By MARY UYEMATSU KAO

Unfortunately, the word “democracy” has come to represent the interests of the U.S. imperialists, as we are now living in a dictatorship of the 1%. Under the capitalist system, the closest we ever get to any form of socialism is when the 1% gets bailed out by our “democratic” government. 

Our hard-earned tax dollars are spent on things that we never get to vote on, like the defense budget. Would the majority of U.S. citizens want the military budget to outsize the budgets for much-needed human services, or much-needed infrastructure modernization?  Or dealing with the homeless situation and the need for tons of “affordable” low-cost housing?

Biden’s ratings have been on the decline since he pulled U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. We already knew that inflation was admittedly here, and gas prices were already on the rise. But most of us are clueless when it comes to what’s been happening in world politics and what the U.S. has been doing to “keep us safe,” myself included(!). What better way to uplift the U.S. pandemic-laced malaise than to provoke Russia into the Ukraine invasion?

As the mainstream news spinners indoctrinate us with fake news that the Russian invasion was “unprovoked,” do we see America rising out of the destruction of the pandemic? Nice try, President Biden, but “uniting the world” against Putin has done little to reduce the deep divisions within our own borders. We just finished watching the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was subjected to the smears by Republicans who wish to promote a stereotype of Democrats as soft on crime—protecting child abusers and defunding the police.

But now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, we are subjected to a leap in logic that it’s all Russia’s fault for making you pay more at the gas pump. There is a strong possibility that the U.S./NATO/European Union/Ukraine vs. Russia conflict will have serious impact on future gas prices, but it takes some time for that to take effect. Still, our eager gas suppliers will keep jacking up the prices as long as they can get away with it. 

One woman interviewed at the pump for mainstream TV news said she was proud to pay the higher prices if it was going to help fight the Russian invasion. Wow, that’s another giant leap in logic — it’s our tax dollars that are paying for our military budget. The gas suppliers are laughing all the way to the bank with new super profits.

In fact, the pandemic has created historically new highs in profits for our Big Pharma COVID-19 vaccine makers. Amazon sent owner Jeff Bezos to the moon as his warehouse workers struggle to organize unions to protect their basic human rights. And while Biden shakes his finger at China for human rights violations, the Black father of a young man who was gunned down by police said — [paraphrased] “You talk about human rights in China, what about here?”

So as Biden pulled us out of Afghanistan, which was a “justified” U.S. invasion under the cloak of the U.S. “war on terrorism” — are we in any way accountable for 929,000 people being killed from direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan? Biden screams about Russian/Putin war crimes in a deceptive sleight-of-hand to cover up U.S. war crimes and the massive killing of civilians, including indiscriminate drone attacks that killed innocent women, children, and elders. But no, Putin is the evil guy attacking the civilian population in Ukraine — and we are no longer in Afghanistan. 

According to the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University’s “Costs of War” website:

“Far more of the people killed have been civilians. More than 387,072 civilians have been killed in the fighting since 2001. [Referring to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan]

• The United States military in 2017 relaxed its rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan, which resulted in a massive increase in civilian casualties.

• The CIA has armed and funded Afghan militia groups who have been implicated in grave human rights abuses and killings of civilians. (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians)

Newscasters repeat over and over that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused the biggest refugee situation in Europe since World War II. BUT, while there has been maybe 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees in this first month of the “invasion,” Watson Institute’s website states: “The U.S. post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 38 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria.”

While we are supposed to be reeling in horror at Putin’s invasion, why aren’t we supposed to feel the same way when the U.S. commits similar, and even worse, war crimes? It’s getting harder and harder to not get caught up in the U.S. imperialists’ narrative of what reality is and who are the bad guys. What news sources can we trust? How many U.S. citizens have just given up on even caring about what the truth is as we get lied to left, right, and center?

Biden and U.S. operatives need to stop using Ukraine as our proxy war with Russia, making Ukrainians pay with their lives. The U.S. military has barely wiped Afghan blood from its brow.

I urge you to read “Waltzing Toward Armageddon with the Merchants of Death” by Chris Hedges, who says it best with the full power of his knowledge:

“The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20t century. The danger of provoking Russia was universally understood with the collapse of the Soviet Union, including by political elites as diverse as Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan, who called the expansion of NATO into Central Europe “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.

“This provocation, a violation of a promise not to expand NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, has seen Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia inducted into the Western military alliance. This betrayal was compounded by a decision to station NATO troops, including thousands of U.S. troops, in Eastern Europe, another violation of an agreement made by Washington with Moscow. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps a cynical goal of the Western alliance, has now solidified an expanding and resurgent NATO and a rampant, uncontrollable militarism. The masters of war may be ecstatic, but the potential consequences, including a global conflagration, are terrifying. 

“Peace has been sacrificed for U.S. global hegemony. It has been sacrificed for the billions in profits made by the arms industry. Peace could have seen state resources invested in people rather than systems of control. It could have allowed us to address the climate emergency. But we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace. Nations frantically rearm, threatening nuclear war. They prepare for the worst, ensuring that the worst will happen.

“The moral hypocrisy of the United States is staggering. The crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine are more than matched by the crimes committed by Washington in the Middle East over the last two decades, including the act of preemptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act of aggression.” (https://scheerpost.com/2022/03/14/hedges-waltzing-toward-armageddon-with-the-merchants-of-death/)

As Biden called for a regime change — and then said he didn’t mean regime change — what does he mean? It seems like we could use a regime change ourselves. Now that might be a real step towards peace in Ukraine, world peace, healing the planet from climate change, and the protection of everyone’s human rights. 

Mary Uyematsu Kao is a retired photojournalist. She published her photography book “Rockin’ the Boat: Flashbacks of the 1970s Asian Movement” in June 2020. Comments and feedback are welcome at:  uyematsu72@gmail.com. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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