Washington, D.C. (GPA) – The Imperialist policies of the US have heated up within a span of 24 hours from an already fever pitch.
On Sunday, the US State Department threatened Venezuela with further sanctions over their presidential elections which Deputy Secretary John Sullivan claimed as illegitimate. On Monday, not only did State follow through on their threats on Venezuela, they also made good on their word to sanction Iran – another blow to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement which the US violated originally by leaving it on May 8th of this year. These aggressive moves only show the US hand in diplomacy – which is already obvious to anti-imperialist countries like Iran, Venezuela, and the DPRK – that is regime change and negotiations only on US terms.
The Pentagon Threatens War With Iran
Donald Trump on May 8th promised that the most severe sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran were to come following the US exit of the JCPOA. The lightning rod president ordered his Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin to devise sanctions on Iran which he claimed was a “rogue regime” and sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East. An interesting accusation from a man that sits at the highest executive position in a nation that sends billions in aid to Israel yearly, who turns around and bomb their neighbors routinely–often daily.
Iran did not have to wait long as around two weeks later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced severe sanctions during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think-tanks in the US. While Pompeo was vague on the details of these measures, he promised Iran would “struggle to keep it’s economy alive”. Essentially what these measures amount to are a reimposing of the sanctions before the JCPOA was negotiated, this comes only a week after the US imposed measures on the Governor of Iran’s central bank who Pompeo claims sponsors terrorism. It may look difficult for the US to stand on such grounds considering they have been exposed funneling arms to Daesh/ISIS in Syria and Libya, but hypocrisy is only a word in the US Empire’s dictionary when they are accusing other countries of it.
Iran has repeatedly denied any claims the US has as a basis for leaving the JCPOA and waging new sanctions on them. Pompeo’s list of twelve demands – which if met, he did not promise would be lifted anyway – constituted the original accusations that Iran was lying to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and still developing their nuclear program in secret. The IAEA even refuted these claims on May 1st in a statement by their spokesperson.
The 12 Demands which Pompeo gave during his speech on Monday are harsh and purposely designed to be impossible to meet, as most of it is requesting Iran to prove a negative especially in regards to its alleged nuclear program and missile development. Some of the non-nuclear related demands include backhanded attacks on the sovereignty of Lebanon, and even a US neo-colony, Iraq. Pompeo demanded that Iran pull any military personnel from Syria, who are there at the request of the Syrian government. He also demanded absurdly that Iran respect the sovereignty of Iraq, and permit the disarming and demobilization of Shia Popular Mobilization Units. Further, he told Iran that they must stop support of US-named “terrorist groups” Hezbollah and Hamas, cease the harboring of al-Qaeda leaders, as well as supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan – a patently absurd demand as the US is guilty of training Al Qaeda and creating the Taliban. He also repeated the unproven assertion that Iran is militarily supporting Ansarullah (“The Houthis”) in Yemen – which has experienced horrifying aggression from US allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – and demanded that they halt such activities immediately. Iran has consistently denied any claims of supporting Ansarullah. The US has refused to prove these claims despite routinely bringing them out to attack Iran.
The US states that these policies towards Iran help diminish the Islamic Republic’s influence in the region, it’s antagonistic positions towards Israel and Saudi Arabia, and combat its sponsorship of terrorism. In reality, Iran has developed closer relations with Iraq, Syria, and Hezbollah out of mutual necessity in order to combat terrorism actually sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, and chiefly, the US. If Iran did not work closely and assist Syria and Iraq during the Islamic State’s reign of terror which ripped through both countries, Iran would be forced to fight the US proxies on their own territory.
Besides, Pompeo should be thanking Iran for the fantastic efforts of the PMUs in Iraq, as even the Iraqi government said they could not defeat Daesh without the help of this popular units despite US air “support” (which killed more civilians than terrorists).
The US departure from the JCPOA and renewed sanctions have shaken the EU, who has promised to stay in the agreement. Indeed, one of the EU’s major energy companies French Total stands to lose substantially from US sanctions, to the tune of 5 billion dollars. Company officials plan on winding down operations by November if the US does not grant a waiver. Norweigan company Saga Energy stands to lose 3 billion, while Airbus stands to lose a contract which would sell IranAir a total of 100 civilian jets. These sanctions pull the rug out of the US’ economic partners, it’s no wonder that the president of the European Commission Sebastian Juncker has vowed to combat these sanctions. Not only does it affect US allies, it also hurts US companies which is something Mike Pompeo had no problem admitting during his visit with the enthralled Heritage Foundation.
