Trudeau’s precarious hold on the Liberal foreign policy agenda

iPolitics

Popular criticism of Liberal foreign policy focuses on the government’s hypocrisy that its actions do not live up to Trudeau’s hyperbolic rhetoric. Pundits regularly draw attention to the lack of consistency and superficiality in Trudeau the man. Collectively, they cast doubt on his ability to achieve his post-election promise of bringing Canada back onto the world stage.

More importantly, these criticisms draw attention to Trudeau’s precarious hold on the foreign policy agenda, if not leadership of the Liberal Party, while simultaneously giving credence and weight to more hawkish, “small c” conservative cabinet members who are ready to take a more prominent leadership role within the party.

Indeed, over the past four years the Liberal government has demonstrated a willingness to operate from several different truths simultaneously, allowing them to make questionable choices inconsistent with Trudeau’s campaign’s vision. Thus far they have avoided the destructive power of moral ambiguity brought about through palpably contradictory policies.

Chief among these contradictions are a controversial and unfulfilled climate change agenda coupled with a pro-pipeline energy policy; punishing some countries for human rights violations on the one hand, while selling arms to odious regimes on the other; promoting a feminist development assistance program while not investing in foreign aid; and working with allies who undermine regional stability through unilateral sanctions and military intervention while claiming leadership in strengthening the rule of law.

This shift to a contradictory agenda coincides with the removal of former Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion in 2016 and the insertion of Chrystia Freeland in his place. Under Freeland’s tenure, Canada has drifted so far from Trudeau’s optimistic 2015 campaign that Liberal foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from the Conservative’s: take a hard line on Russia and Iran, undermine the Venezuelan government, and do not negotiate with China. For Freeland the U.S. is the “indispensable power” without which Canada would apparently be lost.

For her efforts, Minister Freeland receives tributes from U.S.-based think tanks. This kind of grooming is troubling given that American elites don’t seem to appreciate the fact that Canada is a sovereign nation with interests distinct from their own. Yet efforts to exercise that sovereignty are undermined by the fact Freeland has only limited access to Russia due to her persona non grata status. While many allies have expressed concern over the Trump Administration’s approach to Iran, Freeland has stayed quiet.

Meanwhile, 2015 campaign promises languish on the sidelines. Increasing Canada’s commitment to the UN specifically and strengthening international institutions generally remain unmet challenges. To fill the void, former Prime Ministers Mulroney and Chrétien have emerged as guiding voices for Canada, variously speaking about making good with China, finding a way to work with Russia on the Arctic and Eastern Europe, and carefully calibrating Canadian interests and values vis-à-vis the U.S., working co-operatively when it matters and standing up when needed.

Trudeau’s disinterest in foreign policy, as documented by former foreign policy adviser Jocelyn Coulon, reverses a long-standing trend of Prime Ministerial leadership on foreign policy. Trudeau has handed over responsibility for foreign policy to Chrystia Freeland, who appears happy to continue where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives left off. Unfortunately apart from a few impromptu ad hoc efforts to build like-minded coalitions, Canada continues to watch on the sidelines as the international liberal order, on which Liberals staked their political reputation, slowly withers away.

In its place, we see the U.S. unilaterally deploy and threaten sanctions against friend and foe alike: Iran in the former instance, Germany in the latter. The Trump administration is even keen to sanction the International Criminal Court, an institution the Liberals were instrumental in creating.

Our government remains silent and fearful of what might happen should we speak out or take action. Indeed, U.S. trade adviser Peter Navarro quipped that no country would impose retaliatory sanctions on the U.S. because its market is too large and too important. This bold claim based on U.S. exceptionalism cries out to be tested, if not by Canada, then surely by rising powers and like-minded coalitions.

A world order in which our main trading partner believes it cannot be disciplined for acting outside the rule of law is a world in which Canada cannot survive. As a trading nation, Canada depends on a predictable, rules-based system. Far from being the “indispensable nation,” the United States in the Trump era is fast becoming a country with the potential to become both unpredictable and unreliable.

Going into an election, Liberal foreign policy is an unstable balance between contradicting visions. The 2019 election outcome will determine which vision wins out. But whose foreign policy will it be? Justin Trudeau’s yet to be realized idea of bringing Canada back, or Chrystia Freeland’s conservative agenda?

David Carment is CGAI Fellow and editor of Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. Richard Nimijean is a member of the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. They are co-editors of the recently published book, Canada, Nation Branding and Domestic Politics.

Canada Adopts ‘America First’ Foreign Policy

The US embassy in Ottawa boasted in a March 2017 memo, “Canada Adopts ‘America First’ Foreign Policy,” just after PM Trudeau appointed hard-line hawk Chrystia Freeland as foreign minister.

