Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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Published on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Connect the dots, see the pattern

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales said that he is "absolutely convinced" the United States orchestrated the military coup that removed him from power last November.

               I believe him.

               Not because I have any inside knowledge of Bolivian politics. Nor because I have back room connections in Washington DC.

               I believe Morales because I have seen too many examples of the U.S. attempting to impose what it calls “regime change” in other countries. Bolivia fits the pattern too well.

               The prime example is probably Iraq.

               The U.S. made no secret that its goal in invading Iraq in 2003 was to topple Saddam Hussein. To justify that invasion, it invented stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear “weapons of mass destruction” -- using technology supplied by the U.S. during Iraq’s war with Iran -- that supposedly threatened the whole civilized world. 
               A matching falsehood was the claim that Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda terrorist network, which -- at least according to official reports -- engineered the World Trade Centre bombings on September 11, 2001.

               And the result? Political chaos throughout the Middle East that enabled ISIS to emerge and commit atrocities on live video.


A long list…

               More recently, Libya. Read the CIA’s own Fact Book -- under Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule, Libya had improved gender equality, education, life expectancy, literacy, and health services. It had reduced poverty. It was debt-free. All had access to safe drinking water.

               But Gaddafi had nationalized Big Oil. So he had to go. The so-called “Arab Spring” protests of 2011, in Tunisia and Egypt,  offered an excuse. NATO, dominated by U.S. air power, enforced a no-fly zone  to neutralize Gaddafi’s military power.

               Gaddafi fell, murdered by rebels.

               And Libya sank back into medieval conditions.

               The U.S. tried the same tactic in Syria, backing rebel forces. But when Bashar al-Assad proved less easy to depose, U.S. forces pulled back. They now protect only oil fields.


… goes on and on

               The CIA collaborated with Chile’s military to overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973. Although legitimately elected to the presidency after 40 years in politics, Allende sealed his fate by nationalizing U.S.-owned copper mines.

               Allende’s successor, General Augusto Pinochet, imposed  17 years of torture, execution, imprisonment and political repression. But U.S. corporations fared well.

               Similarly, the military junta in Brazil that orchestrated 21 years of torture and repression, 1964-1985,  depended on U.S. backing. The U.S. even sent an aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal, to Rio de Janeiro in advance, to ensure the coup succeeded.

               The CIA and Britain’s MI6 conspired to oust Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953. Same old story -- the government had nationalized British oil firms. The coup brought back foreign ownership, and made the Shah an absolute monarch. The Shah brought in many social and economic reforms, but proved corrupt and ruthless. In the end, ravaged by cancer, he believed that the two nations that brought him to power were now attempting to get rid of him.

               Ayatollah Khomeini took over.


The juggernaut of Empire

               Do you see a pattern developing here? Any government -- whether Marxist, capitalist, or monarchical -- that challenges U.S. dominance is ripe for regime change.

               You cannot argue that the U.S. never interferes in the politics of other nations. The world’s longest-standing trade embargo -- against Cuba, now 58 years old -- was openly aimed at damaging the Castro regime.

               And almost without exception, those attempts at regime change have proved disastrous.

               Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not blaming ordinary Americans. Nor any political party in America. These attempts at regime change have happened over many decades, no matter which party happened to control Washington at the time.

               It’s not about America, but about what critics have called “Amerika” -- the never-mentioned Empire that believes it has a right to meddle in the affairs of other nations. The juggernaut of interference rolls on, regardless of the official policies of any administration.

               It’s easy to tell when U.S. interests have been involved in overthrowing a national government. Washington immediately endorses the new authority, before it can even indicate its priorities. Look at the military takeover in Honduras, in 2009. The attempt to replace Nicolas Maduro with Juan Guaido in Venezuela earlier in 2019.

               And now, Bolivia.

               You don’t have to connect every dot in a child’s puzzle before you can recognize that the picture shows a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Or an American eagle. Whatever.

               The regime-change dots tell me that it doesn’t pay to be a thorn in the Imperial vulture’s foot.


Copyright © 2020 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.

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My New Year’s gift was the quality of the responses to last week’s column, in which I likened moving forward into a New Year to walking. You got the metaphor -- and some of you extended it.


