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Obama to Open Post-presidency Office in World Wildlife Fund Headquarters

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The “Natural Capital Project” partners
“The implementation of payment for ecosystem services,” Morningstar observes, “will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed.” This new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy, she says, represents “the commodification of most everything sacred,” and “the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure”—a mechanism that, “will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”— May 6, 2016, Jay Taber, Earth Economics
Could Obama’s move into WWF headquarters also signal what could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services (also referred to as the “new economy”, “natural capital”, the financialization of nature, The Next System, etc.) by the world’s most powerful institutions and states? Consider the White House memorandum, October 7, 2015: Incorporating Natural Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision-Making:
“That is why, today, the Administration is issuing a memorandum directing all Federal agencies to incorporate the value of natural, or “green,” infrastructure and ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision making. The memorandum directs agencies to develop and institutionalize policies that promote consideration of ecosystem services, where appropriate and practicable, in planning, investment, and regulatory contexts.”
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The Washington Post

December 12, 2016

Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

Transformative Spaces

September 10, 2016

by Kelly Hayes

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#NoDAPL protesters gather for a boat action in Standing Rock on August 20. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)

 

All Native struggles in the United States are a struggle against erasure. The poisoning of our land, the theft of our children, the state violence committed against us — we are forced to not only live in opposition to these ills, but also to live in opposition to the fact that they are often erased from public view and public discourse, outside of Indian Country. The truth of our history and our struggle does not match the myth of American exceptionalism, and thus, we are frequently boxed out of the narrative.

The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, has been no exception, with Water Protectors fighting tooth and nail for visibility, ever since the Sacred Stone prayer encampment began on April 1.

For months, major news outlets have ignored what’s become the largest convergence of Native peoples in more than a century. But with growing social media amplification and independent news coverage, the corporate media had finally begun to take notice. National attention was paid. Solidarity protests were announced in cities around the country. The National Guard was activated in North Dakota.

The old chant, “The whole world is watching!” seemed on the verge of accuracy in Standing Rock.

And then came today’s ruling, with a federal judge finding against the Standing Rock Sioux, and declaring that construction of the pipeline could legally continue. It was the ruling I expected, but it still stung. I felt the sadness, anger and disappointment that rattled many of us as we received the news. But then something happened. Headlines like, “Obama administration orders ND pipeline construction to stop” and “The Obama Administration Steps In to Block the Dakota Access Pipeline” began to fill my newsfeed, with comments like, “Thank God for Obama!” attached to them.

Clearly, a major plot twist has occurred. But it’s not the one that’s being sold.

To understand that this isn’t the victory it’s being billed as, you have to read the fine print in the presently lauded joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior:

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”

Note what’s actually being said here, what’s being promised and what isn’t.

What is actually being guaranteed?

Further consideration.

But this next section is a little more promising, right?

“Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahu.”

So things are on hold at Lake Oahe until the powers that be think it through some more — with no assurances about how they’ll feel when it’s all said and done. The rest is a voluntary ask being extended to the company.

Let’s reflect on that for a moment: A company that recently sicced dogs on Water Protectors, including families, who stepped onto a sacred site to prevent its destruction, is being asked to voluntarily do the right thing.

But the thing is, they probably will. For a moment. Because what’s being asked of them isn’t an actual reroute. Right now, all that’s being asked is that they play their part in a short term political performance aimed at letting the air out of a movement’s tires.

Presidential contender Hillary Clinton was beginning to take a bit of heat for her silence on the Standing Rock struggle. Between Jill Stein’s participation in a lockdown action, broadening social media support for the cause, and the beginnings of substantial media coverage, #NoDAPL was on the verge of being a real thorn in Clinton’s side. And with more than 3,000 Natives gathered in an unprecedented act of collective resistance, an unpredictable and possibly transformational force was menacing a whole lot of powerful agendas.

So what did the federal government do? Probably the smartest thing they could have: They gave us the illusion of victory.

As someone who organizes against state violence, I know the patterns of pacification in times of unrest all too well. When a Black or Brown person is murdered by the police, typically without consequence, and public outrage ensues, one of the pacifications we are offered is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate the shooting. It’s a deescalation tactic on the part of the state. It helps transition away from moments when rage and despair collide, creating a cooling off period for the public. “Justice” is still possible, we are told. We are asked to be patient as this very serious matter is investigated at the highest level of government, and given all due consideration.

The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of investigations taken up by the DOJ Civil Rights Division end in dismissal – a batting average that’s pretty much inverse to that of other federal investigations. But by the time a case gets tossed at the federal level, it’s probably not front page news anymore, and any accumulated organizing momentum behind the issue may have been lost — because to many people, the mere announcement of a federal investigation means that the system is working. Someone is looking into this, they’re assured. Something is being done. Important people have expressed that they care, and thus there is hope.

So how is this similar to what’s happening with Standing Rock?

It’s the same old con game.

Federal authorities are going to give a very serious matter very serious consideration, and then… we’ll see.

The formula couldn’t be clearer.

As the joint statement says, “this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”

Discussion.

How many times have marginalized people been offered further discussion when what they needed was substantive action? And how often has the mere promise of conversation born fruit for those in a state of protest?

But this is a great moment for the Democrats. A political landmine has been swept out of Hillary Clinton’s path and Obama will be celebrated as having “stopped a pipeline” when the project has, at best, been paused. After all, an actual pause in construction, outside of the Lake Oahe area, assumes the cooperation of a relentless, violent corporation, that has already proven it’s wiling to let dogs loose on children to keep its project on track.

But Dakota Access, LLC probably will turn off its machines — for a (very) little while. They’ll wait for the media traction that’s been gained to dissipate, and for the #NoDAPL hashtag to get quieter. They’ll wait until the political moment is less fraught, and their opposition is less amped. And then they will get back to work — if we allow it.

Here’s the real story: This fight has neither been won nor lost. Our people are rising and they are strong. But the illusion of victory is a dangerous thing. Some embrace it because they don’t know better, some because they need to. We all want happy endings. Hell, I long for them, and I get tired waiting. But if you raise a glass to Obama and declare this battle won, you are erasing a battle that isn’t over yet. And by erasing an ongoing struggle, you’re helping to build a pipeline.

 

[Kelly Hayes is co-founding member of The Chicago Light Brigade and an organizer with We Charge Genocide.]

Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster

Convergence State Update

December 2, 2015

by Luke Orsborne

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“Earth To Paris coalition announced it will host ‘Earth To Paris—Le Hub’ live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 “to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.” [Source]

On November 30th, President Obama announced to the gathered COP21 attendees and the world that “We have come to Paris to show our resolve.”  The double meaning became quickly apparent as he went on to say that “We stand united in solidarity not only to deliver justice to the terrorist network responsible for [the Paris] attacks but to protect our people and uphold the enduring values that keep us strong and keep us free. And we salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on — an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children.  What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”  (transcript of full speech here)

Obama was making it clear that by “resolve,” first and foremost he was speaking to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.  Like the speech on climate change that would follow, it was a call to preserve the kind of world order that he represents.  “Our world,” he called it, but while Westerners, liberals, Americans, and mainstream environmentalists may be quick to count themselves in that number, that easily made assumption must be weighed against reality.

