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Volume 67, Number 6 (November 2015)

Notes from the Editors, November 2015

To understand why the Middle East is now in shambles, with the United States currently involved simultaneously in wars against both the Assad government in Syria and the Islamic State in Iraq, generating the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, it is necessary to go back almost a quarter-century to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Gulf War, unleashed by the United States in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, was made possible by the growing disorder in the USSR followed by its demise later that same year. The USSR’s disappearance from the world stage allowed the United States to shift to a naked imperialist stance—though justified in the manner of the colonial empires of old as “anti-terrorism” and “humanitarian intervention”—not only in the Middle East, but also along the entire great arc that had constituted the perimeter of the former Soviet Union.… | more |

Whither Japan? Seven Decades After Defeat

The hard-won lessons of Japan’s wartime defeat are enshrined in its National Constitution and Article 9 in particular.… For the past seventy years, Article 9 remained a fundamental principle of Japanese diplomacy, undergirded by memories of the Asia-Pacific War and the U.S. occupation, buttressed by important revisionist histories of Japanese imperialism. A politically recovered, economically restored Japanese populace still appreciates the Constitution and the relevance of Article 9. But conservative politicians who never believed in the Constitution’s ideals repeatedly challenged and worked around Article 9 despite the majority’s support for it.… Today, once again, Article 9 stands in danger of abandonment by interpretation rather than revision by constitutional processes.… | more |

Wars Past and Wars to Come

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, elements within the U.S. ruling class came to believe that their country was militarily invincible. Indeed, they believed this newfound military superiority over any potential rival was something new in human history. So great was its technological advantage, the United States could destroy its enemies with complete impunity. A long-heralded Revolution in Military Affairs was taking place, enabling the United States to reshape the world. New smart technologies would disperse the “fog of war,” making it possible for the United States to kill its enemies without their being able to strike back, and the “Vietnam syndrome” could be overcome once and for all.… Even so, at this point in time, the U.S. government proceeded with considerable caution. The then-secretary of defense, Dick Cheney no less, made clear that the United States did not invade and occupy Iraq at this time because of the danger of finding itself in a “quagmire” where it would be taking casualties while the Kurds, the Shia, and the Sunnis fought it out. The administration decided not to involve itself in “that civil war.” Such a commitment would have had to involve the use of “overwhelming force” for an extended period if it was to have any chance of success. This was in 1991. Ten years later such caution had been replaced by an overweening self-confidence, by a belief that the United States could completely reshape the Middle East, starting with Iraq, and then moving on to Syria and Iran. And, moreover, this could all be achieved with a comparatively small invading and occupying army.… | more |

July-August 2015 (Volume 67, Number 3)

July-August 2015 (Volume 67, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

May’s Review of the Month, “Honor the Vietnamese, Not Those Who Killed Them” by MR Associate Editor Michael D. Yates, has elicited many responses. One writer said that Yates had written the best, but perhaps the first, Marxist analysis of the war. Another praised Monthly Review for having the courage to publish this article. Still a third predicted that in the more distant future, humanity would embrace the essay’s judgment and honor the Vietnamese people for their heroic struggle against the overwhelming might of the U.S. military.… In light of these comments, as well as the subject matter of this double issue of Monthly Review on imperialism, we thought it might be worthwhile to say something more about what the Vietnamese themselves naturally enough call the American War, with an eye toward drawing important lessons useful for contemporary radicals.… | more |

The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Global Violence and War

The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Global Violence and War

Notes from the Editors

The Hidden Structure of Violence marshals vast amounts of evidence to examine the costs of direct violence, including military preparedness and the social reverberations of war, alongside the costs of structural violence, expressed as poverty and chronic illness. It also documents the relatively small number of people and corporations responsible for facilitating the violent status quo, whether by setting the range of permissible discussion or benefiting directly as financiers and manufacturers. The result is a stunning indictment of our violent world and a powerful critique of the ways through which violence is reproduced on a daily basis, whether at the highest levels of the state or in the deepest recesses of the mind. … | more |

Vietnamese Vietnam War Poster.

