President Biden promised to put U.S. diplomacy back in the "hands of genuine professionals," but more than six months into his administration only one of his ambassadors to another country has been confirmed.
That's raising concerns about how effectively the administration is conducting foreign policy — and the message such a diplomatic vacuum sends to the global community.
"There's no other country in the world, I think, probably that has ever had 80 vacant ambassadorships at one time," said Ambassador Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomatic corps' union. "And while I'm quite sure it's not intended to be a signal of disrespect or lack of commitment to engagement with other countries, it can come across that way after a point."
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously confirmed former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Linda Thomas-Greenfield was confirmed in February as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a position based in the United States.
In comparison, at the 200-day mark (which was Sunday for Biden) former President Barack Obama had 59 ambassadors confirmed, George W. Bush had 53 ambassadors confirmed and Donald Trump had 19, according to Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, who tracks presidential appointees for the Brookings Institution.
He's announcing, in a Tweet, that he's hit his 200 days in office and accomplished so much. And that is really not the case.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
Thursday, August 12, 2021. The US government continues to persecute Julian Assange for exposing their lies in Iraq and elsewhere.
Starting with Julian Assange.
Monday April 5, 2010, WIKILEAKS released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Prior to the release, the US government had repeatedly lied about the incident. It was an embarrassment and the US government has wanted revenge ever since.
Julian remains held in a UK prison for no valid legal reason. And the US government continues its efforts to get Julian handed over to them. A new development took place yesterday. Richard Medhurst reports on it in the clip below . . .
. . . as does Kevin Gosztola in the video below.
Whistleblower Ed Snowden Tweets:
Sarah Abdallah Tweets:
In the FORBES video below, AP's Matthew Lee asks State Dept spokesperson Ned Price about Julian Assange.
Here's the exchange from the official State Dept press briefing transcript:
QUESTION: Thanks. Just before we get to what I’m sure will be Afghanistan, I just want to – on the administration’s commitment to democracy, human rights, which I think includes freedom of the press and your support for that, I just wanted to ask you really quickly about the situation with Julian Assange in London, the court hearing that was held today. And if you’re only going to refer to the Justice Department, then I don’t need to hear a long explanation of that, but I just – what I want to know is from the State Department’s point of view, because it was State Department equities that were among the first that were compromised, quote/unquote – I mean, you have an interest in – the State Department has an interest in this case. So I’m just wondering if it is still the position of the State Department that Assange is not a journalist and that he is – he should be tried for theft of what are – what you would essentially say are state secrets.
MR PRICE: Matt, by referring to the Department of Justice, as we always do in cases like this, it doesn’t indicate —
QUESTION: Yeah, no, no, I’m just asking —
MR PRICE: It doesn’t indicate we don’t have an interest. It indicates that we have a respect for the separation of institutions and the independence of Department of Justice.
QUESTION: Your – the position of this administration since it came in talking about how important the freedom of press is, has – that hasn’t impacted the department’s position on this case. Is that correct?
MR PRICE: This is a matter before the Department of Justice. It’s a matter the Department of Justice is pursuing.
QUESTION: It’s not a matter before the Department of Justice. It’s a matter before the British court. But I just want to know if your position, the State Department’s position, that you represent to the Department of Justice who then represents you has changed at all.
MR. PRICE: Matt, the Department of Justice is pursuing this. I will leave it to them to pursue and to characterize the United States Government’s position on this.
QUESTION: Okay, so the State Department’s position hasn’t changed, correct?
MR. PRICE: Matt, the Department of Justice is speaking for the United States —
QUESTION: Oh, my god.
MR. PRICE: — in a law enforcement matter.
QUESTION: Why can’t you give straight answers? Yes or no, has it changed or not over the course of the last eight years?
MR. PRICE: The Department of Justice in this matter —
QUESTION: I am fully aware, Ned.
MR. PRICE: Matt, you don’t need to be combative, okay? You don’t need to be combative.
QUESTION: I – I —
MR. PRICE: I know you like to get worked up, but please, this is —
QUESTION: I’m not trying to get worked up. I just want a straight answer. Did —
MR. PRICE: It’s a simple matter that’s before the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: Fine. All right. So in terms of your grand promotion of democracy, human rights, which are going to be at the center of U.S. foreign policy, as we will see no doubt in December when the President hosts his summit of – for democracy, how does that relate exactly to Afghanistan and your promotion of human rights and democracy when you have a situation where the country is rapidly coming under control of a group that has shown no respect for democracy and human rights ever?