Related: Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship
It’s clear to the world that the US is willing to cut its own heels in favor of its long-term goal of regime change in Iran. Scrapping the “Iran nuclear deal” is something that Trump campaigned on in an appeal to neocons. The Iranian government was prepared for such an event, and have been making diplomatic overtures to hedge against it. Even if the EU caves to the US and abandons the JCPOA, as Pompeo has previously stated, Iran is unlikely to restart their nuclear program let alone develop nuclear weapons. The US does not care, their intentions are set on regime change in Iran. The Empire simply cannot forgive the Islamic Republic for overthrowing their puppet in the Shah.
The New Monroe Doctrine
It was a busy weekend for the imperialists in the US State Department, undoubtedly preparing sanctions for what seems like just about everyone under the sun and stars. It’s no wonder, sanctions are the opening bombardments of intervention by the US (and the EU), who is on a quest to see a unipolar world under their indisputable hegemony.
The anti-imperialist bloc within Latin America – consisting of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua to name a few – knows this perhaps better than anyone in the world. They’ve been under the threat of US Imperialism for centuries starting with the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, but particularly after the Spanish American War of 1894 which saw the US become the chief imperial power of the western hemisphere.
Increasing its salvo of economic warfare, the US levied a new round of sanctions on Venezuela which they promised they would do so in reaction to presidential elections they preemptively claimed were illegitimate. Venezuelans had barely woken up before their political rights were insulted by the US Empire and corporate media. They hadn’t even made it to the polls before the intervention-thirsty Reuters reported that their elections were fraudulent, and amounted to the “coronation of a dictator”. This is in spite of validation by over 150 international observers, including former president Jimmy Carter’s nongovernmental organization, the Carter Center, which primarily focuses on electoral rights.
The lopsided corporate media – servile to imperial interests first and foremost – focuses on sensationalist reporting in regards to Venezuela. Often cherry picking anti-Maduro working class people who are suffering under an economic crisis brought on by US sanctions, and selectively reporting events, typically from sources that are pro-opposition and owned by the wealthiest Venezuelans who pull the opposition’s strings.
There should be no wonder why US media like Reuters employs yellow journalism such as claiming that the Venezuelan elections are the “coronation of a dictator”. After all of the opposition’s failed tactics to subvert the political process within Venezuela – particularly via violent protests in the form of guarimbas – the US is well aware that Maduro’s party (PSUV) has unwavering mass support. It showed when polling stations in working-class neighborhoods were reporting high turnouts, while the upper-class polling stations were veritable ghost towns due to the opposition’s call for abstention. In fact, the opposition had been calling for voter abstention shortly after they bowed out of negotiations hosted by the Dominican Republic. The imperial media twisted these facts on their head to make it seem like it was a power grab by Maduro because, in reality, he has popular support, unlike that of the Chief Executive within the empire who cannot go a day without evoking some sort of scandal.
The victory celebrations had barely ended when Trump imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting its ability to liquidize assets, or in other words, restricting American financiers from buying Venezuelan debt. It wasn’t the sanctions on oil that the Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan threatened, who ridiculously suggested that economic sanctions were for the good of democracy in Venezuela. Typically, when the US refers to “democracy” it is implying rule of law and subservience to US hegemony.
While restrictions on debt sales are less harsh than attacking Venezuela’s foremost export, oil, it is still interventionist in nature, and thus spurned President Nicolas Maduro to declare top US Diplomat Todd Robinson a person non-grata. Maduro gave the US a total of 48 hours to leave the country, stating that the Venezuelan government has warned the US embassy more than twenty times to cease it’s imperialist intervention policies. Obviously, the US embassy ignored the memos.
This is not surprising as the US routinely ignores facts and the will of the people in nations it wishes to enforce regime change on, Venezuela is no exception. Venezuela is not oblivious to this and will defend its sovereignty and right to self-determination The expulsion of US diplomats is a symbolic gesture, ultimately the US will find a way to manipulate the political process in Uthe S anyway it can. Maduro and the overwhelmingly Chavista people of Venezuela are prepared for whatever the US has up its sleeve.
