Inexhaustible presence, image of the dream fulfilled and truth of a country, Fidel continues to inhabit us from the survival, and emerging undefeated in the endearing memory of those who lived his time
Seven Novembers have passed since his physical departure and, however, Fidel continues to inhabit us since his survival, with that inexhaustible presence that emanates from his eternal and inescapable legacy, and from the endearing memory of those who lived his time.
And it could not be any other way, because as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz pointed out in 2016, in those days of collective mourning, in which a people mourned the loss of their greatest leader: «Fidel dedicated his entire life to solidarity and led a socialist Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble", thus becoming a symbol of the anti-colonial, anti-apartheid and anti-imperialist struggle, and a bastion of the emancipation and dignity of oppressed peoples.
Precisely about that image of Fidel, who does not fit into any mold of politician, statesman, thinker or revolutionary, because his true legend crossed all possible labels, there are hundreds of anecdotes that portray him in the immensity of his unparalleled greatness, and as the extraordinary man – of flesh and blood – who remains a true paradigm.
BE AN EXAMPLE AS A FIRST CONDITION
Fidel liked to lead by example. That attitude earned him, inside and outside Cuba, the admiration of those who had the good fortune to know him personally or to be under his orders, as happened to Commander Juan Almeida Bosque, fellow fighter and close friend of the historical leader.
«With him I learned to be fair, modest, respectful, humane and responsible. He led by example, and being with him complemented the attitudes and qualities that I brought from my family, from my father. "He is greatness personified, a humane and simple man," he would say in an interview.
Also the journalist Lázaro Barredo Medina would witness, on more than one occasion, that shocking ability of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, to overcome any sacrifice, and continue to be an example to his people.
An unfortunate event, which occurred on June 23, 2001, confirmed this. That day, after almost three days of intense work, in which the Commander in Chief had barely rested or fed properly, he fainted in Cotorro; but, when he recovered, he told the people that he would finish his speech at the Round Table, and so he did.
Barredo, who that day had heard the claim of senior leaders of the Party and the National Assembly of People's Power that Fidel should rest for at least seven hours, and abide by that agreement in his capacity as a militant, recounted his meeting hours later with Raúl and Fidel himself.
According to what he said then, when the Army General learned of the concern that existed regarding the Chief's rest, he smiled, turned to where the Commander was and said: "Fidel, you must listen to this story about Lazarus...
«(…) The Head of the Revolution asked him what story Raúl said I was going to tell him, and with some timidity I answered: it is nothing important, Commander, but he insisted that I tell him. I told him what happened in the National Assembly that morning. Fidel looked at me smilingly and blurted out: You know what, Lázaro... (he uttered an expletive and then) nothing of that, how am I going to let them at this point in my life come to govern me and tell me what I should do, when I still have so many things to do, nothing of that...
«I started laughing. But I had that feeling that the Commander would never renounce his style of work, and that idea of dedicating his life to the Revolution and his people.
THE FIRST IN THE FACE OF DANGER
Another anecdote, published by the Girón newspaper, recounts episodes of the heroic days in which a mercenary invasion tried to curtail Cuba's emancipatory dream, without taking into account that Fidel would once again be at the head of its defense.
There the Leader assigned a commander to each tank, and he went to get into the third. Then the people jumped like a spring:
«–Not you, Fidel, you are not going!
–I am going, I am in charge here!
–Not you, Fidel, not you!
According to one of those present at that time, the end of the discussion between the Commander in Chief and the troops ended like this:
«And Fidel's response was an answer that shocked everyone. The way Fidel told us forcefully that he was the head of the Revolution, and that he, as head of the Revolution, had the right to fight and enter Playa Girón just as the rest of the comrades were going to do ( …) people were silent, everyone there was silent. And Fidel left in the tank.
For his part, José Alberto León Lima (nicknamed Leoncito), who was the driver and escort of the Historical Leader, also highlighted, in a testimonial book in which he collects several of his experiences with Fidel, the respect they professed for him, even within the United States, where he went with no other protective vest than his morals.
About one of those trips that occurred in the first years of the revolutionary triumph, he said that in New York "...when we reached the street, there was a sea of people cheering for Fidel and the Revolution. Cuban and July 26 flags were seen everywhere, and those present spontaneously began to sing the National Anthem. The security cordon of FBI agents and police on horseback could not prevent Fidel from approaching them..."
For this amazing way of overcoming obstacles, and making even the impossible possible, Fidel also became a symbol
inspiring for artists, doctors, teachers, scientists and even athletes.
Boxer Ángel Herrera attested to this, who, upon returning triumphant from the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada (1976), in which he was crowned Olympic titleholder for the first time in the 57 kilogram division, had the honor of being received at the airport, along with other of his colleagues, by the Commander in Chief.
«I remember that he greeted us all and we shook his hand one by one. I had won the position at the last minute, since I went to complete the team. When my turn arrived, Fidel happily told me: "You went from youth to Olympic champion." That spurred me to get fully into training, and I did it so hard that I became a two-time world and Olympic champion. Never has praise stimulated me so much,” he said.
Likewise, the beloved athlete Ana Fidelia Quirot, when in 1993 she suffered a domestic accident that caused 2nd degree burns. and 3rd. degree of her, in 38% of her body, she said that the support of the Historical Leader was also key in her subsequent recovery.
«I was on the 22nd floor of the Quemados room, and it was more or less 9:30 p.m., I felt that someone was walking with very firm steps to the room... It was our beloved and invincible Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz. "When I saw it, it was like experiencing a hymn to life," she stressed.
No less emotional was the anecdote told by the Bolivian leader Evo Morales, during his stay in Cuba in 2005, when he was recovering from knee surgery. «I was at an event with Chávez and, at the end, Fidel called me for a “photo of the axis of evil.” When I hear it, I forget to pick up the crutches and walked like that; The doctors were surprised. It seemed like a kind of biblical order: “Evo, get up and walk,” he said.
And that is the image that remains alive of the Olive Green Giant, who never dies in the memory of the grateful.
His friend Hugo Chávez defined it well, when he stated: «Fidel is a dreamer soldier, an example without a doubt for all of us, for all generations of fighters in the world. Fidel has an infinite and gigantic face before history, and no one will take Fidel out of there. History has absolved him.
Sources: *I knew Fidel. Compilation of anecdotes and evaluations about the leader of the Cuban Revolution, by Wilmer Rodríguez Fernández, 2021/*This is Fidel, by Luis Báez, 2009/*A page for Fidel. Tribute to the Undefeated Commander of the Cuban Revolution, by Collective of Authors, 2017.
On the eve of Economist's Day, it is important to review some aspects of Che's core ideas on the Political Economy of Socialism and especially when for some the solution to current problems is to completely free the market and reduce the role of the State in the economy.
In the Constituent Congress of the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba (ANEC), in 1979, November 26 was established as Economist's Day, in tribute to the appointment of Ernesto Che Guevara on that date in 1959 as First President of the Bank. National of Cuba and with the commitment to follow their example.
Many times when talking about El Guerrillero Heroico the significance of his action and example is limited to his liberation struggles in Cuba, the Congo and Bolivia, without remembering that one of Che's essential contributions to the Cuban Revolution was his economic thinking. his work and conceptions on the construction of socialism, coinciding with the essential concepts of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in that field.
On the eve of Economist's Day, it is important to review some aspects of Che's core ideas on the Political Economy of Socialism and especially when for some the solution to current problems is to completely free the market and reduce the role of the State in the economy. .
Che Guevara defended that socialist construction cannot rest on the spontaneous functioning of economic mechanisms, but requires control, supervision and a counterpart in the ideological and political order, capable of guiding and directing human action at all levels. including ethical and moral aspects.
The writer of these lines was an eyewitness of an informal meeting, in 1964, between Che and the economics students of the Universidad de Oriente, for which he asked them to wait until one in the morning because he was involved in other activities in Santiago de Cuba.
There he proposed the necessary rescue of the role of accounting, of control, and anticipated the serious risks that he saw for the then Soviet Union and the Socialist Camp for neglecting the ideological work and the mechanisms that must guarantee the efficiency of socialism for the benefit of the large majorities of the population.
Since the triumph of the Revolution in January 1959, Che assumed a set of responsibilities in the sphere of the economy, in the direction of the Industrialization Department of INRA, the Presidency of the National Bank of Cuba and finally as Minister of Industries. starting in 1961.
In all these positions he carried out intense work, and demonstrated by his example the importance of studying even in the midst of the most complex responsibilities, just as Fidel would also do throughout his entire existence.
Thus, he immersed himself in the study of Capital with Anastasio Mansilla, a Spanish-Soviet professor considered an authority on Marx's work; He studied mathematics applied to economics with Salvador Vilaseca, a prominent Cuban university professor, and dedicated himself to researching what were then still almost unknown sciences in Cuba, such as linear programming and the incipient development of computing.
This entire process of gestation of Che's ideas is formed alongside multiple controversies in the socialist field.
Che assumes in his theoretical analyzes the challenges of a country like Cuba that begins the transition to socialism from underdevelopment, something not foreseen by Marx and Engels in their works, together with the continuous aggressions of the United States against the Revolution since 1959 itself. Thus presenting a theoretical-practical contradiction between the aspiration to achieve the necessary leaps in material productive growth and the also necessary changes in social consciousness for the formation of a new society based on new values, substituting those generalized by capitalist society, capable of assuming socialism in its double economic and ethical dimension.
For Commander Che Guevara, socialism is not only a phenomenon of production, but a fact of consciousness, the formation of a new man constituted within his ideas an essential objective that would have to be assumed from the very moment we began socialist construction.
And he specified: «The new society has to compete very hard with the past. This is felt not only in the individual conscience in which the residue of an education systematically oriented towards the isolation of the individual weighs heavily, but also in the very nature of this period of transition with the persistence of commercial relations. The commodity is the fundamental economic cell of capitalist society; As long as its effects exist, they will be felt in the organization of production and therefore in consciousness.
Che warned that "socialism cannot be built using the damaged weapons that capitalism bequeathed us" and that their use could lead society to a dead end. His assertions from the 60s became bitter realities, when those models of socialism collapsed upon reaching the dead end he warned of.
He pointed out that "voluntary work is fundamentally the factor that develops the consciousness of workers more than any other" and described it as "antidote to the selfish and individualistic attitude that the capitalist system enhances in man, through the mechanism of his insatiable consumer society.
Che was the creator of the so-called Budgetary Financing System, to contribute to centralized planning, programming and strict control techniques, the introduction of computing for management, and the use of the budget as a planning instrument.
Fidel pointed out on the 20th anniversary of Che's fall «(...) if we knew Che's economic thinking, we would be a hundred times more alert, even, to lead the horse, and when the horse wants to turn to the right or left (... ) give the horse a good pull on the bit and place it on its path, and when the horse does not want to walk, give it a good spur. "I believe that a rider, that is, an economist, that is, a Party cadre, that is, an administrative cadre armed with Che's ideas, would be more capable of leading the horse along the right path."
And he added: "I have the deepest conviction that if this thought is ignored it will be difficult to get very far, it will be difficult to reach true socialism, truly revolutionary socialism."
The Eviction Notice is being written. And it will come in four languages. Russian. Farsi. Mandarin. And last but not least, English.
A much-cherished pleasure of professional writing is to always be enriched by informed readers. This “eviction” insight – worth a thousand geopolitical treatises – was offered by one of my sharpest readers commenting on a column.
Concisely, what we have here expresses a deeply felt consensus across the spectrum not only in West Asia but also in most latitudes across the Global South/Global Majority.
The Unthinkable, in the form of a genocide conducted live, in real time on every smartphone in the third decade of the millennium – which I called the Raging Twenties in a previous book – has acted like a particle accelerator, concentrating hearts and minds.
Those that chose to set West Asia on fire are already confronting nasty blowback. And that goes way beyond diplomacy exercised by Global South leaders.
For the first time in ages, via President Xi Jinping, China has been more than explicit geopolitically (a true Sovereign cannot hedge when it comes to genocide). China’s unmistaken position on Palestine goes way beyond the geoeconomics routine of promoting BRI’s trade and transportation corridors.