By Ben Norton

July 05, 2019, “Information Clearing House” – The US State Department boasted in a declassified memo in March 2017 that Canada had adopted an “America first” foreign policy.

The cable was authored just weeks after the centrist government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Chrystia Freeland as foreign minister. The former editor of the major international news agency Reuters, Freeland has pushed for aggressive policies against states targeted by Washington for regime change, including Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Syria, and Iran.

The State Department added that Trudeau had promoted Freeland “in large part because of her strong U.S. contacts,” and that her “number one priority” was working closely with Washington.

Under Freeland, the granddaughter of a Ukrainian Nazi propagandist, Canada has strongly campaigned against Russia, strengthened its ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel, and played a key role in the US-led right-wing coup attempt in Venezuela.

The memo offers the most concrete evidence to date that the United States sees Ottawa as an imperial subject and considers Canadian foreign policy as subordinate to its own.

Canada ‘Prioritizing U.S. Relations, ASAP’

On March 6, 2017, the US embassy in Canada’s capital of Ottawa sent a routine dispatch to Washington entitled “Canada Adopts ‘America First’ Foreign Policy.”

Almost all of the now declassified document is redacted. But it includes several pieces of revealing information.

The cable notes that the Canadian government would be “Prioritizing U.S. Relations, ASAP.” It also says to “Expect lncreased Engagement.”

The only section that is not redacted notes that the Trudeau administration “upgraded Canada’s approach to the bilateral relationship.”

“PM Trudeau promoted former Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland to Foreign Minister in large part because of her strong U.S. contacts, many developed before she entered politics,” the cable says.

“Her mandate letter from the PM listed her number one priority as maintaining ‘constructive relations’ with the United States,” the memo continues.

“Trudeau then added to her responsibilities for U.S. affairs, giving her responsibility for U.S.-Canada trade, an unprecedented move in the Canadian context,” the State Department wrote.

Chrystia Freeland’s ‘key role’ in Venezuela coup attempt

Foreign Minister Freeland has worked closely with the US government to advance its belligerent policies, especially those that target independent and leftist governments that refuse to submit to Washington’s diktat.

Under Freeland’s leadership, Canada took the lead in the plot to destabilize Venezuela this January. The Associated Press reported on how Ottawa joined Washington and right-wing Latin American governments in carefully planning the putsch.

Two weeks before coup leader Juan Guaidó declared himself “interim president,” Freeland personally called him to “congratulate him on unifying opposition forces in Venezuela.”

The AP reported: “Playing a key role behind the scenes was Lima Group member Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido the night before Maduro’s searing-in ceremony to offer her government’s support should he confront the socialist leader.”

In 2017, Freeland helped to establish the Lima Group, an alliance of Canada and right-wing governments in Latin America that coalesced to push regime change in Venezuela. Because the US is not a member, Freeland has ensured that the Lima Group will act in Washington’s interests and advance North American imperial power in the region.

Canada’s former ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, criticized the coup-plotting to the newspaper The Globe and Mail. “It’s an unusual move for any country to comment on who the president of another country should be,” he said, “to have countries that represent two-thirds of the population of Latin America do it in minutes shows there was a remarkable alignment that’s got to be nearly unprecedented in the history of Latin America.”

Trudeau and Freeland have repeatedly called for the overthrow of the elected Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Canadian mining corporations, which are already heavily exploiting Honduras, have been desperate to get access to Venezuela’s substantial mineral reserves.

A Canadian hawk

Chrystia Freeland strongly supports sanctions against Western enemies and is a vocal advocate of unilaterally seizing the assets of foreign leaders deemed by Washington to be “dictators.”

She has pushed this “America first” foreign policy especially hard in Latin America and the Middle East.

In addition to imposing brutal sanctions on Venezuela, helping the US maintain a crippling economic blockade of the country, the Trudeau government has also sanctioned Nicaragua, whose democratically elected socialist government survived a violent right-wing onslaught in 2018. Freeland has echoed the Trump administration’s harsh rhetoric against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

Canada has also followed the US in expanding the economic attack against Syria, part of a renewed effort to destabilize the government of Bashar al-Assad. Weeks after Freeland was promoted, Ottawa pushed through a new round of sanctions against Damascus.

Freeland has also joined Washington in its campaign to suffocate Iran. The Canadian foreign minister has refused to re-establish diplomatic ties with Tehran.

At the same time, Freeland strengthened ties with the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu, pledging Canada’s “ironclad” support for Israel.

Nazi propagandist’s granddaughter

In Canada, Chrystia Freeland is perhaps best known for her anti-Russia campaigning. She has expressed her country’s “unwavering” support for Ukraine and boasted that she is “ready to impose costs on Russia.” The Trudeau administration has imposed several rounds of harsh sanctions on Russia.

