The Sixth Summit of the Americas ended on April 15 in the militarized coastal city of Cartagena, Colombia in a debacle. No final declaration could be adopted due to the intransigence of the U.S. and Canada. Both the U.S. and Canada were completely isolated at the Summit. All the other countries of the Americas and the Caribbean united as one against them on the two salient issues of the refusal to isolate Cuba and the demand that Britain get out of the Malvinas. The united stand that no other so-called Summit of the Americas will take place so long as Cuba is not present represents an historic advance for the peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean.
The rejection of the unacceptable U.S. stand was such that, in the end, the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Haiti did not participate, the President of Peru was absent from the official closing photo and the Presidents of Brazil and Argentina left before the closing ceremony. The shame of the U.S. was then heightened by the scandal caused by the U.S. secret service and military personnel which merely confirmed what everyone in Latin America thinks of the U.S. in any case.
Indicating this could be the last Summit of its kind, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro confirmed the day before the Summit opened that the nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) -- Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela -- will not attend future Summits unless Cuba is present. "The ALBA countries, and we are sure the other countries of Latin America, aren't going to attend this type of Summit called 'the Americas' anymore if the U.S.'s obsolete politics of exclusion is imposed," he stated.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega called it the "Secret Summit," reflecting that everything was done to try and cover up the isolated position in which the U.S. and Canada were placed. This included preventing the thousands of journalists from covering important debates. Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced the manner in which debates were not made public, based on "a fear that the peoples of the world will hear who are the enemies of integration and inclusion."
Harper Government's Scoundrel "Principles"
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was left trying to present Canada's disgraceful position to block Cuba's participation in the Sixth Summit of the Americas -- something completely out of touch with his own people's sentiment -- as some great defence of democracy. "While we don't support the position of isolating Cuba, we do believe that the Summit of the Americas should be restricted to democratic countries, and that Cuba should be encouraged to come as a democratic country in the future [...] and it's our contention that the Canadian policy is the way to get that kind of result rather than the policy pursued by our American friends," Harper had the effrontery to say.
He cited scoundrel "principles" and refused to recognize the humiliation of Canada's own isolation which he presented as some sort of cross to be born for engaging in righteous acts. In typical Harper manner he managed to make himself both a laughing stock and contemptible at the same time. A laughing stock because everyone knows that Canada's foreign policy is anything but independent of that of the United States. Contemptible because he could self-righteously stand there and insult all 34 Latin American and Caribbean nations he was speaking to by saying that they are not independent, but come under the influence of foreign powers. Here is what Harper said: "When we take principled positions we're prepared to argue that and discuss them but obviously we don't have our positions dictated either by one country or frankly by any group of countries." Clearly, he is severely challenged when it comes to having a sense of shame or of his own proportion!
In this issue we print a statement on the Summit of the Americas issued by the Cuban government which explains the significance of what was achieved there.
(Venezuelanalysis, Office of the Prime Minister)
For Our Second Independence
The summit held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, gave evidence of the ever-growing abyss that exists between "Our America," as Martí called it, and the "turbulent and brutal North that despises us." Cartagena witnessed a rebellion of Latin America and the Caribbean against the imposition made by "one and a half governments" which applied their imperial veto to paragraphs in the Draft Final Declaration of the so-called Summit of the Americas which demanded an end to the blockade and Cuba's exclusion from hemispheric events.
The ALBA group last met on February 4 in Caracas on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the historic Civic and Military Rebellion of 1992. It adopted one Declaration on the Sovereignty of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, another on the blockade and described the imposition of Cuba's exclusion from these events as unfair and unacceptable. President Correa resolutely stated that if this issue was not resolved, Ecuador would not attend the Cartagena Summit. This statement shook the entire region. That courageous stand was the prelude to what happened next.
The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos visited us, in a respectful fashion, and received a response from President Raúl Castro Ruz stating that Cuba, if invited, would attend the Summit, abiding by its principles and the truth, with absolute respect, as is customary. He deserves credit for explicitly introducing the issue of the blockade and the exclusion of Cuba.
President Evo Morales, who was the first to question the Summit at the February ALBA meeting in Caracas, waged a battle in Cartagena and stated as follows: "We are going through a phase of disintegration. It is not possible that one country could veto the presence of Cuba. Therefore, there is no integration; and with the absence of Ecuador, an absence that is only fair to protest the U.S. veto against Cuba, what kind of integration can we talk about?"
