Joe Biden and Co. demanded an instant fact checker for the now cancelled October 22 second debate with President Donald Trump. I can only imagine how this would be implemented. Perhaps with every lie, half truth and distortion enunciated by a debater, a flashing red light would appear, coupled by a graphic displaying a correction. Or maybe the experts will rig up a computer-generated voice over, hooked up to a massive machine that has been pre-programmed with all the knowledge accumulated since the beginning of civilization – something akin to the IBM’s Deep Blue chess machine that beat world champion Gary Kasparov on 1997? Just joking, of course. But not really.
Socialists have a habit when it comes to facts, especially “facts” of a political nature. We place them in historical context so that they are not isolated from social reality – so that they clearly reveal the operative class forces that largely determine the course of human events. Karl Marx said it well: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Bourgeois fact-checking may tell us who is the liar of the moment but never who represents the class that has oppressed, exploited, if not murdered, the vast working class majority whenever it appears on the stage of history to demand its rights.
Of course, there are available measures to democratize debates under capitalism like allowing working class candidates to participate as opposed to restricting debates to the candidates of the billionaire-backed elite. The same with ballot access, severely restricted by onerous signature requirements that, even when met, are routinely declared “insufficient” by compliant judges, who impose massive fines in the form of legal fees payable to the attorneys of the twin parties or to the state for “staff time.” Not long ago, a compliant California judge imposed $242,000 in legal fees against this writer and a few others for suing to have the names of our parties listed on the ballot when we had already qualified for ballot status. I was listed as “Jeff Mackler” only. In place of the space for party affiliation, the judge order the ballot designation, “declined to state” along with the $240,000 fine!
Monopolized corporate media
But what about fact-checking the highly monopolized corporate news media not only with regard to the utterances of lying and half-truth telling politicians but with regard to more serious issues of world import, as with the ongoing near genocidal wars of imperial devastation and conquest Two nations immediately stand out today, Venezuela and Iran.
Venezuela ranks first in the world in known fossil fuel reserves. Iran is not far behind. In the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and decades earlier and later, Venezuelan oil was largely owned by the Rockefeller family’s fiefdom Standard Oil of New Jersey and its ever-changing and increasingly monopolized reincarnations, today largely the ExxonMobil conglomerate. Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller’s $1.4 billion in olden-day money would be worth some $400 billion today, making his clan among the richest in the world. His heirs, especially Nelson Rockefeller, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, presided over U.S. policy in Latin America, including orchestrating one after another CIA coups that routinely installed dictators whenever an errant nation happened to elect a president who even considered casting a questioning eye on imperialist oil and other interests.
The same for Iran’s oil. Following the 1953 CIA coup there, Iran’s oil was largely transferred to U.S. corporate behemoths, future control guaranteed by the hated Shah Reza Pahlavi dictatorship, installed by the U.S. after the coup.
Today, it’s no coincidence that the U.S. embargo, blockade and sanctions against Iran and Venezuela are aimed at keeping their competitive fossil fuel production off world markets as well as reducing their populations to near starvation, their healthcare systems to near ruin and their people banned from receiving vital food and medical supplies.
Need we add the recent overt organization of a military coup against Venezuela accompanied by the Trump administration’s Democratic Party-supported appointment and official recognition of the right-wing Venezuelan crook Juan Guaidó as president? The overt U.S. theft of Venezuelan oil revenues deposited in international banks went unchallenged by the world’s compliant, usually U.S.-controlled, banking establishment as did the attempted blockade of Venezuela-bound ships delivering food and medical relief. The organization of CIA operatives in Venezuela, recently caught red-handed, preparing to bomb Venezuelan oil facilities and vital infrastructure, went unmentioned in the corporate media.
With regard to Iran, the now-admitted U.S.-sponsored assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists has been the norm, along with U.S.-Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear research facilities at Natanz and elsewhere. Bombing with impunity!
The January U.S. drone assassination near the Baghdad Airport of Major General Qassim Suleimani Iranian commander of the Quds forces in Iraq, operating there at the behest of the Iraqi government, was yet another U.S. imperial atrocity, compelling the Iraqi parliament to subsequently demand that the U.S. military, still an occupying army, leave their country.
Today’s media fact checkers fail to mention that the U.S. war against Iraq, allegedly over Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed, destroyed much of that nation’s infrastructure, murdered 1.5 million Iraqis by bombs and starvation-imposed sanctions, and appointed that nation’s U.S. overseer to preside over the U.S. corporate sequestration of Iraqi oil. Meanwhile, U.S. troops presided over the “election” of a new Iraqi government. That Iran dared to support the Iraqi forces resisting the U.S. imperial takeover went unmentioned by the U.S. media fact checkers. The overt blockade of Iranian shipping routes and U.S. militarization of Iran’s Persian Gulf seacoast is similarly justified by the kept corporate press.
Yet, the September 19 New York Times blithely reported, “The Trump administration is accusing Iran of “planning assassinations of American diplomats, announcing hacking indictments, preparing unilateral sanctions and denouncing Tehran for interfering in the November election.” Imagine that! The butcher U.S. imperialists, who orchestrated and financed an eight-year bi-partisan war, the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-88, that killed one million Iranians and 800,000 Iraqis, are accusing Iran of “planning” the assassination of U.S. diplomats. That the Iranian government would dare to announce hacking indictments against CIA-backed hackers that gained access to Iranian computers and proceeded to speed up and destroy Iranian research centrifuges and otherwise spy on every aspect of Iranian military and scientific endeavors, is unacceptable to the bully imperialists! U.S. agencies routinely spy on nearly every nation on earth, to mention, as Edward Snowden revealed, on the entire U.S. population. Joined at the hip with the Democrats, Trump and Co. now accuse Iran of interfering with the U.S. elections by daring to publicly oppose U.S. imperialist policies! And of Iran’s “preparing unilateral sanctions” against its overt imperialist-backed transgressors? How dare they defend themselves! Need we mention that the U.S. imposes deadly sanctions, effectively acts of war, against 37 nations today? By one count the number of U.S. wars of intervention over the past century are in the 700 range, but here’s a short list of some of the most recent in the past half century or so.
The CIA, secretly, and/or via the U.S. government directly, sponsored invasions, insurrections, coups and wars in Korea (1950), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Tibet (1950s), Vietnam (1954-75), Congo (1960), Laos (1960), Cuba (1961), Peru (1962), Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1964), the Dominican Republic (1965), Indonesia (1965), Ghana (1966), Guyana (1968), Cambodia (1970), Chile (1973), East Timor (1975), Argentina (1976), Jamaica (1980), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001- 2020) Ecuador (2000, 2010), Iraq (1999-2003 – present), Honduras (2009), Libya (2011), Egypt (2014), Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya, etc. (2012 to the present). I am certain that I have omitted several others. I am similarly omitting a full accounting of the multi-millions of lives taken when each nation was subjected to U.S.-orchestrated regime change wars, intervention and occupation. A few here will suffice: Vietnam, four million murdered; Guatemala, 400,000; Korea, two million; Indonesia, one million; Syria, 500,000; Chile, 80,000, Argentina, 70,000; Laos/Cambodia, one million, Nicaragua, 80,000…
With few exceptions, especially revolutionary Cuba, the result has been the installation of regimes subordinate to the interests of U.S. imperialism.