Mike Pompeo

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Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 3:27am in

Home to what the United Nations has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Yemen is on the brink of total disaster after five years of protracted war. Yet crucial international aid to the country has been cut this year to just 25 cents per person, per day, around half of what was given in 2019. That money translates to just 200 grams (less than half a pound) of beans, three eggs, or 200ml of cooking oil inside the country, where food prices are soaring.

The aid has been channeled primarily through the United Nations. But the organization warns that what they received is less than half of what is necessary to supply clean water, food, shelter, and medicine to the 24 million people (80 percent of the population) who need humanitarian assistance.

Much of the blame for the drop in aid can be placed at the door of the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly pressuring the U.N. to scale back humanitarian assistance to the country in an attempt to starve the rebels of aid. In March, Pompeo traveled to U.N. headquarters to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make his case.

Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, pleaded with the international community to do more to help the country. “While the economic fallout unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the globe, in Yemen millions are on the brink of starvation. Yemenis cannot afford aid to be cut, people need more help to survive, not less,” he said.

 

Cashing in on a crisis

Furthermore, the countries that have contributed the most in aid — the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — are the very same ones directing the onslaught against Yemen, with Saudi and Emirati troops leading the fight, supported by British and American arms sales and political cover. Saudi Arabia, for example, is responsible for 49 percent of all weapons purchases, while it has committed to buying $350 billion worth of U.S. arms in the coming years. This economic power has allowed the four to play politics with international aid, directing to groups that allow them to advance their agenda instead of where it is needed most.

“Countries should stop cashing in on this appalling humanitarian crisis and instead put people’s lives above arms manufacturers’ profit,” Siddiquey said. “The Yemenis who’ve had to flee their homes, go without food and clean water, and endure outbreaks of disease need a nationwide ceasefire and inclusive peace talks to end this war so they can rebuild their lives.”

The World Bank has warned of a “famine of biblical proportions,” with over 20 million people also lacking access to clean water. Because of the lack of funds, the U.N. has had to reduce services at 300 health and food distribution centers across Yemen. These sites are already in short supply, as the Saudi-led coalition intentionally targets their Yemeni counterparts, attacking water or medical facilities once every ten days on average since the war began in 2014.

Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, the U.N. explains, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. These include deadly outbreaks of cholera and COVID-19. Officially, the country has seen only 2,047 COVID-19 cases and cholera numbers have dropped from last year. But, as Oxfam warned, these low figures do not show that the country has the epidemics under control. Quite the opposite: it shows their embattled health systems have been completely overwhelmed and are unable to record the devastation wrought.

 

From Arab Spring to Abraham Accord

While the conflict has its origins in the 2011 Arab Spring, the war officially began three years later, when armed Shia Houthi rebels rose up against what they saw as a corrupt and undemocratic government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi initially fled the country but was given strong support by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf monarchies, and Western powers, who accused Iran of arming and funding the Houthis. However, without many boots on the ground, they have been unable to dislodge the Houthis from their strongholds in the populous south and west of the country, preferring to bomb the country from above. While the official death toll of the war stands at over 100,000, most believe this is a serious underestimate.

Unfortunately, the war is unlikely to cool down in the foreseeable future. The recently signed Abraham Accord between Bahrain, the U.A.E., and Israel, for example, allows for the transfer of high-tech American and Israeli weaponry to the Gulf states, who will doubtless be keen to use it in Yemen.

“The U.A.E. is one of the central protagonists in the cataclysmic war of aggression against Yemen,” Greg Shupak of the University of Guelph, Ontario, told MintPress. “So there is a strong possibility that it will unleash these killing machines on the impoverished Yemeni population that it has already done so much to devastate…Likewise, increased intelligence sharing between Israel and the U.A.E. could entail Israel helping the U.A.E. having more, and possibly more advanced, information that it can use to maim and kill Yemenis.”