On April 13, President Chávez exclaimed: "Now, truth be told, if these two governments, the United States and Canada, refuse to discuss issues that are so profoundly identified with Latin America and the Caribbean such as the issue of Cuba, the sister nation of Cuba, the fraternal Cuba, or the issue of the Malvinas Islands, what's the point of holding any more Summits of the Americas? We will have to do away with these Summits." Before that, he had written: "We likewise call for an end to the shameful and criminal blockade of the sister Republic of Cuba, a blockade that has been cruelly and brutally imposed by the empire for more than 50 years against the heroic people of José Martí."
At a massive rally in solidarity with Cuba, filled with young people, held on April 14 in Managua, Daniel Ortega stated as follows: "I think it is high time for the government of the United States to listen to all Latin American nations, with the most diverse ideologies and political philosophies, ranging from the most conservative to the most revolutionary. But, despite that, they all agree that Cuba must be present in these meetings; otherwise there won't be any other so-called, or misnamed, Summit of the Americas."
The unitary and solid stand adopted by Our America on the blockade, the exclusion of Cuba and the Malvinas Islands was truly impressive. The resolve and dignity upheld by the President of Argentina in her strong defense of these causes were indicative of this.
We felt proud when the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, expressed with serene dignity, in front of Obama, that the Greater Homeland can only be treated as an equal, and reaffirmed the common position in support of Argentina and Cuba.
The Caribbean leaders gave evidence of the soundness of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the fact that the Caribbean and Latin America are likewise indivisible. Their defense of Argentinean sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands and their traditional and categorical support to Cuba were transcendental.
The left, popular, trade union, youth and student organizations, as well as the NGO's, gathered at the Congress of the Peoples in Cartagena expressed an emotional solidarity with Cuba. The Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of the Americas condemned the exclusion of and the blockade of our country.
The United States underestimated the fact that on December 2, 2011, in Caracas, on the occasion of the Bicentennial of the Independence of that country, under the leadership of Chávez, and on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Landing of the Granma, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was founded, an event that had been anticipated by the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, in February 2010, when he wrote: "no other institutional event in our hemisphere in the course of the last century has been so transcendental."
At that first Summit, when Cuba was elected as President of CELAC for the year 2013, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz stated: "With the decisions which we have adopted here and the joint work that we have carried out during the last three years, we have vindicated more than two centuries of struggles and hopes. Having come this far has required effort, blood and sacrifice. The colonial metropolis of the past and the imperial powers of the present have opposed this endeavor."
Obama does not seem to understand either the significance of the Bolivarian victory of April 13, 2002 [over the failed coup in Venezuela], or the fact that it's been ten years now since the coup d'etat, organized by his predecessor with the support of the OAS and the Spanish government headed by Aznar, against President Hugo Chávez, in an attempt to annihilate the Bolivarian Revolution and assassinate its leader. As the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, reminded him, looking him straight in the eye, in a memorable speech delivered at the Cartagena Summit, the U.S. government continues to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela and support the coup conspirators whose members have now become electoral candidates.
President Obama should have realized that the Cartagena Summit was not the best place to offer Cuba advice about democracy -- much less when the person attempting to do so was absolutely isolated -- forced to apply the empire's veto, given its lack of ideas and political or moral authority. He engaged in demagogy prior to some troublesome elections [at home]. He should take care of his wars, crises and politicking. We, Cubans, will take care of Cuba.
The United States never wanted to discuss the terrible consequences of neoliberalism for Latin America and the Caribbean; or the situation of immigrants in the United States and Europe, who are separated from their families, cruelly deported or murdered at walls like the one that has been built along the Río Bravo. The U.S. government never agreed to talk about the poor either, who account for half of humanity.
The empire and the former colonial metropolis do not listen to the "indignados," their citizens and minorities who live in poverty in those opulent societies, while investing huge amounts of money to bail out corrupt bankers and speculators. In the superpower, 10 per cent of families control 80 per cent of the wealth. Those resources are enough to solve the problems of the planet.
