic party would reject it, the people in the global South, the racialized “others” whose lives have never mattered, understand clearly that Trump is not an aberration, he is the reflection of the “American” spirit.

BAP Member to Address United Nations on Colombia Peace Process

Charo Mina-Rojas, a long-time Afro-Colombian activist who has been involved in her country's peace process since the 22-day civil strike in Buenaventura, Colombia, will speak to the United Nations Security Council this month. See the document below for the official statement. Mina-Rojas is also a BAP member and organizes for Proceso de Comunidades Negras.

DOWNLOAD: Statement by MADRE and Proceso de Comunidades Negras

 

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Afghanistan, North Korea and the War Against Black America: A Comment on Need for Black Left Unity

“One of the mistakes that some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies.” (Nelson Mandela in a response to question on Ted Koppel’s show during his first trip to the U.S.)

The Trump administration’s bellicosity in response to the delicate and dangerous situation with North Korea is just the latest, however crude, iteration of warmongering that has characterized U.S. geo-political polices beginning with the settler-state’s bloody march across the North American continent and continuing to the present. With the ascendancy of the U.S. as a global power after World War II, military intervention was buttressed with sophisticated counter-intelligence operations as central weapons to advance U.S. global dominance. However, the state’s use of military force and subversion took an even more qualitatively dangerous turn toward more militarism at the end of the Cold War when neo-liberalism and militarism converged as Full Spectrum Dominance, with bi-partisan support. Unrestrained by any countervailing global force, militarization, threats of war, and domestic repression dramatically exposed the strategy of the U.S. ruling circles and their junior partners in Europe to utilize force to advance and maintain their dominant position in the capitalist global order.

The task for those of us who have historically been the victims during this 522-year-old nightmare of Western colonial/capitalist exploitation and systematic dehumanization is to make sure that we don’t confuse our interests and realities with the interests and agenda of the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination. For the black liberation movement, we must be clear about our friends and our interests but even clearer about who our enemies are and their interests.

In just the last few weeks, the Trump administration has threatened military intervention in Venezuela; committed the U.S. to a never-ending war in Afghanistan; declared an escalation of the War on Black America with the lifting of the restrictions on select military equipment to domestic law enforcement agencies; and escalated tensions with North Korea (and by extension with China).

For the black left and broader black social movements it is important that we recognize 1) that the liberatory agenda of the black working class and poor is in direct opposition to the agenda of the white supremacist ruling class and the U.S. state no matter which one of the bourgeois parties is occupying the executive office; 2) that internationalism is at the center of the black radical tradition and that we have historically identified the U.S. as an oppressor nation and opposed imperialist moves against oppressed nations, and that we must continue to do so; 3) that the commitment of the U.S. war machine to maintain white ruling class power abroad mirrors the domestic war apparatus used to enforce the continued imprisonment of colonized peoples, including the national oppression of black people and the black working class and poor; and 4) that U.S. imperialist wars are always fought by the working class and poor and that we have a responsibility to make sure that our young people, and indeed no other group of young working class people, are tricked into believing that these wars are somehow honorable and reflect more than the naked greed of a rapacious, racist, parasitic oligarchy.

Black Alliance for Peace (BAP): A People(s)-Centered Human Rights Project Against War, Repression, and Imperialism

The expanding wars in Afghanistan, conflict with North Korea, the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), U.S. intervention in Venezuela, proposals to increase the military budget by $75 billion, and the war on African/Black people are all interrelated expressions of the systemic violence that the state is waging and prepared to wage to salvage its rapidly declining power. We must understand those systemic connections or we will find ourselves chasing shadows and focused on symptoms instead of the diseased global system that produces ecological destruction, poverty, premature death, racism, alienation, wars and violence. To be whole, healthy human beings practicing revolutionary solidarity, we must stand in firm opposition to the death project of Western and U.S. imperialism.

That is why we created the Black Alliance for Peace. BAP is struggling to make real the sentiments of millions who want to see an end to war, violence, mass incarceration, police executions and beatings. BAP is exposing the lie that while the people are told there is no money for jobs for our youth, health facilities and healthcare, fully funded public education, decent affordable housing, recreational facilities and even paved roads in our communities, billions of the people’s resources are ending up in the coffers of the corporations who profit from war. That is theft – systematic and legal – but theft nevertheless.

And we expose the fact that the black “mis-leadership” class fully participates in the process to deliver the people’s resources to the ruling elite. More than 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in July to increase the military budget by more than 75 billion dollars, an amount that exceeded the $54 billion dollars requested by the Trump administration that many saw as obscene.  

The organizations and individuals that have come together in BAP understand that it is only through resistance that builds power rooted in the black working class that will allow us to not only resist but to realize a transformative vision beyond the logic of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist national and global order. As Margaret Kimberley, BAP Coordinating Committee and United National Anti-war Coalition Administrative Committee member points out:

“American government aggressions continue domestically and internationally with bipartisan support for threats against North Korea and ongoing war and  occupation of Afghanistan. Proposals to increase the military budget are also embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike. This means that a people centered, independent effort is the only way to end the vicious cycle of state sponsored violence.”