Outside the climate summit, only a handful of the hundreds of thousands of anticipated climate marchers had turned out.  Those few that took to the streets were doing so in spite of emergency laws put in place by the French government, which banned the large scale gathering that had been planned by Big Green groups months in advance.  The protesters who stuck around long enough were eventually treated to the usual barrage of tear gas and black clad, club wielding state enforcers. Authoritarian pre-crime detentions in which no crime had actually been committed also played into the strategy of Parisian officials.

While it can and has been argued that the thwarted mass assemblage under the umbrage of corporate friendly NGO’s would have done nothing of substance in the face of deeply rooted technological, economic, and cultural realities that shackle us toward hastening climate disaster, it must none the less be said that what the French government did is antithetical to basic freedom.  The suspension of foundational rights, the right to peacefully assemble and the right to free speech, could not have been lost on former constitutional lawyer Obama.

It is for this reason that Obama’s characterization of the continuation of the climate summit in the face of violence as an “act of defiance” must be seen for the Orwellian appropriation of reality that it is.  The only act of defiance that occurred were those few people who protested in spite of the French imposition of rights restrictions, but Obama would take hold of that spirit, however limited it may have been, and make it the property of his elite audience.  This then raises the obvious question, who exactly was Obama referring to when he said, “What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”  Was Obama speaking of the terrorists who were unable to prevent the climate summit from occurring (but who managed to have the French government reactively undermine its own supposedly core Western principles), or was the president speaking of the activist rabble who, out of an elite preserving security-state decision, was unable to show up at their doorstep and interrupt their party?  In either case, the “best efforts” that were “marshaled” was Obama’s recognition of the world’s cream of the crop, and was an expression of flattery likely meant to entice world leaders to see themselves as potential members of his club against a backdrop of disempowered people who had been dissuaded from coming out.

If, then, by saving “our” world Obama is in fact tacitly supporting the dissolution of widely understood basic rights enshrined in the very Western civilization he is ostensibly looking to preserve,  his call to action is not directed at the majority of people, but fittingly, it is aimed at those high level statesmen in attendance whose views fall in line with elite US interests.  His stated goal to “protect our people and uphold the enduring values that keep us strong and keep us free,” could just as easily refer to the enduring values that keep the elite classes,  his people, strong and free, and by free, this would mean free to do as they please without repercussions, in spite of their growing fears of system destabilization and the resulting desire to fortify themselves and weather mass social discontent. His words were a kind of reassurance to those present.  The values he cited, which allow for the actual state of affairs of deep hierarchical divisions with clear insiders and outsiders, can be found both in capitalism and Machiavellian statecraft, which form the actual  foundations of modern international affairs, rather than the widely believed myth of representational democracy.  Whether or not this was the intended  subtext sent to the elite interests listening in, it is certainly embodies the reality of what his administration represents,  and is a clear indicator of what is to come.

This reality is one in which elite interests have helped ensure the likelihood that emissions targets at COP21, as weak as they may end up being, will likely not even be legally binding.  This is according to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, speaking to the Financial Times.  To the disappointment of those world leaders at the event who were supportive of a legally binding treaty, the minister’s words echo those of Secretary of State John Kerry, who also spoke to the Financial Times about the matter.  Kerry’s views, revealed in the Times, related that the COP21 outcome “would contain measures that would drive a “significant amount of investment” towards a low-carbon global economy. But he stressed there were “not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto”, a reference to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, a UN climate treaty that had targets for cutting emissions that countries ratifying it were legally obliged to meet.”

While the official narrative for avoiding a legally binding treaty is to ensure that it won’t be torpedoed in China or the US republican controlled congress, the very notion that this international agreement, whose targets won’t be enough to stave off catastrophic climate change any way, won’t even be enforceable by law, makes the whole affair into a complete eleventh hour farce, unless of course you are member of the elite club presiding over this whole mess, where the opportunities to declare your good intentions to an increasingly restless public make for a good insurance policy.

In his speech, Obama went on to slip in his trademark hope and change brand, declaring that “What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it.” Clearly people with far more expertise in environmental issues as well as world affairs have been determined to see a turning point for decades, by challenging the systems of power and global destruction and putting forth transformative visions that have been repeatedly sidelined by elite interests.  But we are expected to swallow the notion that it is only when Obama makes a non legally binding speech in Paris that “we finally determined we would save our planet.”  Who is this “we?”

The world is not “our world” in the way Obama’s speech would have us believe.  “Our” refers to those few who in fact literally own the planet, a group populated by corporate executives, heads of state and ruling dynasties, and the eighty five individuals who literally own as much wealth as the poorest half of the rest of the 7 billion plus inhabitants of the globe.  When Obama says “our planet,” the commander of America’s global empire is not opening the doors of inclusivity which in fact remained shut and closely guarded by Paris security.  He’s staking a hegemonic claim, or perhaps more accurately, reinforcing it.

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In contrast to what Avaaz was suggesting, however, what made the march impossible was nothing more than the lack of will and leadership within the so-called climate movement itself to make it happen.  It was a signal to the owners of the planet that by and large, under the direction of NGO middle management, the owned would in fact remain compliant. Seen in this light, perhaps the most meaningful thing that could have been achieved at the global summit would have been the refusal of the hundreds of thousands of people planning on marching to be deterred by the wishes of the authorities.  This, of course, was unlikely to have happened, because the event itself was steered by groups friendly to US interests, like Avaaz, who stated on their website that  “The police have just informed us that the tragic attacks in Paris have made the march there impossible. Now it’s even more important for people everywhere to march on the weekend of November 29th on behalf of those who can’t, and show that we are more determined than ever to meet the challenges facing humanity with hope, not fear.”  Their word choice is clearly channeling Obama, another subtle signal of an alignment of interests.  In contrast to what Avaaz was suggesting, however, what made the march impossible was nothing more than the lack of will and leadership within the so-called climate movement itself to make it happen.  It was a signal to the owners of the planet that by and large, under the direction of NGO middle management, the owned would in fact remain compliant.

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In response to the emergency laws in Paris, Naomi Klein tweeted on November 29th,”Obedience in the face of this failure would be tantamount to acquiescence,” but she fell short of directly calling for mass civil disobedience.  Over a week before that tweet, she had already indicated her capitulation in an op-ed in the Guardian:

“The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones, claiming that securing marches would compromise its ability to secure the official summit zone where politicians will meet.”

