CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
As George Orwell so eloquently stated, “Truth is the first casualty of war.” Indeed, lying is absolutely necessary to the ability of countries such as the U.S. aiming to wage unprovoked war upon other countries – the worst form of human rights crime as recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal which noted that it is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Given that the U.S. is currently attempting to wage actual war, as well as to carry out acts of war (such as embargos or other forms of economic strangulation), against numerous countries, one is subject to a constant barrage of lies from the U.S. government to justify such acts.
In light of the foregoing, I thought it was important to set forth some truths (though, of course, not an exhaustive list) which undermine the U.S.’s cause for war throughout the world.
1. Gaddafi Troops Did Not Engage In Mass Rapes.
One of the big lies of 2011 (though hard to believe on its face) was that told by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about Libya as a means to justify regime change in that country – a goal not authorized by either the U.S. Congress or the UN. Thus, with a straight face, Ms. Clinton told the press that Gaddafi was passing out Viagra to his troops so they could go out and rape dissidents en masse, and that the troops were indeed engaging in mass rapes. Of course, the compliant media was more than happy to spread such outlandish accusations. What the press was more reluctant to do was to publish Amnesty International’s later report that there was absolutely no factual support for these accusations. As Amnesty International reported, “Not only have we not met any victims, but we have not even met any persons who have met victims.”
2. The NATO-backed Libyan Rebels Have Committed Egregious Human Rights Abuses. Ironically, the NATO-supported rebels themselves did engage in verifiable acts of rape against civilians, as well as the targeted arrests, displacements and disappearance of black Africans (as opposed to Arabs) living in Libya. The most notorious such case was the military assault on the black African town of Tawarga in which the rebels emptied the entire town of its 10,000 residents, forced them into a refugee camp and then burned down the refugee camp. The rebels justified their racist attacks on black Africans upon the claim that they were serving as mercenaries for Gaddafi. This claim also proved to have no factual basis, but again, this did not stop the press from reporting it over and over.
3. The U.S. Has Been Involved In Violent Attacks In Iran for Years.
Hillary Clinton told another big whopper this past week when she adamantly denied “any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.” Indeed, the U.S. has been supporting terrorist attacks within Iran for years. As Seymour Hirsch reported as far back as 2008 in a New Yorker piece, the U.S. has been supporting the terrorist group “Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K” for some time. As Hirsch noted, “The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States.” In addition, as Hirsch related back in 2008, the U.S. has been supporting “The Kurdish party, PJAK, which has . . . has been operating against Iran from bases in northern Iraq for at least three years.”
4. The U.S. Was An Enemy of Democracy & Human Rights In Iran for Over a Quarter of a Century.
While the U.S. points to provocative acts committed by Iran since its revolution in 1979 to justify the continued vilification of that country, what it wants you to forget is that the conflict with Iran began in 1953 and was started by the U.S. itself. Thus, in 1953, the U.S. instigated a coup against the democratically-elected president of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh (whose crime was to nationalize British oil companies), and replaced him with the despotic Shaw who ruled Iran for the next 26 years. The Shaw ruled Iran through his brutal and torturous Savak – the secret police force which was created by and funded by the U.S. until the 1979 Iranian revolution. In short, Iran has a lot to be angry with the U.S. about.
5. The U.S. Began The Conflict in Afghanistan That Helped Spawn al Qaeda.
While one would believe from the press that the Soviet Union ignited the conflict in Afghanistan by invading that country in 1979, and that the U.S. reacted by supporting covert operations by the Mujahidin – the Mujahidin, who counted Osama bin Laden as one of its leaders, later becoming the nucleus of al Qaida – this is not true. Indeed, the reverse was true. Such covert operations were started by the U.S. before the Soviet Union invaded, and in fact were designed to draw the Soviets into a “Vietnam-like quagmire.” U.S. National Security Adviser Zbignew Brzezinski admitted this later, stating in an interview: “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day the Soviets officially crossed the border I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupported by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire.”
6. The Worst Human Rights Abusers in the Western Hemisphere Are U.S. Allies
While the U.S. government and press constantly vilify Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua by criticizing their human rights policies, allies of the U.S. in the region are by far the worst abusers of human rights. The country with the worst human rights situation in the Americas is Colombia, which also happens to be the U.S.’s number one ally in the Hemisphere and one of the top recipients of U.S. military aid in the world. Colombia’s human rights record is horrendous from top to bottom. Thus, largely because of the forced displacement carried out by the Colombian military and its paramilitary (death squad) allies, Colombia has the largest internally displaced population in the world at over 5 million; Colombia has around 7500 people in prison who can be characterized as political prisoners or prisoners of conscience (compared to the one hundred or so such prisoners which Cuba’s harshest critics allege it has); the paramilitary allies of the Colombian government have killed around 150,000 civilians since the mid-1990’s and have disappeared around 50,000 civilians. In terms of government violence against its own people, close U.S. ally and military recipient Mexico currently runs second to Colombia with about 47,000 civilians killed in the so-called “drug war” being run jointly by the U.S. and Mexico. However, the country that historically tops all of these countries for anti-civilian violence is Guatemala whose U.S.-sponsored military dictatorship (a dictatorship installed by the U.S. back in 1954) killed around 200,000 civilians, mostly Mayan Indians, during the civil war in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is relevant because the new President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, was a general during this period, was personally responsible for egregious human rights abuses against civilians, and, of course, was supported by the U.S. in his recent candidacy.
7. Cuba Has Played One of the Greatest Humanitarian Roles in the World, Especially given its small size and scant resources.
While the U.S. continues to paint Cuba as some member of an imaginary “axis of evil” in the world, Cuba has given selflessly of itself to better the world even despite the U.S.-imposed embargo which has brought the Cuban economy to a near breaking point. Cuba has sent more doctors throughout the world to minister to the poor than even the World Health Organization. In Haiti, Cuba’s medical aid through its doctors, who were on the ground years before the earthquake of 2010, has been critical in fighting the outbreak in cholera in that country. Even the New York Timesrecently acknowledged this in a November 7, 2011 article entitled, “In Haiti’s Cholera Fight, Cuba Takes Lead Role.” This is contrasted to the U.S. which, despite its puffery, has done little to aid Haiti with medical or humanitarian assistance after the earthquake, and instead sent about 14,000 troops to repress the restless population.
One could of course go on, but this at least gives a flavor of how the world is not as the U.S. and its media mouthpieces portray it. The U.S. is not the “world’s policeman” or the spreader of democracy and human rights that it claims to be. Rather, it has done much more to undermine democracy, human rights and even stability, than it has done to promote these conditions. This is a critical reality to keep in mind as the U.S. tries to start the next war based upon lies, usually premised on false claims that it is trying to protect human rights. Of course, if past is prologue, the U.S. will be allegedly attempting to promote human rights through the greatest violation of human rights a state can commit – the invasion of another country.
Daniel Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer living in Pittsburgh. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.