Trump Praises Saudi Arabia, Israel at UN, Rejects Globalism

Trump used his speech to promote more intervention and to praise governments doing so, while rejecting the ideals and mission of the United Nations.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised right-wing and authoritarian governments around the world including Saudi Arabia, Israel, the right-wing Modi government of India, while promoting his economic war of sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, and bragging about his administration's push for more military spending, furthering neo-liberal policies, trade war with China, crackdown on immigration, as well as rejecting the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court.

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“We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for the military — $700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before,” Trump said.

His comments on more military spending, at the very organization that was founded to promote peace in the world after World War Two, came before he bragged about cutting funds to countries and organizations that do not align with his government's policies. In recent months, Washington cut funds to several U.N. organizations including those helping Palestinian refugees and proposing human and women's rights. 

Trump also attacked the International Criminal Court, in which a lawsuit is being processed against U.S. crimes in Afghanistan and said that the court did not have "legitimacy, jurisdiction or authority" over the world, and that "we will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy."

Trump also used his speech to attack the leaders of the Iranian government, just days after a terrorist attack took place in the capital. "Iran's leaders sow chaos, death and destruction," Trump told the annual gathering. "They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations," while praising Saudi Arabia and Israel despite their proven pro-war policies in Syria and Yemen, and Palestine. 

Trump called for international trade reforms and insisted that his main objective as president is to protect American sovereignty. He called on OPEC to stop raising oil prices and criticized China's trade practices.

Trump also prompted murmurs from the crowd of world leaders and diplomats when he declared that he had accomplished more as president than almost any other administration in history. "I didn’t expect that reaction, but that's okay," he said.

Trump praised North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday for his courage in taking some steps to disarm, but said much work needed to be done and sanctions must remain in place on North Korea until it denuclearizes.

"The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction, nuclear testing has stopped, some military facilities are already being dismantled," Trump said in his speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly.

"I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done," Trump said. "The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs."

Trump's remarks on North Korea were dramatically different to those in his speech last year at the U.N. assembly, when he threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea and mocked the North Korean leader as a "Rocket Man" on a "suicide mission."

@telesurenglish António Guterres opens the UN General Assembly with an appeal against war, inequality and racism.

  • Published in World

Cuba rejects OAS remarks on Cuba's democratic system

Cuba rejected on Tuesday recent statements made by Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Organization of America States (OAS), on the island's democratic system, saying he had no "credibility" to speak about Cuba.

Speaking to local media, Rogelio Sierra, Cuba's deputy foreign minister, stated Almagro's remarks about Cuba were made in Miami city in U.S. Florida state where he met with a group of people who "defend, support and encourage aggressive actions" against Cuba, including terrorism and the U.S. economic blockade.

"Almagro has no credibility, moral or ethics, to judge what the Cuban government and its people do. He makes a big mistake in ignoring our decision to be sovereign and independent," said Sierra.

The OAS official visited Miami last Saturday to visit a Cuban dissident group. He used the occasion to call for "democratic reforms" and demanded that Havana hold Western-style elections to choose its next leader as actual president, Raul Castro, will step down in April.

Havana's deputy foreign minister pointed out that Almagro tried to delegitimize Cuba's sovereignty and independence to decide its political system while supporting "illegal opposition groups and their allies in the U.S."

"He met in Miami with a sector of the Cuban community in the United States, which still dreams of overthrowing the Revolution. On the contrary, he has not said a word about recent remarks made by the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who supported a military coup against Venezuela," said Sierra.

Despite being a founding member of the OAS, Cuba was suspended in 1962. In June 2009, foreign ministers of OAS member countries lifted Cuba's suspension.

Havana, however, has reiterated it would not return to the OAS.

  • Published in Cuba

Internet is latest arena for U.S. intervention in Cuba

The State Department announced January 23 that it “is convening a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access and independent media in Cuba.”

The action was in line with President Trump’s memorandum in June 2017 on “Strengthening the Policy of the United States toward Cuba.” It conforms also with the Defense Department’s recently released “National Defense Strategy,” which indicates that “Today every domain is contested—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.”

In notes delivered to the U.S. embassy in Havana and to the State Department in Washington, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry rejected U.S. “pretensions of flagrantly violating Cuban sovereignty,” and demanded “again that the U.S. government end its subversive, meddling, and illegal actions which are attacks on Cuba’s stability and constitutional order.”

The task force is by no means an innovation. For decades the U.S. government has flooded Cuba with propaganda aimed at turning Cubans away from their government. With facilities on the Swan Islands, near the Honduran coast, the CIA’s Radio Swan began broadcasts to Cuba in 1960. The Reagan administration in 1981 set up a task force whose job was to prepare for broadcasts from Miami. Radio Martí commenced operations in 1985, TV Martí in 1990.

Under the authority of the Helms-Burton Law of 1996, which called for building a political opposition in Cuba, the Clinton administration expanded propaganda operations in order  “to open Cuba’s closed system and promote the growth of an independent civil society.” Changes in messaging would henceforth center on the internet.

U.S. agencies sought “to offer Cubans interactive access to materials from abroad” and to connect internet platforms in the United States with networks in Cuba. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana, precursor to the present embassy, offered courses to Cubans on managing the internet and blogs.

There were special projects. For example, the “ZunZuneo” scheme of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2009 sought to bombard Cuban young people with direct messages through a program similar to Twitter. The Office for Cuba Broadcasting mounted its “Piramideo” program through which in 2011 a contractor sent 24,000 text messages each week to Cubans, having immobilized Cuban barriers beforehand. “Project Commotion” provided specialized equipment for dissidents active on the internet, thus enabling them to communicate easily with supporters abroad.

Throughout the entire era of shifting modalities, millions of dollars in funding were dispersed among U.S. agencies charged with implementing the interventionist programs.

The Obama administration continued in the same vein. In the wake of its opening to Cuba in late 2014, the U.S. telecommunications industry gained approval for establishing commercial ties with Cuban enterprises. For almost all other sectors of the U.S. economy, commercial relations in Cuba remained off limits.

Of the $20 million the U.S. government was spending annually on winning friends in Cuba, Obama’s administration dedicated a large portion to digital projects. Speaking to the press on December 19, 2014 Obama extolled “the prospect of telecommunications and the Internet being more widely available in Cuba. [That] chips away at this hermetically sealed society.”

In a public event February 7, the State Department inaugurated its Cuba Internet Task Force. A press release indicated that, “the task force agreed to form two subcommittees, one to explore the role of media and freedom of information in Cuba, and one to explore Internet access in Cuba.” The task force, unbudgeted, will meet next in October to hear reports from the subcommittees and to make recommendations.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs John S. Creamer chairs the group. Members include the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, responsible for operating Radio and TV Martí; the Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunications section of the Department of Commerce; USAID; and Freedom House.

Freedom House, ostensibly independent, in 2016 received 82 percent of its funding from the U.S. government. One expert holds that Freedom House has long served the CIA by providing foreign media with reports and analyses reflecting official U.S. perspectives.

At the meeting, according to a report, “several Cuban dissidents used a public comment period to lambast Cuba’s government, drawing comparisons to World War II and to the governments of Syria and Iran. Yet most of the public comments centered on a critique of a decades-old economic embargo and Trump’s policy toward Cuba.”

  • Published in Cuba

The Syrian Elections

Defying threats of violence, tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians went to the polls to cast a vote that was more about Syrian dignity and self-determination than any of the candidates on the ballot.

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