MR. PRICE: I’m sorry, the question was —
QUESTION: How do you reconcile this? How do you – how does the administration expect to be taken seriously in terms of promoting human rights and democracy as being at the center of U.S. foreign policy if it is prepared to allow Afghanistan to deteriorate into a situation where a group that has shown – that you yourself just days ago have accused of committing atrocities – if you’re prepared to allow that to happen.
MR. PRICE: I would reject every single premise of that question. The United States —
QUESTION: Really? Because most of what I just said is actual – is factual.
Staying with the topic of truth tellers, BLACK AGENDA REPORT is currently celebrating the life and work of the late Glen Ford.:
I think more than enough time has passed for me to note that, as usual, White lefties ignored the non-White. It happens over and over. In "TV: Xenophobia and racism alive and thriving thanks to PBS and Norman Lear," Ava and I noted
Last week, the great truth teller Glen Ford died. It was a huge loss, the entire Thursday "Iraq snapshot" was devoted to Glen Ford because he mattered so much. And, honestly, also because if he were a White person -- say a so-so White woman playwright -- he'd get tons of attention from the press the way that hack did when she died at the same time as Coretta Scott King and THE NEW YORK TIMES chose to run multiple pieces on the so-so playwright while refusing every submission on the passing of Coretta for their op-ed pages and also relegating Coretta's death to one -- and only one -- report. Or, for that matter, the non-stop saturation YOUTUBE coverage of the death of Michael Brooks.
Hate to break it to those who seal themselves off in White America, but we didn't know who Michael Brooks was until after he died and, when the news first started popping up, for about a week, we thought they were saying radio personality Michael Baisden had passed away. We honestly don't consider that lack of awareness of Brooks to be a liability. We do know who Glen Ford was.
Of the two, we'd argue Glen Ford mattered much more. But he's African-American and so, to 'liberal' America -- a largely White and self-contained bubble -- he's not really known at all and, if he is, well his death isn't as important as yacker Michael Brooks.
You can see that with a simple YOUTUBE search. Hundreds of videos when JACOBIN's Michael Brooks dies. Handful -- a small handful -- when Glen Ford passes.
That was written the week after he died. It's now been another week. Hate to break it to the bulk of White Left but one Tweet or one headline is not really sufficient. And if you think all of America won't notice it when you're next so-so White person dies and you treat it as though JFK has just been assassinated, you are wrong.
You are the reasons that walls exist. Donald Trump didn't build those walls, you did, while railing against Trump and pretending you were so much better than him. Sorry, but you're honestly not.
Glen had a body of work, a lifetime of work, and you didn't judge the work or the person worthy of truly noting. Your reaction did send a message. And it made the wall between you and others all the higher.
Ford was among the few journalists who took a stance for Black liberation and against imperialism.
I had the honor of working with the late Glen Ford for nearly 20 years. His passing has created a huge void not just for Black Agenda Report (BAR), the site we co-founded with the late Bruce Dixon, but for all of Black politics and left media. Ford identified his political and journalistic stance with both, having created the tagline: “News, commentary and analysis from the black left” for BAR. He was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and he lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Ford co-founded a publication in line with his core values: He did not suffer fools gladly, succumb to corporate media and government narratives, or feel obligated to change his politics in order to elevate the Black face in a high place.
Ford spoke of learning this lesson the hard way. He told a story of regret, his ethical dilemma , when he gave one such Black person, Barack Obama, a pass in 2003. At that time, Ford, Dixon and I were all working at Black Commentator . Obama had announced his candidacy for the United States Senate and he was listed as a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DCL), the right-leaning, corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Obama had also removed an antiwar statement from his website.
Ford and Dixon posed what they called “bright line questions” to Obama on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, single-payer health care and Iraq. His fuzzy answers should have flunked him, but Ford chose not to be seen as “a crab in a barrel,” one who pulled another of the group down. Obama was given an opportunity to comment in Black Commentator and Ford wrote, “[Black Commentator] is relieved, pleased, and looking forward to Obama’s success in the Democratic senatorial primary and Illinois general election.”
As he witnessed Obama’s actions on the campaign trail and eventually in office, Ford never again felt obligated to depart from his political stances or to defend a member of the group whose politics were not in keeping with the views of the Black left.
From that moment on, Glen Ford did not let up on Obama, just as he did not waver from his staunch opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism. Black Agenda Report became the go-to site for all leftists. BAR’s critique of Obama when he led the destruction of Libya was no less stinging than critiques of George W. Bush when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Ford declared that Obama and the Democrats were not the “lesser evil” that millions of people hoped for. Instead, they were just the more effective evil, and they were always in BAR’s journalistic sights.
