We 21st century Americans pride ourselves in having short rather than long term memories. Our short term memories are conditioned shamelessly by the prosperity of mass consumer capitalism which inspires us to become and remain in deep debt due to planned obsolescence of necessary and desired consumer goods. Short term memory is functional in an America and world which devalues literacy and deep analysis of our societal and global environments peddled in and catered by sound bite social and conventional media.
We are blissful in our lack of communication skills about anything too deep which needs to be addressed.That is until something unsettling happens in our personal , societal, or/and global lives.And then we are shaken down to our emotional roots, confused, scared, a bit embarrassed not knowing what to say or how to say it because we have been encouraged not to have memories especially the not too pleasant long transparent ones.
As well, we 21st century Americans in our sacred and broadening secular places of where and what we worship like to boast as a citizenry that short term memories help us to forgive and to move on quickly rather than lingering too long in and with our unpleasant pasts as a nation we are anyways losing capacity to read about let alone care about. Really our problem as Americans is not whether or not our mass media stroked societal memories especially about the unpleasant stuff are short or long with or without self-induced or imposed spasms of societal amnesia.
The problem is what we Americans choose to remember is highly selective and thus is becoming dangerously problematic in a dramatically changing society and world. Indeed as the ultimate dismal illustration,what we Americans not only saw but experienced for the entire world to see on Wednesday January 6, 2021 in the desecration of our most sacred civil place as a nation, our Capital, by hateful mostly White insurrectionists and domestic terrorists was an unforgettable historical moment something more horrible than an attack on democracy.This is particularly so since the practice of authentic democracy in America has always been inhibited in our constitution anyways by the dehumanization of Non-White citizens, the exclusion of female citizens , White male citizen property ownership requirements,and the Electoral College fear of the popular vote in Presidential elections by the slave owning writers of our most sacred civil religious text–the Constitution of the United States of America.
Instead, the problem is,the January 6,2021 sorid disruption of what since the late 19th century has been a boring routine ceremonial certification of the election of the next President and Vice President of the United States of America , namely, the shameful storming of the Capital of the Free World where we arrogantly assumed such insurrection and coup attempts only occur in ” less than us” so called third world countries, was a firm reminder of something in an ultra extreme.
Frankly, we Americans are encouraged not to know or if we know, not publicly discuss and to have lack of capacity or refuse to see what fearful prejudiced Whites in their berths of privileged racialized entitlement have done in the past. And thus what they can and will do to use their racist hegemony to at will destroy all of us including themselves rather than share society with those they have historically denied access rationalizing them away as being inferior or not human beings at all.We have in other words been in this place before though not as high up the oligarchal food chain where in the past White nationalists preferred to destroy post-Civil War Reconstruction and other ex-African slave freedom efforts enforced by the Klu Klux Klan and the threat and practice of the lynch rope.In post-1954 Brown decision America, they have defunded if not totally destroyed public sector systems such as schools and put their kids in private schools of uneven academic quality than to allow them to sit next to black and brown skinned kids. They have intentionally mismanaged and manipulated the intent of affirmative action to derail fair access, employment ,and promotion practices. They have shifted the investment and venture capital of places of gainful employment and decent housing elsewhere domestically and abroad rather than creating access for those who are Black and Brown. Their response to desegregation mandates has been to destabilize indeed destroy innercity Black and Brown neighborhoods through dividing them with constructed highway systems and diluting Non-White local poltical capacity through changing the forms and rules of local governance. They have for private industrial profit created a massive Black and Brown male increasingly female mass incarcerated complex while denying the ex-incarcerated their voting and other constitutional rights to disempower Black and Brown communities and assuring a poor quality of life assuring their frequent recidivism.
