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Saturday, 25 February 2012






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America’s lost opportunities

In 1945 a small team of American military and intelligence personnel belonging to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), parachuted into Vietnam, then under Japanese occupation.

Its mission was to contact Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh and to give his forces - the only real resistance to the Japanese in Indo-China - whatever training and aid necessary.

Ho was influenced strongly by Major Archimedes Patti of the OSS, as could be seen in the Proclamation of Independence which Ho made in Hanoi on September 2, 1945, which began:

‘All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.’

Jimmy Carter

Muammar Gadaffi

Independence movement

Within a few months, the USA was backing the French colonialists who tried to suppress the Vietnamese independence movement. A decade later, the Americans used their hand-picked golden boy Ngo Dinh Diem to engineer the failure of the Geneva Peace accord - later tossing his dead body onto the rubbish-heap of history (a lesson to all collaborators).

As a result, they were sucked into a war which ended with the biggest defeat in American history, nearly 60,000 American and three million Vietnamese deaths later.

What caused the opportunity, for the USA and Vietnam to co-habit peacefully, to be missed was the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, probably the greatest US President after Lincoln. His successor was the expletive-spitting peasant Harry Truman, who was manipulated by the oligarchy away from FDR’s dream of a de-colonialised world towards one of American Imperium.

After the defeat in Vietnam, President Jimmy Carter attempted to build up a new image of the USA, especially by promoting universal human rights notwithstanding if the state concerned was an ally or an enemy. The oligarchy put paid to that as well.

Sovereign nations

The history of the past three decades has been a history of American aggression and subversion: from Granada and Nicaragua to Iraq and Afghanistan. The rights of sovereign nations have been violated repeatedly as the USA clutches at any straw to maintain its fading dominance. All that remained of Carter’s championship of human rights has been the high horse that the USA got on. The CIA’s Phoenix programme of murder in Vietnam was replicated throughout the world, as militaries trained by the USA implemented programmes of ‘disappearances’. The USA itself has been guilty of more than its fair share of human rights violations.

The litany of US human rights misdeeds has been in recent years topped up with the scandals of the notorious Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ and the assassination of journalists such as Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen. These, the crimes which have come to light, are the mere tip of the iceberg.

The CIA maintains a ‘Kill List’ of people to be assassinated without due process of the law, which it has been doing using its notorious ‘drone strikes’ in Pakistan and elsewhere; it probably included Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi - the evidence is that his convoy was hit by a US drone, that he was shot in the legs by an allied Special Forces team and only later murdered by rebel militiamen guided to the spot.

International law

The Kill List is also an infringement of international law: killing intentionally is prohibited without due process, the exception being when the person concerned presents an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm; even then lethal force is a last resort.

The USA had another historic opportunity recently, in regard to Sri Lanka. The government here had been following a policy of due process in regard to alleged human rights violations in the period leading up to the end of the decades-long Eelam conflict. Following the release of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and in accordance with its recommendations, the authorities set in motion the procedure to investigate individual allegations of war crimes and human rights violations. Instead of rewarding the country and helping it along, the USA is bringing an anti-Sri Lanka resolution to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

One wonders whether the numerous envoys sent to the island in the past months had been reporting back correctly to their handlers in Washington. Certainly the State Department’s reaction seems bizarre: to punish Sri Lanka, which is doing what the USA ostensibly wishes it to do.


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