Ford was always an uncompromising defender of Black people and never shrank from explaining the mechanisms which place that group at or near the bottom of all positive metrics and at or near the top of all the negative. He was one of the first to amplify the term “mass incarceration” in his unsparing analysis of the United States and its dubious distinction as the nation with more people behind bars than any other: more than 2 million, with half of those being Black, a cohort which makes up one-quarter of all the incarcerated in the world. Black Agenda Report can be counted on to give this information consistently and with no punches pulled.
Glen Ford was a committed socialist, a Vietnam-era military veteran and a member of the Black Panther Party. He spent part of his childhood and youth in Columbus, Georgia, in the days of apartheid in the United States. Those life experiences shaped his work and left a legacy that anyone who considers themselves a leftist ought to follow.
He worked in the media throughout his adult life and served as a Capitol Hill, White House and State Department correspondent for the Mutual Black Network. In 1977, he co-founded “America’s Black Forum,” which was the first nationally syndicated Black-oriented program on commercial television.
That's just an excerpt. The excerpt alone argues for something more than a Tweet or, Amy Goodman, a headline. I hope everyone remembers the net time Amy's devoting a whole show to some movie start who passed away or some other person that when it came to Glen Ford, a headline was just enough for Amy.
Where's today's Howard Zinn? Someone needs to find her or him because we truly need A PEOPLE'S OBITUARY as much as we need A PEOPLE'S HISTORRY. Glen's life mattered, his actions mattered and yet we refuse to honor the person or the work when we resort to silence.
I guess it's really easy for a lot of White liberals to type "#BLACKLIVESMATTER" but it's harder to actually do the work required to make that hashtag come alive.
In her column, Ann Garrison notes:
Knowing Glen, I regretted that I hadn’t managed to come up with a few good jokes in that farewell message, but I wasn’t up to it and didn’t know how much time I had, so I just did what I could. His readers no doubt knew what a wicked sense of irony he had but probably don’t know that he could even turn it to his own illness.
I called once when he was struggling and asked how he was doing, which seemed like an inane question by that time, but he responded, “I CAN’T BREATHE,” echoing the words of George Floyd and so many others with comic irony.
Glen suffered from kidney failure several years before developing lung cancer and had to begin a dialysis regime three days a week. Once we exchanged a few messages when he was on his way to a VA Hospital somewhere in Pennsylvania to be evaluated for a possible kidney transplant. On the way back he joked that due to his age—near 70 then— they couldn’t place him high on the waiting list and wouldn’t waste the best kidney available on him even if his number came up.
I told him that I’d never signed the release to donate my kidneys or any other organs because I’d subjected my body to so many toxins that my organs couldn’t be of much use to anyone. He said that had always been his excuse as well.
Once I sent him a piece about the latest violent incidents in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, a wildlife reserve and jungle habitat in the heart of war-torn eastern Congo, and its valiant park rangers, many of whom have died defending it. Then I asked him which of several photos he’d like to use and he said, “I like the sister ranger. Took me back to what I used to get up to in my army days.” (The sister ranger was cute as hell in a beret and a perky ponytail.) We wound up using a pic of some brother park rangers with the mountain gorillas that the park is famous for, but I sent more pics later and said, “Here are some more of those sister rangers, since you like them so much.”
In 2018, he wrote a more serious account of his time in the U.S. Army and how his unit, the 82nd Airborne, was transformed by the Newark, New Jersey, race rebellion of 1967, a year before MLK was assassinated and they were deployed to Washington, DC:
“An 18 year-old paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I had been on field exercises with my unit the week before, providing security for the commanding general’s headquarters. Under a big tent, company commanders and their executive officers spent that Wednesday, April 3, pouring over maps of Washington, DC, in the event we had to occupy the city. When King was killed on the evening of the next day, the division hastily packed its gear and moved back to barracks to prepare for deployment to burning cities. The general, however, somehow forgot to restrict all 12,000 of us to base. Some of us took advantage of the oversight, and went home for the weekend.
“When I and hundreds of other paratroopers straggled back to Fort Bragg early Monday morning, April 8, the rest of my unit was sitting on an airfield near Baltimore, as the brass tried to decide whether we should be deployed in that city or nearby Washington. Both were burning, along with over 100 other cities. We wound up in the nation’s capital.