But instead of confronting the illegitimacy of the power structure, she chose to consent to its mandates and maintain her safe distance, affiliating herself with the marginalized voices of those without a megaphone, though it would be hard to take such a position seriously given her enormous following, her best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence.Given the dire, life destroying straights are facing, there would be nothing particularly radical about calling for mass civil disobedience to those unconstitutional decrees.  It’s a fairly standard tactic from the playbook of Gandhi and King, who are cited ad nauseum by activist leaders attempting to coral their flock into a nonviolent strategy for change.   But instead of confronting the illegitimacy of the power structure, she chose to consent to its mandates and maintain her safe distance, affiliating herself with the marginalized voices of those without a megaphone, though it would be hard to take such a position seriously given her enormous following, her best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence.

As the author of the “Shock Doctrine” Klein is well aware of governments using disaster to consolidate power.  She even spoke about it to the Nation on the streets of Paris.  But because she would not use her position to do anything more than advance her street cred and take advantage of the Paris scene as a kind of product placement opportunity for her “shock doctrine” analysis, she did little more than advance her own brand.  She can neither be considered an activist, nor even a neutral reporter on the events on the ground.  The conciliatory language she chose, though sprinkled with mild critique, helped shape the compliant activist landscape.  She didn’t simply report on the cowed activist reality; she helped create it.  She didn’t simply recount the governmental overreach; she helped reinforce it.

The conciliatory language she chose, though sprinkled with mild critique, helped shape the compliant activist landscape.  She didn’t simply report on the cowed activist reality; she helped create it.  She didn’t simply recount the governmental overreach; she helped reinforce it. 350.org was also quick to speak out of both sides of its mouth and ultimately maintain its position of subservience to the death machine.  From its website: “While 350 as an organization does not agree with all the actions of the protesters at Republique, we will continue to stand against any attempts by authorities to use these incidents to unnecessarily clamp down on civil liberties.”  The green group’s statement went on to praise the words of Klein, and then announced that “Non-violent demonstrations such as these are at the heart of any progress on democracy and climate. People power is the only solution to the state of climate emergency. Together, we will continue to explore how nonviolent civil disobedience, creative action, and mass mobilization best fit together to achieve our goals.”  What should be noted is that while the language here attempts to appeal to the activist community, it once again falls short of calling for mass civil disobedience to authoritarian laws at what is seen to be the most important climate summit to date.  Instead, such language reaffirms 350’s leadership position in reducing such forms of dissent by relegating these tactics to some bureaucratic limbo, where they will “continue to be explored,” rather than be decisively enacted.

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24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD] Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth. With an extensive background, Gurría’s serves on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum. 

Someone in the position of Klein, Avaaz, or Bill McKibben, if they were true leaders in an authentic movement, would not have hesitated to lead mass civil disobedience that would have undoubtedly attracted the kind of media attention to which the media saturated Klein lamented the climate movement had been denied access.  Furthermore, even in the absence of such leadership, an authentic, decentralized activist movement would have widely recognized the connection between Western imperialism, radical terror groups created and used as pawns by these imperial interests to both justify war and implement security state crack downs, and the wake of human and environmental devastation left behind as a result such an exploitative system.  Empowered people would have mobilized themselves, and it appears that a handful of such people, deemed radicals, did do just that.  But this was an exception to the overall behavior of the movement.  The lack of a general uprising involving the multi hundred thousand planned attendees at COP21 in response to this reality points to several important and unfortunate possibilities:

1) The climate marchers generally believed that the demonstrations were important, and that by participating they could be effective in shaping policies that could avert climate catastrophe, yet they were unwilling to defy a government that wanted to silence them in their efforts to save themselves and the planet.

2) The climate marchers generally didn’t  believe that what they were doing would have any real effect, and were willing to not show up because it really didn’t matter any way.  In this case, their engagement in climate action is primarily a feel good social exercise, a hollow activity lacking in any real conviction, existing simply because they don’t know what else to do.

3) The climate marchers are generally uninformed about the seriousness of the situation and don’t believe that climate change is an immediate threat.  Not showing up is not a big deal because there will be other marches and plenty of time to address the climate issue in a way that conforms to official decorum.

The unsurprising response of the well orchestrated, no-show climate march in Paris represents the flip side of Obama’s authoritarian circle of power.  That flip side is the highly conditioned, fearful, obedient, and unquestioning mindset which had the opportunity, the motive, and to some extent, the moral cover to send an uncompromising message to the very establishment that is producing the conditions that are unraveling the living earth system.  Instead it took a pass.

It has been suggested by academics, military planners,  and political figures that climate change will escalate global conflict and lead to increased instability and terrorism.   That idea was even alluded to in Obama’s COP21 speech, in which the themes of economic growth and the war on terror were predictably brought up.  In light of the possibilities of climate disruption, Obama said “That future is not one of strong economies, nor is it one where fragile states can find their footing.”

It is from within the framework of this understanding that the unfolding of the Parisian government’s decision to ban protests and the resulting, much diluted COP21 march should be viewed.  It fleshes out why the rise of an increasingly authoritarian police state is an almost forgone conclusion in the face of climate change.  While there is nothing to suggest that the Paris terrorist attacks themselves were motivated by climate disruption, they were in fact a product of Western imperialism, a fact which continues to be substantiated by investigative journalists, academics, independent researchers, and ex-government officials.  In other words, the same forces that are responsible for climate change bear a significant responsibility in the creation of ISIS and thus the terrorist attacks, as well as the police response to those attacks and their response to the following COP21 climate march.

Now let’s take a cue from the establishment and imagine for a moment that the terrorist attacks had  stemmed to some extent from climate disruption.  This thought experiment is inspired by a dubious argument put forth by Bernie Sanders and Prince Phillip about the particular origins of the war in Syria, but it’s general theme bears real possibilities for the future.   Imagine, then, a person displaced by extreme drought who finds solace in newfound extremist religious ideologies.  Perhaps this individual has family members who were killed in US imperial wars, and now he cannot find work because the crops have failed for several years in a row, food prices have risen dramatically, and the economy is in a slump.  In time this person is able to find an outlet for his rage and a degree of stability and even self respect while receiving training through a foreign financed terror network that eventually brings him to a major city center with the intention to cause mass harm.  So his ideologies are steeped in radical and violent religion, but, unknown to the nation and people affected by his actions, the multi-year drought helped push him over the edge.  Would the response by the authorities in Paris and the climate activists have been any different?

The reason that the implications of this scenario are important to consider is as follows.  Those who are most negatively effected by this hypothetical attack, or the very real and recent Paris attack, are average people, the very people told to go home at COP21, who at least on the surface would have preferred to have been there in spite of supposed security risks.  The people that are most likely to benefit from these real and imagined attacks are by contrast the ones sitting inside the conference, along with their industry supporters.  When you cut past the fear and preconceptions of a “correct” (officially sanctioned) way of handling the aftermath of a terrorist attack and examine what is actually taking place,  a disturbing picture emerges.  The creators and beneficiaries of disaster are using armed enforcers to tell the victims of that disaster that they aren’t allowed to have a voice in protecting themselves, because of a supposed threat from the fruits of that very elite driven disaster.  And the people, for the most part,  agreed to this arrangement.  To put this another way, the demonstration that actually occurred at COP21 was a demonstration of the weakness of the people at large, and the predatory nature of those who preside over them.

