Trump's Body Count: War Crimes Against Iran and Venezuela
Trumps Body Count:
War Crimes Against Iran and Venezuela
By Al Carroll
Trump has been trying to overthrow the governments of Iran and Venezuela since he first took office. Both nations are bogeymen for American nationalists, successfully defying the US and leading opposition to what they see as western or imperialist and colonialist domination for over 40 years from Irans Shiite fundamentalist point of view, or 20 years from the vantage of Venezuelas Bolivarian movement.
Trumps hostility to both nations is not unique, only the level of it, his willingness to kill, sacrifice, or risk innocent lives, literally by the tens of thousands. Trumps anger was also for a time equally directed at North Korea.
The US came close to war with North Korea several times, including close call false nuclear alerts. Trump humiliated himself repeatedly with empty threats and obvious lies, earning the insult dotard from North Koreas dictator Kim Jong Un. (Most of the world had to look that up, and were then greatly amused. It means a senile fool, or a weak old man losing his mind.)
Finally, North and South Koreas leaders had enough and sat down and began negotiating peace on their own, with zero US involvement. There were a series of delusional claims from Trump and his supporters he would win or deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. A fellow bigoted white nationalist from Sweden even nominated him, and Trump earned further derision by pretending he had won in public speeches. But even that debacle is nothing compared to the widespread lasting harm Trump caused to two entire nations.
Trying to Start a War with Iran
Before Obama, every US president since Jimmy Carter has denounced, sanctioned, and occasionally bombed Iran. Obama was pragmatic enough to try to reconcile with Irans leaders in the interest of avoiding another possible nuclear armed nation.
Since the early 2000s, American nationalists and Israels Prime Minister Netanyahu had been hysterically claiming, without credible evidence, that Iran was seeking to develop its own nuclear arsenal. But none of Irans nuclear facilities ever had, or sought, capability to enrich nuclear material to the level needed for weapons.
Obama negotiated a landmark treaty with Iran, on the same historic level as Nixons arms control agreements with China and the Soviet Union and Carters peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, striving to bring an end to generations of confrontation. Iran agreed to inspections and limits and the US returned billions of Iranian funds taken during the Carter administration. It was an unqualified glorious success.
Such peace, justice, and success by a Black Democratic president was something that warmongers and bigots who hated both Blacks and Muslims could not abide. American foreign policy right wingers spent years spouting hysterical falsehoods that Iran would somehow cheat, or still find a way to build nuclear weapons without weapons grade material. Israels Netanyahu threatened to bomb Iran, and came close to it in 2011. The pro Israel lobby in the US pushed Congress for Obama to give Israel the OK, or for the US to bomb Iran on its own. Obama fended them off.
As soon as Trump got into office, he ordered all Iranians banned from the US as possible terrorists. This was part of the notorious Muslim ban and was quickly thrown out by the courts. Six other mostly Muslim nations were part of the ban. Three other versions of the ban were ordered before they finally formulated one that was not thrown out by the courts. Thousands of travelers were held, tens of thousands of visas revoked, many more immigrants discouraged, and a ban in all but name carried out by extreme vetting.
Trump spent most of 2018 trying and failing to intimidate Iran and provoke a war. In April he began a blockade, an illegal act of war under international law, hidden under the euphemism sanctions, keeping other nations from buying Iranian oil. Later he ordered a blockade of Irans metal exports. In May, he pulled the US out of the treaty negotiated by Obama. Then he sent an aircraft carrier group and nuclear capable B-52 bombers to threaten Iran. Then he added an amphibious invasion ship and a missile battery.
Both sides blustered in a war of words. From Trump, We have information that you don't want to know about. They were very threatening. If they do anything, it'll be a very bad mistake. If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.
Some news accounts reported Trump planned to send 120,000 troops. Trump answered he was ready to send a hell of a lot more. Then all nonessential US government staff were ordered to leave Iran and the Revolutionary Guard were declared terrorists. This is unprecedented, roughly equal to another nation declaring the US Marine Corp or any other elite though large in numbers military branch to be terrorists.
Not content, Trump next outright threatened genocide. If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. This was, like much of Trumps most embarrassing acts done by tweet, without warning, surprising and alarming his own staff and supporters as much as Iran.