So we have been here well before this past Wednesday in less societal and global though still massively impoverishing and discriminatory ways.When White nationalists with the unprecedented public leadership and blessings of a sitting White nationalist President of the United States of America committed this cardinal secular sinful transgression and desecration of our Capital with the goal of doing harm to lawmakers in this most sacred place to every red blooded American alive and dead, it was the most ultimate grotesque naked display of White privilege. White privilege since our colonial roots has always been here though we are taught not to remember it and forbidden to publicly talk clearly about it crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is let alone to push back against White privilege until it is defanged , disempowered, until it becomes a ” has been a past relic “of a pathological form of thinking, being, and societal organization and governance. At best White Privilege has become viewed as an academic topic only seriously entertained by marginal radical and militant thought leaders not worth being taken seriously in mainstream elite media and public policy circles.
So, though understandable due to our learned general public lack of memory or excluded and repressed memories of the tainted history of White Privilege in the making and sustaining of our nation , there is no need for we Americans to be shocked or disoriented over what White insurrectionists and domestic terrorists tried to do on Wednesday in regards to barging into the Capital to hunt down lawmakers to kidnap if not kill them in the midst of more peaceful true believer Trump protesting disciples there to raise their manipulated voices about false election claims their folk hero intentionally cooked up.The social media and selfie posted images of the terror was nothing less of an event easily avoided if law enforcement and media had bothered to take seriously the White violence Trump whipped up on the campaign trail and while in office with so much effectiveness in his rallies and in his racist abusive language, excuses, and silences which egged on his loyal White nationalists we all well knew about including federal law enforcement officials who had every right to reinforce security they knew the mostly unarmed Capital Police were incapable of handling alone. So let us be honest and for real about this rather than pretend that somehow those in high federal places did not act because they were not asked.They could have asked, they could have warned, and they could have insisted in reinforcing the Capital Police in ways they probably did in preparation for the BLM movement this past American summer.
This point was made clear by an interview with a senior Black Capital Police Officer who claimed they were caught completely flat footed .It wasn’t until a friend texted him an Instagram message by an insurrectionist about what they were planning to do that he got an inkling this was not going to be an ordinary protest.Higher management down played the coming ” protest” and were nowhere to be seen or heard when the ruckus begun. In the midst of two hours of fighting the boisterous crowd not picked up the media , during which he was called a ni___ger at least 15 times as he watched his White colleagues take selfies with White protesters with management nowhere in sight. This was, as he pointed out in stark contrast to Capitol Police management preparation for the June BLM protest.
Many including President-Elect Joe Biden have been pointing about the discrepancies of law enforcement response to the BLM and Pro-Trump protests.It does not take a rocket scientist to explain the difference.
Those who could have strategically intervened in a timely way in this Trump era compromised federal law enforcement era did not care to do so until Vice President Pence under siege like the rest of the threatened folks in the Capital requested such last minute security backup though too late to stop the barging in from occurring. There are first hand accounts of panicking staffers barricading themselves in rooms as what the interviewed Police Officer described as apparent military trained rioters entered the Capital searching for lawmakers such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, calling her out by name. They randomly called Pentagon and Capitol Police numbers they had begging for help with no answers for at least an hour.
Meanwhile there was President Trump in the White House pleased with his ” special people” desecrating our most holy civil place which his disruptive seditious disciples truly hoped to capture. Though White House insiders say what did make Trump upset as he watched the disruption was the “White trash” look of some of his storming supporters; being more concerned about his reputation than the life taking violence. He was in this sense exerting an elite class tough White male image that won mass campaign and governance appeal which paradoxically drew ordinary White and even Non-White males to him to emulate a John Wayne masculinity while at the same time looking down at them.
As alluded to,there is the refusal up to now to face the music of how much Trump’s success in bringing fringe White nationalists into the White House, Congress, and Judiciary into the American mainstream is embedded in the long arms of White Privilege and violence to create and sustain it dating back to colonial times integral to our establishment as a nation.The extermination of indigenous populations softened as Cowboy and Indian stories, the enslavement of Africans romanticized by Gone With The Wind nostalgia, the lynchings of African , Asian,and Mexican Americans, the institutionalization of police brutality against Mexican American farm workers, African American sharecroppers, and their ethnic counterparts in cities hidden, denied, rationalized away by smooth talking scholars, politicians, journalists, and faith leaders down the scores and decades indeed generations,all illustrate the routine White violence which by definition is what America has been from our very beginnings. Such memories of routinized systemic and conscious intentional acts of White physical, symbolic, emotional, and moral violence have been forgotten when convenient which is routinely usually when not always the case.
