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Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait!

Republicans Want Open White Male Supremacy

Download audio file  16 October, 2013 10:16  

The US government shutdown has caused the cancellation of most social programs by the government. While the government has supposedly been “shut down” special interest projects and imperialistic activities by the US continue unabated, far-right elements in the US have decided to use the shutdown as a means to facilitate the further stripping of social programs for those most in need. The power elite in the US believe that the “poorer classes” of the population are expendable. I spoke to Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait! on these issues and more.

Robles: Hello, this is John Robles. I am speaking with Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait!. Hello, Debra. How are you his evening?

Sweet: Hi, John. I am well.

Robles: I am glad to hear that. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on there in Washington with the protests by the veterans?

Sweet: I am not in Washington. I have watched this online and a little bit from a distance and they could well be veterans or maybe not.

It seems to be the Tea Party with Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz with a bunch of American flags, and red white and blue, and their main complaint is that somehow the Obama Administration has shutdown the veteran monuments, specifically to lock them out, while there are other complaint is that and I am using this in quotes “the illegals were allowed to march”.

Robles: What does that mean “the illegals”?

Sweet: The “illegals” means that undocumented people came to Washington to protest the fact, specifically that the Obama Administration has deported more people than any president in history. And the deportations have not stopped even though the government has been shutdown, along with the “Wars for Empire” and Guantanamo and all the things that the US is doing, that has made it so hated; the targeted killing, the indefinite detention continues even while the government is shutdown.

And the government shutdown has amounted to as always, I think, hitting the people who work for the government and the people who really depend on government programs, for sustenance, including aged, women and infants and children which is really in jeopardy right now.

Robles: And food stamps I think are getting cut.

Sweet: Well, the food stamp system stopped working yesterday in 17 states. What the government says is that there was a computer problem that made that happen and that the money has not run out yet on food stamps, but it really did give you a little window on a picture into the volatility of the situation because people were very, very upset at not being able to get the food that they depend on.

Even people who work on one or two jobs already, qualify for food stamps because there are so many people in this country who work at minimum wage.

Robles: I recently talked to a gentleman who put forward the theory that this was a sort of genocide against the “expendable” populous in the US, I mean the poor, the unnecessary population. I mean, how would you react to that?

Sweet: That the government shut down?

Robles: No, that this is just a part of a bigger game by the elites. As you said, none of their pet programs or anything have stopped, just anything that affects the populace has stopped. Is that correct?

Sweet: Well, look, you can make the argument and I think that people do correctly that the mass incarceration of 2.4 million people in this country actually is a slow genocide which could speed up.

Yeah, to be poor in America right now is increasingly common and very difficult because there are forces at the top of the government, and this is what this argument about shutting down the government is really about, who want to remove all government services, all social services, from what the government does, they don’t believe in any social program at all other than defense.

Robles: You wrote a very interesting note on this titled, it was on your website, “The Shutdown the Showdown and the Urgent Need To Repolarize For Revolution”. You said that this is an extremely serious situation, that there is a core group of fascists within the Republican Party using this shutdown. Can you describe what you meant by that in detail?

Sweet: Well, I posted actually a long article from the website revcom.us by that title and I put a short introduction suggesting that people read it because I feel that article went really very, very deeply into what’s going on and was quite helpful in laying out some of the particulars, but I have been, in the meantime, talking to many, many people in person, on the phone and via e-mail over the last week to find out what people think about this shutdown and you know, to really explore what’s going on here.

And I felt really compelled to make a point that this is not just some temporarily glitch, some problem, this is not just about the Democrats vs. the Republicans on some minor political tiff that they are having.

It seems to be that there is very, very intense struggle within the ruling forces of this country, if I could put it this way: how best can they maintain their imperial stance towards the rest of the world?

Is it by bringing in what Obama has come to represent someone from the Democrats in general, somewhat of a more multicultural imperialism. You know, changing the nature of the mix, of the demographic: gay people out of the closet, having more Black people, Latinos and women in office and so forth, while, carrying out the same terrible… as you put it, invading the small countries and seeking the hegemony over the rest of the world.

Or as the Ted Cruz’s, and you know these other people, that I think are incorrectly labeled as idiots, what I call the fascist core of the Republican party, here they want to strip all this away and go for open white and male supremacy, going back to the so-called traditional core American values and get rid of all the social programs and completely, with the understanding they have, that they are going to be an elite minority and they don’t really care if anybody likes them or not!

They have a very small social base, maybe not very small, probably 15 or 20% of the population. Right now that they are whipping up with things like this March of the Veterans, around a very reactionary, thoroughly terrible social program which include, you know, let poor people die. They can go seek charity but we are not giving them anything. If the market won’t take care of them, then we don’t need them.

Robles: But they are supporting veterans because they can use them as a political tool, right?

Sweet: Who knows that they are even veterans really? Yeah, veterans of the Second World War are the ones they particularly like.

I think they have no use at all or the veterans of the current US imperialist wars they are certainly doing nothing to stop the tide of suicide, by actually caring for the people who have gotten really messed up in these wars.

This is just political, John. It doesn’t have anything to do with what they are actually striving to do in society there are willing to use this utterly superficial political ploy.

Robles: Though Republicans usually do that, don’t they.

Sweet: Well, you know the Democrats are not immune from that either.

Robles: Sure. What you said about Obama is very interesting, because I mean a lot of people have been analyzing him and his stance; the fact that he is supposedly a black man and the black people and the liberal left have been completely silenced because he is supposed to be “their” President.

Do you really believe he wants to sort of push forth this imperialism across the board for everybody? Or, to me it seems that he is just interested in his own skin, and making sure that he stays in power and he is just one of the elites and I don’t think he really cares about bringing in other people, I mean, okay, Holder is in but he is pretty much the same thing. Nothing has changed for the black population.

Sweet: Certainly, you are right but there is the appearance, right?

And what Obama thinks in his heart of hearts, I have just no idea. However, I think strategically, the Democrats have united around this strategy of inclusiveness. And this has been the way they are developing a distinction between themselves and the Republicans, with going after Latino votes.

Finally, after dragging along forever, getting rid of the “Defense of Marriage Act”, and “Don’t ask don’t tell” in the military so that gay people can serve openly. This is a significant social thing.

Robles: Do you think that is sincere? I mean are they really promoting this? Or are these just like policies that they’ve given lip service to at vote time.

Sweet: Well, he gave a lot of lip service to overturning (inaudible) but they finally did it.

So now actually gay people can be in the military which raises a whole other set of questions. Gay people are now allowed to be open in the military, but why the heck would they want to be?

Robles: So they have more canon fodder!

Sweet: Exactly, right?

So there is an appearance of openness but as I brought up when I introduced the way the Democrats approach things; it is in the service of Empire.

We see this across US society and it used to be that the trade unions, even 10-15 years ago in New York, were only run by old white men. The trade unions which are conservative as ever in many ways are now being run by people of color but their essence of keeping working people in check and under the thrall of the Democratic party is still the same.

Robles: I think it is easier for Obama to pretty much silence the leftand control dissent just by his appearance.

Sweet: Well and this is the essence of the Democratic Party’s role, is to keep its base quiet, whereas the essence of the Republican role is to inflame its base so that you have the situation coming up again where, the Tea Party which now has significant influence, very significant influence in the Republican Party, to the degree that even some of the established Republicans are getting nervous about this. They are not sure they want it to go in this direction.

Robles: Weren’t these the furthest right of the Neo-Conservatives, weren’t they the ones that started this whole, ridiculous sounding Tea Party Movement?

Sweet: There is a Neo-Cons, who were a very distinct feature of the Bush Regime, right? And the architects of the torture and war.

Robles: And I would say 9/11.

Sweet: And all of the policies that Obama is actually carrying-on, and John McCain, for instance, have a lot of unity about what Obama is doing internationally.

The Tea Party is vehemently racist, anti-Obama, namely on the basis that he is not supposedly a “real” American and that’s the whole subtext of what’s going on with shutting down the government.

Robles: I am almost half American Indian, I am not a real American either! And I never was when I was in the United States.

Sweet: And what is America anyway but Mexico and Native lands, right? It was all stolen so it’s all irrelevant. But the people running things perpetuate this myth that there’s a real “Anglo-Saxon American” that built this country.

Robles: Slaves built it, I mean.

Sweet: On slavery, it was built on slavery.

Robles: Thank you, Debra, I’ve written about that, I’ve said that. I appreciate you bringing that up. I wanted to ask you about the truth behind the “Core Interest” and can you talk about American exceptionalism?

Sweet: Yes, this is Obama. This is what he came to the UN and said. And I did write some things about this. He gave this speech two weeks ago during the opening of the General Assembly where he completely embraced, not only American Exceptionalism, but then interpreted that and he said very clearly America is going to use… America, first of all!

America? It is the United States of America, there are two continents that are the Americas.

Why are we even talking about the word “America” unless we are trying to evoke something. The “specialness” that comes with empire and this is what Obama is trying to do.

He said America is going to use everything at its disposal, first of all, military might, to push its interests in the world.

And the argument, you know, is that the US has some kind of special relationship with the rest of the world as an example, some sort of special license to push, to dictate to the rest of the world what the terms are going to be.

And Obama is a perfect “poster person” for this because here he is developing, on the basis of what the Bush regime did, which was so hated around the world, a policy that continues, both indefinite detention, targeted killing and now he is even making it more complex because he is holding this guy that was picked up in Libya on a naval ship in the Mediterranean, having him questioned by the FBI, with-out lawyers, you know without being read his rights and here you have both indefinite detention and potentially a targeted killing situation or a rendition situation in a whole new hybrid, that’s developed only by Obama.

So this is getting into a… Maybe this is the American exceptionalism that we should talk about. America holds other countries to a certain standard of obeying international law, Cuba or Venezuela, certainly can’t be allowed to do any of the things that the US has done. But the US gets a pass on the violations of the international law.

