Trump Must Be Beaten

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This November the US public will elect their 45th president to succeed incumbent president Barack Obama. The choice is decidedly grim – the nominee for the Democrats is former First-Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who is regarded by many as the quintessential establishment candidate with close ties to Wall Street and weapons contractors. The Republican candidate is the infamous business tycoon Donald Trump who has secured the Republican nomination by masquerading as an anti-establishment candidate while pandering to the very worst prejudices of the American people.

The outgoing president Barack Obama won an historic election in 2008 becoming the first African American to serve as president of the United States.
Obama who is an adept campaigner, deceived people into believing that he would be a president who would address the legal and ethical violations of the Bush administration and who would be a force for change in the US political system. Following his inauguration it became immediately apparent that this wouldn’t be the case and that Obama’s policies would resemble Bush’s more than Democrats would care to admit.

With regard to the economy, Obama hasn’t been disastrous as the Republicans predicted, but his success is wildly overstated by his supporters. Obama had the misfortune of inheriting an economy which was in its worst state since the 1930s, an economic crisis which was precipitated by increasing financialization of the economy and the deregulation of the banks which had bipartisan support in the US. Obama’s decision to pursue a stimulus was certainly better than the huge cuts in public spending which the Republicans recommended but it didn’t go far enough and the introduction of modest legislation like Dodd-Frank was a positive step, but Obama’s policies are designed to mitigate the extent of a crisis, not to prevent the crisis itself. The same financial structures which led to the crisis in 2008 are still intact, and make another economic crisis all but inevitable. It also is important to note that accountability for criminal behaviour is an important step to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If those engaged in criminal activity are shown leniency where is the disincentive for others to refrain from illicit risk-taking especially when the rewards are so lucrative? Under Obama’s presidency, Wall Street has been shielded from legal consequences for their acts of illegality and considering Wall Street donated significant sums of money to Obama’s campaign in 2008 it’s not difficult to see why. Obama touts the declining unemployment rate as one of his finest achievements as president yet it’s not the resounding success he portrays it to be. Gauging the strength of an economy solely on the rate of employment while disregarding other key factors is facile and doesn’t give a true understanding of the health of the economy. Things that should also be judged are quality of employment, labour participation rate, wages and job security. When judged collectively it’s clear that the US economy is in a more fragile state than Obama’s optimism would indicate. Since the US economy crashed the bulk of the job growth has come in low-wage employment whereas the middle-income bracket has been shrinking due to losses in jobs in construction and manufacturing. In fact the decline of the Middle-Class in America is not a new phenomenon, it’s been happening since the neoliberal policies were ushered in by the Regean administration, and while wages have been skyrocketing for CEOs and top executives, the wages of middle-class people have been stagnating. In addition Obama has supported harmful trade agreements like TTIP which would undermine democracy and provide corporations with even more power than they already have. Obama does deserve credit for helping avert a financial depression, but his deceptive statements about the state of the US economy are insidious especially when there is a desperate need to address the extent of wealth inequality in the US.

Owen Jones on the US economic recovery:

“The gains of economic recovery have certainly been beneficial to those of great wealth – including the culprits behind the crash – but have meant little to the average American. Of course, that has everything to do with the structure of the US economy since Ronald Reagan swept to power. Consider this: according to the Economic Policy Institute – a thinktank close to the embattled US labour movement – between 1979 and 2007, the top 1% seized 53.9% of the entire increase in US income. It is often suggested that male median income has been stagnant in the US since the 1970s, hidden only by a flood of women into the workforce: how that’s worked out depends on all sorts of qualifications, such as which price index you choose. Yet even by the most optimistic calculations, if university-educated American men have enjoyed a boost in salaries, those with only high school qualifications endured sliding incomes between 1979 and 2013. But if Reaganism engineered this model, Obamaism failed to replace it. According to Emmanuel Saez, a US economics professor, between Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and 2013, pre-tax income among the top 1% has jumped from $871,100 to $968,000; for everybody else, it practically stood still.”

The US health system is rife with problems and when compared to health-systems in other industrialised countries it’s clear significant change is needed. Most of the issues stem from the fact that the US system lacks universal health care coverage, costs are also astronomically high and contributing factor to why low income Americans are less likely to visit a physician when sick or visit a dentist than their counterparts in other countries. Over 50% of physicians in the US also acknowledge their patients have difficulty paying for care. The Affordable Care Act was an attempt to mitigate some of these problems and reduce the rate of uninsured in the US but it lacked a public health care option. It has made improvements, but it’s going to take something much more ambitious to adequately deal with the problems of the health-system in the US.

A lot of criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy centre around his apparent failure to resolve the Syrian Civil War. Some neocons have described Obama as an enabler of genocide for his failure to overthrow the Syrian government and they lament the lack of US intervention. It goes without saying that this is complete drivel and no one who is serious about addressing the Syrian crisis should heed the opinions of those who are partially responsible for one of the most destructive and violent wars since World War 2. The idea that the US haven’t intervened in Syria has no grain of truth either, since 2011 they have poured weapons into the country, many of which have ended up in the hands of extremists, have imposed sanctions which are said to have caused untold damage to the civilian population of Syria and have implicitly allowed Saudi Arabia and Qatar to fund and arm extremists while also illegally invading Syria to bomb ISIS. To this day the more extreme hawks are still demanding an imposition of a no-fly zone which is a pretext for war and virtually guarantees a military confrontation with Russia; there’s too much at stake for Russia in Syria and the expectation that once militarily confronted by the US, they’ll simply stand down fails to take into account Russia’s long-standing loyalty to the Syrian government. Negotiations haven’t been particularly fruitful so far, but then no one expected a miraculous resolution to this bitter war which is now in its fifth year. But it still beats the alternative which is a full-scale military intervention by the US and its allies which could put the world on a path to a nuclear war. Obama’s primary foreign policy failures are not in Syria, but in Yemen, Gaza and Egypt. In Yemen, Obama has facilitated the Saudi’s war of aggression in Yemen by supplying them with weapons, providing intelligence, refuelling their planes and also giving diplomatic cover for their crimes. Just weeks ago the Saudis bombed a funeral which killed more than a hundred people using US-supplied weaponry and recent reports from renowned writer Robert Fisk also indicate the Saudis are deliberately targeting Yemen’s agricultural industry which will lead to starvation among an already beleaguered country. In Palestine, Obama has rewarded the violence and criminality of the Israeli government by supplying them with the largest military aid package ever given to another country, and protected Israel at the UN from accountability by vetoing several resolutions designed to bring some form of justice; Neantahyu and his vicious government will never make concessions when they know that not only will the US ignore their human rights violations, but will actually reward them; the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank are case in point. The US has always had a pretty deplorable history in Egypt, supporting the despotic and violent Mubarak government up until he decided to stand down due to severe pressure from the Egyptian people in 2011. Once the Muslim Brotherhood were democratically elected the US didn’t really change its position, and were clearly interested in maintaining the close relationship with Egypt. In 2013 many Egyptians became disillusioned with the Brotherhood due to economic issues, constitutional issues and lack of security. But the disillusionment was exploited by the Egyptian military to launch a coup and install army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt. What’s followed since then is appalling, the military has returned to the Mubarak-levels of repression and has crushed dissent, the most notable atrocity occurring in August 2013 where at least 800 civilians were massacred. Obama made verbal condemnations but the support and aid to Sisi’s government continues to this day.

When Obama campaigned for president he pledged to be a protector of whistleblowers, he said they were “the best source of information about waste, fraud and abuse in government” and saying that “such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled” we now know of course that this was insincere and an electioneering tactic and that the Obama administration has actually waged war on whistleblowers. Under Obama the NSA has become almost an exact manifestation of an Orwellian dystopia which indiscriminately collects data on Americans including telephone records and online communication; many of these programs are regarded as illegal by legal experts. The courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden selected journalists from The Washington Post and The Guardian to examine the documents he took and ascertain which of those were in the public’s interest. Obama and many who criticise Snowden said he could have gone through the ‘proper channels’ instead of leaking to the press, the people who make this claim know that it hasn’t a whiff of truth, but rely on the public being ignorant of the facts. Most people know who Edward Snowden is, they may not know who Thomas Drake is, who similar to Snowden was aghast at what the NSA were doing without the consent of the US public. He tried the approach advocated by Snowden’s critics and he was destroyed and his concerns disregarded. If Obama genuinely understood the importance of whistleblowing he would do what the NYTimes has said he should do: Offer Snowden a presidential pardon. In addition he should offer Chelsea Manning a pardon, and this is probably more urgent considering the degree of abuse inflicted against her has intensified in the last year. Chelsea Manning exposed severe crimes during an illegal war the US waged on another country, her leaks shed light on the US’ human rights abuses and there’s no evidence they harmed any US military personnel but even if they did, the responsibility is on the warmongers who launched the war in the first place.
Obama has also been described by award-winning NYTimes journalist James Risen as the “greatest threat to press freedom in a generation”. Now whether you think Risen’s characterisation is hyperbolic or not, the fact remains that Obama’s attitude to the press and whistleblowing has been troubling to say the least. He’s employed the repressive and anachronistic Espionage Act several times and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all of his predecessors combined. Over time, his authoritarian attitude towards the press and whistleblowing will rank as one of the worst aspects of his presidency.

Justin Raimondo on the injustice of charging Chelsea Manning but excusing Hillary Clinton:

“The “crimes” of Chelsea Manning weren’t crimes against people but against the US government, i.e. they were acts of conscience that should be rewarded rather than punished. Nothing she did hurt a single person, except those persons in power whose hypocrisy and venality was exposed: not a single US casualty in our interminable “war on terrorism” can be traced back to the leaking of the materials that have been posted on Wikileaks via Manning. Indeed, the material that was released to the world exposed the very real crimes of our rulers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. This is Chelsea’s real “crime,” one for which she is paying dearly. On the other hand, let’s take a look at another lady who stands accused of mishandling US secrets, including material classified “Top Secret”: Hillary Rodham Clinton. While serving as Secretary of State, she violated US government protocol by conducting both her professional and personal email correspondence on her own private server. This alone is illegal, but her crimes don’t stop there. When this unusual arrangement was discovered, she refused to hand over the server: instead, she separated out those emails she deemed “personal,” handed some over to the US State Department, and then erased the entire contents of the server – thus covering up whatever violations of national security standards may have occurred during her tenure.”

