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The Forgotten Past Will Always be Repeated

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So said George Santayana.

It is difficult today to look at many, many situations in the world and not see some of the worst events in history being repeated, especially as they relate to racism and genocide. Has the world forgotten Nazi atrocities against Jews, Gypsies, intellectuals and others? Do we not remember the horrific U.S. bombing of two Japanese cities? Are Churchill’s colonial atrocities no longer worth considering?

We will review some of the most egregious events unfolding in front of us today.

Israel: This racist, apartheid state, which, for over 70 years has brutally oppressed the Palestinian people, this year declared itself the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people. Yet 25% of people who live within the borders of the Zionist entity are not Jewish. And despite marginalizing fully one-quarter of its residents, and relegating them to second-class citizen status, government spokespeople have the nerve to proclaim Israel as a democracy.

And what international outrage does this bring? Despite flagrant and constant violations of international law, not to mention common human decency, most of the countries of the world either ignore it all, or issue gentle rebukes, at best. And the world’s media seldom reports on it.

Myanmar: For several years now, the repression and expulsion of the Rohingya people has been ongoing government policy. A United Nations study of August 2018 found evidence of widespread violations of human rights. As of that date, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya people have had to flee their homeland due to the brutal persecution they have experienced. The U.N. study stated that military abuses of the Rohingyas “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.” Yet, like Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians, this gets little press in North America.

India: Earlier this year, the government of India revoked Article 370 in the constitution that allowed occupied Kashmir some limited autonomy. Since that time, tens of thousands of Indian troops have stormed into Kashmir, communications with the outside world have been cut, and news media personal are forbidden from entering. The death toll from this recent repression is unknown. Government officials have publicly announced plans to colonize Kashmir using the same model of land confiscation and illegal settlement construction that Israel has used for decades against Palestine. Again, one listens in vain for international opposition to these crimes against humanity.

Additionally, India has now passed a law easing the path for citizenship for many refugees, but making immigration by Muslims more difficult. This has caused widespread protest demonstration throughout India, which are being met with police violence.

Saudi Arabia: That nation’s brutal onslaught against the people of Yemen continues, with the Yemeni death toll in the thousands and constantly rising. A bill passed by the U.S. Congress to prevent the U.S. from selling more weaponry to Saudi Arabia (the largest buyer of weapons from the U.S.) for use in Yemen was vetoed by President Donald Trump, thus enabling the continued slaughter of the Yemenis.

United States: Undergirding all this is the United States. That nation provides huge amounts of financial support to apartheid Israel, as well as protecting it from the legitimate consequences of its action on the international stage. Government spokespeople talk of ‘monitoring’ the situation in Myanmar, and have been mainly silent about India.

But the U.S. remains busy: its decades-long sanctions against Cuba remain. Following some easing of restrictions during the administration of President Barack Obama, Trump has re-issued them all. His sanctions against Iran, in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and international law are causing great hardship for the people there. The U.S. supports the overthrow of the governments of Venezuela, issuing cruel sanctions against that country, and Syria, going so far as to actually arm, equip and train anti-government terrorist groups in the country, where, due largely to U.S. interference, hundreds of thousands of people have died, and hundreds of thousands more have been injured and left homeless. U.S. brutality toward the Yemenis has been mentioned above. The U.S. was involved in the recent overthrow of the Bolivian government.

Yet as recently as this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed that the U.S. supports the right of people everywhere to self-determination. He said this when announcing additional sanctions against Iran, the irony of it certainly being lost on him and Trump. Self-determination is all well and good in the eyes of the U.S. government, as long as certain conditions are met: the form of government the people select must not be socialist; it must be a government that will do the U.S.’s bidding; it must not be a government that thinks its country’s natural resources are its own; it must not question or oppose Israel in any way, and it must not put its people before U.S. corporate profits. It must, in all ways and at all times, be willing to do its part to satisfy the U.S.’s geo-political goals.

As we look at the results of forgetting, or not learning from, history, we should ask an important question: When similar behaviors, perpetrated by German, Italian and English leaders happened before, what was the result? Additional questions arise: Did Germany succeed in annexing its neighbors? Were Italy and England successful in achieving their political goals? No, the result of such behaviors was a war whose devastation exceeded anything that can be imagined. And it brought the United States into its role as a super-power, which has been detrimental for much of the world.

The U.S. has never been interested in human rights or international law. Those in power in that country have only coveted riches, and have been, and are, willing to obtain them in any way possible, regardless of how much blood must flow. And that blood can be of innocent men, women and children in a far-off country, or of its own citizens who it sends to war. It will attempt, however futilely, to order the world to its liking. And as people protest, all possible efforts will be made to crush them.

One thing the U.S. and many other nations have failed to learn is that people will only be able to tolerate the thwarting of their legitimate aspirations for a limited amount of time: they will not allow it to go on forever. Working to genuinely assist them will make more friends and allies, and ultimately be far more beneficial for the world than opposing them and oppressing them ever will.

Until the U.S. and other powerful nations learn this vital lesson, the suffering they cause will be unending.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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