In global politics, humanity often possesses the propensity to swiftly forget about the plight of the less-fortunate societies, writes Abbey Makoe.
The plight of the Palestinian people, institutionally oppressed in worse ways than we Blacks were during apartheid in South Africa, comes to mind.
Since 1948 when the State of Israel was established a body of unjust laws, policies and practices has been enacted by continuous Zionist regimes against the people of Palestine.
Occasionally, the world awakens to the ongoing Israeli brutality when Palestinians violently takes to the streets. Ordinarily, humanity seems to forget about the struggle of the Palestinians for freedom.
The people of Western Sahara also come to mind. A few years ago former US President Donald Trump endorsed the unjust rule by Morocco over the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in exchange for Morocco “normalising” relations with Israel.
There are war-torn places around the world where innocent men, women and children know no peace, comfort and security. Unless something drastic compels them to take to the streets violently, humanity and the world forget about their sorry state.
Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Yemeni, starving people of Haiti, Latin American wanton poverty, the conflict-riddled African countries, the list is endless – the savagery against innocent people by the power-hungry and war-mongers makes life simply hellish on Earth.
And then, there are those weaker countries that are stacked against powerful groupings and a superpower like the US economic sanctions, no matter how unjustified and unfair, are their daily reality.
Take for instance victims of US sanctions such as Venezuela, Iran, Russia, Syria, Yemeni, among others – sanctions are hitting on the ordinary people more than they do the political elites.
This week Bernie Sanders, the hugely popular Vermont senator in the US and a veteran activist and politician, was trending with his interesting take on the hidden foreign policy postures of his native country, US.
Way too often, the US cites as its policy position to “defend freedom” at every opportunity. Generational administrations have masterminded regime-change abroad based on nothing else but camouflaged motive to control foreign economy and determine ideological direction.
Although this is by no stretch of the imagination a revelation by Sanders, it nevertheless calls for some deeper, urgent analysis given the Vermont senator’s influence in US politics, particularly among the young, radical voters.
Sanders decried the role of embedded media in various US administrations, saying the media set a cruel national and international agenda based on very little public interest and motivated rather by self-serving sectarian politics. But the role of the media in society within the context of politics and money is a matter of in-depth discussion for another day.
Back to Sanders, he spoke frankly about America’s relentless domination of Latin American politics. He cited a time in 1973 in Chile when one Salvador Allende, the first Marxist to be elected president in a free and fair democratic election, was killed.
The Richard Nixon administration of the day wasn’t pleased with Allende’s focus on distributing the wealth of Chile among the Chileans. “He was overthrown by the CIA and corporate interests because corporate interests preferred of course that the United States’ companies dominate that country,” Sanders said.
He added: “And a lot of what politics is about – going way, way back to the 19th century to England, France…is the domination of colonies so that big companies in a given country can take the resources of those countries for their own use.”
The tragedy of the overthrow of Allende by the CIA back in 1973, a third year into his presidency, and his eventual murder is that he was replaced by a US stooge by the name of General Augusto Pinochet who ruled with an iron fist from 1973-1990, first as leader of the military junta from 1973-1981. This paved a way for mass detentions, State-sanctioned murder, the disappearance of citizens perceived to be opposed to the dictatorship and wanton oppression – all these taking place whilst Washington deliberately looked the other way. Pinochet was Washington’s man, period.
A quick Wikipedia search on Pinochet reveals the following: “His new government rounded up thousands of people and held them in the national stadium, where many were killed. This was followed by brutal repression during Pinochet’s rule, during which approximately 3000 people were killed, while more than 1000 are still missing.”
Said Sanders: “Pinochet ran that country with an iron fist, killed many, many people, but he was ok. He was a good guy. Why?, because he was a friend of corporate America.”
I want to argue that America’s foreign policy has not veered off from its early days “regime-change” nature and culture based on corporate interests and ideology since, as Sanders says, the 19th century at least.
It doesn’t really matter whether the incumbent in the Oval office is a Democrat or Republican, the America-first notion runs too deep.
The 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq and the subsequent control of Baghdad’s oil reserves were led by the Republican George W Bush in office who cobbled together a so-called “Coalition of the Willing” prominently featuring UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair. Like Allende in Chile, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was toppled on “false grounds” that he possessed weapons of mass destruction and was ultimately killed.
Americans carried a similar mission in Libya in 2011, albeit under the democratic administration of Barack Obama. Under the same old story of defending and protecting freedom, Muammar Gaddafi was first toppled then assassinated in broad daylight on October 20, 2011, in Sirte. Libya has never been stable since, its natural resources, particularly oil, notably out of the control of Libyans.
Where the US fails to interfere militarily, Washington unilaterally imposes economic sanctions which, for complex reasons, are internationally binding. The case in point is the dubious economic sanctions against the Venezuelan Socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Initially imposed during the cantankerous foreign policy of Republican Donald Trump, sanctions against President Maduro’s United Socialist Party has been continued to this day by Democratic President Joe Biden. International relations observers believe that the sanctions against Caracas will bite with no let-up until a regime-change eventually ejects leftist President Maduro and replaces him with Washington’s preferred candidate, opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido has been materially backed by the Trump administration and now by the Biden administration. In January 2019, Guaido declared with Washington’s unwavering support and later with the approval of the European Union that he was Venezuela’s acting President, de facto declaring a coup by grossly undermining the democratically-elected President Maduro, a serious crime for which he was insulated against punishment by the US, UK and the EU.
President Maduro’s government remains in power with great thanks to the Russian support, without which regime change would have long been successfully effected by the West and the country’s oil wealth – in a free-fall since mid-2010’s, completely brought to its knees.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in 2020, Maduro described the US sanctions against his country as “criminal, inhuman aggression”.
However, Maduro and his officials have nonetheless been working harder to mitigate the harsh effects of the sanctions, carrying out noticeable humanitarian-relief efforts.
Maduro has approved a deal with the World Food Programme to provide at least 1.5million daily meals for starving children. The Venezuelan government has also brought the Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines into the country to address the COVID-19 impact.
Despite the hardships brought about by the sanctions, Maduro has stayed true to the course originally championed by his predecessor and hero, Hugo Chavez, the transformative Socialist president who died in office in 2013.
Unless our international world order converges for the sake of greater humanity and the common good, the more powerful nations will never know peace until all nations are free from wanton oppression and discrimination and their citizens can reach for the stars without being held back by anyone, anywhere.