Industrial Cracks

This blog is a glimpse into the mind of a history nerd sitting behind a laptop screen. Enjoy a series of ideas he hopes to be thought provoking.
I am quite proud of my Contemplations and Discussing Islam pages. Feel free to contact me anytime.

tazadecafe:

Interesting.

This is not accurate at all. It’s just weird. I know the people in Pakistan and Iran are actually VERY welcoming to visitors. We have a code of hospitality not found in Western countries. 
But what we don’t welcome is foreign intervention. We have a history with European colonization so we don’t welcome them. it has nothing to do with our attitude to visitors, only our attitude to foreign interventions.

Its interesting how the Red Latino countries are Venezuela and Bolivia. Both of them have kicked out U.S corporation rule in recent years. So of course they’re marked as “less welcoming”. 

There is a plethora of reasons why different countries are there in red or Blue. It has little and less to do with the people living in those countries and more to do with the political relations of those countries. Especially political relations with westerners.

Even if we look at KSA, we know the people there individually are very hospitable but their own government makes it terrifyingly tedious and expensive for Muslims to perform pilgrimage. So many Muslims go there for Hajj and come back complaining.

Anyways, point being, this map is wrong.

flyingfatkidd:

themajesticbim:

top pic is iraq 2008 fyi

^^^^^^^^^^^

here is the link to the article about that picture.

Please don’t be fooled by the Terrorists in syria backed by Al-Qaeda, USA, and Israel against Bashar al Assad. There is more than ample evidence available to conclude that they are the ones committing atrocities against innocent civilians while Assad is trying to protect the civilians. 

Please head on over to http://thevoiceofsyria.tumblr.com/ and http://thetruthaboutsyria.tumblr.com/ blogs to find the truth about what is happening in syria. Feel free to ask them about any information you have come across and they will both be able to lead u to the truth using legitimate facts and logical analysis.

(via thraaaanduil-deactivated2013052)

The behavior of the arrogant powers is in truth a full-scale media war against the Iranian nation which we should all resist by expressing the truths

—    Ahmadenijad- clear and to the point.

socialuprooting:

Just months after Obama signed the NDAA “indefinite detention” legislation into law, federal officials’ intentions to drastically increase security for May 1st conveniently coincide with the May Day General Strike in over 120 cities across the U.S. President Obama has already deported more immigrants than the Bush Administration; failed to close Guantanamo; does not meet the needs of the veteran returning from combat; continues to prosecute whistle-blower Pfc. Manning for taking an ethical stand by exposing horrendous U.S. war crimes; frequently invokes “state secrets” to carry out unaccountable, covert spying on U.S. residents; and continues the widespread use of unilateral drone strikes and targeted political assassinations. In response to the U.S. government’s escalating repression, thinly-veiled Islamophobia, and attempts to militarize our cities and borders while scapegoating immigrants, OccupyWallSt.org hereby issues our own warning: A Solidarity Warning to the 1% and their beneficiaries and bodyguards in government. The 99% will not be intimidated or divided. We will stand together and protect one another. We will not be terrorized. We will not be afraid.

Further, we reject any attempt to co-opt May Day — an historic, international celebration of labor and immigrants rights — by the government or media. For over a century, May Day has been a day of militant resistance against economic inequality. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the 1% used the imaginary threat of an immigrant-led Communist conspiracy to ensure May Day (which commemorates events in Chicago) would not become a federally-recognized holiday in the U.S., as it is in over 80 countries. Instead, they attempted to re-brand May 1st variously as Americanization Day, Loyalty Day, and Law Day. We must not let them do it again. Through the Red Scare to the War on Terror, we must honor the true history of May 1st. As we have seen countless times throughout history, we cannot rely on politicians from any political party to sincerely look out for our interests. They serve only the wealthy financial elite. We must stand together as the 99%.

However, we must also recognize that the State’s “anti-terrorism” efforts target particular communities within the 99%. This May Day, organizers are taking precautions to ensure the fullest protection possible for undocumented and/or criminalized communities who wish to exercise their right to free speech safely on May Day. See here for more information on ways everyone can take part in May Day festivities!

More propaganda from the Syrian Opposition

thetruthaboutsyria:

As many of you may have seen, there is a video circulating the web claiming to show Syrian troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad burying an opponent alive. Unfortunately, many people have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and blame the Syrian troops, calling Bashar al-Assad’s men “monstrous” for such an action. What many have not realized is that the video is opposition propaganda, and there are several simple ways to determine so.

