Utah may be one of the ‘reddest’ states in the country, but it produced one of the most progressive politicians, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Born in 1951, the former civil rights attorney operates on the principle that “justice – social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice – must be an essential aim of public policy.”
Fed up with the two-party system, in 2011 he co-founded the Justice Party, and became its 2012 Presidential candidate (Ralph Nader publicly endorsed him). Anderson has been even-handed in his criticism of both parties – calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush, blasting Barack Obama for having “institutionalized some of the worst abuses of the Bush Administration”. He’s been outspoken on a variety of pressing issues — preventing unconstitutional war, mandatory GMO labeling, and promoting gay rights, to name a few.
On foreign policy, Rocky Anderson sees an imperial overreach. In February 2014, he filmed a video connecting the U.S. role in overthrowing Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala with present day intervention. All this indelicate talk of American malevolence may seem too ‘left’ for some sensibilities....but then, reality, it has been observed, has a well known liberal bias.
Rocky Anderson on Iran, Guatemala, U.S. Foreign Policy — February 7, 2014
A historical review from Rocky Anderson, putting present policies in context.
The United States government has a long history of trying to dominate and dominating much of the Middle East, including ripping off resources, especially oil, that should benefit the people of the nations where those resources are located. We continue along that course, with many people still dying as a result. An otherwise peaceful people thrown into chaos, terror and tragedy.
Let’s put it all in historical context. In the early 1950’s, under the direction of John Foster Dulles, President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, the United States plotted and carried out the violent overthrow of democratically elected governments in Iran and Guatemala.
The CIA overthrew the Iranian government to make certain the United States and Britain would control the oil resources of Iran in the face of a threat by Iran’s then-President Mossadegh [Prime Minister] to nationalize those resources for the benefit of the Iranian people. The ramifications of the U.S. belligerence, arrogance and utter disrespect for democracy, in connection with the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran are still felt to this day, as the Iranian government remains ever suspicious, for good cause, of U.S. actions and intentions in that region.
Almost immediately after the U.S.-sponsored coup against the Iranian president, the CIA was approached by the United Fruit Company, whose landholdings in Guatemala were threatened with nationalization by democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. United Fruit was informed it would be paid for its property, but that wasn’t good enough. In order to continue exploiting Guatemala’s resources, United Fruit Company told the Dulles brothers it wanted to United States to replace the Guatemalan government with people who would serve the interests of that United States corporation. The CIA responded with the same worn-out public claims about a Communist threat, and tried to make its coup against President Arbenz seem like an internal uprising, after interviewing people to play the part of the head of that so-called uprising. That coup led to decades of brutal military rule. resulting in the deaths of many thousands of men, women and children and terror throughout much of Guatemala.
The Reagan administration once again used a trumped-up threat of Communism to undermine the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980’s. The CIA drafted a manual for those that organized to help overthrow the Sandinistas, the Contras. The CIA manual taught the Contras how to terrorize the population, including the killing of local Sandinista leaders in order to turn the people against the government because of its inability to stop the terror. Congress finally prohibited the United States government from providing arms or money to the Contras. Then the Reagan administration, in a perverse illegal project run by Oliver North, arranged for the sale of arms to Iran, of all places, with the proceeds of the sales being illegally delivered to the Contras.
These are just a few of the many cruel, anti-democratic activities of a nation who continues to claim to be a beacon of freedom and a champion of democracy. The details are disgraceful, reflecting an astounding contempt not only for democracy, but for fundamental human and civil rights. Let us put in that historical perspective our nation’s recent history of atrocities in the Middle East.
An illegal war, based on a pack of lies resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, who posed no threat whatsoever to our nation. Grotesque torture, for the first time in our nation’s history authorized by the highest officials in the United States government, and wholly illegal under international and our own domestic laws. The continued drone killings of hundreds of innocent men, women and children in at least four sovereign nations, creating ever more hatred and hostility toward the United States.
We the people can help bring about peace by insisting that our nation change its course, demanding that our elected officials choose peace over war, respect for the rights and sovereignty of other nations over empire building and domination, and utilization of our nation’s precious resources for personal security, education and jobs over the waste and destructiveness of the military-industrial complex.
"Expanding the Debate", Democracy Now — October 24, 2012
A three-and-a-half-hour, televised forum for third party Presidential candidates, featuring Anderson and Jill Stein of the Green Party.
This is all another sign of long-term empire building by the United States. We’ve got to put this in a historical context. In 1953, the CIA overthrew the Mossadegh government in Iran. It was a democratically elected government. And then, the next year, we went up to Guatemala and did the same thing and put in place a military government, at the behest of United Fruit Company. This has been a matter of corporate interests betraying the interests of the American people, and our government falling in line with those who had the money and the influence to get our government to do their bidding. It is time that it stops once and for all, we end that empire building, and we end this hostility toward so many people that is, in the long run, undermining our nation’s security. Our children and later generations deserve far better than that.
Rocky Anderson on the "Wiped off the Map" Rumor
Rocky Anderson on sanctions, nuclear weapons and the rumor of the century, responding to video clips of Obama and Romney at the Presidential Debate.
MITT ROMNEY: Crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago. I’d make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation.
BARACK OBAMA: As long as I’m president, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security, and it’s a threat to Israel’s national security.