Despite promising to draw down its role in the conflict, Sudan is sending hundreds of more troops to the country via Saudi Arabia. A foreign ministry spokesperson also recently revealed that the country is in talks with Israel to normalize relations. Saudi Arabia has also recently begun building a military base in the Hawf nature reserve in eastern Yemen, a crucial oasis in the largely arid country. As always, there appears to be plenty of money for weapons, but not enough for crucial humanitarian aid.

Feature photo | A medic checks a malnourished newborn inside an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, June 27, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day appeared first on MintPress News.

Pompeo Announces Funding for Welfare, Healthcare and Indigenous Support. In Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/09/2020 - 3:12am in

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has returned from his official visits to Suriname, Guyana, Colombia and Brazil, where he discussed the possibilities of regime change in Venezuela, a nation which has drawn Washington’s ire for over 20 years.

On Saturday the 56-year-old former CIA Director announced a $348 million package he said was a “response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by the corrupt and illegitimate Maduro regime,” and signaled the U.S.’ “commitment to the Venezuelan people.”

“U.S. humanitarian assistance provides access to emergency food, safe drinking water, direct cash assistance, sanitation, and hygiene support, health care, medical supplies, psychosocial support, livelihoods, and protection for vulnerable groups including women, youth, and indigenous people,” the State Department’s press release on the issue read, programs that the U.S. government is failing to provide for its own citizens during the pandemic. It also noted that much of the cash would actually be going to neighboring countries that have taken in migrants, rather than individuals themselves.

Yet neither Pompeo nor the State Department noted that Venezuela is in such parlous economic straits in no small part due to the actions of the U.S. government. Washington has placed the country under ever-tightening sanctions for years, going after any individual, business or government who trades with the country. This has effectively led to an international blockade of the country, where Venezuela can neither import vital products like food or medicines nor sell oil, its primary export.

The long economic malaise also brought on by government incompetence, local elites’ intransigence, and a continued regional downturn has led to extreme hardship for millions, with the U.S. sanctions alone directly responsible for over 100,000 deaths, according to Swiss-American U.N. Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who visited the country and declared the U.S. guilty of “crimes against humanity.” Thus, it could be said that the State Department’s actions are merely attempting to put a bandaid over a deep cut they themselves stuck a knife into.

While in Colombia, Pompeo discussed regime change in Venezuela with Colombian President Ivan Duque, who described the Kansan as a “dear friend of Colombia” and accused President Maduro of Venezuela of crimes against humanity. In Brazil, Pompeo managed to get the Bolsonaro administration to sign off on his “Democratic Transition Framework” (DTS) for Venezuela as the way forward.

The DTS requires Maduro to resign and for the country’s Constituent Assembly to be completely dissolved, with all power going to the National Assembly, the only branch of government the opposition currently controls. From there, the National Assembly would appoint new members to the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. And while the DTS does not specifically state Maduro could not run for office again, Pompeo made it clear, stating, “Nicolas Maduro will never again govern Venezuela.” Therefore, it seems unlikely that Maduro, who was elected by a larger share of the electorate than Trump in 2016 or Obama in 2012, would sign off on such sweeping changes to the country that the Trump administration demands.

The United States also continues to support self-declared president Juan Guaidó, who has launched a series of unsuccessful coup attempts since January 2019. Washington has recently been transferring seized Venezuelan government assets to him so he can personally give every health worker $20 per month during the coronavirus pandemic. With the Venezuelan bolivar so weak, the stipend amounts to a sizable subsidy. Guaidó has retained strong bipartisan support in Washington, despite leaked contracts between himself and U.S. mercenary group Silvercorp showing he intended to rule alone after the coup, paying the organization to become his personal security force and crushing any resistance to his rule. Inside Venezuela, however, polls show only three percent of the population back him.

 

Biden: a break with the past or more of the same?