The novelty of the Cartagena meeting was that many of the governments, with natural differences and different approaches, demanded an alternative model that gives priority to solidarity and complementarity over competition based on selfishness; guarantees a harmonious relationship with nature rather than the plundering of natural resources or frenzied consumption. They called for the protection of cultural diversity as opposed to the imposition of values and lifestyles that are alien to our peoples. They asked for the consolidation of peace and rejected wars and militarization.
They launched an appeal to recover the human condition in our societies and build a world that promotes respect for the plurality of ideas and models; the democratic participation of society in government affairs, including consultation about economic and monetary policies; the battle against illiteracy, infant and maternal mortality and curable diseases. They called for greater access to both free and truthful information and potable water. They recognized the existence of social exclusion and the fact that human rights are to be exercised by all and should not be used as a political weapon by the powerful.
This time, the United States government was forced to listen, not to an almost unique voice as had been the case for decades or to a slender minority as occurred until very recently. Now it was the majority of peoples which expressed itself at the Summit to promote this indispensable debate either through their Presidents and Heads of Delegations or through the stand adopted by those who did not attend. The Summit was censored because the empire listens with deaf ears.
In Cartagena, the Monroe Doctrine --"America for the Americans" -- was laid bare. As if no one could remember the deception of the Alliance for Progress in 1961 and the Americas Initiative or FTAA in 1994, they have tried to trick us into trusting the "Alliance of Equals."
As Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz predicted during an international event held in Cartagena on June 14, 1994, the so-called Summits of the Americas have only benefited the North.
When expressing his opinion about a similar meeting held in Washington 105 years ago, José Martí wrote: "After viewing with judicial eyes the antecedents, motives, and ingredients of the feast, it is essential to say, for it is true, that the time has come for Spanish America to declare its second independence."
During the meeting itself, ALBA declared both officially and publicly that without a radical change in the nature of these Summits, it will never attend these meetings again. Other continental leaders have made similar statements.
As to the OAS -- that unburied corpse -- there is no need to say anything about it.
The Republic of Argentina has the inalienable right to exercise its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands as well as over the surrounding maritime areas.
Cuba is mindful of the fact that the Greater Homeland will not be complete until the sister people of Puerto Rico are able to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and until Puerto Rico, a Latin American and Caribbean nation, submitted to the colonial status imposed by the United States, achieves its full independence.
With a solid consensus on regional sovereignty and the defense of our culture within our rich diversity, with almost 600 million inhabitants and abundant natural resources, Our America has now the opportunity to solve the serious problems of extreme inequality in the distribution of wealth and could contribute, with its already obvious strength, to the "equilibrium of the world," the defense of peace and the preservation of the human species.
To that end, and in the face of attempts to divide us and derail us, which will continue to appear over and over again, Our America must remain united.
No one in the North should ever forget that 51 years ago the Cuban people were already defending, at that very hour, a Socialist Revolution on the bloodstained sands of Playa Girón and that, ever since, "all the peoples of the Americas are a little bit freer."
Havana, April 18, 2012
The Summit of the Guayaberas
Obama, the first black president of the United States -- who is, without any doubt, an intelligent, well-educated and eloquent person -- made quite a few people believe that he was an emulator of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King.
Five centuries ago, a Papal Bull, applying concepts that prevailed at those times, allocated approximately 40 million square kilometers of land, inland waters and coastline to two small and belligerent kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.
The English, the French, the Dutch and other important feudal States were excluded from the share out. Endless wars were soon to erupt; millions of Africans were turned into slaves throughout four centuries and the indigenous cultures, some of them more advanced than those of Europe, were destroyed.
Sixty-four years ago, the execrable OAS was founded. It is impossible to overlook the hideous role played by that institution. A great number of people, who could perhaps be counted by the thousands, were kidnapped, tortured and disappeared as a result of the decisions it adopted to justify the coup against the reforms introduced by Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, which was organized by the Yankee Central Intelligence Agency. Central America and the Caribbean, including the small island of Grenada, were victims of the interventionist fury of the United States through the OAS.
Much worse still was the role it played in South America.
Neoliberalism, the official doctrine of imperialism, gained unusual strength in the 1970s when the Richard Nixon administration decided to frustrate the electoral victory attained by Salvador Allende in Chile. A truly sinister period in the history of Latin America had just begun. Two high-ranking officers of the Chilean Armed Forces who remained loyal to the Constitution were murdered, and Augusto Pinochet was imposed as head of State after an unprecedented repression whereby numerous selected persons were tortured, killed and disappeared.