Honor the Vietnamese, Not Those Who Killed Them

In a letter to Vietnam War veteran Charles McDuff, Major General Franklin Davis, Jr. said, “The United States Army has never condoned wanton killing or disregard for human life.” McDuff had written a letter to President Richard Nixon in January 1971, telling him that he had witnessed U.S. soldiers abusing and killing Vietnamese civilians and informing him that many My Lais had taken place during the war. He pleaded with Nixon to bring the killing to an end. The White House sent the letter to the general, and this was his reply.… McDuff’s letter and Davis’s response are quoted in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, the most recent book to demonstrate beyond doubt that the general’s words were a lie.… In what follows, I use Turse’s work, along with several other books, articles, and films, as scaffolds from which to construct an analysis of how the war was conducted, what its consequences have been for the Vietnamese, how the nature of the war generated ferocious opposition to it (not least by a brave core of U.S. soldiers), how the war’s history has been whitewashed, and why it is important to both know what happened in Vietnam and why we should not forget it.… | more |

Vietnam War Era Journeys

Recovering Histories of Internationalism

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), 346 pages, $26.95, paperback.

The cover of Judy Tzu-Chun Wu’s Radicals on the Road features a sepia-toned photograph of Eldridge Cleaver raising his fist in a Black Power salute behind three Vietnamese women in combat helmets, one of whom is kneeling behind an anti-aircraft gun. While you have probably seen a similar photograph of Jane Fonda from her North Vietnam trip in 1972, images like that of Cleaver are less common, if circulated at all. In this second book by Wu, she documents three sets of journeys, like Cleaver’s, that have remained at the margins of both the scholarship and the popular memory of the antiwar movement.… | more |

The Duty to Avoid a War in Korea

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Signature of Fidel Raul Castro

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 4, 2013
11:12 p.m.

The Horrible Things that the Empire Offers Us

A piece of news released by AP, the most important US news agency, dated today in Monterrey, Mexico, explains it with irrefutable clarity. This is not the first, and certainly it won´t be the last, about a reality that puts paid to the mountain of lies with which the United States intends to justify the inhuman destiny it reserves for the peoples of our America.

What does the news say?

“MONTERREY, Mexico (AP).- Forty-nine decapitated and mutilated corpses were found abandoned in a pool of blood in a highway connecting the Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the US border in what seems to be the latest in an escalation war between drug cartels.

“The corpses of 43 men and 6 women were found at about 4 a.m. Sunday in the town of San Juan on a non-toll highway that leads to the border city of Reynosa. A white stone arch welcoming visitors was spray-painted with black letters: “100% Zeta.”

“At a news conference in Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene stated that along with the decomposing bodies, a ‘narcomanta’ had been found at the scene, in which authorship is attributed to the group “Los Zetas.”

“The victims could have been killed as long as two days ago, so authorities believe they were not murdered on the spot. ‘Identifying them will be a difficult task because all of them were beheaded and hacked off their hands and feet’, the official said.

“The state Attorney-General, Adrián de la Garza, said that no reports of local missing people had been received in recent days, so the victims could be persons from other Mexican states or even US-bound Central American immigrants.”

“Mexican drug cartels have been waging and ever bloodier war seeking to take control over trafficking routes as well as the local drugs market and extortion, whose victims include US-bound immigrants.”

“So far in May, 18 bodies were found in a tourist area near Guadalajara; 23 people were found decapitated or hung from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, where violence among cartels has escalated. This year alone, cadavers have been found in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Morelos, Jalisco, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

“He stated that there were no clues indicating that the new wave of violence is linked to the presidential elections to take place this July. ‘It has the dynamic of a war between cartels’, he said.”

For its part, the Internet portal ‘BBC World’ reported as follows:

“The scene of decapitated and mutilated bodies in Nuevo León, where 49 bodies were dumped on the road this Sunday, shocked many for the extreme barbarity displayed by the killers. Even in Mexico, where after five years of intense war among drug cartels it seemed like they had seen it all.”

Not a few countries of Our America have been affected by these problems.

In our homeland, the problems described here do not exist: would this be the reason why the empire is trying to make it surrender by starvation and hostility? Half a century has not been enough, and I very much doubt that the empire can wait for another half a century before it sinks deep in its own mire, sooner than later.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

May 14, 2012

4:36 p.m.

