In an interview with Muslim Press, award-winning writer Andy Piascik says "the U.S. under Obama continues to provide huge amounts of weapons as well as diplomatic support to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia while that country is waging war in Yemen and participating actively in the violence in Syria."
Below is the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: You have described Barack Obama as war criminal. What makes you say that?
Andy Piascik: There are a number of examples. I will cite just a few. First would be Obama’s continuation of the illegal war in Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans have died as a result of the United States’ aggression, many of them during the years that Obama has been president. A second example would be the U.S.’s participation in the illegal attacks against Libya in 2011. Between 30,000 and 50,000 died as result of those attacks and Libya was plunged into violent chaos that continues to this day as a result, with the U.S. now directly involved again militarily.
Obama has also carried out aggressive, often violent policies in other places. The United States, for example, continues to provide huge amounts of weapons as well as diplomatic support to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia while that country is waging war in Yemen and participating actively in the violence in Syria. Obama has also continued the decades-long encirclement of Russia with the expansion of NATO and the placement of U.S. troops and military bases in any number of countries near Russia. It was also under Obama that reactionaries in Ukraine who over the years received $5 billion from the United States overthrew the democratically elected government there in 2014. The coup government includes a number of people who proudly proclaim themselves to be fascists and who the U.S. has backed completely in the ongoing fighting. And the U.S. under Obama continues to provide millions of dollars to counterrevolutionary forces seeking to overthrow the democratically government in Venezuela.
There are other examples such as the continuing involvement of the U.S. in the ongoing destruction of Iraq and the military, financial and diplomatic support to Paul Kagame and forces that have inflicted horrific violence in Central Africa. Then there are the many drone strikes and a policy of targeted assassination. There are other examples but the point, I think, is clear.
MP: How would you compare him with former president George W. Bush?
Andy Piascik: There are some differences and some commonalities. One difference is that Obama has not done anything on the scale of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has led to the deaths of over a million people, the displacement and complete misery of millions more and which has led to the further destruction of that country. Of course, Obama has in his own way continued with the occupation of Iraq and has carried out violent, destructive policies in other places as discussed above as required by the U.S. Empire, much like his predecessor.
MP: Who do you blame for the rise of ISIS?
Andy Piascik: The rise of ISIS is too complex to attribute to any individual. There are internal factors specific to each country where ISIS and similar groups exist. It’s also clear that U.S. violence in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, going back to the first illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991, as well as its continued support of Israeli aggression in Palestine and Saudi Arabia’s aggression as discussed above are all contributors to the rise of ISIS. Many people, both critics but also many involved in one way or another in formulating or implementing U.S. policy, predicted over many years that this would be one result of these actions.
MP: Is there a specific person you blame for the most U.S. interventions in other countries?
Andy Piascik: No, there’s no one person to blame. U.S. foreign policy is predicated on domination. The U.S. ruling class – corporations, financial institutions and the like -- seeks control of resources and markets as well as a steady flow of profits. They also demand conformity. Wherever its domination and control is in any way challenged, the response is intimidation and threats and then, if necessary, violence and aggression. People like Bush and Obama carry out ruling class policy but the wars, invasions and coups reflect systemic imperatives.
MP: How do you describe Henry Kissinger’s legacy for the American people?
Andy Piascik: Kissinger’s legacy is a terrible one for the people of the United States and everywhere else in the world, especially in those places that suffered greatly under the policies he was part of implementing – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile and East Timor, for example. He oversaw U.S. aggression in Indochina beginning in 1969 that resulted in the continued, large-scale destruction of three countries and hundreds of thousands of deaths certainly and perhaps as many as several million. Health problems, crippling injuries and deaths related to the war continue today, over forty years later, because of the unexploded ordinances the U.S dropped there as well as because of the large scale use of poisonous chemicals like Agent Orange.
Kissinger was also directly involved in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. This was basically a systemic imperative, as mentioned above. There was no pretense even in the halls of power that Allende’s moderately socialist government was a military threat to the United States. Like so many, however, before and after – the Arbenz government in Guatemala after World War 2, the Bolivarian government in Venezuela today, to name just two others – the concern was the nationalization of the holdings of multinational corporations and the threat of an alternative. That is, the Arbenz, Allende and Bolivarian efforts were and are attempts to build societies that were both more responsive to the needs of their people and opposed to domination by U.S. interests. The result of the coup in Chile was the coming to power of the dictator Pinochet and the implementation of a police state the terrible legacy of which Chileans struggle with to this day. With the assistance of the U.S. government including Kissinger, Pinochet was also involved in the notorious Operation Condor, a program in which a number of Latin American dictators worked together to inflict terror on the people in a number of countries there.
It was also during Kissinger’s tenure that Indonesia launched its bloody invasion of East Timor in 1975. That invasion was carried out with arms and diplomatic support from the U.S. The U.S., in fact, worked hard to prevent the world from doing anything to aid the suffering of the Timorese people, and the invasion resulted in the deaths of approximately 30 percent of Timor’s population.
There are other examples perhaps too numerous to mention. The support of the U.S. for the arch- terrorist Jonas Savimbi of Angola during Kissinger’s tenure is one more. And then there’s what might be called the routine management of empire that rarely gets much notice in the U.S. but too often consists of the disappearance of human rights activists and union organizers, not to mention the massacres of peasant and student groups, as happened routinely in Latin America, for example, though none of this is limited to the Kissinger era.
MP: Hillary Clinton has courted Henry Kissinger for his endorsement, but he has declined to endorse her. What’s your take on this?
Andy Piascik: They are kindred souls so there’s nothing surprising about her seeking his endorsement or his praise for her. She has expressed her admiration for him and he has reciprocated. Whether he publicly endorses her is really beside the point.
MP: How do you think Hillary Clinton would change America if she becomes president?
Andy Piascik: I don’t think Clinton will change much of anything. She is very much dedicated to an aggressive foreign policy and seems especially determined to escalate tensions with Russia – perhaps in Syria, perhaps in Ukraine, perhaps somewhere else. Domestically, she is committed to serving the interests of the business class and attacking the living standards of the people just as she has done her entire professional life. The same thing is true of Trump, though he is even more retrograde than Clinton and his election would be even more dangerous for people everywhere.
How much she is able to do along these lines if she becomes president depends on how much resistance her actions get from people both in the United States and around the world. For example, there are organizations and less formal groupings of people within the U.S. who are working for domestic justice and international relations based on peace and solidarity. If we can build them and exert greater influence, we may be able to make something more positive happen. Internationally, the United States is very isolated and there are any number of danger zones. If the U.S.’s aggressive actions can be checked and democratic forces in any number of countries that have popular support grow stronger, that will be very positive and may prevent Clinton from carrying out her agenda, or at least parts of it.
Andy Piascik is a long-time activist in the United States and an award-winning writer. His novel In Motion was published in July by Sunshine Publishing.