Monthly Archives: February 2017

Why the “Trump Effect”?

By Heather Gray
Justice Initiative International
February 28, 2017

When Trump assumed the presidency some 5 weeks ago, and prior to that as well, we witnessed what is referred to as the “Trump Effect”. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports in its “2017 Spring Issue” entitled, in fact, “The Trump Effect”: The campaign language of the man who would become president sparks hate violence, bullying, before and after the election”. Yes, it’s true that many of these “hate,” more often racist, sentiments toward the other have either been overtly expressed since Trump or have been simmering in many Americans just waiting for an opportunity for expression. Yes, it’s also true that, as one of “white” European descent, I need to note that we have a long way to go to rid the country, if ever, of the insidious and on-going “white supremacy” in the U.S. and the world. And I hope it will end!!! But I began to wonder, why it was that ‘what’ a leader of a country states can have such a treacherous response from many in the population at-large? Why is it that what Trump says emboldens hateful individuals?

The violence and hate speech, in fact, is largely not coming from migrants, as Trump and others try to insist, but mostly from “white” Americans who can be and more often are exceptionally dangerous now and historically.

As I began to explore this question of the “Trump Effect” it suddenly dawned on me that there were parallels with research I did in the 1980s around the issue of the death penalty.

In the 1980s I was engaged in a significant amount of work with the ‘Georgia Committee Against the Death Penalty’. I spent some time not only with inmates on death row but also with countless community activists for and against the death penalty. This included, not surprisingly, encountering the Ku Klux Klan at the Georgia Diagnostic Center south of Atlanta where executions take place in the state. Many of us would gather at the Georgia Diagnostic Center on the nights of an execution to express our opposition to the death penalty and solidarity with those on death row. Below is a portion of prose I wrote about this at a 1982 execution in Georgia:

I wanted to stop this insanity
This surreal madness.

Bluelights …officers…anxious, officious officers, their guns astride.
Flashlights everywhere.

They look in my backpack, under the car seats, in the trunk.
“Are you for or against?” I’m asked.
And I’m given a permit for the opposing side.

In the darkness we hold hands and sing Amazing Grace.
Across the road the Klan raises its ugly racist head
with chants of hatred that continue to echo.

In the darkness we continue to hold hands.
All this in the shadow of the imposing building
of
sanitized state immorality.

 What I discovered while organizing against the death penalty was that an execution of an individual was not a singular event. Its impact negatively reverberated throughout the community in countless ways.

I, in fact, discovered that some researchers had inferred that when an execution takes place there is often witnessed an increase in violence in the surrounding community. I began to study this phenomenon and wrote about this in a 2006 article entitled “The Spiral of Violence” that I partially quote below.

What I found in this research is relevant, I think, to understanding the “Trump Effect”.

Unknown to some, in addition to his work in central Africa with the Mbuti pygmies (for which he is probably best known) and with the Ik in Uganda, British anthropologist Colin Turnbull.also researched the death penalty in the United States.

In his 1980’s article “Death by Decree,” Turnbull reported on his study of the death penalty in Virginia and Florida. He had interviewed virtually everyone involved, including the death row inmates themselves and their families, the executioners and their families, the guards in the prison, and others. What he found was a “brutalization” of those who were associated with the death penalty.

Brutalization? In the aftermath of war, veterans often suffer from long-lasting horrors of their experience. Those surrounding and/or involved in the death penalty also suffer – their behavior is negatively impacted altogether by association with the brutality of the death penalty process. It takes its toll on their families.

In the case of the death penalty, the State has chosen to use violence as a way to resolve conflict. The State of Georgia even had planes flying over the Georgia Diagnostic Center while the execution was taking place in what seemed to represent a ceremonial acknowledgement of the State’s power of imposing death over life.

To add to Turnbull’s research on the brutalization of those close to the death penalty, a look at the Rosemary Gartner’s and Dane Archer’s fascinating international research adds considerably to an understanding of the broader impact. In “Violence and Crime in Cross-National Perspective” (1984) Gartner and Archer report, after studying 110 countries in the world, that, after war, violence increases in both the countries of the so-called winner as well as the so-called loser. They looked at every conceivable variable to explain the phenomenon. For example, they considered the “violent” veteran model, the economic destabilization model and others. While all these are important, the variable that had the most potent relevance was that, in war, the ‘State’ itself had used violence to resolve conflict. This filtered into the general population and gave the green light for the use of violence. It’s the age-old saying “violence leads to violence”.

Gartner and Archer recognized that sociologists have long understood that we learn behavior from our peers and family, but they had not considered enough how what the State itself does impacts on and teaches behavior.