While she has staunchly supported Ukraine, Freeland obscured the fact that she was the granddaughter of a fascist Ukrainian Nazi collaborator who edited a propaganda newspaper that was founded and overseen by Nazi Germany. Shockingly, the paper was founded after the Nazi regime stole the publication’s presses and offices from a Jewish publisher, whom it then killed in a death camp.

Freeland knew about her grandfather’s Nazi collaboration, but tried to hide this embarrassing fact by falsely branding it as “Russian disinformation.” The Canadian government even went so far as to expel a Russian diplomat who dared to publicize the truth about her Nazi lineage.

From the heights of journalism to electoral politics

Before entering formal politics as a member of Canada’s centrist Liberal Party in 2013, Chrystia Freeland spent decades in journalism. She worked for major American, British, and Canadian corporate media outlets.

After years shaping Western news coverage inside Ukraine and Russia, Freeland was promoted in 2010 to her highest position of all: global editor-at-large of Reuters, a major international news agency that has vast global influence.

Freeland cut her teeth doing anti-Russia reporting for the corporate press. She won awards for her puff pieces on the anti-Putin oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

In 2000, Freeland published a book, titled “Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution.” The book’s blurb notes that it documents “the country’s dramatic, wrenching transition from communist central planning to a market economy,” praising “Russia’s capitalist revolution.”

This was after Russia was looted by oligarchs empowered by Washington, and following the excess deaths of 3 to 5 million of its most vulnerable citizens due to the US-orchestrated demolition of the country’s social welfare state.

More pro-US operatives in Canada’s Trudeau government

The declassified State Department cable also touts several other appointees in the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as key US proxies.

The Canadian government selected a retired lieutenant general, Andrew Leslie, who the memo notes “has extensive ties to U.S. military leaders from his tours in Afghanistan,” as a parliamentary secretary at Global Affairs Canada, giving him “responsibility for relations with the United States.”

“PM Trudeau also elevated Transport Minister Mare Garneau — who also brings strong U.S. ties from a career as an astronaut and nine years in Houston — to head the Canada-U.S. Cabinet Committee,” the document adds.

The Trudeau government took what the State Department happily noted was an “unprecedented” decision to hold weekly meetings of the Canada-US Cabinet Committee, “even without a formal agenda, as ministers engage in freewheeling discussions of strategy and share information, in addition to making policy decisions.”

Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned on a progressive platform, but has continued governing Canada with many of the same center-right, neoliberal policies of previous administrations. He has almost without exception followed the US lead on major foreign-policy decisions, while aggressively building fossil-fuel pipelines at home.

Because Trudeau is from Canada’s centrist Liberal Party and has to maintain a veneer of resistance against the far-right US president, the State Department memo notes that Ottawa’s former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney serves as “Trudeau’s ‘Trump Whisperer.’”

Totally ignored by media

This US State Department cable was first uncovered and publicized by the Communist Party of Canada on July 2.

The memo, which was drafted by Nathan Doyel, a political officer at the embassy at the time, was declassified and published on May 31, 2019, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

It can be clearly seen on the US State Department website, with the subject line “CANADA ADOPTS ‘AMERICA FIRST’ FOREIGN POLICY.”

No media outlets have reported on this cable. Indeed, its discovery has been entirely ignored by the North American press corps.

Commenting on the document, the Canadian communist party wrote on social media, “If a formerly classified internal memo came out from the Russian or Chinese foreign ministry titled CANADA ADOPTS RUSSIA FIRST FOREIGN POLICY or CANADA ADOPTS CHINA FIRST FOREIGN POLICY, would the Canadian media be interested in that story?”

The party added, “In light of repeated insistence by the federal government that Canadians can expect foreign interference in elections and institutions, does such a memo merit further investigation by the Canadian media?”

This article was originally published by “Gray Zone” –

Chrystia Freeland confronted about crimes against Venezuela

On July 1, 2019, about fifty community members confronted Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about her shameful role in trying to overthrow the government of Venezuela.

Read letter below!

 

Hands Off Venezuela!
An Open Letter to Chrystia Freeland

 

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland,

Concerned community members are gathered in protest of your actions as Foreign Affairs Minister today. We want to explain clearly why we are here and why we will continue to speak loudly about your shameful policies.

You and your government’s aggression against the people of Venezuela is not only a crime under international law, it is a moral outrage that is harming millions of Venezuelans and risks full scale war.

You have personally supported overt plans to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela:

·       You tried to sabotage last year’s Venezuelan Presidential elections by declaring them illegitimate before they took place and not allowing Venezuelans in Canada to vote.