All that while President Putin defined sending humanitarian aid to Gaza as a “sacred duty”, which in Russian code includes, crucially, the military spectrum.
For all the maneuvering and occasional posturing, for all practical purposes everyone knows the current UN arrangement is rotten beyond repair, totally impotent when it comes to imposing meaningful peace negotiations, sanctions or investigations of serial war crimes.
The new UN in the making is BRICS 11 – actually BRICS 10, considering new Trojan Horse Argentina in practice may be relegated to a marginal role, assuming it joins on January 1st, 2024.
BRICS 10, led by Russia-China, both regulated by a strong moral compass, keep their ear on the ground and listen to the Arab street and the lands of Islam. Especially their people, much more than their elites. This will be an essential element in 2024 during the Russian presidency of BRICS.
Even with no check out, you will have to leave
The current order of business in the New Great Game is to organize the expulsion of the Hegemon from West Asia – as much a technical challenge as a civilizational challenge.
As it stands, the Washington-Tel Aviv continuum are already prisoners of their own device. This ain’t no Hotel California; you may not check out any time you like, but you will be forced to leave.
That may happen in a relatively gentle manner – think Kabul as a Saigon remix – or if push comes to shove may involve a naval Apocalypse Now, complete with expensive iron bathtubs turned into sub-ocean coral reefs and the demise of CENTCOM and its AFRICOM projection.
The crucial vector all along is how Iran – and Russia – have played, year after year, with infinite patience, the master strategy devised by Gen. Soleimani, whose assassination actually started the Raging Twenties.
A de-weaponized Hegemon cannot defeat the “new axis of evil”, Russia-Iran-China, not only in West Asia but also anywhere in Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, and pan-Africa. Direct participation/normalization of the genocide only worked to accelerate the progressive, inevitable exclusion of the Hegemon from most of the Global South.
All that while Russia meticulously crafts the integration of the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea (Finnish hysteria notwithstanding), the Arctic and the Northwestern Pacific Sea and China turbo-charges the integration of the South China Sea.
Xi and Putin are gifted players of chess and go – and profit from stellar advisers of the caliber of Patrushev and Wang Yi. China playing geopolitical go is an exercise in non-confrontation: all you need to do is to block your opponent’s ability to move.
Chess and go, in a diplomatic tandem, represent a game where you don’t interrupt your opponent when it is repeatedly shooting itself on the knees. As an extra bonus, you get your opponent antagonizing over 90% of the world’s population.
All that will lead to the Hegemon’s economy eventually collapsing. And then it can be beaten by default.
Western “values” buried under the rubble
As Russia, especially via Lavrov’s efforts, offers the Global South/Global Majority a civilizational project, focused on mutually respectful multipolarity, China via Xi Jinping offers the notion of “community with a shared future” and a set of initiatives, discussed in lengthy detail at the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in Beijing in October, where Russia, not by accident, was the guest of honor.
A group of Chinese scholars concisely frame the approach as China “creating/facilitating global nodes for relating/communicating and platforms for concrete collaboration/practical exchanges. The participants remains Sovereign, contribute to the common endeavor (or simply specific projects) and receive benefits making them willing to keep on.”
It’s as if Beijing was acting as a sort of shining star and guiding light.
In sharp contrast, what remains of Western civilization – certainly with not much to do with Montaigne, Pico della Mirandola or Schopenhauer – increasingly plunges into a self-constructed Heart of Darkness (without Conrad’s literary greatness), confronting the true, irredeemably horrifying face of conformist, subservient individualism.
Welcome to the New Medievalism, precipitated by the “kill apps” of Western racism, as argued in a brilliant book, Chinese Cosmopolitanism, by scholar Shuchen Xiang, professor of Philosophy at Xidan University.
The “kill apps” of Western racism, writes Prof. Xiang, are fear of change; the ontology of bivalent dualism; the invention of the ‘barbarian’ as the racial Other; the metaphysics of colonialism; and the insatiable nature of this racist psychology. All these “apps” are now exploding, in real time, in West Asia. The key consequence is that the Western “values” construct has already perished, buried under the Gaza rubble.
Now to a ray of light: a case can be made – and we’ll be back to it – that orthodox Christianity, moderate Islam and several strands of Taoism/Confucianism may embrace the future as the three main civilizations of a cleansed Mankind.
Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation.
As part of our academic research on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are examining the extent to which U.N. member states adhere to the U.N. Charter and U.N.-backed goals such as the SDGs.
Towards this end, we have created a preliminary “Multilateralism Index” and welcome feedback and suggestions. The ranking of 74 countries according to the Multilateralism Index is shown below.
Barbados ranks highest, the U.N. member most aligned with the U.N. Charter. Though Barbados is a very small country, with just 280,000 people, its peaceful multilateralism gives it a big voice.
Barbados’ globally respected Prime Minister Mia Mottley, recently teamed up with French President Emmanuel Macron to co-host the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact for People and Planet, in Paris this past June.
This summit built on Barbados’ Bridgetown Initiative — named after the Barbados’ capital city — to reform the Global Financial Architecture to enable vulnerable countries cope with climate change.
At the very bottom of the ranking of 74 countries is the United States, with Israel being the second from the bottom. Both countries are frequently at odds with the U.N. multilateral system, as is so evident these days.
Regime Change & War
The U.S. fails to adhere to the U.N. Charter in several ways. The starkest is the many wars and regime change operations that the U.S. has led, without any U.N. mandate and often against the will of the U.N. Security Council.
In 2003, the U.S. tried to get the U.N. Security Council to vote for a war against Iraq. When the Security Council opposed the U.S., the U.S. launched the war anyway. As events later proved, the U.S. ostensible reason for launching the war, Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, did not even exist.
The U.S. has engaged in dozens of covert and overt regime-change operations that violate the letter and spirit of the U.N. Charter. One important study finds 64 covert regime change operations by the U.S. during the Cold War, 1947-1989. There have been many well-known U.S. covert operations since then.
The U.S. also goes it alone on issues of sustainable development. In 2015, all 193 U.N. member states adopted the SDGs to guide national policies and international development cooperation during the period 2016-2030.
Every U.N. member state is supposed to present its national SDG plans, challenges and achievements to the other nations, in a presentation called the Voluntary National Review, or VNR.
So far, 188 of the 193 U.N. member states have presented VNRs, sometimes more than once. Barbados, for instance, presented two VNRs in 2020 and 2023. Yet five countries have never presented a single VNR: Haiti, Myanmar, South Sudan, Yemen, and yes, the United States of America. South Sudan and Yemen are now on the list of countries to present a VNR in 2024, but not the U.S.
At this stage, the Multilateralism Index covers 74 of the 193 U.N. member states, the group for which we have collected extensive data on the governments’ efforts to achieve the SDGs. The Multilateralism Index is positively correlated with those SDG efforts, that is, countries abiding by U.N. processes (according to the Index) also demonstrate a strong commitment to the SDGs.
The Multilateralism Index is based on five indicators.
The first is the proportion of U.N. treaties between 1946 and 2022 that each country has ratified. As an example, Barbados has ratified more than 80 percent of major U.N. treaties, while the U.S. has ratified less than 60 percent.
The second is each country’s deployment of unilateral economic sanctions (sometimes called “unilateral coercive measures”) not approved by the U.N..
The U.N. General Assembly proclaimed in 1974 that “no State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights.”
The third measures each country’s membership in major U.N. organizations.
The fourth measures each country’s militarization and inclination to resort to war. The indicator draws on the excellent work of the Global Peace Index.
The fifth measures each high-income country’s economic solidarity with poorer nations, according to its Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a percent of the Gross National Income (GNI).
According to a resolution of the U.N. General Assembly in October 1970, high-income countries are supposed to devote at least 0.7 percent of GNI to ODA. The U.S., by contrast, devoted just 0.22 percent in 2022.
We combine these five indicators to produce the Multilateralism Index.
Our index, which is based on data up through 2022, has shown its predictive power. In recent weeks, in vote after vote, we have witnessed America’s self-isolation within the U.N.. To be multilateral within the U.N. system, after all, means to abide by U.N. precepts and the voice of the global community.
US Veto of Ceasefire in Gaza
On Oct. 18, the U.S. stood alone in the U.N. Security Council, when it deployed its veto to stop a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The vote was 12 voting yes, two abstentions and the U.S. alone vetoing the measure.
Similarly, on Nov. 2, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution A/78/L.5, which calls on the United States to end its long-standing economic, financial, and commercial embargo on Cuba. To put it mildly, this was not a close vote: 187 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while only the United States and Israel voted against.
Ukraine abstained, and three countries did not vote. Thus, the vote was 187 saying yes, two no, and one abstention. This year’s resolution follows 30 similar resolutions, dating back to 1993. The United States has ignored every single one of those U.N. General Assembly resolutions.
In a deeply interconnected and interdependent world, facing unprecedented and complex crises ranging from pandemics to wars to climate change, the need for multilateralism under the U.N. Charter is more urgent than ever.
No government can do it alone. Barbados sets the highest standard for others to achieve. The U.S. needs to recognize that the U.N. system, operating under the U.N. Charter, is the true “rule-based international order.”
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development.
Guillaume Lafortune is vice president and head of the Paris office at the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) — the largest global network of scientists and practitioners mobilized for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
This article is from Common Dreams.
The US and its allies will continue backing Israel's war on Gaza after a brief truce. But as the case for 'genocide' grows stronger, the new multipolar powers will have to confront the old hegemons and their Rules-Based Chaos.
While the world cries “Israeli genocide,” the Biden White House is gushing over the upcoming Gaza truce it helped broker, as though it's actually “on the verge” of its “biggest diplomatic victory.”
Behind the self-congratulatory narratives, the US administration is not remotely “wary about Netanyahu’s endgame,” it fully endorses it - genocide included - as agreed at the White House less than three weeks before Al-Aqsa Flood, in a 20 September meeting between Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe “The Mummy” Biden’s handlers.
The US/Qatar-brokered “truce,” which is supposed to go into effect this week, is not a ceasefire. It is a PR move to soften Israel's genocide and boost its morale by securing the release of a few dozen captives. Moreover, the record shows that Israel never respects ceasefires.
Predictably, what really worries the US administration is the “unintended consequence” of the truce, which will “allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.”
Real journalists have been working in Gaza 24/7 since October 7 – dozens of whom have been killed by the Israeli military machine in what Reporters Sans Frontieres calls “one of the deadliest tolls in a century.”
These journalists have spared no effort to go all the way to “illuminate the devastation,” a euphemism for the ongoing genocide, shown in all its gruesome detail for the entire world to see.
Even the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), itself relentlessly attacked by Israel, revealed - somewhat meekly - that this has been “the largest displacement since 1948,” an "exodus" of the Palestinian population, with the younger generation “forced to live through traumas of ancestors or parents.”
As for public opinion all across the Global South/Global Majority, it “turned” long ago on Zionist extremism. But now the Global Minority - populations of the collective west - are watching raptly, horrified, and bitter that in just six weeks, social media has exposed them to what mainstream media hid for decades. There will be no turning back now that this penny has dropped.
A former Apartheid state leads the way
The South African government has paved the path, globally, for the proper reaction to an unfolding genocide: parliament voted to shutter the Israeli embassy, expel the Israeli ambassador, and cut diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. South Africans do know a thing or two about apartheid.
They, like other critics of Israel, better be extra wary moving forward. Anything can be expected: an outbreak of foreign intel-conducted “terra terra terra” false flags, artificially induced weather calamities, fake “human rights abuse” charges, the collapse of the national currency, the rand, instances of lawfare, assorted Atlanticist apoplexy, sabotage of energy infrastructure. And more.
Several nations should have by now invoked the Genocide Convention - given that Israeli politicians and officials have been bragging, on the record, about razing Gaza and besieging, starving, killing, and mass-transferring its Palestinian population. No geopolitical actor has dared thus far.
South Africa, for its part, had the courage to go where few Muslim and Arab states have ventured. As matters stand, when it comes to much of the Arab world - particularly the US client states - they are still in Rhetorical Swamp territory.