For example, Timothy McVeigh who, in 1995, bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, was also a Gulf War veteran. He knew about violence first hand. As Alexander Cockburn noted in his 2001 article “Real Violence and Tim McVeigh,” McVeigh’s favorite quote was by Justice Louis Brandeis: “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or evil, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law.”

At the end of its 2017 report, the Southern Poverty Law Center stresses that:

Words Have Consequences

Four days after the election, Donald Trump was interviewed on “60 Minutes,” where he was asked about the hate. He said he was “surprised to hear” about it, and, looking into the camera, told the perpetrators to “stop it.” In another interview, he promised to “bind the wounds of division” that were afflicting our country.

 His comments were a day late and a dollar short. The hatred, and the new energy of the white nationalist movement, were predictable results of the campaign Trump waged — a campaign marked by incendiary racial statements, the stoking of white racial resentment, and attacks on so-called “political correctness.”

 A few weeks later, Trump acknowledged what he had not earlier. In a post-election speech in Orlando, Fla., part of his “thank you” tour, he responded to the crowd chanting “Lock her up” with this: “Four weeks ago, you people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall! … ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean, you were going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right? Now, same crowds … but it’s much different. You’re laid back, you’re cool, you’re mellow. You’re basking in the glory of victory.”

 Donald Trump is not legally responsible for any of this, of course. The people who engaged in legally punishable hate violence, if they are caught, are the ones who will have to actually pay for their crimes. But it seems undeniable that Trump’s reckless, populist campaign has left a legacy of hatred, violence and division.

 Summary

I would add to the above statement by the SPLC, that while words have consequences, it is particularly so when the “words” are coming from a national leader. This requires immediate opposition from those who understand the impact of hateful speech as what is verbalized can and does, as referred to above, reverberate throughout the general population. Americans need to remember this in subsequent elections for both the safety of the country and the world.

 

Trump & being rude to Australia’s leader? Some US history on the topic!

Note: Trump just talked with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and it was a rude and disrespectful call on Trump’s part – (Washington Post_ “This was the worst call by far: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader”. Australia vis a vis the United States? I sent this article out a while ago but wanted to do so again for those who might not have seen it and who might have an interest in US politics or interference in Australia which is not often addressed in the US press or politics. As I stated previously, I’ve recognized that most Americans do not know the role their government played in the ousting of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 and I wanted to share something about this.

I have also just sent out an article about President Frankin Roosevelt and the attempted coup against him when he began to develop hi New Deal programs to benefit the masses of Americans. The coup against Roosevelt was not successful.  The CIA coup against Whitlam in 1975 was, unfortunately, successful.

Like Roosevelt, Whitlam was attempting to make radical changes in Australia to benefit the Australian masses overall, as in to also lessen the control of Australian resources by multinationals. As I state below, Whitlam and and his government were attempting to “buy back the farm” from US and multinational control overall. It was a courageous attempt! This also included Whitlam recognizing the Cuban-Castro government and allowing it to establish a consulate in Australia. He established a consulate in Hanoi, in North Vietnam in the midst of Vietnam War.  He was one of the first western leaders to outreach to the Chinese.  You can imagine how disdainful the American government was about those actions by Whitlam! I admit, I remain astounded at his profound leadership on so many levels.

I was not in the United States at the time but in Singapore and just out of Australia. “Mother Jones”, in the states, wrote about this but I am not aware of other media in the US doing so. Whitlam’s victory in 1972 was huge as it signified a departure from a largely US controlled Australian Liberal Party government. Whitlam, for one, started asking questions about the Pine Gap US base in the Australian desert. He was told nothing.

He started inquiring about US and Australian involvement in Vietnam, Chile and the threat against Aquino in the Philippines, and importantly, he wanted Australia to have control of its natural resources such as oil and other minerals rather than multinationals that then controlled 60% of this industry. One of his ministers called for a boycott of American products.

Whitlam thought Australia was an independent country but he found out differently. This story is yet again about the destabilizing effect of the Cold War and US hegemony and its dire consequences on so many countries throughout the world – including Australia. I wrote the article below in 2007 and it was on Counterpunch.

Heather Gray

Recalling the Fall of Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam
US Meddling in Australian Politics

by HEATHER GRAY
December 5, 2007
Justice Initiative International

On November 24, 2007 the Australian Labor Party swept into power with Kevin Rudd replacing conservative Liberal Party Prime Minister John Howard. I awoke that morning with an email from a friend about this victory with the subject line “about bloody time! John Howard was becoming an embarrassment.” I concur. George Bush’s “coalition of the willing” (or “killing” as I say) is rapidly fading out. This news took me back, however, to 1972 and the Labor Party victory of Gough Whitlam. I was also in a state of euphoria with that win, but by 1975 the Whitlam government was dissolved by what some said was a CIA coup. Americans seem not to know about this important history.