Subsequently this has created a morbid American culture routinely giving Whites , females as well as males a pass, a high five, a wink while on the other hand when if Black or Brown like King on March on Washington Day or Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest Day or the Ceasar Chavez or later Latino immigrant boycotts and marches or Native American sit ins, you are met with potential brutal law enforcement push back armed to the teeth. It is because as a nation we have been conditioned to forget, to deny or soften White episodes of genocide against indigenous people, the massive rape of Black and other nonwhite women and the actual or emotional castration of their males, the lynchings, the burning down of Black and otherwise Non-White institutions and communities and the more silent cruel ways dehumanizing systemic racism works to create the sustainable societal glass ceilings and the deep basements which assures Non-White mobility remains spotty trickling tokenism at best.
And we are taught as Americans of all ancestries to fear when Blacks and our Non-Black allies dare to exercise their God give human rights and their human given constitutional rights to gather and raise their voices in protest about the dismal acts of terror and discrimination which since colonial days has marked our continued dehumanization and stigma.We are not supposed to do such things like speak up and stand up for justice especially together, especially in mass forms remembering why it was illegal for slaves to congregate unless under watchful White eyes and Black spies.
And when we do boldly dare to march together for our rights, historical White memories of slaves insurrecting and urban Black rioters tearing up becomes activated White paranoia as seen in the photos of armed law enforcement poised to brutally respond to any BLM protester who dared to get out of line. And more historically , if interested, we can recall the paranoid responses of the fearful Kennedy administration regarding the anticipated King March on Washington and of the Clinton administration ‘s Farrakhan Million Man March underestimated by the President and his Black bourgeois friends though nonetheless feared.
But with a federal law enforcement deeply compromised by four years of White Supremacist Trump we are conditioned to be surprised and dismayed if not a bit horrified and even embarrassed about what happened on Wednesday.What else did horrified Pro-Trump Congress men and women in the Capital ducking and hiding in secured undisclosed places expect to happen when insurrectionists and just hateful violent motivated groups openly planned on social media for weeks exactly what they would do? What else did they and Americans in general expect after Trump spent months before and after the election planting the seeds of doubt about election legitimacy if he lost in the public domain? It has been up until the January 6th failed insurrection and coup attempt Trump and his ultra white cronies were hoping would happen to install him as a second term President on the way to dictatorship, quite normal in America to look the other way when Whites, especially makes and females too to do disruptive if not destructive things or minimize or make excuses or even try to rehabilitate the bad boys and girls. The four years of media and Republican Senate excuses for Trump’s cruel and at times law breaking actions let alone habitual lying hoping that one day he would wake up and turn a new leaf has been symbolic of the “White boys will be boys so let’s clean up behind them and wait until they grow up “syndrome.
That White boys will be boys syndrome gets worse with time unless the culprits are brought to the principal’s office, in this case, to the highest civil and criminal justice authorities to experience the full brunt of authentic not symbolic or water downed justice. In this most serious case of sedition , of domestic terrorism, there is the danger of what happens when criminal privileged White entitlement in pinnacles of power and authority are not adequately countered and checked becoming worse, with much more discord, with much more dangerous confident violence.
So far, on the part of the instigators of the attempted insurrection and coup and those who were just hateful and violent, there has been little retreat; little remorse. White extremists on social media are now becoming even more energized to pursue insurrection or public violence goals confident they will win just because they are White and thus hold the privileged entitled upper hand empowered to manipulate legal procedures and the court of public opinion.The excuses, the urges for prolonged investigations and the urgent pleas by elite white mostly men not to do anything hasty such as impeach Trump and to recall collusive Congress men and women violating their oaths of office and the first and second amendment rights of arrested insurrectionists and domestic terrorists with slick attorneys are already rolling in. Pleas for peace with no justice done to the culprits from the White House down to paramilitary bunkers and streets are fruits of short memories of White privilege convenience in a brand new day in a society and world which is not going to roll over; pretend, and not remember short or long term.
