Search This Blog

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let Obama be Obama?

Disenchantment is setting in... Among those who describe themselves as "progressives" (an umbrella-term re-invented to avoid the pejoration of "liberal" and to encompass liberals and the non-Marxist left), the infatuation with President-elect Obama has began to sour. As thousands prepared to join the inaugural celebrations in DC, the announcement that Reverend Rick Warren would invoke the ceremonies sparked a decided outcry from progressive Obama supporters. The right-centrist Cabinet appointments - earlier indications of Obama's governing posture - were largely sloughed off by left supporters as Lincoln-esque maneuvers or practical accommodations. But honoring Warren stretched the credulity of even the most smitten. While Warren has shown a tad more tolerance and compassion than the worst of the evangelical right, he is still a member-in-good-standing of the cabal of fire and brimstone reactionaries.

Who is Obama?
Has Obama betrayed his progressive promise? Obama never made a progressive promise. The idea of Obama as a water-bearer for liberal or progressive reform came not from Obama's mouth, but from the sheer wishes and dreams of the left. They took the vacuity of the "change" slogan as something more than the usual hyperbole of two-party politics despite the fact that it is hurled at every lame duck or incumbent. They saw rhetorical, fuzzy commitments to constituents of the Democratic Party base as more than they have been in every previous Democratic campaign. They took youth, energy, and elequence as a mark of liberalism in a way not seen since the JFK campaign. In short, Obama ran a predictable, well executed Democratic Party Presidential campaign and the left took it to be a people's crusade.

The "democratic" component of the campaign - the internet engagement - was seen as a departure from business-as-usual even though it was used effectively by Howard Dean four years earlier and spawned no new, progressive movement. It is not yet clear how the post-election internet pollings will differ from the numerous Democratic Party postal fund-raising appeals that I receive, masquerading as polls. Republican strategists are now planning a similar "grass roots" strategy for coming elections. The mass mobilizations may well have surpassed previous ones, though, as in past campaigns, the organizers asked for no programmatic commitments or concessions. The efforts were gratefully received as "gifts" and not leverage.

Obama has effectively postured as his political career demanded. His social agency beginnings in Chicago coincided with the mayoral incumbency of an authentic progressive and reformer, Harold Washington. Yet there were no strong ties to either Washington's program nor his legacy.

Obama took liberal positions while dependent in his political advancement upon the liberal Hyde Park constituency and, at the same time, courted moneyed interests in Chicago - interests that would boost his advancement even more. His subsequent career generally followed these lines, balancing policy positions with constituency and fund-sourcing. In this regard, Obama's career parallels that of other centrist Democrats, no better or worse. But certainly nothing in Obama's career would warrant counting him among the Democratic Party's more progressive leaders, for example, Dennis Kucinich or John Conyers.

In fairness, Obama has betrayed no one. His vast centrist following and the Democratic Party old-guard have shown no fear of Obama's perceived "progressive" agenda, an agenda that appears to be more and more in the minds of a self-deluding left. Obama's appointments and positions have produced no panic among big capital which showered an unprecedented amount of financial support onto his campaign.

Fifty-six years ago, Walter Lippmann, an astute political observer, made similar observations about a Democratic Party nominee named "Franklin Roosevelt". As cited in Frederick Lewis Allen's Since Yesterday:

Walter Lippmann warned those Western Democrats who regarded Roosevelt as a courageous progressive and an "enemy of evil influences" that they did not know their man.

"Franklin D. Roosevelt" wrote Lippmann, "is an amiable man with many philanthropic impulses, but he is not the dangerous enemy of anything. He is too eager to please.... Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President".

Lippmann's assessment of Roosevelt before his election loosely fits our President-elect. Of course Roosevelt went on to be celebrated as the father of the New Deal and the symbol of the US welfare-state, such as it was. But as every careful read of the Great Depression history shows, the New Deal reforms were the result of independent mass pressure enabling and forcing these changes (see my The Real Lesson of the New Deal for the US Left,

The Left: Immature or Irrelevant?