The Qatar-brokered “truce” came at precisely the right time for Washington. It stole the spotlight from the delegation of Islamic/Arab foreign ministers touring selected capitals to promote their plan for a complete Gaza ceasefire in Gaza - plus negotiations for an independent Palestinian state.
This Gaza Contact Group, uniting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Palestine, made their first stop in Beijing, meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and then on to Moscow, meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. That was definitely an instance of BRICS 11 already in action – even before they started business on January 1st, 2024, under the Russian presidency.
The meeting with Lavrov in Moscow was held simultaneously with an extraordinary online BRICS session on Palestine, called by the current South African presidency. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, whose country leads the region's Axis of Resistance and refuses any relations with Israel, supported the South African initiatives and called for BRICS member states to use every political and economic tool available to pressure Tel Aviv.
It was also important to hear from Chinese President Xi Jinping himself that “there can be no security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine.”
Xi stressed once again the need for “a two-state solution,” the “restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine,” and “the establishment of an independent state of Palestine." This should all start via an international conference.
None of this is enough at this stage - not this temporary truce, not the promise of a future negotiation. The US administration, itself struggling with an unexpected global backlash, at best, arm-wrestled Tel Aviv to enact a short “pause” in the genocide. This means the carnage continues after a few days.
Had this truce been an actual “ceasefire,” in which all hostilities came to a halt and Israel's war machine disengaged from the Gaza Strip entirely, the next-day options would still be pretty dismal. Realpolitik practitioner John Mearsheimer already cut to the chase: a negotiated solution for Israel-Palestine is impossible.
It takes a cursory glance at the current map to graphically demonstrate how the two-state solution – advocated by everyone from China-Russia to much of the Arab world – is dead. A collection of isolated Bantustans can never coalesce as a state.
Let’s grab all their gas
There has been thundering noise all across the spectrum that with the advent of the petroyuan getting closer and closer, the Americans badly need Eastern Mediterranean energy bought and sold in US dollars – including the vast gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.
Enter the US administration's energy security advisor, deployed to Israel to “discuss potential economic revitalization plans for Gaza centered around undeveloped offshore natural gas fields:" what a lovely euphemism.
But while Gaza's gas is indeed a crucial vector, Gaza, the territory, is a nuisance. What really matters for Tel Aviv is to confiscate all Palestinian gas reserves and allot them to future preferential clients: the EU.
Enter the India-Middle East Corridor(IMEC) - actually the EU-Israel-Saudi Arabia-Emirates-India Corridor - conceived by Washington as the perfect vehicle for Israel to become an energy crossroads power. It fancifully imagines a US-Israel energy partnership trading in US dollars – simultaneously replacing Russian energy to the EU and halting a possible export increase of Iran's energy to Europe.
We return to the 21st century's main chessboard here: the Hegemon vs. BRICS.
Beijing has had steady relations with Tel Aviv so far, with lavish investment in Israeli high-tech industries and infrastructure. But Israel's pounding of Gaza may change that picture: no real Sovereign can hedge when it comes to real genocide.
In parallel, whatever the Hegemon may come up with in its various hybrid and hot war scenarios against the BRICS, China, and its multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), that will not alter Beijing’s rational and strategically formulated trajectory.
This analysis by Eric Li is all one needs to know about what lies ahead. Beijing has mapped out all relevant tech roads to follow in successive five-year plans, all the way to 2035. Under this framework, BRI should be considered a sort of geoeconomics UN without the G7. If you’re outside of BRI – and that concerns, to a large extent, old comprador systems and elites - you’re self-isolating from the Global South/Global Majority.
So what remains of this “pause” in Gaza? By next week, the western-backed cowards will restart their genocide against women and children, and they will not stop for a good long while. The Palestinian resistance and the 800,000 Palestinian civilians still living in northern Gaza - now surrounded on all sides by Israeli troops and armored vehicles - are proving that they are willing and able to bear the burden of fighting the Israeli oppressor, not only for Palestine but for everyone, everywhere, with a conscience.
Despite such a terrible price to be paid in blood, there will eventually be a reward: the slow but sure evisceration of the imperial construct in West Asia.
No mainstream media narrative, no PR move to soften the genocide, no containment of “public opinion turning on Israel” can ever cover the serial war crimes perpetrated by Israel and its allies in Gaza. Perhaps this is just what the Doctor – metaphysical and otherwise - ordered for mankind: an imperative global tragedy, to be witnessed by all, that will also transform us all.
Republished from The Cradle.
On 15 November, The Guardian caused a social media stir by removing a letter from its website written by the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, titled "A Letter to America." The missive, which had remained on the media outlet's site for over two decades, delved into the reasons behind the fateful 9/11 attacks on the US, which it said was a response to US injustices in Afghanistan, Palestine, and other parts of the Islamic world.
Bin Laden's letter went viral, and was heavily shared among American youth on social media platforms, with many agreeing with his message about malign US foreign policies in West Asian and prompting a reevaluation of the western narratives that have supported endless ‘wars on terror.’
This unusual incident might not have occurred had Israel not been bombing the occupied Gaza Strip mercilessly for the past six weeks. The Palestinian resistance's 7 October Al-Aqsa Flood operation in southern Israel - and Israel's disproportionate response to it - has thoroughly shifted global sentiment against Israel and its American benefactor, destroying decades of carefully laid western narratives and redirecting global ire at the US for its instigation of conflict, destruction, and terrorism in West Asia and beyond.
The battle for the Global South
The battleground for influence in the Global South has become a western priority, according to an article earlier this year in the Financial Times, which observed that "the fate of the democratic world will largely be decided in the so-called Global South."
This sentiment was echoed by US Vice President Kamala Harris at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), emphasizing the need for persuasion and partnership with Global South countries, especially those “on the fence.” Other western leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, have openly acknowledged the west's failure to address double standards, urging a new deal to win back the Global South.
Writings and statements throughout the year emphasized the urgency of developing a western strategy that respects Global South nations, addresses their concerns, and demonstrates a genuine commitment to collaboration. It is particularly daunting to address the global majority's prevailing belief that the west practices double standards through its much-ballyhooed ‘rules-based order.’
Roland Freudenstein, vice president of the European GLOBSEC Study Center, argues that “respectful communication must go hand in hand with concrete efforts to address the material issues and dependencies of the Global South."
Bloomberg published an article titled "The west must offer the Global South a new deal," where the author stresses that winning the battle against China and Russia requires the west to win over countries of the Global South by focusing on issues that matter to them. And Politico maintains that “to punish Putin, the west must talk to the Global South as partners.”
This may be nigh near impossible. Intelligence firm GIS Reports contends that “the west still misunderstands the Global South,” a fact made crystal clear when the collective west threw considerable weight behind Israel's destruction of Gaza.
The events of 7 October illustrated the elements the west sought to downplay: double standards, hypocrisy, and a self-centered approach.
Global South's diplomatic pushback
To counter Russia and confront China, the west has adopted the narrative of "defending the rules-based world order," a rallying cry employed by EU and the US during the Ukrainian war. However, the west's simultaneous support for Israel’s genocidal actions against Palestinians has exposed a selective application of international norms driven by geopolitical interests.
A Foreign Policy article warns that “the longer the Israel-Hamas war goes on, the greater the risk to western credibility in the global south becomes.”
The global majority's response to the war transcends the Palestinian issue, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Viewing the conflict through the lens of their own struggle against colonialism and imperialism, their anger has only consolidated and intensified with each passing week of the war. The inconsistency of the west, defending “blond-haired and blue-eyed” Ukrainians while arming the massacre of “brown” Palestinians in Gaza, has singlehandedly destroyed the efficacy of every single western narrative since World War 2.
To put this into perspective, the number of Palestinians killed in only one month has already exceeded the 9,806 civilian deaths in two years of war in Ukraine.
This disparity in human valuation is being strongly registered in the Global South. The question is whether it will seize this opportunity to seek retribution for decades of western-inflicted injustices, including this one in Palestine.
Indeed, public opinion in the Global South has prompted several heads of state to take action against the occupation state. Bolivia was the first to sever ties with Tel Aviv, while Belize suspended theirs. Elsewhere, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkiye, Chad, and South Africa withdrew their ambassadors.
Although the Global South has not yet spoken definitively, the aftermath of this conflict is poised to shape its perception of, and potentially, its relations with the west. Unconditional support for Israeli actions could trigger an irreversible backlash against Washington's critical interests in its strategic competition with Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran.
US soft power erosion
Perspectives from academic researchers offer a deeper understanding of some potential consequences. Brazilian scholar Lucas Goalberto do Nascimento, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, explains to The Cradle that:
"Most public opinion in the Global South will have a negative attitude toward the United States and its allies in support of the ongoing Israeli invasion. As a result, the Global South will view other powers that respect Palestinian statehood in a positive way, as they counterbalance the unilateral attempts to impose their will."
Dr Mario Antonio Padilla Torres from Cuba asserts that:
"The United States has always supported Israeli Zionism and is therefore also guilty of genocide against Palestinians. I believe that the United States will lose credibility in the world because of this war, and that China, Russia and other emerging powers will be more credible."
According to Dr Monogit Das, an Indian geopolitical researcher:
"A negative view of the United States in the Global South could create opportunities for other powers such as Russia and China to strengthen their influence, especially if they position themselves as advocates of a more balanced and principled approach to conflicts in West Asia."
Armenian researcher Ashkhin Givorjian also anticipates a negative view of the US in the Global South, potentially influencing government attitudes, while Maria Aniyukhovskaya, a researcher at Belarusian State University, advocates for world powers like Russia and China to intervene and become a lifeline for those impacted by unwanted Atlanticist intervention in regional conflicts.
Palestinian power and the Global South
Importantly, Israel's ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza has also dealt a severe blow to the west's longstanding efforts of cultivating soft power via the younger generation, whose embrace of the "western model's aesthetic" has been critical to manufacture consensus for a US-led global order.
What's certain is that the Global South, already deeply motivated to helm its own rudder in a multipolar world, is in a much stronger position to collectively reject the double standards, pressures, and diktats of Washington and its allies. The brutal mass murder of Palestinian civilians has not only refocused international attention on the Palestinian cause, but is also serving as a stern reminder that the collusion of just a few western states can pose an existential threat to the international community.
At a time when western leaders are seeking optimal strategies to regain influence in the Global South - after losing out to Russia during the Ukrainian conflict - today, Israel's actions have firmly thwarted all Atlanticist initiatives aimed at rehabilitating the west's “benevolent” image.
Essentially, the Palestinian resistance has dealt a severe blow to the collective western endeavor of securing influence in the Global South. If anything, as Israel's brutality continues unabated, the global majority is likely to more openly and stridently resist the rules-based paradigm, undermining the west's strategic objectives against rival powers.
The crucial question is whether Washington's competitors will seize this opportunity to further their own interests.
Forward Ever: 40 Years on from the End of the Revolution and the U.S. Invasion of Grenada. By: Amy Li BakshRead Now
In the throes of the Cold War, a tiny Caribbean island dared to wage a revolutionary experiment. As the Revo imploded, the United States invaded.
if it must be
you speak no more with me
nor smile no more with me
nor march no more with me
then let me take
a patience and a calm
for even now the greener leaf explodes
sun brightens stone
and all the river burns.
Now from the mourning vanguard moving on
dear Comrades I salute you and I say
Death will not find us thinking that we die.
With this poem, George Lamming, Barbadian novelist and poet, ended his address at a December 1983 memorial service in Trinidad for Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft, Norris Bain, Vincent Noel, Unison Whiteman, and all who had been killed during the abrupt end to the Grenada Revolution.
“It is the tragedy of a whole region which has brought us here,” said Lamming during his address. “The landscape of Grenada and its people are the immediate victims… But all of us are now the casualties of the American invasion.”
When an intra-party conflict broke out, leading to the killing of revolutionary leader Bishop and other victims on October 19, 1983, the Reagan administration seized the pretext to invade. On October 25, 1983, thousands of U.S. troops landed on the island.
This year, Grenada commemorates both 50 years as an independent nation and 40 years since the violent implosion of the People’s Revolutionary Government and subsequent U.S. invasion. For the first time, the government of Grenada has recognized October 19 as a national holiday, designated as “National Heroes Day.” Decades on, reckoning with the events of 1983 continues.