The Constitution of Uruguay, a country that for many years stood by its national institutional system, was wiped out.
Military coups and repression expanded to nearly all neighboring countries. The Cuban airline became the target of brutal sabotages. One Cuban airliner filled with passengers was blown up in mid-air. Reagan released the main perpetrator of that monstrous crime from a prison in Venezuela and sent him to El Salvador to organize the drugs-for-money swap to fund the dirty war against Nicaragua, which left tens of thousands dead or maimed.
Bush senior and Bush junior sheltered and pardoned those involved in these crimes. The list of misdeeds and terrorist actions perpetrated against Cuba's economy throughout half a century will be endless.
Today, Friday 13, I listened to the courageous words expressed by several speakers at the foreign ministers meeting of the so-called Cartagena Summit. The issue of the sovereign rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands -- whose economy is being brutally affected [by] being deprived of the valuable energy and maritime resources that exist in those islands -- was firmly addressed. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, after concluding today's meeting, declared with profound irony that the "Consensus of Washington" had become the "Consensus without Washington."
Now we will have the Summit of the Guayaberas. The Yayabo River and its aboriginal name, totally vindicated, will go down in history.
Fidel Castro Ruz
The Real Colombia Scandal
Get caught with a hooker in your hotel room and it's a firing offence; get caught desecrating the corpses of dead Afghans and -- nothing.
Two scandals emerging this week involving immoral conduct of U.S. Secret Service and military personnel reveal starkly different reactions and priorities among the American ruling elite.
Revelations from Colombia that up to 21 Secret Service agents and military officers, including five Special Forces, were entertaining prostitutes in their hotel rooms overnight while supposedly on security duty ahead of U.S. President Obama's arrival for the Americas Summit last week, have resulted in swift retribution from superiors.
As news of the scandal broke, all 21 American individuals were immediately recalled to U.S. headquarters and had their security clearances cancelled. So far, three secret service agents are out of their jobs. One was fired, the other two are said to have "retired."
In this U.S. election year, more sackings or "retirements" can be expected soon as the White House tries to limit the political damage from the president's security detail, known as "jump teams," being seen to be more occupied with jumping on prostitutes than would-be assassins.
"We demand that all of our employees adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards and are committed to a full review of this matter," the Secret Service said in a statement.
Meanwhile, revelations from Afghanistan this week show yet more depraved behaviour by U.S. military in that war-torn country. In the latest scandal, photographs published by the Los Angeles Times depict U.S. paratroopers gloating over dead Afghan militants by holding up limbs of their dismembered corpses.
The barbaric images have prompted condemnations from President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. "This does not represent who we are," asserted Panetta. He promised a full investigation and that those involved would be held to account.
Panetta's promises of investigation and justice over the latest sickening violation of international law and morality by U.S. forces in Afghanistan can be dismissed as disingenuous platitudes. The truth is that, unlike the Colombian hooker affair, there will be no immediate retribution against American personnel. There will be no credible investigation. There will be no security clearances cancelled. No sackings.
Recall the incidents of American military urinating on Afghan corpses, hacking off body parts as war trophies, or being photographed humiliating prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, with mock executions and torture.
We only have to recall, too, the track record of Washington's response to these and countless other atrocities and violations by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq to realise that the latest obscenity will be shunted down the memory hole or, at best, spun out in some inconsequential tribunal.
How many days passed before the Pentagon reluctantly moved to bring charges against Sergeant Robert Bales over the cold-blooded slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians, including women and children, last month? The Pentagon has also shirked calls for an investigation based on credible claims that more than one U.S. soldier was involved in that particular all-night orgy.
That Obama and Panetta appeared to react with indignation to the latest scandal out of Afghanistan is less about genuine concern for moral decency and international law. After all, these two politicians stand as criminals under international law overseeing wars of aggression or acts of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran, among other countries. Of course their condemnations of the 82nd Airborne platoon violating human remains are meaningless, and are more directed at trying to placate public outrage both in the U.S. and Afghanistan. When Panetta says: "This is not who we are" his assertion belies the exact opposite: "This is exactly who we are."
The violation of corpses in Afghanistan by U.S. military personnel is not some perverse, atypical act of a few individuals. The crime is an integral part of a much bigger systematic crime: the violation of an entire population by the U.S. ruling elite, headed up by the likes of Obama and Panetta.