Two of Obama’s foreign policy successes (and it’s important to highlight considering how extreme the Republicans are on these issues) is the Iran nuclear deal and the rapprochement with Cuba. Neither of these policies would have been possible under a Republican presidency. Most of the world agreed with Obama on the sensibleness of the Iran nuclear deal but his administration faced extreme hostility from Republicans in Congress and the extremist government in Tel-Aviv, both who are eager for war with Iran, in fact Israel would have launched a war on Iran long ago if it weren’t for the effective military deterrent the Iranians have. The nuclear deal has been successful and reduces the chance of a conflict with Iran and that warrants credit. Secondly, the US has a shameful record with regard to its treatment of its small neighbour, Cuba and Obama whitewashes the US record of terrorism and destabilisation by referring to it as ‘attempts at democratising the island’ but nevertheless regardless of Obama’s intentions, the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries is a step in the right direction in terms of relations between the two countries. The Republicans who consider an end to US criminality towards Cuba as tantamount to surrender are hellbent on preventing the lifting of the economic embargo, an embargo which the vast majority of Americans oppose.

Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008 and it’s long been clear that she’s been the Democrats preferred successor to Obama. Similar to Obama, she will likely make history by becoming the first woman to lead the country since its independence 240 years ago. But she is a much weaker politician than Obama, and lacks his charisma and charm which has helped Obama avoid the scrutiny his presidency warrants. In fairness to Clinton, Obama is the exception not the rule, most politicians do not have the ability to inspire in the way he does but this does pose a problem for the Democrats. Rationalising a lot of what Obama has done has been made much easier by the fact that the presidency of his predecessor was marred by the scale of illegality it committed both domestically and abroad. The liberal press has also been much more lenient on Obama because of his likeable personality and amongst liberals, aversion to Obama is seen as a great sin. Clinton won’t have these luxuries, animosity towards Clinton among the general public is considerably more prevalent than Obama and liberals do not revere her in the same fashion they do with Obama. It’s also no secret that the catastrophe of the other candidate has made it taboo to be very vocal in your disdain for Clinton. Once Clinton is elected president there should be no hesitancy or reluctance among those on the left to hold her to the standard a leader of the most powerful country on the planet should be held to. Her deplorable record of supporting odious policies and people should not be whitewashed simply because the alternative candidate was such a monstrosity.

Clinton has long been regarded as one of the more hawkish members of the Democratic Party, and for good reason. When you consider how close a relationship she has with a vicious war-criminal like Henry Kissinger and the fact she describes people like Mubarak as friends of her family it’s easy to understand why. Her voting record on US military interventions abroad paints a bleak picture, but perhaps her most shameful moment in regard with foreign policy is how she played an instrumental role in the US’ participation of the Libya intervention in 2011 which decimated the Libyan government and left a vacuum for jihadists to fill. Once Gadaffi was butchered on the street, a despicable way to be killed regardless of his crimes, Clinton boasted by quipping “we came, we saw, he died”. Following the overthrow of Gaddafi, like so many interventions before it became clear the US had no intention of rebuilding the country and investing in infrastructure, the only goal was to destroy.

David Mizner of Jacobin on Hillary’s disastrous legacy in Libya:

“The humanitarian case for war depended not just on the prospect of mass atrocities by Qaddafi but also on the existence of a superior alternative. Administration officials and others depicted the opposition as gloriously and uniformly progressive. When the United States recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC) as Libya’s governing authority in July 2011 — and gave it access to $30 billion — Clinton described it as “steadfast in its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The TNC, far from a representative sample of the opposition, was a collection of expats, former Qaddafi loyalists, and other elites who rose to power with the apparent help of France. One of Blumenthal’s memos to Clinton asserts that France funded the nascent council in exchange for the promise of financial favors. French intelligence “expected the new government of Libya to favor French firms and national interests, particularly regarding the oil industry in Libya.” Whatever its nature, the TNC was merely the figurehead atop a loose coalition that included vicious racists and other reactionaries. Indeed, it was immediately evident that the threat of mass atrocities came not from the government but from the opposition.”

Another flaw of Clinton’s is how intimate she is with Wall Street executives and the latest Wikileaks revelations have only reinforced how close she is to them. Three of Clinton’s top 5 individual donors have been Wall Street banks – Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JP Morgan. Bernie Sanders repeatedly criticised Clinton throughout the campaign for receiving so much money from Wall Street, and stating this undermined her ability to reform it. Clinton claims Wall Street’s enormous donations haven’t influenced her voting record, but CEO’s of Wall Street banks seem very confident that a Clinton presidency will shield them from losses in enormous profits. Clinton like Obama claims to be a friend of the American worker, but there is a clear conflict between trying to reduce the scourge of inequality in America and being beholden to Wall Street; they don’t donate that kind of money for nothing.

It may very well be true that Clinton’s foundation has done some good things around the world, but that should be no reason for it to be immunised from scrutiny, especially when there are troubling relationships with some of the most autocratic governments on the planet. The Saudi government has donated between 10 million and 25 million to the Clinton foundation, and other gulf countries have donated too. During Clinton’s time as Secretary Of State, the state department supplied these regimes with billions worth of weaponry. Clinton insists that there was no quid-pro-quo but even some of her supporters have been able to recognise the clear conflict of interest that arises because of donations made to the foundation.

Just fathom for a second how absurd it is that someone who has awarded Israel with its most expensive military package ever is apparently not loyal enough to Israel. Well Clinton has expressed her wish to resolve this ‘rift’ that developed between Obama and Nentanyahu and strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States by taking it to “the next level”, which simply means more enabling of war crimes, and more impunity. She has also denounced BDS and linked it to anti-semitism, which is appalling when you consider BDS is probably only one of the mechanisms in which Israel can be held accountable for its actions.

Before the Democratic National Convention in July, Wikileaks revealed information that proved the Democratic National Committee conspired to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign using black propaganda. The information led to the resignations of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other high level officials. There is little doubt this was in the public’s interest; Democrats and Bernie supporters had the right to know how their candidate was mistreated by the committee before the official nomination of Clinton.

The more recent leaks from Wikileaks have revealed more interesting information. They’ve been dismissed by Clinton partisans on the basis that they’re not shocking, but it doesn’t have to be to be newsworthy. Leaked emails show Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta claiming that Saudi Arabia and Qatar funded ISIS, that she has disdain for environmentalists and that she is an eager promoter of fracking despite it’s harmful effect on the climate.

Wikileaks has a sterling record of releasing pristine, authentic data to the extent that it’s been used in 100′s of court cases to convict people of crimes and to free those falsely accused from prison and their data has many references in academia. Its role in shining light on how those in power operate and often abuse their power has been a tremendous service to the world. Wikileaks is not infallible and have been legitimately criticised by whistleblowers and journalists who are mostly supportive of their cause for their lack of curation and at times their leaks have done harm to innocent people. But claims that they’re a front for the Kremlin is just a propagandistic tactic used in an attempt to delegitimise the important work they do.

Clinton and Trump are two of the most unpopular presidential candidates of all time. Popularity or lack of doesn’t exactly correlate with success as we see that Obama currently has a very impressive popularity rate, but at a time when the country is plagued by division, America needed a candidate who could repair some of this division. Sanders was that candidate.

Strong, healthy democracies do not nominate someone who incites violence and who is as racist, misogynistic and abusive as Donald Trump to be one of the two contenders for leading the country. Trump’s ascension is not just an indictment of the extremist Republican Party but much of the country and indicates that racism and sexism are still pervasive in America. With the election only weeks away, it looks like Trump has squandered his chance at victory with one too many scandals, but any relief should be tempered with the reality that there is a significant appetite among Americas for someone who is overt in their prejudice and that the movement that drove Trump to the head of the Republican Party is going nowhere. The fear is that someone much more charismatic and competent than Trump comes along who genuinely is a fervent right-wing nationalist but unlike Trump is much more adept at navigating the US political system. If such a figure arises in the next decade or two, this could spell major trouble for both the US and the world.

It’s important to note that the Republican party gave up on parliamentary politics years ago, in fact following Obama’s election many in the party made it their mission to sabotage Obama’s presidency and engage in obstructionism, because the Republican Party has very little to offer the country apart from tax breaks to the wealthy and more military intervention abroad, they’ve instead prioritised attacking Obama and Clinton opposed to rebuilding their party. Nevertheless the Republicans do have a solid base of voters who can always be relied on to vote so while the party has struggled to win many presidential elections in the last few decades, they have been able to retain control of US congress. But many Republican voters have also become disillusioned with the direction of the party, they feel abandoned by what they call political elites in Washington and want to “shake things up” and this partly explains the appeal of Trump to them.

While Trump can’t legitimately be described as anti-establishment as he wants to further entrench economic inequality in the country, and make America’s military even more powerful than it is today, he’s certainly considered an outsider compared to the usual Republican candidates like Bush, Romney, Rubio and McCain. Trump completely destroyed every Republican candidate in the Republican nomination, illustrating just how significantly the party has changed in the last few years. Jeb Bush the brother of George W Bush was expected to at least compete in the race, but Republican voters sent a clear message that they have no appetite for another Bush presidency.

Trump’s unwillingness to engage in political correctness and say exactly how he’s feeling is also something his supporters find refreshing, they see the progress America has made in regard to women’s rights, gay right and civil rights and feel like they’re losing their country. Seeing Trump given such an enormous platform to spew his venomous prejudice fills them with a sense of nostalgia. “Make America Great Again” a catchy, effective political slogan is simply code for undoing the social progress the country has made over the last few decades.

Oliver Laughland on the horrific injustice inflicted on the Central Park 5 who were convicted of a crime someone else committed and Trump’s hideous role in it:

“Nearly three decades before the rambunctious billionaire began his run for president – before he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, for the expulsion of all undocumented migrants, before he branded Mexicans as “rapists” and was accused of mocking the disabled – Trump called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York following a horrific rape case in which five teenagers were wrongly convicted. Just two weeks after the Central Park attack, before any of the boys had faced trial and while Meili remained critically ill in a coma, Donald Trump, whose office on Fifth Avenue commanded an exquisite view of the park’s opulent southern frontier, intervened. He paid a reported $85,000 to take out advertising space in four of the city’s newspapers, including the New York Times. Under the headline “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” and above his signature, Trump wrote: “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.” Salaam, now 41, cannot remember exactly where he was when he first saw the ads. He had no idea who Trump was. “I knew that this famous person calling for us to die was very serious,” he recalled. “We were all afraid. Our families were afraid. Our loved ones were afraid. For us to walk around as if we had a target on our backs, that’s how things were.” All five minors had already been paraded in front of the cameras and had their names and addresses published, but Salaam said he and his family received more death threats after the papers ran Trump’s full-page screed. On a daytime TV show two days later, a female audience member called for the boys to be castrated and echoed the calls for the death penalty if Meili died. Pat Buchanan, the former Republican White House aide, called for the oldest of the group, Wise, to be “tried, convicted and hanged in Central Park by June 1”

There’s no doubt Trump has capitalised on distrust of media. Like many leftists his supporters condemn the mainstream media for its biased news coverage. Distrust of US media is not misplaced and the evidence that it is subservient to power is overwhelming. The problem that arises is that those disillusioned by the mainstream media seek out sources which at times are even worse. Examples include RT, Breitbart and Infowars, which has a big influence on Trump supporters. This is why it’s imperative that those on the left spread awareness about sources of alternative media which are reliable, don’t kowtow to the US government and have a record of providing responsible coverage of the news. Democracy Now, Alternet and Truthout to name a few.