Every time it goes across a national border, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, with drone killings or other secret operations, the “Dirty War”, America gets a pass because we, they say, we were attacked on 9-11. Therefore, we can go anywhere in the world, we are authorized to use military force. International law doesn’t say that, it says you can’t attack a country unless your country was attacked by that one.

Robles: That’s getting tired already. That’s not going to last much longer. And they’ve used as much of that capital as they possibly can . I think the world is beginning to realize it. Continuing an endless war anywhere on the planet, anywhere they want, whenever they want, doing whatever they want, was not part of (if we could say) “the deal”. Personally I see that finishing soon and I think Syria was a good case and point.

Sweet: Well, in terms of air strikes and naval invasions and so forth I think they were put off for a moment.

You were listening to an interview with Debra Sweet, the Director of the World’s Can’t Wait. You can find part 2 of this interview on our website

US and Habeas Corpus: Interests First, Freedoms Second

Download audio file  January 10, 2012  

Interview with Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can't Wait, which is a series of websites and a movement in the US. They are active and attempting to stop, among other things, aggressive wars by the US.

My first question regards the National Defense Authorization Act, under which an Indefinite Detention Clause was passed, also censorship under the SOPA act. Starting with the PATRIOT Act, it seems like human rights have been stripped away one after the other in the US. Would you characterize the US as a police state?

I don’t know that I would characterize the US across the board as a police state. Certainly, in many other countries and historically there are places where people can’t even gather, not to mention US-backed states, where protesters have been shot and killed during the Arab Spring with impunity. A lot of that comes back to the US backing of very authoritarian governments around the world. One can say that, since 9/11, since the Bush regime used the attack on the World Trade Center as a pretext to unleash an endless war on the world, apparently it’s been continued by the next administration. Civil liberties and the protection of the first ten amendments have been, which are known in the US as the Bill of Rights, has been severely restricted and now we see that what the US instituted 10 years ago, on January 11th 2002, when it opened its illegal prison in Guantanamo, it allowed the US for years to hold men with no access to Habeas Corpus right, no charges against them. And, in fact, there have been very intense court battles within the US to try to get those men any rights at all. And, in fact, 171 are still being held indefinitely. All this has become a model, as a way that the US can keep people indefinitely without charges and now, as you are mentioning, under the law that Barack Obama signed last Saturday, on the last day of the year, there is a situation where the US now, through the President, can hold people indefinitely under custody of the US military. And this definitely includes US citizens, as well as anyone else. This is under charges “suspicion of involvement with terrorism”. You may call it a police state – and it has a real fascist tinge to it, because it’s setting out a situation where people can be grabbed based on what the President thinks you are thinking about and presumably held by the military forever either in this country or outside of it. And we understand that the US has employed “black sites”, third-country prisons, in addition to what it’s done in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo.

As far as I know, Habeas Corpus is gone in the US. For all intents and purposes, the PATRIOT Act addition killed it, right?

I don’t like to make statements like that. There certainly are people who are being charged and tried and there is some due process. People are not literally all the time just locked away. However, there is a direction here and it’s extremely alarming. The attacks on Habeas Corpus began with disallowing people who were not citizens from having those rights. Now, we see citizens suffering, in fact, targeted assassination by the Obama administration. Three US citizens were killed in 2011 in drone strikes in Yemen not on the basis of having been charged, convicted of any crimes, not on the basis of having been sentenced to death by a court by because they were put on a CIA targeted assassination list and that these assassinations were authorized clearly by Barack Obama – and he says that he did it. This is a change. The Bush administration had somebody killed in a targeted drone strike years ago but they never claimed responsibility for it. It wasn’t public, they didn’t argue that it was OK under the international law.

How many people right now are being held indefinitely for crimes that they might commit against the US?

This is exactly why we are having a protest next Wednesday, January 11th, in Washington – because there are probably 2,000 men being held by the US in Bagram, Afghanistan, at a prison at the air force base. And because the Obama administration argues so that these men are being held in a war zone they cannot have Habeas Corpus rights. These men are held without charge. Who knows why they are being held. A lot of Afghani families only learn that their male members have been taken to this prison in Bargam because they cannot find them anywhere else. We don’t have a list from the Red Cross about who they are. We don’t have a list of charges, there is no lawyer who could go in and visit them. And this is in Afghanistan, where the US is “to set up a democratic country.”

This is what’s going on all over the world with the US. I find it extremely disturbing.

You really have to go to ask the question what kind of a government occupies other countries for a decade, which is what’s happening in Afghanistan. I know that the popular idea is that the Iraq war’s over and that the US has withdrawn troops, but clearly the occupation continues. The US has no intention of giving up its sphere of influence in Iraq. It is now making serious threats against Iran. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain – all of these military governments have been propped up by the US all along. People’s righteous demands for political freedom and just the right to live have not been listened to by the US in any serious sort of way. Note, the US continues to have secret talks with the Egyptian military and prop up this government. So, the US is not in these countries either to bring democracy, to stop the weapons of mass destruction or to do anything than to further its interests as an aggressive imperialistic actor. We have a slogan in World Can’t Wait: Humanity and the Planet Come First.

 

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