This is the society and world President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris have inherited and are facing with a razor thin Senate and House Majority with a Democratic Party wobbly with its own White Supremacist short term memory problems. Leading a Democratic Party unlike the Republican Party with a history of exploiting their constituencies to win elections and then ignoring them if not disposing of them once they win resulting in non -voting or party switching when they are called upon again for support. This Democratic Party tendency to manipulate Non-White and youthful voters and then do nothing for them beyond the symbolic is a moderate ploy which will no longer work.
In 2022 and 2024, it will drive up the number of Non-White nonvoters , especially younger, poor, and economically marginalized middle class voters tired of the empty justice and decent quality of life promises.Or it will drive them to vote Republican if the Party manages to move away from the toxic racist Trump base and offer alternatives for justice a Wall Street and White Supremacy captured moderate Democratic Party is incapacitated to deliver on.Or they will engage in potentially winnable or dominant two party voter draining third parties.
What then must Biden and Harris do then since on January 6th the script has been torn up regarding the ultimate moderate failure in advocating for racial justice while placating White privileged norms and values with a diversifying electorate base unwilling to go back to the days those who stormed the Capital with the Confederate flag attempted to restore?
What will the incoming Biden-Harris administration do now ? What do they dare do to put us on a path in which we are totally transparent and honest about the good, bad, and ugly about our multicultural origins and character as a nation rather than continuing with selective short and long term memories which privileges Whites over the rest of us and at best encourages cosmetic racial justice pronouncements and damage control policies.
This is 2021, not the 1970s in a still very much Jim Crow America where young adult Joe Biden was beginning his political climb upward with no best practices available to develop a sustaining authentic intercultural America.Now we have such tools domestically and globally for the Biden- Harris administration to enable we Americans to come together as an authentic one people bound together through mutual respect for each other, restoration of the dignity of those of us who mundanely have yet to have it . All to create memories for future generations of Americans in a genuine just society no more in a deeply stained racist society with insidious and intentional racial prejudices they at best read about and see exhibited in museums. Do they dare? Do we dare?
Gallup: Trump Globally the Least Respected U.S. President This Century
On January 15th, the Gallup World Poll issued its preliminary report for their upcoming “Rating World Leaders: 2021” report. It shows the results that have been tabulated for 60 of the 135 countries where they annually sample global public opinion about U.S. leadership. One especially clear finding from it is that when their final report for all 135 countries will be issued, it will show that among the three U.S. Presidencies on which Gallup has internationally surveyed — which are only the three U.S. Presidents in this century — Trump is clearly the one who is globally respected the least, even lower than George W. Bush was respected.
Here are the findings, in each of the 60 nations, and the percentage increase or decrease from Gallup’s last completed survey report, “Rating World Leaders: 2020”:
“Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?”