One of the vexing things about this election is the attempt to depict Trump as uniquely evil when judged against previous GOP presidents. It involves whitewashing the long list of crimes committed by Republican administrations. Reagan for instance is revered by these so-called moderate and respectable conservatives but he was one of the most warmongering, racist presidents the US has had in recent time. What separates Trump from previous Republican presidents and nominees isn’t so much that he advocates criminality and violence but that unlike them he doesn’t embellish it in fancy doublespeak. It makes it much easier for reasonable people to recognise the threat Trump poses, but I doubt I’m alone in thinking the overt manner in which Trump displays his extreme political views is less of a threat. So many Republican politicians like Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, John McCain and Dick Cheney have escaped the level of vitriol aimed at Trump because unlike him they’ve been more competent at sanitising their horrific involvement in or advocation of violence.

Some people claim when it comes to nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear war that Hillary Clinton is much more dangerous than Donald Trump because of some of her hawkish views on Syria. I believe this to be a misguided position. While Hillary Clinton’s actions while in government have been a threat to world peace there is no indication she is unaware of the threats of nuclear war. In Syria she has advocated for a no-fly zone, which would be a reckless policy to impose, but in private she has recognised the dangers. I also doubt Clinton would be the type to directly disobey the warnings or advice from the military. Trump on the other hand doesn’t seem to understand nuclear weapons at all, and as commander in chief would have the power to unilaterally launch a nuclear strike against another country. Trump also is depicted as somewhat of a dove by his supporters who has no interest in meddling in the affairs of other countries, but this is highly misleading

Physicist Lawrence Krauss on the perils of Trump leading a country which has possession of nuclear weapons:

“Donald Trump’s candidacy has been a source of anxiety for many reasons, but one stands out: the ability of the President to launch nuclear weapons. When it comes to starting a nuclear war, the President has more freedom than he or she does in, say, ordering the use of torture. In fact, the President has unilateral power to direct the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Cabinet members may disagree and even resign in protest, but, ultimately, they must obey the order of the Commander-in-Chief. It’s all too easy to imagine Trump issuing an ultimate, thermonuclear “You’re fired!” to China, Iran, or another nation—and perhaps to the whole human race. This summer, Scarborough cited an unnamed source who said that Trump, in discussing nuclear weapons with his foreign-policy advisers, had asked, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Trump’s campaign has denied that he asked this question. But elsewhere Trump has said he would consider using nuclear weapons against isis and suggested that it would be good for the world if Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia acquired them. These comments demonstrate a fundamental confusion about the role nuclear weapons have played among the superpowers.”

The Democrats have also attacked Trump for his alleged connections to the Russians. It wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that a businessman like Trump does have connections but the conspiracy theory that Putin is the one pulling the strings and commanding Trump to do as he pleases is amusingly absurd. Putin most likely supports Trump which is hardly controversial, Trump is less hostile towards Russia than Clinton and has showed more willingness to cooperate with them. In 2012 Putin endorsed Obama over Romney for the same reason, Romney was much more critical of Russia than Obama and the Democrats ridiculed him for living in the past. In addition one could be excused for forgetting that Bill Clinton himself was attacked over connections to Russia in the 1992 elections by Bush. Are Democrats pleased they have come to mimic the Republicans they once derided for engaging in these McCarthyist-like tactics?

A real issue throughout the election has been the scarcity of coverage or discussion about the crisis of climate change. During the debates it wasn’t even mentioned. At a time when the scientific evidence is painting a really bleak picture, it is crucial the most powerful country on the earth is at the very least devoting adequate time to its discussion. But for the media it just doesn’t seem to be much of a priority. There are many positions of Trump that should disqualify him from even running for president but you’d be hard pressed to find more than denial of climate change and his pledge to exit the climate agreement the US signed in Paris last year. In addition to Trump’s scientific illiteracy he believes the most absurd and problematic conspiracy theories like the long debunked one that vaccinations cause autism.

Trump being the narcissist he is can’t fathom the idea that he might actually lose something, so he had to find some reason to justify a probable defeat. He’s chosen to claim that the election is rigged and that there’s significant voter fraud. US elections aren’t the paragon of democracy they’re portrayed as, and there’s no disputing that certain candidates are given favourable coverage by the media and have unfair advantages over others but voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the US. One of the real ways elections are unfair is voter suppression, but this actually favours the Republican party over the Democratic party and to no surprise the Republicans have no interest in helping confront this problem.

In 1996 an advisor to nationalist candidate Pat Buchanan predicted the Trump phenomenon were seeing unfold, and it explains that there’s an economic dimension to Trump’s rise as well. Trump and his supporters unlike the elites in the party aren’t as dogmatic in their support of Really Existing Capitalism and have criticised ‘free-trade’ agreements like NAFTA and TTIP which should come to no surprise of those aware of the damage NAFTA inflicted on American workers. But Trump is not a genuine nationalist, but simply a narcissistic opportunist, in reality his economic proposals would do considerable damage to the American worker, and considering his record of tax avoidance it’s amusing how he can describe himself as a friend of the American worker with a straight face. While it’s true many Trump supporters harbour prejudiced beliefs, there are also genuine economic grievances that have to be addressed. If these concerns are disregarded and Trump supporters are abandoned by the political system, their radicalisation will only get worse.

What’s not amusing is his treatment of women, and the degree which his supporters have tried to trivialise his misogynstic abuse. The latest allegations and the leaking of the video showing Trump basically expressing intent to sexually assault a woman have reinforced what a sexist man Trump is, but it shouldn’t have been necessary. Trump’s degrading attitude towards women goes back years, and accusations of sexual assault towards him are not new. In the 90′s he stated that the media’s opinion of him was irrelevant “because as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass it doesn’t matter”, at the beginning of this election when Megyn Kelly, anchor of Fox news criticised him for previous episodes of sexism he referred to her as a “bimbo” who “wasn’t capable of objectivity when there blood coming out of her whatever”, he’s also routinely insulted the appearances of women who have been critical of him including the women who accuse him of sexual assault. It’s also been noticeable just how misogynistic his supporters have been to Hillary Clinton often referring to her in sexist terms.

A troubling theme of this election has been Democrats’ unhealthy hysteria regarding Russia. You don’t have to be an apologist for Putin’s regime to be concerned about the direction the US is going in regard to its relationship with the Russian government.
Putin is an authoritarian and a militarist but the idea that he’s the next Hitler or has ambitions to reclaim the territory that gained independence from the Soviet Union is arrant nonsense.
What explains the US’ recent hostility to Putin and Russia? The idea that it’s Putin’s repressive policies or merciless bombing doesn’t stack up because this was occurring even when the US and Russia were on good terms.

The reason is quite simple, for probably the first time following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has directly challenged US power. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has been expanding eastwards despite a verbal promise to the Russians that this wouldn’t occur. In Ukraine the US supported an unconstitutional coup, and a government which is no less violent or corrupt than the one it replaced but it is opposed to the Russian government. Russia fearing a loss of access to their military bases in Crimea illegally annexed the peninsula, and supported the rebels in Ukraine who were opposed the coup government supplying them with a BUK missile which downed a civilian airliner. Russia’s role in Ukraine is criminal and disgraceful but US policy of expansion in Eastern Europe has been dangerous and decreases the chance of peace between the two countries.

In Syria the US claims to be offended by Russia’s bombing campaign yet recent history shows the US are in no position to moralise about war crimes. The priority for the US in Syria was never the people of the country but undermining a government which was a threat to US, Israeli and Saudi power. Weakening Assad’s government by extension weakens Iran which remains enemy number 1 in Israel and Saudi. Thankfully Israel and the US have not been able to launch a campaign of terror against Iran because they have an effective military deterrent but in Syria the US and Saudi could arm rebels and Jihadists in an attempt to oust the regime. And for a while it appeared as this approach was working, Assad’s military was demoralised and had lost significant territory by the summer of last year. But then Russia intervened and everything changed, by unleashing horrendous terror the Russian military reclaimed key territories in Syria like Palmyra and Latakia. They’re currently inflicting severe misery on the civilian population of eastern Aleppo in an attempt to help the Syrian regime retake it from rebels. The US now has no effective strategy to overthrow Assad, barring a major military intervention which would require thousands of US boots on the ground and the American public do not find another major war appealing. While the threat of nuclear war lingers, it’s still not a likelihood at the present moment, but we may be returning to the Cold War, where Russia and the US avoid direct military confrontation but back proxies to weaken eachother. It goes without saying that this should be resisted. While we were fortunate to avoid a nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War, the amount of violence and extremism that occurred on both sides made life unbearable if you were in a country targeted by Moscow or Washington. In Eastern Europe the repression inflicted on the people was inhumane while in Latin America the US terrorised many countries under the guise of fighting communism. There is no great solution to this problem, each power is not driven by social justice or humanitarianism but simply amassing more power, compromise on each side is the only effective way of reducing tensions.

The US government also formally accused the Russian government of interference in the US elections, essentially implying that they’re hacking the US government to change the outcome of the election. It’s impossible to discount this claim completely of course because of the state of relations between the two countries at the moment but the US has yet to provide any evidence of this interference and considering its previous lies with regard to WMDs in Iraq and dishonesty about mass surveillance they should be taken with a large grain of salt. There’s also a deep irony to the US complaining about interference in their elections considering the degree to which they’ve interfered in the political system of other countries. Amusingly former NSA director Michael Hayden claimed that the alleged hacking would be no different than what the US government does to other countries and that he would not like to have to deny it in a court of law.