·       You rallied right-wing governments in this hemisphere to the banner of regime change through the “Lima Group,” a meeting of countries outside recognized international organizations of states.

·       You have championed a coup attempt in recognizing opposition figure Juan Guaido as the self-declared President of Venezuela.

·       Your government has put in place sanctions against over 100 Venezuelan officials. International sanctions, mainly those of the United States, are a form of collective punishment and economic terrorism that economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot say have already resulted in more than 40,000 deaths.

·       Your close partnership with Pompeo, Bolton, Abrams and Trump in their campaign of aggression against Venezuela risks an illegal invasion by the United States which would bring mass bloodshed to that country, similar to what we have seen in Iraq over the last 15 years where over a million people have died.

These are shocking violations of international law, national sovereignty, and the charters of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

You say you are concerned about Canadian sovereignty when it comes to potential Russian interference in our elections. Is this not blatant hypocrisy?

You say you are concerned about human rights in Venezuela. This is while you have very little to say about the crimes being committed by the Colombian state where social movement leaders are murdered every week, and Brazil where the ultra-right Bolsanaro government threatens the LGBTIQ community and Indigenous peoples. You have little to say about Honduras where an uprising is underway against a President who stole the 2017 elections. These are your “allies” in the Lima Group against Venezuela.

You say you are concerned about humanitarian crisis in Venezuela yet you continue to export armoured vehicles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is engaged in a horrendous war in Yemen. The UN has said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is “the worst in the world” with an estimated 24 million people in need of assistance and protection with famine threatening hundreds of thousands of lives.

Based on these facts we see that your focus on Venezuela has nothing to do with democracy and human rights and everything to do with efforts to destabilize a country moving in a progressive direction that threaten US and Canadian business interests in the region.

We say no more crimes in our name! Canada must adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament and allow the peoples of Latin America to determine their own futures.

Signed,

Venezuela Solidarity Committee
vensoltoronto@gmail.com

America’s Respectable War Criminals

By Rev. William Alberts – June 23-23, 2019 – Information Clearinghouse

A Boston Globe story highlights Wellesley College alumnae Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s return to the College for their 60th and 50th respective reunions. The story states that “their early days at Wellesley College were marked by uncertainty and feeling out of place.” But they “overcame their trepidation and went on to illustrious careers including serving as the country’s top foreign diplomat under different presidents.” Wellesley College president Paula A. Johnson asked them questions for over an hour, with the audience giving “Albright and Clinton an enthusiastic reception, including three standing ovations.” What created the enthusiastic response? Albright and Clinton “urged the audience to speak up and take action to protect democracy from the threat of fascism under President Trump.” (“At Wellesley, Madeleine and Hillary Clinton encourage protest, political action.,” By Laura Crimaldi, June 9, 2019)

“Speak up and take action to protect democracy.” Okay. The country certainly needs to be protected from “the threat of fascism under President Trump.” But such honoring of Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s “illustrious careers” is quite a commentary on The Boston Globe and Wellesley College and the selective morality of many Americans. Trump can serve to distract attention from war crimes committed by other, respectable, U.S. political leaders, among them Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.

Consider Madeleine Albright. The U.N. imposed draconian sanctions on Iraq, pushed by the U.S. and Britain after it invaded Kuwait. Before that, in 1989 Iraq was reported to have “one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, as well as universal, free healthcare and education.” (“Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq,” johnpilger.com, 1-15-05) Iraq’s remarkable health was due to President Saddam Hussein nationalizing the country’s vast oil resources, and investing certain of its revenue in the Iraqi people. This policy did not set well with Western oil corporations, which saw Iraq’s bountiful oil reserves as a gold mine to be controlled and tapped.

The sanctions prevented Iraq from importing supplies of food and medicine and other necessities. A survey by two scientists, Drs. Mary Smith Fawzi and Sarah Zaidi, found that “as many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council.” (“Iraqi Sanctions, Kill Children, U.N. Reports,” By Barbara Crossette, The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1995)

In 1996, President Bill Clinton’s U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes with reporter Lesly Stahl, who said, “We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And – you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” (“The price is worth it,” By Edward S. Herman, msuweb.montclair.edu) Evidently the harsh criticism she received led her to apologize for her words years later, but not for the brutal sanctions against Iraq she helped to enforce as America’s U. N. Ambassador.