Jumping on prostitutes in Colombia -- some of them believed to be underage girls -- by Secret Service agents and U.S. military officers is an offence to moral decency and an embarrassing scandal of indiscipline. It is also misconduct deserving sacking, according to Pentagon employment rules.
But in the eyes of the media tabloids, a CIA sex scandal is always front page news in comparison to the broader issue of crimes against humanity. Ask yourself: how does it compare with desecrating dead Afghans and the many other atrocities committed by the American military in recent years including the rape and murder of children?
The rapid response for retribution in the Colombian hooker scandal from White House and Pentagon chiefs compared with the hackneyed platitudes and inaction over systematic war crimes does not just reflect a distasteful, distorted concern for public relations. It points to the perverse and criminal depth of the U.S. ruling class.
Finian Cunningham is Global Research's Middle East and East Africa Correspondent, email@example.com.
April 17 -- Palestine Prisoners' Day
Valiant Resistance of Prisoners Condemned to Indefinite Detention
Palestinians display pictures of jailed relatives during a gathering marking Palestine Prisoners' Day
near the Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, April 17, 2012. (ActiveStills)
Adnan's release had been one of the conditions of his agreeing to suspend his hunger strike back in February. His 66-day strike against the Israeli Zionist occupier marks an important victory for the forces of the Palestinian resistance on the ground in the belly of the beast, i.e., the prisons, of the occupier. It equalled in length the record set (and until now held) by the Irish national martyr Bobby Sands who died in The Maze prison at Long Kesh back in 1981.
The broader target of this latest development is the Zionist occupier's entire system of administrative detention without charge or trial. This is a key weapon of their power to dictate daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This system would not last another minute without the collaboration of the PA under the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salem Fayyad. By obstructing efforts to restore presidential and Palestinian legislative elections since Abbas' term ended more than two years ago, Abbas has become unofficial president-for-life for the Zionists and their backers from the camp of U.S. imperialism, including Canada.
So long as any Palestinian land remains occupied by the Zionists, the Palestinian Prisoners Movement, with the rest of the organized forces of Palestinian resistance, stands shoulder to shoulder for the non-recognition of the State of Israel. They uphold the right of return for the 750,000 Palestinians refugeed by the original Zionist seizure of power in Palestine back in 1947-48 and their nearly six million descendants alive today. Also in line with other organized forces of Palestinian resistance, they consider the collaboration of the PA regime of Abbas and Co. with the Zionist occupier a major target.
With the date of Adnan's release tentatively secured, the prisoners' movement set April 17 as the starting date for a general open-ended hunger strike by all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli-controlled jails. The re-energizing of the prisoners' movement as the spearhead of national resistance at this time emerged out of the aftermath of the price successfully imposed on the occupier late last year by the organized forces of resistance in the prisoner swap for Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was returned in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in the occupier's jails. Within weeks, however, the Zionists were re-arresting those who had just been released and placing them in administrative detention indefinitely, without charge. As a consequence, support for the call for a general hunger strike grew very large very fast. Another outrage was perpetrated by the Zionists even as they released Hana'a Shelabi, a Palestinian woman who had gone on hunger strike after being re-jailed following release as part of the Shalit prisoner swap. The Zionist occupier deported her from the West Bank, where her family lives, to the Gaza Strip. The cup was now full and the time has come to challenge this entire rotten apparatus with organized mass hunger strikes by the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in the occupier's jails.
This struggle has simultaneously challenged both the administrative detention regime -- the principal instrument of the occupier's "authority" over every Palestinian in the West Bank -- and the collaboration in maintaining this yoke that has been developed over the last 21 years of the so-called Oslo Accords between the occupier and the Palestinian Authority.
Be they in the Occupied Territories, inside the State of Israel, in refugee camps across the Middle East or living outside the Middle East, a large majority of Palestinians see the Israeli Zionist occupier, both strategically and in daily life, as a genocidaire, and not just some temporary "racist" presence. Without taking on and destroying that collaboration in practice, Palestinian rights cannot be defended. This is why Palestinians generally reject de facto recognition and/or acceptance of the existence and rights of their occupier, the State of Israel, as a surrender to the vile claim of the so-called "Jewish state" to a "right" to steal and exist on territory that has been Palestinian land for four millennia.
