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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 4, 2013
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.
Fidel Castro Ruz
May 14, 2012
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.
Fidel Castro Ruz
May 10, 2012
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.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 14, 2012
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.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 13, 2012
The search for the political truth will always be a difficult task even in our times, when science has placed in our hands a huge amount of knowledge. One of the most important was the possibility to know and study the fabulous power of the energy contained in matter.
The person who discovered that energy and its possible use was a peaceful and amiable man who, despite being against violence and war, asked the United States to develop it. The US president back then was Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who had adopted a well-known anti-fascist stand; he was the leader of a country that was going through a deep crisis and helped to save the nation by adopting strong measures that earned him the hatred of the extreme right of his own class. Today, that State imposes on the world the most brutal and dangerous tyranny ever known to our fragile species.
The news received from the US and its NATO allies refer to their misdeeds and those of their accomplices. The most important cities in the United States and Europe are the theatre of continued pitched battles between demonstrators and a well-trained and well-fed police, equipped with armored cars and helmets, beating and kicking and throwing gases against women and men, twisting the hands and the necks of people, young and old, showing to the world the coward actions that are committed against the rights and the lives of the citizens of their own countries.
How much longer these barbaric acts would last?
I will not expand on this, since these tragedies will continue to be seen, more and more, on television and in the entire press; they will be like the daily bread that is denied to those who have less. I will just quote the news received today from an important western news agency:
A previous estimate in 2003 estimated that the maximum height of the wave would be less than 20 meters (66 feet). The Fukushima plant was designed to withstand a tsunami of 6 meters (20 feet), less than half the height of the wave that hit the plant on March 11, 2011.
But, there are no reasons to worry. Another piece of news dated two days ago, on March 30, could give us some peace of mind. It was published by a really well informed media. I’ll summarize it in just a few words: “If you were a soccer player, an Arab sheik or an executive of a big multinational, what kind of technology would make you sigh?
Let us suppose that we have left our mansion and we are already tired of hanging around with our yacht, limousine, helicopter or jet. We still have the choice to buy an individual submarine or a submarine for two persons.
The offer goes on to advertise cells with stainless steel casings; 1.2 GHz and 8G memory processors; NFC technology to make payments through cell phones and Ferrari camcorders.
Capitalism, compatriots, is a truly wonderful thing! Maybe it is our fault that not every citizen has its own private submarine at the beach.
It was them, not me, who mixed up the Arab sheiks and the executives of the big transnationals with the soccer players. The latter, at least, entertain millions of persons and are not enemies of Cuba; I should state that very clearly.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 1st, 2012
The filmed scenes of the massacre in Libya, starting to be seen, offend for their total absence of humanism and the crass lies that served as an excuse for invading and taking over the natural resources of that country.
With more than 25,000 combat missions, NATO air forces backed up the monstrous crime.
They stated that the Libyan government had funds abroad exceeding 200 billion dollars. At this time, nobody knows where the money is nor what has been done with it.
A fraudulent electoral process ensured the overthrowing of the presidency of the most powerful country on the side of George W. Bush, an alcoholic without medical treatment nor the most basic ethical principles, who ordered West Point graduates to be ready to attack without warning 60 or more dark corners of the world.
Such a deranged person, with the use of a small black briefcase, could decide on the use of thousands of nuclear weapons; with a minimal percentage of these, he could put an end to human life on the planet.
It is sad to remember that on the opposite side of the Yankee super-power, another deranged person, with three bottles of vodka in his stomach, declared the disintegration of the USSR and the dismantling of more than 400 nuclear bases in whose range were all the military bases threatening that country.
Those events did not constitute any surprise. Throughout many years of struggle, experience garnered, contact with events, ideas and historical processes did not come as a surprise.
Today the Russian leaders are trying to rebuild this powerful State which had been created with so much effort and sacrifice.
When Pope John Paul II visited our country in 1998, more than once before his arrival I talked about several subjects with one or another of his envoys. I especially remember the occasion when we sat down to dinner in a small room in the Palace of the Revolution with Joaquín Navarro Valls, Papal spokesman, sitting in front of me. To the right was a pleasant and intelligent priest who had come with the spokesman and assisted Pope John Paul II at the Masses.
Curious about the details, I asked Navarro Valls whether he thought that the immense sky with its millions of stars had been made to please the inhabitants of the earth whenever we deigned to look upwards on any given night. “Absolutely” ―he replied. “It is the only inhabited planet in the universe”.