- Dominican Republic, 66% was 56% in 2020
- Cameroon, 62 was 61
- Georgia, 61 was 43
- Zambia, 56 was 26
- Albania, 56 was 67
- Philippines, 55 was 58
- Uganda, 53 was 47
- Mauritius, 50 was 59
- Zimbabwe, 50 was 59
- Ecuador, 43 was 34
- Colombia, 42 was 41
- Moldova, 40 was 45
- Brazil, 40 was 38
- Japan, 39 was 34
- Kyrgyzstan, 34 was 32
- Namibia, 34 was 31
- Bulgaria, 32 was 26
- Cambodia, 32 was 49
- Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China, 31 was 31
- Poland, 30 was 59
- South Korea, 30 was 41
- Bolivia , 30 was 31
- Australia, 29 was 23
- Taiwan, Province of China, 28 was 40
- New Zealand, 26 was 17
- Mexico, 26 was 17
- Malta, 26 was 30
- Ethiopia, 25 was 37
- Argentina, 24 was 26
- Ukraine, 24 was 32
- Greece, 21 was 19
- Croatia, 21 was 25
- Morocco, 21 was 22
- Serbia , 20 was 19
- Ireland, 20 was 30
- Finland, 20 was 20
- Slovenia, 19 was 20
- Cyprus, 19 was 27
- Tunisia, 19 was 24
- Italy, 19 was 22
- France, 18 was 23
- Russia, 18 was 11
- Netherlands, 18 was 20
- Canada, 17 was 22
- Spain, 17 was 23
- Chile, 16 was 16
- Estonia, 15 was 17
- United Kingdom, 15 was 25
- Denmark, 14 was 24
- Turkey, 13 was 12
- Slovakia, 13 was 28
- Norway, 12 was 15
- Portugal, 12 was 14
- Belgium, 12 was 17
- Sweden, 11 was 12
- Switzerland, 10 was 13
- Austria, 9 was 11
- Iran, 6 was 6
- Germany, 6 was 12
- Iceland, 5 was 9
Remarkably, Gallup doesn’t poll in China on this question. (Nor does Pew.)
Notably, Trump is more disapproved-of in Europe than in any other part of the world. (Also, as Pew reported on 16 December 2020, “In Europe, more trust Putin than Trump.”)
Those percentage-changes that we’ve just shown total to a decline, among all 60 countries, of 121 percentage-points (-121%), or, almost exactly, a -2% change from the 2019 findings that had been reported in Gallup’s “Rating World Leaders: 2020”.
Gallup says that “until all of Gallup’s 2020 fieldwork is complete in a few months, it is still too early to say that the U.S. will see its worst ranking in the history of Gallup’s World Poll.” However, Gallup’s “Rating World Leaders: 2020” report covered 135 lands, and the 60 lands that they have tabulated as of now, for the 2021 report, seem to be a representative sampling of all of those 135, and collectively those 60 populations have reduced their respect for America’s leadership by 2%. In the 2020 report, the global level of approval for America’s leadership was 33%. The all-time-low had been the 30% figure in 2017, Trump’s first year, a finding which was based on Trump’s promises, not on his performance. The upcoming final Gallup report “Rating World Leaders: 2021” will — if the results from those 60 lands do turn out to be representative of the global findings — produce a 31% global approval level by all of the approximately 135 lands that will be covered in it. For each of Trump’s four years, then, the global percentages will have been (for each one of his four years) 30%, 31%, 33%, and (now, in his final year) 31%. Each year, it was even lower than the prior record low, of George W. Bush, had been, at 34% in 2008.
There was higher disapproval than approval of America’s leadership during the Presidencies of George W. Bush and of Donald Trump than there was approval of either U.S. President’s leadership. Strikingly, however, there was higher approval than disapproval during (and throughout) the two terms of office of Barack Obama. That Nobel Peace Prize winner was/is internationally admired. (Crazy, but true: he was an international charmer.)
Here are summarized (with links to the evidence regarding) the actual chief international achievements of each of these three U.S. Presidents:
George W. Bush: destroying Iraq, and destroying Afghanistan.
Donald Trump: destroying Iran, and destroying Venezuela, while continuing his predecessors’ destructions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. He also made the destruction of Palestine even worse than it had previously been.
So, the question regarding incoming U.S. President Joe Biden will be whether he will continue this tradition further, or reverse it. Because, it’s really all the same tradition, throughout all three U.S. Presidencies this century. By contrast, global perceptions are that those three U.S. Presidents were drastically different from one another.
On 15 September 290290, Pew bannered “U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly” and reported that:
The publics surveyed also see Trump more negatively than other world leaders. Among the six leaders included on the survey, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks: A median of 76% across the nations polled have confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split. Ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are overwhelmingly negative, although not as negative as those for Trump.