Two attacks on Japanese tankers were blamed on Iran, even though no clear evidence proved it. Some accounts claimed it was mines, others flying objects, even debris. Many, from Japanese authorities to neutral governments to American officials outside of Trump supporters, found it very suspicious that Trump and his people seized upon a report of alleged attacks on a non American ship not carrying American goods or people. There were some reports of planned US attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities that didnt happen since there was no clear proof of Irans involvement.
Instead, Trump sent 1,000 more US troops. Both Iran and the US shot down one of each others drones. Trump threatened an air strike, then backed down. Two Saudi oil fields were attacked by Yemens Houthi rebels, which Trump falsely blamed on Iran, though Iran sends no aid to the Houthi.
Trump then sent a childish New Years Eve threat by tweet, again surprising his own supporters as much as Iran. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year! Two days later, Trump ordered the assassination by drone of the commander of the Revolutionary Guards.
The attack backfired badly. Even anti government protesters in Iran mourned the generals murder and demonstrated against Trump. Iran launched missile attacks on two US bases in Iraq. Over 100 US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries.
Trump at first insisted no troops were hurt, tweeting All is well! Then he sneered at troop injuries as only, I heard they had headaches. Some of the more cynical thought the attack was intended to avoid deaths, since Irans government informed Iraqs of the attack in advance. But either way, Trump backed down and did not even respond to over 100 American troop casualties.
Trumps blockade of Iran has certainly killed large numbers of average Iranians who had nothing to do with its government, many of them children or elderly. 85,000 cancer patients in Iran went without chemotherapy or radiotherapy. 40,000 hemophiliacs could not get blood clotting medicine. 23,000 AIDS patients could not get needed medicines. 8,000 Iranians with the inherited blood disorder thalassemia cannot get the medicine deferoxamine. Medical autoclaves in Iran began to break down, making both sterilizing medical instruments and manufacturing many other drugs harder.
Trump even refused to lift the blockade in the face of the COVID pandemic, which hit Iran far harder than any other nation in the Middle East. Exactly how many Iranians have been directly killed is hard to say. But it is certainly in the many thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands. And all achieving nothing in the end.
One Failed Coup After Another in Venezuela
Both GW Bush and Obama tried to force first Hugo Chavez and then Nicolas Maduro out of office. But neither tried to overthrow that nations government as often, and failed so spectacularly and with such a high body count of innocents, as Trump. The first attempted coup against the government of Venezuela was by GW Bush, against Maduros predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez.
Chavezs early successes in building an anti imperial anti colonial alliance, ALBA, often called the Pink Tide, angered American nationalists. Chavez built up Venezuela economy using oil revenues, redistributed wealth to cut poverty and especially extreme poverty by more than half, and built a collective movement the strongest seen in Latin America in decades. Chavezs Venezuela allied with Evo Moraless Bolivia, Ortegas Nicaragua, and worst of all in many eyes, Castros Cuba. Other nations like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile were not formally allied, but their leaders and most of their public were sympathetic. Only deeply corrupt and brutal Colombia and Mexico remained as close US allies.
So in April 2002, Venezuelan opposition leaders funded by the US struck, with full knowledge and later approval by Bush. Pedro Carmona tried to overthrow Hugo Chavez using mutinous troops and a strike by elites. But it collapsed within 48 hours when the public rallied behind Chavez.
Hundreds of American academics specializing in Latin America signed a letter urging Obama have better relations with Venezuela. Obama ignored it, falsely accusing Chavez of backing FARC terrorists in Colombia and labeling the elected leader a dictator. Chavez died of cancer in 2013. His successor Nicolas Maduro faced sanctions imposed by Obama in 2014 over deaths during protests where both sides, government and opposition, committed dozens of murders.
Venezuela was also bizarrely declared a threat to US national security by Obama. But no Venezuelans were killed by any of Obamas actions. Trump, on the other hand, has recklessly killed tens of thousands. Where Obama tried diplomatic and limited economic pressure, Trump has tried coup after coup and repeatedly tried to invade.