By fitting Obama with the mantle of progressive change, the leadership of the broad left - much of the peace movement, liberals, environmental social justice activists, etc. - surrendered their critical judgment, independence, and influence to a blind trust in a fictitious movement for change. In the history of social change in the US, every real advance was spurred by independent organization and struggle unhampered by the niceties of bourgeois politics. From the Abolutionist movement to the Civil Rights movement, from the Populist movement to the Great Society, from the Anti-imperialist League to the Anti-Vietnam War movement, the initiative for change sprung from committed, independent activists who defied the caution and inertia of elected officials. Why have these lessons been ignored?

The many open letters to Obama circulating on the left, the often cogent economic game plans, and the internet support groups are no substitute for organized action. Sadly, the left - for I suppose tactical reasons - never rallied behind Obama's progressive pastor, Reverend Wright, when he was dumped and denounced, though many now feel an outrage for his choice of Reverend Warren. Both actions were dictated by opportunity and not principle.

Again, President-elect Obama has betrayed no one. He is who he says he is, in spite of any illusion conjured by left wing forces that chose to forgo the hard work of organizing independent action for fawning after bourgeois politicians. Some wise voices on the left remind us that we must now pressure Obama in order to move him forward towards progressive goals. Indeed, that is so. But that would be true regardless of who won the election.

Even more than the scolding of left wing critics, even more than the corporate connections and lame cabinet appointees, and even more than his offensive inaugural choice, Obama's silence and deferral to the Bush administration in the face of the outrageous massacre of Palestinians demonstrates where he stands. In turning his back on this slaughter of civilians, he is no better nor worse than the vast majority of two-party politicians that encourage Israeli aggression and disdain for Arab lives. There should be no doubt that Israel launched this atrocity, at least in part, to test the compliance of the President-elect. He has passed with flying colors.

Zoltan Zigedy

Friday, December 19, 2008

Brasscheck Exposes the Feds

On December 16, Brasscheck, the daily video release addressing generally progressive issues, joined the chorus heaping condemnation upon Illinois' Governor Blagojevich. Like most casual observers, Brasscheck followed the herd by referring to the non-existent "indictment" assumed after the Governor's dramatic early morning arrest and media-titillating perp walk.

To Brasscheck's credit, it had second thoughts on December 17, noting the not-to-subtle coincidence of Governor B's arrest and his support for Illinois workers - a point made on this blog on December 10. Brasscheck said:

Yesterday, we had some fun at the
Governor of Illinois' expense.

Maybe he deserves it.

On the other hand, there is something
very odd about the timing of his arrest.

The FBI, those paragons of law enforcement
virtue, seem to be operating more as
political enforcers than anything else.

See what the Governor was doing the
day before he was arrested...


- Brasscheck
And on December 18, Brasscheck came back with another video on the Republic victory noting how quickly l'affaire Blagojevich pushed the labor action off the front pages:

When was the last time you heard good news
about a labor action in the United States?

Have you *ever* heard good news about a
labor action in the US?

There may be a reason for that.


- Brasscheck

Kudos to Brasscheck for throwing more fuel on the fire of suspicion around the political motives of Fitzgerald's hasty arrest of the Illinois Governor.

Of course the issue is not Governor B's innocence; it would be shocking if he didn't participate in the pervasive process of "pay for play". As a noted defense attorney commented, it is customary for ambassadorships, UN appointments, and other government appointments to flow from campaign contributions and other financial commitments; influence-peddling is the lifeblood of bourgeois politics. Call it cynical, but it is surely naive to feign shock at the horse-trading that characterizes the crassness produced by two-party domination.

At issue here, though, is the blatant, high level abuse of judicial action to influence public sentiment and shape public policy. With Brasscheck, I question the timing of the dramatic arrest that tarnished Governor B's prior defense of Illinois workers and drove the story of militant action to the back pages, diminishing the chances of any "copycat" actions.

Later revelations show that Fitzgerald had even bigger fish to fry. Obama's associates, SEIU, and the labor movement in general are now all drawing scrutiny based upon implied association. The weekend Wall Street Journal reveals that an anti-union group, Center for Union Facts, plans to mount a media campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act based upon drawing links between SEIU and Blagojevich.

Those who fail to oppose this judicial thuggery should be reminded of the Federal campaign against Teamster President Ron Carey who died last week. On the heels of his victory against corruption and his leadership of an historic UPS strike, Carey was driven from the union leadership by a long, tedious judicial mugging that forced him from the union leadership and set back the cause of class struggle unionism. Then, like now, few had the stomach for a principled fight for judicial fairness in the face of public humiliation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Even More on Governor B and the Feds

While the media has pounced on Governor B's alleged sins and Democrats are scrambling in every direction to dissociate and condemn the Governor, a few judicial experts, with no horses in this race, have spoken out on improprieties in the actions of the Feds.

Writing in The New York Times, Barry Coburn, a former Federal prosecutor, opines:
Against this backdrop, it is hard to feel comfortable with Mr. Fitzgerald's [the Federal prosecutor's] remarks in announcing the charges that Mr Blagojevich's conduct amounted to a "political corruption crime spree" and "would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," that "the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering." that Mr. Blagojevich "put a "for sale" sign on the naming of a United States Senator" and that his conduct was "cynical" and "appalling" and has "taken us to a truly new low."

Any prosecutor at the center of a firestorm of publicity may find the temptation to grandstand hard to resist, but these comments are, to put it mildly, remarkably inflammatory. Mr. Fitzgerald's expression of revulsion, use of hyperbolic rhetoric and implicit assertion of his personal belief that the charges have merit clearly run a foul of the rules. It is one thing for a prosecutor to publicly condemn a defendant's actions and assert a belief that he did what he is charged with doing after a trial and conviction, but another to do so before he is indicted by a grand jury.

In "The Prosecution Should Give It a Rest" (12-13-08), Coburn cites the relevant rules of both the US District Court for Northern Illinois and the American Bar Association pertaining to Fitzgerald's actions. Though stated in cautious legalese, it is clear that the prosecutor is in flagrant violation of these rules.

On the same day, Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official - and a self-described Republican - wrote of Fitzgerald in The Wall Street Journal ("Fitzgerald Should Keep His Opinions to Himself" 12-13-08). Repeating much of the Coburn charges against Fitzgerald, Toensing adds "And although I am a Republican, I am first an officer of the court. Thus, I take no joy in a prosecutor pursuing a Democratic politician by violating his ethical responsibility. I fear for the integrity of the criminal justice system when a prosecutor breaks the rules."

She goes further by making a connection to Fitzgerald's prior behavior in the Plame case:

In his news conference in October 2005 announcing the indictment of Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice, he compared himself to an umpire who "gets sand thrown in his eyes." The umpire is trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked" his view. With this statement, Mr. Fitzgerald made us all believe he could not find the person who leaked Valerie Plame's name as a CIA operative because of Mr. Libby. What we now know is that Mr. Fitzgerald knew well before he ever started the investigation in January 2004 that Richard Armitage was the leaker and nothing Mr. Libby did or did not do threw sand in his eyes. In fact - since there was no crime - there was not even a game for the umpire to call.

Clearly, Toensing is suggesting that Libby was unjustly convicted in the Plame case and Fitzgerald knew that the conviction was not appropriate to the charge. But what she doesn't say is that Libby was the designated fall guy in the case in the time-honored tradition of two-party politics. Libby fell on his sword - without a great deal of pain as things turned out - in order to protect others. The long, costly investigation diverted attention from the real connections that would have linked Cheney, Rove, and, probably, Bush to the illegal outing of Plame. This could not have been done without the collusion of Fitzgerald and a lapdog media. We know from the Nixon Watergate scandal, where layer after layer of fall guys were peeled away before Nixon's role was revealed, that this is a common practice with bourgeois politics. But the media "watchdogs" have short memories.

It should be abundantly clear that Fitzgerald is a political operative, willing to serve his political allies even at the expense of the appearance of judicial propriety. His career since his appointment to the Northern Illinois position has been one of immediate and persistent legal investigations of Democratic elected officials in line with the directives of the Bush Justice Department that are now well documented. Nonetheless, he has been emboldened by the lack of resistance from either a vigilant media or a combative Democratic Party.

There should be no doubt that this is more than a move against Governor B. In reality, its a shot across the bow of President-elect Obama and his administration, signaling a willingness on the part of the rabid-Right to insure that Obama's heralded bi-partisanship will be decidedly one-sided. Because of Democratic Party spinelessness in this affair, they have likely already conceded the vacant Illinois Senate seat to the Republicans. It seems unfathomable that Governor B has been pilloried by his Party and the media before a hysterical prosecutor has called a Grand Jury or achieved an indictment.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on Governor B and the Feds

Folks love a good scandal. Politicians caught with their hands in the cookie jar or with their flies open satisfies a deep and too rarely fulfilled need to prick the huge balloon of bourgeois hypocrisy.

But behind every public exposure is a political back story of intrigue, connivance and opportunism. Only a freshman journalism student still believes that good stories are simply mined from the everyday labors of hard working reporters or picked like ripe plums from the myriad events of the day. Stories are leaked, provoked, manipulated, and choreographed. In an age where the line between news and entertainment is blurred, at a time when careerism, self-interest, and political advantage motivates, this is especially true. If you're a Marxist, this calls for the M-L scalpel to cut away appearances and expose the underlying forces at play. And if you're a movie buff, you may prefer the imagery of a gullible Kansas girl pulling back the curtain to reveal the manipulative Wizard of Oz (with lyrics by the blacklisted Red, Yip Harburg). However you take your dose of political skepticism, there's always more to the story than meets the eye.

The saga of Governor B continues to unfold with more and more interesting wrinkles. Wednesday's Wall Street Journal screams in headlines of a possible link between Governor B and Jesse Jackson, Jr. In lower case type, the Journal alleges a tie to The Service Employees (SEIU). The glee in which these claims are stated is barely contained. Innuendo about a connection with President elect Obama drips from the columns. Clearly, a political campaign is emerging, directed by the Bush appointed US attorney general, Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was, of course, the special prosecutor charged to investigate and prosecute in the infamous "Plame" affair involving the outing of a CIA agent deemed hostile to the Bush administration. After five years of slow-moving, cautious, and enormously costly investigation, Fitzgerald convicted a Cheney aide, "Scooter" Libby and closed the case despite strong public evidence of Rove and Cheney involvement. No journalistic hatchet men were charged and Libby walked after a Bush pardon with a laughable fine and probation.

Compare this with the early morning raid and Governor's B's perp walk in handcuffs: No grand jury, no judicial process, no caution, just a dramatic arrest guaranteed to draw media fervor (and take attention away from the Governor's prior act of solidarity with Republic workers). Clearly, Fitzgerald has more enthusiasm for this case than he showed in the Plame matter.

Buried in the Wednesday Journal article is the revelation that many defense attorneys who read the 76 page FBI document "noted many of Gov. Blagojevich's headline-grabbing conversations weren't necessarily crimes". Prominent attorney Gerald Lefcourt affirmed this, adding "Every politician keeps accounts - what is horse trading, and what is hyperbole?"

The Thursday Journal adds even more detail to what is shaping up to be even more clearly a case of politically motivated judicial head-hunting. In an article about convicted Chicago developer and fundraiser Antoin Rezko, the authors point out that Rezko had written to the judge in his case complaining that Fitzgerald was pressuring "him to tell them the 'wrong' things I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama". After more arm-twisting and a possible plea bargain, Rezko has now agreed to cooperate with Fitzgerald's office, serving as one of the principal sources supporting the charges against Governor B. Politically motivated? For sure.

Is there any doubt that "facts" will appear that will send the talk radio and cable snakes into a frenzied attack upon Obama?

The broken two-party system, where public office is essentially bought and sold, creates this cesspool of corruption, judicial manipulation, and political opportunism. To run for any office beyond dog catcher, sums of money are necessary - well beyond the resources of any but the very rich. It becomes virtually impossible to raise such sums without establishing relationships with contributors, relationships based upon favors - what has come to be called "pay for play". It is naive to think that this behavior is an aberration. At best, politicians are either shrewd, by distancing themselves from any incriminating transactions, or less reckless than others.