You might ask the question “Why would the U.S. go after a democratic ally?” Most people normally think that the CIA business of ousting governments occurs in oil rich areas like the Middle East; countries that fall directly under the original Monroe Doctrine such as the beleaguered Latin Americans; or former western colonies in Africa and Asia that the U.S. thinks are fair game for the U.S. imperial ventures. But it appears that if the Americans or the CIA are bothered by some government they will go about its business of destabilization regardless. The level of democracy or alliance with the U.S. seems to have no meaning.

Being just out of Australia in 1972 and living in Singapore as the wife of a junior Australian diplomat, I was elated when receiving the news that Whitlam had become the first Labor Party Prime Minister in 23 years. I knew he was opposed to the Vietnam War and assumed that the alliance between Australia and the U.S. on the war would be strained if not broken. Little did I recognize at the time, however, the sweeping and significant progressive domestic policy changes Whitlam would initiate in Australia. Little did I realize how angry he would make the Nixon administration and the CIA.

Whitlam’s appointments for various ministries were filled with highly respected Australians such as Rex O’Connor as the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Dr. Jim Cairns who became the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, and Clyde Cameron as Minister for Labour. While Whitlam was more moderate than some of his ministers, still they all had a mission. For one, they wanted to “buy back the farm,” which was basically to establish control away from multinationals of the oil and other minerals, that then were 60% in the hands of foreigners, and to have it controlled by Australians. This is not an unreasonable goal, which the Americans, as you can imagine, did not appreciate.

In the early 1970s the war in Vietnam was raging. Australia, under the conservative Liberal Party Prime Minister Harold Holt in the 1960s, had sent Australian troops and advisers to Vietnam even without the consent of the South Vietnamese. The action was thought by some to have been primarily to please the Americans. It was a sycophantic behavior. The Labor Party opposition, on the other hand, was filled with those who were intensely opposed with Holt’s actions and to the war itself.

Tensions began to build between the Australians and the Americans over the Vietnam War. Various labor politicians were openly calling Nixon and Kissinger “mass murderers” and “maniacs.” In their fascinating article “Coup D’etat in Australia: 20 years of Cover-up” (New Dawn Magazine – 1996) Steve and Adelaide Gerlach write that:

Dr. Jim Cairns called for public rallies to condemn U.S. bombing in North Vietnam, and also for boycotts of American products. The Australian dockers unions reacted by refusing to unload American ships. While Whitlam was more moderate than Dr. Jim Cairns, Clyde Cameron and Tom Uren (prominent anti-Vietnam War Labor Ministers), he felt he had to say something to the Americans. He wrote what he considered a “moderately worded” letter to Nixon voicing his criticism of the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam, on the basis that it would be counterproductive. Nixon, needless to say, was not amused. Some insiders said he was apoplectic with rage and resented the implications that he was immoral and had to be told his duty by an outsider.

Kissinger added that Whitlam’s “uninformed comments about our Christmas bombing [of North Vietnam] had made him a particular object of Nixon’s wrath.” (Mother Jones, Feb.-Mar., 1984, p. 15)

Soon after Whitlam took office, the American ambassador to Australia, Walter Rice, was sent to meet with Whitlam in order to politely tell him to mind his own business about Vietnam. Whitlam ambushed Rice, dominated the meeting, and spoke for 45 minutes rebuking the U.S. for its conduct of the Vietnam War. Whitlam told Rice that in a press conference the next day, “It would be difficult to avoid words like ‘atrocious’ and ‘barbarous'” when asked about the bombing.

The Prime Minister also appointed Sir John Kerr as the Governor General of Australia. Kerr, while a Labor Party member, was only marginally so in his politics. The Governor General is supposed to represent the interests of the Queen but Whitlam thought, of course, that Kerr would serve, as had all others in his position, at the behest of the Prime Minister’s requests and interests. The position is thought to be mostly ceremonial. Whitlam was mistaken on this score as Kerr ends up playing the central role in finally ending the Whitlam government.

Kerr was generally conservative and a monarchist. He, for one, had been on the executive board of the Association for Cultural Freedom and Law Association for Asia, which were largely thought to be CIA front organizations.