Glenn Greenwald on the pernicious trend regarding Russia throughout this election:

“Strongly insinuating that the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has nefarious, possibly treasonous allegiances to Moscow has migrated from Clinton-loyal pundits into the principal theme of the Clinton campaign itself. “The depth of Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin is revealing itself by the day,” her website announced yesterday, and vital “questions” must be answered “about Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia.” The Clinton campaign this weekend released a 1-minute video that, over and over, insinuates Trump’s disloyalty in the form of “questions” – complete with menacing pictures of Red Square. Democrats cheered wildly, and really have not stopped cheering, ever since the ex-Acting CIA Director (who, undisclosed by the NYT, now works for a Clinton operative) went to The New York Times to claim “that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” But this smear tactic extends far beyond Trump. It is now used to vilify anyone perceived to be an impediment to Clinton’s victory. When WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails shortly before the Democratic Convention, which ultimately forced the resignation of four top officials, it was instantly asserted that it was The Russians who gave them those emails (even though The Washington Post cited an intelligence official as saying that “the intelligence community . . . has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks” and “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none”). Democrats not only treated this evidence-free conspiracy theory as Truth, but – following the Clinton campaign – proceeded to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin operation: After converting Trump and WikiLeaks into arms of the Kremlin, Democrats turned their smear campaign to media outlets and journalists who simply reported on the contents of the leaked DNC emails: beginning with The Intercept, the first to report on it. That The Intercept and its journalists and editors proved themselves to be witting or unwitting Kremlin weapons and guilty of being Russia apologists and sympathizers was pronounced by MSNBC’s most enthusiastic neo-McCarthyite host, a Clinton-revering Boston Globe columnist, the Communications Director of California Democratic Congressman John Garamendi (including the outright lie below), and one of the growing legion of Hillary’s neocon supporters.”

The highlight of this election has undoubtedly been Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont who has a history for standing up for social justice, and fighting for the average worker in America. If Trump’s ascension showed the worst of America and portended trouble ahead, Sanders’ rise showed the best of the country and indicated that there is great potential for the country to move beyond its period of violence and extremism. Sanders inspired thousands upon thousands of younger Americans and managed to get them active in politics which is a real achievement. When you look at the state of the US political system, and the shenanigans with Trump it’s easy to see why young people may simply want to disregard politics as much as possible, but people like Sanders convey the importance of making your voice heard and getting politically active. Sanders managed to attract impressive attendances to his rallies, and his messages surrounding economic justice really resonated with a significant number of people; Sanders is also a major supporter of unions and understands that strengthening them is a necessary step to deal with the inequality in the country. The odds were always stacked against Sanders, but he gave the Clinton’s a run for their money when they were expecting a coronation. Throughout the election he defied convention and criticised certain things that were previously considered to be beyond the pale. For instance, he showed no hesitancy in admonishing Clinton for her relationship with Henry Kissinger and correctly described him as a war criminal who has been responsible for a large amount of violence during his time as Secretary Of State. He also condemned US foreign policy, most notably for its polices in Latin America and its support of terror in Nicaragua. The hope is that Sanders’ campaign emboldens many people on the left to become more active, and to confront the US government on some of its deplorable policies. As inspiring as Sanders was, there was never a realistic expectation that he alone could make radical changes to US policy, even if he won the presidency he would have lacked congressional representatives and governors. The real change to US policy will not come from within the system but pressure exerted from the people. For all the flaws of the US government, it still has important democratic elements which mean if properly organised the people can affect real change. Sanders’ campaign has increased the prospect of that change, and for that we should be thankful for the energy he expended throughout this election.

The smearing by the Democrats of the honourable Ralph Nader who has done so much good work in America was really deplorable. This arose when the Democrats were trying to shame people who were considering giving their vote to Jill Stein. Nader, if you’re not familiar was a third party candidate during the 2000 election in which George W Bush controversially and narrowly beat Al Gore, a result which some still consider illegitimate. The Democrats claim that Nader is the reason Bush is the president, but what they neglect to mention is the amount of Democratic supporters who voted against the party in favour of The Republicans. If the Democrats managed to retain their own voters, they would have won the election. While we disagree with voting for Stein in this election, especially if you’re in a battleground state, if Clinton loses it would be absurd and unfair to pin the blame primarily on Stein’s supporters. If Clinton loses this election with the might of the media and large donations behind her campaign it would be a political humiliation of epic proportions for the Democratic Party and they will try and scapegoat Stein and third party voters. If Clinton is unable to beat someone as clownish as Donald Trump, the people who will bear most of the blame outside of Trump’s supporters are those who backed Clinton over Bernie Sanders, a much better candidate than Clinton.

Anthony L Fisher on the myth that Nader handed Bush the election:

“What that oft-cited factoid leaves out are the inconvenient truths laid out by Jim Hightower in Salon way back when, including the fact that only about 24,000 registered Democrats voted for Nader in Florida, whereas about 308,000 Democrats voted for (wait for it…) Bush! Further, approximately 191,000 self-identified “liberals” voted for Bush, as opposed to the fewer than 34,000 who went with Nader. The conventional thinking goes like this: Nader voters lean left and Gore is to the left of Bush, therefore votes for Nader would have gone to Gore. But leftist academic Tim Wise pushed back on this summation in 2000, writing that “Exit polls in Florida, conducted by MSNBC show that Nader drew almost equally between Gore, Bush, and ‘None of the above,’ meaning his presence there may have been a total wash.” In 2006, Michael C. Herron and Jeffrey B. Lewis authored a UCLA study on the effect of third party voting on the 2000 election. Among their findings: “Only approximately 60% of Nader voters would have supported Al Gore in a Nader-less election. This percentage is much closer to 50% than it is to 100%. One might have conjectured, that is, that Nader voters were solid Democrats who in 2000 supported a candidate politically left of the actual Democratic candidate. This conjecture, we have shown, is wrong: Nader voters, what participating in non-presidential contests that were part of the 2000 general election, often voted for Republican candidates. Correspondingly, [Reform Party candidate Pat] Buchanan voters voted for down-ballot Democratic candidates. Thus, the notion that a left-leaning (right-leaning) third party presidential candidate by necessity steals votes from Democratic (Republican) candidates does not hold.” So why hasn’t there been 16 years of hand-wringing over the thirteen percent of voting Florida Democrats going turncoat for the Republican nominee? What about the traditionally Democratic-voting bases of white women and seniors who both went for Bush, or lower-income voters, who mostly tilted for Gore but nearly forty percent of whom voted for Bush? Why is Ralph Nader the boogeyman of the left and not Al Gore himself who (despite being a VP in a popular administration which had the dumb-luck of presiding over a booming economy) was unable to win his home state of Tennessee, a state with enough electoral votes to send him to the White House even without Florida? Simple. Nader must be vilified because of the popular notion that the two major parties are entitled to your votes, and if you have any agency at all it’s to prevent the more terrible of the two from taking the reins of power. That’s how Gore, despite running an uninspiring campaign where he benched uber-campaigner Bill Clinton and chose the hawkish and moralistic Joe Lieberman as his running mate (thus turning off a great many off the liberals whose votes many feel were Gore’s birthright as the Democratic nominee), gets let off the hook, as do the hundreds of thousands of Republican-voting Democrats (in Florida alone), while “Ralph Nader” becomes shorthand for the folly of idealism.”

This election has caused severe embarrassment to the US and led to international derision and regardless of the outcome of the election, the US’ status as an oligarchy with severe democratic deficits and an imperialistic foreign policy will remain firmly intact. Clinton’s policies will be conducive to further inequality at home and violence abroad, but from a careful analysis of both their history and political views it is our view that a Trump presidency poses more risk to both the United States and the world. Therefore it is imperative that Trump tastes defeat this November.

Murray, A Champion Not A Bottler

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Throughout his career Andy Murray has not only had to contend with the difficulties of competing with some of the all-time greats like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic but with the noxious idea that he’s a bottler, that mentally he’s simply not equipped to be a legend of the game. On the contrary, Murray’s 2nd victory at Wimbledon not only dispels the idea that he’s mentally weak but actually is a demonstration of his wonderful mental fortitude.

There is no denying that Andy Murray is an inferior player to the aforementioned greats, nor is there any shame in that. He exists in an era where tennis has been graced by three players with indescribable ability, who have broken innumerable records, amassed an abundance of major titles and contributed enormously to the game. Murray has also faced great heartbreak in the game losing several finals to both Djokovic and Federer which led to some doubting whether he had the qualities to win a Grand Slam. It would have been easy for Murray to yield to the forces he was up against, to indulge in self-pity at the misfortune of playing in the generation of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. But instead he rose to the challenge. The pivotal moment in Murray’s career came in 2012, when he had to endure arguably his most crushing defeat of his career to Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
It’s moments like those which reveal whether someone has the attributes to become a champion. Murray answered in the most resounding fashion possible. Only a month after the devastation suffered at the hands of Federer, Murray faced him again in the final of the Olympics at Wimbledon but this time he produced a masterclass defeating Federer in straight sets. The elusive slam finally came in September 2012 where he beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open and his greatest triumph came less than a year later where he beat Djokovic again to win the most coveted championship in the game. In the years since his consistency hasn’t wavered but he was unable to clinch a third slam until now.
A beaten finalist twice this year, Murray’s hard work was finally rewarded against Milo Raonic in the final. The road to glory was undeniably made easier by Djokovic’s early exit and the lack of fitness of both Nadal and Federer. But Murray delivered an exceptional performance in the final, not having his serve broken once and showcased arguably his greatest asset: his return of serve. The highlight of the match was Murray not just returning a serve of 147mph but winning the point. While Murray will bask in the glory of a second victory at Wimbledon he will now set his sights on Rio, New York and achieving the world number 1 ranking. While a lot will depend on how Djokovic performs in the upcoming months, Murray’s confidence is arguably at its highest. He has the potential to win a few more slams to add to his impressive collection.

Murray embodies the very best of what a champion is: He’s passionate, tenacious and dedicated to the game. For many years he had to endure the agony of losing several finals.
The adversity has made his success all the more gratifying. Even his most ardent critics must now concede he’s one of the greatest British sportspeople to have existed.
Now surely he will get the recognition he thoroughly deserves.

The Real Reason Behind The Plot To Oust Corbyn

Ever since it emerged that there’s a plot to oust Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the British Labour Party – it’s been conspicuously obvious that the motivation behind it was nothing to do with the outcome of the EU referendum or concerns over Corbyn’s electability. The events of the last few days, in addition to solidifying that view have revealed that the people trying to orchestrate Corbyn’s downfall are motivated purely by self-interest and not by the interests of the Labour Party.