First of all, for a man buried all the way up to his face, the “guy” sure does an awful lot of talking. You would think all that pressure on his chest would make it impossible for him to breath, let alone talk clearly. Second of all, the audio does not match up with what the “head” seems to be saying. If you look closely, you’ll see his lips don’t even move for most of his alleged dialogue, and when they do move briefly, he is being shoveled by dirt. How in these two seconds he speaks clear sentences while swallowing dirt at the same exact time would trouble even Einstein. Lastly, those “Syrian troops” are wearing nikes on their feet. What kind of army uniform includes sneakers?

Thus, with analysis, we can conclude that what we see being buried is not a human, but probably a toy or a prop running on batteries to move every few seconds. And the men “burying” this toy are no Syrian troops, just a bunch of rebel henchmen looking to further hurt the image of the Syrian Regime.

Once again, nice try Syrian opposition. Incorporate science and logic into your film, do a better editing job so that the audio syncs with the “talking head,” work on better wardrobe for your actors, and there might just be an Academy Award in your future.

Iran claims internet censorship is Western propaganda


I have been seeing tumblr reports recently about Iran replacing internet with National alternatives recently. These reports are bullshit. As the Iranian Communication Ministry says.

By Lawrence Latif

REPORTS that Iran is planning to shut down the internet and replace it with home-grown web sites have been rubbished by the country’s communications ministry.

Iran had reportedly planned to block access to the internet and replace web sites such as Google and Facebook with Iranian alternatives, but the Iranian government called such reports Western propaganda. Reza Taghipour, Iran’s Communications and Information Technology minister reportedly said in an interview, “All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August,” however his department distanced itself from the claim by not confirming the minister’s comments.

Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said, “The report is in no way confirmed by the ministry” adding the reports of Iran planning a complete internet blackout was “completely baseless”, adding that the claims were from “the propaganda wing of the West”.

Iran already blocks access to a number of foreign web sites and in the past has blocked web sites such as Facebook, Google and the BBC.

Even if Iran does go down the route of blocking foreign web sites and pushing its citizens onto web sites it can control, history has shown that it is very difficult to stop users from viewing foreign content. Services such as proxies, TOR, SSH tunnelling and virtual private networks can make it very difficult for governments to track and decipher what network users are doing

Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/196ox)

Oh i see, so the internet is working? But Al-Jazeera claims that Internet being down is the reason why the “opposition” can’t contact anyone outside. 

Well i guess if that is not the case, then this must all be propaganda. Big surprise right?

Syria: A Few Lingering Questions

MONDAY, 02 JANUARY 2012 20:44  HUDA JAWAD

In recent weeks, the surge in protests in Syria has dominated the international stage. Suddenly, countless individuals have become experts on the current situation in Syria after reading a few articles on CNN, watching Barbara Walters interview Bashar al-Assad, and because Barack Obama said so. However, the situation in Syria is unique from its sister protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and the rest of the conveniently timed uprisings in the Middle East. It should be noted that this article is far from an absolute gospel on who to believe about Syria and which side to be on. Instead, it is an invitation for readers and concerned global citizens to consider the facts and disparities between what the mainstream media is reporting about Syria and the actual conflicts taking place inside the country.

Ironically, many individuals who typically question the objectivity of the media have eagerly believed the mainstream narrative about Syria, despite clear contradictions between independent reports regarding the situation and the media’s spin. This is where the uniqueness of Syria comes into play: Bashar al-Assad is by no means an angel, and he is certainly not in the running for world’s most compassionate leader award. However, very little initiative has been taken to answer the following questions:

How reliable is the United Nations Human Rights report on Syria? The report authors, who happen to include munitions manufacturer Raytheon (they supplied NATO with salvos for its operations in Libya), themselves admit that they were never inside Syria to complete their investigation. Instead, they interviewed witnesses provided by the Syrian opposition. The Syrian government did not respond to allegations in the report, and to say it is one-sided would be putting it gently. Media outlets have done little to investigate the UN report and have instead used it to promote sensational headlines calling for regime change in Syria.

What’s at stake for the United States? Hidden interests in the Middle East are nothing revolutionary to expose. In fact, everyone expects the United States and other Western powers to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations. What is surprising is the lack of questioning directed towards US interests when it comes to Syria. According to the Washington Post, “Classified US diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as six million dollars to opposition groups since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria.”