There is no one with any sort of international clout who can witness this, see the plight of the people, and take corrective action.  This simply is the state of play, and it is a clear indication to the ruling class that even in the current state of an existential crisis, the people will fall in line, and their community organizing leaders, some of whom even understand the role of the state in crisis capitalism, will help ensure that.  In time, after more Orwellian speeches, failed meetings, false solutions, and worsening global conditions, the elites recognize this compliance will not be everlasting.  There will be real confrontations.  Obama and the enduring forces of the establishment know this, and so they craft language that keep the people at ease for as long as possible while subtly signaling where their true alliances lie.  The security force in Paris, like all government security forces,  showed itself to be far more militant, organized, unified, willing to break the law, and effective in achieving stated goals than the activists, and thus indicated that the engines of fascism are far more adept at organizing  a campaign of civil disobedience than any corporate climate march.

 

Obama’s Legacy: Permanent War and Liberal/Radical Accommodation?

Black Agenda Report

February 18, 2015

by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka

“African American radicals – unlike many white radicals – cannot afford the luxury of being unclear about the nature and interests of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist order.”

The announcement by the Obama administration that it will seek congressional authorization to expand the war on ISIS in Syria and possibly send more heavy weapons to its client government in Ukraine did not generate the kind of muscular opposition and sense of urgency that one would expect from the anti-interventionist liberals and significant sectors of what use to be the anti-imperialist and anti-war left.

Outside of a few articles written by some of us confined to the marginalized and shrinking left, the reports that the administration was considering both of these courses of action were met with passing indifference. It is as if the capitalist oligarchy’s strategy of permanent war has been accepted as a fait-accompi by the general public and even significant numbers of the left.

The fact that the U.S. President could launch military attacks in Syria, supposedly a sovereign state and member of the United Nations, for six months without any legal justification and not face fierce criticism in the U.S. and internationally demonstrates the embrace of lawlessness that characterizes the current epoch of Western imperialist domination.

And the acquiescence of much of the left in the U.S. and Europe on the issue of Syria and the U.S.-supported coup in Ukraine reveals the moderating and accommodating forces within the faux left that attempts to bully and intimidate anti-imperialist critics.

To oppose the dismemberment of Syria or criticize the dangerous collaboration between the U.S. and racist neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine was reduced to the silly and intellectually lazy arguments that one was “pro-Assad” or a dupe for Putin!

“It is as if the capitalist oligarchy’s strategy of permanent war has been accepted as a fait-accompi by the general public and even significant numbers of the left.”

The current ideological environment did not evolve by accident or by the particular confluence of historical events. The disappearance of anti-imperialism among the cosmopolitan left in the U.S. and Western Europe is reflective of a monumental ideological accomplishment by the propagandists of empire. The professional propagandists of empire and Western dominance were able to adroitly “introject” into the center of the radical world-view and consciousness a liberal ideological framework that privileged “anti-authoritarianism over anti-imperialism.

The political consequence of this shift in consciousness has been disastrous for oppositional left politics throughout the West but particularly in the U.S. As the U.S. increasingly turned to lawless violence to advance its interests over the last seven years of the presidency of Barack Obama, “leftists” in the U.S. objectively aligned themselves with the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination through their silence or outright support in the name of opposing authoritarian regimes.

The human consequence of this collaboration with U.S. and Western militarization by progressive forces in the U.S. and Europe has translated into unrestrained violent interventions from Libya to Syria and back to Iraq. Along with the escalations of direct military interventions, economic warfare and subversion directed at the state and people of Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and other progressive states in Latin America has resulted in the unnecessary suffering of millions.

And while the left and millions of Europeans will mobilize to condemn the 17 lives lost in the incident in Paris and defend “Western values,” there is no massive moral outrage from the Western public for the millions that have died at the hands of Western imperialism and the death and destruction that is promised with policies being considered for Syria and the Ukraine by the ruling elite in the U.S.

Fortunately, despite the political confusion of many leftists and the moral duplicity of liberals, signs of growing opposition to U.S. war-mongering are emanating from a historically familiar place – African American young people.

“While the left and millions of Europeans will mobilize to condemn the 17 lives lost in the incident in Paris and defend “Western values,” there is no massive moral outrage from the Western public for the millions that have died at the hands of Western imperialism.”

Similar to what occurred in the 1960s when opposition to the Vietnam war was catalyzed by the student organizers of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working on the frontlines of struggle in the deep South, “Black Lives Matter” activists and the many other formations and tendencies crystalizing out of the Ferguson and anti-police violence movements are making the connection between violence and militarization in the internal colonized areas of the U.S. and the state violence being waged by the U.S. state beyond its’ borders.

Resistance to the logic of white supremacist colonialist/capitalist domination on the part of these young activists is leading them to a resolute anti-imperialist and anti-war stance, just like the young black activists of SNCC some fifty years ago.

Alicia Garza one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement offers a welcomed lesson to the faux left:

“There is absolutely a link between the militarization and the use of force to police black communities in the US and the role of the military to police people of color and Black people in the global South. In both scenarios, the police and the military are used to protect private property and the interests of the elite, but are also used to dampen and or eliminate any resistance to the status quo.”

The experiences of these activists in the U.S. and their increasing connections with struggling peoples’ throughout the world is making it clear to them that the slogan “to protect and serve – capital, ” not only applies to the occupation forces that police the racialized colonies inside the U.S. but also the role of the U.S. military abroad.

Black against empire,” is not only a title to a book; it also captures the radical stance that conscious black radicals in the U.S. must assume.

The systemic degradation that characterizes the social experiences of African American workers, the marginalized poor, and working class of all of the oppressed and colonized nations and peoples’ by the U.S. empire, strips away the pretense of a benevolent hegemon. The lived experience of oppression means that African American radicals – unlike many white radicals – cannot afford the luxury of being unclear about the nature and interests of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist order. It is and will be the primary enemy.

“The slogan “to protect and serve – capital, ” not only applies to the occupation forces that police the racialized colonies inside the U.S. but also the role of the U.S. military abroad.”

On Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the attack in New York city and before it was clear what forces were behind the attack, neoconservative pundits revealing the pre-determined strategy that was to guide U.S. policy in the 21st century, were forcefully arguing that the U.S. must be prepared to use force in the world and in the immediate period to declare war on “militant Islam.” The countries identified for immediate attack included Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Iran, with China thrown in as well.

Permanent war and lawless gangsterism to protect and advance U.S. global economic and political interests was codified in the National Security Strategy (NSS) issued by President Bush on Sept. 21, 2002.