In fact, in an October 15, 2000 article in Australia’s “The Age”, author Andrew Clark writes that the Law Association was helped by the Asia Foundation which was “exposed in Congress ‘as a CIA established conduit for money and influence .The CIA paid for Kerr’s travel, built his prestige, and even published his writings through a subsidized magazine” (Clark took this information from Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathon Kwitny’s book “The Crimes of Patriots”).

What Whitlam accomplished the first 100 days of his government is enough to make many of us drool over such vision. Steve and Adelaide Gerlach (1996) outline some of Whitlam’s profound policies:

In the domestic sphere, Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s first 100 days put Bill Clinton to shame. The Whitlam government ended conscription and ordered the last Australian troops home from Vietnam. It brought legislation giving equal pay to women, established a national health service free to all, doubled spending on education and abolished university fees, increased wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, ended censorship, reformed divorce laws and set up the Family Law Courts, funded the arts and film industry, assumed federal responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs (health, welfare and land rights), scrapped royal patronage, and replaced “God Save the Queen” as the national anthem with “Advance Australia Fair.”

He is also credited for ending the infamous “white Australia policy” so that finally immigrants from neighboring Asian countries were allowed legal immigrant status in Australia.

Whitlam’s foreign policies were also quite remarkable and against U.S. interests. He broke ranks with previous Australian Prime Ministers by reaching out to other Asian leaders to create trade and diplomatic relationships. He was one of the first western leaders to attempt normal relations with Chinese leaders. He also, in the midst of the war, established a consular relationship with North Vietnam by opening an embassy in Hanoi and the allowed the opening of a Cuban consulate in Sydney.

In other words, for all intents and purposes, Australia under Whitlam was not serving at the behest of British or U.S. dictates. It was independently establishing its own relationships. This was not appreciated by the Nixon administration, least of all Henry Kissinger who disliked the Labor leader immensely.

Prior to the Whitlam and since, American governments have considered Australia as a strategic location and partner in its military ventures. The Americans have bases in Australia, not the least of which being the “secret” base known as Pine Gap in the Australian dessert. Whitlam wanted to have more specifics on what the Americans were doing there. He discovered that Pine Gap (a satellite surveillance base) was run by the CIA and he made a public announcement about this. In fact, Victor Marchetti, former Chief Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA, and one of the drafters of the Pine Gap treaty, confirmed this suspicion: “The CIA runs it, and the CIA denies it,” he said (Steve and Adelaide Gerlach, 1996). Whitlam also asked the Americans for a listing of all CIA operatives in Australia.

The Americans were supposed to share information with the Australians from their satellite findings but since the Labor Party had won it was thought that much of the information was being denied the government. Whitlam threatened he would not sign an extension of the Pine Gap lease due in December 1975 and this again infuriated the Nixon administration. (It was thought by most that Whitlam was posturing and that he was not likely to end the lease, but this still concerned the U.S.)

The fact is that the infamous Pine Gap base activities were making Australia vulnerable to attack and this angered Whitlam, as he had no control over the base activities. Again, Steve and Adelaide Gerlach (1996) write that:

There were at least three occasions when the Americans did not share vital information about the bases.

1) The transmitters at the North West Cape were used to assist the U.S. in mining Haiphong harbor in 1972. The Whitlam government was opposed to the mining of Vietnamese harbors, and would not have appreciated U.S. facilities on Australian soil being used to assist such an undertaking.

2) The satellites controlled by Pine Gap and Nurrungar were used to pinpoint targets for bombings in Cambodia. Again this was an activity to which the Whitlam government was opposed.

3) Whitlam was furious when he found out after the fact that U.S. bases in Australia were put on a Level 3 alert during the Yom Kippur war. The Australian bases were in danger of attack, yet the Australian Prime Minister was not alerted to this. (Incidentally, Kissinger was angered that Whitlam could be such a pest about such matters.)

There’s one other facet that plays a role here in terms of foreign policy and it has to do with Chile. A little known fact is that the Australian Secret Intelligence Services (ASIS) was involved in the overthrow of President Salvadore Allende in 1973. Clyde Cameron said that the ASIS operatives were serving at the behest of the CIA to help in the coup against Allende, as the CIA was not able to work effectively in Chile under Allende. “They had to do their dirty work through somebody else,” Cameron noted, “and they chose the Australian intelligence organizations.” When Whitlam discovered this he demanded that the ASIS be withdrawn from Chile yet they paid no attention to his orders. When Whitlam discovered they had not yet left Chile he was furious and, as Cameron says “put the knife through a lot of these people responsible for ignoring his directions.” By that time, however, Allende had been assassinated and Pinochet had taken over (“CIA in Australia” Part 3, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

