Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

US, the Biggest User of Chemical Weapons in History Asserts "Right To Protect" Syria

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Outside the bubble of ignorance and unreality that corporate media and corporate rule impose on the US public, the world is horrified and aghast not at the alleged use of nerve gas against Syrian civilians, but at the notion that the United States claims the right to bomb Syria supposedly to “protect” its people.

From 1961 to 1972 the US military executed the biggest and deadliest chemical warfare operation in history. It was Operation Trail Dust, in which more than 20 million thousands of tons of blended dioxon and other poisons, the most famous known as Agent Orange, were sprayed across 10% of the land area of South Vietnam, along with big tracts of Laos and Cambodia.

The objective was to kill the lush triple canopy jungle in which Vietnamese fighters hid and through which they transported supplies, and to kill the animals & crops of Vietnamese peasants in areas the US and its puppets could not control, driving that population into its cities and so-called “strategic hamlets.” Many of the estimated 2 million wa r Vietnamese dead perished from the short term effects of US chemical warfare, while Vietnamese and other doctors verify that since then an estimated half million have been born with major impairments. To this day the US has never accepted any responsibility for this ghastly and ongoing atrocity.

Even if we stick only to western Asia, the US record on chemical weapons used against civilians is unprecedented.

During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war the Pentagon provided Saddam Hussein with satellite intelligence so he'd know where to fire his nerve gas at Iranian troop concentrations.

In its two Gulf Wars, the US littered Kuwait and Iraq with radioactive depleted uranium munitions which continue to poison countless civilians today. Hospitals in places like Fallujah report skyrocketing numbers of radiation-induced birth defects. And during the Obama administration the US winked at Israel's use of ghastly white phosphorus made in the USA against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

There are treaties banning chemical weapons, but none of them authorize any nation to launch “preventive” or punitive strikes against those who do. Most Arabs, most of the world knows this history, and so do more than a few Americans, including much of the so-called left.

The foremost practicioner of chemical warfare in human history is about to bomb a country one-fifteenth its size, for its alleged use of chemical weapons. If the Bush-Cheney gang were still in power, we might see Melissa Harris-Perry and Rachel Maddow reminding us of this awful record. But there's a Democrat in the White House, so the hypocrisy detectors have been turned off and the history teachers silenced.

This is what US policy makers mean when they talk about their “right to protect” civilians in other countries.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20130904_bd_chemical_warfare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:07pm EDT

Does President Obama Want To Turn Syria Into Somalia? Maybe.

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Presidents say lots of stuff we simply cannot take seriously. Anything about peace, jobs, human rights, or protecting the “middle class,” to name just a few, is pretty much bound to be nonsense and lies. Examples abound. But when presidents tell us up front they intend to break the law they just about always do, so we really should believe them.

President Obama says that although he'll consult with Congress first this time, as president he can and will bomb Syria or anyplace else he likes without the congressional declaration of war that Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution requires. In other words, the president, a former constitutional law professor, reserves the “right” to violate the Constitution and wage illegal war at his discretion.

The president's war violates international standards as well. Under international law the only justifiable wars are in response to an attack, or with the authorization of the UN security council. Syria certainly has not attacked the US, and since the White House will not share its supposed “evidence” of Syrian government attacks on civilians with international inspectors hired by the UN, everybody is just supposed to take Uncle Sam's word for it, pretty much like they had to about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Look how nicely that turned out. Even the Brits, who've never been squeamish about shooting up and invading other countries, are not with the lawless Obama administration on this one.

Masters of saying one thing and doing another, the president and secretary of state are savvy enough to mumble that “only a political solution, not a military one” will stick in Syria. Although a rain of cruise missiles and drone bombs can kneecap the Syrian armed forces which seem to be holding their own now against US and Saudi-sponsored fighters, it can only make peace talks less likely. And the US really doesn't trust its own Saudi-sponsored thugs to actually run a Syrian government, in the unlikely event the Syrian people would allow it. So what many believe the US prefers, many believe, is a permanent state of low-grade civil war in Syria with neither side winning.

President Obama wants to turn Syria into Somalia where since the US can't install the regime it wants, it has prevented any central government from functioning since the landing of US Marines in a “humanitarian intervention” in the final minutes of the first Bush administration.

For the last 20 years, more than a million Somalis, one out of ten have died of hunger and violence, while US sponsored warlords and US sponsored invading armies from Ethiopia and Kenya have swept across the landscape. There's no Somali government to build schools or hospitals, to hire teachers or doctors, to repair or run electric grids, water works, agricultural or public health programs, so none of these things exist. Somalis civilians are barefoot, sick, hungry and afraid, cowering under a rain of drone bombs. Somalia's only products are refugees and misery, and the country's only industry is its permanent war, an excuse for the US and its client thugs to never leave. Ever. That's what President Obama means by “a political solution.”

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20130904_bd_syria-into-somila.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:01pm EDT

Obama’s Anti-Black Rant

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama puts the onus squarely on Blacks for destroying the promise of racial harmony.”

It was bad enough that a sitting president and key members of his administration occupied positions of prominence, and in fact stole the show, at the anniversary of the March on Washington. But what issued from Barack Obama’s mouth were premeditated insults to Black Americans and their history. To put it bluntly, the First Black President gave a very good standup impression of a racist white man.

Obama chose to expand his remarks beyond the early Sixties period, past the triumphs of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, to give a mini-lecture on what went wrong, in his estimation, with the Black Freedom Movement. The result was a brief but vicious slew of slurs against African Americans – the kind of slander you expect to hear on FOX News, or from a half-drunk white guy at a country-western bar. According to Obama, Black folks lost their way when “legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior.” What the hell does that mean? Which particular incidents is he referring to in which Blacks used police brutality to somehow mask criminal activity. If he means the Black Panther Party, which I suspect, then the president should say so, and open up a discussion of who the real criminals and assassins were, in the late Sixties and early Seventies. But, like any cheap white politician, Obama spews a mouthful of bile and then moves on to the next rant.

Obama bemoans that, at some unspecified point in the Black struggle the “transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination.” Who was recriminating against whom, Mr. President? Since Obama was lecturing Black people – and we know he never lectures white people – he must have been talking about Black militants of some sort. But he won’t say, preferring to leave his meaning to the audience’s imagination.

Obama blames Black people for messing up his America.”

Then Obama moved in for the big slap-down: “What had once been a call for equality of opportunity,” said Obama, “the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead, was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.”

In that one, long sentence, Obama resurrects Ronald Reagan’s phantom armies of “Welfare Queens”; he appears to be taking a cheap swipe at calls for Black reparations; and he once again joins with his real soul mates on the white Right in blaming Black culture for the disparities in U.S. society. In fact, Obama puts the onus squarely on Blacks for destroying the promise of racial harmony. He says it quite plainly: “All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.”

That’s right: Obama blames Black people for messing up his America, which very much resembles Ronald Reagan’s America, a place that was put on the wrong track, as candidate Obama said back in 2008, by “all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s.“

Barack Obama went to the March on Washington anniversary and spoke like an angry white man. He governs like one, too. Doesn’t that tell you something? For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20130904_gf_ObamaMOW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:47pm EDT