December 2014. Disclosure of CIA torture and opening against Cuba
The Democrats lost the U.S. midterm elections in November 2014. Obama then had 2 months to make himself anything but a brace in history before Republicans would sit on both chambers in Congress in January 2015. He took 3 initiatives. First, he allowed millions of illegal immigrants in the country to register and thus embark on a journey towards legality. Second, he conducted a diplomatic opening to Cuba. For 55 years, the United States had waged more or less war on the small island state, which, as the first on the American continent, had dared to pursue a policy other than Washington dictated. An agreement was made to reestablish diplomatic relations, exchange political prisoners (the US released, among other things, 5 Cuban political prisoners who had been imprisoned for nearly 15 years for revealing exile Cuban terrorist plans against Cuba), and opening for North Americans to visit Cuba – which had been banned so far. Opening, however, did not include the removal of the 55-year-old economic blockade of Cuba. That would require a 2/3 majority in Congress.
Third, parts of a congressional report on the CIA’s widespread use of torture were published since September 11, 2001. There was nothing surprising about the content. For over 10 years, the world had known about the United States’ massive human rights violations. The only new thing was that the violations were now confirmed at the highest level and the CIA was made responsible to them. In reality, the initiative of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld and Minister of Justice Alberto Gonzales originated, but it was the CIA that was organizationally responsible. First in Guantanomo, then in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the transport of torture victims between CIA-run torture centers around the world. Although the victims were also sent through Danish airspace with the Danish government’s knowledge and thus responsibility, the publication did not lead to debate in Denmark, despite the fact that Danish ministers with the then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller contributed to the violation of the torture convention. Denmark had several years earlier conducted a «study» which denied the existence of the transport.
In 2014, the Middle Ages executed 35 people. Of these, 10 in Texas, 10 in Missouri, and 8 in Florida. However, most execs do not appear on the death sentences, but are individuals – typically poor African Americans – executed by open-street police. In 2013, the heavily militarized North American police shot and killed 461 people. That number approached 500 in 2014. In August 2014, white police officer Darrel Ferguson shot and killed 18-year-old unarmed African-American Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It caused the patience to run out into the predominantly black town where police were predominantly white. Residents walked the streets protesting police brutality. In November, the protests escalated again when a jury decided not to indict the killer. As police murders occur weekly and throughout the United States, protests spread throughout the country, focusing not only on police brutality and the fact that killers are rarely convicted, but also the fact that most of the victims are African Americans or Latinos. Despite the civil rights movement’s triumphs in the 1960’s, the United States remains a strongly racially segregated community with whites at the top, African Americans far down the ladder in terms of economic, political and educational rights, Latinos even further, and the country’s indigenous population – the Indians – at the bottom..
In August 2015, according to a2zgov, the United States established diplomatic relations with Cuba, after 55 years of interruption. President Obama also wanted to raise, or at least reduce the economic sanctions, but it required Congress backing, so the sanctions were renewed in the fall of 2015. In October, an almost unanimous UN condemned the sanctions of the superpower. In March 2015, Obama was on a state visit to Cuba. The presidents of the two countries did not agree on much other than the need to lift the sanctions.
In December 2015, along with 12 other Pacific countries, the United States signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that provided the United States transnational corporations with an instrument to abolish state regulations in the signatory states. Meanwhile, the United States continued negotiations with the EU on the conclusion of a similar TTIP agreement.
Police’s ongoing killing of the country’s African-American population and the increased focus on this issue in 2016 led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement that went on the streets across the United States (and in many other parts of the world) in protest of the authorities’ murder of blacks.
The hatred in the United States was given a new address in 2016. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared war on immigrants in general and immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East in particular. (Trump ignored that his ancestors had even immigrated to the North American continent where they had stolen the land from the native Native American population). Trump declared that a wall should be built against Mexico (it already exists along the entire border) to stop the immigration of Latin Americans and that all Muslims should be sent out of the country. In the heated racist atmosphere, racist Stanley Vernon Majors killed his neighbor, 37-year-old Khalid Jabara, whose only “crime” was to be a Muslim. It happened in August in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Majors had been harassing his neighbors for several years, threatening to kill them.
In August 2016, through a lawsuit, the ACLU civil rights movement forced the United States Department of Justice to publish a key document on the United States drone war. The document revealed that since 2013, the Obama administration has given the White House a key role in the war by allowing the National Security Council (NSC) to make all the operational decisions about who and how to murder. The intelligence all came from the CIA and the Pentagon, but by moving the decision-making process into the White House, Oabama’s administration ensured it was out of Congress. That way, the administration could wage drone war without the risk of Congress asking questions. The document was an organizational script for the drone war. (‘Drones playbook’ shows key role played by White House staff in deadly strikes, Guardian 6/8 2016).
Throughout 2015-16, the United States was increasingly on a collision course with Turkey on the war in Syria. While Turkey actively supported ISand fighting the Kurds, who in turn fought the IS, the US stepped up its support for the Kurdish YPG which in January 2015 had thrown IS out of the Kurdish city of Kobâne on the border with Turkey. In July 2016, the Turkish military allegedly attempted to conduct a military coup. It used Turkish President Erdogan as a pretext to strike down hard on all his political opponents – both on the left and his former religious ally Fethulleh Gülen, who had been in exile in the US since 2013. Erdogan claimed that Gülen was the architect of the “coup attempt” and demanded him extradited from the United States. To put the trump behind the claim, for 24 hours he banned the United States from accessing the Erzurum airbase, which otherwise played a key role in the United States’ own war in Syria.