This position is echoed by Mekdes Amare, a young organizer and BAP member who sees the connection between the DOD 1033 program that is principally responsibly responsible for the obscene militarization of the police and war efforts aboard:

"Trump lifting the restrictions on the 1033 program is a troubling development for working class communities of color in America,” she says. “But we must remember that many presidents before Trump laid the ground work for this increased drive towards fascism. This includes Obama who did not actually end the 1033 Program but only restricted weapons like bayonets while allowing advanced military hardware to flow into police departments.”

And in the spirit of the black radical internationalist tradition she closes by saying that “We must organize and fight this drive towards fascism for our own sake and for the sake of our sisters and brothers across the globe"

The Black Left Must find a way to unite:

BAP sees itself as part of this effort to organize resistance structures as part of the broad effort to rebuild and unite the black left in the U.S.  Brother Saladin Muhammad has been one of the few consistent voices calling for a broader black left effort to unite all our disparate forces at this critical moment in history. We should respond to Saladin’s call. Now is the time for the Black is Back Coalition, the Black Left Unity Network, the Black Liberation Unity Committee, BYP100 and Black Lives Matter Network among other groups to find a way to struggle for a national framework that allows us to concentrate and coordinate our efforts to realize authentic black working class-based self-determination as part of a broader de-colonial project in the territory known as the United States.

The responsibility to organize and fight for a new future has never been more apparent. There is no reform of this dying order. The choices are quite clear. Either we fight for a new world order, one that sees the dismantling of and an end to the tyranny of the capitalist dictatorship or we will suffer a prolonged period of neo-fascist barbarity.

The financial and corporate elites have made their choice and their choice is to fight, even if it means destroying the planet and everyone one on it. What will be our choice?

 

Ajamu Baraka is a veteran of the black liberation movement. He is currently a board member with Cooperation Jackson, the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.  He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


August 29, 2017—The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) condemns the announcement today by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions before a gathering of the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) that the administration of President Donald Trump intends to remove the restrictions on the government’s 1033 Program—transfer of deadly military grade equipment to local and state police forces.

According to BAP national organizer Ajamu Baraka, "Since President Barack Obama's administration’s so-called restrictions were merely a publicity stunt that had no measurable impact on the flow of deadly weapons going to police forces, the Trump administration’s announcement is intended to send another public message—that it intends to make war on Black and Brown people in the United States.”

Jeff Sessions claimed in Monday’s speech that the Trump administration “is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies; ability to get equipment through federal programs.” However, we at BAP understand this order is meant as yet another green light for increased repression and brutality against Black and Brown working class and poor communities.

Therefore, BAP demands that an immediate halt to the racist, repressive 1033 Program and a suspension of all transfers of military grade equipment to local and state police that are currently being processed.

Furthermore, we specifically call on members of the Congressional Black Caucus (the "conscience of Congress”), and all progressive-minded congressional representatives, to take a public stand against all aspects of the 1033 Program.

The 1033 Program evolved out of the 1990 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)'s original authorization to facilitate the transfer of surplus military grade weaponry to state and local police forces as part of the federal government's so-called "War on Drugs." In the 1997 NDAA, the authorized transfer was named the 1033 program and it was expanded to include counter-terrorism. It has been largely responsible for the militarization of police forces across the nation as a result of over $5.4 billion worth of equipment being transferred to state and local police agencies.

Pressure from some members of Congress and demands from various organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement led to the Obama Administration placing some restrictions on a small class of equipment. But the flow of deadly equipment did not stop. In fact, according to the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which oversees the transfers, the value of the equipment reaching state and local police agencies actually increased the year after the restrictions were imposed.

It is clear that this “domestic weapons supply” program was never meant only to fight drugs or terrorism, but to contain and control Black and Brown bodies victimized by the rapacious consequences of a racist, capitalist order that has rendered whole sectors of the U.S. population disposable.
 

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Contact: Ajamu Baraka, info@blackallianceforpeace.com

This statement can be found online here: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/bapstatements/2017/8/29/black-alliance-for-peace-condemns-trump-administration-intent-to-hyper-militarize-state-and-local-law-enforcement

The Story of Charlottesville Was Written in Blood in the Ukraine

What is the character of racist right-wing politics today? Is it the crazed white supremacist who plows into an anti-fascist demonstration in Charlottesville, VA or can it also be the assurance by Lindsay Graham that an attack against North Korea would result in thousands of lives lost…. but those lives will be “over there”? What about the recent unanimous resolution by both houses of Congress in support of Israel and criticism of the United Nations for its alleged anti-Israeli bias? Would that qualify as racist and right-wing, since it appears that the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians is of no concern? And what about the vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to go even beyond the obscene proposal of the Trump administration to increase the military budget by $54 billion dollars and instead add a whopping $74 billion to the Pentagon budget?