In common with the late Yasser Arafat -- founder and leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization -- many Palestinians believe that there is ultimately only one way to be finally rid of the Israeli Zionist occupier and its U.S. imperialist armourers and paymasters once and for all. That is the road of national liberation struggle, the road on which the Palestinians' victory is the deed of the Palestinian people themselves. This struggle will not rest until the occupier surrenders or flees and the Palestinian nation-building project is re-launched on Palestinian territory.
In the view of the Zionists, the Obama Administration and the Harper dictatorship, the advances being scored by the Palestinians' own movement, re-energized by the prisoners' movement, are utterly unconscionable. Meanwhile, all Canadians who value peace and freedom retain the fullest confidence in the ultimate victory of the Palestinian people. They salute the recent victories scored on the road of destroying the Zionist regime of administrative detention. Such a struggle is crucial to develop further here against the plans of the Harper dictatorship for derailing and liquidating the progressive cause of the Canadian working class and people for an anti-war government.
1. Much to the shock and outrage of the entire U.S. imperialist camp, the Hamas-supported Change and Reform slate defeated Abbas' "Fatah" faction in Palestine's last elections in January 2006. In revenge, the Zionists unleashed their complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, which continues to this day. Canada's initial response was for the just-elected Harper dictatorship -- then a minority government -- to slash its then-$10 million-a-year aid package for the PA to zero. This distinguished it as the first and only country in the world to respond so drastically at that time. It effectively affirmed its role as the single most fanatical defender beyond the territory of the State of Israel of the Zionists' genocidal aims regarding the Palestinians. Among the combined Liberal and NDP parliamentary opposition of the day -- a combination which potentially could have unseated the Harper gang at that time and forced new elections in this country -- the attitude taken towards this development was to go along with it. After two terms in office as a minority government and elections to a majority last year, the Harper dictatorship now pours more than $70 million a year into the coffers of the PA. This mostly finances the creation and ongoing training, under the direction of a Pentagon general holding at least a three-star rank, of a 2,000-member Presidential (body) Guard for Abbas. Quite tellingly, not a penny of this "aid" is directed to assist the PA to ensure that the diesel-powered electric power station in Gaza, and hence its hospital, sewage and other life-sustaining services, can function continuously without the life-threatening blackouts that have become the new normal under the Zionists' crippling siege.
2. Shalit had been held and kept alive for six years by the popular resistance committees network in the Gaza Strip, including throughout the Zionists' three-week-long "Operation Cast Lead" bombing slaughter of more than 1,400 people in the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the mass prisoner exchange secured for the release of Gilad Shalit, there remain a total of more than 3,300 Palestinians in Israeli jails.
May 20-21 -- NATO Summit in Chicago
Chicago Summit to Consolidate "Global NATO" into 22nd Century U.S. Says
On April 3, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the only North Atlantic Treaty Organization command in the United States, Allied Command Transformation, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads, both in Norfolk, Virginia, against the backdrop of the annual Norfolk NATO Festival. On the same day, one day before the 63rd anniversary of the founding of NATO, she also spoke at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.
The first venue, known by its acronym ACT, is successor to the Cold War-era Allied Command Atlantic and was established as one of many post-September 11, 2001 initiatives of the George W. Bush administration and its then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Washington's NATO allies dutifully ratified the decision for its creation at the military bloc's summit in Prague, the Czech Republic in 2002.
The three sites chosen for her busy day speak volumes about the unique role of the U.S. in the world, as the country's top diplomat's topics were more suited to the nation's defense secretary, the difference between the secretaries of state and defense, and for that matter the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee triumvirate of John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, becoming an increasingly narrow one -- except that the first and third plan wars and the second executes them.
Clinton's address at ACT headquarters was short and perfunctory, but that at the World Affairs Council 2012 NATO Conference was considerably more in-depth and revealing.
She stressed continuity and development between the last NATO summit in Lisbon in late 2010 and the upcoming one in Chicago in May.
Her first point was the now over ten-year war in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), NATO's first war in Asia and its first ground war, and the longest war in the history of the U.S.
While obligatorily speaking of an end to the mission two years from now, she also indicated that the Pentagon and its NATO allies don't intend to ever fully leave the beleaguered country: "In Chicago we will discuss the form that NATO's enduring relationship with Afghanistan will then take. We also hope that, by the time we meet in Chicago, the United States will have concluded our negotiations with Afghanistan on a long-term strategic partnership between our two nations."