Edward S. Herman, now deceased American economist, media scholar and social critic, wrote that “the ratio of dead Iraqi children to deaths in the WTC/Pentagon bombings was better than 80 to 1,” but “the mainstream media and intellectuals have not found Albright’s rationalization of this mass killing of any interest whatsoever.” Their interest is about “who” not “why.” Herman asked, “Is it not morally chilling, even a bit frightening, that he [a liberal historian] and the great mass of citizen compatriots, can focus with such anguish and indignation on their own 6,000 dead, while ignorant of, or not caring about, or approving his (their) own government’s ongoing killing of scores of times as many innocents abroad?” He also said, “Because the media make the suffering and death of 500,000 children invisible, the outrage produced by the intense coverage of the WCT/Pentagon bombing victims does not surface on their behalf. . . . The media . . . are not interested in root causes.” Herman concluded, “This reflects the work of a superb propaganda system.” (Ibid)

Evidently the Wellesley College president did not ask former U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright questions about the U.S.-driven U.N. sanctions and the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children. The “superb propaganda system” was obviously on display at Wellesley College — and in The Boston Globe.

Nor could Osama bin Laden’s words penetrate America’s “superb propaganda system.” He wrote a “letter to America,” in which, he cited the “whys” of the 9/11 attacks. Among the U.S. government’s sins against Muslim nations: “You have starved the Muslims in Iraq, where children die every day,” he said. “It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet,” he continued, “when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.” (“Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America,’” The Guardian, Nov. 24, 2002)

The U.S. government’s answer to Osama bin Laden was to send a Special Forces team to silence him, killing him in his compound — as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others watched his assassination, and also the killing of three men and a woman, from the safety of the White House’s Situation Room. Bin Laden’s body was then dumped into the sea – to prevent his burial in a known grave where mourners could gather and be inspired to engage in more protests against U.S. imperialistic policies. (See “Death of Osama bin Laden Fast Facts,” CNN Library, www.cnn.com, April 18, 2019)

The assassination of Osama bin Laden is merely one example of The U.S. government silencing people who dare to expose America’s war crimes. In an extensive In These Times article on “The Crackdown on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange Is About Protecting U.S. Empire,” Chip Gibbons writes about the fates of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange: “army Intelligence analyst Manning shared massive troves of Iraq and Afghanistan War logs with Assange, who released them. Videos showed American soldiers’ needless killing of Iraqi civilians, in what WikiLeaks called “Collateral Murder.” Gibbons cites American journalist Dahr Jamail’s report from Iraq: “The WikiLeaks cables from Iraq displayed the brutality of U.S. polices that were ongoing throughout the occupation.” (May 14, 2019)

Chip Gibbons also quotes “Phillis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.” She stated that “the Afghan War Logs ‘were crucially important,’ as they showed ‘Afghanistan was and is a real country where hundreds of thousands, millions of people with no connection to 9/11 would be killed or see their lives and families destroyed.’ ” Gibbons also pointed out: “The Guantanamo leaks revealed the U. S government knowingly held 150 innocent men.” (Ibid)

Mr. Gibbons states that “this massive insight into U.S. foreign policy apparatus showed ‘the world according to U.S. empire.’ But,” he said, “for much of mainstream U.S. media, there is little if any true reckoning with the civilian cost of war.” And “exposing the U.S. empire comes at a cost. . . . WikiLeaks is currently in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, because it challenged this secrecy head on.”(Ibid)

Chelsea Manning spent seven years in prison, before President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence. But she is back in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange. Assange himself in now in a British prison, after being hounded and spending seven years in refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London. The U.S, is eager to have him extradited, to face a number of charges under the Espionage Act, with his case possibly used to erode press freedom by criminalizing journalists who expose governmental crimes for the public good.

Enter Hillary Clinton. Her 2016 presidential campaign was victimized by WikiLeaks disseminating communications obtained from her campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Her response to Assange’s arrest: “I think it is clear from the indictment that came out it’s not about punishing journalism, it is about assisting in the hacking of a military computer to steal information from the United States government.” (“Hillary Clinton says Assange ‘has to answer for what he’s done,’” By Julie Gallagher, CNN, April 12, 2019) Never mind that the “information” hacked was about the U.S. government’s concealed war crimes.

Hillary Clinton also said about Julian Assange’s indictment: “The bottom line is he needs to ‘answer for what he’s done.’” (Ibid) Clinton herself needs to answer for what she’s done. In 2002, she voted to authorize the George W. Bush administration’s falsely-based, unnecessary, illegal invasion of Iraq, and still needs to answer for contributing to that horrible, unending war crime. Obviously, Wellesley College President Johnson did not ask Clinton about the reported “4,500 American soldiers killed and thousands more permanently disabled, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; the destabilization of the region with the rise of ISIS; and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs. “ (“Clinton’s Iraq War Vote Still Appalls,” by Stephen Zunes, progressive.org, April 14, 2016)

During her run for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton expressed regret for her Iraq war vote when New York senator. An obvious and strategically voiced regret, because the basis for invading Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, had long been proven a lie peddled by the George W. Bush administration. The reported reality then: “Clinton ignored information provided by U.N. inspectors, reports by independent strategic analysts, and articles in reputable arms control journals that challenged the administration’s claims.” (Ibid) The 2016 election demanded moral hindsight from Clinton.

Hillary Clinton’s immoral “foresight” is seen in her response to Libya as Secretary of State. In the Black Agenda Report, Solomon Comissiong, educator and founder of the Your World News Media Collective, writes that Clinton and President Obama “orchestrated the destruction of what was once the African nation with the highest living standards – Libya!” Clinton especially “was a strong proponent and vocal cheerleader of the barbaric bombing of Libya, a bombing campaign that destroyed tens of thousands of civilian lives.” As a result, “Libya continues to be submerged in a quagmire of slavery of Black Africans, civil war, death and destruction.” (“How Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Contributed to Libya’s Slavery Crisis,” Dec. 6, 2017) And Libyan refugees have flooded European countries.

Along with “bombing Libya into oblivion,” Mr. Comissiong states that the Obama administration used “racist and terrorist rebel groups to do their dirty deeds on their ground.” These groups “often targeted Black Africans for rape, torture and public lynching simply because they were seen as allies of Muammar Gaddafi – who had provided a safe haven for those same Black Africans.” (Ibid)

Mr. Comissiong says that the justification for toppling President Muammar Gaddafi was based on a lie: “that he “was planning to murder Libyan civilians.” His real sins included being “resistant to the United States’ neo-colonial machinations with Africom,” and calling for a United State of Africa. . . . just the kind of leader and (Libyan Jamahiriya) government the United States hates and loves to overthrow.” Comissiong concludes “Both parties are unapologetic imperialists, hell-bent on global domination. “ (Ibid)

Hillary Clinton provides a window into her own soul in response to learning that Col. Muammar Gaddafi has been captured by rebel forces, beaten and sodomized by a bayonet. In a CBS News interview, she gleefully said, “We came, we saw, he died” – then raised her hands in laughter. (“Hillary’s War Crime,” By Paul Craig Roberts, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct. 24, 2016)

There are a number of respectable American war criminals – on both sides of the aisle. Former vice president and now leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, along with 28 other Democratic senators, voted to authorize then President George W. Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq. There is Bush himself, who used his Jesus “changed my heart” profession of faith and lies about President Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction to justify his preemptive war against Iraq. And he is still respectable, with a library and museum named after him at Southern Methodist University, and dominant media covering his commentary on President Trump’s falsehoods and nativism.

Add President Bush’s still respectable Vice President, Dick Cheney, who also falsely charged Iraq with having weapons of mass destruction and was a strong advocate for war. Cheney later wrote a memoir, In My Time, that was a #1 New York Times best seller.

Include respectable Gen. Colin Powell, Bush’s Secretary of State, who lied to the U.N. about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, thereby selling the U.N. Security Council on the case for war. His book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, is billed as written by “one of America’s most admired figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.”

Then there is respectable President Barack Obama, whose use of drone warfare has killed countless civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Somalia. Obama also created a “kill list,” giving himself the presidential authority to order the assassination of anyone without due process, including Americans, who are suspected of terrorism. Innocent children became victims of Obama’s “kill list” and drone warfare. Sixteen-year-old American Abdulrahman, son of American Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and the youth’s teenage cousin and other innocent friends, were killed in Yemen by an Obama-ordered CIA drone strike, just two weeks after America-radicalized cleric al-Awlaki was assassinated and silenced in Yemen, also by a CIA drone strike. (See “Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister,” By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Jan 30, 2017)

Like George W. Bush’s Presidential Library and Museum at SMU, Obama will have his Barack Obama Presidential Center near the University of Chicago campus.

President Donald Trump followed in President Obama’s respectable footsteps, ordering a Navy Seal 6 commando raid in Yemen, that resulted in the killing of “30 people including 10 women and children,” one of whom was “the 8 year-old daughter . . . of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.” (Ibid) Trump specializes in brutalizing powerless children and their families for political gain, hence his 2020 presidential campaign vow to deport “millions of illegal aliens.” With Iran also in his psychopathic lying sights. The list of respectable America war criminals continues.

These respectable American war criminals reveal that many Americans live in an alternative reality, where their government’s war crimes, if ever mentioned by mainstream media, are usually called “mistakes,” and rarely investigated or persistently challenged. In calling America ”the greatest nation on earth” and “the exceptional nation” and saying “Make American Great Again,” Presidents Bush and Obama and Trump are attributing to America a moral superiority, which conveniently serves to cover up the U.S. government’s imperialistic war crimes. A moral superiority which many Christians especially have been conditioned to believe because of their own exceptional Christian self-image. People need to be morally diminished to justify their subjugation.