With elections coming up in November, it is possible that there will be a change in government in the United States before Venezuela. Democratic challenger Joe Biden currently holds a 6.5 point nationwide lead in combined polling. Over 100 organizations are urging the former vice-president to adopt a “good neighbor” policy with regards to the region. And while the Democratic National Platform is more progressive on Cuba, it makes clear that it wants regime change in Venezuela as well.

In order to better understand the potential for a different American path for Latin America under a Biden presidency, MintPress spoke with Dr. Barry Cannon, a sociologist specializing in Latin American politics at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Cannon was hopeful that a Biden presidency could mean a more multilateral approach in the region, some lessening of sanctions on Venezuela, and more openness towards negotiations. It could also mean the U.S. moving away from such close support with the far-right Bolsonaro administration and more cooperation with left-of-center governments, such as those in Mexico and Argentina.

“However, I wouldn’t expect any great departures from Trump-era policies,” he warned, noting that Colombia, “which has a far worse human rights record than Venezuela,” is, “almost always supported by the U.S.” While Washington will “continue to actively work against any Latin American country which challenges U.S. imperial power in the region,” such as Venezuela or Bolivia, where Movement to Socialism candidate Luis Arce is the frontrunner in October’s election. “It’s important to keep in mind the continuities in U.S. Americas policy with Trump in charge rather than the differences,” he concluded.

Feature photo | U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second right, and Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, are received at a reception center in the Boa Vista Air Base in Roraima, Brazil, Sept. 18, 2020. Bruno Mancinelle | Pool via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Pompeo Announces Funding for Welfare, Healthcare and Indigenous Support. In Venezuela appeared first on MintPress News.

As Venezuela Foils CIA “Terror Plot” Pompeo Tours Its Neighbors To Talk Regime Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 6:44am in

Venezuela’s government has announced it has foiled a potential terror attack, arresting a former CIA operative while he was on a stakeout near the country’s largest oil refining facility.

Matthew John Heath was arrested with three other Venezuelans outside the Amuay and Cardon refineries in Falcon state in the west of the country, reportedly carrying a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, four blocks of C4 explosives, a satellite phone, and stacks of U.S. dollars. He has been charged with terrorism and weapons trafficking. The country’s prosecutor general, Tarek William Saab, claimed that Heath entered Venezuela illegally via the Colombian border without a passport, although police found a photocopy hidden on his person. Saab also said that Heath was carrying a small coin or badge that CIA employees use to prove their identity to one another without raising suspicions.

Images released by the Venezuelan government show items seized from Heath upon his arrest:

Venezuela John Heath

According to police investigations, Heath is a former marine who served as a communications operator in a “secret CIA base” in Iraq for ten years between 2006 and 2016, where he was hired by private security firm MVM. MVM was founded by a former U.S. Secret Service agent and continues to work closely with Washington. According to business directory Dun & Bradstreet, the company “provides security staffing and consulting services, primarily to U.S. government entities.” “Need a secret agent?” begins MVM’s biography. Researcher Jeb Sprague told MintPress today that Heath’s family has a lengthy background in the oil industry. While this suggests that the operation could have been as “innocent” as a corporate spying mission, it is difficult to see why anyone would possess grenade launchers and C4 if not for seriously nefarious purposes.

 

A deafening silence

Silence on the incident from the U.S. government, who never misses an opportunity to escalate tensions with Venezuela, is notable. The fact that the government has not commented on a U.S. citizen being charged with terrorism is “very telling,” according to Caribbean specialist Arnold August, who told By Any Means Necessary that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “are in a difficult position,” “dancing around the fact that there are obvious incursions organized by the U.S. into Venezuela that are far from peaceful.”

The story is also being downplayed or simply ignored by corporate media, despite their predilection for printing stories that paint the Maduro government as authoritarian. This, for Latin America expert Dr. Rodrigo Acuña, was predictable. “I’m not surprised at the reaction to this article at all. The mainstream media rarely look to verify or follow up any allegations made by the Maduro government in Caracas that the Trump administration is looking to overthrow it,” he said. Acuña, a researcher and former associate lecturer in Spanish and Latin American studies at Macquarie University, Australia, told MintPress that the media often follows the U.S. government’s line when it comes to America’s “backyard.”