The American response to the Whitlam government was sinister, which leads to another important character in this cast and it was U.S. Ambassador Marshall Green. The U.S. State Department appointed Green to Australia in 1973. For the most part U.S. Ambassadors to Australia were rubber stamp diplomats who were being given the post as a political favor. This was not so with Green and the Labor politicians recognized this. Green was known as the “coupmaster.” Clyde Cameron notes that, “Marshall Green was for many years a top CIA operative who orchestrated the overthrow of the Sukarno government which led to the installation of President Suharto. He was involved in the CIA intrigue in Vietnam and in the overthrow of the government of Greece. He’s a very, very skilled operative in the art of destabilization of governments that the United States doesn’t approve of” (“CIA in Australia” Part 2, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

When Clyde Cameron was visited by Ambassador Green at his office, he asked the question “what would you do if our government decided to nationalize the Australian subsidiaries of the various American multinational corporations?” Taken aback Green quickly said “Oh, we’ll move in.” Cameron asked if he meant the marines? And Green said that they didn’t do that kind of thing anymore but that “there are other things.” This is indeed the case (“CIA in Australia” Part 2, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

One other facet in the scheme of things was the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney, another CIA front organization, which was “founded in the early 1970s by Frank Nugan, an Australian who had studied law for a while in Canada, and Michael Hand, and American who had fought with the Green Berets in Vietnam and then worked for the CIA airline, Air America” (John Bacher, Peace Magazine, 1988). The Nugan Hand Bank never banked. It was filled with a huge number of former military and CIA officers. Bacher says its four main services were “a way to flout laws and move money overseas; tax avoidance and schemes; extraordinarily high interest rates; and international trade connections.” The bank was involved with “drugs and arms dealing,” according to Bacher, “in Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil and the whole Rhodesian government of Ian Smith.”

As Bacher and others have noted, the Nugan Hand Bank was in the prime position to destabilize the Labor government. It “helped finance bugging and forgery operations.(and) transferred $24 million to the Australian Liberal Party through its many associated companies” (Bacher, 1988).

Whitlam at one point complained openly about the CIA meddling in Australian domestic affairs.

As the Labor ministers were attempting to move forward with their “buying back the farm” plan, the oil crisis of the early 1970s impacted the Australian and virtually all the world economies. A scandal ensued in an attempt to borrow money from a Middle Eastern source that forced the resignations of Labor ministers Cairns and O’Connor. Leaks about the negotiations for a loan began appearing in the press implicating the ministers. There were likely mistakes made by the Labor ministers but the accusations as presented by the press appeared way out of proportion. The Liberal Party, being in control of the Senate, used this scandal as an excuse to deny passing Whitlam’s budget and to force an election, which occurred in December 1975.

In the meantime, Governor General Kerr stepped in, just before Whitlam was about to make public more of the information he had about Pine Gap and the CIA involvement and one month before the decision would be made on the U.S. bases lease. Kerr had been in conversation with the Liberal Party leader Malcolm Fraser and others prior to his critical action.

On the fateful day of November 11, 1975 Kerr used his reserve powers as Governor General and dissolved the Whitlam government at 1:10 PM. Malcolm Fraser was given the position as caretaker Prime Minister. The Liberal Party won the election in December 1975.

According to Clyde Cameron, Kerr had been in touch with the Australian armed services and the U.S. Embassy prior to the Whitlam dismissal. There was speculation that a labor strike might occur in response to the Whitlam dismissal so the plan was for the Americans to send in their Pacific fleet to bombard Sydney if it was needed (“CIA in Australia” Part 2, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

The whole “loan affair” controversy is filled with questions, not the least of which includes strategically placed leaks to the press about the Labor ministers’ activities and a signed letter by Dr. Cairns giving the go ahead for one loan activity that has always been refuted by him.

Steve and Adelaide Gerlach (1996) report that, “In 1981, a CIA contract employee, Joseph Flynn, claimed that he had been paid to forge some documents relating to the loan affair, and also to bug Whitlam’s hotel room. The person who paid him was Michael Hand, co-founder of the Nugan Hand Bank (The National Times, Jan. 4-10, 1981).”