Writer Marise La Grenade-Lashley spoke at the inaugural National Heroes Day gathering, where she echoed sentiments expressed in her article in Now Grenada a year prior. “The shocking events of 19 October 1983, whose effects reverberated across the Caribbean and beyond, created deep psychological wounds that have never really healed. One coping mechanism adopted by some persons directly affected by the events of that fateful day has been to retreat in silence,” she wrote.
“While silence is a common reaction to trauma, it has, in the case of Grenada, created a void in our society that needs to be filled with factual and unbiased information related to those four and a half years during which Grenada embarked on an alternative path to development that crumbled so abruptly, so brutally, so tragically,” La Grenade-Lashley added.
The designation of National Heroes Day includes a mandate to bring the history of Grenada’s revolution to civics classes in Grenadian schools.
A Revolutionary Movement Provokes U.S. Ire
In 1979, Maurice Bishop and his New Jewel Movement (NJM) took control from the increasingly authoritarian regime of Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada’s first prime minister. Gairy, an ally of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet and creator of the notorious “Mongoose Gang” private militia, modelled after the Haitian Tonton Macoutes, had lost public support and remained in power through rigged elections.
The insurrection installed the NJM as the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), suspended the 1974 Constitution, and declared Bishop prime minister. The government’s first steps were to encourage trade union representation, introduce free medical services, and to prioritize education and adult literacy programs as well as projects benefitting small farmers and farmworkers.
One month into the PRG’s rule, Bishop gave a national broadcast after a visit from U.S. Ambassador Frank Ortiz. “The ambassador pointed out that his country was the richest, freest, and most generous country in the world, but as he put it, ‘We have two sides,’” said Bishop. “We understood that to mean that the other side he was referring to was the side which stamped on freedom and democracy when the American government felt that their interests were being threatened.”
Over the next four years, Bishop spoke often of the U.S. pressure on the PRG. He felt that the Reagan administration was seeking to destabilize the revolution through the media and through economic trade disruptions. The Monroe Doctrine had given way to the Reagan Doctrine, and closer Cold War ties from Grenada to Cuba and the USSR could not be tolerated. As Hugh O’Shaughnessy, a British journalist who was on the ground in Grenada when the invasion finally happened, put it: “The State Department and the Pentagon in Washington…had been seeking ways of putting an end to the left-wing government of Grenada.”
Meanwhile, the PRG was putting in place a variety of projects, one of which was a program—the National Cooperative Development Agency (NACDA)—to deal with the joblessness and landlessness faced by the country’s youth. Trinidadian-born Regina Dumas moved to Grenada in March 1980 to take up a role as registrar of cooperatives within NACDA. “It was like all my dreams had come true,” Dumas said when we spoke on October 17, a few days before the National Heroes Day celebrations. “Here I am, working with rural people, farmers, and listening to them talk, and realizing—these people know what they want.”
In her book, Memoir of a Cocoa Farmer’s Daughter, Dumas describes her work at NACDA, which involved helping to get privately held, uncultivated land into the hands of young prospective farmers tasked with reviving the local and export agriculture markets.
In those days, Dumas often took Sunday afternoon drives to visit the construction site of the new international airport. Supported by Cuba and other countries, the airport was one of the PRG’s flagship projects. “That the government of Cuba chose to support this initiative by providing a skilled work force…was the cause of much rancour with the United States which stridently opposed it,” Dumas writes in her memoir.
During a nationally televised address in March 1983, Reagan displayed a picture of the airport runway under construction. “The Cubans with Soviet financing and backing are in the process of building an airfield with a 10,000-foot runway,” he said. “Grenada doesn’t even have an air force. Who is it intended for?” The implication was clear. During the invasion later that year, the airport would be one of the locations bombed by the U.S. military.
The Revolutionary Government Implodes
Months away from the Revolution’s fifth anniversary, divisions within the PRG between Bishop and his deputy prime minister, Bernard Coard, began to come to a head. “Why, when they knew that the Reagan administration was poised to pounce at the slightest error made, would they play into their hands so easily?” said Dumas. “I dismissed, completely out of hand, the rumors that I heard as counter-revolutionary propaganda. What an error on my part!”
The rumors were becoming reality. Disagreements between Bishop and Coard over a plan for shared leadership turned sour, and Bishop was deposed and placed under house arrest in the first week of October 1983. On October 19, six days after Bishop had been placed under house arrest, Dumas recalls hearing the chanting of hundreds of Grenadians marching the streets in support of Bishop. “The plan, apparently, was to march to the residence of Maurice Bishop, where he was being held, confront the members of the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), who were holding him hostage, and forcibly, if necessary, free him from his temporary prison and reinstate him as prime minister,” she said.
After gathering her two children from school and returning home, Dumas watched in horror from her veranda as the march, which had successfully liberated Bishop, went to Fort Rupert (originally called Fort George, but renamed after Bishop’s father Rupert, who had been killed by Gairy’s Mongoose Gang in 1974). Once at Fort Rupert, they were faced with a hail of bullets. “Armored personnel carriers began to shoot directly into the crowd of people who were climbing the fort, singing and dancing with Maurice on their shoulders,” Dumas writes in her book. “With no other point of exit…I watched as people leaped over the edge of that fort, quite substantial in height, and into the crashing waves and rocks below.”
Within hours, Bishop had been executed alongside 10 others at Fort Rupert. General Hudson Austin issued a national announcement: “With immediate effect, and until further notice, anyone caught on the streets of St. George’s and environs will be shot on sight.”
The Invasion Strikes
For Dumas, the events were both political and personal. “They had killed the prime minister of the country and others of their own group and party. They had killed my friend Jacqui, thus leaving her young son an orphan,” she said. “They had decidedly opened up the gates to those who had always opposed the revolution.”
President Reagan ordered troops to invade Grenada on October 25. As O’Shaughnessy wrote: “At 6:40 on the morning on Thursday 27 October 1983 a platoon of U.S. marines edged nervously past the main branch of Barclay’s Bank in St. George’s, the capital of Grenada, towards Fort Rupert. They need not have worried. No resistance awaited them there.”
The arrival of the U.S. military brought a rain of bombings across the forts and levelled a mental health hospital, killing 30 patients and wounding many more.
Neville Warner, a Tobago-born son of a Grenadian family, recalls to me how the PRG had built a factory in St. George’s to begin producing mango nectar on a large scale for local consumption and export, as part of the government’s push to localize food production and reduce dependence on imports. The factory was one of the locations bombed as the U.S. troops landed. The space where it stood now hosts a factory producing Coca-Cola.
During the invasion, Cubans were rounded up from the Cuban Embassy and sent back to their homeland. In November, Fidel Castro would pay tribute to the Cubans killed in Grenada during the destruction of the airport. “The U.S. government looked down on Grenada and hated Bishop. It wanted to destroy Grenada’s process and obliterate its example. It had even prepared military plans for invading the island—as Bishop had charged nearly two years ago—but it lacked pretext,” Castro said in a speech in Havana. He lauded Grenada’s social and economic advances despite the U.S. hostility.
“Bishop was not an extremist,” Castro continued. “Rather, he was a true revolutionary—conscientious and honest…Grenada had become a true symbol of independence and progress in the Caribbean.”
The events that unfolded in Grenada would echo throughout the Caribbean and the world. With a quick military victory secured, the emboldened Reagan administration doubled down on counterinsurgency in Central America, supporting ruthless regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador and backing the Contras in Nicaragua. Six years after landing in Grenada, U.S. troops invaded Panama.
For La Grenade-Lashley, there’s more to be done in the work of remembering 1983 and the Revolution that preceded it. “Rather than lament the irretrievable, we can look to the future with optimism,” she writes. “To teach and enlighten our youth, accurate and unbiased information can be culled from the many books, articles and papers written on the Grenada Revolution.”
“We have heard of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions around the world,” she continues. “In Grenada, although we have had our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it remains vital that we pay closer attention to the ordering of these three words. Truth and reconciliation. Truth precedes reconciliation.”
Amy Li Baksh is a Caribbean writer, artist, and activist based in Trinidad and Tobago. Their academic background is in Caribbean history and literature with a particular interest in postcolonial social movements across the region.
This article is syndicated in partnership with the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
As part of its genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel is killing media workers at an unprecedented rate, seemingly to prevent the world from seeing the unspeakable atrocities it carries out.
Israel is intentionally assassinating journalists in Gaza. As it wages its genocidal onslaught on the enclave, having murdered at least 13,000 Palestinians so far, Israel is simultaneously killing media workers in order to prevent the world from seeing the unspeakable atrocities it carries out.
The situation at hand is as dire as it is unprecedented. Since October 7, the Israeli military has killed 60 media workers, according to the Gaza Government Media Office. The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated this is the deadliest month for attacks on journalists since it started keeping record in 1992. Additionally, many other Palestinian reporters outside of Gaza face intimidation and harassment by Israeli forces.
“We have never experienced anything like this and we are overwhelmed,” admitted Nasser Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, a Ramallah-based trade union representing Palestinian media workers. “We are losing colleagues and friends every day as a result of the ongoing Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people and the policy of targeted killing against journalists.”
“We can’t keep up with the number of attacks against our journalists,” Abu Bakr continued. “We are receiving more calls and information about … incidents than we can process. Our journalists have always been a target for the Israeli military, but Israel moved from killing [an average of] one Palestinian journalist a year before October 7 to killing [over] one a day.”
And it’s not just Palestinian reporters the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is attacking—any journalist who may potentially disseminate information critical of Israel is a potential target.
Among the long list of reporter casualties is Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah, who was killed by an October 13 Israeli strike on the Lebanese border while covering clashes between Hezbollah and the IDF. According to an independent investigation by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Abdallah was explicitly targeted by Israeli forces—he was clearly identified as a journalist through his press helmet and vest, and he was standing next to a vehicle marked “press” on its roof. Immediately before the attack, other journalists in the area had witnessed an Israeli helicopter flying overhead, so the military was able to clearly see that Abdallah was a non-combatant. According to ballistic analysis done by RWB, the missiles were launched from the side of the Israeli border and “two strikes in the same place in such a short space of time (just over 30 seconds), from the same direction, clearly indicate precise targeting.”
Not even the families of journalists are safe from Israeli retaliation. After learning on air that an Israeli air raid had killed his wife, son, daughter, and grandson, Gaza Al Jazeera bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh rushed to the hospital, followed by press cameras. Upon finding his son there, he knelt over his lifeless body and lamented, “They take revenge on us with our children.”
On November 7, Mohammad Abu Hasira, a correspondent for Palestinian news agency Wafa, was killed by an Israeli air raid, along with 42 members of his family. And just days before that, an Israeli strike killed Palestine TV reporter Mohammad Abu Hattab and 11 members of his family in south Gaza, including his wife, son, and brother.
Israel Invents Lies to Justify War Crimes
Just as it has claimed that Hamas was hiding in Gaza hospitals, near schools, and in ambulance convoys in order to justify its bombing and killing of civilians, Israel has peddled the same predictable excuses for these targeted assassinations of journalists. In a chilling November 2 article that effectively doubles as a hit list, the Jerusalem Post spotlighted several independent Palestinian journalists who had been reporting from Gaza and smeared them as part of “Hamas’s propaganda team.”
Then, pro-Israel media watchdog group HonestReporting released a report on November 8 claiming—with little evidence—that the Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, and Reuters freelance photographers in Gaza knew in advance of the October 7 Palestinian Resistance counter-offensive and even collaborated with Hamas in order be on location to get their shots during the operation.
Israeli officials quickly jumped on the story to vindicate their assassination campaign against Palestinian reporters.
In response to the report, former Minister of Defense and current member of Israel’s war cabinet Benny Gantz said, “Journalists found to have known about the massacre, and [who] still chose to stand as idle bystanders while children were slaughtered, are no different than terrorists and should be treated as such.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, went so far as to declare that these reporters would be put on a hit list, stating on X, “Israel’s internal security agency announced that they will eliminate all participants of the October 7 massacre. The ‘photojournalists’ who took part in recording the assault will be added to that list.”