Respectable American war criminals count on respectable people of faith. These political leaders could not get away with their war crimes and then be honored in high – and holy — places without the accommodation of people of faith. This is not to discount the immeasurable good works people of faith perform. But when it comes to speaking truth to the U.S. government’s criminal global wars against so-called “terrorism,” more often than not people of faith remain respectable chaplains of the status quo, rather than prophets of all the people. It is about power, not morality.

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

Digital totalitarianism?

The U.S. State Department has announced that anyone requesting a visa to travel to the country must submit their social media profiles, email addresses, and telephone numbers used in the last five years

Canada’s Anti-Venezuela Policy: A Result of Material Interests and US Subordination

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May 22, 2019

Canada has followed the Trump administration’s lead on Venezuela, but it’s charting a very different path with regard to Cuba. Yves Engler explains that while there are material reasons for the difference, Canada has followed the U.S. lead for a long time.

Story Transcript

GREG WILPERT It’s The Real News Network and I’m Greg Wilpert in Baltimore. Canada is ratcheting up its effort to help oust Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Just last week, Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, returned from a trip to Cuba where she lobbied Cuban officials to withdraw, or at least reduce, their support for the Maduro government. Before that, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had meetings or phone conversations with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez— all on the same of topic on Venezuela. Here’s what Chrystia Freeland had to say on Venezuela shortly before she left to Cuba last week.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND The Maduro regime’s chronic economic mismanagement has squandered Venezuela’s enormous potential for prosperity, but we remain hopeful that under a freely-elected government representing the best interests of Venezuela’s people, prosperity can be restored. Canada is very proud to work with our hemispheric partners to find an urgent and sustainable solution to the crisis and we will continue to seek new ways together to support the people of Venezuela.

GREG WILPERT Why is the liberal government of Justin Trudeau so interested in ousting Maduro? Is it because Trudeau and Freeland are genuinely concerned about the situation in Venezuela? Joining me now to discuss this issue is Yves Engler. Yves is a Canadian commentator and author of several books. His most recent one is Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada. Thanks again for joining us, Yves.

YVES ENGLER Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT So, I have already mentioned a couple of the lobbying efforts that Freeland and Trudeau have been engaged in with regard to Venezuela. As far as we know, what are they hoping to achieve from these discussions about Venezuela with Cuba, Spain, the EU, and Japan, and are there any indications that they might be succeeding?

YVES ENGLER Well, I think they are trying to rally support for Juan Guaido, for the head of the National Assembly who is self-appointed president. Trudeau also had a phone conversation with Juan Guaido last week. I think they have had some success in the diplomatic arena in terms of convincing other countries to join this effort to try to undermine Maduro’s government. I think, for some countries from the standpoint of the Trump administration, its better if the phone call is coming from Justin Trudeau than if it’s coming from Donald Trump, so I think that Canada to some extent puts a little bit of a nicer face on this campaign to undermine the Venezuelan government, to undermine the Maduro government. Obviously, with regards to Venezuela specifically, they aren’t having success. They have attempted to overthrow this government in quite an open and aggressive way for the past four months and that has not transpired, but they have been able to deepen the economic problems in the country.

Canada brought in another round of sanctions against the fourth round of sanctions over the past two years in mid-April, sanctioning, I think, another 43 Venezuelan officials. So, they have been able to build this international coalition of dozens of countries that are trying to isolate the Maduro government. Canada’s been right at the center of that and Freedland has been incredibly active in that campaign, but obviously, the main objective has been a failure. With regards to Cuba specifically, it’s obviously also been a failure. Cuba is still very much aligned with the Maduro government, despite this pressure, which I should also mention included a phone call from Trudeau representing the Lima Group of governments opposed to the Maduro government in the hemisphere, where Trudeau contacted the Cuban President to present the Lima Group’s position to try to break off Cuba from Venezuela. So, no, I don’t think it’s been successful in its big objectives, but it has been, I think, successful in developing an international coalition.

GREG WILPERT Now, what else has Freeland been doing with regard to Venezuela? Tell us about her actions with regard to the April 30th coup attempt, when self-declared interim President Juan Guaido called on the military to rise up against Maduro and claim that segments of the military had joined him. What was Canada’s reaction?

YVES ENGLER Well immediately, Freeland was tweeting in favor, you know, in support of basically any violence that transpired. By definition, it was the responsibility of the Maduro government, even though it was an open military coup attempt. She put out a video of her, sort of, speaking to the Venezuelan people to try to rally them to support these efforts. She immediately called for an emergency phone call meeting of the Lima Group, which put out—Again, of countries that are hostile to the Venezuelan government’s throughout atmosphere, which that meeting put out a statement, again, critical of the Maduro government. Then, they had an emergency meeting of the Lima Group in person, which Freeland traveled to Chile, where I believe it was held. It’s very—I mean, it’s this very active campaigning of diplomatic interventions.