The 67th anniversary of the victory over Nazi fascism

NO political event can be judged outside of the period and circumstances in which it took place. No one knows even one percent of the fabulous history of human beings, but thanks to this history, we know about events which surpass the limits of the imaginable.

The privilege of having known persons, and even places where certain events related to the historic battle took place, increased the interest with which I awaited this year’s commemoration.

The colossal feat was accomplished by a group of nations which the revolution and socialism had united and linked in order to end the brutal exploitation endured by the world for thousands of year. The Russians were always proud of having led that revolution, and of the sacrifices they made carrying it out.

This extremely important anniversary of the victory cannot be comprehended under a flag or name different from the one which presided over the heroism of the combatants of the Great Patriotic War.

Something doubtlessly untouchable and indelible remained: the anthem’s unforgettable notes to which millions of men and women defied death, and crushed the invaders in their attempt to impose a thousand years of Nazism and holocaust on all of humanity.

With these ideas in mind, I enjoyed the hours I dedicated to the most organized and martial parade imaginable, staged by men trained in Russian military academies.

The yankees and the bloody armies of NATO surely could not have imagined that the crimes committed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; the attacks on Pakistan and Syria; the threats to Iran and other countries in the Middle East; the military bases in Latin America, Africa and Asia could all be carried out with absolute impunity, without the world becoming aware of the unprecedented and insane threat.

How quickly empires forget the lessons of history!

The military technology exhibited in Moscow on May 9 displayed the impressive capacity of the Russian Federation to make an effective and variable response to imperialism’s most sophisticated conventional and nuclear armaments.

It was the event we were awaiting on the glorious anniversary of the Soviet victory over fascism.

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Fidel Castro Ruz

May 10, 2012

8:14 p.m.

Sweetened Realities that Fade Away

I was surprised today when I listened to the speech delivered by Jose Miguel Insulza in Cartagena. I thought that the person who was speaking on behalf of the OAS would at least claim some respect for the sovereignty of the peoples of this hemisphere which were for years colonized and cruelly exploited by colonial powers.

Why didn´t he say a single word about the Malvinas Islands, or demand respect for the sovereign rights of the sister nation of Argentina?

The Cartagena Summit went through episodes that will not be easily forgotten. It is true that its celebration required a huge effort. Despite of the several hours that have elapsed since its inaugural session, we have no idea of what ever happened during the lunch sponsored by Santos, with which he attempted to make it up for the colossal amount of energy used up by the participants in that Summit.

Those who may find this entertaining, will very seldom in their lives have the opportunity to watch the faces of more than thirty political leaders in front of the TV cameras since they got off the car until the moment when, after the heroic and final effort of walking down a long and carpeted corridor, they climbed up the ten or twelve little steps to the stage where the host, smiling and happy, awaited to greet them. It didn´t matter whether they were young or of age, or whether they had flat feet, kneecap surgeries or difficulties in one or both legs. They were forced to keep on to the top. Whether rich or poor, they were compelled to observe the protocol.

Curiously enough, Obama was the only one who took advantage of that trajectory to do some workout. As he was walking all by himself, it was easier for him to do so: he adopted a sport-like pose and jogged up through the steps.

The women attending the Summit either as companions or as Heads of State were the ones who did it best. Once again they proved that the world would be a far better place if they took care of political affairs. Perhaps there will be fewer wars, although no one could be sure of that.

Anyone would say that, out of obvious political reasons, Obama was the figure that caused the worst impression in me. However, this was not the case. I saw he was pensive and at times quite absent. It was like if he were sleeping with open eyes. No one knows how much rest he had before arriving in Cartagena, which Generals he spoke with, what problems were on his mind; whether he was thinking about Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea or Iran. Quite certainly, of course, he was thinking about the elections, the Tea Party moves and Mitt Romney´s sinister plans. At the very last minute, shortly before the Summit, he decided that the contributions of the richest should account for at least 30 per cent of their incomes, like it used to be before the Bush junior administration. This, of course, would allow him to portray a clearer image of his sense of justice before the Republican right.

But the real problem is this: the enormous debt accumulated by the federal government, which exceeds 15 trillion dollars and demands no less than 5 trillion dollars in resources. The tax to be imposed on the richest will contribute around 50 billion dollars in a period of ten years, while the need for money will increase to 5 trillions. Therefore, he will be receiving one dollar per every 100 that are needed. These estimates can be made even by an eighth grader.

We should remember very well what Dilma Rousseff demanded: “relations ‘on equal terms’ with Brazil and the rest of Latin America.”

“The Euro-zone has responded to the economic crisis with a monetary expansion, thus provoking a ‘tsunami’ that has led to an appreciation of the Brazilian currency and has damaged the competitiveness of the national industry”, she stated.

Those realities do not escape Dilma Rousseff, a capable and intelligent woman who knows how to address them with authority and dignity.

Obama, who is used to say the last word, knows that the Brazilian economy is emerging with an impressive strength and that, in association with others like those of Venezuela, Argentina, China, Russia, South Africa and others from Latin America and the world, will trace the future of the world´s development.

The biggest problem of all is to preserve peace from the increasing risks of a war that, given the destructive power of modern weapons, would push humanity to the edge of an abyss.

I realize that the meetings in Cartagena are taking a long time and the sweetened realities are fading away. Nothing was said about the guayabera shirts presented to Obama as a gift. Somebody will have to compensate the Cartagena designer Edgar Gómez.

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Fidel Castro Ruz

April 14, 2012

9:58 p.m.

The Summit of the Guayaberas

Obama, the first black president of the United States –who is, without any doubt, an intelligent, well educated and eloquent person-, made quite a few people believe that he was an emulator of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King.

Five centuries ago, a Papal Bull, applying concepts that prevailed at those times, allocated approximately 40 million square kilometers of land, inland waters and coastline to two small and belligerent kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.

The English, the French, the Dutch and other important feudal States were excluded from the share out. Endless wars were soon to erupt; millions of Africans were turned into slaves throughout four centuries and the autochthones cultures, some of them more advanced than those of Europe, were destroyed.

Sixty four years ago, the execrable OAS was founded. It is impossible to overlook the hideous role played by that institution. A great number of people, who could perhaps be counted by the thousands, were kidnapped, tortured and disappeared as a result of the decisions it adopted to justify the coup against the reforms introduced by Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, which was organized by the Yankee Central Intelligence Agency. Central America and the Caribbean, including the small island of Grenada, were victims of the interventionist fury of the United States through the OAS.

Much worse still was the role it played in South America.

Neoliberalism, the official doctrine of imperialism, gained unusual strength in the 1970’s when the Richard Nixon administration decided to frustrate the electoral victory attained by Salvador Allende in Chile. A truly sinister period in the history of Latin America had just begun. Two high-ranking officers of the Chilean Armed Forces who remained loyal to the Constitution were murdered, and Augusto Pinochet was imposed as head of State after an unprecedented repression whereby numerous selected persons were tortured, killed and disappeared.

The Constitution of Uruguay, a country that for many years stood by its national institutional system, was wiped out.

Military coups and repression expanded to nearly all neighboring countries. The Cuban airline became the target of brutal sabotages. One Cuban airliner filled with passengers was blown up in mid-air. Reagan released the main perpetrator of that monstrous crime from a prison in Venezuela and sent him to El Salvador to organize the drugs-for-money swap to fund the dirty war against Nicaragua, which left tens of thousands dead or maimed.

Bush senior and Bush junior sheltered and pardoned those involved in these crimes. The list of misdeeds and terrorist actions perpetrated against Cuba’s economy throughout half a century will be endless.

Today, Friday 13, I listened to the courageous words expressed by several speakers at the foreign ministers meeting of the so-called Cartagena Summit. The issue of the sovereign rights of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands –whose economy is being brutally affected for being deprived of the valuable energy and maritime resources that exist in those Islands- was firmly addressed. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, after concluding today’s meeting, declared with profound irony that the “Consensus of Washington” had become the “Consensus without Washington”.

Now we will have the Summit of the Guayaberas. The Yayabo River and its aboriginal name, totally vindicated, will go down in history.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 13, 2012

9:40 p.m.