Freedom Rider: Standing with Venezuela and Iran

The Trump administration wants a hot war with Iran or Venezuela, or both, and those of us claiming to be antiwar must be on our guard and ready for action.

The Donald Trump administration hasn’t given up its dream of regime change in Venezuela and Iran. They have vowed not to ease the sanctions that have literally killed thousands of people in both countries. In fact, they have increased them and claim that their efforts to do just that are somehow humanitarian.

All previous attempts to dislodge the elected president of Venezuela have ended in failure. In 2019, the U.S. instigated riots near the Colombian border and a coup attempt which fortunately was more of a photo opportunity than a serious effort by the opposition to take power. Would be usurper Juan Guaido has traveled all over the world and gained the backing of U.S. vassal states without accomplishing the desired result. The recent indictment of president Nicolas Maduro on drug trafficking charges was a sign that they will again up the ante.

When Trump and his attorney general weren’t making up charges out of thin air against Maduro, they muttered about Iranian “sneak attacks.” Not content to murder Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, they have refused to leave Iraq when that country’s parliament ordered them to do so. The rationale is that they are fighting an Iraqi resistance which they claim is directed by Iran. Of course the violence in Iraq is a direct result of the 2003 invasion and occupation which killed 1 million people.

The United States is a failed state, but one which still has the largest military in the world and, for now, the most economic power. It has nothing else to offer except destruction and death as its crumbling infrastructure kills its own people, as can be seen in the COVID-19 outbreak.

There will surely be manufactured pretexts for war, such as the mysterious sinking of a Venezuelan vessel by a supposed “cruise ship” with a hull fit out with ice breaking capabilities. Ice breakers generally do not sail in the Caribbean but we can expect more unlikely events to take place in order to get Congress and the public to prepare for a hot war. The phony Gulf of Tonkin in the 1960s and phony claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2003 are just two of the lies told to justify American aggressions.

The quarantines taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic are an opportune moment for mischief making but those of us claiming to be antiwar must be on our guard and ready for action. We already know that the Trump administration wants a hot war on Iran and we know that the corporate media and the political duopoly will support any effort in that direction.

The same compromised journalists who rail against Trump’s vile ramblings during COVID-19 press conferences will quickly fall into line if he claims some justification for a war. The Democrats who say he must ask permission before killing people will in all likelihood give him the approval he seeks. Democrats have already lionized Guaido and signaled that they would give Trump a free hand in Venezuela. They already repeat Trump administration claims about Iran as fact. Neither the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or MSNBC asked hard questions about the Soleimani assassination, which was a war crime by definition. None of them do the job that journalists are supposed to do and ask why there are sanctions at all or question the premise that America has the right to do what it wants whenever it wants.

It will be up to those who call themselves antiwar to refrain from falling into line and supporting candidates and parties who advocate for more war crimes. The discredited doctrine of lesser evilism must be rejected, and political independence must be the order of the day. Not only should Trump be called to account in case of war, but so must the Democrats who give him any support.

Even in quarantine the people can and must go out into the streets. Mass actions can be done with safety in mind. If protesters have to wear masks and gloves for the sake of safety then so be it. The only thing worse than U.S. aggression would be silence and complicity.

The Soleimani assassination put thousands of people out in the streets demanding no war against Iran. This moment is one that cries out for sustained activity and not for falling into complacency when the Trump team is seemingly quiescent.

There must be unquestioned support for the people of Iran and Venezuela. Any critique of their governments, no matter how valid they may be, must be put on hold. These sovereign nations have a right to self-defense and their people have a right to live in peace. Critique must be reserved for this country, its political parties and its corporate media. They can all be counted on to march in lock step when other nations are attacked. There must be clear resolve to be unsparing in our opposition to all of the aggressors and their accomplices should the worst come to pass.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at and she regularly posts on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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