When the Bush administration supported a coup against the government of Hugo Chavez in 2002, with very few exceptions, most of the mainstream media ignored these allegations. Then when evidence was presented they continued to ignore the claims made by Chavez. This situation continues until this day, where Washington is doing almost everything within its power to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro…For its part, Washington then ignores the statements that come out of Caracas or even at the United Nations while the mainstream media for their part also act in a similar manner.”

After the botched May coup attempt that saw two American mercenaries, Airan Berry and Luke Denman, arrested, the government put out an extremely half-hearted denial, with Pompeo stating only that “there was no U.S. government direct involvement,” although he did admit that he knew who had funded the operation, promising to release the information “at an appropriate time.” This time, however, there has been radio silence from Washington.

 

Pompeo’s regime change tour

The incident in Falcon state happens just as Pompeo is about to embark on a four-day trip to many of Venezuela’s closest neighbors in order, in the State Department’s own words, to “defend democracy” and “strengthen security against regional threats.” Interestingly, when visiting Brazil, Pompeo is not traveling to its capital Brasilia, nor either of its largest cities, Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, but to Boa Vista, a small city deep in the Amazon jungle on the Venezuelan border, in order to “underscore the importance of U.S. and Brazilian support for the Venezuelan people in their time of need by visiting with Venezuelan migrants fleeing the man made disaster in Venezuela.” That the “regional threat” means Venezuela is made explicit in the press release, the State Department declaring that Pompeo will meet Colombian President Ivan Duque in order to discuss “threats to regional security” like “Maduro’s illegitimate regime.” Pompeo will also visit Venezuelan neighbors Guyana and Suriname.

 

The Bay of Piglets and other coups

Just before the coup attempt in May, Trump advisor John Bolton not-so-cryptically tweeting that “Morning is coming to Venezuela — again.” U.S.-backed politician Juan Guaidó called on the military to rise up and overthrow Maduro. At the same time, 300 troops, led by American ex-Green Berets, attempted an amphibious invasion of Venezuela. Their mission was to shoot their way to Caracas, taking the presidential palace and ensconcing Guaidó as president. Guaidó had promised to pay the U.S. outfit around a quarter-billion dollars for their services. However, the operation ended in complete disaster upon even minimal pushback, as the mercenaries were immediately overpowered and apprehended by disgruntled members of the House of Socialist Fishermen in the sleepy coastal village of Chuao. Images show that some of the heavily armed, highly-trained mercenaries appear to have wet themselves in terror when coming into contact with lobstermen armed with handguns, fishing knives and box cutters. Berry and Denman were recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for their actions.

The U.S. government has bankrolled, if not organized, a great number of coup attempts in Venezuela, going back to 2002, where it supported insurrection attempts in April and December. Since then, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding, training, organizing and supporting groups inside the country, all of which have one thing in common: a strong aversion to the left-wing government that has held power since 1999.

Juan Guaidó, the self-declared president of Venezuela, emerged as a Pentagon protege in 2007 as a leader of ultimately unsuccessful student protests aimed at forcing a change of government, subsequently studying at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Since January 2019, Guaidó has launched five audacious bids at seizing the presidency from Maduro, each less successful than the last. Even before the “Bay of Piglets” fiasco in May, he was supported by only three percent of Venezuelans.

 

Economic crisis

The Amuay and Cardon refineries form the world’s second largest refining complex, capable of producing nearly one million barrels of gasoline per day, putting into perspective the enormity of the charges levied against Heath. Current oil production is far lower, however, due to mismanagement, and to U.S. sanctions, which greatly reduce the customers Venezuela has for its primary product. As the economy shrunk, poverty rose and so did shortages of key products. Large numbers of people simply left the country. And as sanctions bite, production levels have dropped to the point where there is even a gasoline shortage inside the country, causing long lines and much resentment at the government, the U.S., the opposition, and anyone in a position of authority. The COVID lockdown has led to reduced demand for oil, as citizens stay home as much as they can. Nevertheless, the destruction of the country’s largest oil refining complex would be a devastating blow to the society — all the more reason it might be targeted by those wishing to finally see an end to the socialist government.