“The year before, Newark, New Jersey, had been occupied by nearly lily-white units of the National Guard, sent there to quell a four-day rebellion in which 26 Blacks were killed. The Guardsmen behaved like an Army of White Vengeance, joining the racist cops in savaging Black people and shooting up businesses displaying “Black-owned” and “Soul Brother” signs on the Springfield Avenue thoroughfare. However, the 82nd Airborne Division was a different social organism, entirely; our ranks were 60 percent Black, and we had been transformed. All of us (at least in my company) were aware of what had happened in Newark. As far as the Black troops were concerned, our division had only one mission in Washington, DC: to make sure the white soldiers -- especially the mostly white military police -- did no harm to the Black population. And they did not dare. Not one Black citizen of Washington was hurt by a soldier of the 82nd Airborne division -- or, to my knowledge, even verbally abused -- during the occupation.
“Our officers took note, and were clearly disturbed by our protective postures. The same Black ghetto army that was rebelling in Vietnam, was showing that it would not be a party to abuse of Black people at home. It was the beginning of the end of the draft.”
It took me awhile to find that piece, MLK: A Snapshot in Time, dated April 5, 2018, in the Black Agenda Report archives, but I finally did after trying the search term “82nd Airborne.” I forget a lot of names, phone numbers and the like that I should retain, so my memory of that obscure detail speaks to how deeply the piece affected me. And to how much more accessible we need to make the BAR archives.
Shortly after Glen’s death, I told Margaret Kimberley, Ajamu Baraka, Raymond Nat Turner, and Danny Haiphong that people were no doubt reading and searching for their favorites in Glen’s BAR archives, as I just did, but that the archives are not as searchable as they should be. While Glen struggled with illness during the last few years of his life, he got the weekly edition of BAR out week after week, even that week before his death, but couldn’t find time or energy for projects like this, so we will. If anyone reading this has technical skills they might lend, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I take particular interest in improving the Black Agenda Report’s accessibility and visibility on the Web.
For many years, Nellie Bailey was Glen's co-host on the weekly BLACK AGENDA RADIO and she writes:
Marxist Glen Ford never wavered from his core belief of self-determination for oppressed nations and the struggles of working people around the world dehumanized by U.S. imperialism, a geopolitical paradigm for global domination. Its ruthless and terrifying destruction of Iraq shocked the civilized world. On the domestic front, deindustrialization and corporate trade agreements plunged the middle and working class into an austerity abyss. This political quagmire demanded a capitalist reset to shore up a collapsing empire in fear of a restless populace weary of wars that cost billions of dollars and countless deaths. Enter into this foray the $1 billion presidential campaign that mesmerized Black folks of every political stripe. Ironically, it was the Obama campaign that led me to reach out to Glen in 2007.
I held the unpopular position that Obama was the brown face of U.S. imperialism. The popularly held notion that Obama gave Black people a wink and a nod belied the reality of the racist U.S. empire. Glen agreed to participate in a community forum entitled: “Is Obama Good for Black People”, a debate between Glen and Amiri Baraka, an outspoken supporter of Obama. An enthusiastic and overwhelmingly young audience cheered Glen. That was the beginning of my 13-year membership with the BAR family.
Few are aware of Glen’s support for our anti-gentrification resistance campaign against predatory capital that decimated Black and Brown neighborhoods. He met with the tenant president of a seven-building complex that housed over 1,700 units of rent regulated housing. Glen stood with us against Columbia University's $6 billion expansion that displaced hundreds of low income families. In 2012, he protested with us against Obama's self-serving appearance at the Apollo theater.
I'm especially appalled that the national Green Party has issued no statement. Few outlets gave that party a fair shake. BLACK AGENDA REPORT covered the Greens. Ajamu Baraka was the Green Party's 2020 vice presidential nominee. At BLACK AGENDA REPORT, he writes:
It's easy to run with the herd, especially when it can bring possible career advancements and even significant monetary gain. That is why, for so many, making decisions to find a way into the mix, to play the game in order to advance one’s individual objectives, does not present any internal moral debate. It is just common sense.
But for the oppressed and their radical intellectuals and activists, accommodationism is not an option without surrendering one’s soul. Glen Ford and many of our generation refused to do that.
Glen made the decision to devote himself to being a truth teller on the side of the people back in the 1970s, at a historic moment when it was very easy to be an opportunist. Co-optation, an aspect of the state’s counter-revolutionary response to the new forms of Black radicalism that emerged in the 1960s, was an important element in the state’s repertoire. That along with, of course, systemic repression.
But Glen made a conscious decision to take, as Kwame Nkrumah framed it, a “revolutionary path.” That path is always more difficult, for not many take it. As a result, the path is quite narrow, no more than a trail through the forest of normalized reaction projected to the masses as supposed “common sense.” When one takes that path, very few accolades nor real economic stability, retirement funds or clear paths forward are available.