Why is the Arab League Mission being questioned? Initially the opposition in Syria welcomed the visit by 150 Arab League observers into Syria. The mission was also endorsed by Syria in what was an Arab League plan which called for the withdrawal of military forces and a halt of violence against civilians. However, the Arab League mission has taken issue with some of the narratives emerging from media sources concerning Syria. Many were anticipating the Arab League mission to fail in stopping the violence and allow for possible foreign military intervention in Syria. Instead, the officials in the mission are reporting findings that contradict accusations which were previously wildly held against the Syrian regime, including that of government snipersattacking protestors. However, the Syrian government has also complained that snipers areattacking both protestors and Syrian troops. The head of the Arab Parliament recently called for the withdrawal of the Arab League monitors, claiming it gave Syria "cover" for its ongoing violations. The timing of the call to pull the Arab League out of Syria and the ongoing campaign to discredit the head of the Arab League monitors, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, raise questions regarding the motive behind the mission and whether or not a truly independent task force can be sent to Syria.

What and who is backing the Free Syria Army? Very little is known about the movement to overthrow the Syrian regime aside from the clear foreign backing it receives. Are the protestors aligned with this movement? How many opposition parties are involved, and what is the end goal of the protests? Civil unrest in a country rarely warrants the funding and backing of numerous outside countries, unless there are vested interests at stake. Recent terrorist attackswhich are unusual to Syria but common in countries where foreign intervention has been staged have added to the growing list of puzzles when it comes to Syria. What is known, according to theTelegraph, is that Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.” What should be questioned or at least researched into is Belhadj’s ties to al-Qaeda and the fact that his organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), is listed by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. Is it a mere coincidence that as soon as groups affiliated with terrorism start associating with segments of the Syrian opposition that car bombs start to go off in the middle of Damascus?

When it comes to Syria, asking one question leads down a road populated with others. Although it would be more convenient to simply believe what the media and world powers are insisting about the country, individuals with conscience should consider the above questions and the many ahead when it comes to the situation in Syria.

artofeloquence:

Can people please understand that Khomeini and Khamenei are not some power-hungry oppressors who were trying to rule Iran? Can we please acknowledge the fact that Imam Khomeini didn’t even want to be the decision maker, only did because everyone in Iran wanted him to, and they even had a revolution for him to? Can we accept that Hashemi is the one who picked Khomeini to become the leader of Iran, Hypocrite Hashemi, the same person who is against him now? I am, and will always be supporter of Khomeini and Khamenei, because they, excluding every other political argument, are true leaders.

- let the anon hate begin.

Not my country, but definitely my faith. I am too tired of listening to the NATO backed Green Movement propaganda here. Not to mention the countless baseless claims of tyranny and oppression. Seriously. No one who speaks the truth should have to do so alone.

(via artofeloquence-deactivated20120)

Obama Gave Iran the Drone

truthstream:

Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that apparently the Pentagon  pleaded with Barrack Hussein Obama to give the order to do just that. The Pentagon initially wanted to send a special forces team to recover the drone.  Obama shot down that suggestion. Then the Pentagon offered up Plan B , blow it to kingdom come. FOX News reports that there was third option and Obama struck that down also. Obama refused both whose options as well and now Iran and China have a brand spanking new fully functional top secret US RQ 170 Sentinel Drone.

See how this works? It’s like a game of Risk on a global scale…and once again, everything the media tells us to think we know is wrong.

I don’t know if i should be glad that i was right about this one. I was telling my friend the other day that there are two possibilities in the whole Iran capturing the drone scenario. A) That Iran actually did capture it using their own technology against the wishes of U.S. Though what put me off from that is how intact the drone was. B) That the U.S actually wanted Iran to get the drone, hence giving them an excuse to justify going to war/giving Iran a bad name etc. Unfortunately, the second scenario seemed more plausible to me. I hope i am wrong, though this piece of News is leading towards me being right :(

(via truthstream)

Beware of 'Al Chavezeera'

Nikolas Kozloff

If past diplomatic cables are any indication, the Obama White House may be interested in perpetuating the ongoing US propaganda war in Latin America. According to classified correspondence recently released by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, Washington saw Venezuela as an upstart power whose public relations campaign stood to interfere with important US messaging efforts. 

It’s no secret that the Bush administration was paranoid about media coverage which had been critical of its international foreign policy, yet as more and more cables have come to light, it is eye-opening to see just how far the State Department was willing to go in equating Middle Eastern media with newly formed South American news outlets.

What seems to have concerned US diplomats most was the possibility that Al Jazeera, whose coverage of the Iraq War had gotten under the skin of the Bush administration, might collaborate with the likes of Venezuela as well as other South American nations. Hardly popular within the Beltway elite, Al Jazeera had broadcast graphic pictures of dead and captured US soldiers during the Iraq War. 

When the network aired the footage, then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Al Jazeera of violating the Geneva conventions. Then, during an April 8, 2003, air raid and artillery barrage on Baghdad, US forces killed at least three journalists, including an Al Jazeera correspondent. According to one report, President Bush no less may have even suggested that Al Jazeera offices in Qatar be bombed during a meeting with then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In light of such history, it’s not entirely surprising that diplomats would be alarmed by any growth of more independent and critical international media outlets. In an earlier Al Jazeera column, I detailed some of the US concern with left-leaning South American media, but new cables bring Washington’s fixation on the issue under more scrutiny. 

Conflating Al Jazeera and Telesur

In 2005, US officials went into overdrive in their media monitoring efforts, writing Washington that Hugo Chavez was “vigorously pushing” for the creation of a new South American news network named Telesur. US diplomats were concerned about such developments, and commented that, if Telesur proved to be successful, it might “promote Chavez’s ambitions for continental leadership” and even - horror of horrors - lead to “endogenous, (non-US) cultural development”. 

In a warning shot which threatened to undermine US-based media such as CNN, Chavez’s Minister of Information Andres Izarra announced that Al Jazeera would open an office in Caracas. The move seems to have alarmed the US embassy, which was seemingly concerned that the Middle Eastern network might collaborate with Telesur in future.   

In cloak and dagger fashion, US ambassador William Brownfield narrated how an anonymous “female journalist” representing Al Jazeera had “attended many government of Venezuela press conferences”. If that was not sufficient cause for concern, Brownfield added that the journalist in question had also participated in talk shows aired byVenezolana de Television, a state-owned TV station.

While researching my second book, I had the opportunity to interview Telesur's General Manager, Aram Aharonian, personally in Caracas, and asked him whether he was concerned that the Bush administration might react negatively to any Al Jazeera-Telesur collaboration [to see the more unexpurgated interview, which came out in my hometown paper Brooklyn Railclick here]. Aharonian dismissed any such preoccupations, remarking: “Look, we collaborate with Al Jazeera just as we do with Voice of America. A delegation from Voice of America came to our offices last month, and we came to an agreement to exchange news and images.”

To Brownfield and US diplomats, however, Al Jazeera and Telesur seem to have represented a common hostile front. Indeed, in his communication to Washington, Brownfield even conflated the two, remarking at one point that Telesurcould represent “the birth of al-Chavezeera,” or “Chavez’s own CNN.”  What is more, Al Jazeera could provide Telesurwith “provocative” film footage from the Middle East, which could then be dubbed into Spanish. Shortly thereafter, the Bush administration’s fears came to pass when Telesur began to broadcast in earnest.  Moreover, a year after Brownfield sent his cable to the State Department, Telesur announced an official content-sharing agreement with Al Jazeera. In Washington, Connie Mack, a right-wing Republican Congressman from Florida, remarked that the decision was designed to create a “global television network for terrorists”.

Concern over Cuban connection

For years, Washington has waged an anti-Castro propaganda war on Cuba through the likes of Radio Marti, and therefore not surprisingly the spectre of Cuban-Venezuelan media collaboration looms large in Brownfield’s cable. While the US ambassador noted that Telesur appeared to have “weak legs” for the time being, the diplomat worried that the network would spread pro-Venezuelan and even pro-Cuban ideas.

During my own interview with Aharonian, I asked the Telesur General Manager whether he thought the network would contribute to the end of Cuba’s isolation. “Cubans,” he remarked, have had “a very siege-like mentality, ie that everything that comes from the outside is bad, it’s necessary to defend ourselves, etc. The US has been trying to transmit its media to Cuba for forty years, and it has done it poorly - Radio Marti, for example.”

"We have a different approach," Aharonian added. "We see our presence in Cuba as an opportunity to get the Cuban people more informed about what is happening in Latin America and in the world. We now get three hours on prime time on Cuban television. In a certain sense, we have a captive audience as there’s not a lot of opportunities to change channels. For us, it’s a beneficial arrangement, and also for Cuba."

Perhaps, the possibility of greater Cuban-Venezuelan cultural exchange was exactly what bothered US officials. According to Brownfield, Aharonian was a radical Uruguayan exile who originally came to Caracas in the 1980s to open an office of the Cuban media outlet Prensa Latina. Asking around in Caracas for further information on Aharonian, the US embassy located an unnamed foreign correspondent who was all too happy to smear the reputation of a fellow colleague in the interests of furthering US intelligence. According to the reporter, Aharonian had “formal or informal ties” to Cuban spies. 

Assessing Telesur’s trajectory

Eager to dispel the notion that Telesur was tied to some kind of specific political agenda, Aharonian told me that the new network would not serve as the mouthpiece for any particular government, Venezuelan or otherwise. “I don’t think there’s any campaign against Bush or anything like that,” he remarked, adding that Telesur was not in favour of the Bush administration either. “Which is a different thing. We give opinions from both sides, which is different from the US media where you have only one side. The idea is to provide more alternative information. In Miami, by contrast, there’s a mentality that we must encourage ‘anti-Cuba’ media, but we at Telesur are providing a balanced public space. We can’t be against anyone.”

At another point in the interview, Aharonian declared that I was “starting from a false assumption”, in believing thatTelesur was “against the US”.  Though the network had been critical of Washington, Aharonian said, Telesur also provided independent coverage of many Latin American countries. When I pointed Aharonian’s attention to a photo on the wall showing him standing next to Chavez, the Uruguayan exile said that the Venezuelan president never called him and the authorities did not get involved in the station’s business or internal politics.

Such nuanced positions notwithstanding, it appears from WikiLeaks cables that the US embassy was not convinced by such utterances. The ideological tilt of Telesur was evident, diplomats remarked: “leftist, anti-American, and pro-Chavez”. Though the network’s programming was initially “insipid,” the Americans believed the station later demonstrated “qualitative improvement”. 

Chavez’s ‘dollar diplomacy’

So much improvement, apparently, that the US embassy saw fit to monitor the station’s finances. Aharonian, one diplomat noted, “is a notoriously slippery character and may not have told the whole truth when he announced their budget as 10 million dollars”. In yet other cables, US officials sought to estimate how much Chavez spent on propaganda more generally, noting that Caracas had signed a $1.2 million contract with lobbying firm Patton Boggs to help improve Venezuela’s image in the US. 

As Chavez began to spend lavishly on foreign aid, US diplomats grew even more concerned. In 2006, they noticed that Venezuela was beginning to “win friends and influence countries in the region and beyond”. In a detailed report, the Americans catalogued Chavez’s long list of foreign projects, including projected dollar amounts for a construction initiative in Cuba, an infrastructure loan to the Dominican Republic, and even financial aid to help build an airport on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica. 

But the Americans didn’t stop there, honing in on any and all projects which stood to enhance Venezuela’s image, even Chavez’s financing of a samba school in Brazil - as well as scholarships for poor Bolivians, a loan for a hospital in Uruguay, food assistance to the impoverished African nation of Mauritania, and humanitarian aid to Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Personally, Brownfield worried that Chavez could divert some of Venezuela’s National Development Fund to support diplomatic initiatives without effective public scrutiny or oversight. 

US diplomats interest in media studies

To read diplomatic cables emanating from the US embassy in Caracas, one might think that their diplomats had turned into graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in Media Studies. In a testament to the rising importance of Venezuela on the political radar, US officials showed a surprising degree of interest in everything from TV to advertising to documentaries to electronic media and even to incendiary billboards and murals. 

The US embassy was particularly exorcised over state-owned Venezolana de Television, which aired a video clip depicting crowds queuing up in line to buy liquid fuel canisters during an opposition-led oil lockout. A voice intoned: “The opposition unleashed terrorism on the Venezuelan people and it led to hunger and unemployment. Thanks to the new PDVSA (state oil company), PDVSA is for all of us, all of us are PDVSA.” 

In addition to Venezolana de Television, the pro-government tabloid VEA ”took on Uncle Sam” and was wont to “lob darts” at the US ambassador “through the use of insulting caricatures or altered photos”.  In addition, bothVenezolana de Television and VEA put out “soft and friendly” ads featuring a woman “who, thanks to a government of Venezuela micro-credit loan, has established a successful weaving business”.