Feature photo | Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab holds a photo of bullets he says were seized with other weapons in connection with what the government calls a failed attack over the weekend aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8, 2020. Matias Delacroix | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post As Venezuela Foils CIA “Terror Plot” Pompeo Tours Its Neighbors To Talk Regime Change appeared first on MintPress News.

It is Not Named the Trump White House

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 27/08/2020 - 2:50am in

The Republican National Convention is designed to fire up the base to make sure its members vote, and to reassure wavering Republicans that they can vote for Trump without being racists but rather staunch Americans. And on both fronts, the first two days of this convention have delivered. Continue reading

The post It is Not Named the Trump White House appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Hoping to Seize on UAE-Israel Deal, Pompeo and Kushner Head East in Search of New Allies for Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 7:10am in

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and unelected advisor to President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, are embarking on a tour of the Middle East beginning with a stop in Israel to discuss “regional security issues related to Iran’s malicious influence” with Prime Minister Netanyahu, followed by visits to Sudan, Bahrain and now official U.S. partner, the United Arab Emirates.

Spun as an effort to speed up a U.S.-brokered “normalization” between Arab countries and Israel, the trip comes just four days after the White House sent the Secretary of State to the U.N. Security Council with the message that all UN sanctions against Iran were to be restored; invoking a clause in the Iran nuclear deal “that allows participants to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran.”

Critics of the move have deemed it illegal, not only because the Trump administration itself withdrew from the deal it is now attempting to enforce, but also because the UN Security Council had previously voted to allow the arms embargo to expire in the fall.

As Pompeo and company land in Jerusalem, tensions are high in the region. Sudan, one of the countries on the itinerary, is in political disarray nearly two years after the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in 2018. In July, Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, replaced seven senior cabinet officials, including the ministers of finance, foreign, energy, and health. Five days ago, he sacked his official spokesperson for disclosing ongoing talks with Israel during a press conference in which spokesman Haider Badawi said he was “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement” with the apartheid state.

The Sudanese government immediately disavowed Badawi’s comments, asserting that “no one tasked [the spokesman] with making statements on this matter.” Meanwhile, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen has reportedly confirmed talks with Sudan, adding that “Israel hopes to reach a peace agreement that includes the return of Sudanese refugees to their country,” according to the Al-Ittihad newspaper. Israeli officials have also claimed that Netanyahu himself met with the head of Sudan’s transitional government in Uganda last February for a top-secret meeting to discuss normalizing relations.

 

The long-time ally

Bahrain, a long-time Atlanticist client state, is also on Pompeo’s diplomatic schedule. The tiny Gulf state of fewer than two million people has played host to the U.S. Navy since 1947 and was the headquarters for the British protectorate of the lower Persian Gulf after World War II. The crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa descends from a long line of Al-Khalifas to rule the nation under Britain’s neo-colonial eye and, later, as a sovereign country since 1971. Considered a “strong security partner” by the U.S. and host of the only operating American naval base in the region with 7,800 U.S. troops, the Trump administration recently lifted arms sales restrictions imposed by Obama. Another member of the Al-Kahlifa clan, Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa, sat down for an interview with The Times of Israel last summer in which he said he “hoped to visit Israel, when it’s all open, peaceful,” signaling Bahrain’s openness to facilitate normalization between Israel and Arab states.