Trump first proposed invading Venezuela in August, 2017. He asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff why they just didnt go ahead and invade Venezuela. The generals and admirals spent the rest of the meeting trying to talk him out of it. Only weeks later at a meeting of the Organization of American States, a Latin American alliance typically dominated by the US, Trump proposed to every single Latin American president there that they invade Venezuela together. Like the Joint Chiefs, every single other president there spent the rest of the meeting talking him out of it.
So Trump resorted to trying to choose Venezuelas president himself. Juan Guaido, a young opposition assemblyman, was selected by rotation as president of a rump parliament. The rump was of opposition who boycotted Venezuelas actual parliament. Guaido went to US Vice President Pence, asking for US support to make him president.
Having been openly appointed by Trump and not Venezuelans, in January 2019 Guaido tried to declare himself president. It backfired badly. Opposition demonstrations, in the tens of thousands and mostly of well off often openly racist whites, were vastly outnumbered by pro government demonstrations in the hundreds of thousands by the nations poorer nonwhite majority, mixed race, Black, and Native peoples. Maduro, whose popularity was under 20%, saw it rocket to over 70%.
Guaido next tried to get Venezuelan soldiers to desert in a call outside La Carlota army base. Only a few dozen did so. Then in May 2019, Guaido publicly called for the US government to overthrow Maduro for him. Trump backed away from his support for Guaido, and even his own opposition party began to desert the would be president. Currently Guaido is recognized as president only by the US and its allies, but rejected by 135 nations, over two thirds of the world.
The last attempted coup was in May 2020, when over 60 mercenaries, at one time working for Juan Guaido until payment fell through, were mostly killed or captured trying to land on Venezuelas coast. Their plans were to kill or kidnap Maduro and kill as government officials as possible, hoping to start a spiral of violence that led to the governments fall. Trump denied any involvement, but US intelligence definitely knew about it in advance. The coup leader was a friend of Trumps longtime private head of security.
Side by side with one failed attempt at coups or invasions after another, Trump has used an economic blockade in a uniquely cruel, brutal, and illegal way. Trump and one of his lieutenants after another, Bolton, Abrams, and Pompeo, all admit their goal is Maduros overthow. The end result of the US blockade has been a minimum of 40,000 deaths in less than three years:
Venezuelan mortality went up by 31%. Over 300,000 people were put at risk by lack of medicines or treatment. Over 80,000 people with HIV could not get antiretroviral treatment. Over 16,000 could not get dialysis. Over 16,000 cancer patients cant get medicine. Over 4 million with diabetes or high blood pressure could not get insulin or blood pressure medicine. The embargo means less access to water or soap, Almost four fifths of hospitals and clinics had water shortages. Some people died from power failures in hospitals.
Some academics tried to defend the blockade by victim blaming, arguing there was economic decline before the blockade. But there were not mass deaths. And the Bolivarians have made enormous efforts to defeat the blockade and keep Venezuelans from this manmade mass starvation imposed by foreign powers.
The Bolivarians can point to 48,090 community councils, 3,173 communes and 15,000 cooperatives that grow food and feed Venezuelans. The government also distributes food to over six million families a month. The Bolivarian movement has also built over three million homes for over ten million people, over a third of the nations entire population.
International aid has also helped the nation. Cuba had sent medicine and thousands of doctors. Iran has also sent food, doctors, and oil. The government also signed over 500 trade deals with China.
As with Iran, Trumps attacks on Venezuela have led to nothing but failure for Trump and his allies, and misery and mass deaths for the average people of both nations. Both nations governments are stronger than before, their peoples rallying around their leaders in the face of foreign attacks, those who ally with Trump seen as traitors. Guaido has been harangued in public by crowds chanting Thief! at him. Trumps legacy and the memory of what he has done to these two nations will be remembered as more examples of the worst of American imperialism. Except that future generations will be amazed these reprehensible crimes happened in the 2010s, not the 1910s.
Al Carroll is Associate Professor of History at Northern Virginia Community College, a former Senior Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, and author or editor of six history books and numerous articles for Beacon, Bristle, Counterpunch, History News Network, Indian Country Today, LA Progressive, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Truth Out, Wall Street Examiner, and elsewhere. His next book is Trumps Body Count: The Horrific Human Rights Record of Americas Third Worst President at Amazon.