I then turned to the priest and said: what do you think of that, Father? He replied: “In my opinion, there is a 99.9 percent possibility of intelligent life existing on some other planet”. The answer did not violate any religious principle. Mentally I multiplied the figure, who knows how many times. It was the kind of answer that I deemed to be correct and serious.
Afterwards, that noble priest was always friendly with our country. Sharing a friendship does not mean you have to share beliefs.
Today, on Thursday, as it happens with increasing frequency, a European entity with well-known proficiency in the subject, textually states:
There could be billions of planets not much larger than the Earth orbiting around weak stars in our galaxy, according to an international team of astronomers. This estimated number of ‘super-Earths’ -planets with up to ten times Earth’s mass – is based on detections already made and then extrapolated to include the population of the so-called ‘dwarf stars’ in the Milky Way.
“Our new observations with HARPS show that around 40% of the red dwarf stars have a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting around it in its habitable zone, where there may be water in a liquid state on the surface of the planet,” stated Xavier Bonfils, team leader at the Sciences of the Universe Observatory in Grenoble, France.“Due to the fact that the red dwarfs are so common – there are around 160 billion of them in the Milky Way – this brings us to the surprising results that there are tens of millions of those planets in our galaxy alone.” Their studies suggest that there are ‘super-Earths’ in habitable zones in 41% of the cases, with a range of 28 to 95%. “40% of the red dwarf stars have a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting them in their habitable zone, where water in its liquid state may exist.”
That leads to the obvious question about whether any of those planets may not only be habitable but may also have life. But these stars are prone to stellar eruptions, that can wash over the neighbouring planets with X-rays or ultra-violet radiation, making it less likely that life may exist there.“We have an idea about how to find traces of life on those planets,” stated Stephane Udry, researcher at the Observatory of Geneva.“If we are able to see traces of elements related to life such as oxygen in that light, then we can obtain indications about whether there is life on that planet.”
Simply reading these news items shows the possibility and the necessity we have of enriching our knowledge which today is fragmented and scattered.
Perhaps it takes us to more critical positions on the superficiality with which we deal with cultural and material problems. I have not the slightest doubt that our world is changing much more quickly than we are capable of imagining.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 29, 2012
The world is increasingly misinformed amidst the chaos of events unfolding at pace never before imagined.
Those of us who have lived a few more years and are avidly interested in information can testify to the extent of ignorance with which we confront events.
While a growing number of people on the planet lack shelter, bread, water, health, education and employment, the Earth’s wealth is being misspent and wasted on weapons and interminable fratricidal wars, an abominable, ever-expanding global practice – increasingly highly developed.
Our glorious, heroic people, despite the inhumane blockade which has lasted more than half a century, have never lowered their banners; they have struggled and will struggle against the sinister empire. This is to our credit and our modest contribution.
On the other side of our planet, where Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in located, President Barack Obama is attending a Summit addressing nuclear security, to impose policies related to the regulation and use of nuclear weapons.
What is being done there is clearly unfathomable.
Personally, I did not become aware of these realities simply by accident. The experiences I lived through during the 15 years after the triumph of the Revolution – the battle of Girón, the criminal yankee blockade to defeat us through hunger, pirate attacks, the dirty attacks and the nuclear missile crisis of October, 1962 – putting the world on the edge of catastrophic disaster – which led me to the conclusion that Marxists and genuine Christians, many of whom I had known, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, should, and could, struggle for justice and peace among human beings.
This is what I have said, and what I maintain, with no vacillation whatsoever. The reasons I can cite today are absolutely valid and even more important, since all of the events which have taken place over the last 40 years confirm them, today with more justification than ever, since – among Marxists and Christians, Catholic or not; Muslims, Shiite or Sunni; free thinkers, dialectical materialists and thinking people – no one would be in favor of witnessing the premature disappearance of our irreplaceable species, waiting for the complex laws of evolution to produce another one which would resemble ours and be capable of thinking.
With great pleasure I will tomorrow, Wednesday, greet His Excellency Pope Benedict XVI, as I greeted John Paul II, a man who invariably engendered feelings of affection when he came in contact with children and humble citizens among the people.
I therefore decided to request a few minutes within his busy schedule when I heard from our Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez that he would appreciate this simple, modest contact.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 27, 2012