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Simple choice, stand up to US' phony cold war or face decades of unjustified conflict

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone is an English politician, he served as the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He is also a former MP and a former member of the Labour Party.
Simple choice, stand up to US' phony cold war or face decades of unjustified conflict
For forty-five years, following the end of WWII, the world was locked into a US-led hostile Cold War against the Soviet Union.

We know now, following the release of virtually all Soviet government documents, that Joseph Stalin had no intention of launching a conflict with the West. In fact, in his meeting with American President Franklin Roosevelt, at the Yalta Conference, he asked for a $6 billion loan to enable him to rebuild the Soviet economy which had been devastated by Nazi invasion.

The idea that the Soviet Union could pose a threat to the US was nonsense. At the end of WWII, around 50 percent of the world's economy was in the US. The Soviet Union would finally get up to ten percent by 1950.

Roosevelt had planned a working relationship with Stalin but tragically his death saw vice president Harry Truman become commander-in-chief.

Truman was paranoid about the international popularity of Stalin, whose troops had ground down Hitler's military strength (at appalling cost to the Russian people) and he feared that Communist governments could be elected in countries like France and Italy.

It took thirty years for the Soviet Union to amass a nuclear arsenal equal to that of the US and the consequence of the Cold War was that nations across the world spent vast amounts of their wealth on unnecessary military spending. But the general public knew nothing about the reality of the situation and it is only now, as historians pore over all the declassified documents from both the Soviet Union and the US, that we finally know the truth.

The size of America's military industrial complex has dominated the policies of every US president since 1945. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has now moved on to a new cold war targeting any country across the world that puts its people's interests before those of American corporations.

Whether it's Venezuela, Iran, or Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the US government's propaganda depicts all these nations as a threat, which, given the size of their economies compared to the US, is risible.

Matters have become dramatically worse since the election of President Trump whose administration is now berating European countries for not lining up behind US sanctions against these governments. Last week saw Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, denouncing his European allies for trying to prevent sanctions damaging their economies.

The European Union has tried to protect trade with Iran but was denounced by Pence during a conference, organised by the US in the Polish capital, as "an effort to break American sanctions against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime… it is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the US."

Pence went to demand "freedom loving nations" stand up against Iranian "evil" and made the bizarre claim that Iran was plotting a "new holocaust."

Although this conference was attended by over sixty countries, Germany and France, which supported the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, declined to send their senior diplomats to it.

Whilst most of the coverage of the conference was about US policy towards Iran there was also considerable time spent dealing with the issue of Palestinians and Israel. Once again, European countries had been unhappy that Trump has slashed aid to the Palestinians.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called this conference "a historical turning point" as he sat down to dine with top diplomats from the Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia. We're now in the bizarre position that several Arab nations are coming together with Israel in order to oppose the government of Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the gathering "dead on arrival" and merely an attempt by the US to pursue its bizarre obsession with Iran.

Pence went on to denounce European countries that were failing to support US sanctions on Iranian oil exports, saying "sadly some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions." He then went on to call for European countries to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Before Trump came to power, Obama had reduced US sanctions on Iran because of his support for the nuclear deal, but they were immediately re-imposed by Trump who also withdrew from the nuclear deal. Top Washington diplomat Mike Pompeo said "you can't achieve stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran. It's just not possible... there are malign influences in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The three H's: the Houthis, Hamas and Hezbollah, these are the real threats."

I've no doubt that in a few decades, when secret US government documents are finally released, the world will realize that none of America's new villains posed a threat to world peace and it is completely right for EU countries to distance themselves from Trump's policies. Not only do they damage international trade and Europe's economy, but they have devastating and lethal impacts on the people who live in the countries targeted by the US.

Whilst Iran has been a US target since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the corrupt old regime of the Shah and took Iran's oil back under the control of Tehran rather than American corporations, the Iranian government still has the overwhelming support of its people.

A very similar situation exists with the US assault on Venezuela. Just as Iran nationalized its oil so did Venezuela. A key factor in Hugo Chavez's election in 1998 had been the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s and 1990s which fuelled the public anger that brought Chavez to power.

Whilst Chavez is now still being demonized by the US government, we never see anywhere in the Western media the fact that, under Chavez, Venezuela repaid its IMF debt in 2005.

Sadly, the recent decline in oil prices has caused major problems for Venezuela's economy under the current president Maduro. I went on a visit to Venezuela in 2008 and in my discussions with Chavez I urged him to diversify Venezuela's economy and reduce its dependence on oil, but the failure to do that has left Venezuela vulnerable and now Trump's administration is trying to see Maduro overthrown by Juan Guaido who bizarrely announced that he is the new president.

Fortunately, Venezuela's military have ignored Guaido's bid for power and continue to support President Maduro, who was re-elected last year in an open and fair election.

Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton made a speech November 1, 2018 announcing the new sanctions against the Venezuelan government. He warned that there was a "troika of tyranny" in the Americas: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. His speech implied that Trump would support a coup against Maduro.

On January 25, the US State Department appointed Elliott Abrams as Washington's special envoy to Venezuela. Abrams had been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s when President Reagan secretly sold weapons to Iran and used the money received to fund attempts to overthrow the government of Nicaragua

Governments around the world now face a simple choice: to fall in behind the US in another phony cold war directed against governments which are just a fraction of the size of the old Soviet Union or they can refuse to comply with Trump's sanctions and encourage growing trade and relations with the countries being targeted by Trump. We need leaders with the courage to stand up to Trump's administration and expose the lies or we will spend decades once again wasting vast sums of money on a conflict which is completely unjustified.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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