Venezuela & Russia negotiating swap of US $ for Ruble in bilateral Trade.

Adiós gringo? Venezuela & Russia negotiating Swap of US Dollar for Ruble in bilateral trade.
RT News | 17 May, 2019

Caracas is in talks with Moscow over the possibility of using the Russian ruble in mutual trade settlements and abandoning dollar transactions, according to Venezuela’s representative to the UN office in Geneva Jorge Valero.

The ambassador added that the countries are also discussing the use of Venezuelan state-sponsored oil-backed cryptocurrency El Petro, launched last year.

Caracas pegged the value of the petro to the price of one barrel of Venezuelan oil. The government also pegged Venezuela’s national currency, the bolivar, to El Petro last summer.

Numerous sanctions introduced against Venezuela by the US have forced the Bolivarian Republic to stop using the dollar for its international transactions. It switched to the euro last October. In addition, the country started swapping crude oil for imported products.

Venezuela is currently trying to get over one of the worst economic crises in history with hyperinflation heading for 10,000,000 percent this year, according to the forecast by the International Monetary Fund.

Valero added that Caracas counts on the Kremlin’s support in restructuring Venezuela’s foreign debt.

The diplomat stressed that the US penalties against the Venezuelan oil sector, along with freezing its dollar accounts, has had an enormous negative impact on the country’s economy. The measures deprived the Latin American nation of free access to international financial support and investments in its oil sector. SOURCE

Independent Journalist, John McEvoy on Venezuela's Grassroots Democracy.

Uploaded by Gordon Dimmack | Published on May 1, 2019.

US Sanctions against Venezuela are criminal!

Uploaded by PressTVUK Videos | Premiered 19 hours ago.
UK: An independent journalist John McEvoy pointed out online that British newspaper, the Guardian has published four stories about a Russian spy whale but has yet to mention the 40,000 deaths caused by US sanctions which reemphasises the point raised by the Venezuelan ambassador that the media is  hiding the truth when it comes to Venezuela. The Venezuelan  ambassador was clear, not only was there an economic blockade but a media blockade too and whilst it is up to the Venezuelan government to break the economic blockade, it is up to those on social media  and  alternative media to break  the media blockade. SOURCE
Venezuelan struggle is OUR struggle too.

Critical Moves: Continuous Siege Against Venezuela.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 14, 2019.

Critical Moves: Continuous Siege Against Venezuela (PartII)

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 18, 2019.

Activists will go to the White House to protest the illegal Actions of the US

Uploaded by teleSUR tv | Published on May 18, 2019.

"American activist organizations continue to mobilize in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and in repudiation of the administration of Donald Trump that seeks to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro. They plan to go from the outskirts of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington D.C. towards the White House." SOURCE

Venezuela Will Protect US Embassy in Caracas.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 18, 2019.

Venezuelan Conflict Comes to DC in Embassy Fight.

Uploaded by i24NEWS English | Published on May 18, 2019.

Vijay Prashad: "The Plot to Kill Venezuela."

The Plot to Kill Venezuela. [Republished]

And who is caught between an economy reliant on oil revenues and a sanctions regime designed to create suffering? The people caught in the squeeze of factors beyond their control.
By Vijay Prashad
Common Dreams | Monday, May 13, 2019.

Hugo Chávez knew that Venezuela was very vulnerable. Its oil revenues account for 98 percent of its export earnings. Chávez was familiar with the thinking of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuela’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons in the early 1960s and one of the architects of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In 1976, Pérez Alfonzo wrote, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin.” He called Venezuela’s oil the “devil’s excrement.” If oil prices remained high, as they were when Chávez came to power in 1999, then oil revenue could be used to finance a project for the landless workers. If oil prices collapsed, then the country—laden with debt—would face severe challenges.

Venezuela’s economy had not been diversified by the oligarchy that ruled the country before Chávez took office. By 1929, it had become apparent to the oligarchy that the flood of oil revenues had damaged the agricultural sector—which shrank in the decades to come. There was neither an attempt to enhance agricultural production (and make Venezuela food sovereign) nor was there any attempt to use oil profits for a wider industrialization program. Occasionally, presidents—such as Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 1970s—would pledge to use the influx of oil revenues to diversify the economy, but when oil prices would fall—as they did periodically—Venezuela went into punishing debt.

It would have taken Chávez a generation to pivot the economy away from its reliance upon oil revenues. But Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the time. In the 2000s, when oil prices remained high, the revenues were used to enhance the social lives of the landless workers, most of whom suffered high rates of malnutrition and illiteracy. Gripped by the need to deal with the social blight amongst the landless workers, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the capacity to tackle reliance upon imports of food and of most consumer goods.

In 2009, a U.S. State Department cable from Caracas noted that the decline in oil prices had placed the Venezuelan government in great peril. The government’s oil company—PDVSA—had provided the revenues to fund the social missions, the programs to lift the low standard of social life for the landless workers. “Unless oil prices rise significantly,” wrote John Caulfield from Caracas, “we are increasingly certain that the game will be up, from an economic standpoint, by early to mid 2010, as no one will be willing to continue to finance PDVSA and a vicious cycle will be inevitable.” The June 2008 price was $163.52; by January 2009, it had collapsed to $50.43. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution was in peril.


The United States government and the Venezuelan oligarchy first tried to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution in 2002. Great hope in Chávez prevented a discredited oligarchy from victory. Oil revenues then allowed Chávez to build up pillars of support for the revolution. But the depletion of the oil prices from 2009 threatened the Bolivarian process. Chávez died in 2013. The combination of low oil prices and the death of Chávez changed the political calculations.

Egged on by the United States, opposition leaders Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado called for demonstrations against the newly elected president Nicolás Maduro in 2014. It was clear that the protests were intended as a provocation, drawing a crackdown from the government forces, which allowed U.S. President Barack Obama to sign the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. This act allowed Obama to sanction individuals in the Venezuelan government. It was extended in 2016 and will expire—unless extended again—at the end of 2019. The sanctions policy was to be the new lever to pressure a vulnerable Venezuela.

In March 2015, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat” to U.S. “national security,” an extreme step, and sanctioned a handful of Venezuelan government officials. The administration of Donald Trump only sharpened and deepened the policy. Obama sanctioned seven individuals, while Trump has—thus far—sanctioned 75 individuals. Obama forged the spear; Trump has thrown it at the heart of Venezuela.

Sanctioned Economy

These early sanctions went after individuals, offering an inconvenience for some Venezuelan politicians and for sections of the state. The U.S. government would soon move the sanctions from individual inconvenience to social collapse. Trump’s policy, from 2017, was to hit Venezuela’s petroleum industry very hard. The U.S. government prevented Venezuelan government bonds from trading in U.S. financial markets, and then it prevented the state’s energy company—PDVSA—from receiving payments for its export of petroleum products. The U.S. Treasury Department froze $7 billion in PDVSA assets, and it did not allow U.S. firms to export naphtha into Venezuela (a crucial input for the extraction of heavy crude oil).

The country relied on oil revenues to import food and medicines. The theft of the $7 billion in PDVSA assets, the seizure of the $1.2 billion in Venezuelan gold in the Bank of England, the transfer of ownership of the PDVSA subsidiary CITGO in the United States to the opposition and the pressure on oil exports squeezed Venezuela very hard. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton estimated that the United States (and Canadian) sanctions had cost Venezuela about $11 billion.

When the United States began to put pressure on transportation firms to stop carrying Venezuelan oil, the schemes to export oil to the Caribbean (PetroCaribe) suffered, as did the fraternal delivery of oil to Cuba. This policy inflamed the situation in Haiti—which is in a long-term political crisis—and it has deepened the crisis in Cuba—which has now had to enforce rationing. The countries in the Caribbean, which relied upon Venezuelan oil, are now suffering deeply.

Impact of the Sanctions

Economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs calculate that the U.S. sanctions have resulted in the death of 40,000 Venezuelan civilians between 2017 and 2018. In their report—“Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela” (April 2019)—they point out that this death toll is merely the start of what is to come. An additional 300,000 Venezuelans are at risk “because of lack of access to medicines or treatment,” including 80,000 “with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017.” There are 4 million people with diabetes and hypertension, most of whom cannot access insulin or cardiovascular medicine. “These numbers,” they write, “by themselves virtually guarantee that the current sanctions, which are much more severe than those implemented before this year, are a death sentence for tens of thousands of Venezuelans.” If oil revenues drop by 67 percent in 2019—as has been projected—the death of tens of thousands of Venezuelans is guaranteed.

Venezuela has imported food goods worth only $2.46 billion in 2018 compared to $11.2 billion in 2013. If food imports remain low and Venezuela is unable to hastily grow enough food, then—as Weisbrot and Sachs argue—the situation will contribute to “malnutrition and stunting in children.”

In 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights—Michelle Bachelet—made the case that the cause of the deterioration of well-being in Venezuela predates the sanctions (a report from Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins University underlined this point). It is certainly true that the fall of oil prices had a marked impact on Venezuela’s external revenues and the reliance upon food imports—a century-old problem—had marked the country before Trump’s very harsh sanctions.

But, the next year, Bachelet told the UN Security Council that “although this pervasive and devastating economic and social crisis began before the imposition of the first economic sanctions in 2017, I am concerned that the recent sanctions on financial transfers related to the sale of Venezuelan oil within the United States may contribute to aggravating the economic crisis, with possible repercussions on people’s basic rights and wellbeing.” A debate over whether it is mismanagement and corruption by the Maduro government or the sanctions that are the author of the crisis is largely irrelevant. The point is that a combination of the reliance on oil revenues and the sanctions policy has crushed the policy space for any stability in the country.

Illegal Sanctions

Weisbrot and Sachs say that these sanctions “would fit the definition of collective punishment,” as laid out in the Hague Convention (1899) and in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). The United States is a signatory of both of these frameworks. “Collective penalties,” says the Fourth Geneva Convention, “are prohibited.” Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are dead. Tens of thousands more are under threat of death. Yet, no one has stood up against the grave breach of the convention in terms of collective punishment. There is not a whiff of interest in the UN Secretary General’s office to open a tribunal on the accusations of collective punishment against Venezuela. Allegations of this seriousness are brushed under the rug. SOURCE

The Latest on Iran, Venezuela, and China: What’s Next?

Uploaded by The Big Picture RT | Published on May 17, 2019.

Activists charged with ‘interfering’ in US raid on Venezuelan embassy.

Anti-coup activists charged with ‘interfering’ in US raid on Venezuelan embassy.
RT News | Published time: 17 May, 2019 23:08

Four protesters arrested inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC have been released pending hearing – but could face up to a year in jail for trying to prevent a takeover of the building by the US-backed opposition.

Members of the Embassy Protection Collective have been released on various conditions after their arrest Thursday afternoon by heavily armed US police. The misdemeanor charge of “interfering with a federal law enforcement agent engaged in protective functions” carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, even though the activists and the Venezuelan government alike insist the US police had no right to enter the building.

WATCH members of the Embassy Protection Collective speak following their release from jail:
— Anya Parampil (@anyaparampil) May 17, 2019

The protesters are “looking forward to the trial,” Kevin Zeese told journalist Anya Parampil after his release, adding that they planned to “make the case that there is a legitimate government, that the Vienna convention was violated, that this was an inappropriate and unlawful arrest.”

Margaret Ann Flowers, Adrienne Pine, and David Vernon Paul were also released. They are due back in court on June 12.

The judge ordered the protesters to steer clear of 10 locations now controlled by representatives of the Venezuelan opposition and check in weekly with authorities as a condition of their release. While the US government asked for their passports to be confiscated, that request was denied, though they must notify authorities if they plan to travel abroad.

The collective had been living in the building for over a month with permission of the Venezuelan foreign ministry, hoping to prevent it from falling into the hands of US-backed “interim president” Juan Guaido, whose operatives have taken possession of other Venezuelan diplomatic buildings after diplomats loyal to President Nicolas Maduro were forced to leave the country.

US authorities had also shut off power and water to the embassy and tried to block food deliveries to the protesters living inside, in a pale echo of the blackouts and sanction-imposed scarcity Washington has inflicted on actual Venezuelans in its ongoing campaign to force regime change in Caracas.

Venezuelan Vice Minister for North American Relations Carlos Ron condemned the raid, calling it an “unlawful breach of the Vienna Convention” and confirming the Venezuelan government did not authorize any US authorities to enter the building, which under international law is considered Venezuelan diplomatic property. SOURCE

UK: Venezuela’s UK Ambassador holds Press Conference in London

Uploaded by Ruptly | Published on May 17, 2019.

Jorge Arreaza's Message To The US: This Is The Moment For Diplomacy.

The entire special interview [in Spanish] with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Areeaza, follows. The clip above begins at position 10:05 in the video below.

Uploaded by teleSUR tv | Published on May 17, 2019.

Telesur English | 17 May, 2019.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza hailed Norway's mediation efforts and stressed that "knowing how to listen, agree and comply is required."

During an exclusive interview with teleSUR, Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza addressed some of the the highlights of the current political, economic and diplomatic situation his country is going through.

With regard to the "exploratory phase" of dialogue taking place in Norway between representatives of the President Nicolas Maduro administration and delegates of the opposition Juan Guaido, Arreaza recalled that his government has always insisted that dialogue is a "must" and much more when Venezuela is under attack.

Representatives from the International Contact Group for Venezuela, which includes several Latin American and European countries have made five visits to the country in the last three months, informed Arreaza. The vice-ministers of foreign affairs from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and Uruguay who all belong to the group made a special visit to Venezuela Thursday and met with Maduro where they were asked to understand the Bolivarian Revolution without outside biases.

Importante reunión con el Grupo Internacional de Contacto que visita Venezuela. Les expresé mi disposición de resolver las diferencias internas por la vía del diálogo y conversamos sobre las agresiones económicas del imperio de los EE.UU. en contra de nuestro Pueblo.
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) May 17, 2019

Important meeting with the International Contact Group visiting Venezuela. I expressed my willingness to resolve internal differences through dialogue and we talked about the economic aggressions of the US empire against our People.

It is important to "understand the Venezuelan reality by taking into account the historical struggle for the control of oil resources, which happens between, on the one hand, a local bourgeoisie wanting to appropriate oil revenues for its own benefit and, on the other hand, a government seeking to distribute oil wealth through housing, health and education for its people," emphasized the Venezuelan diplomat during the interview.

#FromTheSouth News Bits | Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, the attorney representing the Embassy Protection Activists who were arrested by #UnitedStates federal police, has said the invasion of the Venezuelan embassy in #WashingtonDC is an outrageous violation of the Vienna convention.
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) 17 de mayo de 2019

Minister Arreaza did not provide details about the dialogue's exploratory phase, however, he thanked Norway for its willingness to contribute to peace.

"We are very grateful to the kingdom of Norway for its efforts to bring parties together. ... Dialogue in democracy is always good news. ... There is a historical conflict that must be managed in peace (and) knowing how to listen, agree and comply is requiered."

Regarding the Lima Group meeting, which was scheduled for this week but suspended, the foreign minister said that such suspension reflects a change in the group's strategy, which was "surprised" by the recently publicized talks in Norway.

"It is the anti-dialogue group. ... It's a group of right-wing Latin American governments that reflect U.S. policy. ... However, Venezuela is willing to work with these governments," stressed the Venezuelan minister who explained that although the Lima Group rejected a military intervention in Venezuela, it has fostered political conditions that make the U.S. believe that such an intervention is feasible.

We will be gathering at the Venezuelan Embassy at noon and then marching to the White House to demand us hands off Venezuela, drop the charges against the embassy protectors and no war on Iran. Join us?
— Phil Wilayto (@PhilWilayto1) 17 de mayo de 2019

Speaking about ​​recent foreign-driven actions against Venezuela, Arreaza highlighted the unfortunate events that took place at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. Thursday and thanked U.S. peace activists who defended that building for over a month.

On May 16, United States local and national security forces invaded Venezuela's sovereign embassy in D.C. to arrest the remaining Protection Collective members inside the building trying to keep it in the hands of the democratically elected Maduro adminstration.

"First of all a recognition to the activists who protected the embassy. ... Their moral strength and integrity were greater than all the police forces trying to evict them through the back door," said Arreaza and commented that "it was a sad spectacle and a violation of the Vienna Convention."

This multilateral agreement, he recalled, obliges any country to respect and protect other countries' embassy even when there is a rupture of diplomatic relations or armed conflicts.

"We do respect international law. ... The U.S. sits on the United Nations Security Council but threatens other countries with war," he said and pointed out that "the time for diplomacy is now, I hope they understand... all their strategies against Venezuela have failed. ... (Trumps') advisers have committed one awkward event after another," referring to the failed 'humanitarian aid' in February, massive electrical sabotages on Venezuela in March, and May's coup attempt against Maduro.

#LIVE | President @NicolasMaduro: "We call to respect the human rights of @codepink activists that defended our embassy after we broke diplomatic relations with the Trump government"
— Global Analytica (@AnalyticaGlobal) 16 de mayo de 2019

Minister Arreaza indicated that similar actions against the U.S. embassy in Caracas could be undertaken, if his country followed the 'Principle of Reciprocity' tradition. However, Venezuela will not do so because the Bolivarian government does respect international law.

With respect to what could happen to the Venezuelan building in D.C., he said that it would be absurd for the Venezuelan opposition to occupy the Bolivarian embassy and perform administrative tasks from there.

"If any Venezuelan went to the embassy, ​​he could not process a visa, apostille a document or perform similar actions. It would be absurd."

Arreaza stressed again that the "brazen" disrespect for international law that took place at the Venezuelan embassy has become "a great triumph" for both his country and peace activists who demonstrated "seeds of change" that will benefit sooner than later the world and the United States.

As a message to all Venezuelans without distinction of political positions, Minister Arreaza said that violence will not be the means to solve domestic disputes.

"We have a Constitution which cost a lot and we must protect it. Venezuela needs a peaceful and democratic road. Within that, there is no intervention," he recalled and added that "we all have to reject war and blockades, and bet on dialogue, democracy and peace. ... Problems will not be solved with aggression, insult and violence," said the diplomat. SOURCE

The Point: Is the U.S. imposing War on Venezuela?

Uploaded by CGTN | Published on May 17, 2019.

Venezuela receives Third Shipment of Medical Assistance from China.

Uploaded by New China TV | Published on May 17, 2019.
Xinhua | 2019-05-17

CARACAS, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela received on Thursday the third shipment of medical aid from China, with 64 tons of medicines and medical supplies, a Venezuelan official said.

At the Simon Bolivar International Airport, Venezuelan Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said that the aid is "fundamental and necessary for the national public health system."

He explained that once the medical assistance arrived at the warehouse, it would be distributed through the national hospital system.

"This will come immediately to its destination," he said.

He also said that, within the framework of the agreements with China, a fourth plane with medical assistance is scheduled to arrive in the next fifteen days.

The first batch of medical assistance from China, made up of 65 tons of medicines and medical supplies, arrived in Venezuela in March. The second shipment of 71 tons of medical aid from China were received by Venezuela on Monday.

Anya Parampil: The Venezuelan Embassy Siege.

Uploaded by The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow | Published on May 16, 2019.

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free...

U.S. Code 

Below are some sections from the U.S. Code, Chapter 115 which covers the crimes of treason, sedition, and subversive activities. I assume that all governments, "democratic" and otherwise, respond with similar outrage to such crimes,  so feel free to insert Venezuela wherever you see "the United States." 

Section  2381. Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Section  2383. Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Section  2384. Seditious conspiracy

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Section  2385. Advocating overthrow of Government

Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.

Section § 2387. Activities affecting armed forces generally

(a) Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States:
(1) advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States; or
(2) distributes or attempts to distribute any written or printed matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the term “military or naval forces of the United States” includes the Army of the United States, the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve of the United States; and, when any merchant vessel is commissioned in the Navy or is in the service of the Army or the Navy, includes the master, officers, and crew of such vessel.

Section  2389. Recruiting for service against United States

Whoever recruits soldiers or sailors within the United States, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, to engage in armed hostility against the same; or

Whoever opens within the United States, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, a recruiting station for the enlistment of such soldiers or sailors to serve in any manner in armed hostility against the United States—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Trump Admin Breaks and Enters Venezuela’s Embassy, Arrests Activists

Uploaded by The Real News Network | Published on May 17, 2019.

Hondurans Protests US Puppet Gov & Privatization ..Shot, Gassed & Beaten...

Uploaded by The Last American Vagabond | Published on May 16, 2019.

Venezuela: U.S. Actions Endanger Diplomats Around The World.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 15, 2019.

Venezuela loses $130 billion to U.S. Sanctions.

Uploaded by News Agency of Nigeria | Published on May 16, 2019

Authorities take over Venezuelan Embassy and arrest activists.

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 16, 2019.

Venezuela Peace Talks Open In Norway; US Neocons Raging Mad!

Uploaded by RonPaulLibertyReport | Streamed live 16th May, 2019.
"The last time negotiations were planned between Venezuelan government and opposition forces, opposition leader (and US puppet) Guaido launched his ill-fated coup and the talks were scuttled. Today a new effort, brokered by Norway, is being launched to solve the conflict without further bloodshed. What kind of monkey wrench will the neocons throw into the mix this time?" SOURCE

US Police illegally enter Venezuelan Embassy and arrest 4 Activists.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 16, 2019.

Unprecedented: US police break into Venezuela embassy, arrest activists.

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 16, 2019.

BREAKING: Police Breaking Into Venezuela Embassy to Arrest Activists.

Sputnik International | 16.05.2019

Police have been sieging the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC despite resistance from activists supporting the diplomatic mission loyal to the country's elected President Nicolas Maduro and accusations of violating the untouchable status of the embassy.

US police are breaking into the Venezuelan Embassy located in Washington, DC according to an activist from the human rights group CODEPINK. According to Medea Benjamin, the police are trying to arrest a group of protesters, who have been guarding the facility from being taken over by US authorities. Her words were echoed by another CODEPINK activist, Ariel Gold.

BREAKING NEWS: Police breaking into Venezuela Embassy to illegally arrest #EmbassyProtectionCollective, in violation of Vienna Convention. Breaking international law.
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) May 16, 2019

Both activists have accused the US of violating the Vienna Convention by breaking into the embassy's premises. Their reports were later confirmed by a Washington Post reporter on the scene, who heard one of the activists guarding the embassy call out a window that police are after them.

They're breaking down a door
— Michele Banks (@artologica) May 16, 2019

Benjamin later added that the police have already arrested four protesters in the course of the raid. Among those arrested are anti-war activists Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.

Antiwar and #climate activists @KBZeese and Margaret Flowers and two other people opposed to the Trump administration's policies on Venezuela have been arrested by police who entered the Venezuelan embassy in violation of the Vienna Convention.
— Mark Hand (@MarkFHand) May 16, 2019

The activists from the Embassy Protection Collective have been living inside the embassy since April 24 in a bid to protect it from US attempts to seize the facility. The group was invited by the embassy's Venezuelan diplomats.

Venezuela Peace Negotiations are held in Norway...

Negotiators from the opposing camps have spoken in Oslo 'for several days'
Assembly speaker Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president in January
Nicolas Maduro had taken power in 2013 after death of Hugo Chavez and had controversial second term Presidential vote in 2018
Several countries including the US have recognised Guaidó as president.
By William Cole
Daily Mail [UK] 16 May 2019.

Representatives of Venezuela's regime and the opposition are holding 'peace negotiations' in Oslo this week, Norwegian media reported Thursday.

Venezuela has been in political turmoil since assembly speaker Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president in January in a direct challenge to President Nicolas Maduro's authority.

The NRK radio and television network, quoting anonymous sources, said peace talks have taken place at a secret location in the Norwegian capital for 'several days' and are expected to conclude on Thursday.

Nicolas Maduro did not directly comment on the talks during televised remarks, but he said Rodríguez was on a 'very important' mission outside Venezuela.

It is the second time that such talks have been held in Oslo between Maduro's regime and Guaido's representatives, NRK said.

It said negotiations have also taken place in Cuba.

'We can neither confirm nor deny Norway's involvement in peace processes or dialogue initiatives,' said Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Ane Haavardsdatter Lunde.

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez and the governor of Miranda province Hector Rodriguez represented Maduro's government, NRK said.

The opposition is represented by former deputy Gerardo Blyde, former minister Fernando Martinez Mottola and the vice president of the National Assembly Stalin Gonzales.

In Caracas, Maduro said Jorge Rodriguez 'is overseas, on a very important mission'.

Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, is locked in a bitter power struggle with Maduro, who has presided over a spiralling political and economic crisis in Venezuela since taking over from late leftist leader Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Maduro was re-elected to a second term in May 2018, in a vote boycotted by the opposition and rejected by much of the international community.

Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23, calling Maduro's re-election illegitimate. The opposition leader has since been recognised by more than 50 countries, led by the United States.

Norway however has merely called for new free elections in Venezuela, a position seen as illustrating a willingness to act as a mediator between the two sides.

At the end of January, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said her country was 'ready to contribute if and when the parties so wish'.

However there is still conflict on several key issues hoped to be addressed by the Oslo meeting. The opposition has insisted that Maduro was illegitimately elected last year and that he must step aside to make way for elections. Maduro, in turn, accuses the opposition of being U.S. stooges intent on illegally seizing power.

The Norway dialogue comes as a mostly European group of nations prepares to send a high-level delegation to Venezuela to propose solutions to the country's protracted crisis. The International Contact Group consists of eight European countries, the European Union and four Latin American countries.

The group formed after Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's interim president early this year in a direct challenge to the rule of Maduro, who says his government champions the socialist principles of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

Guaidó's opposition, which is backed by the United States and about 50 other nations, says Venezuela's dire economic state is the result of years of corruption and mismanagement. Maduro blames the country's problems on U.S. sanctions that were imposed more recently.

There is also speculation that the United States, the main backer of the Venezuelan opposition, might be considering military action as a way to end the crisis in the near term.

Officials have previously said they are focusing on diplomatic and economic measures to force out Maduro, though opposition leader Juan Guaidó said his Washington envoy will meet with the head of the U.S. Southern Command on Monday.

The United States suspended all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the U.S. and Venezuela, saying the political unrest and tensions there pose a risk to flights.

American Airlines also stopped its flights in mid-March after union leaders told pilots not to go there due to safety concerns. Some other international airlines quit flying to Venezuela years ago because of the country's deteriorating economy. SOURCE

See Google search results for additional coverage.

Rev. Jesse Jackson delivers Food to Activists in Venezuelan Embassy.

Uploaded by Ruptly | Published on May 16, 2019.

Correcting Common Misconception about Venezuela.

Uploaded by Iranian Cultural Association | Published on May 15, 2019.
"Gregory Wilpert is a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he briefly taught sociology at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded, an English-language website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). In 2014 he moved to Quito, Ecuador, to help launch teleSUR English. In early 2016 he began working for The Real News Network as host, researcher, and producer. Since September 2018 he has been working as Managing Editor at The Real News. Gregory’s wife worked as a Venezuelan diplomat since 2008 and from January 2015 until October 2018 she was Venezuela’s Ambassador to Ecuador." SOURCE

Unconfirmed News that Maduro & Guaido Factions close to Truce in Norway.

Uploaded by RT News | Published on May 15, 2019.
Michele Greenstein, RT: Now these are anonymous sources so let's take that with a grain of salt. Neither party has officially declared this meeting to have happened  but when the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN was asked about this trip to Norway, he did not deny. On the other hand some sectors of the Venezuelan opposition say that they are not open to dialogue, they are not all on the same page when it comes to this and they also deny any involvement in this alleged trip to Norway.

Infobae, Caracas provides more details:

"A secret negotiation to find a political solution to the Venezuelan crisis is taking place in Oslo, Norway, according to Venezuelan media and confirmed to Infobae sources in Caracas.

Two officials representing Nicolás Maduro and two on behalf of the opposition participated in the meeting. In the name of the Chavez regime, there is the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, and the Governor of the State of Miranda, Héctor Rodríguez. For the opposition, it is affirmed that the former minister of the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, Fernando Martínez Mottola, and the ex-deputy Gerardo Blyde, as confirmed by Globovisión and Al Navío, would be in the Norwegian capital.

The negotiation would count on the endorsement of the leader of Voluntad Popular Leopoldo López, the same party to which the interim president Juan Guaidó belongs.

Norway had an important role in the dialogues in Havana that culminated with the historic peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC. Therefore, there are those who harbor some expectation in Caracas, despite the large number of similar instances of dialogue between Chavez and the opposition that failed in recent years and only served to give the regime more time to hold on to power...." Read more

Alnavio had reported on this event since Tuesday, 14th May: Hay una negociación secreta en Venezuela y nadie dice nada. ¿Quién la propuso? There is a secret negotiation in Venezuela and nobody says anything. Who proposed it?

"First it was a secret. Then a whisper. And the details have just been shown on a television station in Caracas. The journalist Vladimir Villegas reported it on the program 'Contrast and Controversy' that was premiered by Globovisión. Villegas said that "there are people linked" to the parties "Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia who intend to negotiate with the Government of Nicolás Maduro" in order to "seek a solution to the political conflict that Venezuela is experiencing." ....Read more.

As RT advised in their coverage at the top of this post, until official confirmation is provided, take everything with a grain of salt.

Update: The MSM have begun to cover the story. See Google search results.

Why Chavismo endures in Venezuela.

Uploaded by The Real News Network | Published on May 15, 2019.

Sobranie Zolotova on Venezuela.

Uploaded by Sobranie Zolotova | Published on May 15, 2019.

Venezuelan Embassy Protectors Remain Inside.

Uploaded by Democracy Now! | Published on May 15, 2019.

Tulsi Gabbard: Let the Venezuelan People determine their own Future.

Uploaded by The Convo Couch | Published on May 14, 2019.

Live from Venezuela Embassy: Crowds want a Raid.

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 14, 2019.

Guaidó Calls for US Military Cooperation.

Uploaded by The Real News Network | Published on May 14, 2019.

Embassy Protection Collective Statement. 13/05/2019

The Embassy Protectors will not barricade ourselves, or hide in the embassy in the event of an unlawful entry by police. We will gather together and peacefully assert our rights to remain in the building and uphold international law.
By The Embassy Protection Collective
May 13, 2109

The Embassy Protection Collective is a group of activists and journalists living in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC at the invitation of the Venezuelan government. The following is a statement released by the Embassy Protection Collective to MintPress News and other media:

This is the 34th day of our living in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We are prepared to stay another 34 days, or however long is needed to resolve the embassy dispute in a peaceful way consistent with international law.

This memo is being sent to the US and Venezuela as well as members of our Collective and allies. We are encouraging people to publish this memo as a transparent process is needed to prevent the US from making a unilateral decision that could impact the security of embassies around the world and lead to military conflict.

There are two ways to resolve the issues around the Venezuelan embassy in DC, which we will explain.

Before doing so, we reiterate that our collective is one of independent people and organizations not affiliated with any government. While we are all US citizens, we are not agents of the United States. While we are here with permission of the Venezuelan government, we are not their agents or representatives.

We are here in the embassy lawfully. We are breaking no laws. We did not unlawfully enter and we are not trespassing.

1. Exiting with a Protecting Power Agreement.

The exit from the embassy that best resolves issues to the benefit of the United States and Venezuela is a mutual Protecting Power Agreement. The United States wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in Caracas. Venezuela wants a Protecting Power for its embassy in DC. Such agreements are not uncommon when diplomatic relations are severed.

A Protecting Power Agreement would avoid a military conflict that could lead to war. A war in Venezuela would be catastrophic for Venezuela, the United States, and for the region. It would lead to lives lost and mass migration from the chaos and conflict of war. It would cost the United States trillions of dollars and become a quagmire involving allied countries around the world.

We are serving as interim protectors in the hope that the two nations can negotiate this resolution. If this occurs we will take the banners off the building, pack our materials, and leave voluntarily. The electricity could be turned on and we will drive out.

We suggest a video walk-through with embassy officials to show that the Embassy Protection Collective did not damage the building. The only damage to the building has been inflicted by coup supporters in the course of their unprosecuted break-ins.

2. The United States violates the Vienna Convention, makes an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests.

This approach will violate international law and is fraught with risks. The United States would have to cut the chains in the front door put up by embassy staff and violate the embassy. We have put up barriers there and at other entrances to protect us from constant break-ins and threats from the trespassers whom the police are permitting outside the embassy. The police’s failure to protect the embassy and the US citizens inside has forced us to take these actions.

The Embassy Protectors will not barricade ourselves, or hide in the embassy in the event of an unlawful entry by police. We will gather together and peacefully assert our rights to remain in the building and uphold international law.

Any order to vacate based on a request by coup conspirators that lack governing authority will not be a lawful order. The coup has failed multiple times in Venezuela. The elected government is recognized by the Venezuelan courts under Venezuelan law and by the United Nations under international law. An order by the US-appointed coup plotters would not be legal.

Such an entry would put embassies around the world and in the United States at risk. We are concerned about US embassies and personnel around the world if the Vienna Convention is violated at this embassy. It would set a dangerous precedent that would likely be used against US embassies.

If an illegal eviction and unlawful arrests are made, we will hold all decision-makers in the chain of command and all officers who enforce unlawful orders accountable.

If there is a notice that we are trespassing and need to vacate the premises, please provide it to our attorney Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, copied on this memo.

We have taken care of this embassy and request a video tour of the building before any arrests.

We hope a wise and calm solution to this issue can be achieved so escalation of this conflict can avoided.

There is no need for the United States and Venezuela to be enemies. Resolving this embassy dispute diplomatically should lead to negotiations over other issues between the nations.

The Embassy Protection Collective
May 13, 2019

'You can't impose Democracy': Lavrov on current 'democracy' in Iraq & Libya.

Uploaded by RT | Published on May 14, 2019.

Pompeo : ‘We hope that Russian support for Maduro will end’.

Uploaded by RT | Published on May 14, 2019.

Guaido Begs US Military To Help With Maduro Regime Change.

Uploaded by The Last American Vagabond | Published on May 14, 2019.

Coup university: A Pentagon scholar’s guide to overthrowing governments..

RT News | 13 May, 2019

With the Venezuela crisis making regime change once again the talk of the town in Washington, the US Special Operations Command has published a paper chronicling the highs and lows of seven decades of foreign interference.

The 250-page study, entitled “Support to Resistance: Strategic Purpose and Effectiveness,” was penned by Army Special Forces veteran Will Irwin, and published by the Joint Special Operations University, where Irwin is a resident senior fellow.

Few nations have universities dedicated to the art of the coup, but few nations have a history of foreign intervention quite like the US. Since the end of World War II, the United States has brought its military might to bear on dozens of countries and sponsored scores of insurgencies and regime change operations worldwide. Irwin was first faced with the task of whittling down the list to something manageable.

After discounting coups that involved no resistance movements – like those in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954 – as well as those that involved actions against non-state actors, the researcher was left with 47 cases. Recent US proxy wars, like those in Syria, Ukraine and Libya, were also discounted.

Sponsoring foreign resistance movements transcends partisan divisions. “Even presidents who, prior to their election, looked upon such activity with disfavor, found themselves compelled to use it after taking office,” Irwin wrote glowingly.

What’s the magic formula?

So everybody does it, but what makes a successful coup a successful coup? To the untrained observer, the US’s willingness to get into bed with shady ‘resistance’ fighters seems to be marked by a persistent inability to learn from the past.

Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both armed the Afghan mujahedin in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s, only for US forces would be shot at with the same weapons just two decades later. That experience didn’t deter Barack Obama from arming hand-selected ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria just five years ago. Shockingly, many of these weapons ended up in the hands of Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists.

Irwin identifies mixed results. Of the 47 cases studied, 23 were deemed successful and another 20 failures. Two were marked as “partially successful,” and another two “inconclusive.” Attempts to outright overthrow governments failed 71 percent of the time, as was the case for the CIA’s ill-fated ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion of Cuba.

Attempts to strong-arm foreign governments into toeing the line were more successful, working in three-quarters of instances – as was the case when the Carter and Reagan administrations sponsored Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s, as a means of coercing the country’s communist-leaning government into halting arms shipments to neighboring El Salvador.

"Disruptive” actions – like the failed parachuting of anti-communist guerillas into Yugoslavia in 1948 to stir up resistance – failed just less than half the time. In 1948, the Chetnik guerillas literally fell into the hands of the Yugoslav authorities, who were waiting at the drop zone with weapons drawn.

No matter what the purpose of the action, Irwin found that operations carried out “under wartime conditions” were twice as successful as those carried out in peacetime. Support to nonviolent civil resistance was also more likely to succeed, but that too was "most effective when conducted in direct support of a military campaign,” rather than as a standalone operation.

Long term consequences

For Irwin, the success or failure of a foreign intervention was judged on one simple criterion: Did it achieve the strategic objectives the US set out to achieve? However, as shown in the Afghanistan example mentioned above, short-term victory can have long-term consequences. The defeat of the Soviets led to the rise of a US-armed and battle-tested mujahedin, many of whose members would later join Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Irwin admits this seemingly obvious contradiction, writing that intervention and regime change “most often addresses immediate issues and short-term rather than longer-term interests.”

Fast forwarding to the present day, what lessons can be learned from Irwin’s how-to manual? The United States is currently providing political support to opposition leader Juan Guaido in Venezuela. Under Irwin’s definitions, Washington is sponsoring (for the most part) non-violent resistance during peacetime, an approach more successful than outright guerilla warfare, but less effective than if it were carried out alongside a military attack.
Not that military action doesn’t have its supporters. State Secretary Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and President Donald Trump have all repeatedly uttered the phrase “all options are on the table” when it comes to dethroning Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

With soft support for Guaido thus far failing to dislodge Maduro from power, and with Washington increasingly agitated at Moscow for its support for Maduro’s regime, there are plenty of opportunities for things to escalate in Venezuela.

However, the hawks in Washington would do well to remember the abiding lesson from 'coup university': Success is never guaranteed, and short-term victory comes with long-term consequences. SOURCE


Pompeo & FM Lavrov Discuss Iran, Venezuela & Election Meddling.

Uploaded by Ben Swann | Published on May 14, 2019.

Ron Paul: We have contributed significantly to the Crisis in Venezuela.

Uploaded by PRIMO NUTMEG | Published on May 14, 2019.

Guaido, a Despot’s Desperation Plea for US Military Action in Venezuela.

Uploaded by AfriSynergyNews | Published on May 13, 2019.

Comment by Louis Farrakhan on Venezuela policy.

Uploaded by Marcel Veldbloem |Published on Mar 12, 2019.

Venezuela receives second Medical Aid Shipment from China.

Uploaded by New China TV | Published on May 13, 2019.

"On Monday, a second shipment of aid from China to Venezuela arrived at Simon Bolivar International Airport. The shipment contains 71 tons of medicine and medical supplies to a country suffering under the weight of heavy international sanctions. The Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, Li Baorong, stated his confidence that the aid would help relieve this suffering. Last March, China sent its first shipment of medical aid to Venezuela, which was composed of 65 tons of medicines and supplies. Li Baorong said both aid shipments are a show of friendship towards the Venezuelan people." SOURCE

Venezuela Receives Medicines and Health Supplies from China.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 14, 2019.

US Police fail to evict Activists from Venezuelan Embassy...

Uploaded by RT | Published on May 14, 2019.

BREAKING: US Imperialists Violate Int. Law/Break into Venezuelan Embassy.

Trespassing notice that was taped onto the Venezuelan embassy. 
It ordered all those inside to leave immediately and threatened arrest 
to those who refused to comply with orders. 
No official stationery/letterhead, signature.

Uploaded by Jackson Facts | May 13, 2019 Streamed live 52 minutes ago.
The statement by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the lawyer from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund who is representing the Embassy Protection Collective, begins at position 34:24 in the video above. 
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Article 22
  The premises of a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy, are inviolable and must NOT be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission. Furthermore, the host country must protect the mission from intrusion or damage. The host country must NEVER  search the premises, nor seize its documents or property.

BREAKING: Activists face eviction from Venezuela Embassy.

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 13, 2019.

Gerry Condon of Veterans for Peace.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 12, 2019.

Interview: Aminta Zea of Venezuelan "Embassy Protection Collective"

Uploaded by News2Share | Published on May 12, 2019.

Review by M. Forte of "American Exceptionalism & American Innocence."


Review by Maximilian Forte of "American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror." By Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong. Foreword by Ajamu Baraka. Afterword by Glen Ford. 256 pages. Published: April 2, 2019. New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN: 9781510742369. Hardcover, $24.99 US; e-Book, $16.99 US.

We live in a time which sees the US accelerating its accumulation of conflict worldwide: a trade war with China; sanctions and tariffs on “friends” and “enemies” alike; international treaties torn apart; international law dismissed and violated on an almost daily basis; escalating tensions and provocations that almost seem designed with the premeditated intent of precipitating war with Iran, or Venezuela, or North Korea; a new Cold War with Russia; an enhanced embargo against Cuba; and an ongoing, seemingly permanent occupation in Afghanistan. Yet, in the midst of that, American leaders react with apparent protest at any consequences or responses—others are blamed for the apparent crime of responding to threats and aggression. How does one bring both of these facets—aggression and victimhood—together into one explanation?

As the US expanded and then inserted itself into the domestic affairs of nations in almost every corner of the planet, what role did the ideology of “American exceptionalism” play? How is “American exceptionalism” constructed, learned, and experienced? How are Americans both exceptional and “innocent”? What are the relationships between American exceptionalism, innocence, and racism and class domination? How is “humanitarian intervention” shaped by American exceptionalism and innocence? How do celebrities, Hollywood, the major news media, and sporting events help to cement American exceptionalism? Do “progressive” social movements of the American left depart from exceptionalism? How relevant is American exceptionalism to debates about immigration and borders? What are the solutions to the problem of American exceptionalism? Should the world be a world without America?

These are some of the questions that are resolutely tackled in a newly released book, which is the subject of this review.

An Overview of American Exceptionalism and American Innocence

In what was one of the most prolonged reviews I have ever conducted (from July, 2018, through April, 2019), I read a draft of American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, sent to me by one of its authors, Roberto Sirvent. I was also familiar with the work of Danny Haiphong, who has written some very valuable articles for Black Agenda Report, one of the most important American news and commentary sites still in existence.

Nine months of reading and note taking—when I had promised a quick review within a couple of weeks. The time spent going through the book slowly was well worth the investment. (The page numbers cited in this review come from the draft, not from the volume in its published form.)

Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong have produced something that is itself exceptional, and fairly novel, and yet they do not boast of the fact: what they have essentially done is to create a history of US imperialism that is not confined to the sphere of foreign policy and international relations, but is also deeply grounded in US social relations, popular culture, public rituals, and national institutions. They prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that to study empire you need not go far away, over there, and no one research method will suffice. Their sources come from near and far, ranging from sporting events and video games to novels, songs, and history texts. The dividing line between foreign and domestic, and between politics, the economy, diplomacy, the military, etc., are all productively blurred, erased even—and this is done without creating a confusing mess. Instead, the method produces some particularly clear insights. On that basis, this could have been a book written for academic audiences, but it is not: it is explicitly intended for members of the general public, and activists in particular. On the other hand, the book does not simply pander to contemporary social movements, many of which are single-issue movements; instead, the book alerts them to their own complicity in upholding American exceptionalism and US interventionism. While the book does not try to pose as either bi-partisan or non-partisan, it has ample criticisms and lessons for Americans on all sides of the imagined political spectrum.

The fabricated partisan divide in the US is a tool essential for the maintenance and reproduction of doctrinal purity, because it helps to ensure that one or the other party will always shoulder the responsibility for empire, and for the continuing mystification of doctrine. The struggle facing the left is about how to detach (momentarily) popular social movements from either an unquestioning commitment to US dominance, or to at least discontinue their silent consent with empire. For some on the right, there is likewise a continuing problem of how to disentangle nationalism from exceptionalism, to rescue the republic and take the US off its imperial path. While this book is mostly written from the left, and probably for the left, it can sometimes travel over the obstacles put in the path of critical reason and which help to legitimize the partisan divide. This book does not shy away from tackling events, ideas, or personalities popular at one time or another with either the right or the left (and sometimes both). One of the key examples of this approach involves the authors concentrating their critical skills on phenomena such as humanitarian intervention (maintained by both parties in power), and popular American notions about saving the world. Likewise, Obama is criticized as much as Trump, Broadway as much as the Super Bowl. In fact, the book challenges social justice movements to realize that they cannot be feminist, anti-racist, or pro-peace, while remaining married to ideas of the inherent superiority of the US possessing a unique role as a force for good in the world.

Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong link American exceptionalism with another long-standing supporting myth, which is the myth of eternal American innocence: Americans never commit crimes or atrocities, they are simply the victims of hostile, savage others. (Elsewhere I have referred to this as more than just a guilt-free state of mind, but a mode of operation founded on belief that one’s way of life must always come free of any consequences.) Not just outlining the doctrine, and how it appears in practice, the authors also focus attention on who profits the most from maintenance of the myths of exceptionalism and innocence. As they say, it is the corporate executives, millionaire politicians, and military war-hawks who have most at stake in upholding this ideology.

That is the other strength of this book, that it is not limited to political organization, but is also concerned with economic forces, broad cultural patterns, ideology, symbolism, religion, mass-mediated entertainment, sports, racism, policing, inequality, and more. It is a practical form of holism, where the authors allow their argument to travel where the evidence takes it. As the authors say, their aim is to explain American exceptionalism as it appears in everyday life, and to show what it looks like in contemporary popular discourse.

This book is very deeply researched and conversant with a wide body of literature. Politically, it is revolutionary (not reformist): the authors consistently point to the need for a different world altogether, mere reforms of the system will no longer do.

American Exceptionalism

When Sirvent and Haiphong employ the term “American exceptionalism,” what they mean is “the ideological tool used to present and sustain a particular narrative about the United States”. That narrative is one that, according to legal theorist Natsu Tailor Saito,

“‘presumes that human history is best understood as a linear progression toward higher stages of civilization, that Western civilization represents the apex of this history, and that the United States embodies the best and most advanced stage of Western civilization and, therefore, human history to date’”. (p. 4)

This is what on this site we refer to as cultural evolutionism or progressivism, bent to suit an aggressive strain of American nationalism.

American exceptionalism is also a monopolistic claim on “freedom”. What is meant by “freedom”? The authors explain:

“these ‘ideals’ [of ‘freedom’] we speak of are actually rooted in the modern philosophy of liberalism, which many scholars have shown is deeply tied to—and dependent on—exclusion, dispossession, and slavery. In other words, the right to ‘freedom,’ as understood by many nation-states like our own, has always entailed the ‘unfreedom’ of others and involved complex and violent processes of determining who is and is not ‘human’”. (p. 5)

Sirvent and Haiphong are aware in advance of what some of the common objections to their book will be. One will be that they write “America” and not “United States”—they explain that it is due to the fact that America has been constructed as a grand idea that exceeds the boundaries of the United States. The very notion of America itself commits the US to expansion. The authors also know that some will say that the “founding ideals” of America are themselves exceptional and without parallel anywhere in the world—their answer is that such an assumption is both naïve, and in lines with the classic liberal philosophy of America’s ruling elites. As for “accusations of being ‘un-American’,” they point out that such accusations, “usually come as a knee-jerk response to criticisms of U.S. domestic and foreign policy. They are themselves a manifestation of American exceptionalism” (p. 5). Nonetheless, I bet there will be critics who ignore these lines, and then set about proving the authors’ very points.

American Innocence

On the subject of “American innocence” the authors make the following observation:

“Popular rhetoric shows that the ideological tool of American innocence ‘kicks in’ or is ‘triggered’ when the supposedly exceptional nation is forced to explain a past, present, or future action that many people deem morally abhorrent. American innocence, then, involves the stories told—to the world and ourselves—to justify or excuse these actions”. (p. 6)

Sirvent and Haiphong are critically aware of how deeply innocence is inscribed even in the words and thoughts of supposed dissenters, leftist activists, and members of today’s self-styled #Resistance:

“It is common nowadays to hear well-intentioned rhetoric about how torture, anti-Black racism, and Muslim immigration bans do not reflect ‘who we really are’ as a country. Yet…this is a paramount example of how ideologies of American exceptionalism and innocence work together to paint a distorted picture of our nation’s history, its current social structures, and what futures remain possible” (p. 8)

The authors explain that “four interrelated parts form the skeleton” of the ideology of American exceptionalism and innocence. These parts include:

(1) a presumption of American innocence in the ways that genocide, slavery, and war are “remembered”;
(2) the myth of a meritocracy cloaked in the “American Dream”;
(3) the lust for military conquest all around the world; and
(4) the ongoing requirement for imperialism or the rule of monopoly capitalism to expand the United States’ civilizing mission (p. 6).

The authors’ goal is “to show how narratives of American exceptionalism and American innocence work together to serve white supremacy, empire, capitalism, and the U.S. war machine” (p. 3). Thus the authors look at how “narratives of exceptionalism and innocence show up in conversations about slavery, indigenous genocide, the Super Bowl, comic books, human caging, and even the former Celebrity TV star-turned-President, Donald Trump” (p. 3). But they also caution,

“readers—especially liberals—who think these are ‘easy targets’ would be wise to brace themselves for what’s ahead. Our book also takes full aim at Barack Obama, the Broadway musical Hamilton, romantic narratives of racial progress, and the ‘humanitarian’ efforts of Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, and well-meaning college students hoping to ‘change the world’”. (p. 3)

Addressing themselves to activists, the authors write: “we do not think it is possible to be a staunch feminist, anti-racist, or peace activist while maintaining one’s ideological devotion to the United States as an exceptional, superior, civilized, and civilizing force for good in the world” (p. 4).

Some of the Key Points, by Chapter

Given the complexity of the book, and the range of issues it covers, it made the “traditional” sort of book review more of a challenge. Instead of trying to boil down the work to an essence, I instead opted for a summary of each of the 21 essays, and even then it is a selective summary that focuses on key points that were of particular interest to me. Other readers will spot other salient points, and the book will then take on different meanings for different readers. Thus, to be more precise, what follows is not a summary as much as my summary—and a great deal is necessarily left out as a result (which is why you should try to get the book for yourself).

Chapter 1: “Why do They Hate Us?” American Innocence and Historical Memory
“9/11” (September 11, 2001) is the perfect opening for such a book—it is the classic flashpoint that reveals raw assumptions standing cold and naked in the brightest light. American superiority had been assaulted, and most Americans had a desire to feel special and powerful again. “9/11” was also a great opportunity for Americans to paint themselves as both ‘the recognizable victim and inevitable victor’” (quoting Joy James, p. 10). The results were a ramped up militarization, militaristic mass indoctrination, and expansionism—the Global War on Terror, the USA Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, demonization of Arabs and Muslims, were all set in train. “Counterterrorism” became “a ‘civilizational’ knowledge….The terrorist became the object of scorn and the target of war, with a flexible definition that served a variety of purposes,” and both the media and academia immediately jumped on the study of counterterrorism (p. 13). In this period, America once again proliferated images and ideas of monsters, monstrosity—terrorist monsters. Demonization was cemented deep into the foundations of American discourse.

Chapter 2: Conquest, Genocide, and the Formation of America
“Monsters” are quite an antique feature of American conquest demonology—the quasi-theological repertoire of colonial constructions. The authors argue here that the conquest of Indigenous Peoples is the original American sin: it is what lies at the root of political impunity, swollen executive power, and racism, all of which expose the notion of American democracy as a lie. Already this book is almost the exact opposite of what we heard from Dinesh D’Souza. The authors make the point that framing colonization as a “civilizing mission,” where those who support it assert that “the benefits far outweigh whatever consequences” including the destruction of Indigenous societies, is a logic that “has shaped the very essence of American exceptionalist ideology” (p. 17). Taking radical exception with the standard myth of American nationhood, Sirvent and Haiphong point out that it was colonists’ resentment against the British prohibition of expansion beyond the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains, according to the Proclamation of 1763, that was at the root of a burgeoning desire for independence (pp. 18, 19). There was then, at its very birth, no contradiction between the rebellion against one empire, in order to build another empire. In this chapter the authors also go into detail explaining the triplets of evolutionism, progressivism, and liberalism; the emergence of Western notions of liberty, property, and individual rights; and the foundation of “Manifest Destiny” as a key narrative in the discourse of American exceptionalism. Reading this chapter, one can agree with the authors that it was no accident that the U.S. military gave Osama Bin Laden the code name “Geronimo” (p. 20).

Chapter 3: Was the Revolutionary War Revolutionary for Slaves? A Few Thoughts on Slavery and its Afterlives
The authors ask: “How can one speak of the exceptionalism or innocence of the United States when slavery was a driving force in the formation of the very nation-state itself?” (p. 24). This is one of several chapters in which racism is a prominent object of critique. “The dominant narrative of the ‘American Revolution,’” Sirvent and Haiphong argue, “is the first attempt to interpret the American story as one of freedom overcoming slavery rather than freedom rooted in slavery” (p. 25). Then comes the authors’ second radical exception with the standard telling of American liberty: the American “revolution” was a rebellion against the prospective emancipation of slaves, given the incipient trend toward abolition of the slave trade in Britain (p. 28).

Chapter 4: Did the United States Really Save the World? Remembering and Misremembering World War II
Cutting deeply into the American imperialist myths of “liberation” and “rehabilitation,” the authors quote Lisa Yonemaya who explains that, according to these myths, “the losses and damages brought on by U.S. military violence are deemed ‘prepaid debts’ incurred by those liberated by American intervention” (p. 34). They proceed to analyze the ideology of white supremacy in the US legal system, and how it inspired Nazi thinking in Germany—a reversal of the flow of specialists and technologies from Nazi Germany to the US that followed WWII. The presence of such a flow and counter-flow suggests there was a symbiotic relationship. The authors make a claim here that is not just extraordinary, it is well founded: America’s race-based immigration law was praised by Adolf Hitler in his Mein Kampf (p. 34)—and for this we can turn to Mein Kampf itself to see where Hitler wrote the following on p. 658:

“There is at present one State where at least feeble attempts of a better conception are perceptible. This is of course not our German model republic, but the American Union where one endeavors to consult reason at least partially. The American Union, by principally refusing immigration to elements with poor health, and even simply excluding certain races from naturalization, acknowledges by slow beginnings an attitude which is peculiar to the national State conception”.

Expanding on the US-Nazi exchange, and the contempt that both sides had for the Soviet model, the authors detail the powerful American corporate interests that actively supported the Nazis, including: General Motors, Ford, and Standard Oil of New Jersey. As the authors point out: “Prescott Bush, banker and grandfather to George W. Bush, and famed industrialist Henry Ford who provided decisive financial support to Hitler’s rise to power” (p. 35). By the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, US investments in Nazi Germany were estimated to have reached $475 million. TIME magazine expressed its hope that Nazism would be “‘an antidote against Bolshevism’” (p. 35).

Turning to Japan, the authors’ text would meet with key agreement from Stephen Gowans’ recently reviewed book on the Korean peninsula, Patriots, Traitors, and Empires. Tearing up the myth of “the good war,” Sirvent and Haiphong discuss the extent to which US imperialism in the Pacific, the strangling sanctions on Japan and numerous naval provocations, invited the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The war with Japan was a competition to capture valuable East Asian resources (p. 36). As for the US atomic bombing of Japan, the authors explain why it was totally redundant strategically except as a means of impressing the USSR with fear (pp. 36–37).

“The United States imposed itself as the hero of the Second World War despite the leading role that the Soviet Union played in defeating Germany at the cost of 27 million Soviet lives. The illusion of American heroism in the Second World War helped prepare the way for a permanent American war agenda against both foreign and domestic challenges to imperialism while at the same time strengthening the notion that America was in fact an exceptional, democratic nation. This is all that the myth of the ‘good war’ has ever been good for”. (p. 37)

Chapter 5: The Korean War—An Endless War Forgotten in the Haze of American Exceptionalism
Looking at the Korean War of 1950–1953, with the vast destruction of the North by US bombing campaigns, the authors hold that American innocence has buried this war altogether, and shrouded it with the virtue of US “defense” of South Korea. Looking at the present, they say:

“The Trump Administration’s hostilities toward Kim Jong-Un are an extension of a longstanding trend in American folklore that has positioned American leaders and leaders of the DPRK on opposite ends of sanity” (p. 38).

Much of the material presented on the destruction of North Korea by the US has been covered here and elsewhere, so it won’t be repeated. However, striking was the quote in this book from Winston Churchill who, reflecting on the horrific atrocity of the widespread use of napalm by US forces in North Korea, was moved to tell his American counterparts that when napalm had been invented nobody foresaw that it would simply be “splashed” all about a civilian population (p. 40).

In the US, racism was married to anti-communist paranoia when it came to Korea: “anti-Korean sentiment was pervasive in all spheres of American life, especially in the media and the military. Prominent publications such as the New York Times and Marshall Plan officials such as Edgar Johnson described Koreans as ‘fanatics,’ ‘barbarians,’ and ‘wild’” (p. 41). Anti-communist racism “cloaked in American exceptionalist garb united Americans around the American military and the corporate interests it served” (p. 41).

American exceptionalism also allows the creation of a worldwide nuclear apartheid, in which North Korea can never be trusted to have nuclear weapons, while the US—which has used them, and threatened to use them again—is allowed to decide who can be trusted (p. 42). As the authors ask, speaking to the present: “why is the DPRK expected to ‘demilitarize’ but the United States is not? As offensive as these questions might sound to many Americans, such sensitivity only exposes the historical amnesia and sense of moral superiority one must have to find these questions offensive in the first place” (p. 43).

Chapter 6: Charlottesville and the Real Monuments to White Supremacy
“The ideologies of American exceptionalism and innocence rest on the foundations of white supremacy” (p. 44)—this is one of the central analytical themes of the book. Many times the authors make the point that American exceptionalism is, at its roots, “synonymous with white exceptionalism and white innocence” (p. 44). As for the taking down of statues of Confederate officers, the authors suggest this: “To paint the Confederacy as an aberration, however, turns opposition to white supremacy into a mere clean up crew for the American nation-state” (p. 45).

Their critique goes beyond symbolism, and touches even on economic history:

“Wall Street itself formed out of the enormous growth of the slave trade experienced in the American nation-state in the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, New York’s first slave market was established on what is now Wall Street in 1711. The founder of what is now Citibank, Moses Taylor, became the richest man of his century through the illegal trade of slaves from New York to Cuba”. (p. 48)

This wide-ranging chapter covers the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, the prison-industrial complex, the impact of NAFTA on African Americans, and returns its critical power to the analysis of the Hamilton Broadway musical and the “Star-Spangled Banner”. The authors’ critique of the Hamilton musical is simply devastating, framing it as another monument to white supremacy: “Hamilton is a pitch perfect example of how practices of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism often reinforce the ideologies of American exceptionalism and American Innocence” (p. 49). They agree with Alex Nichols that Hamilton is a form of patriotic “blackwashing”: “making something that was heinous seem somehow palatable by retroactively injecting diversity into it” (p. 50). Then comes one of the memorable punches delivered by this book:

“Contemporary progressivism has come to mean papering over material inequality with representational diversity. The president will continue to expand the national security state at the same rate as his predecessor, but at least he will be black. Predatory lending will drain the wealth from African American communities, but the board of Goldman Sachs will have several black members. Inequality will be rampant and worsening, but the 1% will at least ‘look like America’. The actual racial injustices of our time will continue unabated, but the power structure will be diversified so that nobody feels quite so bad about it. Hamilton is simply this tendency’s cultural-historical equivalent; instead of worrying ourselves about the brutal origins of the American state, and the lasting economic effects of those early inequities, we can simply turn the Founding Fathers black and enjoy the show”. (p. 50)

They continue: “As both the domestic and foreign policies of Barack Obama showed us, the office can serve as a monument to and enforcer of white supremacy even with a person of color running it” (p. 51). Finally.

Chapter 7: The American Dream Versus American Reality—Black Wealth and the Myth of Meritocracy
“A core principle of American exceptionalism is the myth of meritocracy,” the authors explain:

“The myth presumes that the United States is the only place in the world where great fortunes can be derived from hard work and perseverance. The achievement of wealth and private property forms the essence of the ‘American Dream’”. (p. 53)

This chapter presents some astounding statistics, like the fact that, “it would take the average Black family 228 years to amass the wealth of the average White American family” (p. 55). In place of profound structural transformation, “America” offers up hero tales of successful American blacks—as we saw in D’Souza’s “documentary”—tales that inspire American innocence because then the belief can take hold that black poverty is the result of black failures. For all the political and economic fraudulence of the American Dream, the authors conclude that they would like a world “without the American Dream” (p. 60).

Chapter 8: Should American Imperialism Matter to Black Lives Matter?
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the authors maintain, “provided an opportunity to connect police violence against Black Americans in cities across the country to struggles against American imperialism and militarism around the world” (p. 61). But that largely did not happen. Nonetheless, the authors point to some of the crucial developments, such as growing recognition that US police forces displayed many similarities to military occupation forces deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq (p. 61)—that they were in fact engaged in counterinsurgency at home. This chapter also shines a spotlight on Colin Kaepernick and his challenge to “paid patriotism” at NFL games, where the Pentagon engages in recruiting via sports. They point out that it is a recent invention (since 2009) of having teams stand for the national anthem, an invention that occurred as the NFL was being militarized (p. 62). No wonder that Trump instinctively resorted to denouncing Kaepernick for “disgracing the troops”—as if the flag and the anthem stood only for the military, which is the clearest expression of militarization. Meanwhile, anxious to turn BLM into another single-issue reform project, “corporations such as Google have donated millions to particular Black Lives Matter organizations to make information about ‘racial bias’ more ‘available’” (p. 64).

This chapter also focuses on Ella Baker, Paul Robeson, and his wife Eslanda Robeson as champions of black internationalism worthy of emulation (p. 67), along with discussing the Black Panther Party’s extensive internationalism, symbolized by its leader, Huey Newton, getting invited to China before even Nixon (pp. 68–69). The authors close this chapter with a strong endorsement of the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) (p. 69).

Chapter 9: Protecting Whose Speech? Protecting Whose Assembly?
“Facing immense pressure from labor unrest, the United States began to lay the basis for the development of a secret political police, now known as the ‘intelligence community’” (p. 73). This chapter focuses attention on the historical development of the national security state in the US, starting with WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the formal establishment of the General Intelligence Division (GID) in the US (p. 73). Racism joined anti-Communism in an early instance, as when President Woodrow Wilson wrote in his diary that, “‘the American Negro returning from abroad [WWI] would be our greatest medium for conveying Bolshevism in America’” (p. 73). Similarly, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) never persecuted the KKK (p. 74). This chapter moves into discussion of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s domestic war against the Black Freedom Movement in what is known as COINTELPRO. US hegemony long embarrassed by conditions of racial discrimination at home, saw that its preaching freedom and democracy abroad was imperilled, hence the need for a figure like Barack Obama whose presidency, “was a byproduct of the desperate need for the American ruling class to both conceal and intensify the policies that produced such a condition” (p. 76). This chapter is also memorable for its scathing critique of the Obama administration, ranging from surveillance of Occupy Wall Street and BLM, to the crackdown on whistleblowers, mass surveillance, drone strikes even against US citizens abroad, and a record-breaking level of deportation of migrants (pp. 77-78).

Chapter 10: Am I an Ungrateful Son of a Bitch?
Trump manufactured a problem with the NFL in order to distract from his failures and criticisms of his presidency—black disloyalty to the flag was a convenient option. This points to the reality where, “American exceptionalism…becomes common sense in an environment where no other narrative is allowed to thrive” (p. 84). In this moment we can hear arguments about why African Americans should be appreciative of the care they received during slavery, or how undeserving negroes are ungrateful for the privileges they obtained in entertaining white people—example: Laura Ingraham’s infamous command to LeBron James that he “just shut up and dribble”.

Chapter 11: A Rising Tide or a Sinking Ship? American Economic Decline and the rise of the Unexceptional Majority
This heavily packed chapter aims squarely at the elite-propagated myth that a “rising tide lifts all boats” which accompanied the neoliberal dogma of “trickle-down economics” (to which Trump also adheres). On this the authors’ argument is that, “economic decline has left American capitalism vulnerable by exposing the growing fissure between American exceptionalism and the economic reality of the masses” (p. 86). The statistics they furnish in support of their argument that American economic decline is a reality for the majority of Americans is all striking:

“More than half of Americans make under $30,000 per year. A similar percentage can’t pay for a five hundred dollar emergency should it arise. Wages in the American nation have been stagnant for nearly four decades….Around 18.5 million Americans live in ‘deep poverty’ or one-half of the federal poverty line, which itself has historically been seen as an underestimation of poverty. Over 3,000 counties have water systems with lead counts higher than Flint, Michigan….Many impoverished communities [possess] yards filled with sewage because residents could not afford septic systems. Nearly 45,000 Americans die each year from a lack of healthcare….nearly 18 million vacant homes are scattered across the country waiting to be occupied by the nation’s homeless”. (pp. 90, 91)

Yet, while “Bernie Sanders remains the most popular politician in America because of his economic program for single-payer healthcare, living-wage employment, and student loan forgiveness,” he nevertheless answered the call of American exceptionalism when he “voted for the largest military budget in recorded history in 2017” (p. 93).

Chapter 12: “We can’t have the inmates running the prison”—Black Labor, White Enjoyment, and the Billionaire Capitalist Class
This chapter discussed Black labour for white pleasure and profit, focusing on the NFL. This is a continuation of the book’s exposition of the “after-lives of slavery”. A special focus of this chapter is the soaring rate of imprisonment of African Americans.

Chapter 13: Is American “Aid” Assistance or Theft? The Case of Africa

“The United States spends its annual 600 billion dollar war budget on weapons of mass destruction and military operations that have cost the lives of millions and left dozens of countries in near total ruin. It seems unlikely that the U.S. could possess such a record and simultaneously project itself not only as an innocent bystander to the evils of other countries, but also as the world’s humanitarian saving grace”. (p. 103)

“For many,” the authors write, “‘aid’ is the same as help and the distributor of aid—in this case the U.S. —the same as the helper” (p. 104). What help? The authors present a considerable amount of material detailing how US foreign aid maximizes the profit, scale, and influence of US-based multinational corporations and even military industries (p. 105). They then turn their attention to the work of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in spreading privatization through foreign lending, under its various “structural adjustment programs” (pp. 105, 106). As they point out, the net result of all this “aid” and lending, is a net outflow of capital from Africa. More than that, they expand on the role of international humanitarian NGOs, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the collaboration of some humanitarian NGOs with the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM). It’s a great chapter, that could have been a book in its own right.

Chapter 14: Does the U.S. Really Care About Human Rights?
As contemporary incarnations of the “White Man’s Burden,” humanitarian interventionism and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) are subjected to a relentless critique in this chapter, particularly focusing on the motivations behind calls to “prevent genocide” and the added motivation of inventing “genocide” as a pretext for military intervention. The case of Libya is central to this chapter. The authors’ overall argument is that,

“American expansionism has become buried by a ‘human rights’ discourse which assumes the well-being of people around the world is the primary concern of American foreign policy. Exceptionalist assumptions about human rights have rendered the U.S. not only an innocent global actor, but a benevolent and just one as well. After all, how many times have we heard politicians call the U.S. the ‘leader of the free world’ with special responsibilities to protect it?” (p. 113)

Another special focus of this chapter is the ideological writing of Samantha Power: “Power’s logic describes the U.S. as a nation-state showing too much restraint in the realm of foreign policy—we did nothing when we should have done something” (p. 116). To this, the authors respond:

“The U.S. is constantly playing the role of aggressor. Its war-apparatus is constantly ‘doing something.’ But Power would have us all believe that the U.S. is in the habit of not acting and only acts when acted upon. This narrative is incredibly convenient for the U.S. war machine. After all, it becomes much easier for the U.S. to dismiss charges of imperialism if it is perceived as a mere passive bystander to global events” (p. 116)

Chapter 15: Humanitarian Impulses—The American Corporate Media and the White Savior Mentality
The White Saviour Industrial Complex is also the focus of this dense chapter, which begins with memorable words from T.S. Eliot’s play The Cocktail Party:

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves” (quoted on p. 123).

The authors examine certain humanitarian aid movements led by exceptional citizens that “represent some of the ‘worst attempts at helping others since colonialism’” (p. 123), including: Jason Sadler’s vision of sending T-shirts to Africa and the Kony 2012 campaign. Using “education” to counter “Islamization,” while placing little girls on the frontlines of US counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, was the special work of Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea (p. 125). The authors point to recent revelations that exposed fraudulent practices in Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute, as well as its collaboration with the US military.

“The White Savior Industrial Complex is the shovel that buries American imperial warfare in the graveyard of popular consciousness. Acts of charity help sooth the craving for Americans, especially white Americans, to feel exceptional and innocent in their relationship with the historical ‘other,’ the targets of imperialism”. (p. 126)

“The U.S. and its ‘humanitarian’ backers cause the very humanitarian disasters they purport to fix,” as the authors explain in this chapter (p. 130). As “exceptional citizens,” many Americans believe that, “simply by being born in the U.S. or by being white, or by attending an American university, that they have a unique, God’s-eye perspective as to how other countries should be governed” (p. 131).

Chapter 16: If It’s Bad, Blame Russia
This chapter opens with an interesting quote from K.J. Holsti: “Governments and societies of exceptionalist states develop a need to have external enemies; for this reason, threats are often concocted or, where minor, are inflated to extreme proportions”. Sirvent and Haiphong show their dedication to fully acknowledging reality in their unsparing criticisms of the politicians, media, and social movements opposed to Trump, who chose to “resist” him by way of an exceptionalist conspiracy theory, that of false “Russia collusion”. The immediate target may have been Donald Trump, but the larger target was a Russia that had revived as an independent power capable of countering US foreign policy in a number of strategic areas. The authors make a persuasive argument: “A calculated decision was made to rid of the embarrassment by portraying Trump as a dupe of Russia, first to exonerate Clinton of accountability in her electoral loss and then to achieve broader bipartisan objectives with Trump in office” (p. 135). The authors produce a devastating, detailed critique of the Democrats’ demonization of Russia, WikiLeaks, and left-wing groups, aided by the national security state, discredited intelligence “assessments,” and the censorship imposed by major Internet firms (pp. 138–139). Those allegedly “opposing” Trump in the so-called #Resistance, have shown themselves for the most part to be the same as or even worse than Trump when it comes to perpetuating exceptionalist ideology and a pro-imperialist foreign policy—and the authors detail numerous facts to support that contention.

Sirvent and Haiphong also underline how the Democratic Party, having become the party of austerity, free trade, and dismissal of the working-class and the poor, has nothing left except the tools of the Cold War to try to shore up its declining legitimacy.

Then there is the issue of “what-about-ism”—the favourite retort of American exceptionalists when confronted by arguments that the US has no right to complain about any real or (mostly) imagined foreign meddling in US elections, given the US’ long and ongoing history of intervention in other countries’ politics. As the authors explain,

“the nation’s long history of meddling in other countries’ elections is justified in a number of ways. The U.S. meddled for that country’s own good, they say. Or, if the devastating conditions produced by U.S. meddling become public, then the operation was nothing but a mistake made with the best of intentions”. (p. 140)

Chapter 17: Saving American Exceptionalism—Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Inclusion
This chapter begins with a very important insight:

“The United States’ obsession with Russia may signal the beginning of the end for American exceptionalism. That the U.S. and the corporate media have relied so heavily on fears of Russian subversion says very little about the so-called strength of American ‘democracy’ in the current period”. (p. 143)

This chapter presents a scorching critique of the Democrats, the Clintons, Obama, and so-called “inclusivity” which serves to rope in “more Black, Latino, and other oppressed groups to co-manage the American imperialist project alongside the largely white ruling class” (p. 144). They rightly call Obama a Trojan Horse of the American imperial system (p. 145).

Obama was also a Wall Street candidate if there ever was one, with a record-breaking level of campaign contributions from the biggest financial firms. It came as no surprise then that his presidency did nothing to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial disaster, while bailing them out, and then instituting some indisputably lame “reforms”. The range of ways that Obama actually escalated the worst aspects of the Bush administration is laid out in extensive detail, too great to even summarize here.

What stood out for me as unexpected, as I had not known of it before, came with the authors revealing that though, “Black Americans lost significant economic ground and remained the most incarcerated segment of the American population under Obama,” nevertheless, “studies have shown that the same demographic was the most optimistic about its economic prospects” (p. 146). In addition, “a 2013 poll revealed that Black Americans supported the proposed bombing of Syria that summer more than white Americans or Latinos. Another poll showed that Black Americans favored NSA spying more than any other racial group” (p. 147). If correct, it would seem that Obama was at least successful in blackwashing US imperialism.

This chapter also offers a deservedly severe critique of Hillary Clinton as the personification of American exceptionalism.  The authors quote a part of her 2016 speech to the American Legion, which I reproduce here:

“If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this. The United States is an exceptional nation. I believe we are still Lincoln’s last, best hope of Earth. We’re still Reagan’s shining city on a hill. We’re still Robert Kennedy’s great, unselfish, compassionate country. And it’s not just that we have the greatest military or that our economy is larger than any on Earth. It’s also the strength of our values, the strength of the American people. Everyone who works harder, dreams bigger and never, ever stops trying to make our country and the world a better place. And part of what makes America an exceptional nation, is that we are also an indispensable nation”. (Hillary Clinton, p. 149)

The conclusion to this chapter is just as much on the nose as the opening: “to make Trump an exceptional blunder in an otherwise exceptional America is to intentionally ignore the crisis set into motion not by Trump, but the entire class that he is a part of” (p. 151).

Chapter 18: The Violence of Inclusion
Here the authors argue that the politics of “inclusion”—the promotion of diversity, acts of legal recognition—have taken precedence over structural change in the US, in an attempt to restore legitimacy to the system (p. 153). They criticize “inclusion in the atrocious,” which signals a failure to question participation in violent and unjust institutions (p. 153). This chapter thus addresses much of the pinkwashing of US imperialism that has developed over the past decade, placing “LGBT” issues on the frontline of US interventionism:

“Allegedly exclusionary policies toward LGBTQ people have been used as signifiers that reinforce a targeted nation’s backwardness and barbarity….The American nation-state, and indeed the American military, is thus painted as a legitimate force of progress in the realm of LGBTQ liberation”. (p. 155)

The authors end with a valuable cautionary note: “A diversified empire, however, is still a dangerous empire” (p. 158).

Chapter 19: Flags, Flyovers, and Rituals—On Giving Your Body to the State
This chapter focuses on the militarization of citizenship: the military occupation of nationalism, and the appropriation of bodies of citizens to bring the exceptional state into reality (pp. 159–160). Sirvent and Haiphong address in detail the phenomenon of “militainment”—of the marriage between the Pentagon, Hollywood, and major sporting events. Their focus is also on rituals, celebrations, holidays, entertainment, sports, movies—revealing a public culture of militarized nationalism that supports American exceptionalism. With ritualization, normalization follows, and Americans thus feel invited to participate and to take ownership of war and exceptionalism (p. 162).

While exploitation of the symbolism of the US flag can be used to counter resistance to US imperialism, it is not just “alt-right” or “conservative” bigots who do so. Sirvent and Haiphong observe that after Trump’s election, liberal elites began to publicly critique Islamophobia (after supporting it until almost literally the day before). They couched this critique of Islamophobia within appeals to American exceptionalism—what made America exceptional was that it “welcomed” and “embraced” all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender (p. 165). The authors then critically examine the “We the People” series of photos that reproduced Muslim-American photographer Ridwan Adhami’s photograph of a woman wearing a hijab. The remastered version of the hijab depicted it as an American flag—the same flag that some anti-racism activists had strongly denounced as emblematic of white racism (p. 165). Thus an Arab woman, and a Muslim photographer, were both recruited into solidifying support for American exceptionalism.

Chapter 20: Questioning Borders, Belonging, and the Nation-state
This is a complicated chapter, a nest of interconnected issues and critiques. On the one hand, the authors note why migration happens, and that it is largely a consequence of “globalization” plus the turmoil and poverty caused by US intervention. On the other hand, it’s not that a rise in the US Latino population heralds an end to “white supremacy,” the authors argue, to the extent that much of the pro-Latino immigration advocacy carries a sub-text of anti-Blackness: Latino immigrants are not criminals (i.e., “not Black”), and will thus not be “another Black problem” (p. 169).

Sirvent and Haiphong then tackle the criminalization of immigrants in the US, as an extension of the criminalization of Blacks and the poor. However, as they point, it was American imperial warfare and intervention that generated waves of migrants, such as the recent rise in migration at the southern border:

“American military warfare has also played a large role in migration. When Central American migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador came in the tens of thousands in 2014, few commentators connected the development to U.S. foreign policy”. (p. 174)

The chapter concludes with an argument for abolishing American borders.

Chapter 21: Conclusion—Who Exactly Does the Military Serve?
“Perhaps at no other moment,” say Sirvent and Haiphong, “has it become more important for progressive and radical scholars, activists, and organizers to come together and oppose the endless wars waged by the U.S. military” (p. 178). They stress that social movements cannot afford to be of the single-issue kind that emerge like successive fads—and those that neglect to fight US empire will inevitably fall short in achieving social change (p. 187). Whether it’s the environment, prison reform, increasing the minimum wage, health care, or education—if movements engaged in these issues neglect to see their connections with the practice or outcome of US imperialism, then they will logically not succeed. Having analyzed the problem incorrectly in the first place, the solution can be nothing but a failure.

The book ends with a detailed series of suggestions spanning options for dismantling US militarism, to unlearning the ideology of American exceptionalism, to effectively undoing the American nation-state as such. They conclude: “Breaking such ties would almost demand a rupture of the soul, an apostasy of sorts” (p. 189).

Concluding Assessment

Sirvent and Haiphong’s American Exceptionalism and American Innocence is a new approach to the study of imperialism (specifically US imperialism) that bridges the domestic–foreign divide, that marries the sociology of race and class in the US with the international relations of US empire. It is a study of the everyday, of empire at home and abroad. No other book like it has been produced in recent times.

The 21 essays, and the four major themes of the book result in a text that is certainly very timely, and it is absolutely saturated with references to current topics of debate, key moments and events, and processes whose nature has come to light in recent struggles. The authors are perceptive, and have clearly deliberated a great deal about an enormous mass of material, both from the experience of living as Americans in the contemporary US, and from a large and diverse literature. Yet, the book that results is neither abstract, nor typical academic theorizing, and it should therefore be attractive to a wider range of readers—it is explicitly intended for activists and public intellectuals. It shows the rest of us, outside of the US, how it is possible that persons immersed within a system can think beyond it, and develop a critical awareness of the system they inhabit. In return, the authors hope to help their readers, especially fellow Americans, to “let go” of the ideologies of exceptionalism and innocence. We cannot know if this book will help, but we can certainly hope it will.