It’s important to bear in mind that Jeremy Corbyn inherited a party that was in crisis. The traditional Labour Party voters have felt alienated by a party that has abandoned them due to reckless wars, discredited economics and the failure to offer a coherent alternative to the inhumane policies of the Tories. Gordon Brown left power in 2010 and they had ample time to setup a political agenda that would take down the Tories. Not only did they fail, but they were responsible for Labour’s greatest election defeat in decades. When Miliband went, the Parliamentary Labour Party failed to have a political awakening leaving a vacuum for Corbyn to fill. Recall that Corbyn was not initially eager to contest the leadership election but was convinced to put his name forward for candidacy and received just enough votes from MPs to run. His reluctance quickly turned to enthusiasm when he realised just how many people were willing to support him. Some credit must go to Ed Miliband for democratising the Labour leadership contest changing it from a three-way electoral college to a one member, one vote system which made Corbyn’s ascension possible. Previously Trade Unions and MPs had considerably more leverage than average voters on who would win an election, Miliband changed the system so that the voice of the voters took precedence, which in effect means someone who signs up to Labour for 3 pound has as much power as someone like Tony Blair. Ironically it’s Miliband’s single greatest decision as leader that has plunged the party into its worst crisis in decades exposing the disdain many party elites harbour for the democratic will of Labour voters. In the past few days we’ve seen people claim that the only reason Corbyn won is because of ‘entryism’ and the hijacking of the party by leftist extremists. Of course anyone with any awareness of the facts knows that’s unmitigated bilge simply designed to remove the legitimacy of Corbyn’s democratic victory. While it’s undoubtedly true that the entrance of thousands of new and old Labour voters increased Corbyn’s margin of victory, he won the backing of full members and affiliate trade unions.

The plan to oust Corbyn was cynically planned months in advance, the result of the referendum was extraneous to the decision but the Brexit result provided them with the opportunity to make it appear like it was motivated by concern over Corbyn’s performance during the campaign. Angela Eagle one of the proponents of the coup and the woman that is supposedly going to run against Corbyn in a leadership contest actually praised Corbyn during the campaign for his arduous work on behalf of the remain camp, but was critical of the media for not covering it, she also retweeted a link from the news website The Canary which praised Corbyn for coming out fighting on side of Remain. In contrast, in her resignation letter she claimed that under his leadership the case to remain was made with half-hearted ambivalence. If the coup was genuinely about electability concerns there would have been a planned alternative ready in the scenario Corbyn resigned but all indications are there wasn’t. Hilary Benn was sacked on Saturday night, and the resignations began immediately after but it took until Wednesday evening for it to be revealed that Eagle was to challenge Corbyn announcing it on Thursday at 3PM which has now been delayed too, again demonstrating that the people trying to bring Corbyn down are totally devoid of any competence whatsoever. It’s not just the pathetic dithering over the selection of a candidate to challenge Corbyn, but the people they’re contemplating that reflects a serious lack of judgement. Both Tom Watson and Angela Eagle have horrific records as MPs, they both voted in favour of the Iraq War and against an enquiry into it. Eagle has also voted for increases in tuition fees, and abstained on the deplorable Tory welfare bill in July last year. Even her own local Labour party want Corbyn to remain and have setup up a petition pleading with Angela to resign. Eagle’s political values do not conform with Labour Party members, she is a quite dismal and unenthusiastic speaker and certainly would not ‘unify’ the Labour Party which just goes to show this whole manoeuvre to oust Corbyn has nothing to do with electability concerns and much more to do with their revulsion for his humane political values. The other likely motivation is the release of the Chilcot report which is due imminently, and according to a source of the Independent is set to be highly critical of Tony Blair and expected to damage the reputations of other officials who were involved. What lends credence to this possibility is People like Watson, Eagle and Benn who all voted for the war and against an enquiry do not want someone of Corbyn’s integrity leading the party when it’s released because it’s unlikely he will sanitise the findings. He’s said he’s prepared to call for an investigation into war crimes committed by the Blair government and has vowed to apologise on behalf of the Labour party for its role in the war. It is of course true that not all people who want Corbyn to go are Blairites or people involved in the hideous invasion of Iraq, some reasonable people like Ed Miliband have also expressed their desire to see him go, but it doesn’t negate the fact that the main architects of the coup are revolting people whose politics have no place in the Labour Party.

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It’s not only Labour MPs waging war on Corbyn, much of the media want him gone too and there have been more instances of blatant dishonesty on their part in the last few days. Yesterday it was reported that the renowned economist Thomas Piketty quit as his advisor because of his weak campaign during the EU referendum debate. This was factually wrong as Piketty himself confirmed and his friend and accomplished economist Mariana Mazzucato castigated the Guardian for misleading its readership. The Piketty story was important because the media could frame it in a way that it wasn’t just Corbyn’s ideological enemies against him, but someone who obviously influences him and Corbyn respects. More appalling however were the events of today, the much awaited Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-semitism in the Labour Party was released this morning, many of Corbyn’s foes were patiently waiting to seise on the results in an attempt to heap further pressure on Corbyn to resign. But the conclusion actually vindicated Corbyn and said that while there were cases of anti-semitism in the party, the party is not overrun by prejudice towards Jewish people which was claimed during the scandal which emerged in April. Without the result that they hoped for, they resorted to something much more malicious. In the report about anti-semitism it stated that expecting Jewish people to have an opinion on Israel simply on the basis of their faith is as wrong as expecting a Muslim person to have an opinion on an atrocity committed in the name of Islam simply because they’re Muslim. Corbyn said in his speech that “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of the Israeli or Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations” There was absolutely nothing unreasonable about that statement, Corbyn was not making a comparison with Israel and Jihadist groups but a criticism of the guilt by association fallacy which is used by both anti-semites and anti-Muslims to denigrate them. Despite this several media outlets claimed he was making a direct comparison between Israel and ISIS and some even had the temerity to smear Corbyn and claim it constituted anti-semitism; thankfully Cathy Newman, a reporter for Channel 4 who actually has integrity corrected the wilful misquotes.

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Corbyn has been described as weak and gutless. This week has proven he’s anything but. Despite the sheer lengths some are going to get rid of him, he refuses to succumb to the pressure and will not be bullied into submission. Because the patronising calls for resignation have now failed, the personal attacks on him are becoming increasingly nasty.
The fact Corbyn is going on is a testament to his resilience and mental strength.

Corbyn Must Stay

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In the wake of the EU referendum which Britain voted to exit the European Union, Jeremy Corbyn has become embroiled in a crisis where several members of the Labour Party shadow cabinet have resigned following the sacking of Hilary Benn. Much of the media who have been hostile to Corbyn since the beginning are exerting pressure on him to quit, but Corbyn refuses to succumb to the pressure, maintaining that if he is to leave it will have to be through a democratic election.

Since Corbyn won the Labour leadership contest in September with a huge mandate, winning an unprecedentedly high share of the vote there have been several attempts to undermine his leadership, most prominently during the Syria vote in December and the manufactured anti-semitism scandal in April. The claim in December was that because Corbyn failed to unite his party into voting against the airstrikes his position had become untenable, which failed to take into account that most of the MPs in favour of airstrikes in Syria failed to provide a coherent reason for why the airstrikes would make a significant contribution in weakening ISIS and didn’t address the futility of bombing ISIS without the presence of a diplomatic plan to deal with the underlying causes of why ISIS has risen to power in Syria; the fact they refused to listen to persuasive arguments against the bombing in Syria reflects poorly on them, not Corbyn. The vote also underscored the ideological divide between Corbyn and other MPs, many of the MPs who were in favour of the bombing subscribe to the doctrine of humanitarian intervention where Western militaries are a force for good in the world. Indeed the man who made headlines during the Syria vote was Hilary Benn, he made a stylish speech which led to many in the media fawning over him but his speech was devoid of substance as he failed to outline a feasible strategy for defeating ISIS. The fawning from the media illustrated just how incompetent they are at doing their job, Hilary Benn may be an eloquent speaker but his views on the Syria vote should have been immediately dismissed on the grounds of his previous role in illegal and murderous Western interventions. He supported both the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya, which serve as an indictment of his judgement on foreign policy. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the Iraq war was a humanitarian disaster, he expressed no remorse for the way he voted and even worse has voted against enquiries into the war. The fact that much of the media extolled his Syria speech despite his voting record underscores how uncritical of power they are. The anti-semitism scandal which erupted in late April was manufactured to sabotage Corbyn’s leadership before his first important test in the UK local elections at the beginning of May, many MPs seised on the accusations and implied Corbyn had made anti-semitism acceptable within the Labour Party. The coup would have to be put on hold though as the disastrous results many predicted for Corbyn in the elections failed to materialise. While the anti-semitism scandal was a plot designed to weaken Corbyn, there were instances of inexcusable posts and statements made by both Naz Shah and former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Corbyn acted decisively and suspended both members and explicitly stated that anti-semitism would not be tolerated within the party displaying clear leadership during a moment of crisis. But the real animosity for Corbyn stems from his dedication to the Palestinian cause, he has been a relenting and vigorous critic of the state of Israel which continues to commit crimes in Gaza and the West Bank with impunity. Many of the MPs in the Labour party are apologists for Israeli terror and find it very unsettling that someone who is overt in their hostility to the state is the leader of their party. To many of them opposition to Israeli war crimes is indistinguishable from anti-semitism which again demonstrates the invidious position Corbyn is in.

When Corbyn was elected in September he tried to pacify some MPs by assembling a shadow cabinet which consisted of people who had views quite divergent from his. But it was always bound to fail as the divisions are too severe to be reconciled. In truth Corbyn should have confronted this problem much earlier and sacked disloyal members and unified his party. But it’s good news that this problem will finally have a resolution because the situation Labour found themselves in was clearly unsustainable. It certainly was not in Corbyn’s interest to have this problem persist for much longer as a general election within the next 12 months is not inconceivable, by the time that arises ,the party has to be united behind Corbyn therefore the exodus of anti-Corbyn MPs is necessary if a Corbyn Labour can succeed. The PLP have opportunistically used the result of the EU referendum in an attempt to stage a coup against Corbyn, the glaring flaw with this strategy is most Labour party voters are closer to Corbyn’s position on the EU than with those opposed to Corbyn. Corbyn for years has been a critic of the EU as have many leftists like Paul Mason, Yanis Varoufakis, Owen Jones and Noam Chomsky. Many of the criticisms include the EU’s embrace of neoliberal capitalism which has had a disastrous effect on most of the world, it’s harsh imposition of austerity in peripheral EU states like Greece, Portugal and Ireland, the creation of the Eurozone which has been an undeniable failure, even acknowledged by the former president of the European commission and most recently its appalling handling of the refugee crisis. The lack of enthusiasm for the EU is entirely of its own making and if Corbyn fully embraced the EU after years of reasonably outlining the very flaws of it, he would have completely lost credibility with the electorate. Voters deserve honesty, not deception and Corbyn gave them the best possible defence for remain, he like Jones, Mason and Varoufakis harbour a lot of disdain for the EU, but they understood that without a progressive alternative in place, leaving would not yield a successful outcome. In addition it’s been claimed Corbyn sabotaged the remain campaign by refusing to collaborate with Tory prime-minister David Cameron, a claim which is ludicrous in the extreme. The man who bears responsibility for the lack of cooperation is Cameron himself, as he is the man who called the referendum and the was the leader of the country campaigning to remain in the EU, it was his responsibility to avoid alienating the leader of the opposition, but in the months following Corbyn’s election Cameron labelled him as a threat to national security and a terrorist sympathiser, the hyperbolic and inflammatory language he used rendered any chance of cooperation remote. In addition, if Corbyn campaigned with the Tories he risked making the same mistake Labour did during the Scottish independence referendum when several Labour MPs campaigned alongside Tories to remain in the United Kingdom, in the general election only months later they were destroyed. The truth is, the outcome of the EU referendum is simply a pretext for the attempted coup, Corbyn campaigned without deception unlike many on the leave side and he should be commended for that.

The last few days have also reinforced just how hostile to Corbyn the media are. Despite Cameron’s humiliating defeat, the disarray the Tories are in, the lies from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson who misled the electorate, the media have instead decided to focus much of their attention on Corbyn. The notion that the media are yearning for Corbyn to fail is not some crackpot conspiracy theory but one very much grounded in fact. A study from November showed the British systematically tried to undermine Corbyn’s leadership with their extremely critical coverage of him and in May former chair of the BBC trust said it was likely the BBC had shown bias against Corbyn. In addition just this weekend the appalling Daily Mail posted a very offensive picture of Corbyn with the word “Labour Must Kill Vampire Jezza” emblazoned on it, this less than 14 days after the left-wing politician Jo Cox was assassinated for her political views. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone, the establishment media are averse to anyone who challenges power, and setup in way which is conducive to biased political journalism. Years ago with so many powerful forces opposed to Corbyn the likelihood that he could survive would have been remote. But with the advent of social media and the profusion of alternative media, the power they wield isn’t quite as formidable as it once was. Corbyn’s many loyal supporters are well connected on social media, and won’t let the coup succeed without a fight. Already thousands have signed a petition backing him to stay as leader, and there are plans for a demonstration in support of Corbyn tonight in London. The support from the trade-unions, grassroots movements and the Labour party members should be enough to stave off the coup attempts from the deplorable MPs. They will probably succeed in winning a vote of no confidence but it will likely trigger another leadership contest which Corbyn hopefully will win. It’s claimed that Corbyn has been a failure as a leader, but in fact his victory and the support he has received remains one of the most positive developments in UK politics for some time. In May 2015 when Ed Miliband led the party to one of its most humiliating defeats in electoral history Labour Party membership stood at 201,000, by January 2016 it rose to a whopping 388,000 a huge success on Corbyn’s part, in addition the amount of younger voters flocking to the party has exponentially increased since his victory. A criticism of Corbyn is that he comes across as mundane and uncharismatic, but I myself find that refreshing. At a time when extremism is on the rise, and dramatic figures like Trump and Boris Johnson are dominating the headlines the calmness of Corbyn is somewhat appealing, he isn’t a great orator but he speaks honestly and from the heart and I’d much prefer that than someone like Obama who has the ability to inspire and exhibits great charisma but is so disappointingly lacking when it comes to policy or principles. The claim that he’s done nothing is also absurd. Since his victory in September he’s helped force U-turns for Saudi prisons and police cuts, helped stopped Osborne’s 4.5bn welfare cuts plan, got firefighters to re-affiliate with the party, made re-nationalisation of railways an official policy, and spoke out against the UK’s role in Saudi’s hideous war in Yemen.

Study from the Media Reform Coalition in November:

Out of the 494 articles across the papers during Corbyn’s first seven days at leader, 60% (296 articles) were negative, with only 13% positive stories (65 articles) and 27% taking a “neutral” stance (133 articles), the report says.

The research, given exclusively to The Huffington Post UK, looked at news, comment and editorial leaders – and claims that “the press set out to systematically undermine Jeremy Corbyn during his first week as Labour Leader with a barrage of overwhelmingly negative coverage”. … In the days after he was selected, Corbyn was criticised for his controversial shadow cabinet appointments, policies that were at odds with the views of many of the party’s leading figures, his decision not to sing the national anthem and his poor relationship with the media after pulling out of an interview on the Andrew Marr show. … “One might expect news items, as opposed to comment and editorial pieces, to take a more balanced approach but in fact the opposite is true. A mere 6% of stories classed as news (19 out of 292) were positive, versus 61% negative stories and 32% taking a neutral stance.”

“This ‘default’ position is particularly significant given how these stories make up the bulk of the coverage during Corbyn’s first week”. … The research is part of the Media Reform Coalition’s project campaigning for a reduction in the monopoly of the UK’s media ownership, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

“Newspapers have every right to take a partisan line in their reporting and freedom of the press is a key component of democratic societies,” the reports author Emily Seymour wrote, but she stressed their concern about the monopoly over ownership of UK newspapers, which they called “profoundly anti-democratic”. … “What concerns us, however, are the ownership structures underlying this degree of political intervention,” the report said. “The risk of undue influence on elected politicians is high, and it’s hard to see how democracy can flourish when the mass channels of debate are monopolised in the way that they are.”

If Corbyn is ousted, it’s the end of the Labour party. It would be a betrayal of voters and would lead to an exodus of Labour party members. I don’t pretend to be able to predict the future, there is no guarantee Corbyn could win a general election and perhaps his message won’t resonate with most of the electorate, but he’s the best man Labour have got at the moment. He’s also dragging the party further to the left which is necessary after the disaster of Blair’s tenure, and the terrible campaign Ed Miliband led. The foundations for future success are being built, Corbyn must continue.

Update: In a huge display of solidarity thousands of people have congregated to express their support of Jeremy Corbyn in both London and Newcastle. The vote of no confidence by secret ballot takes place tomorrow.

The Stuff Of Dreams

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At the beginning of the Premier League season Leicester City were 5000-1 odds against winning the league title, to have merely suggested a title challenge would have elicited mockery from the most esteemed journalists in the game, a fantasy that could not be achieved in the real world. Well, to hell with reason, Leicester City have achieved the unachievable.

It’s almost impossible to convey the magnitude of this feat but for much of last season Leicester languished in the relegation zone, which was no great surprise considering they were only promoted the season before. They ended the season strongly managing to stave off relegation and finished in a respectable 14th position. Their fans were delighted, and perhaps dreamed of an even better finish this season, but this historic victory has surely exceeded even their wildest expectations. The man who took Leicester City to glory was the humble and endearing Italian Claudio Ranieri, remarkably he hasn’t managed a Premier League team since he was sacked by Chelsea in 2004 who felt Ranieri didn’t have the calibre to win the title, but what a return it’s been, throughout his career titles have eluded Ranieri wherever he’s managed but all the years of failure must have been worth it for this one season of splendid triumph. When Ranieri was appointed last June, many were apprehensive and for good reason. Ranieri had just come off one of the most humiliating debacles of his career with the Greek national team which included a pitiful defeat to minnows, The Faroe Islands. His reputation was greatly damaged and there was little reason to suspect that Ranieri had the capacity to take the club forward, but never before have so many people been delighted to have been proven so wrong. Ranieri has remained grounded all season instructing his players to take it one game at a time and implored them to not get carried away with the prospect of a famous victory. And unlike in many underdog stories where the underdog relies on luck, few will deny that Leicester have been the superior and most consistent team during the whole season. And while Leicester depended on a remarkable defensive effort which saw them record twelve 1-0 victories courtesy of magnificent performances from players like Kanté, Huth and Morgan, they also bedazzled many fans with scintillating football by virtue of the skill and guile displayed by players like Mahrez, Okazaki and the clinical finishing from Ulloa and Jamie Vardy a former non-league player. But most of all, their togetherness and unity drove them to paradise which Ranieri must take great credit for.

As upsets go, it can’t be disputed that this is one of the best in the history of not just the game but all of sport. Leicester City have defied logic, done the unthinkable and have inspired the world. Their season of glory will forever be etched in the annals of sporting history.

Spieth’s Shocking Surrender!

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With 9 holes to go at Augusta National Jordan Spieth looked on course to win consecutive Masters titles and his 3rd major championship in 12 months. With 4 consecutive birdies on the final holes on the front 9 he established a 5 shot lead. Many thought the remaining 9 holes would be a coronation, with Spieth cruising to victory, what unfolded however was a capitulation of epic proportions.

By his own admission Spieth hadn’t produced his best golf all week, his ball-striking was inconsistent and his driving was errant, but Spieth who is renowed for his clutch putting managed to hold onto his lead by making key putts when he needed them most. There were signs throughout the week that Spieth was uncomfortable with his game, a sloppy finish on Friday cut his lead to one, and on Saturday after restoring a sizeable advantage he faltered late in the round playing the final two holes in 3 over par. Despite this, mentally he looked unflabbable, driven by sheer determination to win his 2nd Masters despite the obvious shortcomings in his game. But on the 12th hole it all caught up with him and the weaknesses were exposed in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Amen Corner which is notorious for its perilous and merciless layout had claimed another victim. Spieth arrived at the breathtakingly beautiful 12th at Augusta on the back of consecutive bogeys at the 10th and 11th, his lead had been cut to only a solitary shot. Despite the intense pressure few would have expected him to have folded under these circumstances, after all Spieth had demonstrated all week his ability to bounce back from bogeys and he has proven his competence at the highest level in this game with two major championships.
Spieth struck his shot aiming to play a fade, but long before the ball found the creek Spieth recoiled in digust, certain of the outcome. If Spieth could have mitigated the damage and salavaged a bogey or a double-bogey a recovery would have not been inconceivable, but he compounded his error by finding the water again with his 3rd shot from the drop zone. He hit the shot so fat and atrociously that the ball barely even reached the hazard, Spieth visibly furious turned his back and couldn’t even bear to watch. He finished the hole with a quadruple-bogey and faced a deficit of 3 shots. In a testament to Spieth’s mental strength he responded remarkably well, birdying 2 out of the next three holes and gave himself a slim chance of catching the leader, Danny Willett but the damage was too extensive, there was to be no revival. The old adage that “the Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday” was most certainly true today. Golf has seen its fair share of meltdowns over the year, Greg Norman in 96 at the Masters, Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999, Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot in 2006 and Mcilroy at the 2011 Masters but Spieth’s was arguably the most astonishing considering how impervious he appeared to the pressure most of the week.