Canada—There’s another element that gets little attention, but Canada continues to give out this human rights prize, which they did at the end of April. They’ve been doing this for 10 years now to Venezuelan groups. They gave this prize, again, to another group that’s a bit hostile to the Maduro government. There’s a long line of these human rights crises that the Canadian embassy in Caracas has been giving out and it’s about building up oppositional forces. These groups then get to tour Canada and they get a certain amount of money to go on this tour. I believe they also do some form of tour within Venezuela and it generally leads to a certain amount of media attention. So, it’s really this continued pressure campaign.

GREG WILPERT You know, as you’re pointing out, there is a very big dichotomy that on the one hand Canada is not completely in the Trump administration’s corner when it comes to Venezuela, but on Cuba, they’re steering a, kind of, contradictory direction. That is, historically there is this connection between Cuba and Canada. Now, apparently, they’re being pushed also too harshen their tone towards Cuba in order to put pressure on Venezuela, but I’m wondering what’s at the bottom of this? That is, why is it that Canada is so interested and willing to play along with regard to Venezuela when clearly it doesn’t want to play the same game with regard to Cuba, precisely because of these long historic relations, all of the investments that Canada has in Cuba, and the companies that could be affected now by these harshened sanctions that allow citizens, that allow people basically, to sue Canadian companies in US courts if they benefited from the expropriations after the Cuban Revolution? So, why do you think there is so much alignment on Venezuela, but not with regard to Cuba?

YVES ENGLER Yeah. I mean, I think part of the thing with regards to Venezuela is clearly just the liberal governments supporting Washington and its aggressive campaign, but part of it is also the fact that there is a major segment of Canadian corporations that have been hostile to the Bolivarian Revolution going back to the late 90s, early 2000s, and that’s been expressed in many forms. The main segment of corporate Canada—There’s Canadian banks that have, there’s many stories of Canadian banks that have not been happy with the Chavez government and the Maduro government. Petro-Canada had some of its operations nationalized in 2007, but the main segment is the mining sector. There’s a number of major Canadian mining companies that have had multibillion dollar, $1.3 billion, I think one, and $1.2 billion court decisions that they won against the Venezuelan government for having their gold concessions. Crystallex and Rusoro had their gold concessions challenged by the Chavez government back in the early mid-2000s. And more broadly, Canadian mining dominates the hemisphere and the Canadian mining sector has tens and tens of billions of dollars invested in Ecuador, in Peru, in Mexico, and any moves towards more nationalistic resource policies, are a threat to Canadian mining companies in Venezuela.

So, I think that the Freeland government is following Washington on Venezuela, but there’s also a major segment of corporate Canada that’s hostile to the transformations in Venezuela. But I think also when we look at the Cuba question, sometimes I think there’s been an exaggeration of how much Canada has been sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution. In fact, if you actually go back to the fact that Canada and Mexico, I think, were the only two countries in the hemisphere that didn’t break off diplomatic relations with Cuba after the revolution. We have the internal files from this period that show that the Diefenbaker government in Canada actually was pressured by the Americans not to break off diplomatic relations. They didn’t want to break off diplomatic relations because they wanted Canada to continue to spy for the US on Cuba. That transpired and we have internal government documents that show that the Communications Security Establishment, which is essentially Canada’s version of the NSA, had major spying operations from the Canadian embassy in Havana. Canada was even spying on Cuba from other countries in the hemisphere. So Canada, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Americans said that some of the best intelligence they got actually came from Canadian diplomats.

Canada has always had a little bit of two faces to its policy vis-a-vis Cuba. Yes, Canada has continued diplomatic relations. Yes, there has been Canadian business relations. Though, after the Cuban Revolution, Canadian banks were nationalized, they were compensated, unlike many American companies. I think that there’s also a history of Canada aligning against Cuba in Nicaragua, claiming that the Sandinistas in the 1980s, that Cubans were responsible for what was going on in Nicaragua. So there also is this history of Canada aligning with Washington’s push of blaming Cuba for all the problems in the hemisphere, and the like. I think that, you know, in some ways this is a really, you could see it in the most open and, kind of, flagrant way with regards to Canada-Venezuela-Cuba right now, but it does also fit within a bit of a broader historical pattern.

GREG WILPERT Well, I think that’s very important to keep in mind, but we’re going to have to leave it there for now. I was speaking to Yves Engler, author and activist from Canada. Thanks again, Yves, for having joined us today.

YVES ENGLER Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT And thank you for joining The Real News Network.