Without delineating the issue in any detail, what she was alluding to was the U.S. maintaining three major strategic air bases: at Bagram, outside the nation's capital; at Shindand near the Iranian border; and near the capital of Kandahar province close to the Pakistani border. Air fields also capable of monitoring Central Asia, Russia and China.
NATO, which has been building an Alliance-interoperable Afghan army and air force from scratch under the auspices of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, will also never fully depart the country.
Clinton spoke in the bland, cliché-ridden and self-congratulatory manner suited to such occasions, glossing over entirely the mounting attacks by Afghan soldiers on their NATO counterparts and the Kandahar massacre of March 11 and the deadly NATO attack on a Pakistani outpost last November with the resultant closing of NATO supply routes in the country. In her view, nothing has been done wrong in Afghanistan -- except that the counterinsurgency war there should have been waged with greater intensity years earlier. In 2004, while she was a senator from New York, she demanded that U.S. troops in Afghanistan be quintupled from the then-12,000 to 60,000. As secretary of state she assisted in realizing that goal, adding 40,000 for good measure.
The two other points addressed in her speech at the World Affairs Council 2012 NATO Conference were "to update NATO's defense capabilities for the 21st century" and "to cement and expand our global partnerships." The three were identified as "goals for Chicago."
In terms of expanding NATO's global military capabilities in line with the new Strategic Concept adopted at the last summit, she highlighted concerns with developments in North Africa and the Middle East, with particular emphasis on Syria, stating with all due presumption and menace: "Syrians are undergoing horrific assault by a brutal dictator. The end of the story has not yet been written."
With respect to the role of NATO, she added: "Europe is America's partner of first resort. We're working together in the Middle East and North Africa, in Afghanistan, and reaching out to emerging powers and regions, like those nations in the Asia Pacific." Where the Pentagon goes the Alliance is sure to follow.
To prove the point, Washington and its NATO allies, she stated, "are collaborating on a new Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which uses drones to provide crucial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information to our forces." And "in Chicago, we'll decide how to use this system as a hub for joint operations."
As the most ominous specimen of NATO serving the interests of U.S. global military plans, she also said: "In Lisbon ... we agreed to deploy a missile defense system to provide full coverage and protection for NATO European territory, population, and forces ... In Chicago, we will look to advance that goal by developing our plans for NATO to exercise command and control of missile defense assets." NATO is now the main partner in Washington's global interceptor missile system.
The now eight-year-old NATO air patrol operation over the Baltic Sea's Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- all bordering Russia -- by rotating Western, including U.S., warplanes was not left out, as in Chicago "we will highlight NATO's decision to extend the Baltic Air Policing Program..."
By way of belated acknowledgement that the main purpose of NATO's war in Afghanistan was to build an international, integrated expeditionary military force -- there are 50 nations contributing soldiers, equipment, artillery and aircraft for NATO's International Security Assistance Force -- for future wars, Clinton said that the Chicago summit will enhance the allies' "commitment to joint exercises and training programs that deepen the habits of cooperation we have developed through our work together in Afghanistan."
Segueing from the second to the third point, she stated: "More than 20 non-NATO countries are providing troops and resources in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, we work with non-NATO partners to fight piracy, counter violent extremism, keep peace in Kosovo. And when NATO moved to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions on the protection of civilians in Libya, it did so in lockstep with non-NATO partners from Europe and the Middle East."
The use of the word lockstep was an inadvertent example of candor from the secretary.
After wars in three continents -- Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya -- and permanent naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea, Clinton envisions that the Chicago summit will consolidate and expand the role of the world's only military bloc as a global interventionist force:
"In Chicago we will build on these partnerships, as promised. We'll recognize the operational, financial, and political contributions of our partners across a range of efforts to defend our common values in the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa."
Referring to George Marshall whom she lavishly praised repeatedly during her long day in Virginia, Clinton pledged "we will once again make the right bet, a bet on America's leadership and strength, just as we did in the 20th century, for this century and beyond."
NATO was formed 63 years ago, supposedly as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union in Central Europe; 21 years after the disappearance of the USSR, the world's sole military superpower and its secretary of state are promising its continuation and growth into the 22nd century. And beyond.
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