It's probably a hard decision!
Their monstrous spirits rejoiced, apparently, at being able to send other people to slaughter so many others, while pretending it was an action needed to protect the US American people. No one can be more twisted, more perverse than that.
Efraín Rios Montt, Guatemala dictator, was finally tried and found guilty by Guatemalan people for genocide, although he had it lifted for retrial before kicking off. Reagan easily persuaded US televangelists to turn their followers to support Rios Montt, financially support him, as well, when they learned he had become an evangelist preacher, himself.
Got the t-shirt.
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The devastating earthquake that hit Guatemala in 1976 was used as a pretext for American born Protestant evangelicalismmainly Pentecostalismto gain entry in the Guatemalan society. A major consequence of the earthquake relief efforts by American evangelicals, is that their meddling also intensified the Mayan genocide during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-96). This thesis explores the complicit relationship of religion and politics in the Guatemalan Civil War, focusing on the evangelical dictator Efraín Ríos Montts regime (1982-83). Firstly, it examines how Christian evangelicalism played a pivotal role for conservative Republican candidate Ronald Reagan and, later through his administration, for Ríos Montts dictatorship. It traces the origins of this relationship back to the American culture wars of the Cold War era, with close attention to televangelists and the counterculture youths involved with the Jesus Movement. Secondly, this thesis examines how American evangelicalism successfully entered and transformed the Guatemalan social life after the 1976 earthquake. This thesis argues how evangelicalism became a political-theological ideology for Ríos Montt and was used by him to justify an increase in violence against Mayan peoples. With an analysis of Ríos Montts evangelical broadcasts to the nation, is presented in order to follow the logic of his justification for the Mayan Holocaust.
. . .
The Guatemalan Civil War started in the 1960s and ended only in 1996. Many thousands
more Guatemalans were killed as a result of the conflict than the 1976 earthquake. The Commission for
Historical Clarification (CEH) organized by the United Nations estimates that the number of persons
killed or disappeared during it reached a total of over 200,000. As I will show in this thesis, evangelical
efforts from the U.S. greatly influenced the course of the Guatemalan Civil War, especially during Efraín
Aggression was directed against elements of profound symbolic significance for the Mayan culture, as
in the case of the destruction of corn and the killing of their elders. These events had a serious impact on
certain elements of Mayan identity and disturbed the transmission of their culture from generation to
As an ultimate act of racisman act of cultural genocide, in factthe Guatemalan army
attempted to destroy Mayan communities by desecrating the spiritual representation of Mayan identity,
and denying it to future generations. A professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Virginia
Garrard-Burnett states, [t]he sharp focus of violence on Mayan people during the early 1980s has given
rise to the phrase the Mayan holocaust.7 It is in this context that the thesis of paper is that there was a
complicit relationship of religion and politics in the Guatemalan Civil War that was supported by
American evangelicals. This relationship influenced the President of the U.S. and President of
Guatemala and led to the Mayan holocaust. In the following pages, I will examine how Christian
activism became increasingly conservative and gained political influence in the U.S. before it was then
exported to Guatemala, where it eventually influenced the Ríos Montt regime. I will show how
conservative evangelicals in the U.S. were mobilized for national politics before Ronald Reagan came
into power, and how their influence eventually shaped the Ríos Montt regime.
~ ~ ~
Ríos Montt's historic offer to the impoverished majority of Guatemalan people:
"Since the early 2000s, American nationalists and Israels Prime Minister Netanyahu had been hysterically claiming, without credible evidence, that Iran was seeking to develop its own nuclear arsenal. But none of Irans nuclear facilities ever had, or sought, capability to enrich nuclear material to the level needed for weapons." I had to downgrade your believability-As we used to say at AA meetings, you don't go to the whorehouse to hear the piano player...
The US has also exempted humanitarian items from sanctions.
On 13 August 2018 Iran Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that "mismanagement" harmed Iran more than U.S. sanctions did. "More than the sanctions, economic mismanagement (by the government) is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians ... I do not call it betrayal but a huge mistake in management," Khamenei was quoted as saying.