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Editorial Imperialism set to continue as normal as Trump era closes

IN the dying days of the Trump maladministration, his motormouth Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put the Houthi insurgents in Yemen on the “terror list” — along with Cuba.

If, as the old saying goes, Latin America’s tragedy is that it is so close to the US and so far from God, then Yemen is far, far from Allah and way too close to Saudi Arabia. 

The barebones and poverty-stricken Houthi insurgency represents absolutely no terror threat to the people of the US and, in itself, is not much threat to oil profits.

Yemen is a disaster zone in which every problem is magnified by the war the Saudi regime imposes on this poor nation. 

When Unicef says that 12 million Yemeni children are in danger of starvation and disease, the question moves from the realm of foreign policy to moral imperatives.

Direct action is immediately available to the British government in the form of a complete export ban on arms to Saudi Arabia, the complete withdrawal of intelligence co-operation and an end to service and support for the Saudi air force.

The Saudi regime is a classic beneficiary of foreign intervention in that its ruling family were elevated to royal status by the British crown and given suzerainty over the sands of Arabia in exchange for a guarantee that it keep the region’s oil resources safe for the West. 

Its present-day military intervention in Yemen is at the behest of Britain and the US and only made possible by the supply of war materiel and training by the military-industrial complex that binds these two imperialist economies together.

Thus Pompeo’s act is not a perverse performance in Trump’s frantic end game but rather an exercise entirely consistent with the foreign policy followed by every US administration over decades. 

This has long been based on president Theodore Roosevelt’s turn-of-the-century dictum “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” save that the imperial voice is rarely muted.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that the US really got into its stride in overthrowing foreign governments. 

It already had form on the North American landmass when mid-century it annexed Texas and California. 

And in the 20th century it put some serious stick about further south with interventions in Panama (thrice), Honduras (twice), Cuba (thrice), Nicaragua (twice), Mexico, Haiti (twice), the Dominican Republic (twice), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Paraguay, Chile and Venezuela.

Never reluctant to commit its troops or stage old-fashioned coups d’etat, it nevertheless was happy to deploy subversion, economic sabotage, boycotts and blockades.

And while it is wearisome to list US interventions in and beyond its self-declared “backyard” these — checks notes — are nearing 100 in total.

In the past days a bizarre Establishment narrative is being spun that the US has survived a coup. 

The US is a world leader in the coup business. No other country has devoted such resources and committed so much effort in perfecting the art and science of regime change. 

It is reported that troops are to be deployed to Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration and that vetting of military personnel is under way, the local police investigated and the National Guard command chain reviewed.

While there is a crisis in US politics — inevitably recurring owing to the inability of the system to deal adequately with the most pressing problems of this deeply divided class society — these last days have not seen a challenge for political power but more a last gasp to hang on to the trappings of power.

Occupying Washington with troops is not less a performance than filling its streets with the deluded detritus of the US far right. The socialist left should not be duped by this play-acting.

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