Many Australians have been seeking the smoking gun in the Whitlam ousting. One of my Australian friends says that Kerr was simply a megalomaniac. But as former CIA operative Ralph McGehee said:

“Well, my views are as though what’s the problem? I mean, we had a whole series of Agency spokesmen who said, ‘oh, yes, there was an Agency role in the overthrow of the Whitlam government’. I just don’t know why Australians can’t accept that. And then the CIA National Intelligence Daily said, ‘some of the most incriminating evidence in that period against the ministers in the Whitlam government may have been fabricated.’ This is about as strong as you get them to say so. It is quite obvious that information was being leaked about ministers Rex O’Connor and Jim Cairns and some of it was being forged which is a standard CIA process. Jim Flynn, who was associated with elements who were involved with the Nugan-Hand bank, he said that he was involved in manufacturing the cables and leaking them to the press. You have the statements by Christopher Boyce who was in a relay point for information from the CIA and in his trial he said that `if you think what the Agency did in Chile was bad, in which they spent 80 million dollars overturning the government of Chile there, the Allende government, you should see what they are doing in Australia’ (“CIA in Australia” Part 1, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

Whitlam made the mistake of thinking that the Australians had some control over their own country and its policies. One of the critical factors resulting in the end of his government was the likely expectation by him and others that government employees would follow the dictates of the newly elected government. The allegiances developed after 23 years of the conservative Liberal Party authority were obviously still in place. To complicate matters further, the Australian Secret Service was seemingly following the dictates of the CIA rather than the Australian authorities. The CIA was obviously able to make good use of these well-established relationships.

Former CIA officer Marchetti says it best: “in essence this is like the old days in Europe where the nobility of various countries had more in common with each other than they did with their own people. This is true of intelligence services. They tend to have more in common with each other and their establishments which they represent than they do with their own people (“CIA in Australia” Part 3, Melbourne, Australia Public Radio News Service, 1986).

Also, when it comes to strategic interests, the U.S. does not seemingly want to be bothered with the interference of democratically elected officials.

Whitlam was threatening to not extend the lease for the U.S. bases in Australia. This also harkens back to the 1980s destabilizing efforts on the part of the U.S. against the anti-bases movement in the Philippines. The U.S. was noted in this period for the launching of an intense anti-communist campaign in the Philippines and the funding a paramilitary groups or deaths squads to destroy the Filipino activism. The Filipino movement against extending the U.S. bases agreement (primarily for Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base) resulted in the deaths and torture of countless Filipinos who fought against the U.S. presence and to encourage the Filipino Senate not to allow for the lease extension.

What the Australian Labor Party was attempting at the time was in keeping with many of the anti-colonial movements after WWII, which was primarily to claim independence and have a modicum of control and benefit from their own natural resources. This is what Salvadore Allende was attempting at the same time period in Chile and what Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and others in South America, Asia and Africa are engaged in presently. Unlike Allende in 1973, Whitlam was not assassinated yet the demise of his government was as symbolic and devastating for many of us around the world.

You’ve got to hand it to Whitlam, though. He certainly did his best!!

Part Two – The Coup: FDR vs Trump

By Heather Gray
January 31, 2017
Justice Initiative International

Preface

I know that many in the United States are not aware that there was an attempted coup against President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. In fact, the mainstream press and the US government itself attempted to prevent the public from knowing anything about this by not reporting about the attempted actions of the treasonous bankers and by Congress not insisting on appropriate punishment. In today’s Trump mindset, it was these American bankers who should have been “banned” and/or placed in jail.

In my Part One: The Coup: FDR vs Trump I refer to the background of some of the American political and economic initiatives since Roosevelt that basically attempted to undermine both democracy and public assistance to the masses of American workers and the American people altogether, who are otherwise known, thanks to the Occupy Movement, as the 99%.

I know you are probably also thinking a coup would be about money and control of workers, investments and corporate greed generally for the purpose of the capitalist elite’s benefit. I think you are right about that as well!

I do think also, without belaboring the point, or going into significant detail in this article at least, that the attitudes of white Europeans in America also have to do with their feudal background being that of a hierarchy of lords and serfs. It was this historic European feudal system that became preeminent in the southern part of the United States as with slavery, the white working class and the plantation owners as the primary hierarchy in which the plantation owner arrogance “lorded” over everyone else – namely slaves and the white workers. We still suffer from the vestiges of this unrestrained, unwarranted and ill-begotten arrogance. Trump’s attorney general appointee, Jeff Sessions from Alabama, is a prime example of this prevailing feudal attitude.

In fact, I, of “white” European descent, am inclined to think that many of those of European descent are seemingly incredibly insecure with relatively little self-confidence in much of anything. Otherwise, why are they always so scared of ideas, cultures, religions, etc. that differ from their own?

This also has to do with the increased powerful influence of virtually unrestrained capitalism over the American culture and political system in the 20th, and now the 21rst century, that particularly accelerated during and after the Reagan administration.

