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Venezuela: Where the Wealthy Stir Violence While the Poor Build a New Society

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What the wealthy in Venezuela are afraid of, and what mainstream media channels won’t show, is that a different world is possible — and Venezuela’s working classes are trying hard to build it. This is the real reason why the country is under attack. And make no mistake: this is a vicious attack on Venezuela, its infrastructure and its very sources of hope.

Dario Azzellini, Axis of Logic 

barrio1_0.jpg [The barrios of Caracas, Venezuela. Film still from "Comuna Under Construction (2010)," directed by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler. Image courtesy of the author.]

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 | Before Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999, the barrios of Caracas, built provisionally on the hills surrounding the capital, did not even appear on the city map. Officially they did not exist, so neither the city nor the state maintained their infrastructure. The poor inhabitants of these neighborhoods obtained water and electricity by tapping pipes and cables themselves. They lacked access to services such as garbage collection, health care and education altogether.

Today residents of the same barrios are organizing their communities through directly democratic assemblies known as communal councils — of which Venezuela has more than 40,000. Working families have come together to found community spaces and cooperative companies, coordinate social programs and renovate neighborhood houses, grounding their actions in principles of solidarity and collectivity. And their organizing has found government support, especially with the Law of Communal Councils, passed by Chávez in 2006, which has led to the formation of communes that can develop social projects on a larger scale and over the long term.

Dario Azzellini: Artist and documentary filmmaker 

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Four Decades After Vietnam

Thirty nine years later, the official US position towards crimes by the US military in Vietnam has not changed: there have been no apologies for US conduct during the war, no reparations, no intentions of prosecuting US government officials or military personnel for war crimes in Vietnam. Instead, there is a romanticizing and glorification of the overall performance of the US military.

Bruno Jantti, Le Monde diplomatique

AP photographer Nick Ut's award-winning photo showing Phan Thi Kim Phuc screaming and running as her back was burnt in a US napalm attack during Vietnam War on 8 June, 1972. AP / Nick Ut // International Business Times (UK)

May 5, 2014 | The American public's ignorance of the core facts of the war (or indifference to it) may seem surprising. Take a Gallup poll in November 2000: of respondents between 18 and 29, 27% said the US was backing North Vietnam, 45% said South Vietnam and 28% expressed no opinion at all. What about support for the war among the US public at the end of the 1960s? According to a Gallup poll in July 1969, more than a year after the My Lai massacre, 53% of respondents approved of Nixon's handling of the war.

If many Americans do not know the basic outlines of the history of the war, their knowledge of US crimes against Vietnam and the Vietnamese is not likely to be high either. Yet the US dropped more bombs in South Vietnam than the total number of bombs dropped by all sides in World War II put together - in fact more than twice the amount. Twelve million acres of Vietnam's forest and 25 million acres of farmland, at least, were destroyed by American saturation bombing; and over 70 million litres of herbicidal agents were sprayed over the country.

Bruno Jantti is an investigative journalist specializing in international politics.

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Stop forcing Ukraine into a narrative of Moscow versus Washington

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We are told that this is a geopolitical battle instead of an attempt by ordinary Ukrainians to take back control from the oligarchs.

Oliver Bullough, The Guardian

Auto-Maidan-Protest-006.jpg A group of Maidan guards outside the parliament building in Kiev. Photograph: Gail-Orenstein/Demotix/Corbis

Monday 19 May 2014 | Anyone who tells you Ukraine is a battle between Russia and the west is wrong. It is a lazy narrative told by ignorant people, but is helping create a genuine tragedy that we should all be concerned about.

The history of Ukraine's crisis began not in February, with Viktor Yanukovych's flight, but in 1991, with independence. Desperate to break communism, privatisers sold state assets as quickly as they could. They didn't care who got them; they just wanted private property to exist. They thought the new owners would insist on their rights, and thus build a stable society, governed by the rule of law.

Oliver Bullough was a Reuters Moscow correspondent, and is now Caucasus Editor for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. His book Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus is published by Penguin

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Related:

The Myth of America’s Global Peacekeeping Past, Leon Hadar, The American Conservative

There is something morally appalling in Kagan, The Economist, and other cheerleaders for the botched wars in the Greater Middle East arguing once again that only the full application of American military power will deter aggression and build the foundations for stability. 

The Myth of America’s Global Peacekeeping Past

There is something morally appalling in Kagan, The Economist, and other cheerleaders for the botched wars in the Greater Middle East arguing once again that only the full application of American military power will deter aggression and build the foundations for stability. 

Leon Hadar, The American Conservative

Shutterstock%20%7C%20World%20Map%20%26%20Bomb.jpg Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

May 14, 2014 | Apparently recognizing that the American Unipolar Moment may be over, and that the international system is gradually taking a multipolar form, some pundits have been warning us that the day will soon come in which we will all be experiencing American Empire nostalgia. “If and when American power declines, the institutions and norms American power has supported will decline, too,” or “they may collapse altogether as we transition into another kind of world order, or into disorder,” wrote leading neoconservative thinker Robert Kagan. “Or we may discover then that the United States was essential to keeping the present world order together and that the alternative to American power was not peace and harmony but chaos and catastrophe—which was what the world looked like right before the American order came into being,” Kagan warned.

More recently, Kagan and others have blasted the Obama administration’s foreign policy at home and abroad for its alleged failure to stand up to U.S. adversaries in Damascus, Moscow, and Beijing. They sound even more agitated as they raise the specter of global disorder that would supposedly follow the deterioration of American power. “Some will celebrate the decline of America’s ability to deter. But wherever they live, they may find that whatever replaces the old order is much worse,” concluded The Economist magazine in a long essay which warned that “America is no longer as alarming to its foes or reassuring to its friends,” maintaining that “American power is not half as scary as its absence would be.”

Leon Hadar is a foreign policy analyst, author, and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He holds a Ph.D. from American University, and is the author of the books Quagmire: America in the Middle East and Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East. 

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