In this context, nearly all financial exposure is foolhardy or politically motivated. And in the case of Governor B, likely both are true. The financial difficulties of fighting the Feds through nearly all of his tenure as well as Fitzgerald's hit-man mission left him vulnerable to the charges that are emerging. The timing of the arrest may well have been made to overshadow the Republic factory occupation, but the ultimate goal is to embarrass and tarnish the Obama administration. But, then, that's bourgeois politics.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A friend made an interesting observation this morning. He mused that he had never heard of the Governor of Illinois until he publicly attacked Bank of America for denying any credit relief to Republic Window and Doors in Chicago, the company that closed last week only to be met with a militant sit-in by two hundred of its workers. Governor Blagojevich, like the members of the United Electrical Workers local, took a stand. He stated unequivocally that that state of Illinois would no longer do business with Bank of America, a company that eagerly took billions of dollars of bailout money meant to loosen credit, while steadfastly refusing to pass it on to a struggling company employing workers in Chicago. After the sit-in began at week's end, Governor B, on Monday, was the first prominent person to visit the workers and take a tough public stance for the workers' cause.

As my friend noted, the otherwise obscure Governor made national headlines on Tuesday, not for his act of solidarity, but for his Federal indictment on corruption charges. Before the word could spread about his support for desperate workers, the national headlines were scandalizing his name, erasing even a hint of integrity in his bold Monday declarations.


Frankly, you have to suffer from nursery school naivete to buy this explanation. Does that mean that Governor B is pure as the driven snow? Of course not. He's a crook. Friends and relatives in Illinois have recounted his many shady deals for some time. Governor B was a willing participant in the national political sport of "pay for play", the active solicitation of personal or campaign funds in return for no-bid contracts, legal and bond work, and other public benefits. It would be far easier for an investigative reporter - if there are any left - to find "public servants" who are not players than to identify the few that pass on the tantalizing attraction of graft. The long and lucrative career of Vincent Fumo, a Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania State Senator, is only the most recent and outrageous publicly revealed example of the mind-boggling greed of public officials.

But think about this indictment. Put the justifiable indignation over the revelations about another corrupted, cynical politician aside for the moment and consider the timing. The Feds have been wiretapping Governor B for five years! They have a veritable treasure trove of self-implicating, vulgar graft-mongering. Like the infamous FBI under J. Edgar Hoover which wiretapped the mafia for two decades, they seemed more interested in eavesdropping than pursuing justice. But - aha! - a moment arrived when they could stick it to the old Governor. He dared to side with the workers!

Now I have no more insight into Governor B's mind than I do the true motives of other politicians who have signed onto progressive legislation or taken commendable public stands, but I do know this: no other Governor has stepped up to defend and support the laid-off workers of Republic except for him. And few will fail to see the possible consequences of doing so, given that the Feds may have been monitoring their deals as well. Nothing puts a damper on political boldness like an assassination - remember the sixties? - or Federal indictments.

Whatever his reasons, Governor B stepped up with real support before anyone else. It took John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, a full five days to issue a statement in solidarity with the workers in Chicago. The machinery of class solidarity seem to be a bit rusty in Washington DC. Maybe the labor movement should consider the UE organizer who dared to take on Republic and Bank of America, Leah Fried, as the next President of the AFL-CIO. She and the workers she so ably represent seem to show a lot more fight than the UAW's groveling President who proudly stands shoulder to shoulder with the discredited auto moguls.

I salute the workers at Republic. Let this be a beginning!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The First Challenge

With over a month to go before the Presidential inauguration, a measure of the new administration's direction is emerging. While skepticism about Cabinet appointments has been brushed aside as negativism, policy positions are not so easily dismissed. This past week, Obama has shared specifics on his Iraq policy. In a New York Times article entitled "Reality mutes campaign promises on Iraq"(12-04-08), author Thom Shanker gathers Obama's current statements on the occupation to piece together a picture of a position somewhat at odds with the position advertised in the primaries and the Presidential campaign.

The current position might be summarized as follows:

  • The promised troop withdrawal by May of 2010 only applies to combat troops. Obama iterated "I said that I would remove combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary - likely be necessary - to maintain a residual force..." An Obama security adviser ventured that there might be 30,000 to 55,000 remaining troops, down from a total of 146,000 today.

  • Obama emphasizes the necessity of basing withdrawals on the recommendation of national security advisers and field commanders: "I believe that 16 months is the right time frame, but, as I've said consistently, I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders". This position mirrors the consistent stance of Bush since the invasion of Iraq, scoffed at by his critics.