And maybe this is also an elite thing altogether. It appears that anyone or any thought that challenges the elite capitalist power is alienated or destroyed whenever possible.

Additional Background on the Coup

Regarding the coup that has just occurred in the United States with the presidency of Donald Trump (and yes it is a coup), I need to go back at least to Karl Marx in the 1800s to make some sense of it all. Throughout his career, Marx began to write about and witness the oppression of capitalism and its devastating impact on the workers. But in addition to being a scholar on the topic, he involved himself in the activism of workers demanding change and seeking their rights. As a result, he ended up being kicked out of, for example, Cologne, France and Belgium and he finally took refuge in England.

The point is that the ruling elite in these European countries were threatened by his leadership in espousing rights for workers and in teaching them about the oppressive capitalist system, overall, toward workers and how the workers should be alert to it all and organize.

But it is important to note that this issue of the ruling capitalist elite feeling threatened by Marx did not apply only to the leaders of Europe. The capitalist leaders in United States took note as well.

In fact, before the “Cold War” era after WWII, it appears that among the leading bankers and wealthy Americans, virtually anyone who did anything regarding advancement of collective rights – labor rights, civil rights, human rights, etc. – were considered suspicious and/or communists.

Leading to the initiatives, such as the Roosevelt New Deal policies, was the Great Depression in the US following WWI. At this time there was huge destabilization and unemployment in the United States in which President Roosevelt played a leading role in addressing – much to the chagrin of America’s capitalist elite.

During this period the US bankers and financial elite were also observing post WWI politics in Europe. Many appreciated Adolph Hitler and supported him financially. Many were also enamored with the fascist Benito Mussolini in Italy. They wanted a government like this in the United States and attempted a coup. Here is some information about this from Global Research:

Prior to WW2, many prominent American business owners and politicians were involved in the rise of Nazism. Fascist forces around the globe, not just Germany and Italy, gravitated around and contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler. In the United States, no example of this is more notorious than that of Prescott Bush, father to US President George H.W. Bush, and grandfather of US President George W. Bush. The Guardian in an article titled, “How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power” states:

 Recently declassified documents revealed that at least 300 U.S. companies continued doing business in Germany during the war, Newsweek reported. And subsidiaries of Ford and General Motors have been accused of forcing thousands of Jews, Poles and others to work as slave laborers. (Global Research)

 As mentioned, many of these wealthy elite wanted a fascist government in America, the likes of a Hitler or Mussolini. They mistakenly tried to hire the retired and respected Major General Smedley Butler to lead the coup. Butler became suspicious of what they were wanting him to do and told Congress about the attempted coup, which put an end to it.

 More about the coup and Smedley Butler:

Butler had been approached by Gerald P. MacGuire of Wall Street’s Grayson M-P Murphy & Co. MacGuire claimed they would assemble an army of 500,000 mostly unemployed WWI veterans and march on DC.  The plutocrats wanted Butler to lead the coup, thinking that, like the Bolsheviks, taking one major city (DC as Petrograd) would lead to the fall of the government.  They promised to put up $3 million as starters and dangled a future $300 million as bait. Butler went along with the plot until he could learn the identities of all the schemers. Not a one of them was ever called to testify or was charged with Treason. Virtually all of them were founding members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

 The League was headed by the DuPont and J.P Morgan cartels and had major support from Andrew Mellon Associates, Pew (Sun Oil), Rockefeller Associates, E.F. Hutton Associates, U.S. Steel, General Motors, Chase, Standard Oil and Goodyear Tires.

 Money was funneled thru the Sen. Prescott Bush-led Union Banking Corporation (yes, those Bushes) and the Prescott Bush-led Brown Brothers Harriman (yes, that Harriman) to the League (and to Hitler, but that’s another story). The plotters bragged about Bush’s Hitler connections and even claimed that Germany had promised Bush that it would provide materiel for the coup. This claim was entirely believable: a year earlier, Chevrolet president William S. Knudsen (who himself had donated $10,000 to the League) went to Germany and met with Nazi leaders and declared upon his return that Hitler’s Germany was “the miracle of the twentieth century.” At the time, GM’s wholly-owned Adam-Opal Co. had already begun producing the Nazi’s tanks, trucks and bomber engines. James D. Mooney, GM’s vice-president for foreign operations was joined by Henry Ford and IBM chief Tom Watson in receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Hitler for their considerable efforts on behalf of the Third Reich. (Counterpunch – Michael Donnely)

 Suffice it to say, these bankers did not appreciate Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that attempted to benefit many of the people suffering from the depression. And it is important to note that these programs primarily assisted the white working class and on the whole not America’s Black or diverse population. Yet, even in spite of the selective assistance to whites in the New Deal programs, still the white corporate elite wanted none of this model of collective public assistance. Along this line, it is certainly important for the white workers in America to know that the “white” capitalist elite historically has never had, as a priority, the interests of the white working class. Rather their intent is to control them and selfishly reap money and benefit themselves financially through this process.