Jared Kushner pitches his so-called “Deal of the Century” to a crowd of Bahrain’s royalty in Manama, June, 2019. BNA via AP

A report updated in June by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CSR) titled “Bahrain: Unrest, Security, and U.S. Policy,” outlined the country’s human rights record and history of political repression, which should nevertheless be overlooked because the country “has long presented a policy dilemma for the United States because Bahrain is a longtime ally that is pivotal to maintaining Persian Gulf security.”

 

An easy dilemma

The policy dilemma is limited to whether or not Bahrain, Sudan or any other oil-rich countries wish to abide by Atlanticist dictates for their particular region, which has now shifted to a policy of exclusion of the Palestinian people living under the apartheid regime in Israel and an intensification of the campaign of isolation against Iran.

This is being called normalization and some, like Sudan’s former government spokesman, see nothing wrong with it. In what may be the most disingenuous statement ever made, Haider Badawi told Sky News Arabia that Sudan “shall be able to build an exemplary peace deal to all our neighboring countries in the region, so that they are able to follow our footsteps and do the same with Israel. I would like to note here that even Palestinians have had a long history of diplomatic ties with Israel. So, why should it be right for them and considered wrong for us.”

Pompeo will finalize his trip in the UAE, where he will meet with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss the deal signed with Israel a few weeks ago. Jared Kushner’s itinerary, however, has not been made public. He will be accompanied on an ostensibly separate excursion by National Security adviser, Robert O’Brien and special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook in what is only being described as “talks with leaders in the region to encourage more Arab countries to follow in the UAE’s footsteps and move forward with full normalization of relations with Israel.”

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and White House adviser Jared Kushner, right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House. Susan Walsh | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Hoping to Seize on UAE-Israel Deal, Pompeo and Kushner Head East in Search of New Allies for Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor’s Warning About Trump’s War on the Rule of Law

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 2:05am in

Given the death toll from COVID-19 and the continuing public outcry over police brutality in the United States, it may have gone largely unnoticed that on June 11, President Trump issued an executive order targeting the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Hague-based war crimes tribunal that the United States has refused to join. Continue reading

The post Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor’s Warning About Trump’s War on the Rule of Law appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Mike Pompeo Delineates Atlanticist Playbook To Target China, Russia and Iran  

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 1:14am in

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for a teleconference Q&A with Hudson Institute senior fellow, Marie-Josee Kravis at the Economic Club of New York; a think tank founded at the start of the 20th century, which broaches issues surrounding “social, economic and political questions.” The organization is currently chaired by the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and counts several corporate leaders from some of the country’s most important institutions on its board of trustees, such as Mastercard, Goldman Sachs, PayPal, and many others.

On the occasion of the 548th meeting, the top American diplomat was lobbed a number of canned questions regarding the “state of U.S.-China relations” by Kravis. He immediately brought up Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing in the 1970s when Nixon’s secretary of state set up the eventual ‘opening’ of China, asserting that the last four decades of “dialogue-at-all-costs diplomacy” has failed to achieve “the outcome that I think Dr. Kissinger hoped [for].”

Pompeo, the “official face of Trump administration thuggery” claimed that China has shown a pattern of persistent “unilateral aggression” over the years and “thievery” of intellectual property that has subverted the “good work done by American businesses” and directly blamed the Chinese for the evisceration of the American middle class; an accusation that rings especially hollow coming from a Koch-sponsored politician, but is nothing more than the State Department’s chief mouthpiece executing the narrative dictates of the U.S. National Security Council, which long-ago established a strategic policy to thwart the PRC’s drive to become a self-reliant economic powerhouse and its inexorable encroachment on the West’s designs over Eurasia.

After a few remarks about the recent policy change regarding the South China Sea, Pompeo went on talk about the “fairness and reciprocity and security” that president Trump is ostensibly trying to obtain for “the American people” via the ongoing trade war with China, but instead of tackling the issue directly, framed it as a matter of China’s disrespect for the “rule of law” and international institutions in regards to the “virus [that] broke out in Wuhan” and “what they did with respect to the World Health Organization”, regurgitating long-held narratives of China’s supposed interference in the WHO’s response.