  • The Pentagon, as the next administration no doubt knows, can and would willingly "remission" troops now counted as combat troops. Currently only 15 out of 50 brigades serving in Iraq are labeled "combat troops". As Shanker comments, "At the Pentagon and the military headquarters in Iraq, response to the statements this week from Mr. Obama and his national security team has been akin to the senior officer corp' letting out its collective breath..." Planners see as many as 70,000 troops remaining in Iraq indefinitely.

Shanker observes that "To date there has been no significant criticism from the Democratic Party's anti-war left of the prospect that Mr. Obama will keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for at least several years to come".

For the anti-war movement this is a serious challenge. Clearly, the Obama position of the moment is at odds with a complete withdrawal from the imperial mission. There is nothing in this stance to indicate a break with US neo-colonial policies of establishing Iraq as a forward base for US interests in the Middle-East. As things stand, Iraq would remain a dominated country with a client government serving the US.

As Shanker notes, there has been little response from the left to these "clarifications" of President-elect Obama.

To a great extent, the leadership of the anti-war left has adopted three tactical positions:

  • A Presidential and legislative victory of the Democratic Party was essential to the conclusion of the war. Anti-war activity was largely replaced by an all out effort to secure a Democratic victory in the election cycle. Candidates were seldom pressed on their position and, as a result, the occupation was seldom mentioned in the campaign.
  • An anti-imperialist approach to organizing was too narrow to secure peace in the region. With the exception of the ANSWER coalition, every effort was made to exclude an anti-imperialist message. Connections were not sought nor made with US predations in Cuba, Venezuela, Eastern Europe or other targets of aggression. Nor were they welcoming to solidarity with Palestinians or other oppressed peoples.
  • The anti-war movement needed to make every effort to appear patriotic. The US occupiers were in all cases characterized as equally victimized by the Bush administration and the anti-war movement sought to cast the effort as one of supporting those troops.

There were, of course, some compelling reasons for embracing these tactics. The tide of xenophobia and hyper-patriotism after the September 11th attack were seen as requiring the broadest possible approach to ending the war. Nonetheless, events suggest that these tactics both underestimated the US people and the US ruling class. By uncritically aligning with the Democratic Party, the anti-war movement misjudged the commitment of the party to restore Iraq to the Iraqis. Like all of us, the Democratic leadership saw that the occupation was untenable with a public appalled at rising US casualties. On the other hand, the Democrats never renounced either the US occupation nor domination of Iraq. Thus a draw down of US combat troops is today perfectly consistent with the goals of US imperialism.

In addition, the anti-war leadership misread the Bush victory in 2004. Despite slippage in the popularity of the war, Bush's victory was taken as a public commitment to his occupation policies. No one saw the election as less a Bush victory than a Kerry defeat. The Obama win demonstrates, in retrospect, the many weaknesses of the Kerry campaign. Certainly Obama benefited from a collapsing economy, but he also proved much more resilient to the charges of "liberal" elitism while offering a clear, though unspecific, message of change. Memory will serve to remind us that the Howard Dean campaign, before it was subverted early in 2004, exhibited much of the youth, energy, and vigor that Obama captured in 2008. As Bush's second term progressed, we all saw clearly that the US populace was in no ways endorsing the Bush aggression with its votes.

As a new Iraq policy emerges, the anti-war movement faces the challenge of tackling an occupation looking less and less like a war. It would seem unavoidable today that the idea of imperialist domination should be brought into the movement. Resistance to continued US presence in Iraq, manipulation of the government, and exploitation of the country's resources cannot be couched in language that sidesteps the charge of imperialism. Moreover, that understanding can only be strengthened by stressing the involvement of the US ruling class in other imperialist adventures. In short, the anti-war movement must become more and more an anti-imperialist movement. As such, it will find a growing chasm between the movement and the foreign policy elites that now and in the future administration shape US foreign policy.

Thus, rekindling the fire of anti-war activism requires a re-examination of all three elements of previous tactics. The reality of a Democratic administration committed to a more benign occupation through "peace keepers" and mercenaries may mask the injustice and alter the appearances, but never erase the stain of imperialist domination.