What I find interesting about the current discussion around what many are referring to as the emboldening of the radical white supremacist right is how easy it is to mobilize opposition against the crude and overt white supremacists we saw in Charlottesville. So easy, in fact, that it’s really a distraction from the more difficult and dangerous work that needs to be done to confront the real right-wing power brokers. 

The white supremacy that some of us see as more insidious is not reflected in the simple, stereotypical images of the angry, Nazi-saluting alt-righter or even Donald Trump. Instead, it is the normalized and thus invisible white supremacist ideology inculcated into cultural and educational institutions and the policies that stem from those ideas. That process doesn’t just produce the storm troopers of the armed and crazed radical right but also such covert true believers as Robert Ruben from Goldman Sachs, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Tony Blair and Nancy Pelosi – “decent” individuals who have never questioned for a moment the superiority of Western civilization, who believe completely in the White West’s right and responsibility to determine which nations should have sovereignty and who should be the leaders of “lesser” nations. And who believe that there is no alternative to the wonders of global capitalism even if it means that billions of human beings are consigned permanently to what Fanon called the “zone of non-being.”

This is the white supremacy that I am concerned with. And while I recognize the danger of the violent right-wing movement, I am more concerned with the right-wing policies that are being enacted into law and policy by both Democrats and Republicans at every level of government.

More than two years ago I wrote that:

“The brutal repression and dehumanization witnessed across Europe in the 1930s has not found generalized expression in the U.S. and Europe, at least not yet. Nevertheless, large sectors of the U.S. and European left appear to be unable to recognize that the U.S./NATO/EU axis that is committed to maintaining the hegemony of Western capital is resulting in dangerous collaborations with rightist forces both inside and outside of governments.”

The impetus of that article was to critique the inherent danger of the Obama Administration’s cynical manipulation of right-wing elements in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych. Not only was it dangerous and predictably disastrous for the Ukrainian people, but because U.S. support for a neo-fascist movement in Ukraine took place within a context in which the political right was gaining legitimacy and strength across Europe, the political impact of the right gaining power in Ukraine could not be isolated from the growing power of the right elsewhere. Which meant that the Obama Administration’s selfish, short-term objective to undermine Russia in Ukraine had the effect of empowering the right and shifting the balance of forces toward the right throughout Europe.  

But because Obama was incorrectly seen as a liberal, he was able to avoid most criticism of his policies in Ukraine, in Europe and domestically. In fact, liberals and the left both in the U.S. and in Europe generally supported his Ukraine policies.

However, playing footsie with right-wing elements in the Ukraine and underestimating the growing power of the right has resulted in powerful and dangerous right-wing movements on both sides of the Atlantic who have effectively exploited endemic white racism and the contradictions of neoliberal capitalist globalization. The ascendancy of Donald Trump cannot be decontextualized from the racial, class and gender politics of this moment here and abroad.

The alt-right that showed up in Charlottesville this past weekend was mimicking the tactics of the frontline neo-fascist soldiers who orchestrated the coup in the Ukraine, yet everyone is saying this is a result of Trump. The objective fact is that the U.S. has become a dangerous right-wing society as a result of a steady shift to the right over the past four decades. The idea that Trump’s election somehow “created” the right cannot be taken seriously and cannot be reduced to the crude expressions of the alt-right.  

The structures of white power, that is the structures and institutions that provide the material base for Euro-American white supremacy and its ideological reproduction, should be the focus of radical opposition. But the capitalist order and its institutions – the World Trade Organization, IMF, World Bank, and global Westernized higher education that serves as the material basis for hegemonic white supremacist power – escape critical scrutiny because popular attention is directed against a David Duke and a Donald Trump.

Trump and the alt-right have become useful diversions for white supremacist liberals and leftists who would rather fight against those superficial caricatures of racism than engage in more difficult ideological work involving real self-sacrifice – purging themselves of all racial sentimentality associated with the mythology of the place of white people, white civilization and whiteness in the world in order to pursue a course for justice that will result in the loss of white material privilege.

Looking at white supremacy from this wider-angle lens, it is clear that support for the Israeli state, war on North Korea, mass black and brown incarceration, a grotesque military budget, urban gentrification, the subversion of Venezuela, the state war on black and brown people of all genders, and the war on reproductive rights are among the many manifestations of an entrenched right-wing ideology that cannot be conveniently and opportunistically reduced to Trump and the Republicans.  

And when we understand that white supremacy is not just what is in someone’s head but is also a global structure with ongoing, devastating impacts on the people of the world, we will understand better why some of us have said that in order for the world to live, the 525-year-old white supremacist Pan-European, colonial/capitalist patriarchy must die.

Your choice will be clear: Either you join us as gravediggers or you surrender to class and racial privilege and join the cross-class white united front. The alt-right is waiting, and they are taking recruits from the left who are tired of “identity politics.”