ROCKY ANDERSON: This repeats the lie that President Ahmadinejad in Iran stated that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. He never said it. He referred to the regime in Israel one day being in the dustbin of history. It was a misinterpretation, and it is so warmongering of both of these candidates to talk about how they will basically blow Iran away. Romney wants to impose crippling sanctions. Who would he be crippling? He’d be crippling, among others, some of the hundreds of thousands of people who stood in Tehran in a candlelight vigil in sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. It’s time that the people of both nations express their solidarity with one another and express our disdain, our disgust with these leaders who are engaging in this conduct that is ultimately going to lead to utter tragedy for the people of Iran.
Would Mitt Romney say that we should go over and attack North Korea because they have a nuclear bomb? How about Pakistan? How about China? How about Russia? We have an obligation, number one, to start reducing the number of nuclear weapons and provide that kind of leadership, because it’s the United States who has led the way for other nations to build up their nuclear armaments. And if Iran feels like they’re going to be attacked—and that’s all they’re hearing nowadays—of course they’re going to consider building a nuclear capability to deter an attack. But there is no evidence that they have any nuclear capability. And it’s an utter lie, totally baseless, for Mitt Romney to say that Iran is four years closer to building a nuclear weapon.
Reddit Q&A — October 24, 2012
In this online chat, Anderson said that if he had been elected President, he would have “pursued constructive engagement with all nations, focusing especially on Iran.”
What is your position . . . on Terrorism? . . . Does America have an ethical duty to be the world’s watchdog on democracy, or should we stick to an isolationist-domestic policy?
My position on "terrorism"? We should treat it in a criminal context, not as a "war", with all the outrages associated with the so-called war on terror. We should stop drone killings immediately. They have killed hundreds of innocent men, women, and children in at least four sovereign nations -- increasing the hatred and hostility toward the U.S., harming our long-term security. When people turn against us because we have occupied their countries and killed so many people, they are called "terrorists" when they seek to strike out against us. What would WE do if another nation were sending drones over our cities, killing whomever they want, along with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of innocent bystanders? We all need to be far more cognizant of history -- of the U.S. overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953, just before we overthrew the Arbenz government (also democratically elected) in Guatamela (at the behest of United Fruit Company). Our empire-building today is not much different -- and it needs to change. The public interest is being sacrificed for the interest of multi-national corporations -- and so many lives are being lost and ruined in the process. We can be engaged constructively in the world, without fomenting so much hatred and violence (as we’re doing now in Syria, and Mitt Romney would make it so much worse!), and without bolstering tyrants (as in Saudi Arabia) and others, like Israel, who receive billions in foreign aid without any human rights conditions attached. We should signal to Israel that we will not provide aid any longer until they are on the road to peace -- and that building more settlements in violation of international law is making peace more impossible.
Rocky Anderson’s Foreign Policy — 2012
Outlining his policies as a Presidential candidate...
The foreign policy of the United States should focus on the moral, security, and economic aspects of our actions. Since World War II, when we helped free the world from the threat of fascism, we have helped overthrow dozens of governments around the world, including democracies (e.g. Chile, Guatemala, Iran); we have supported brutal dictatorships (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Iraq); and have invaded sovereign nations to protect our “interests” (in reality, the interests of the military industrial complex), at the cost of thousands of American lives, and millions of lives of the countries we have attacked (e.g. Iraq, Vietnam, Korea).
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Historically there has been very little to choose between the Republicans and Democrats; both have been guilty of extreme illicit aggression against other countries. Eisenhower (who ordered the overthrow of the democratic governments of Iran and Guatemala) and Nixon, just like Kennedy and Johnson, escalated the war in Vietnam (leaving 3 million dead Indochinese); both Ford and Carter supported vicious regimes such as Suharto, and the Iranian Shah; Clinton waged destructive economic and military attacks against the Iraqi people (sanctions leaving roughly 500,000 children dead), just like his predecessor, George H. W Bush had done before him. George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” was a virtual repeat of Reagan’s “War on Terror” from 1981, which focussed on supporting right wing military juntas in Latin America, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths; and President Obama has continued this trend, expanding the war in Afghanistan, continuing the occupation of Iraq (20,000 US personnel are to be stationed in Baghdad, even after the troop withdrawal), as well as bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Obama has continued the tradition of transforming overwhelming global goodwill into hatred and hostility. There was huge international optimism when he came into office, but this has now evaporated. Negative appraisals of his presidency in the Middle East tripled between 2009 and 2010.
Given the aggression we have historically displayed towards the rest of the world, these attitudes are no surprise, and the blowback that we experience in the form of terrorism and attacks on our military personnel is surely to be expected. The Arab Spring, with citizens rising up to overthrow dictatorships, many of which are, or have been, supported by the U.S. (e.g. Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen), is a reflection of the resentment of millions of people toward oppressive governments bolstered by the United States.
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Our interference in other nations (except in cases of genuine massive human rights atrocities, as in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan) almost always results in significant damage to U.S. interests. The overthrow by the U.S. of the democratically governments in Iran and Guatemala are clear examples. We must act in a principled fashion in our dealings with other nations, rather than simply acting in the short-term economic interests of corporations that can profit from our wars and alliances with dictators.