Gil Hoffman, executive director of HonestReporting, later admitted that he had no evidence to substantiate the claims made, but was just “raising questions.” According to Hoffman, he and HonestReporting “don’t claim to be a news organization.”
Accusations that Palestinian reporters are embedded within and acting in coordination with Hamas lay the propaganda groundwork to depict journalists as legitimate military targets.
Israel Restricting Information Coming out of Gaza
Not only is the IDF killing Palestinian journalists on the ground, but the Israeli government is actively denying access to foreign press into Gaza. The only reporters allowed into the strip are those embedded within the IDF, and media outlets such as NBC and CNN have confirmed that in exchange for access, they must submit all materials to the Israeli military prior to broadcast for review and approval.
Additionally, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate reported that as many as 50 media outlets in Gaza have been partially or entirely destroyed by Israeli air strikes since October 7. If Israel is not outright bombing news outlets, then they are actively trying to repress the flow of information coming out. In late October, the Israeli government approved regulations that would allow it to shut down any foreign news channel if it believed the outlet posed a threat to national security. This regulation was then used to block the programming and website of Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen, because of its “wartime efforts to harm [Israel’s] security interests and to serve the enemy’s goals,” according to a statement released by the Israeli security cabinet.
In the absence of foreign press bearing witness to Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, Palestinian civilians have taken to documenting the horrors themselves and sharing them on social media sites such as X and TikTok for the outside world to see.
The Israeli government has responded by repeatedly shutting down internet and communications systems across Gaza, even further restricting the flow of information coming out.
History of Israel Targeting Journalists
Even before its current war on Gaza began on October 7, Israel had a long history of targeting reporters and news networks. During its 2021 military incursion on Gaza, Israel was accused of “silencing” journalists by press freedom advocates after it bombed the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press. This occurred just days after it had bombed another building that housed a number of other news outlets, including Al Araby TV, Al Kofiya TV, and Watania News Agency, among others.
According to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Israel killed 55 journalists from 2000 to 2022, either by live fire or bombardment. This figure includes Shireen Abu Akleh, the beloved Palestinian-American journalist and longtime Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot by Israeli forces while reporting on IDF raids in Jenin, as well as Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian network Ain Media, who was shot and killed by the IDF while covering the 2018 Great March of Return.
Like so many other Palestinian journalists Israel murdered on the job, Abu Akleh and Murtaja were both wearing their press vests at the time of their killings. Immediately after his death, Israel predictably—with no evidence—rushed to accuse Murtaja of being a Hamas fighter in order to cover its tracks.
The day after Murtaja’s killing, Israel’s then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman bluntly stated, “In the march of terror, there were no innocent civilians. They were all Hamas.”
Israel Is Losing the Information War
Israel relies on its advanced military weaponry and billions of dollars in funding from the U.S. to carry out its genocidal violence against the Palestinian people across Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Its Hasbara and “Brand Israel” campaigns work around the clock to justify its war crimes through outright lies and disinformation.
However, Israel has suffered significant losses in the information war as reports and images of the atrocities have reached millions across the world, many of whom have joined the mass mobilizations in support of the Palestinian cause. On the international stage, Israel is further politically isolated, with more and more countries cutting ties or recalling their diplomatic staff.
This battle of ideas cannot be won through sheer force and U.S.-backed military superiority. Israel cannot prevent information about its atrocities from leaking out, especially in an age of social media in which ordinary Palestinians are emboldened to act as citizen journalists, documenting what they are living through in Gaza for the world to see. As Israel escalates its assassination campaign against media workers, support for the Palestinian Resistance continues to grow.
Grim as the current situation may seem, it speaks to the reality at hand: The people of the world are waking up to the atrocities carried out by the Zionist state and refusing to allow it to continue.
And that speaks to another reality: Israel is living on borrowed time, and that time is running out.
Amanda Yee is a journalist and organizer based out of Brooklyn. She is the managing editor of Liberation News, and her writing has appeared in Monthly Review Online, The Real News Network, CounterPunch, and Peoples Dispatch. Follow her on X @catcontentonly.
Rarely has a summit between the world’s two most important countries been burdened with fewer expectations. Rarely has the world, bristling with problems both urgent and persistent – from proliferating conflicts, renewed nuclear threats, derailed climate negotiations, a listing world economy – needed them to be higher.
The meeting between Presidents Xi and Biden on Wednesday on the sidelines of the upcoming APEC meeting ‘appears aimed less at finding venues for cooperation and more at setting the tone for the mounting global competition between the world’s two largest economies’ opined one writer on the Institute for Responsible Statecraft website, which is normally critical of the President’s militarism and international aggression. Closer to the summit, the Atlantic Council’s Colleen Cattle, opined from the other side of the foreign policy spectrum that ‘We should probably keep a pretty low bar in terms of tangible outcomes and deliverables… This is a meeting that’s probably much more about symbolism and showing a commitment among both leaders to maintain high-level communications and keep communications flowing over the course of the next year.’ Even the ‘cautiously optimistic’ Global Times, anxious to ensure an overly dark mood did not blight any prospects for agreement the summit ‘will help both sides get a more realistic understanding of each other’s strategic intentions and prevent divergences from turning into out-of-control conflicts’ and that ‘the meeting may serve to stabilize bilateral relations in the short term, as uncertainty will grow when the US enters its election cycle next year’.
With the bar set so low, how could the summit fail? Easily.
This is not because of some inveterate big-power rivalry. Apportioning the blame equally may be tempting to some, but not accurate. China has consistently sought to lower tensions and cultivate better relations, often in the face of considerable US provocation, without compromising its development or security. So, both the deterioration of relations of recent years and the recent initiative to try to improve them, can be traced to the United States and the schizophrenia it has developed regarding China. Consider its actions during the Biden presidency alone.
On the one hand, belying expectations of better relations with China aroused during his campaign, President Biden took US-China relations to new depths. He pursued his predecessor’s trade with even greater zeal and escalated his technology war into the ‘Chips war openly aimed at stalling China’s technological advance. He seemed to go out of his way to worsen security relations, whether with irresponsible statements on Taiwan, baseless accusations of genocide in Xinjiang and increasing ‘freedom of navigation’ sorties close to China’s waters. Briefly, the Bali consensus arrived at on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in that city – essentially making US-China relations more predictable and crisis-free – seemed to reverse this deterioration but only months later the Biden administration reacted hysterically to the alleged ‘Chinese spy balloon’ and smashed it, though it had to admit later that the balloon was nothing of the sort.
On the other hand, however, since the middle of this year, the Biden administration has sent many high-level officials – including Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo for meetings with their Chinese counterparts. President Biden announced a ‘thaw’ and was clearly in negotiations to set up the upcoming meeting, though it could not be announced until last Friday. Fed up with such erratic behaviour the Chinese demanded more than the usual assurances before agreeing to it. And even then, they are hard at work, managing expectations downwards.
So, what accounts for the US’s schizophrenic posture? Understanding this is key to interpreting the outcomes of the summit, whatever they may be.
The US’s enthusiasm for ‘engaging China’ in the 1990s rested on the illusion, born of a combination of US’s long-standing wishes for imperial or ‘hegemonic’ dominance over the world and the temporary boost they got from the demise of the Soviet Union, that such engagement would turn China into a pliant periphery of the US, happy to produce low-tech, low-wage goods for the US market. By the early 2000s, however, senior US officials were already beginning to suspect that this wish would not be fulfilled. While China had no desire to offend the US, it was determined to pursue its own development, technological, economic and social to create and maintain its security and increase the material well-being of its people.
Since then, the US posture towards China has become ever more hostile and aimed to prevent China’s rise, with President Bush’s steel and aluminum tariffs, President Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’, President Trump’s trade and technology wars and now President Biden’s New Cold War, complete with threats about US ‘defending militarily, raising the specter of fighting China with Taiwanese proxy just as it is currently fighting Russia ‘to the last Ukranian’.
However, the US does not enjoy the luxury of giving free rein to its hostility. The results of its decades of ‘engaging China’, which include the productive intertwining of the two economies through outsourcing and the US’s much-ballyhooed reliance on China to support its treasuries market that gave rise to the ‘Chimerica’ of the 2000s, are not easily reversed. They have split the US corporate capitalist class into two sharply opposed parts, one benefitting from hostility to China – obviously the military-industrial complex and sections of the information and communications technology threatened by Chinese competition – and the other for continuing close links with China, such as Nvidia, the chip-maker. Every step the US takes to thwart China ends up hurting these latter corporations many of whom the Biden administration relies on for the funds to get re-elected in 2024.
This is why the US must both wreck its relations with China and try to repair them. So long as it wishes to pursue its goals of world dominance or hegemony despite mounting evidence that it cannot, as long as the US refuses to settle down to being an ordinary, if still very powerful country rather than an exceptional one destined to run the world, this will not change. If anything, US policy towards China will only get more schizophrenic. What it will take to change it used to be called revolution. The word may have become old-fashioned but the reality needed to change it remains the same, no matter what new-fangled term is devised to denote it.
Dr. Radhika Desai is a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She has proposed a new historical materialist approach to understanding world affairs and geopolitical economy based on the materiality of nations. Some of her recent books include Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire (2013), Karl Polanyi and Twenty First Century Capitalism (2020) Revolutions (2020) and Japan’s Secular Stagnation (2022). Her articles and book chapters appear in international scholarly journals and edited volumes. With Alan Freeman, she co-edits the Geopolitical Economy book series with Manchester University Press and the Future of Capitalism book series with Pluto Press. Her latest book is Capitalism, Coronavirus and War: A Geopolitical Economy, which is now available through open access.
Republished from Counterpunch.
From Gaza and Cuba, they ask–are you human like us?: The Forty-Fifth Newsletter (2023). By: Vijay PrashadRead Now
Rachid Koraichi (Algeria), One Plate, from A Nation in Exile, c. 1981.
Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.
More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli armed forces in Gaza since 7 October, nearly half of them children, according to the most recent report by spokesperson for the Gaza Ministry of Health Dr Ashraf Al-Qudra. Over 25,000 others have been injured, with thousands still buried under the rubble. Meanwhile, Israeli tanks have begun to encircle Gaza City, whose population was 600,000 a month ago but whose neighbourhoods are now largely vacant due to the desperate flight of its inhabitants to Gaza’s southern shelters and due to Israel’s killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians in their homes. Israel has cut off the city and begun to raid it, going door to door to bring the terror of the occupation from the skies to the streets. Those who await these raids in their homes might whisper the poem of Mahmoud Darwish (1941—2008), which is addressed to the Israeli soldier ready to kick down the door of a Palestinian home:
You there, by the threshold of our door,
come in and drink Arabic coffee with us
(you may feel that you are human like us)
You there, by the threshold of our door,
get out of our mornings
so that we may be assured that
we are humans like you
Laila Shawa (Palestine), Target 2009, 2009.
When Israeli soldiers begin going door to door there will be no time for coffee, not only because there is no coffee or water left, but because Israeli soldiers have been told that Palestinians are not human. They have been told, instead, that Palestinians are terrorists and animals. In the eyes of the occupying forces, the only treatment Palestinians deserve is to be assaulted, shot, killed, and eradicated altogether. A hunger for genocide and ethnic cleansing colours senior Israeli officials’ statements and has influenced their conduct in this war. Talk of civilian casualties is brushed off, and so are calls for a ceasefire. The spokesperson of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) James Elder said of this situation: ‘Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It’s a living hell for everyone else’.
Even when high-ranking U.S. officials talk about a ‘humanitarian pause’, they continue to find billions of dollars and more weapons systems for the Israeli military. This idea of a ‘humanitarian pause’ is legalese that means nothing for the survival of Gazans: the pause would end the bombing for a short period of time, possibly only a few hours, to allow the wounded to be removed and some aid to enter Gaza City before giving Israelis a green light to resume their murderous bombardment. Thus far, Israel has dropped a higher tonnage of explosives on Gaza than the combined weight of the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Belkis Ayón (Cuba), La cena (‘The Supper’), 1991.
he denial of both a ceasefire and the possibility of political talks sponsored by the UN is not a policy that the U.S. is pushing in Palestine alone; it is the same policy that the U.S., alongside its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), have insisted upon in Ukraine. A new supplemental spending bill that totals $105 billion (in addition to the—likely underreported—$858-billion military budget for 2023) includes $61.4 billion for the grinding war in Ukraine and $14.1 billion for the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians. Though peace talks opened between Ukrainian and Russian authorities in both Belarus and Turkey days after Russian troops entered Ukraine, these talks were hastily scuttled by NATO, fuelling the conflict that has resulted in nearly 10,000 civilian deaths so far. The civilian death toll in Ukraine during one year and eight months of the conflict has already been surpassed by the civilian death toll in Palestine in merely four weeks.
