I learned about the continuing existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom in a roundabout way through an interest in nuclear disarmament and the protests against U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Hawai’i’s history and its unresolved status as an occupied nation reveal a deeply ironic contradiction in America’s imperial project. The numerous American bases located around the […]
International NGOs that assist citizens suffering from the abuses of corporations and environmental degradation are increasingly seen by governments as nuisances, embarrassments and even as threats to national security. Russia, India and Canada are a few of the nations that have protested against these “meddlers” and looked for ways to keep them out.
At first glance, it seems absurd to say that well-intentioned organizations should be banned and stopped from assisting helpless victims with their struggles for justice. Unfortunately, there are organizations operating across borders who are giving a bad name to the NGOs that truly are independent and focused solely on helping the disenfranchised. These fake NGOs, or once-respected NGOs now compromised by deals with government or corporate agendas, are like undercover cops dressed as black block protesters that show up at peaceful demonstrations and give the larger movement a bad reputation.
A case in point is the recent pressure that Russia put on the Russian NGO, Planet of Hopes. For fifteen years the founder, Nadejda Kutepova, helped victims of the Southern Urals radiation disasters in their struggles to win recognition and compensation. In July 2015, she fled Russia after being vilified in the national television reports and threatened with prosecution for being a “foreign agent” because of one of the donations she accepted. She is now in France where she has applied for asylum.
While Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic nomination has once again made some Americans audacious enough to hope for progressive change, there has been a conspicuous absence in Sanders’ platform of any intention to revise foreign policy and connect it to the concern with domestic issues that has dominated his platform so far. Sanders is yet to tell the American public where he stands on a number of fundamental foreign policy questions, issues related not only to the use of the military but also to human rights and independence movements. It may not be readily apparent to the American public, but domestic problems are all deeply connected to the US role on the foreign stage over the last seventy years.
This weakness in Sanders’ campaign is evident if we compare it to one that is similar in many respects. In 1968, Senator Eugene McCarthy launched a campaign for the Democratic Party nomination, and like Bernie, he surprised the nation when his campaign turned into an insurgency that startled the presumptive hares in the race into panic mode.
Robert Kennedy was assassinated during the primary race, and President Johnson decided not to run for re-election when he noticed the level of opposition to his Vietnam policy. At the convention, the favorite of the party leadership, vice president Hubert Humphrey, faced a serious challenge from the dark horse candidate McCarthy who had risen from obscurity in a matter of months.