And while the pursuit of that strategy made President Bush the symbol of U.S. arrogance and generated vociferous liberal and progressive opposition, Barack Obama has faithfully carried out that very same neocon strategy becoming the smiling brown face of U.S. polices as morally repugnant as his predecessor – but without progressive, popular opposition.

However, the lack of moral outrage and opposition to the reactionary policies of Barack Obama is changing and will change even more rapidly as the new generation of black activists shift the center of oppositional politics back to the radical black tradition.

When/if that happens, there will be a much needed rebirth of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement and radical activism in the U.S. will take a qualitative leap forward.

[Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com.]

 

[No Logo?] Perils of the Keystone XL Pipeline Confront Obama by Ralph Nader

forward climate3obama3obama-hi-res-logo-capsobama2forward climate 350.orgforwardforward climate black

‘Forward on Climate’ images in above Obama logo montage (found on Greenpeace and 350.org websites). ForwardOnClimate.org (Feb 17, 2013 rally) was presented by 135 different organizations and their members, including 350.org, the Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus, Greenpeace, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Green For All and Forecast the Facts.

Above: What ever happened to No Logo? One may wish to ask 350.org’s Naomi Klein why brand recognition is so important to corporate power. In her book No Logo, Klein described branding as a “fetish strategy”.

Iconic brands are defined as having aspects that contribute to consumer’s self-expression and personal identity. Brands whose value to consumers comes primarily from having identity value are said to be “identity brands”. Some of these brands have such a strong identity that they become more or less cultural icons which makes them “iconic brands”. Many iconic brands include almost ritual-like behaviour in purchasing or consuming the products.

There are four key elements to creating iconic brands (Holt 2004):

  1. “Necessary conditions” – The performance of the product must at least be acceptable, preferably with a reputation of having good quality.
  2. “Myth-making” – A meaningful storytelling fabricated by cultural insiders. These must be seen as legitimate and respected by consumers for stories to be accepted.
  3. “Cultural contradictions” – Some kind of mismatch between prevailing ideology and emergent undercurrents in society. In other words a difference with the way consumers are and how they wish they were.
  4. “The cultural brand management process” – Actively engaging in the myth-making process in making sure the brand maintains its position as an icon. [Source: Wikipedia]

WKOGFeb13

The Nader Page

by RALPH NADER

Feb 21, 2013

Bill McKibben, a prolific writer and organizer on global warming and climate change, has had a busy year teaching environmentalists not to despair and will soon be learning some lessons himself.

Revealed: The Day Obama Instructed the Big Greens to Keep Silent on Climate Change

“My most vivid memory of that meeting is this idea that you can’t talk about climate change,” said Jessy Tolkan, who at the time was a leader of the climate youth movement, Power Shift.

 

“On a separate note, I’m curious what new ‘directives’ from the White House this time around might be for the climate movement, from one of those exclusive insider events, you know?  Those insiders among you, mind to share with the rest of us a little sooner this time, than the end of the second term?  Or do we still have to deduce from the unified talking points among you?  On National Public Radio a progressive movement leader explained that, at the beginning of Obama’s first term, he couldn’t be pushed very much, because he had to avoid jeopardizing the chances for his second term.  That’s why we needed to vote for him again, so that now he can really fight for us!  You see, keeping his job in the Oval Office is so much more important than the fate of the world, and savvy movement leaders can obviously agree with that.” – Scientist Maggie Zhou

Revealed: the day Obama chose a strategy of silence on climate change

Sandy has blown climate change back on the agenda – and many believe the White House was wrong when it decided in 2009 that climate change was not a winning political message

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent

guardian.co.uk

Barack Obama

Barack Obama: a 2009 off-the-record event marked a strategic decision by the White House to downplay climate change. Photograph: Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis

The invitation to the White House in the spring of 2009 struck Barack Obama‘s allies in the environmental movement as a big moment: a clear sign that climate change was on his radar and that the president was eager to get to work.

The event was indeed a turning point, but not the one campaigners expected. Instead, it marked a strategic decision by the White House to downplay climate change – avoiding the very word – a decision some campaigners on the guestlist say produced the strange absence of climate change from the 2012 campaign, until hurricane Sandy blew it right back on the political agenda.

The storm – which interrupted campaigning for three of the last eight days of the presidential race – may even prove the decisive factor in the elections, with voters watching how Obama handles Sandy’s aftermath. The devastation has already sparked debate about America’s present-day vulnerability to climate change.

But back in 2009, the off-the-record event with the White House green team at the old executive office building offered the first chance for the White House to share its plans for getting a climate change law through Congress. Aides handed round a one-page memo of polling data and talking points.

“It was in the context of the financial collapse. With everyone struggling, how do we connect with the public and build political support when everyone’s mind was on the very scary economy,” said Betsy Taylor, president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions an organisation that works with philanthropic and non-profit clients, who attended the meeting.

The answer was clear: climate change was not a winning message. Raising the topic would also leave Obama open to attack from industry and conservative groups opposed to intervention in the economy.

“What was communicated in the presentation was: ‘This is what you talk about, and don’t talk about climate change’.” Taylor said. “I took away an absolutely clear understanding that we should focus on clean energy jobs and the potential of a clean energy economy rather than the threat of climate change.”

The message stuck. Subsequent campaigns from the Obama administration and some environmental groups relegated climate change to a second-tier concern. After industry and conservative groups mobilised to attack Obama’s policies and climate science in the summer of 2009, the topic was seen as an even greater liability and politically toxic.

There was no mention of climate change during six hours of televised debate. Moderators failed to bring up the question, and Obama and Mitt Romney made no effort to fill in the gaps – even during a long and heated exchange about offshore drilling and coal.

Romney’s convention speech reduced climate change to a laughline. Obama defended climate science at the Democratic convention, and he answered a question on climate in an MTV interview last month.

Otherwise, Obama mentioned climate only in passing and in front of safe or rock-solid Democratic audiences, such as fundraisers in San Francisco and New York or events on college campuses. Since Sandy’s devastating storm, a number of prominent Democrats like Bill Clinton and Al Gore have talked about climate change, and taken Romney to task on the issue.

Those gathered on 26 March 2009 to hear from key members of Obama’s green dream team — Carol Browner, then energy and climate adviser, Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Van Jones, then green jobs adviser, believed it would be a pivotal year.

The White House and both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats, world leaders were due to gather in Copenhagen in December to finalise a global climate change treaty.

But the economy was in meltdown. The White House, after studying polling and focus groups, concluded it was best to frame climate change as an economic opportunity, a chance for job creation and economic growth, rather than an urgent environmental problem.

“My most vivid memory of that meeting is this idea that you can’t talk about climate change,” said Jessy Tolkan, who at the time was a leader of the climate youth movement, Power Shift. “The real sense at that time was that talking about clean energy jobs, green jobs, was the way we were going to be able to gain momentum and usher in real change. Talking about climate change and global warming was not going to resonate as much.”