Spieth was gracious in defeat, and in accordance with Masters tradition draped the green jacket on Danny Willett and congratulated him on his victory. Willett who nearly missed the Masters because of the birth of his child was the worthy winner. He shot an almost immaculate bogey-free 67 which included 5 birdies and he displayed tremendous nerve on the 17th to scramble an unlikely par. Willett’s victory will inevitably be overshadowed by Spieth’s collapse, but this was one of the best final round performances you’re likely to see at Augusta National.

Spieth understandably will be reeling from this loss for a while, but he can take great solace in the fact that he came so close to creating history. He’s played 3 Masters and his record is T2nd, 1st & T2nd which includes leading in 7 consecutive rounds. In addition he’s becoming scarily consistent in the majors, since the beginning of 2015 his record in the majors is 1st, 1st, T4th, 2nd & T2nd and yet he’s still only 22 years old.
There is no reason to suspect Spieth won’t bounce back from this, if anyone is mentally equipped to deal with a diaster of this scale, it is him. Champions overcome adversity, and Spieth is a champion. He will comeback from this nightmare.

Reflections On Obama’s Cuba Visit

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The shot of Air Force One coming into land in Havana was iconic and the perfect way to begin this new chapter in relations between the US and Cuba. There are moments in history you don’t want to miss, and this momentous visit by Barack Obama was undoubtedly one of them.

The reestablishment of bilateral ties between the two countries faced many obstacles, most prominently Cuba’s well grounded suspicion of the US government. The breakthrough came in late 2013 when anti-apartheid revolutionary and former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela died. Mandela held the Castro brothers in great esteem and was grateful for their contributions in facilitating the defeat of the apartheid government in South Africa which Reagan’s administration embraced. Both Raúl Castro and US president Obama were invited to the funeral which put the US president in an invidious position. Be courteous towards Castro and face the wrath of extremists back home, or snub the Cuban president and disrespect Mandela’s family. Obama thankfully chose the former and recognised that Cuba’s president had a right to attend the event. This then provided the foundation for the relationship to develop with Castro expressing his appreciation for Obama’s civility at the funeral.

Obama’s politics are odious, of that there is little doubt but as a politician he is remarkably competent. It was clear that throughout the visit to Cuba, Obama was totally in his element – you could readily discern that he was fully enjoying being a part of this historic visit. Obama honoured Cuban hero José Martí and laid a wreath at his memorial. Amusingly during the ceremony, a mural of Che Guevara loomed large in the background, quite expectedly US Republicans reacted with fury. During Obama’s press conference the condescension about human rights was accompanied by praise of what Obama called Cuba’s “enormous achievements” in healthcare and education, and their humanitarian contributions in east Africa where their doctors have put their lives on the line to alleviate the suffering of people who contracted Ebola. Castro maintained that the occupation of Guantánamo Bay and the inhumane embargo would remain as impediments to full normalisation of relations. The trip ended on a good note, where both Obama and Castro attended a baseball game between Cuba and The Tamba Bay Rays. Many must have thought their eyes were deceiving them when Obama and Castro participated in the Mexican wave, which again aroused rage from Republicans. Raúl Castro then travelled with Obama to the airport and waved goodbye as Obama departed to Argentina.

While’s Cuba’s grievances with the United States cannot end during one visit, there is now a path towards reconciliation which is a step in the right direction. Neither Cubans nor the vast majority of Americans have much interest in a return to violence, and a majority of Americans want the deplorable embargo to be lifted. It would be nice for both countries if ‘American democracy’ delivered what their people want.

Obama In Havana

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Barack Obama visits Cuba this week which marks the first time in 88 years that a sitting US president has visited the island. With increasing pressure exerted on the US by several Latin American countries and with mediation from Pope Francis, Obama has taken steps to normalise diplomatic relations, has eased trade restrictions on Cuba and has advocated an end to the Cuban embargo which requires approval from US Congress.

For many Americans Cuba has connotations of dictatorship and association with the Soviet Union. Therefore it should come as no great surprise that a large portion of Americans harbour considerable hostility for the Cuban Government. If you get your knowledge through the lens of the US propaganda system this is an entirely reasonable point of view. From an American perspective, their government has always been a friend to Cuba, assisting them in their liberation from Spanish colonialists in 1898, and supporting their government up until the revolution. Then suddenly all this cooperation and friendliness was disturbed by a group of guerrilla fighters who overthrew the government which was our ally and could be relied upon to serve our interests whatever they may be. They then punished US businesses operating in Cuba, and allied with our great enemy the Soviet Union, compounded by their request to bring nuclear missiles into Cuba which led to the missile crisis and threatened the peace and security of Americans. Again, the conclusion that the Cuban government are the embodiment of anti-Americanism and that the revolution brought regression to Cuba is quite logical within this framework. The only problem? It’s utterly antithetical to reality. To understand the US’ paternalistic relationship with Cuba you really have to have an awareness of the Monroe Doctrine which played an instrumental role in the formation of American policy in Latin America. The doctrine essentially stated that the Western Hemisphere was to be exclusively the domain of the United States, President Monroe declared that the traditional imperial powers in Europe should not intervene in the affairs of Latin American countries and the mercantilist policies pursued by the Spanish and Portuguese should end because it prevented American economic expansion in the region. The Monroe Doctrine was established in 1823 during a time when the British reigned supreme in much of the world, for this reason exerting US influence in Latin America and implementing the doctrine was not achievable because of the deterrent of the British fleet. But as British power gradually waned and the Spanish and Portuguese lost their grip on the colonies, an opportunity for the US to impose its will on the southern hemisphere opened up. In 1898 the US acted to prevent the Cuban liberation from the Spanish, and turned it into a virtual US colony ensuring that legitimate independence would have to wait. Instead of outright annexation the US decided to grant Cuba partial independence under terms set by the US government which would guarantee a system of control for the US. In the years that followed America would exercise almost complete economic and military dominance over the island, intervening militarily in Cuban affairs several times to maintain its control over the country. The treaty Cuba signed under military occupation in 1903 is still used by the US today as a justification for the occupation of Guantánamo Bay where they operate a naval base. Guantánamo Bay has become notorious for the torture camp established during the War On Terror in 2003, it’s often criticised by rights groups and the international community, but what’s often neglected in the discussion about the torture camp is that the US occupation of Guantánamo has no legitimacy. The Cuban government has repeatedly exhorted the US government to return the territory to Cuba and has refused to accept the rent checks from the US, but the US cite a provision from the treaty which requires mutual agreement before the lease of Guantánamo ends. The way the US government phrases their argument makes it sound like the Cuban people consented to the leasing of the land to the US which suffice to say is ludicrous. Under international law treaties imposed by force are illegal, in addition the terms of the treaty have been violated by the US which have allowed commercial use of the Bay. One of the most shameful moments in the history of the US’ relationship with Cuba was its support of murderous dictator Fulgencio Batista, the US supplied Batista with everything a tyrant could desire: military, financial and logistical support. Batista neglected the Cuban people displaying apathy towards their wishes for better education, health care and housing and conversely helped the US advance the interests of American corporations which saw their profits rise; US influence was so dominant that the US ambassador to Cuba said: “Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president.” The worst crimes Batista’s forces committed were the murders of thousands of Cubans with US backing. The US’ position of supporting Batista became so untenable that in 1958 they stopped supplying weapons to him and imposed an arms embargo on Cuba. Castro and his group of guerilla fighters which included Che Guevara fought valiantly and managed to defeat Batista and his forces. In an effort to resolve the US’ economic domination of Cuba they nationalised the exploitative US businesses operating in Cuba which elicited a hostile response in Washington. The US government then imposed a vicious embargo on Cuba and conspired to overthrow the Cuban government by training and arming a paramilitary group comprised of Cuban exiles. It quickly became apparent that the US attempt to overthrow Castro was failing and the Bay Of Pigs invasion became a major embarrassment to the Kennedy administration, in addition to the overt aggression the CIA was also involved in covert plots to assassinate Fidel Castro which thankfully failed. Following the outright aggression from the US, Cuba established ties with the Soviet Union and placed Soviet nuclear missiles on its island feeling it would act as a deterrent against US attempts at regime change. The Soviets later agreed to dismantle their weapons in Cuba in exchange for a promise from the US government that they would not invade Cuba without direct provocation. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Cuba lost its primary trading partner which resulted in food shortages and a lack of basic goods and was forced to diversify its economy into biotechnology and tourism. In 2006 during the calamitous hurricane Katrina the Cuban government offered to send its health workers to America to help the victims but the US government declined. When Fidel Castro stepped down due to declining health the legislative parliament of Cuba voted for his brother Raul to succeed him.

JFK on the US’ support of Batista:

“Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years … and he turned Democratic Cuba into a complete police state—destroying every individual liberty. Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror. Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista—hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend—at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections. I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.”