Documentary film, cyberspace and popular murals

Apparently concerned that poor women receiving money to pursue weaving might one day turn against the US, diplomats left no stone unturned in their wider media analysis, including documentary film. As someone who has participated in panel discussions following screenings of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a film dealing with the 2002 coup directed at the Chavez government, I was particularly intrigued by US officials’ alarm over the documentary. 

In a cable, the Embassy noted with disappointment that the film had been catching on with major screenings being held “at several prestigious US universities, including Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California system, and most recently at the Lincoln Centre in New York”. Unfortunately, noted US diplomats, the mainstream media had not seen fit to question “the documentary’s veracity” and so the pro-Chavez documentary had started to attract a following.      

The US embassy worried about the internet, too. “The government of Venezuela,” noted one cable, “liberally uses cyberspace to spread its war on the oligarchy, neoliberalism, the United States government, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.”  I was personally intrigued to find that diplomats were concerned about such pro-Chavez websites as venezuelanalysis.com and vheadline.com, both of which I have written for at one time or another.

During a trip to Caracas in 2006, I was taken aback by incendiary pro-Chavez murals in Caracas, and apparently the US embassy was, too [to see some photos I took during my stay, click here].  Writing to Washington, diplomats took note of one billboard which bore the slogan: “Venezuela now belongs to all of us.” Yet another had shots of Chavez embracing an elderly woman, listening to a young girl sporting a red beret, and laughing along with a member of one of Venezuela’s indigenous tribes. 

The monitoring of popular imagery continued into the Obama era, with the US embassy cabling Washington in late 2009 in relation to a mural attacking Bush’s successor in Washington. In central Caracas, diplomats declared: “A prominently displayed, high-quality painted mural denigrating President Obama is currently on public display.” The mural in question depicted Obama’s face divided into two parts, “one half machine and the other half human”. Off to the left, a caption read: “Toy of the Empire. Easy to use, totally manipulatable,” while to the right, another read: “False Nobel Prize. 68 thousand Yankee soldiers in the Middle East. 680 billion dollars for the war.” 

The US embassy sent photos of the mural to Washington in an attachment, noting that the public art work “seems to have been professionally produced”. Diplomats added that they would submit a formal letter of protest to the local mayor and request that the mural be removed.

Monitoring everyone from celebrities to students        

Though certainly extensive, the embassy’s propaganda monitoring efforts were not limited to public art and cyberspace. In 2004, for example, the Americans grew concerned about US celebrities who had grown sympathetic toward Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, including actor Danny Glover and even boxing promoter Don King. Even worse, Venezuela had expanded its network of so-called “Bolivarian Circles” in the US, including Florida, New York, Washington DC, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, and California, and sympathisers had organised pro-Chavez rallies in such public spaces as Times Square.

The notion that US and Venezuelan leftists might make common cause was apparently not very agreeable to the American embassy. US diplomats related that the director of the Bolivarian Circle of Miami, Alvaro Sanchez, was seeking to recruit US university students to work for Chavez’s Barrio Adentro health programme. The embassy was so interested in Sanchez that it saw fit to pass along the activist’s personal email address, adding that the Miami native had sought out volunteer students to teach English in poor Venezuelan barrios. 

In 2006, I had the opportunity to speak to members of Venezuela’s innovative Women’s Bank or Banco de la Mujer, and in my second book I discussed the interesting story of the entity’s director, Nora Castaneda. From diplomatic correspondence, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had picked up on the novel institution: US officials noted that the bank had deployed women to the US to “to talk to audiences of the glories of the Bolivarian Revolution and to lambaste the US government’s hurtful neo-liberal policies that aim to enslave the populations of developing countries”.

US propaganda counter-offensive

In other ways, too, Chavez managed to show up the US in Latin America, for example through Venezuela’s promotion of international conferences. Through skillful and shrewd use of so-called Bolivarian People’s Congresses, Chavez was able “to spread his ideology and influence”. Diplomats suspected that the congresses provided a means for Chavez to come through with direct assistance for other impoverished Latin American nations.  

The embassy was apparently so concerned about Chavez’s growing profile at such venues that it saw fit to forward the names of individual indigenous representatives from Ecuador who attended the December 2004 Bolivarian Congress. “While anti-imperialism, ie anti-American sentiment, is often a hook with many indigenous leaders,” diplomats remarked, “Chavez also capitalises on racial or ethnic tensions. In countries like Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador he uses these tensions to encourage mass protests and demonstrations and to undermine shaky governments or weaken others from the left flank.”

