Dan Kovalik (born 1968) is a human rights, labor rights lawyer and peace activist. He has contributed to articles CounterPunch, Huffington Post and TeleSUR. He currently teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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- Nearly every day, we are bombarded with “news” about problems in Venezuela. And certainly, there are problems, such as food and medicine shortages and skyrocketing inflation. But there is something that is downplayed. What the press downplays, if it mentions it at all, is the very real and significant ways that US sanctions have contributed to these problems facing Venezuela and how these sanctions are making it nearly impossible for Venezuela to solve these problems. What the press also fails to mention is the even greater humanitarian issues confronting Venezuela’s next-door neighbor, Colombia – the US’ number one ally in the region and, quite bizarrely, the newest “global partner” of NATO from Latin America. And, the US is very much responsible for these issues as well, but in quite different ways. The fact is that, by a number of measures, Colombia has one of the worst human rights situations on earth, but you would never know this from watching the nightly news.
- ...I am simply baffled by what appears to be the prevailing view in this country... that Russia is somehow a threat to the United States....While I certainly understand it is in the interest of the military-industrial complex... to continue to vilify Russia in order to justify our already-bloated military spending... Russia was our ally in WWII in defeating the Nazis. And, contrary to what most Americans are taught, it was Russia that truly won that war in Europe, having lost over 20 million people to the war... 80 percent of the... Nazi['s] kills... [USA lost ~400,000]... certainly since 1960 and up to the present time, the U.S. has been much more brutal and blood-thirsty than Russia. It is not even a close call...
- Listen Liberals: 'Russia Is Not Our Enemy', Huffington Post (15 February 2017)
- It is these U.S. wars, along with the U.S.’s over 800 military bases in more than 70 countries (Russia has bases in only one country (Syria) outside the former Soviet Union) which has led to the U.S. rightly being viewed in a poll of people in 65 countries as by far the greatest threat to world peace... President Trump’s expressed desire to stop antagonizing Russia and to work with it... should be welcomed as eminently reasonable and indeed necessary to avoid a possible nuclear confrontation. This should also be welcome by an American public whose resources have been drained by the greatest military-spending spree by far on the planet....Certainly, liberals, who at least once stood for peace and for greater social spending, should be in the lead in cheering such overtures instead of drumming up anti-Russian hatred which can only lead to more war and more impoverishment of our society.
- Listen Liberals: Russia Is Not Our Enemy, Huffington Post (15 February 2017)
- I certainly consume NPR news more than any other mainstream source, usually listening to it at least twice daily, though I abhor its coverage of international events. For these reasons, and with the reader’s forbearance, I have chosen to single NPR out to look at how we in the U.S. are collectively misled into ignoring or accepting our own government’s atrocities.
- This week, NPR has had some significant segments on the world’s refugee crisis, the worst since World War II. While Syria is always mentioned in these segments and gets much mention on NPR in general, there is barely a mention of the refugee crisis emanating from Yemen.
- And, this is a big omission, for as the International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has recently reported, Yemen had more people displaced last year due to conflict than any other country on earth. Thus, 2.2 million people were displaced by the armed conflict in Yemen in 2015, a figure which accounts for over 25% of the 8.6 million people displaced around the globe due to conflict last year. In addition to Yemen’s refugee crisis, the IDMC also notes that over 14 million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation as a result of the current conflict.
- ...The only discussion I have found that NPR gave to Yemen in the context of the world refugee crisis was one, solitary piece back on May 11, and that piece was very telling in what it refused to say about the causes for Yemen’s mass displacement problem... The result of this disproportionate news coverage is that the listener could very well miss out entirely on any discussion of such issues as U.S.-backed crimes in Yemen. And, even if one does hear a segment or two on this matter, this issue will be easily forgotten and certainly not taken as seriously or treated as urgently as the misdeeds of the U.S.’s ostensible enemies, such as Syria’s Assad government, to which NPR gives nearly obsessive attention.
- In this way, we in the U.S., who may otherwise be moved to care about the fate of millions in Yemen whose lives are being upended with our own government’s complicity, are lulled into complacency, with our comfortable feeling about our nation’s inherent goodness fully intact. The result is that those in power in our ostensibly democratic government are given a free hand to aid and abet such atrocities as the near-total destruction of Yemen without the fear of any reprisal or approbation.