As Marx wisely noted ‘people are treated differently for profit.’ And this is what the elite have always wanted, to treat the workers differently, as in to keep the workers ill-informed, and ill-organized so they can be more easily controlled.

Congress, unsurprisingly however, did not castigate or condemn these capitalists for treason who, in my opinion, they should have jailed as Iceland did recently after the 2008 economic meltdown of its leading bankers – they jailed the bankers for 46 years. That was a major mistake on the part of both the press and Congress, in particular! Had they jailed these bankers in the 1930s we probably would not be in the mess we are now with the Trump presidency. Instead, they conveniently shoved the scandal under the rug and life went on, but these oppressive sentiments have remained in the American capitalist elite’s mindset to this day.

Perhaps the best brief description of the coup against Roosevelt is from the 2012 NPR interview with Sally Denton about her book “The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right” as stated below:

When The Bankers Plotted To Overthrow FDR

February 12, 2012

Heard on All Things Considered

It was a dangerous time in America: The economy was staggering, unemployment was rampant and a banking crisis threatened the entire monetary system.

The newly elected president pursued an ambitious legislative program aimed at easing some of the troubles. But he faced vitriolic opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

“This is despotism, this is tyranny, this is the annihilation of liberty,” one senator wrote to a colleague. “The ordinary American is thus reduced to the status of a robot. The president has not merely signed the death warrant of capitalism, but has ordained the mutilation of the Constitution, unless the friends of liberty, regardless of party, band themselves together to regain their lost freedom.”

Those words could be ripped from today’s headlines. In fact, author Sally Denton tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz, they come from a letter written in 1933 by Republican Sen. Henry D. Hatfield of West Virginia, bemoaning the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Denton is the author of a new book, The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right.

She says that during the tense months between FDR’s election in November and his inauguration in March 1933, democracy hung in the balance.

“There was a lot at play. It could have gone very different directions,” Denton says.

Though it’s hard for us to imagine today, she says fascism, communism, even Naziism seemed like possible solutions to the country’s ills.

“There were suggestions that capitalism was not working, that democracy was not working,” she says.

Some people even called for a dictator to pull America out of the Great Depression.

When Roosevelt finally took office, he embarked on the now-legendary First Hundred Days, an ambitious legislative program aimed at reopening and stabilizing the country’s banks and getting the economy moving again.

“There was just this sense that he was upsetting the status quo,” Denton says.

Critics on the right worried that Roosevelt was a Communist, a socialist or the tool of a Jewish conspiracy. Critics on the left complained his policies didn’t go far enough. Some of Roosevelt’s opponents didn’t stop at talk. Though it’s barely remembered today, there was a genuine conspiracy to overthrow the president.

The Wall Street Putsch, as it’s known today, was a plot by a group of right-wing financiers.

“They thought that they could convince Roosevelt, because he was of their, the patrician class, they thought that they could convince Roosevelt to relinquish power to basically a fascist, military-type government,” Denton says.

“It was a cockamamie concept,” she adds, “and the fact that it even got as far as it did is pretty shocking.”

The conspirators had several million dollars, a stockpile of weapons and had even reached out to a retired Marine general, Smedley Darlington Butler, to lead their forces.

“Had he been a different kind of person, it might have gone a lot further,” Denton says. “But he saw it as treason and he reported it to Congress.”

Denton says that as she was writing the book, she was struck by the parallels between the treatment of Roosevelt and that of Barack Obama. For example, a cottage industry much like the birther movement grew up around proving that the Dutch-descended Roosevelt was actually a secret Jew.

“It seems to me that going through history here, there are times that we need to have a demon, somebody that’s not of us, in order to solidify our fears and our anxieties,” Denton says.

“And I don’t know what that is in the impulse of the American body politic, but… this is 75 years later, and some of these same impulses continue.”

HEATHER GRAY produces “Just Peace” on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news. She is also a writer, researcher and journalist. In 1985-86 she directed the nonviolent program at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. She subsequently has also been engaged in support for and helping black farmers in the Southern US hold on to their land and this has included work in cooperative economic development. She has lived in Canada, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and the United States. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia and can be reached at hmcgray@earthlink.net