Right above that was this graph, which shows starkly the false European perception that Barack Obama was vastly superior to George W. Bush and Donald Trump:
Apparently, most Europeans have no problem with a U.S. President who continues America’s use of torture, and who continues America’s legal immunity of prosecution for banksters, and who imposes ethnic cleansing abroad, and who aims for achieving a U.S. first-strike ability to conquer Russia by a sudden nuclear blitz attack. Style is everything, for them; substance is nothing, to them. Why didn’t they like Hitler? Is it only because he did it to them?
Why won’t Bowdich evoke 9/11 now?
“Day of fire”. That’s how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the Capitol insurrection, which happens to be the exact same phrase President George W. Bush used on the occasion of 9/11. That is not coincidental. But why won’t the FBI draw 9/11 parallels now?
In spring last year, when I was running for UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech, in a leaked memo to the New York Times, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich was quoted in a reaction to the Black Lives Matters protests. Bowdich maintained that the protesters should be arrested under an outdated racketeering law from the 1940s. The leaked memo showed that Mr Bowdich considered the social justice movement “a national crisis” comparable to 9/11. The hundreds of thousands of people mourning and marching across the country, unified by the simple thought that no life should be taken lightly, for nothing, were actually similar to terrorists in the eyes of the FBI who wanted to charge them as racketeers. Why won’t Bowdich evoke 9/11 now, when it comes to far-right actual terrorism? We are talking about plans to blow up buildings and assassinate law-makers.
There is evidence appearing now through the courts that the Trump mob indeed intended to capture and assassinate congressmen. A new court filing by federal prosecutors says that Trump supporters intended to “capture and assassinate” elected officials during the Capitol riot.
The FBI has a misplaced terrorism obsession with the progressive left, while lightly ignoring the far-right, which is by far the more violent and much more organized group. The Capitol events security mishandling demonstrated a different attitude when it comes to the latter group.
There is a difference between street clashes with police in social justice protests that have gone overboard and have turned violent, on one hand, and placing bombs at political buildings, plans to kidnap and assassinate politicians, and violent usurping of the certification of a democratically elected president. The difference should be obvious, and yet the FBI is pursuing its obsession with the left voices, largely ignoring the violent extremists and the real violent terrorism threat on the far right, as recently revealed by an Intercept investigation.
In a public statement, the FBI made sure that the public understood its own misguided standard used in the threat assessment in the Capitol attacks by the Trump mob, namely the aspirations vs intentions test. The FBI official explained that the FBI needs to consider that some online activity and planning by the far right could simply be “keyboard bravado”. So, “keyboard bravado” is now the new “locker room talk”.
It is not surprising that the FBI uses different standards to assess the threat on the far-left and on the far-right. Former FBI director Hoover called Martin Luther King “one of the most dangerous negroes in America”. MLK was far from a hero for the FBI. It is not uncommon for the FBI even today to mischaracterize center-left voices of reasonable progressives who are anti-violence, pro-rights and pro-equality as far-left anarchists and communists, magnifying the threat on the left while ignoring the bigger threat on the right. Calling reasonable center-left Democrats anarchists and communists is a classical President Putin move. Let’s recall that ahead of the presidential elections in November, Russian President Putin endorsed Biden and the Democrats as communists whom we would get along with, in order to discredit them.
Let’s look at the actions and the security measures present around the two types of crowds. In a recent interview I wondered why FBI deputy director Bowdich won’t evoke 9/11 now in relation to far-right terrorism, in the context of the methods that the FBI sometimes uses to suppress and deal with progressive voices.
The FBI have opened mow many cases for “domestic terrorism” into the Capitol attack and it is true that they are saying that they are treating these cases as “international terrorism” but where is the FBI public condemnation of terrorism? We have not seen public statements by the FBI director Christopher Wray and FBI deputy director David Bowdich. Why won’t Bowdich come out and evoke 9/11 now, just like he did with the Black Lives Matter movement?