All Eyes on the DPRK
With US policy being no secret, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) goes into the June 12th summit in Singapore knowing full well that the US is holding out one hand to shake while the other clutches a nuclear bomb behind its back. This will not stop the DPRK from attending this historic summit, but it’s foolish to believe that the DPRK will just bow to US demands.
Perhaps the US believes it can save regime change in the DPRK for a later date if the socialist country is conciliatory to US demands, essentially switching to a longer-term plan. This would see the DPRK denuclearize and open up to US presence within its borders, particularly through nongovernmental organizations such as Radio Free Asia. This would all seem well and good, an approach which would see the country destabilize itself from within, and not quite at the cost of the lives of millions of US and South Korean (Republic of Korea) soldiers. However, this approach presupposes that the DPRK leadership hasn’t learned from the mistakes of Libya.
The DPRK has already stated that they would reject negotiations that were solely focused on denuclearization. Proving they are steadfast in their principles, the DPRK canceled a high-level meeting with South Korean officials last Wednesday due to the ROK’s participation in annual invasion drills by the US and Japan. The meeting was meant to discuss how the agreements between the two Korean leaders in Panmunjom last April could come to fruition. The DPRK even threatened to cancel the historic summit planned for mid-June in Singapore. Fortunately for the sake of warming relations with their neighbors, South Korea asked the US if they could bow out of the drills, which the Pentagon allowed. Seemingly out of goodwill, the US even pulled their bombers from the drills which in years past would fly over the Korean peninsula, close to the North Korean border.
Related: Dermot Hudson of the Korean Friendship Association on North Korea’s Motives and Likely Moves in Negotiations
The US will continue to play the game by its rules only despite the DPRK’s iron resolve. National Security Advisor and infamous neocon John Bolton has suggested the “Libya Model” for the DPRK, which is obviously not something the country is remotely interested in. The Libya Model is also highly unrealistic, as covered in Mint Press News’ interview with Dermot Hudson of the United Kingdom’s branch of the Korean Friendship Association, the people of the DPRK are fully aware of the US’ shenanigans and aren’t interested in regime change.
The conditions in Libya prior to the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are starkly different than that of the DPRK on several factors. One is that the DPRK leadership is resolute in resisting imperialism and upholding Juche, and not just loyal to Kim Jung Un who according to US media is a bloodthirsty animal who enforces haircut etiquette on children. Two, the DPRK, unlike Libya, has not instituted neoliberal reforms or joined in on the US’ War on Terror. Three, the DPRK has seen a period of economic growth in the last few years, including new construction developments in Pyongyang and a sizeable addition to the Pyongyang airport in order to accommodate international air traffic. It’s quite obvious that the DPRK is ready to open up to the world on their own terms and shove the accusations of being a “hermit kingdom” from the imperial media. That distinction now belongs solely to US ally in the middle east, Saudi Arabia.
US government officials like Pompeo and Pence are wasting breath when they make demands such as the DPRK must ship a nuclear warhead to Washington for US examination or threatening them if they so much as try to “play Trump”. It’s ludicrous posturing by the US. To think the Pentagon and the cabal of war bankers that pulls its strings will allow a wet-brained reality television star to even come close to effecting negotiations is a preposterous notion. The DPRK knows the US’ intentions, whether they’re playing nice now, it will only be a matter of time before they switch their tune back to regime change.
A Worn Out Poker Face
The departure from the JCPOA by Trump shook many analysts within the west in anticipation of the DPRK/US summit in June. Isn’t this sending a message to Kim Jung Un that the US negotiates in bad faith? Would anything constructive happen? While something of substance is certainly possible to be ascertained from the historic summit, ultimately it does not change the US goal of global hegemony. The regime change policies aimed at Syria, Venezuela, Iran, and the DPRK are meant to halt the progress of a multipolar world where noted US rival economic powers Russia and China would have equal if not more clout than the US. Iran and the DPRK, in particular, are two countries which have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Venezuela works closely with Russian gas companies in their resource-rich nation. These anti-imperialist countries will remain vigilant to the US’ brazen regime change game. The US abandoning the JCPOA and not respecting Venezuela’s political process only shows their true hand.