None of the principal White House officials would talk on the record about the meeting. The White House did not release materials related to the meeting or respond to a request for visitors’ records.

But most of the environmental groups were inclined to go along. “When the White House invites you to a meeting and says: ‘here is how we are going to talk about these things’, it sends a very clear message,” said Erich Pica, president of the US Friends of the Earth Action, who was also at the meeting.

Sierra Club, NRDC & Big Greens Thank Obama for Granting Drilling Permits to Almost all the Oil Resources in Alaska’s Reserve

“It’s like saying, without any irony: “Thank you so much for putting poison in my living room, kitchen and bathroom, but sparing my bedroom so my family can still cling to our ‘habitat’ that is ‘conserved’!  Thank you for being so considerate!  We’ll be sure to tell everyone to elect you again!”.  Never mind the contamination to air, headwater, groundwater, rain, the fragmentation of habitat, damage to biodiversity, and the threat of spills in these extremely sensitive ecosystems! – Scientist Maggie Zhou

 

October 30, 2012

Under the Obama administration, for the first time in history, production permits were issued to oil and gas corporations for drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, both onshore and offshore.

Of little surprise, Sierra Club [link], NRDC [link] and other “big greens” are asking American citizens to thank Obama for striking “a needed balance between responsible development and conservation of special areas within the Reserve.” [Direct quote taken from Sierra Club’s “Personalize Your Message” as found on their website, captured in screenshot below]

The Obama administration’s own press release states:

“The approximately 11.8 million acres that would be available for leasing under the preferred alternative – which makes the vast majority of projected oil resources in the NPR-A available for leasing – are estimated to hold approximately 549 million barrels of discovered and undiscovered economically recoverable oil and approximately 8.7 trillion cubic feet of discovered and undiscovered economically recoverable natural gas.” [Emphasis added]

So thank you Obama for eagerly bringing the total destruction of our planet’s climate and ecosystems.  And thank you, professional “environmentalist” sycophants, for, as always, not demanding what is actually necessary. We certainly do not expect these corporate cockroaches under the guise of environmental NGOs to crawl out of their funders’ deep pockets.

Of course this is nothing new. We have witnessed such faux “victories” before. Yet most remain unaware that many of the big greens behind The Tar Sands Action campaign (including RAN, Greenpeace, and the David Suzuki Foundation) are the same organizations that sold out the Boreal Forest in 2008 and 2010. (View this sublime 1 minute video with Greenpeace below or here.)

Most recently we have the “Defend our Coast” campaign (led by Greenpeace, Council of Canadians and 350.org) claiming thatTogether we will stop the expansion of tar sands tankers and pipelines to the West Coast.” [Emphasis added – note the language. There is no plan to shut down the tar sands but only to stop the expansion.]

Council of Canadians, working hand in hand with 350.org on this pipeline campaign makes their cautious position clear stating:

“Our campaign is an extension of our ongoing Energy and Climate Justice work. We continue to call on governments to ensure Canadians’ energy security and work to transition off fossil fuels, including the unsustainable development of the tar sands. Limiting additional pipeline capacity will force a slowdown of the current relentless pace of tar sands development. We approach the climate change crisis from a justice perspective, seeking to address its root causes, which include unsustainable production, consumption and trade that are driven by corporate-led globalization. Real solutions to the climate crisis must be based on democratic accountability, ecological sustainability and social justice.” [Emphasis added]

One who has little understanding of the non-profit industrial complex may find it ironic that as far back as 2009 when both climatologist James Hansen and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) United Nations called for the shutting down of the tar sands. Yet, as the climate crisis has accelerated at a pace that paints the grimmest scenario possible, instead of demanding what is necessary, almost 4 years after the bold statements by both Hansen & Pachauri, largely conservative individuals by most anyone’s standards, the so-called “leaders” of the climate movement “demand” stopping the expansion of/limiting additional capacity of tar sands tankers and pipelines and the stopping of KXL. The Keystone pipeline, by the way, was 2/3rds complete and in operation before the “KXL” campaign even began.

The shock and surprise routine on the pandering to corporate interests by NGOs is getting stale. It is easy to publicly voice one’s disdain of Obama, Romney, the Democrats and Republicans along with all of the different people (Euro-American’s leading the charge) and corporations/industries that are destroying the Earth. Yet the liberal left continues to be silent on the NGOs at the forefront of a dead movement who lead the sheep to the slaughter.

Also dull is the the self absolution that is doled out by the liberal left: “If Obama or Amerikkka would just invest in green energy. If we would just spend more money on green technology.” The liberal left continues to immerse themselves in fantasy. Lying to themselves and each other, when the truth is that there is no renewable energy source that will allow the west to live at the level that we are living today. Further, there is no renewable energy source that is not so carbon intensive in manufacturing that it will not affect the environment and climate. That’s it. End of story. The same person who is shocked at Obama’s decision is the same person who gets up in the morning and subconsciously goes about their daily lives absolved of any person of guilt for any carbon emissions because it is the “corporations that are all the problem”… yes, they are the problem… but the Western man is also.” – Forrest Palmer, WKOG

FLASHBACK: Obama Continuing to Spend $20 Million on USAID Subversion in Cuba

Granma

Havana, Cuba, June 16, 2011

by Jean-Guy Allard

WHILE the economic crisis is sentencing hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens to poverty, the Washington government continues channeling tens of millions of dollars into plans of interference whose ineffectiveness is well known.

This is the case with USAID subversion plots in Cuba which, according to analysts, have merely served to prompt the arrest and sentencing of one of the employee’s of this State Department body.

The U.S. administration’s obsession for programs costing $20 million to “promote democracy in Cuba” and which are a front for intelligence and destabilization activities, has come up against the decision taken by Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, to suspend funds for these programs on April 1.

The USAID programs aimed at Cuba and comprising “investments” in anti-government groups and intelligence have ineffectively cost $150 million from the 90s.

AVAAZ, Obama & the Makings of War Through Demonstrations and Humanitarianism

March 7, 2012

The KONY 2012 Campaign: A Tool to Advance the Call from “Civil Society” NGOs Who Have Urged Obama to Send “Military Advisors” to Uganda

updated March 11, 2012+++

+++“Mark Kersten from Justice in Conflict says Uganda’s recently-discovered oil reserves, “may produce between 2.5 billion to 6 billion barrels of oil. This oil is suddenly directly linked to the country’s security”, (cited by RT). Of course we understand that the US has never intervened in a country where there is no economic or military benefit.”

+++Check this out: Top left corner:

Mar 09, 2012

U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

FACT SHEET:

U.S. Military Support to African Efforts to Counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

http://www.africom.mil/

PDF:

http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=7698&lang=0

March 8, 2012
The UK Political activist and artist Lowkey, is dead-on in his assessment regarding the KONY 2012 video “sensation”:

This KONY 2012 youtube frenzy is US State Department propaganda. This is ALL about expanding AFRICOM. YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED. 2012 scramble for Africa.