Cliff Boldt went beyond walking: “When I ran marathons, that was what we talked about, falling forward, allowing gravity to help with the running.  It worked.

               “I don’t fall forward as much anymore for the reasons you noted.  It has been a shock to my system (male ego talking here) that I don’t have the same faith in myself.  I am coming to terms with this change in faith.  It’s not really a loss, just a different form of faith.  I think.”


Tom Watson focused on the moving forward: “Even if we -- the aged and the ancient, the halt and the lame -- need to shuffle into the New Year, we can still shuffle boldly. Happy steps into the next decade!”


Isabel Gibson called the column “Another arresting image… One thing I note as I scramble awkwardly over rocky outcroppings beside rivers, trying to get a good vantage point for a photo, is that my balance is better when my feet are less tentative. Not that I should be heedless, but neither should I be overly cautious.”


Lloyd Lovatt saw a universal significance: “In a very real sense, the combination of a fall and the carefully timed, follow-on, saving act are a central dynamic of the universe. I have often thought of an orbit as nothing more than falling toward the planet (radial motion) and, at the last second, introducing the exactly correct tangential impulse by which you barely miss the planet.  The rest is calculus.

               “But it must be the same at the comet and atomic levels, too, which are all about orbits.”


My column was, of course, about more than walking. Bruce Thomas wrote,  “Jim, your comments on faith are right on. To me, faith is the only thing we have allowing us to proceed into the future and, as you say, be willing to take a risk of ,...well, whatever comes. It’s the doorway into the future without which we would be trapped in today and what was yesterday. [We can] move forward because we don’t do it alone.”


John Willems contributed his own experience: “An elderly lady walks by our house almost daily. We affectionately call her ‘lady two sticks’. A year ago I helped her up after a fall. Her face was bloodied from the contact with the sidewalk. After wiping the blood off, we had a nice chat. Now she walks with the aid of those two walking sticks.

               “Sometimes I refuse the aids in my faith as I age because I’m too stubborn to recognize my needs are changing as I fall forward. I’m also trusting in the seeds I’ve planted in the lives of others, as I age, that they will rescue me when I fall and cannot support my steps.”


My daughter, Sharon Taylor, who has degrees in both physiology and kinesiology, amplified the significance of walking: “Walking was once described to me as the hardest thing we have ever learned to do -- both from an evolutionary and individual perspective. Homo erectus, with his or her relatively small brain, took a chance after reaching up for the fruit on a branch and put out a foot instead of falling back to all fours.

               “Now, we watch babies with great anticipation as they take their first steps secure in the knowledge (faith?) that they will stumble, try again, and eventually succeed.

               “Those who must rehabilitate will attest to how hard it is to re-learn to walk. To put faith in a process that is programmed into our muscles and nerves through years of repetition after some part of the system has failed or been traumatized. There are times when they want to give up. Sometime the body is too damaged but they keep trying and they develop a new way of walking. Now THAT is faith.”


Bob Rollwagen connected walking with economics and justice: “More than ever, there are people who can’t wait to jump boldly into 2020. My hope is that they will focus on reversing the trends destroying the global understanding of fairness. We have enough individuals with enough personal wealth to eliminate the housing shortage, to insure a living wage for all, to insure no one is left behind because of lacking educational or medical guidance, to reverse the local contribution to global climate change and to eliminate the existing governmental debts, all at the same time.”

               Bob suggested a new way of doing taxation: “The result could mean that taxation beyond this challenge has a totally new focus and many of our current social realities are corrected. It’s a simple set of goals and they are espoused by many. Unfortunately, too many propose actions that first protect and advance their own security with the hope that something is left over for the less fortunate…

               “Will 2020 be the year that the bold truth appears? Will we ever be bold for others again?”






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To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. (This is to circumvent filters that think some of these links are spam.)

                       Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” is an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca. He set up my webpage, and he doesn’t charge enough.

                       I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also runs beautiful pictures. Her Thanksgiving presentation on the old hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth, Is, well, beautiful -- https://www.traditionaliconoclast.com/2019/10/13/for/

                       Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)



                       The late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures now have an archive (don’t ask how this happened) on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. Feel free to browse all 550 columns.



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