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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/8/19

Challenging Times for Citizen to Citizen Diplomacy in Russia

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Whenever you go to one of the countries the U.S. considers its "enemy," you can be sure to get a lot of flak. This year I have been to Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Russia, four of the many countries upon which the U.S. has put strong sanctions for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with the countries refusing to allow the U.S. to dictate political, economic and security issues. (For the record, I was in North Korea in 2015; I haven't been to Venezuela yet, but intend to go soon.)

Many, especially family, have asked, "why do you go to these countries?" including the FBI officials who met me and CODEPINK: Women for Peace co-founder Medea Benjamin at Dulles Airport upon our return from Iran in February 2019.

The two young FBI officers asked if I knew there were U.S. sanctions on Iran for support for terrorist groups. I responded "Yes, I know there are sanctions, but do you think other countries should put sanctions on a country for the invasion and occupation of other countries, the deaths of hundreds of thousands (including Americans), for the destruction of irreplaceable cultural heritage and billions in dollars of homes, schools, hospitals, roads, etc., and for withdrawing from nuclear agreements? The FBI agents frowned and answered, "That's not our concern."

Currently I'm in Russia, another one of America's "enemies" for this decade which is under U.S. sanctions from the Obama administration and more from the Trump administration. After 20 years of friendly relations after the cold war ended with the break-up of the Soviet Union and with the U.S. attempting to remake Russia into a U.S. model with privatization of the massive Soviet industrial base which created the rich and powerful oligarch class in Russia (same as in the U.S.) and flooding Russia with western businesses, Russia has become an enemy once more by its annexation of Crimea, its military cooperation with the Assad government in the brutal war against terrorist groups in Syria and for massive civilian casualties (for which there is no excuse whether it be Russian, Syrian or U.S. actions) and its interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, of which I have doubt about one part of the allegations -- the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails -- but have no reason to doubt that social media influence took place.

Of course, in the U.S. we are seldom reminded that the annexation of Crimea occurred due to the fear of ethnic Russians in Crimea of the Ukrainian nationalists who were given a green light for violence in U.S. orchestrated neo-Nazi overthrow of the elected President of Ukraine and the Russian government's need to protect its Black Sea access military facilities that have been located in Crimea for over 100 years.

We are not reminded that Russia has had a long-standing military agreement with the government of Syria for the protection of its two military bases in Syria, the only Russian military bases outside of Russia that provide naval access to the Mediterranean. We are seldom reminded of the over 800 military bases the U.S. has outside our country, many of which encircle Russia.

We are also seldom reminded the stated goal of the U.S. government in Syria is "regime change" and that the conditions in Syria that caused the Russian military to assist the Assad government came from the U.S. war on Iraq that created the conditions for ISIS to violently erupt in both Iraq and Syria.

I do not condone interference in U.S. elections, but it is not surprising that other countries may attempt to influence U.S. elections to reciprocate what the U.S. has done to many countries including in Russia in 1991 with the very public U.S. support of Yeltsin. Russia certainly is not the only country that may have attempted to influence U.S. elections. Israel is the country that has the most public influence on U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections through lobbying efforts of its main organization in the U.S., the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC).

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Ann Wright Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)
 
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3 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments  Post Comment


John Rachel

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"Our citizen-to-citizen diplomacy is very important to carry back to our communities and to our elected leaders ..."

Vitally important indeed to let citizens know of the true intentions and aspirations of the peoples of other countries, especially Russia, which has been singled out for special levels of abuse by the ideologically-deranged peddlers of vitriol of our government. But recognize that it's a fool's errand to bring any of this to the attention of our current elected leaders. The warmongering/imperialistic regime in DC couldn't care less about the dreams and aspirations of either the Russian people or even citizens here in the U.S. itself. They are bent on subjugating every country on Earth to rule by the "exceptional" nation, for domination and plunder.

Good intentions are ennobling and intrinsically positive but they should always be tempered by a realistic view of the political environment within which they function. Only replacing the sociopaths now lording over our foreign policy and the Imperial Project, i.e. a clean sweep of the war makers and empire builders, offers any hope for harmony in today's world. Let's stop mincing words and sharing feel good stories offering false hope.

REGIME CHANGE IN WASHINGTON DC ... the sooner the better.

Soon before it's entirely too late.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 at 1:26:29 AM

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nelswight

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PEACE DIVIDEND ON!

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 at 1:20:19 PM

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Neal Herrick

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This is an important and excellent article written by a credible first-hand source. Between 1979-87, an estimated 40,000 members of US churches, peace groups and trade unions visited Nicaragua to judge between the official and alternative press versions of the Contra war. The official version called the Contras "freedom fighters" and the Sandinista revolutionaries enemies. The US visitors returned and gave their opinions to the US Congress. In 1987 Congress stopped funding the Contras. An analogous situation now exists in Ukraine. The author is a member of a peace group which is now visiting Ukraine attempting to use first-hand truth to stop US funding for that war. I am sure that this and other similar groups would welcome both money and new members. Read more about them on recent OPED articles tagged "Ukrain.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 at 7:29:28 PM

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John Rachel

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Of course, we need to keep applying pressure at critical junctures, and yes, we may score the occasional "victory". But the disease of perpetual war and imperial conquest is systemic. War and conquest are incentivized and those who reap the rewards now make the decisions. Those decisions run against the general antipathy of the populace against aggression and war. We must first remove the decision-makers from power, then change the incentives ... while we continue to apply the kind of pressure you recommend. But let's not kid ourselves. The problem will not be solved by occasional flirtations with sane policy by Congress and the White House, mere token nods to peace. These are bones thrown to us hungry dogs, trifling amusements to those who build their fortunes on war.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 at 10:38:19 PM

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Neal Herrick

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Agree except for your last sentence. I believe that "occasional flirtations with sane policy" are steps towards a representative second constitutional convention. They also saved lives of my (our) friends in Nicaragua and could save lives of my (our) friends in Ukraine.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 9, 2019 at 2:33:46 PM

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Yes, admirable and heartening. Saving your the lives of your friends is ONE PROBLEM solved. I don't question the specific value of "occasional flirtations with sane policy" in the moment as applied to a particular challenge or crisis. But they don't solve THE PROBLEM, which is systemic reward for perpetual war. In fact, such "occasional flirtations with sane policy" often throw us off our steady and true course of action, offering false hope. That's my only point, Neal. I've seen this time and again, a rare and welcome retreat from our constant march to war drums. While we're celebrating, the powers are just planning their next orgy of violence someplace else.

In terms of a "representative second constitutional convention", I'm seriously wondering if you read the same news I read. If we were to have a second constitutional convention under the current circumstances in the current political environment of fear, overt racism, anti-democratic forces of authoritarianism, the "people" distracted and deluded by fake news, propaganda, Deep State manipulations, what would issue from such a gathering would be a total declaration of corporate tyranny over all aspects of society. Voices of reason, democracy, justice, egalitarianism, peace and tolerance would be peppered sprayed and locked up. What are you thinking?

Submitted on Monday, Sep 9, 2019 at 9:16:01 PM

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