 

This “KONY 2012” campaign is asking for MORE US troops to be sent into Africa. Look up AFRICOM and understand what this is part of. Your consent is being manufactured. Wake up!

 

When people are posting groups on this page calling for US troops to be moved from Afghanistan to Africa, then you know consent is being manufactured. This has more to do with attempting to combat the rise of China than arresting anybody. NO TO AFRICOM.

 

“[KONY 2012 is] Essentially putting forward a military fist but covering it up with the velvet glove of humanitarianism and development” KONY 2012 = AFRICOM”

 

KONY2012 AND THE IMPERIALIST SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA

Lizzie Phelan Blog

March 7, 2012

Samira Musa

Tweet what you will, but I find the sudden interest which sparked the #KONY2012 and #STOPKONY trends on Twitter both extremely suspicious and slightly patronising. The former, because of what this ‘discovery’ of child soldiers implicates for Africa in the long run, in particular, East Africa which has become a region of political importance with Britain planning to intervene in Somalia and the latter because this is not the first case of its kind. It is also rather distressing for me, as an African, to see my continent suddenly become a bandwagon and finally be of relevance after centuries of injustices being born there. Africa has been raped, murdered and pillaged by the West since the slave trade and has continued to be right up until this Kony malarkey so it begs the question – why do the West care? Did they care about Africans when they dragged us on bloody feet and chains and made our ancestors their slaves? Did they care when their companies illegally dumped nuclear waste on Somali shores? Or perhaps they cared deeply about the Coltan rush in the Congo?

I understand that to some, this video may be a shock, but to many it isn’t. It does not make it any less disheartening and disgusting but the message we should be sending is that ALL injustices are wrong, not the few that have the potential of justifying another Scramble for Africa because of its geographical or political relevance in a world that is slowly but surely being knocked down by the West in their plan to destabilise the Global South. And even if they are wrong, it gives no moral justification to any Western involvement because we all know what the outcome of such a mission will be. It will be Iraq, Libya and Syria. And civilians’ blood will be on the hands of all of those who called for this. I also find it astonishing that there is a genuine consensus in this country and in the West in general that *we* are somehow superiorly able to impose *our* military presence and our values on another people. This Western supremacist idea is not only foundationally ignorant and patronising but used as a tool to manufacture the consent of such adventures of governments and this should be challenged constantly.

Of course Kony is a dodgy and evil character, but surely we should have been able to a) know this before it became a trending topic on Twitter and b) been able to accept this WHILST also challenging the stance of groups such as Invisible Children who have been involved in very dubious business from the start. An organisation that has ‘direct military intervention’ as one of its aims is certainly one that should not be fronting this campaign or any other which involves Africa. Awareness is always a positive thing but this issue is way too complex and complicated than simply watching a thirty minute video or using a hashtag on social media. However, it is also simply not enough to sit on a fence and say that raising awareness for THIS particular campaign is your sole purpose without acknowledging the implications of your approval for “just anything to be done to save the poor African children!” (suggesting therefore assenting to Western involvement.) If you really care about Africa I suggest you rewire your brain into understanding how Europe and America actually underdeveloped Africa instead of jumping on bandwagons with no real comprehension of historical relations between the West and Africa. Unfortunately, there are no cleverly put together emotional videos on that which have worldwide attention as of yet.

Again, if you cannot see this timely campaign as a ploy and tactic to further destabilise Africa in order to pursue and maintain their interests as an imperial and colonial entity as well as to excuse and defend another Scramble for Africa then you, my friend, are very silly and probably shouldn’t be reading this. We never seem to learn from history and are constantly looking to the future for questions that have already been answered. The ‘poor little black kids’ don’t really need you to save them, as without you, they probably could have saved themselves.

Flashback to November 11, 2011 | Via Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch was integral in opening the door to the Imperialist, NATO-led invasion on Libya. Watch:”LIBYA Humanitarian War: The Role Of NED-Linked NGOs Using Fake Evidence For War Now Targeting Syria”: Video

Letter to President Barack Obama From Civil Society Representatives in LRA-affected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan

20 civil society groups in northern Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan write to President Obama, in regards to the announcement by the Obama administration to send 100  military advisors to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).This is not a letter from Human Rights Watch, but we believe it is particularly powerful.Dear President Barack Obama,We, the civil society representatives of Haut and Bas Uele districts in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Equatoria State in South Sudan, and Mbomou and Haut Mbomou prefectures of the Central African Republic, appreciate the announcement by your administration to send 100 well-equipped military advisors to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) menace in the region we live in and to help protect civilians. We also appreciate the LRA bill that was signed into law by your administration. Your efforts have given us hope that our dream of living without the threat of the LRA might come true.Yet we can only truly rejoice when the LRA threat is over and when we hear that Joseph Kony is no longer terrorizing our region. We have suffered too much and we are tired of living in total insecurity – afraid to go to our fields to farm and unsure when or where the rebels may surface again. We don’t know whether our children who were abducted by the LRA will ever come back home. You cannot imagine the pain in our hearts at the thought we might not see our children again.We write to you today to ask you to make special efforts on the issues outlined below which we believe are crucial to help end the LRA threat and provide protection and assistance to our communities.Regional Cooperation to protect civilians and end the LRA threat
We fear that the goodwill shown by the American government will only be effective if our own governments recognize the ongoing LRA threat in our countries and fully commit to meaningful and active cooperation in efforts to protect civilians and end the LRA threat.We feel that our own governments have abandoned and forgotten us, and it only discourages us further when we hear statements from our elected leaders that the LRA is no longer a threat. In Congo, senior government and military commanders deny the existence of the LRA and have made calls for the Ugandan army to end operations against the LRA in Congo; some Ugandan army units have already been pushed out of Congo. In Central African Republic, our government has other priorities and has failed to support or protect the population of the eastern Mbomou region as we continue to live with the LRA scourge. In South Sudan, the local government of Western Equatoria State has shown an interest in supporting efforts to end the LRA threat, yet we have seen no commitment from our new national government to address the problem and support populations in the affected areas.We urge you to use all available channels of diplomacy to pressure our governments to recognize the LRA threat and to make addressing the problem one of their top priorities.Greater Civilian ProtectionYour administration’s action should also include a practical solution for civilian protection, in order to avoid a repeat of what happened following the launch of Operation Lightning Thunder, when nearly 1,000 people were brutally massacred during the Christmas period in 2008, just after the failed assault on the LRA’s main base in Garamba National Park. Since those attacks, thousands of our brothers, sisters, parents, and children have been abducted, killed, raped, and maimed by Joseph Kony’s LRA.We would like to call your attention, in particular, to the continued lack of protection in Bas Uele district, northern Congo, and in most parts of eastern Central African Republic, where we continue to suffer some of the worst LRA attacks and where, to date, there is no international peacekeeping presence. Because of the poor roads and lack of communication in these areas, it often takes weeks or months before attacks are reported, and some attacks have never been reported at all.