America has a long way to go to recover from the damage that Trump and his cronies spread across the various US agencies have done to democratic principles and human rights. The Trump institutional capture of key agencies such as the FBI and the CIA, let alone DOJ, has led the country into a downward spiral. I myself just launched a $1 UN lawsuit against the Trump circle at the UN, in attempt to clear the Trump circle also from the UN.
The capitol events were an embarrassment for the FBI who failed the due diligence standard of the reasonably expected measures that should have been taken in a similar situation because they were dealing with the President’s supporters. Then, the FBI decided to justify their inaction with the false “keyboard bravado” explanation, which does not explain anything.
The FBI are now running social media campaigns for the collection of evidence on suspects in the Capitol attacks but the truth is that the FBI does not need random people to phone them and point them to the bad guys. The FBI follow these groups and people, they know everything. It’s just a question of choice as to when to bring out the collected over time evidence. The FBI is in a hurry now only because there is public and social pressure to do something. All of America is watching what will happen to the bad guys.
A couple of days ahead of the Capitol events, I noted on Twitter that Homeland Security acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, was on a trip to Cyprus, while America was “burning”. The Cyprus frictions in the European Mediterranean seem like a holiday now, in comparison to the Capitol events. Several days later, Wolf resigned.
With the news that President Trump intends to issue over 100 new pardons during his last two days in office, the question of justice for the Capitol events is as relevant as ever, as it is reasonably expected that some of the pardons could relate to the Capitol attacks.
It is safe to say that former Attorney General Bill Barr is not missed by many people. The Trump supporters’ cases would not have received fair treatment at the Department of Justice under his watch. The new Attorney General in the Biden Administration, judge Merrick Garland, in fact, might discover that many cases from the Bill Barr time will have to be reopened.
The top security priority now is President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, 20 January, while Trump holds a separate rally. The Capitol events served as a warning.
Looking forward, it is time for American democracy to demonstrate its elasticity. And legal justice necessarily has to be a part of that, ignoring phony calls for “unity” and “healing” made by the criminals themselves who are trying to escape justice now. There can’t be unity without ensuring justice first.
Latin America and China: The difficulties in relations and Covid-19
The relations between China and Latin America have developed positively, but some problems and challenges are also being faced. Firstly, the intensified strategic and economic competition between China and the United States has increased the negative impact on the relations between China and Latin America. Trump’s Administration already used zero-sum competition and Cold War mentality to mark Sino-U.S. relations, believing that China’s rise in Latin America could upset the U.S. order in the Western Hemisphere.
Back in February 2018, during a visit to Latin America the then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said that China was using its economic influence to bring Latin America into its sphere of influence, and criticised it as seeking a new imperial power for its geopolitical expansion.
In 2018, Rand Corporation published the 400-page report At the Dawn of Belt and Road. China in the Developing World. The report pointed out that China’s contacts in Latin America and its geopolitical advantages held back the U.S. presence in the region.
Specifically, the report explored China’s economic, political and security roles in Southeast Asia, Oceania, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The report also analysed China’s bilateral relations with key States in each region. Finally, it dealt with the negative consequences of the Chinese strategy towards developing countries for the United States. Therefore, it maintained that strategists and decision-makers in the Armed Forces, and all U.S. military staff, needed to focus on China and anyone interested in developing international relations with that country. An attitude of threat not only towards China.
Another factor preventing – at least apparently – the development of China-Latin America relations is the retreat of Progressives and the advance of Conservatives in the landscape of political change in the Subcontinent: this poses a challenge to the development of mutual relations.
2017 and 2018 were general election years in thirteen Latin American countries. In Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and other countries, the old traditional and left-wing parties lost elections. Therefore, Latin America is divided into two camps: one is the left-wing one represented by Cuba and Venezuela, and the other is the right-wing camp composed of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Conversely, the fast development of China-Latin America relations from 2003 to 2013 was favoured by the political atmosphere of the left-wing camp. Currently, however, the transition from the Left to the Right tells us that some countries rely on the United States in terms of development projects and ideologies. Therefore, the political transition has become an additional challenge for the development of relations between China and Latin America.