It is not a coincidence that these three countries—the U.S., Ukraine, and Israel—are the only ones that did not vote in favour of this year’s annual UN General Assembly resolution to end the six-decade-long U.S. embargo on Cuba (which was imposed formally by U.S. President John F. Kennedy on 3 February 1962 but began in 1960). The U.S. has not only enforced this blockade on Cuba as a country, but on the Cuban Revolution as a process. When the Cuban Revolution of 1959 emphatically declared that it would defend the sovereignty of Cuban territory and advance the dignity of the Cuban people, the U.S. saw it as a threat not only to its criminal interests on the island but also to its ability to maintain its grip over global affairs, which the potential contagion of the revolutionary process threatened to fracture. If Cuba could get away with looking after its own people, and even extending solidarity to others fighting for their right to do the same, before submitting to the demands of U.S.-owned transnational corporations, then perhaps other countries could adopt a similar attitude. It was this fear of sovereignty that set the policy of the blockade in motion.
Though the blockade has cost the Cuban Revolution hundreds of billions of dollars since 1960, it has not been able to stop the revolution from building up people’s dignity. For example, the World Bank reported that in 2020, despite the harsh blockade and the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba’s government spent 11.5% of its Gross Domestic Product on education, while the U.S. spent 5.4%. Not only are all schools free for Cuban children, but all Cuban children receive meals at school and are given their uniforms. Medical education is also free in Cuba, creating a high doctor-to-patient ratio of 8.4 physicians and 7.1 nurses for every 1,000 Cubans. At the UN General Assembly, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said that ‘attention to the human being has been and will continue to be the priority of the Cuban government’. The blockade might be ‘economic warfare’, he said, but the Cuban Revolution—which has faced this ‘economic siege’ for decades—will not wilt. It will stand firm.
Raúl Martínez (Cuba), Rosas y Estrellas (‘Roses and Stars’), 1972.
The blockade is cruel. Foreign Minister Rodríguez Parrilla offered some examples of that cruelty, such as when the U.S. government prevented Cuba from importing pulmonary ventilators and medical oxygen (including from other Latin American countries). In response, Cuba’s scientists and engineers developed their own ventilators, just as they produced their own COVID-19 vaccines. During the pandemic, Rodríguez Parrilla said, the U.S. government offered humanitarian exemptions to other countries but denied them to Cuba. ‘The reality’, he said, ‘is that the U.S. government opportunistically used COVID-19 as an ally in its hostile policy toward Cuba’.
Darwish asks Israeli soldiers of humanity, of whether they are capable of seeing Palestinians as human. The same should be asked of U.S. government officials who promote and prosecute the blockade on Cuba: do they see Cubans as human?
In June of this year, the Paris Poetry Market invited the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón to be its 2023 honorary president. Just before the event, the organisers of the poetry festival cancelled this honour, saying that they were responding to ‘pressures’ and ‘rumours’. The Cuban foreign ministry condemned this cancellation as part of the ‘siege of fascist hatred of Cuban culture’, another kind of blockade. Here is Nancy Morejón’s Réquiem para la mano izquierda (‘Requiem for the Left Hand’), as if in conversation with the humaneness of Darwish’s poetry and with the rhythms of the Cuban musician Marta Valdés (to whom this poem is dedicated):
On a map you could trace all the lines
horizontal, vertical, diagonal
from the Greenwich meridian to the Gulf of Mexico
that more or less
belong to our peculiarity
There are also big, big, big maps
in your imagination
and endless globes of the Earth,
But today I suspect that the tiniest, most minute map
sketched on school notebook paper
would be big enough to fit all of history
All of it.
Tings Chak (China), Palestine Will Be Free, 2023.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.
Israel's genocidal attacks, which are killing hundreds of Palestinians a day, including some 160 children, have expanded to shelling the remaining hospitals in Gaza.
DOHA, Qatar: I am in the studio of Al Jazeera’s Arabic service watching a live feed from Gaza City. The Al Jazeera reporter in northern Gaza, because of the intense Israeli shelling, was forced to evacuate to southern Gaza. He left his camera behind. He trained it on Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex. It is night. Israeli tanks fire directly towards the hospital compound. Long horizontal red flashes. A deliberate attack on a hospital. A deliberate war crime. A deliberate massacre of the most helpless civilians, including the very sick and infants. Then the feed goes dead.
We sit in front of the monitors. We are silent. We know what this means. No power. No water. No internet. No medical supplies. Every infant in an incubator will die. Every dialysis patient will die. Everyone in the intensive care unit will die. Everyone who needs oxygen will die. Everyone who needs emergency surgery will die. And what will happen to the 50,000 people who, driven from their homes by the relentless bombing, have taken refuge on the hospital grounds? We know the answer to that as well. Many of them, too, will die.
There are no words to express what we are witnessing. In the five weeks of horror this is one of the pinnacles of horror. The indifference of Europe is bad enough. The active complicity by the United States is unfathomable. Nothing justifies this. Nothing. And Joe Biden will go down in history as an accomplice to genocide. May the ghosts of the thousands of children he has participated in murdering haunt him for the rest of his life.
Israel and the United States are sending a chilling message to the rest of the world. International and humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention, are meaningless pieces of paper. They did not apply in Iraq. They do not apply in Gaza. We will pulverize your neighborhoods and cities with bombs and missiles. We will wantonly murder your women, children, elderly and sick. We will set up blockades to engineer starvation and the spread of infectious diseases. You, the “lesser breeds” of the earth, do not matter. To us you are vermin to be extinguished. We have everything. If you try and take any of it away from us, we will kill you. And we will never be held accountable.
We are not hated for our values. We are hated because we have no values. We are hated because rules only apply to others. Not to us. We are hated because we have arrogated to ourselves the right to carry out indiscriminate slaughter. We are hated because we are heartless and cruel. We are hated because we are hypocrites, talking about protecting civilians, the rule of law and humanitarianism while extinguishing the lives of hundreds of people in Gaza a day, including 160 children.
Israel reacted with indignation and moral outrage when it was accused of bombing the al-Ahli Arab Christian hospital in Gaza, which left hundreds of dead. The bombing, Israel claimed, came from an errant rocket fired by Palestine Islamic Jihad. There is nothing in the arsenal of Hamas or Islamic Jihad that could have replicated the massive explosive power of the missile that struck the hospital. Those of us who have covered Gaza have heard this Israel trope so many times it is risible. They always blame Hamas and the Palestinians for their war crimes, now attempting to argue that hospitals are Hamas command centers and therefore legitimate targets. They never provide evidence. The Israeli military and government lie like they breathe.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which has staff working in Al-Shifa, issued a statement saying patients, doctors and nurses are "trapped in hospitals under fire." It called on the “Israeli government to cease this unrelenting assault on Gaza’s health system.”
“Over the past 24 hours, hospitals in Gaza have been under relentless bombardment. Al-Shifa hospital complex, the biggest health facility where MSF staff are still working, has been hit several times, including the maternity and outpatient departments, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries,” the statement read. “The hostilities around the hospital have not stopped. MSF teams and hundreds of patients are still inside Al-Shifa hospital. MSF urgently reiterates its calls to stop the attacks against hospitals, for an immediate ceasefire and for the protection of medical facilities, medical staff and patients.”
Three other hospitals in northern Gaza and Gaza City are encircled by Israeli forces and tanks, in what a doctor told Al Jazeera was a “day of war against hospitals.” The Indonesian Hospital has reportedly also lost power. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that 20 of 36 hospitals in Gaza no longer function.
Israel and Washington’s cynicism is breathtaking. There are no differences in intent. Washington only wants it done quickly. Humanitarian corridors? Pauses in the shelling? These are vehicles to facilitate the total depopulation of northern Gaza. The handful of aid trucks allowed through the border at Rafah with Egypt? A public relations gimmick. There is only one goal – kill, kill, kill. The faster the better. All Biden officials talk about is what comes next once Israel has finished its decimation of Gaza. They know Israel’s slaughter will not end until Gazans are living in the open without shelter in the southern part of the strip and dying because of a lack of food, water and medical care.
Gaza before Israel’s ground incursion was one of the most densely populated spots on the planet. Imagine what will happen with 1.1 million Gazans from the north piled on top of over 1 million in the south. Imagine what will take place when infectious diseases such as cholera become an epidemic. Imagine the ravages of starvation. The pressure will build to do something. And that something, Israel hopes, will be to push the Palestinians over the border into the Sinai in Egypt. Once there, they will never return. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Gaza will be complete. Its ethnic cleansing of the West Bank will begin.
That is Israel’s demented dream. To achieve it, they will make Gaza uninhabitable.
Ask yourself, if you were a Palestinian in Gaza and had access to a weapon what would you do? If Israel killed your family, how would you react? Why would you care about international or humanitarian law when you know it only applies to the oppressed, not the oppressors? If terror is the only language Israel uses to communicate, the only language it apparently understands, wouldn’t you speak back with terror?
Israel’s orgy of death will not crush Hamas. Hamas is an idea. This idea is fed on the blood of martyrs. Israel is giving Hamas an abundant supply.
Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers University, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 12 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include "Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt," (2015) “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His latest book is "America: The Farewell Tour" (2018). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies. He writes a weekly column for the website Truthdig and hosts a show, "On Contact," on RT America.
Republished from Chris Hedges's Substack.
This dispatch was relayed by Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent Tareq Hajjaj via voice note.
Two days ago, the injured left Al-Shifa Hospital with wounds still bleeding, some on wheelchairs, some pulled by cart. Those who arrived in the south a few days ago reported that Al-Shifa Hospital’s administration had urged them to flee since it would soon no longer be operational. By now, it has completely closed down.
These directives did not come out of nowhere. They were based on the hospital administration’s expectation of what would transpire during the ground invasion, given Israel’s systematic policy of targeting medical facilities. In the days leading up to the Al-Shifa exodus, Israel’s forces continued to close in, bombing and shelling the neighboring buildings and outer parts of the hospital and launching missiles into the hospital’s courtyard where refugees were sleeping, cutting them up into pieces.
The tanks continued to approach Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, until they were right at its gate.
Ministry of Health spokespeople remain at Al-Shifa, in the hopes that injuries and dead bodies would reach the hospital, where they could be documented and tallied. These hopes have since been dashed, as no one is allowed to move outdoors or reach the hospital for treatment or refuge.
The past few hours have been the most catastrophic for Gaza’s northern hospitals, which include Al-Shifa, Al-Quds Hospital, Rantisi Hospital for Pediatrics, and Nasr Hospital in Gaza City, and the Indonesian Hospital in the north, which was targeted last week with shelling and “firebelts” meant to force medical staff, patients, and refugees to evacuate.
Medical workers have suffered the most during the recent rounds. But many medical teams refused to leave the hospitals, staying behind to take care of patients in ICUs and NICUS who could not move without dying. This includes 48 premature babies whose incubators and respirators have since failed.
Only yesterday, it was announced that two of these infants have died due to the lack of oxygen and heating. Photos began circulating of remaining hospital staff swaddling the remaining infants and laying them close to one another to conserve heat and keep them warm.
‘We can see injured people. We hear them crying for help, but we cannot do anything.’The Palestinian Authority Minister of Health, Mai Keileh, said that medical staff are no longer able to move between buildings to carry out their work. Attack drones hovering over the medical complex target anything that moves. It has led to the pile-up of corpses in the hospital’s courtyard, and anyone who tries to go out to collect them is also killed. Keileh stated that medical staff has been unable to bury over 100 martyrs, and their bodies have begun to rot in the courtyard, while stray dogs are now beginning to eat at their flesh.
A Gaza government spokesperson yesterday said that Israeli army snipers stationed in nearby buildings have shot a patient in his bed through the window, in addition to a maintenance worker who tried to rewire hospital electrical lines in an attempt to restore power to a part of the hospital. The same government source stated that a group of medical staff attempted to leave the hospital while waving white flags and made their way to the hospital’s main entrance, but that drones also targeted them directly, killing most. Those who survived the initial blast lay on the ground for hours, bleeding to death and screaming for help, until they, too, died.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported a similar incidents, quoting the testimony of Dr. Mohammed Obeid at Al-Shifa:
We’re on the fourth floor. There’s a sniper who attacked four patients inside the hospital. One of the patients has a gunshot wound directly in his neck, and he is a quadriplegic, and the other one [was shot] in the abdomen.
MSF also confirmed government reports of the injured left to bleed to death in the courtyard. One MSF staff member described the scene:
There are dead people on the streets. We see people being shot at. We can see injured people. We hear them crying for help, but we cannot do anything. It is too dangerous to go outside.
The Mahdi maternity hospital in northern Gaza was also targeted with bombardment and shelling. People who stood near windows were shot by Israeli snipers, while Israeli drones hovering overhead targeted anything that moved in the hospital’s courtyard, even medical teams, who were trapped inside.
Dr. Basel Mahdi, who works at the hospital, wrote online that “No one dies before their time. But there are many who die without dignity.”
“May God never forgive you,” his letter said, addressing Arab heads of state. “You betrayed us. You betrayed your Arab identity.”
Half an hour after posting the message, Dr. Mahdi was killed when he tried to leave the hospital.
No one left to document the genocideThe medical system in northern Gaza has subsequently collapsed. No hospital or medical center is operational. The likely hundreds of thousands of civilians who have remained in the north now have no place to seek treatment for their wounded, which pile up daily.
And they have been met with the same treatment as the hospital staff. When someone attempts to move and flee south, they are shot or bombed where they stand.
In addition, the invasion of the Israeli troops and the raiding of homes with residents still inside has opened the door for further violations. Dr. Muhammad Nizam Ziyara wrote a post on social media about his family’s ordeal in the al-Nasr neighborhood:
Yesterday, Israeli occupation forces entered our home in the Nasr neighborhood in Gaza after blowing up our house’s front door. They gathered the entire family in a single room, and then proceeded to beat and abuse everyone, and turned the house into a military base. The soldiers then separated the women and young children the men and boys, who they continued to beat before taking them to the nearby UNRWA school. We haven’t received word of their fate for the past 24 hours. The women and children were taken out of the house and used as human shields, forcing them to walk in front of the military tanks and head to the southern part [of the Nasr neighborhood]. As of now, we do not have any word of their fate either.
Dr. Ziyara concluded his post by asking anyone who might have information about his family’s whereabouts to contact him.
Israel’s claims that it is targeting these hospitals because Hamas is allegedly using them for military purposes have been repeatedly denied by hospital administrations, who have said that they are prepared for an international delegation to conduct a search of the hospitals and their grounds for evidence of such alleged underground tunnels and command centers. The only Israeli response has been more shelling and bombardment, murdering anyone who attempts escape.
Perhaps when it becomes clear that Israel’s claims about Al-Shifa are baseless, it will find an excuse to level and destroy this remaining bastion of humanity in Gaza. Along with it, it seeks to kill the remaining staff of the Gaza Ministry of Health, which is responsible for documenting and tallying the fatalities and the wounded.
In doing so, Israel seeks to silence the Ministry as well as the journalists still embedded in the hospital, causing a complete information blackout so that Israel can commit its massacres with no one to see. As more people are killed and left to decompose out in the open, no one will be left to document the scale of the unfolding genocide.
Tareq S. Hajjaj is the Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent, and a member of the Palestinian Writers Union. He studied English Literature at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. He started his career in journalism in 2015 working as a news writer and translator for the local newspaper, Donia al-Watan. He has reported for Elbadi, Middle East Eye, and Al Monitor.
The Israeli Attack on Palestinian Health Workers in Gaza and the Failure of the American Medical Association. By: Rupa Marya and Vijay PrashadRead Now
On November 11, 2023, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) stated that Israeli tanks were within twenty meters of the al-Quds hospital, the second-largest hospital in Gaza City. They reported that there was “direct shooting at the hospital, creating a state of extreme panic and fear among 14,000 displaced people.” Many of those killed have been medical personnel. A group called Healthcare Workers Watch-Palestine, formed in November 2023, has been keeping a list of healthcare workers in Gaza killed by Israeli attacks (226 are known to have been killed from October 7 till November 13).
The day before, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported that the PRCS is “caring for hundreds of injured people and bed-ridden, long-term patients” at al-Quds. “Evacuating patients, including those in intensive care, on life-support, and babies in incubators, is close to, if not impossible in the current situation,” said the IFRC. This and other hospitals as well as medical missions and medical workers “are protected under international humanitarian law,” noted the IFRC. The legal framework they referred to is straightforward:
1. Article 19 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (Protection of medical units and establishments). “Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
2. Rule 25 of the International Humanitarian Law (Medical Personnel). “Medical personnel exclusively assigned to medical duties must be respected and protected in all circumstances.”
Two similar phrases in both the Article and the Rule stand out: “in no circumstances” must the protection be withdrawn, and medical workers must be protected “in all circumstances.” Humanitarian law applies to all parts of the world and all conflicts. This is now established by the Treaty of Rome (2002), which is the legal basis for the International Criminal Court. The Treaty of Rome says that it is a war crime if an army is “intentionally directing attacks against buildings,” including “hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected.” There is one exception: “provided they are not military objectives.” By claiming that the hospitals are above Hamas tunnels, the Israelis are claiming that the entire medical infrastructure in Gaza is a military target. This is a convenient way to skirt the absoluteness of international humanitarian law.
In the coming days, we can expect the Israeli propaganda machine to pump out images of IDF soldiers in the tunnels under decimated hospitals holding up guns and copies of Mein Kampf to counter the horrific real-time images of premature babies dying. While these are attempts to justify murdering healthcare workers and the patients they were caring for, they won’t hold up against International Humanitarian Law. Israel has a documented history of bombing hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Gaza, and any doctor versed in patient care quality and safety would insist that underground spaces were constructed to conduct patient care far from the shrapnel of these air strikes.
‘At All Costs’
Across the world on November 11, the American Medical Association (AMA) held a meeting of its House of Delegates while these terrible acts took place. When over 135 medical students and doctors in training in the AMA tried to hold a discussion about a resolution that would call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the AMA leadership shut them down. Those who supported the effort said that there was a “coordinated effort at the national meeting to shut the resolution down, with the Speaker not allowing delegates their allotted 90 seconds to speak about the resolution.” The AMA said that this resolution was “not relevant to advocacy.” “The AMA,” wrote the medical personnel who framed the resolution, “has a responsibility to uphold the wellbeing of healthcare workers and minimize human suffering, and it is clear that these values are not being upheld by some of the most influential physicians in the country, nor is the democratic process being respected.”
This stands in stark contrast to the AMA’s official position on Ukraine in 2022, when they threw their institutional weight behind a call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Russian attacks on healthcare workers and facilities, emphasizing that international humanitarian and human rights laws must be and civilian and medical personnel lives must be protected “at all costs.”
Every Life Is Sacred
A few days before the House of Delegates meeting, the flagship journal of the AMA, the Journal of the AMA (JAMA), published an article by Dr. Matthew Wynia from the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado and the co-chair of the AMA’s Taskforce on Truth, Reconciliation, Healing, and Transformation. His article “Health Professionals and War in the Middle East” makes three unimpeachable points:
- First, health professionals should condemn dehumanization and acts of genocide.
- Second, health professionals should vigorously oppose both antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.
- Third, health professionals have special responsibilities to speak out against certain war crimes.
We concur with all three of these points, including the final sentiment by Dr. Wynia: “In wartime, our profession must remain the living embodiment of religious injunctions to treat every life as sacred, because to save a single life is to save an entire world.”
Dr. Wynia’s article in JAMA, published a few days before the AMA meeting, suggests that it would have been uncontroversial for the AMA to pass a resolution asking for a ceasefire. After all, a ceasefire would allow fellow medical workers to do their work without fear of bombardment, it would stop the killing of civilians, and it would allow for investigation into the attacks on medical facilities and medical workers. If “every life is sacred,” then a medical body must join in the call to prevent any further loss of innocent life. But this is not what happened at the AMA meeting, whose refusal to open the floor for discussion about a ceasefire resolution suggests the opposite approach.
A closer reading of Dr. Wynia’s article shows why medical professionals decided not to allow even a discussion of a ceasefire in Gaza. “Health professionals of goodwill and equally strong commitments to human rights have differing questions on these questions, which reflects the nature of the questions,” Dr. Wynia writes. Introducing moral relativism to the discussion, Dr. Wynia allows for ambiguity where there is none—none in legal terms and none in moral terms. How can “health professionals of goodwill” have a disagreement about the targeting of medical workers and medical institutions or indeed how can they disagree about the killing of civilians, including those who are injured and sick in hospitals? There is room for debate over what must be done when confronted by the evidence of attacks on medical workers and medical workers, but there is no ambiguity about their illegality and immorality.
Dying One by One
Israel has been spreading propaganda over the past several weeks about the presence of Hamas headquarters under one of Gaza’s hospitals—Al-Shifa—to inject a space of moral confusion around protecting healthcare workers and healthcare facilities. On November 5, a group of almost 100 doctors in Israel circulated a letter calling for the annihilation of all hospitals in Gaza, as if to sanction the IDF’s direct attack on the most sacred spaces of our profession. On November 11, Israel also bombarded the Al-Shifa Hospital complex with 1,700 sick and injured patients inside and about 50,000 displaced people sheltering in its courtyard according to Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, a surgeon who was stationed there at the time. Israeli attacks have completely destroyed the hospital. With the power now out in Al-Shifa, 39 newborns in incubators are now wrapped in blankets, dying one by one. Perhaps this is whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to when he said the “children of darkness.”
Israel’s attack on Gaza’s healthcare is an attack on the soul of the medical profession, for which JAMA has provided cover and the AMA supports through enforced silence. Why the American Medical Association can make such a blunt statement about Ukraine but want to remain silent about Palestine raises an important question: does the AMA advocate only for the issues outlined by the U.S. State Department or are these the opinions of the doctors who make up its membership?
Rupa Marya, MD, is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition, and co-author with Raj Patel of Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
The wars and the killing go on, day after day, year after year, out of sight and out of mind for most Americans.
We have both been reporting on and protesting against U.S. war crimes for many years, and against identical crimes committed by U.S. allies and proxies like Israel and Saudi Arabia: illegal uses of military force to try to remove enemy governments or “regimes”; hostile military occupations; disproportionate military violence justified by claims of “terrorism”; the bombing and killing of civilians; and the mass destruction of whole cities.
Most Americans share a general aversion to war, but tend to accept this militarized foreign policy because we are tragically susceptible to propaganda, the machinery of public manipulation that works hand in hand with the machinery of killing to justify otherwise unthinkable horrors.
This process of “manufacturing consent” works in a number of ways. One of the most effective forms of propaganda is silence, simply not telling us, and certainly not showing us, what war is really doing to the people whose homes and communities have been turned into America’s latest battlefield.
With the reality of war and genocide staring the world in the face, people everywhere are challenging the impunity with which Israel is systematically violating international humanitarian law.
The most devastating campaign the U.S. military has waged in recent years dropped over 100,000 bombs and missiles on Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa in Syria, and other areas occupied by ISIS or Da’esh. An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that more than 40,000 civilians were killed in Mosul, while Raqqa was even more totally destroyed.
The shelling of Raqqa was the heaviest U.S. artillery bombardment since the Vietnam War, yet it was barely reported in the U.S. corporate media. A recent New York Times article about the traumatic brain injuries and PTSD suffered by U.S. artillerymen operating 155 mm howitzers, which each fired up to 10,000 shells into Raqqa, was appropriately titled A Secret War, Strange New Wounds and Silence from the Pentagon.