It might end with one laying in a hospital bed for two weeks, while furiously pounding out two issues of Black Agenda Report, suspecting they may be the last few you will have a hand in shaping and passing quietly on the morning the next issue was due to come out.
When I spoke with Glen a few weeks ago, before he entered the hospital, I intended to talk him into relinquishing some of his responsibilities with BAR, so he could concentrate on trying to extend his stay on this planet and with us. Yet, in the course of our comical banter about morality and the meaning of our lives—a discussion that can only happen when you know you are rapidly approaching the end of your journey—I never raised the issue of stepping back a little because Glen made it quite clear how he wanted to depart this earth. “Ajamu, I am going out struggling.” For him, BAR was his most significant contribution to the “struggle.” Even though he was not healthy, Glen was proud of the work the BAR team had developed and he was satisfied it was continuing.
Reading and listening to Glen Ford’s analysis of the Obama administration placed a bright spotlight on a historical moment of intense darkness. At present, there are still too few others who have been able to coherently place the Obama era in its proper context of the U.S.’s ongoing counterinsurgency warfare against Black liberation and self-determination. While much of the American left equated the rise of Obama with “progress,” Glen Ford repeatedly warned us that the Obama administration rendered U.S. imperialism and white supremacy a more effective, and therefore more dangerous, evil.
That’s what revolutionaries do. They warn us through careful explanation and analysis of how oppressive systems work. They prepare us to make history through revolution; to replace the old decrepit order with a new one. But revolutionaries do not just champion any social order. Glen Ford was quite clear that any social transformation of the United States must satisfy the needs of humanity, especially the most terrorized and exploited among us. Socialism and self-determination were not antithetical principles but rather interconnected aims wholly consistent with the struggle for Black liberation.
Glen Ford’s work convinced me in rapid fashion of the necessity of Black revolutionary leadership in the long struggle to build a socialist project in the United States. His grasp of theory and history was matched by few others. His talent behind the microphone and written word brought his analysis to life. From 2011 to 2013, I followed Black Agenda Report regularly and held it to the sky as a necessary source for anyone claiming interest in “social justice.” Glen Ford’s work on the U.S. war against the African country of Libya, an invasion led by the first Black President of the United States, laid the foundations for my own anti-imperialist approach to both activism and journalism.
In 2013, I took a leap and submitted my first article to Glen Ford analyzing Barack Obama’s presidency as a corporate brand. My writing was raw. I was schooled poorly in grammar and had only begun reading regularly over the last year. Clarity was not yet a strength that I possessed. Not to worry. Glen’s brief responses to my submissions over the next several months provided a basic education into concise analytical writing, and I owe much of my development as both a writer and political analyst to him.
From 2014 to 2016, I met Glen Ford in the flesh only in brief encounters at The Left Forum. In 2017, I moved to New York City. Glen and I would eventually convene at Molly Wee’s in Manhattan on a periodic basis and speak for hours about the political situation in the U.S. and abroad. Glen Ford was a communist who shared his experiences in the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party without hesitation to trusted comrades. He loved to tell a good story.
But it wasn’t just for the fun of it. Glen had expectations. He didn’t need to say it bluntly for me to know that he hoped his stories would be incorporated in my own work in service of the people. Everything with Glen was for the people. This didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy a good time, however. A good time for Glen Ford was defined both by the company he kept and his passion for analyzing the world and those struggling for power within it. A drink didn’t hurt, either.
Those are just five of the pieces currently up. Glen Ford spoke out in a needed voice over and over. He was also able to talk about something other than the momentary incident, he linked it up so that you saw the connections in what others were presenting as an isolated incident.
Of all the people the internet has helped popularize, few gave us much insight as Glen did. He is greatly missed because he mattered and so did his work. It's a real shame that someone who gave so much and meant so much is thought, by too many White liberals, to be worth nothing more than a Tweet. I believe that judgment reflects more about their own lives than it does about Glen Ford's.
New content at THIRD:
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
- Media: The problem with Jimmy Dore?
- 10 Who Should Have Been Taken Instead
- Typical Celebrity Post on Instagram (parody?)
- 11 Barbra Streisand films
- Crazy Weather around the world, Max Keiser & Stacy...
- BREAKING: US Granted Full Appeal Against Assange
- BIDEN'S INFRASTRUCTURE BILL...BOOKER FUNDS POLICE?
The following sites updated: