Showing posts with label Hegemony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hegemony. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Colonial media practices: The blatant double standards will mark the fall of the "free world" discourse on previously-universalized values

    Wednesday, July 26, 2023   No comments

Western governments have used the pillars of their modern civilization to shame and intimidate other communities to submit their systems of dominance. Human rights, free press, free speech, individual rights were all used as universal values that legitimized western interventionism. It worked because many thinkers and leaders in the Global south communities actually bought into this discourse. However, with new technologies that enabled impoverished communities to build their own institutions, and enjoy a degree of autonomy, the Western discourse revealed its superficial commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Sanctions and bans became a favorite instrument in the hands of Western states to punish speech they did not like. Suddenly freedom of speech became limited; they just needed to find the context for banning it. That is now creating a problem for the so-called free world.

Foreign Policy: The US obsession with sanctions will be the cause of its downfall

In an article published in Foreign Policy, Christopher Sabatini, a senior Latin America researcher at Chatham House, addressed the failure of US sanctions imposed by Washington on countries around the world.

This issue was covered by several American newspapers, especially after the success of Russia, China and Iran in bypassing these sanctions.

"Sanctions have become, in the past two decades, the foreign policy tool of Western governments, led by the United States," he said.

The Foreign Policy article stated, according to a database maintained by Columbia University, that "six countries, namely Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Venezuela, were subject to comprehensive US sanctions, which means that the majority of commercial and financial transactions with entities and individuals in those countries are prohibited by US law."

However, according to the article, "17 other countries are subject to various sanctions, while seven other countries are subject to export controls," according to the Princeton University database.

"This already long list does not even include targeted sanctions imposed on individuals and companies in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Paraguay, or sanctions imposed on regions such as Hong Kong, the Balkans, Crimea, and Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine," the Foreign Policy article noted.

The article stated, "By 2021, the United States had imposed sanctions on more than 9,000 individuals, companies, and sectors of the economies of the targeted countries. In 2021, President Joe Biden's first year in office, his administration added 765 new names to sanctions, worldwide, including 173 human rights-related decisions."

Taken together, countries subject to some form of US sanctions account for just over a fifth of global GDP, and China accounts for 80% of that group.

The article concluded, "As in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, sanctions do not lead to the desired quick result of regime change, but instead strengthen alliances among the regimes targeted by sanctions over time."

And he believed that "US policy makers must understand that sanctions do not work in some cases, and that they undermine US interests, in many cases."

Banning Yemeni media in the context of US sanctions... flagrant double standards

“Measures aimed at punishing autocrats are eroding the Western system that they were supposed to maintain,” said Christopher Sabatini, a senior Latin America researcher at Chatham House, in an article in Foreign Policy yesterday, titled “America’s love for sanctions will be the cause of its downfall.”

In the past two decades, sanctions have become the foreign policy tool of choice for Western governments, particularly the United States. In addition, any serious disagreement of any government in the world with Washington's policies towards a certain issue puts it in the black lists that Washington is keen to revise and update on an almost weekly basis.

While some consider economic sanctions to be the most prominent weapon in the list of new US tools of war, media sanctions, bans and access restrictions are among the harshest types of punishment. Not only because it attempts to erase the point of view of the punished from existence, but also because it infringes on freedom of opinion and expression, which is supposed to be safeguarded in all human rights legislation and decisions, especially those approved by the United Nations and approved by "Western democracies".

According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

For Western "democracies", this issue historically acquires a very sensitive dimension, as "freedom of expression" is considered a pivotal issue that is almost tantamount to "the sacred", because it is linked to the liberal state's identity, its social contract and its political system.

However, the title of "freedom of expression" in the West has collided in recent years, and increasingly, with major problems that have emerged in terms of double standards in the actual application of these principles, which have raised levels of doubt about the credibility of the democratic basis of Western political systems to record levels.

The last repercussions of this duplicity were the closure of the American "YouTube" platform, of several channels affiliated with the Sana'a government and the Yemeni army forces, including the Yemeni war media channels, the "Ansar Allah" band, the artistic and documentary production unit, and others.

colonial media practices

Daniel Yagic, a researcher in media issues and university professor, confirms, in an interview with Al-Mayadeen Net, that research on politically biased Western media sanctions should not be isolated from a long historical context of media colonial practices.

Yagic recalled the Western media coverage of the military operations carried out by the United States and European countries in the "southern countries".

He pointed to the media justification for "occupation, targeting, killing, kidnapping and repeated arrest operations, which were carried out by Western military forces, in Iraq, Syria, Mali, Libya, Yemen and even Lebanon, under pretexts related to the security of the United States and Europe, and in the face of what the West calls terrorism."

However, he commented by saying that the West "has never defined clear rules for who is qualified as a terrorist," which has become a liquid concept attached to whom the West wants to demonize because of its failure to comply with its political agendas.

Yagic adds that the West "always uses a language of justification for Western actions, and always presents its actions in a humanitarian context, while the same logic is not used when dealing with other parties, such as the Russian military operation in Ukraine, or armed resistance against America's allies in the world, most notably, of course, the resistance movements against "Israel" and its proxies, in Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq and Syria."

The fall of the "free world" discourse: the blatant double standards

On World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the US President issued a statement titled "Journalism Is Not a Crime," in which he affirmed that journalism is "essential to a free society."

In it, he declared honoring "all journalists, reporters, and media workers who bravely pursue the truth," and said he renewed his pledge to "hold accountable" all those who seek to "silence these voices essential to transparent and trustworthy governance."

The US President was not satisfied with that, but continued that "a free press is the pillar of democracy because it allows our government and society to self-criticize and correct itself," stressing that "the First Amendment to our Constitution does not allow Congress to pass any law that limits freedom of expression or freedom of the press."

Of course, this talk is considered discredited, by many observers, regarding the status of media freedoms in the world, and the relationship of the United States to the extent to which the press enjoys strength, protection, and independence.

US government requests to ban and block accounts

Early this year, the new CEO of Twitter (newly X), Elon Musk, announced that the US administration itself "demanded the company to suspend hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts, including press accounts and others belonging to Canadian and Chinese officials."

And the US administration has already blocked the “TikTok” application, owned by a Chinese company, in more than 30 states, since last June, under the pretext that its use may involve leaking sensitive information related to US citizens to foreign governments.

This, of course, is happening in the opposite direction continuously and without any fuss, as hundreds of millions of users use American applications.

US military and security practices against journalists and the press

The United States, through its judicial institutions or even its military forces, has previously practiced violent practices against journalists, against the background of their journalistic work, most notably the famous journalist Julian Assange, who revealed the American targeting of a group of journalists in Iraq in July 2007, with an air raid on the National Press Club in Baghdad, and he was tried under the pretext of espionage, through a law dating back to the First World War.

It also prosecuted others because of their work in revealing information to the press, most notably Edward Snowden, the informatics expert contracting with the US National Security Agency, and Chelsea Manning, the former contractor with the Pentagon in Iraq, who leaked information about crimes committed by US forces, and they were prosecuted and prosecuted for that.

The American judicial institutions also ignored the crimes of its close ally, the Israeli occupation, documented in Palestine against the press and journalists, which, since 2001, have claimed the lives of at least 20 journalists at the hands of Israeli forces, 18 of whom are Palestinians, and 2 of them are European foreign correspondents, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Khashoggi case exposes Biden

In parallel, Washington presented itself on several occasions as a sponsor of freedom of expression in the world, as current President Joe Biden relied in his election campaign against his predecessor Donald Trump on the issue of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the former president's insistence on good relations with Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was accused of being involved in the assassination of the famous opposition journalist.

Biden presented himself as a president who could not accept normal relations with the Saudi regime, which is known for suppressing media freedoms in his country, and is the main suspect of responsibility for the killing of the Saudi journalist in Turkey.>

In the 2019 debate, he said, "In fact, we will make them (Saudi Arabia) pay the price for what they did (the killing of Khashoggi), and we will, in fact, make them pariahs."

However, Biden returned to opening a new page with Saudi Arabia, under the title "The Supreme American Interest", and visited Saudi Arabia last year, which made many American parties accuse him of using the discourse of freedoms for a misleading purpose, aimed at mobilizing popular support only.

The US administration continues to block the Russian media, and the West follows suit

Immediately after the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, the US administration blocked websites and accounts linked to the Russian media.

It also cracked down on accounts that are not officially linked to the Russian media, and that adopt the Russian point of view regarding the battle, its causes and facts, and it continues to do so in a large and increasing manner to this day.

This shocked some international circles, which clearly witnessed one of the fiercest repressive campaigns against freedom of expression in modern history, prompting many American researchers and writers themselves to declare the end of the era of "United States leadership in the free world." And that what Washington is prosecuting the world on the basis of restricting freedoms and censoring political discourse, it is committing it publicly and flagrantly.

The fierce censorship and ban campaign against Russia came after a similar campaign against Iranian media and websites and accounts linked to resistance movements in Arab countries over the past decade, which included blocking channels from using satellite broadcasting, blocking their broadcasts from the Internet, and closing their offices in Western countries.

It seems, by following Western criticism of government censorship, that the Western public is becoming more aware, day after day, of the seriousness of the danger that threatens it by suppressing its right to access information, and seeing different angles of approach to facts and events.

Especially since this suppression of views related to foreign policy has recently and blatantly entered American domestic politics, after Donald Trump's account was banned based on government recommendations, which prompted him to launch his own platform.

What is the size of the Yemeni media threat to Riyadh and Washington?

The US administration is entering the harbingers of the last year of Biden's term, ahead of presidential elections that are still unclear to this day. The accumulated problems of the Biden administration at the level of foreign policies raise great concern among them, which is not hidden by the statements of its officials and the results of the poll centers.

The most prominent of these problems is the crisis of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Ukraine crisis, which has turned into a drain on potentials and bets, and crises related to the tense relationship with China, and its internal and external repercussions.

Likewise, the Yemeni crisis, with its political and humanitarian parts, comes to add to the record of American failure in foreign policies, which is naturally expected to invest in the campaign against Biden internally, and increase pressure on him, in terms of the aggression’s failure to achieve its goals in Yemen, despite the massive American support at the level of weapons, ammunition, information, and political cover.

Of course, the fingers of accusation reach the Saudi regime, which is most affected by the content published by these channels and accounts, which is likely to be largely involved in the restrictions, bans and blocking operations that the Yemeni media was subjected to throughout the period of aggression, due to the great embarrassment that was created by the published scenes of its captured and killed soldiers in the qualitative operations of the Yemeni forces, as well as the scenes of the humanitarian crisis caused by its siege and aggression on Yemen.

It can be said that the Western propaganda machine and its media tools were built on being an essential arm of the foreign policy of states, and a main supporter of the Western war machine, wherever it is heavy in the world, and it continues to perform its function.

Victory and defeat, in any war or battle that bears cultural and civilizational connotations, most notably the Yemen war, ultimately belong to the one who writes and narrates history.

The media today is the history book that future generations will inherit in order to understand the foundations of their reality. Experience indicates that the Yemenis, who turned the aggression against them into an opportunity for steadfastness, building, strengthening capabilities and accumulating strength cards, will not find it difficult for them to convey the image of the Yemeni reality, using innovative methods and alternatives, no matter how severe the restrictions imposed by their enemies.

A "weapon loses its effectiveness".. Are we witnessing the end of the era of US sanctions?

The American magazine "Foreign Affairs" published an article that spoke at length about "the end of the era of sanctions, how did the enemies of the United States protect themselves from it?", and discusses the "excessive use of sanctions" by the United States, and explains how this led to the loss of this weapon of its value and effectiveness on the international level, expecting that "the golden days of American sanctions may end soon."

With Washington increasingly reliant on sanctions, a number of countries violating its policies have begun to immunize their economies against these measures, and three events in the past decade have convinced these countries of the need to act against any possible US sanctions.

Iran, Russia and China

Writer Agathe Damaris enumerates the three most prominent stations that proved the importance of having plans to confront Washington's sanctions. In 2012, the United States cut Iran off from the global "Swift" monetary system, in an attempt to isolate the country financially, and the enemies of the United States and its other adversaries noticed this, wondering if their turn would come later.

And in 2014, Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea, prompting Moscow to make economic independence a priority.

In 2017, Washington started a trade war with Beijing, which quickly spread to the technology sector, by restricting the export of US technology related to the manufacture and development of semiconductors to China, which constituted a warning to Washington's opponents of the possibility of blocking their access to important technology technologies.

These three episodes led to the emergence of a new phenomenon, which Foreign Affairs called "resistance to sanctions."

  The authority of the United States to impose sanctions on other countries stems from the primacy of the US dollar on the one hand, and the extent of US control over global financial channels on the other.

It is logical then that the enemies of the United States would seek financial innovations that would reduce the benefits of US sanctions if they occurred, and these countries have increasingly found the solution in currency swap agreements, in alternatives to SWIFT, and in digital currencies.

Bilateral currency swaps and linking central banks

One way countries have made themselves more resistant to sanctions is through bilateral currency swaps, which allow them to bypass the US dollar by linking central banks' deals directly to each other, eliminating the need to use a third currency for trading.

China has enthusiastically embraced this tool, signing currency swap agreements with more than 60 countries, including Argentina, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, totaling nearly $500 billion, with the clear goal: to enable Chinese companies to circumvent American financial channels when they need to.

And in 2020, for the first time, China settled more than half of its trade with Russia in a currency other than the US dollar, making the majority of these trade exchanges immune from US sanctions.

Washington's allies are turning towards alternatives

The article indicated that China's increasing desire to abandon the US dollar is understandable, given the poor state of relations between Washington and Beijing, but the problem has become that US allies are also entering into currency swap deals.

In 2019, India bought S-400 air defense missiles from Russia. The $5 billion deal was supposed to trigger US sanctions, but India and Russia revived a Soviet-era currency swap agreement. India bought the Russian missiles using a mixture of rubles and Indian rupees, avoiding US sanctions that could have been used to stop the sale.

In addition to bartering, some countries have developed parallel payment systems, to avoid relying entirely on the SWIFT system, and to provide an existing alternative in the event of economic sanctions being imposed on them.

Countries such as China also tended to adopt a digital currency directly linked to its central bank, and it can be used inside the country, as well as Chinese companies can be paid by it from buyers from outside the country, which eliminated dependence on the dollar or the “Swift” system.

end of the road?

The magazine believes that at the individual level, currency exchange agreements, alternative payment systems, and digital currencies will not have a definitive effect on the effectiveness of US sanctions, but together these innovations increasingly give countries the ability to conduct transactions through sanctions-resistant and secure channels.

This trend seems irreversible, as there is no reason to believe that relations between Washington and Beijing or Washington and Moscow will improve anytime soon, and the most likely scenario is that things are getting worse day by day, which will push Beijing and Moscow to redouble their efforts to circumvent sanctions and minimize their effects.

Of course, the worsening fragmentation of the global financial system and its transformation into separate islands poses a threat to US diplomacy and national security.

In addition to undermining the effectiveness of sanctions, the emergence of sanction-resistant financial channels will have an impact on the ability of the United States, which will increasingly have a blind spot when it comes to detecting global activities that it deems "illicit." Tracking suspicious financial transactions or those that originate from specific countries is vital to Washington.

All this means that within a decade, unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States may have little effect, and multilateral measures are likely to be the best alternative for it, but formulating these sanctions will be more difficult, as it will require consensus and diplomatic efforts.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Is NATO expansion a cause for the war in Ukraine?

    Monday, July 17, 2023   No comments

Prof. Robert G. Rabil and attorney Francois Alam wrote a provocative essay to underscore the danger of ignoring Russia's legitimate national security interests. They concluded that "gripped by a false sense of morality enveloped in hubris and Machiavellian calculations, Washington risks taking the world over the precipice of the abyss. This must be prevented." 

The writers see that after America pledged to the Soviet Union that NATO would not approach its borders in 1990, we see that in 1997 NATO called on Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the alliance at the Madrid summit. In a second round in 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia became members of NATO. Then came the US position on the Rose, Orange and Square revolutions in Georgia, in the years 2003, 2004 and 2014, to put Washington and Moscow in violent confrontation.

The authors also believe that, in order to clarify Moscow's position in the current war in Ukraine, it is useful to look at history. The Donbass region has been part of the formation of Russia since Moscow defeated the Mongols in the 15th century. Crimea and its vicinity also had a special place to highlight the power of the tsarist empire. As for Peter the Great, he was the first to establish a Russian naval base on the Sea of Azov. During the reign of Catherine the Great, Moscow established its strategic naval base in Sevastopol, which served as the main base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The authors considered that America's insistence on ensuring the victory of Ukraine, and considering America's security and stability as part of the security and stability of Ukraine, as well as providing Kiev with the most dangerous conventional weapons, is nothing but an open invitation to World War III and the mutual destruction of the West and Eurasia, and ignoring the fact that NATO's expansion to the east means besieging Russia in its heartland. And ignoring the attempts of the Russian leadership to dissuade the West from its plan.

The authors conclude by saying that supporting Ukraine's victory in such a blatant way is a great incentive for World War III. They stress that the Americans must stop this madness, and the coalition must realize that the way to peace is not through weapons.

The article is linked here: Americans Must Stop the March to World War III over Ukraine

Friday, June 23, 2023

Towards a world without American hegemony

    Friday, June 23, 2023   No comments

In an essay written for the electronic magazine "Responsible Statecraft", which is affiliated with the American Quincy Institute for Studies, William Minter states that the United States has achieved limited success in building a global coalition to support Ukraine, stressing that it has not succeeded in expanding the required alliance that it sought to achieve, despite being "stronger than opponents on paper.

The essay referred to the amount of military spending of the United States in 2022, as it amounted to 877 billion dollars, more than the total of 849 billion dollars spent by the following ten countries combined, pointing out that the volume of its military spending is three times greater than the 292 billion dollars spent by China, and more than 10 times the amount spent by Russia.

The article also shed light on the stationing of US military forces in more than 750 military bases, in 80 countries around the world, noting that "if there is any country that may claim global hegemony, it will be the United States. 

I assumed that if hegemony meant the ability to get other countries to comply with demands, the United States was thus far from being a global hegemon.

Washington proved its ability to cause massive destruction, in a long series of wars in Korea and Vietnam in the latter half of the 20th century, to Iraq and Afghanistan in the 21st century, but it won no more than costly victories, as the cost included not only lives, but also the erosion of trust. inside and outside.

And the magazine dealt with showing American opinion polls that public support for the war in Ukraine has decreased somewhat this year, in addition to some Republicans in Congress questioning its cost, but most American politicians still see support for negotiations as a step too far.

In turn, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, strongly rejected the option of a ceasefire in Ukraine, and the President of the United States, Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister of Britain, Rishi Sunak, also pledged that their countries would continue to support Ukraine "for as long as it takes."

The Russian expert, Fiona Hill, of the Brookings Institution in Washington, said that "in 2023 we will hear a resounding rejection of American hegemony, and we will see a clear appetite for a world free of hegemony." Ukraine is an open rebellion.

Hill asserted that this rebellion against the "collective West" "dominates the international discourse and imposes its problems on others," explaining that it is "a very clear negative reaction to the American tendency to define the world order and force countries to take sides."

The refusal to take sides among the competing great powers seems clear among the countries of Southeast Asia, where one might expect the competition between the United States and China to be at its peak, and all ten ASEAN member states participate in China's Belt and Road initiative to build infrastructure. Despite the strong American campaign against it.

The "Responsible Statecraft" called on American policymakers to accept the new reality, explaining that they must do so in practice, as most developing countries, including the emerging powers in the south, are no longer willing to make "zero-sum" choices between the United States and its geopolitical competitors.


William Minter is the editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin. He has been a writer, researcher, and activist since the mid-1960s, concentrating on African and global issues. He taught in Tanzania and Mozambique at the secondary school of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1966-68 and 1974-76. He has worked with Africa News Service (now ), the Washington Office on Africa , and other Africa-related groups. Since November 2020, he has served as a senior consultant with the new U.S.-Africa Bridge Building Project.

Minter studied at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1961-62. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology and a certificate in African studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Minter’s most recent book is No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000, co-edited with Gail Hovey and Charles Cobb Jr.


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