Another crisis point is the impact of the pandemic. Here are some data regarding the Covid-19 cases until January 17, 2021:
Latin America: 16,753,447
North America: 23,091,187 (USA: 22,423,006; Canada: 668,181)
Latin American countries record relatively high urbanisation rates, with peaks of 70-80%. Large cities are very densely populated, with a high percentage of informal employment and weak national control abilities, which create the conditions for the spread of Covid-19.
On the other hand, the United States-which is the worst affected country in the American Continent – has increased the repatriation of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries for reasons of epidemic prevention and control, thus further aggravating the situation in these already disadvantaged countries.
Why is the pandemic in Brazil so severe? The indifference of President Bolsonaro’s government towards the epidemic, as well as ineffective measures and omissions in control are the main reasons for the spread of the epidemic in Brazil. The first case was discovered in Brazil on March 12, 2020 and the epidemic soon began to spread throughout the country, which currently records 8,131,612 cases and 203,580 deaths.
Brazil’s former Health Minister, Nelson Teich, advocated isolation, but Bolsonaro’s philosophy is different. He believes that imposing quarantine curbs economic development. Health Minister Teichresigned. The new Minister is Gen. Eduardo Pazuello, who has no medical training and no experience in managing public health disasters.
An official of the Brazilian Ministry of Health said that the number of people infected by the pandemic is officially eight million, but it has actually exceeded ten million. This unprecedented public health crisis has triggered economic recession and could lead to new social unrest. These are all new challenges.
The impact of Covid-19 on the entire Latin American region is very severe. According to the World Bank statistics, it has been the most severe crisis ever since the Great Depression in the 1920s and 1930s. The blow to the region is reflected mainly in four aspects:
1) exports have declined.
2) The prices of raw materials have fallen. Due to reduced demand, prices have inevitably fallen. Recently, everyone has seen a drop in copper prices, especially as Peru and Chile, the copper mining centres of the world, have been forced to close their mines due to the impact of the pandemic.
3) Tourism has collapsed. Latin America is a kind of cultural-exotic attraction for North Americans and Europeans. With Covid-19, there is no way for tourism and passenger transport to go back to the traditional levels of normalcy.
4) The inflow of remittances has decreased significantly. They are one of the main driving forces for economic development in the area, especially in regions like Central America and countries like Mexico.
The Latin American immigrants working in the United States put aside the money they earn and send it to their families – a key source of income for Latin America. As the U.S. economy has been severely hit, also remittances have been significantly reduced, to the detriment of the entire subcontinent.
With specific reference to Covid-19, it should also be mentioned that on June 24, 2020, the U.S. Congress held a full-scale hearing and invited a number of U.S. experts to express their views.
Those experts included Robert Evan Ellis of the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. One of the main points he made was that the U.S. government should strengthen its support for Latin American allies to prevent China from using ‘medical diplomacy’ to expand its sphere of influence in Latin America, along with advances in supply chains, strategic acquisitions and loans to troubled governments, while the West remains economically weakened and politically distracted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hence, in his view, the United States should resolutely stop China’s technological expansion in Latin America. This means that the United States should not acquire and share Chinese medical know-how.
Ultimately, the pandemic has not changed China’s goals or overall strategy. It provides an unprecedented opportunity for China to move forward with its implementation. With the help of the Chinese government’s controls on its population to impose and enforce quarantine, and thanks to its huge financial reserves and leverage on the economy, China is emerging from the crisis (albeit certainly weakened) ahead of most Western and non-Western countries.
The pandemic and its health, economic and other effects are likely to persist and continue to weaken the United States and Europe for some time. The interplay between partial economic reopening and the time needed to develop, test and massively produce a vaccine will extend this process.
In Latin America and in other less developed parts of the world, the situation is likely to be far worse. Less capable public health systems, large informal sectors, vulnerable small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as limits to governments’ ability to borrow money to protect vulnerable populations, and the related economic sectors will put pressure on economies as they suffer from Western countries’ declining investment and demand for their exports. In China, on the other hand, things are being solved.
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