 

NATO’s shifting role

Once the anti-Xi Jinping stage was set, Kravis turned the conversation to broader Atlanticist perspectives from the point of view of the U.S. State Department’s attempts to bring the EU into stricter alignment with U.S. goals in the region. She asked about the call Pompeo held with recently-installed EU chief diplomat, Borrell, and 27 EU foreign ministers two weeks ago, in which a “distinct bilateral dialogue focused on China” was suggested.

Pompeo argued that the “tide has turned” on the EU’s resistance to take a hardline approach to China, claiming that Europe was now open to it as a result of the “work that we have done to demonstrate to the world the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to them.” He provided two examples that were meant to buttress his point, but neither were from the EU itself. One centered around the UK’s decision to exclude China from its implementation of 5G technology, and the other was India’s move to excise 50 Chinese information applications that were operating in that country.

The call with the EU ministers also comes on the heels of big changes at NATO, as Germany assumes the presidency of the EU and the Chairmanship of NATO’s National Reserve Forces Committee, even as Trump plans to slash its troop numbers in the pivotal nation – a plan that has garnered some resistance from both the Pentagon and Congress.

 

Bipartisan sanctions, unilateral edicts, and COVID

The subject of China’s relationship with Iran and Venezuela was touched on towards the latter part of the interview, in which Pompeo warned about the end of the JCPOA, known colloquially as the Iran Nuclear deal; stating that it “would be tragic” and represent the imminent transformation of Iran into “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.” He said that he hoped the arms embargo could be extended diplomatically and that the UN Security Council – presently headed by China – could be persuaded to go along with it, but cited Democrats Kerry, Sherman and former president Obama to express the bipartisan will to “unilaterally reimpose (sic) all of those sanctions” in case they didn’t.

The topic of Venezuela’s gasoline sales to Iran was touched on briefly, as was the static situation with North Korea before returning to China and WHO, specifically. Kravis posed the question of which “institution or organization or format, process” would be best to “replace the WHO in terms of sharing of information, sharing of data, sharing of research.” Pompeo touted PEPFAR, President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, as precedent for a U.S. action in response to the “last time the WHO failed with respect to a pandemic,” and praised Deborah Birx – head of Trump’s COVID-19 task force – whose medical license has been expired for a decade.

The top American diplomat expressed hope that the U.S. would be able to “build a coalition” around this issue, as they had done when a “Chinese candidate” was about to lead the “World Intellectual Property Organization” and had successfully built a “coalition” to insert the State Department’s preferred candidate in the position. The softball Q&A ended on an ironic note when Kravis asked Pompeo about diversity in the State Department. “We don’t have enough Mandarin speakers here.” he conceded.

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Constitution Center about the Commission on Unalienable Rights, July 16, 2020, in Philadelphia. Brendan Smialowski | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Mike Pompeo Delineates Atlanticist Playbook To Target China, Russia and Iran   appeared first on MintPress News.

Election 2024: Pompeo Pulls Right, Maryland Gov. Hogan Pulls Left

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/07/2020 - 11:49pm in

Today two leading Republican politicians attempted to stake out turf for the 2024 (that's not a typo) presidential race, as Trump tried to strengthen his hand for the 2020 election. Trump tweets for more LAW AND ORDER. Continue reading

The post Election 2024: Pompeo Pulls Right, Maryland Gov. Hogan Pulls Left appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Hong Kong Crackdown: Implications for Japan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 7:22pm in

Published in Japan Forward July 2 2020

Published in the Sankei Shimbun July 24 2020

China’s imposition of a draconian new security law on Hong Kong is a game-changer. Thought crimes, such as spreading “malicious rumours” and lobbying foreign governments for sanctions against Hong Kong, are now punishable by life sentences, no matter where in the world they are committed.

In the words of Charles Mok, a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council who represents the information technology industry, “all of a sudden, the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement has disappeared and Hong Kong is truly just another part of China.”