Shrouding such mass death and destruction in secrecy is a remarkable achievement. When British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, in the midst of the Iraq War, he titled his Nobel speech “Art, Truth and Politics,” and used it to shine a light on this diabolical aspect of U.S. war-making.
After talking about the hundreds of thousands of killings in Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguy, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile and Nicaragua, Pinter asked: “Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes, they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy.“
"But you wouldn’t know it,” he went on.”It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”
But the wars and the killing go on, day after day, year after year, out of sight and out of mind for most Americans. Did you know that the United States and its allies have dropped more than 350,000 bombs and missiles on 9 countries since 2001 (including 14,000 in the current war on Gaza)? That’s an average of 44 airstrikes per day, day in, day out, for 22 years.
Israel, in its present war on Gaza, with children making up more than 40% of the more than 11,000 people killed to date, would surely like to mimic the extraordinary U.S. ability to hide its brutality. But despite Israel’s efforts to impose a media blackout, the massacre is taking place in a small, enclosed, densely-populated urban area, often called an open-air prison, where the world can see a great deal more than usual of how it impacts real people.
Israel has killed a record number of journalists in Gaza, and this appears to be a deliberate strategy, as when U.S. forces targeted journalists in Iraq. But we are still seeing horrifying video and photos of daily new atrocities: dead and wounded children; hospitals struggling to treat the injured; and desperate people fleeing from one place to another through the rubble of their destroyed homes.
Another reason this war is not so well hidden is because Israel is waging it, not the United States. The U.S. is supplying most of the weapons, has sent aircraft carriers to the region, and dispatched U.S. Marine General James Glynn to provide tactical advice based on his experience conducting similar massacres in Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq. But Israeli leaders seem to have overestimated the extent to which the U.S. information warfare machine would shield them from public scrutiny and political accountability.
Unlike in Fallujah, Mosul and Raqqa, people all over the world are seeing video of the unfolding catastrophe on their computers, phones and TVs. Netanyahu, Biden and the corrupt “defense analysts” on cable TV are no longer the ones creating the narrative, as they try to tack self-serving narratives onto the horrifying reality we can all see for ourselves.
With the reality of war and genocide staring the world in the face, people everywhere are challenging the impunity with which Israel is systematically violating international humanitarian law.
Michael Crowley and Edward Wong have reported in the New York Times that Israeli officials are defending their actions in Gaza by pointing to U.S. war crimes, insisting that they are simply interpreting the laws of war the same way that the United States has interpreted them in Iraq and other U.S. war zones. They compare Gaza to Fallujah, Mosul and even Hiroshima.
But copying U.S. war crimes is precisely what makes Israel’s actions illegal. And it is the world’s failure to hold the United States accountable that has emboldened Israel to believe it too can kill with impunity.
The United States systematically violates the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force, manufacturing political justifications to suit each case and using its Security Council veto to evade international accountability. Its military lawyers employ unique, exceptional interpretations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, under which the universal protections the Convention guarantees to civilians are treated as secondary to U.S. military objectives.
The United States fiercely resists the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), to ensure that its exceptional interpretations of international law are never subjected to impartial judicial scrutiny.
When the United States did allow the ICJ to rule on its war against Nicaragua in 1986, the ICJ ruled that its deployment of the “Contras” to invade and attack Nicaragua and its mining of Nicaragua’s ports were acts of aggression in violation of international law, and ordered the United States to pay war reparations to Nicaragua. When the United States declared that it would no longer recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ and failed to pay up, Nicaragua asked the UN Security Council to enforce the reparations, but the U.S. vetoed the resolution.
Atrocities like Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the bombing of German and Japanese cities to “unhouse” the civilian population, as Winston Churchill called it, together with the horrors of Germany’s Nazi holocaust, led to the adoption of the new Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949, to protect civilians in war zones and under military occupation.
On the 50th anniversary of the Convention in 1999, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is responsible for monitoring international compliance with the Geneva Conventions, conducted a survey to see how well people in different countries understood the protections the Convention provides.
They surveyed people in twelve countries that had been victims of war, in four countries (France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.) that are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and in Switzerland where the ICRC is based. The ICRC published the results of the survey in 2000, in a report titled, People on War - Civilians in the Line of Fire.
The survey asked people to choose between a correct understanding of the Convention’s civilian protections and a watered-down interpretation of them that closely resembles that of U.S. and Israeli military lawyers.
The correct understanding was defined by a statement that combatants “must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone.” The weaker, incorrect statement was that “combatants should avoid civilians as much as possible” as they conduct military operations.
Between 72% and 77% of the people in the other UNSC countries and Switzerland agreed with the correct statement, but the United States was an outlier, with only 52% agreeing. In fact 42% of Americans agreed with the weaker statement, twice as many as in the other countries. There were similar disparities between the United States and the others on questions about torture and the treatment of prisoners of war.
In U.S.-occupied Iraq, the United States’ exceptionally weak interpretations of the Geneva Conventions led to endless disputes with the ICRC and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which issued damning quarterly human rights reports. UNAMI consistently maintained that U.S. airstrikes in densely populated civilian areas were violations of international law.
For instance, its human rights report for the2nd quarter of 2007 documented UNAMI’s investigations of 15 incidents in which U.S. occupation forces killed 103 Iraqi civilians, including 27 killed in airstrikes in Khalidiya, near Ramadi, on April 3rd, and 7 children killed in a helicopter attack on an elementary school in Diyala province on May 8th.
UNAMI demanded that “all credible allegations of unlawful killings by MNF (Multi-National Force) forces be thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated, and appropriate action taken against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate force.”
A footnote explained, “Customary international humanitarian law demands that, as much as possible, military objectives must not be located within areas densely populated by civilians. The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian character of an area.”
UNAMI also rejected U.S. claims that its widespread killing of civilians was the result of the Iraqi Resistance using civilians as “human shields,” another U.S. propaganda trope that Israel is mimicking today. Israeli accusations of human shielding are even more absurd in the densely populated, confined space of Gaza, where the whole world can see that it is Israel that is placing civilians in the line of fire as they desperately seek safety from Israeli bombardment.
Calls for a ceasefire in Gaza are echoing around the world: through the halls of the United Nations; from the governments of traditional U.S. allies like France, Spain and Norway; from a newly united front of previously divided Middle Eastern leaders; and in the streets of London and Washington. The world is withdrawing its consent for a genocidal “two-state solution” in which Israel and the United States are the only two states that can settle the fate of Palestine.
If U.S. and Israeli leaders are hoping that they can squeak through this crisis, and that the public’s habitually short attention span will wash away the world’s horror at the crimes we are all witnessing, that may be yet another serious misjudgment. As Hannah Arendt wrote in 1950 in the preface to The Origins of Totalitarianism.“
We can no longer afford to take that which was good in the past and simply call it our heritage, to discard the bad and simply think of it as a dead load which by itself time will bury in oblivion. The subterranean stream of Western history has finally come to the surface and usurped the dignity of our tradition. This is the reality in which we live. And this is why all efforts to escape from the grimness of the present into nostalgia for a still intact past, or into the anticipated oblivion of a better future, are vain.”
Medea Benjamin is a cofounder of both CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. She has been an advocate for social justice for more than 30 years.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher for CODEPINK and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.
Republished from LA Progressive.
Provocations by the U.S. State Department Can Chill Press Freedom in Latin America. By: Vijay Prashad.Read Now
Provocations by the U.S. State Department Can Chill Press Freedom in Latin America
The headline is provocative: “The Kremlin’s Efforts to Covertly Spread Disinformation in Latin America.” This was a statement on the U.S. State Department website, posted on November 7, 2023. The United States government accused two companies—Social Design Agency and Structura National Technologies—of being the main agents of what it alleged is Russian-backed disinformation. The statement named the heads of both of the firms, Ilya Gambashidze of Social Design Agency and Nikolay Tupkin of Structura. On July 28, 2023, the European Union sanctioned several Russian individuals and firms, including SDA and Structura. The European Union accuses these two IT firms of being “involved in the Russian-led digital disinformation campaign” against the government of Ukraine. The statement by the U.S. State Department now alleges that these IT companies are involved in a disinformation project in Latin America.
Neither the European Union nor the U.S. State Department offer any evidence in their various public statements. The U.S. document does, however, refer to the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which says the following: “Russia’s influence actors have adapted their efforts to increasingly hide their hand, laundering their preferred messaging through a vast ecosystem of Russian proxy websites, individuals, and organizations that appear to be independent news sources.” Here, we get mainly the methodology—laundering information through proxy websites—rather than any hard evidence.
On May 3, 2023, the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on “The Global Information Wars: Is the U.S. Winning or Losing?” The main speaker at the hearing was Amanda Bennett, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), an umbrella group that runs several U.S. government media projects from Europe (Radio Liberty) to the Americas (Office of Cuba Broadcasting) with an $810 million annual budget. Bennett, the former director of the U.S. government’s Voice of America, told the senators that if the U.S. government fails to “target investments to counter inroads Russia, the [People’s Republic of China], and Iran are making, we run the risk of losing the global information war.” These three countries, she argued, have “outspent” the United States in Latin America, an advantage that she said needed to be overcome by increased U.S. interference in Latin American media.
The Role of RT
In Latin America, Jessica Brandt of the Brookings Institute told the Senators, Russian media has secured a decisive advantage. The facts she laid out are worthwhile to consider: “Through the first quarter of 2023, three of the five most retweeted Russian state media accounts on Twitter messaged in Spanish, and five of the ten fastest growing ones targeted Spanish-language audiences. On YouTube, RT en Español has also proven capable of building large audiences, despite the platform’s global ban on Russian state-funded media channels. On TikTok, RT en Español is among the most popular Spanish-language media outlets. Its 29.6 million likes make it more popular than Telemundo, Univision, BBC Mundo, and El País. Likewise, on Facebook, RT en Español currently has more followers than any other Spanish-language international broadcaster.” In other words, RT by itself has become one of the most influential media outlets in Latin America. Brandt’s facts are widely accepted, including by a report published in March by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism called “Despite Western bans, Putin’s propaganda flourishes in Spanish on TV and social media” and by a study from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab from 2022.
RT (formerly Russia Today) is owned by TV-Novosti, a non-profit organization founded by the state-owned Ria Novosti in 2005. RT is banned or blocked in Canada, the European Union, Germany, the United States, and several other Western countries. In fact, at the Senate hearing, there was little discussion about the entire web of RT projects. The focus was on the “laundering” of “disinformation.”
What is striking about the U.S. State Department statement is that it names two news projects that operate in Latin America as these “proxies” without any evidence but with hesitant language. For instance, the U.S. State Department says that part of the Russian campaign is to cultivate a group of journalists “most likely in Chile,” but not definitely. This hesitation is important to underline because a few paragraphs later, the doubt vanishes: “While the network’s operations are primarily done in concert with Spanish-language outlets Pressenza and El Ciudadano, a broader network of media resources is available to the group to further amplify information.”
Pressenza, founded in 2009 in Milan, Italy, emerged out of the debates and discussions provoked by the International Commission for the Study of Communications Problems (formed by UNESCO) and its report, Many Voices, One World or the MacBride Report (1980). The MacBride report itself built on discussions about media democracy that had resulted in the formation, in 1964, of Inter-Press Services, and then later in Pressenza. El Ciudadano was founded in 2005 as part of the process of democratization in Chile in the aftermath of the fall of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.
Both outlets denied (in English and Spanish) that they are either funded by the Russian government or that they launder information for the Russian government. In their joint statement, signed by David Andersson (editor of Pressenza) and Bruno Sommer Catalán (editor of El Ciudadano), they say, “We believe that this kind of attack is malicious, and we insist that the US State Department withdraw this accusation as well as publicly apologize to us for maligning our reputations.” In a separate statement, Italian journalist Antonio Mazzeo (who won the Giorgio Bassani prize in 2010) said: “This affair worries me because it could prepare for the next step, the creation of a proscription list… to put all those who do not accept to think only of war and therefore become dangerous and must be silenced.”
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.