On September 29, for example, about 15 LRA combatants suspected to be in the same group as LRA leader Joseph Kony attacked the village of Lingou, near Derbissaka, in CAR, killing the village chief and abducting three men. Four nearby villages were abandoned after the attack, as people fled in fear. Civilians in this remote region have no protection from LRA attacks, and often no means of communicating with others to call for help.

Improved collaboration and information sharing among the different actors and the local communities in the affected region is critical. Early warning systems have been put in place in many of our communities. We ask you to ensure they are everywhere they need to be. In particular, we ask you to help ensure that telephone networks are set up in the areas affected by the LRA and that efforts are made to improve the road infrastructure in our regions.

Supporting Well-Disciplined, Responsible National Armies

Our national armies are also in need of support. We would like to recognize the positive impact of the training the US has already provided to one Congolese army battalion operating in the LRA-affected area, and we hope you can provide training for additional units, and commanding officers, of the regional armies that will take part in counter-LRA operations, as well as additional logistical support.

Too often, the soldiers of our national armies have resorted to killing, raping, and looting civilians, making them a threat to the populations they’re supposed to be protecting. Lacking communications, transport, and ammunition, our soldiers are often forced to flee with the population when the LRA attacks. We hope you can help ensure that our national armies send only well-trained, well-equipped, and disciplined forces and commanding officers to protect civilians in the LRA-affected areas. Those responsible for abuses should be held to account.

Demobilization and Rehabilitation

We also urge you to support efforts to expand LRA sensitization and demobilization efforts throughout the affected region, especially in CAR, and long-term rehabilitation assistance to returnees and ex-combatants.

Please help regional governments and communities ensure that recovery programs similar to those instituted in northern Uganda are also introduced in the three currently affected countries.Existing rehabilitation centers in Yambio, South Sudan, and a new pilot center in Dungu, Congo, should be strengthened, and a similar rehabilitation center should be established in CAR. Local associations in more remote villages should be trained and supported to conduct long-term follow-up with returnees after they return to their homes, including psychosocial support, family mediation, education support, and economic reinsertion into their communities.

We also urge you to work with other actors to help ensure that children who escape from the LRA make it back to their home communities as quickly as possible. Lastly, we hope you can support community funds to rebuild towns or villages attacked by the LRA, such as repairing schools, hospitals and other infrastructure which may have been destroyed.

Of all that we ask of you, what we want the most is an end to these LRA atrocities. Our communities are traumatized, and we have never before in our region experienced such levels of fear, loss, and suffering. We want to end the LRA problem so we can finally return to our normal lives.

Your Excellency, we know that your intervention can help to bring an end to the LRA insurgency, since Joseph Kony and his brutalities, especially against children, are an affront to all of humanity. We thank you again for the support you have already shown us, and we urge you to remain with us until the LRA threat and its devastating consequences are resolved once and for all.

Yours sincerely,

1.         Association africaine de défense des droits de l’homme (ASADHO), Kinshasa, RDC
2.         Association des victimes de la LRA, Obo, RCA
3.         Association Zereda, Obo, RCA
4.         Commission Diocésaine pour la Justice et la Paix (CDJP), Dungu, Haut Uélé, RDC
5.         Commission Diocésaine pour la Justice et la Paix (CDJP), Duru, Haut Uélé, RDC
6.         Commission Diocésaine pour la Justice et la Paix (CDJP), Ngilima, Haut Uélé, RDC
7.         Commission Paroissiale pour la Justice et la Paix (CPJP), Bangadi, RDC
8.         Communauté des Églises Évangéliques en Centrafrique (CEEC), Zemio, RCA
9.         ECS Nzara Diocese, Yambio, South Sudan
10.       Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan
11.       Société civile d’Ango (SOCIDA), Bas Uélé, RDC
12.       Société civile de Doruma, Haut Uélé, RDC
13.       Société civile de Faradje, Haut Uélé, RDC
14.       Société civile de la Chefferie Mopoy (SOCICOMO), Banda, Bas Uélé, RDC
15.       Société civile de Poko (SOCIPO), Bas Uélé, RDC
16.       Solidarité et Assistance Intégrale aux Personnes Démunies (SAIPED), Dungu, RDC
17.       Traumatisme blessure du Cœur, Zemio, RCA
18.       Union des Jeunes de Doruma pour le Loisirs (UJDL), Doruma, Haut Uélé, RDC
19.       Union of Journalists of South Sudan, Yambio, South Sudan
20.       Unity Is Strength, Yambio, South Sudan

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/11/letter-president-barack-obama-civil-society-representatives-lra-affected-areas-democ

FLASHBACK TO OCTOBER 20, 2011: The Son of Africa claims a continent’s crown jewels

On 20 October, 2011 award winning journalist Jon Pilger published the article titled “The Son of Africa claims a continent’s crown jewels”. Excerpts:

 

On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only “engage” for “self-defence”, says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way. …

 

In Africa, says Obama, the “humanitarian mission” is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord’s resistance Army (LRA), which “has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa”. This is an accurate description of the LRA, evoking multiple atrocities administered by the United States, such as the bloodbath in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa’s most venal tyrant.

 

Obama’s other justification also invites satire. This is the “national security of the United States”. The LRA has been doing its nasty work for 24 years, of minimal interest to the United States. Today, it has few than 400 fighters and has never been weaker. However, US “national security” usually means buying a corrupt and thuggish regime that has something Washington wants. Uganda’s “president-for-life” Yoweri Museveni already receives the larger part of $45 million in US military “aid” – including Obama’s favourite drones. This is his bribe to fight a proxy war against America’s latest phantom Islamic enemy, the rag-tag al Shabaab group based in Somalia. The RTA will play a public relations role, distracting western journalists with its perennial horror stories. …

 

The de facto conquest of Libya by the US and its imperial partners heralds a modern version of the “scramble for Africa” at the end of the 19th century.

 

Like the “victory” in Iraq, journalists have played a critical role in dividing Libyans into worthy and unworthy victims. A recent Guardian front page carried a photograph of a terrified “pro-Gaddafi” fighter and his wild-eyed captors who, says the caption, “celebrate”. According to General Petraeus, there is now a war “of perception… conducted continuously through the news media”.

 

For more than a decade the US has tried to establish a command on the continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful of the regional tensions this would cause. Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo,  provide the main chance. As WikiLeaks cables and the US National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120. As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s “defence strategy” plan, America simply wishes to rule the world.

 

That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the  “Son of Africa”, is supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in ‘Black Skin, White Masks’, what matters is not so much the colour of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray.

 

Read the full article here.

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