The agreement between the UK and China was that “one country, two systems” should persist for fifty years from 1997. During that period “rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association” would be legally protected.

China is in violation of these commitments, but it is unclear what the international community can do to reverse this naked power grab. Boris Johnson’s UK government has offered three million Hong Kong citizens with UK visa rights – about 40% of the total population – the right to move to the UK and a path to citizenship. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to remove Hong Kong’s favourable trade status under US law, which was based on the now dubious proposition that it has a high degree of autonomy from China.

Both the above measures would accelerate the decline of Hong Kong. Banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered that are based in Hong Kong in order to do business with Chinese counterparties would stay no matter what, likewise the Beijing-friendly tycoons who have done so well out of the relationship, but Hong Kong as a regional financial hub would cease to exist.

The local talent pool would drain away, to be replaced by loyal citizens of the People’s Republic. Members of the young generation who sympathized with or took part in the pro-democracy movement would be particularly incentivized to exit. Even some of the Hong Kong-based foreign companies doing business in China might decide to shift their operations to Shanghai or Beijing, especially if Mike Pompeo’s threat becomes a reality.

Nature abhors a vacuum. If Hong Kong ceases to exist in the form that has become familiar over the past forty years, what will replace it? There are few candidates capable of taking over as a regional financial hub. Australia is too far away. Taiwan – which is taking an increasing number of “refugees” from Hong Kong – has the advantage of language, but also  bears a heavy load of China risk and is internationally isolated, having diplomatic relations with just seven small countries.

Singapore is already a regional financial centre, but not ideally located for coverage of north east Asia. New York is a seventeen hour nonstop flight away. It is also facing problems of its own in terms of scandals and delistings, signifying ”the death of the Singapore Stock Exchange,” according to Arnaud Vagner, the man who exposed the dodgy goings-on at Singapore-listed Noble Group

Tokyo is an obvious candidate to take over Hong Kong’s functions. The time difference dovetails neatly with London and New York and the logistics are top-notch now that Haneda Airport can handle long haul flights. The workforce is highly educated, and Japanese financial innovation goes back a long way, to the establishment of the world’s first futures exchange in 1710. According to the widely-used Global Financial Centers Index, compiled by the UK’s Z/ Yen Group and the China Development Group, Tokyo ranks number three for competitiveness in 2020, behind New York and London and ahead of Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong

But does Japan want the hassle of hosting a semi-permanent community of foreign financiers and their families? Tokyo may be a globally important financial center, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is international. Nearly all the business transacted is Japan-oriented and handled by Japanese nationals.

In the last fifteen years there has been much talk about creating an international financial centre, but bureaucratic inertia has prevailed – for good reason. The menu of changes that would be required – in taxation, visa categories, regulatory culture, language skills and commercial law – would be formidable. Only an “all Japan” effort, involving the key ministries and heavyweight political leaders, could make it happen.

Perhaps the biggest barrier of all would be the difficulty of getting the Japanese public onside. Inequality would be an obvious issue. Ordinary people might well question why, at a time when some Japanese citizens were homeless, well-paid foreigners were being exempted from estate taxes or benefiting from a special low levy on capital gains. Likewise, how would the media react when financial scandal erupts, as is inevitable even in the best-run jurisdictions? Is Japan getting anything out of this deal, people might wonder.

The simple answer is that a dynamic financial industry creates many high-paying jobs and contributes a lot of tax revenue. That is partly why both Singapore and Hong Kong have achieved a GDP per capita far higher than that of the UK or Japan.

The more complicated answer is that being a regional financial hub would project Japanese influence in East Asia and win friends. Any financial refugees from Hong Kong will by definition be on Japan’s side. In the new Cold War that is now taking shape, isolation is not an option. You want all the allies you can get.

Bill Barr and the Ghost of Fascism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 6:08am in

Bill Barr places the President above the law, defining him as a kind of unitary sovereign. Continue reading

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