Coup d’éblah

by lizard

US foreign policy probably won’t have much influence on the elections in November, unless something “dramatic” happens. If one only watched mainstream news, you might get the sense that America’s two ground wars are winding down, and are seamlessly being replaced with a style of warfare that leaves fewer footprints–special ops, drone strikes and cyber attacks. While that may be generally accurate, US foreign policy is as pernicious as ever.

Regarding the latter method mentioned, cyber attacks, America is already at war with Iran (NYT):

From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

Oops, they did it again, those coy American warmongers.

Make no mistake about it, according to our own government’s definition, cyber attacks are acts of war (the guardian; May 31st, 2011):

The US government is rewriting its military rule book to make cyber-attacks a possible act of war, giving commanders the option of launching retaliatory military strikes against hackers backed by hostile foreign powers.

The Pentagon has concluded that the laws of armed conflict can be widened to embrace cyberwarfare in order to allow the US to respond with the use of force against aggressive assaults on its computer and IT infrastructure.

The move, to be unveiled in a US department of defence strategy document next month, is a significant step towards the militarisation of cyberspace, with huge implications for international law.

Bah! Technicalities! Certainly not something for the bewildered American electorate to worry about as Summer heats up.

Take for example if/when people hear about the coup in Paraguay that’s been happening since Friday, what will they think? Just another leftist who had it coming? Because that’s what “Washington” thinks.

from the link:

A coup d’etat is taking place right now, Friday afternoon, in Paraguay.

That is how it has been described by a number of neighboring governments. And the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is treating it as such, taking it very seriously. All 12 foreign ministers (including those of Brazil and Argentina, who are deeply concerned) flew to Asunción Thursday night to meet with the government, as well as the opposition in Paraguay’s Congress.

The Congress of Paraguay is trying to oust the president, Fernando Lugo, by means of an impeachment proceeding for which he was given less than 24 hours to prepare and only two hours to present a defense. It appears that a decision to convict him has already been written, and will be presented Friday evening (at 20.30 GMT). It would be impossible to call this due process under any circumstances, but it is also a clear violation of Article 17 of Paraguay’s constitution, which provides for the right to an adequate defense.

Hmmm, troubling if you’re pro-democracy, which thankfully the Obama administration is not, because when it comes to the despised left getting traction in Latin America, Obama has proven himself a willing slave to the imperial mindset.

more context from the guardian piece:

Lugo’s election was one of many across South America – Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador – in which left governments were elected over the past 14 years, changing the political geography of the hemisphere. With that, came increasing political unity on regional issues – especially in confronting the United States, which had previously prevented left governments from coming to power or governing.

So, it is not surprising to see the immediate and urgent response by South American countries to this coup attempt, which they see as a threat to their democracies. UNASUR Secretary General Ali Rodriguez insisted Lugo must be given “due process” and the right to defend himself. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said that UNASUR could refuse to recognize the next government – in accordance with a democracy clause in UNASUR’s charter.

Correa was also one of the staunchest opponents of the coup three years ago in Honduras, which ousted democratic left President Mel Zelaya. Honduras continues to suffer from extreme violence, including the murder of journalists and political opponents, under the regime that was established under the coup.

Zelaya’s ouster was a turning point for relations between the US and Latin America, as governments including Brazil and Argentina, which had previously hoped that President Obama would depart from the policies of his predecessor were rudely disappointed. The Obama administration made conflicting statements about the Honduras coup, and then – in opposition to the rest of the hemisphere – did everything it could to make sure that the coup succeeded. This included blocking, within the OAS, efforts by South American nations to restore democracy in Honduras. At the latest Summit of the Americas, Obama – in contrast to the summit of early 2009 – was as isolated as his predecessor George W Bush had been.

The Obama administration has responded to the current crisis in Paraguay with a statement in support of due process. Perhaps, they have learned something from Honduras and will not actively oppose efforts by South America to support democracy this time. And certainly, South America will not allow Washington to hijack any mediation process, if there is one – as Hillary Clinton did with the OAS in Honduras. But Washington may still play its traditional role by assuring the opposition that the new government will have support, including financial and military, from Washington. We will watch what happens.

Yeah, that, or Jersey Shore. It’s a tough call.

I’m more sophisticated than that.

I watch Mad Men.


  1. Regime change is a Bush family speciality. In 2006, there were reports of U.S. Marines operating (unspecified “foreign aid”) in Paraguay, shortly after W bought that 100,000-acre ranch near the borders of Brazil and Bolivia. This all happened before he and cronies were let off the hook for war crimes. Lots of natural gas and the largest fresh water aquifer in the nation. What’s not to like about neo-liberal economics?

  2. Turner

    I suspect that the U.S.’s heavy hand in South America, and elsewhere, will only get heavier as corporations complete their take-over of our political institutions. Lingering cold-war thinking and the demands of international corporations to be protected by “friendly” governments worldwide are the problem.

    The solution won’t come from our country. We’re too comfortable. We’ve got enough bread and circuses to keep us quiet. It’ll come from oppressed people elsewhere who will reassert themselves over and over until they win.

    • lizard19

      I think you’re right that solutions won’t come from our country, and that’s partly due to the long dismantling of the left we’ve experienced in the states.

      • rebuilding the left starts at the local level.

        • lizard19

          agreed, which is one of the reasons Ochenski’s departure from the Indy was so disappointing.

          the Wobblies, back in the day, had their own direct publications. nowadays we have less and less space afforded to a truly left critique of current (corporate) political trends, so it’s no wonder people don’t understand why a counterweight to the extreme right is important.

          economic crises can produce dangerous results. in Greece, for example, the left as been resurgent…and so have the neo-nazis.

  3. Big Johansson

    Wow, Supremes put another knife in MT’s Corporation Law.

  4. Dave Budge

    Lizard, you’re in very good company. Tyler Cowen (one of the smartest guys in the world, I think) writes this. Worth a quick read.

    • lizard19

      thank you for that link, Dave. since domestic SCOTUS issues will be getting all the headlines and attention this week, coups and cyber wars will have to wait for the blowback to get any attention.

  5. lizard19

    Op-ed in NYT by Jimmy Carter: A Cruel and Unusual Record.

  6. lizard19

    more context about the coup in Paraguay from Shamus Cooke:

    Is it fair to blame the Obama administration for the recent coup in Paraguay? Yes, but it takes an introductory lesson on U.S. – Latin American relations to understand why. Paraguay’s right wing – a tiny wealthy elite – has a long-standing relationship with the United States, which has backed dictatorships for decades in the country – a common pattern in most Latin American countries.

    The United States promotes the interests of the wealthy of these mostly-poor countries, and in turn, these elite-run countries are obedient to the pro-corporate foreign policy of the United States (The Open Veins of Latin America is an excellent book that outlines the history).

    Paraguay’s elite is incapable of acting so boldly without first consulting the United States, since neighboring countries are overwhelmingly hostile to such an act because they fear a U.S.-backed coup in their own countries.

    Paraguay’s elite has only the military for internal support, which for decades has been funded and trained by the United States. President Lugo did not fully sever the U.S. military’s links to his country. According to Wikipedia, ”The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) provides technical assistance and training to help modernize and professionalize the [Paraguay]military…”

    In short, it is not remotely possible for Paraguay’s elite to act without assurance from the United States that it would continue to receive U.S. political and financial support; the elite now needs a steady flow of guns and tanks to defend itself from the poor of Paraguay.

  7. You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid
    to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.




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