When Obama announced that he was visiting Cuba this month it was accompanied with this assertion: “America will always stand for human rights around the world”
A cursory look at the US’ history in Latin America makes a mockery of that claim.
You’d be hard pressed to find a country in Latin America which has come away unscathed from US interference or intervention. The innumerable crimes have been well documented but today I’ll focus on post World War 2 crimes. Less than a year after the US overthrew the democratically elected prime-minister of Iran they were involved in another coup in Guatemala in 1954. Jacobo Arnetz was democratically elected and was in the process of making gradual improvements to the daily life of Guatemalan people but this conflicted with US corporations who were preoccupied with making as much profit as they could. At the behest of the United Fruit Company the CIA orchestrated the coup and their forces invaded Guatemala bombing the city and conducting a campaign of psychological warfare. The US-backed dictator reversed the reforms, and gathered peasant leaders, executing them and conditions for the people of the country quickly deteriorated. In the years that followed the US would support the repressive authoritarian rulers who committed unspeakable crimes against the people. During this period the Guatemalan army committed genocide against the Mayan people and assassinated several catholic priests and nuns who supported the rights of the Mayan people. Historian Greg Grandin stated that: “There is general consensus today among academics and Guatemalan intellectuals that 1954 signalled the beginning of what would become the most repressive state in the hemisphere, a state responsible for the torture and murder of two hundred thousand of its citizens”
In Chile, president Allende who was also democratically elected was overthrown in a coup in 1973 led by Augusto Pinochet which was supported by the US. During Pinochet’s rule his forces committed sexual abuse, torture and killed thousands of people. While the CIA denied playing any direct role in the coup the years of destabilisation of Allendes’ government provided the conditions required for Pinochet to rise to power. The US also consolidated his power by making Pinochet’s officers into paid members of the CIA and US military. In Nicaragua the US’ interference is particularly sinister. They overtly supported tyrannical ruler Somaza who was overthrown by the Sandinistas in 1979. The US led by Reagan in the early 1980′s authorised a covert war against Nicaragua by funding and training a death squad known as the Contras. The Contras’ crimes were so significant that the US Congress banned support of them, but the Reagan administration defied this and continued to aid the terrorists. Crimes included torture, kidnapping, rape of women and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Human Rights Watch released a report in 1989 stating: “The Contras were major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners. The International Court Of Justice condemned the US for its terrorism in 1986 but the US dismissed it and blocked enforcement of the judgement by the UN Security Council thereby preventing compensation to the Nicaraguan people. While all of this was ongoing the US continued to rationalise their policies under the guise of promoting democracy.
“In a 1981 study, human rights researcher Lars Schoultz concluded that US aid “has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens…to the hemisphere’s relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights.” In 1998, Latin American professor Martha Huggins stated “that the more foreign police aid given (by the United States), the more brutal and less democratic the police institutions and their governments become.”
These are just a small selection of the extensive list of US crimes in Latin America, and Obama is no doubt aware of them which makes his remarks so contemptible and offensive to people who have suffered and been killed because of the US’ policies. For all the talk from Western media about human rights violations in Cuba, one thing always remains conspicuously absent. The largest human rights violator in Cuba is not the Cuban government itself but the United States who operate a torture camp on the island which is illegal under international law. Many of the detainees are denied a fair trial, and have been subjected to degrading and inhuman torture. In addition the inhumane embargo imposed on Cuba has been repeatedly condemned by the UN, and most states in the world including even the US’ most loyal allies are against the embargo. Since 1992 the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution every year condemning the impact of the embargo and declaring it to be in violation of the charter of the UN and international law.

Marjorie Cohn professor at Thomas Jefferson School Of Law writes in the Huffington Post:

“The U.S. government criticizes civil and political rights in Cuba while disregarding Cubans’ superior access to universal housing, health care, education, and its guarantee of paid maternity leave and equal pay rates. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has committed serious human rights violations on Cuban soil, including torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention at Guantanamo. And since 1960, the United States has expressly interfered with Cuba’s economic rights and its right to self-determination through the economic embargo.
The U.S. embargo of Cuba, now a blockade, was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Cold War in response to a 1960 memo written by a senior State Department official. The memo proposed “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the [Castro] government.” That goal has failed, but the punishing blockade has made life difficult in Cuba. In spite of that inhumane effort, however, Cuba guarantees its people a remarkable panoply of human rights.”

John Pilger’s informative documentary on the US War On Nicaragua:

Despite the embargo and terrorism inflicted on Cuba, they have made some remarkable accomplishments and humanitarian contributions both domestically and abroad since the revolution in 1959. The Cuban government prioritised both education and healthcare understanding that if the new system was to survive it was vital those two necessities were taken care of. The first of these was the 1961 literacy campaign which was designed to teach people to read and write. Prior to the revolution the literacy rate in Cuba was between 60 & 76 percent. The campaign was a resounding success and taught thousands these essential skills, the literacy rate was consequently raised to 96%. Expenditure on education is also relatively high and has led to a high level of educational achievement. In addition prior to the revolution many people who were impoverished were denied access to education, following the revolution these children were now afforded free access to education. Apologists for US imperialism claim all of these facts are propaganda but organisations like the UN and the World Bank have heaped praise on these accomplishments; in 2006 Gallup conducted research on the opinions of Cuban people in the two largest cities, a high percentage of them expressed satisfaction with their education system. Cuba’s achievements in education are no doubt profound but when it comes to healthcare they’re just off the charts. Despite being a third world country with very little wealth its life expectancy is on par with developed countries like the US, it has the lowest child mortality rate in Latin America and Unicef has commended the Cuban government for tackling child malnutrition. Last year the World Health Organisation confirmed that Cuba became the first country to eliminate transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby. They described this success as “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” Cuba has made some impressive medical innovations, most notably a vaccine for meningitis B which has been administrated in countries throughout the world, they’ve also made a possible breakthrough in the treatment of lung cancer, climavax-evg a therapeutic cancer vaccine was the result of a 25 year research project and has aroused interest of the medical community in the US, doctors in the US are very excited about getting to clinically test it. Thomas Rothstein a biologist at the Feinstein Institute For Medical Research said: “The Cubans are thinking in ways that are novel and clever” Cuba is also renowned for its medical internationalism and played a pivotal role in alleviating the suffering caused by the ebola crisis in 2014. In fact, its positive role in Africa has been so important than Cuba was the first country heroic anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela thanked following the collapse of the racist system in South Africa. The achievements since the revolution are extensive and must not be trivialised, but equally the flaws and human rights violations by Castro’s government must not be whitewashed or forgotten. Cuba like many countries during that time had a society replete with homophobia, and the Cuban government imprisoned innocent gay and trans people without charge or trial often subjecting them to harsh treatment. Ana Marrero a trans woman said: “It was horrible, we couldn’t have a life. In those days the Cuban government was very backward and cruel about homosexuality.”
Gradually Cuba has become more progressive when it comes to LGBTQ rights, a few years ago Cuba elected its first trans woman to office and in 2010 Fidel Castro apologised and took responsibility for the persecution of LGBTQ people but nothing can excuse that shameful chapter in Cuba’s history. The Cuban government also adopted censorship and has an abject record when it comes to press freedom and civil liberties. Dissidents are also treated improperly and often detained without charge. The Cuban government also treated the internet with suspicion and it’s among one of the most tightly controlled in the world, however there have been gradual improvements in the last few years. There is undoubtedly compelling evidence that the good the Cuban government has done exceeds the bad, but like any state it is susceptible to abusing its power, and this makes uncritical support of it a danger. Genuine supporters of Cuba will not downplay the very real grievances of Cuban expats, or try and rationalise its flaws, but work to make Cuba a true model for the world.

Nelson Mandela on Cuba:

“We have come here today recognizing our great debt to the Cuban people. What other country has such a history of selfless behavior as Cuba has shown for the people of Africa? How many countries benefit from Cuban health care professionals and educators? How many of these volunteers are now in Africa? What country has ever needed help from Cuba and has not received it? How many countries threatened by imperialism or fighting for their freedom have been able to count on the support of Cuba? I was still in prison when I first heard of the massive help which the Cuban international forces were giving to the people of Angola. The help was of such a scale that it was difficult for us to believe it, when the Angolans were under attack by the combined forces of South Africa, the FALA [Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola] who were financed by the CIA, mercenaries, UNITA [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola], and Zaire in 1975. In Africa we are used to being victims of countries that want to take from us our territory or overthrow our sovereignty. In African history there is not another instance where another people has stood up for one of ours. We also acknowledge that the action was carried out by the masses in Cuba and that those who fought and died in Angola are only a small portion of those who volunteered to go. To the Cuban people internationalism is not only a word but something which they have put into practice for the benefit of large sectors of mankind. We know that the Cuban forces were ready to retreat after driving back the invasion in 1975 but the continued aggressions of Pretoria did not allow them to do so. Your presence there and the reinforcements sent for the battle of Cuito Cuanavale has a historical meaning. The decisive defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all Africa. This victory in Cuito Cuanavale is what made it possible for Angola to enjoy peace and establish its own sovereignty. The defeat of the racist army made it possible for the people of Namibia to achieve their independence.”

While Obama’s less extreme approach to Cuba is a welcome departure from decades of US terrorism and demonisation of Cuba, it still falls far beneath the standards expected of anyone who claims to be an upholder of human rights. No admission of wrongdoing on the US’ part nor does Obama acknowledge that the immoral and illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay which serves as a naval base for the US should end. This is what Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest said regarding returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba:”The naval base is not something that we believe should be closed” Some will describe Obama’s willingness to engage with Cuba as a noble act, and again when compared with the major extremists in the Republican party that doesn’t appear unreasonable, but Obama’s Cuba policy isn’t motivated by benevolence but by political necessity; if the US continued down the path of embargo their isolation in Latin America would have only increased. In 2012 several Latin American countries threatened to boycott future Americas Summits if Cuba’s ostracism didn’t end. Obama like anyone living in the real world understands perfectly well that the US’ policy towards Cuba in the last 60 years has been counterproductive in achieving what it was designed to do: Weaken the Cuban government, and see a transition to a Pro-US government which is amenable to the interests of US corporations. Obama claims the US no longer wishes to oust the Castro government, and perhaps it’s true for some US politicians, but US Congress is controlled by extremists from the Republican party who still want regime change in Cuba, and have been vehemently critical of Obama’s steps at normalising relations with Cuba. Bearing that in mind, Cuba should remain very wary of the US government, and skeptical of accepting Obama’s rhetoric of changing course.

Maria de los Angeles Flores, A resident from Havana on Obama’s historic visit:

“The most important thing in the world after 90 years is for a black president come here to Cuba to unite the relationship and end all the wickedness that existed, for the economic blockade to end, for the humiliation over the Guantanamo Naval Base to end. The world needs peace,”

Since 1959 the Cuban people have demonstrated that they will not be manipulated by the US government, and that they will stand firm in their resistance to US imperialism. They’ve won the support of legions of people in Latin America, including thousands across the globe who have also been impacted by US aggression.
The US’ desire to normalise relations is a tacit acknowledgment of the failure of their policies towards Cuba since the revolution and a testament to the achievements of the Cuban people. They have succeeded in resisting US imperialism which is no small feat.