By 2006, the US clearly saw the need for greater countermeasures to offset Chavez’s propaganda offensive. In a cable to Washington, Ambassador Brownfield endorsed the US Southern Command’s planned “partnership of the Americas” maritime surge into the Caribbean, to be led by aircraft carrier the USS George Washington.  Always the Machiavellian, Brownfield saw great PR value in the naval show of force. Specifically, the diplomat declared, “the deployment will help us to counter President Hugo Chavez’ courtship of Caribbean countries and his attempts to pit them against the United States”.

Brownfield believed that, by providing direct benefits to local people, the USS George Washington would provide a “stark contrast” to Chavez’s supposed failure to combat drug trafficking and promote economic development in the Caribbean region.  Brownfield planned to portray the carrier group deployment as a “routine US military and humanitarian outreach to the region” leading to economic benefits for local people at various ports of call. 

Always the wily diplomat, Brownfield hoped that Chavez would “take the bait”, deplore the US as imperialist, and thereby appear “at best silly and at worst clinically paranoid”. One of the more scheming US diplomats to emerge from WikiLeaks cables, Brownfield hoped that Chavez would “alienate himself if he publicly suggests participating countries are collaborating in the US military’s alleged machinations against him”. The ambassador added: “This is a win-win for us.”

Preoccupation over Telesur’s South American expansion

By 2007, one year after Brownfield sent his cable to Washington about the US naval deployment, US diplomats candidly admitted that they were in an all out propaganda war with Venezuela. In correspondence disclosed by Argentine paper Pagina/12, US diplomats spoke about the need to counteract media initiatives launched by Chavez, including Telesur, an outlet which served as the “main source to broadcast anti-US propaganda,” running “particularly slick” documentaries about CIA meddling in Latin America.

According to WikiLeaks cables, the Americans monitored Telesur General Manager Aharonian not just in Venezuela but in other countries farther afield. When Aharonian traveled to Chile to promote Telesur, US diplomats were on the case, noting that the Uruguayan radical had met with local government officials. The Americans even took note of Aharonian’s address to the Professional Journalists’ Association meeting in Vina del Mar, remarking that “the presentation included a 15-minute speech followed by a 15- minute promo-tape.” The US embassy in Santiago was apparently concerned that Telesur might form a partnership with Chile’s main cable TV operator, VTR, and diplomats later spoke with representatives of the local station in an effort to ascertain the feasibility of any deal.

Assessing WikiLeaks’ lasting Impact

In Depth

More from Nikolas Kozloff

 Quito cables: Exposing a pro-US line Argentina’s mercurial power couple WikiLeaks: Great power rivalry at the UN WikiLeaks and ‘US media war’ in South America Little idealism on post-Castro Cuba

Looking back on all the many cables dealing with everything from Telesur to Aharonian to incendiary public art work to Bolivarian Congresses, it is disheartening to note the condescending, supercilious and outright cynical attitude of US diplomats posted in Venezuela and indeed throughout Latin America. 

Yet, based on the past year of WikiLeaks’ revelations and the “cablegate scandal”, one might conclude that the public and media establishment will only take note of declassified information if it is linked to blatant illegalities. Perhaps we will have to wait, therefore, for a CIA leaker or other high level intelligence agencies to disclose more insidious deeds before we can get a wholesale debate about the course of US foreign policy.

That’s a pity, however. Though “cablegate” hasn’t revealed scandal at the same level as, say, the Iran-Contra affair or covert wars in Central America, the cables show the State Department as a deeply crass and troubling agency. Perhaps the lasting question, then, is whether the US public believes that devoting considerable diplomatic resources to monitoring the Latin American media and counteracting Chavez’s propaganda initiatives is constructive or even particularly moral.  

Sadly, for the time being, Americans seem passive and accepting of business as usual. Perhaps in the long run, however, they will start to demand reform at the State Department and a thorough revamping of US foreign policy - so as to reflect a more conciliatory and harmonious relationship with Latin America, as opposed to the patronising and sardonic posturing of diplomats such as Ambassador Brownfield.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution: South America and the Rise of the New Left, and Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge to the US.  Visit his web site, www.nikolaskozloff.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.