Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Doctors and nurses of Cuba's Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade take part in a farewell ceremony before traveling to Andorra to help in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, at the Central Unit of Medical Cooperation in Havana, on March 28, 2020. (Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)

Doctors and nurses of Cuba's Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade take part in a farewell ceremony before traveling to Andorra to help in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, at the Central Unit of Medical Cooperation in Havana, on March 28, 2020. (Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)

'Despicable': Outgoing Trump Administration to Designate Cuba a 'State Sponsor of Terrorism'

"Cuba has been sending doctors around the world to combat Covid-19," one observer pointed out, while another said the "Trump administration should add itself as a state sponsor of terrorism."

Kenny Stancil

Cuban and American officials as well as progressives in various parts of the world on Monday blasted the soon-to-be-departed Trump administration's decision to put Cuba back on the U.S. State Department's list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism," a move that critics say reveals the U.S. government's hypocritical approach to the topic of "terrorism."

"As the case of Cuba reveals, 'terrorism' means resistance to massive U.S. terrorism and refusal to bow down to the master."
—Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's last-minute announcement, which reverses an Obama-era effort to improve diplomatic relations with the neighboring island nation, comes just before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

On its way out the door, the Trump administration is "laying political land mines" for Biden—not only in Cuba but also in Yemen and Taiwan—wrote Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch in Foreign Policy on Monday.

"The decision is a part of a blitz of 11th-hour moves by the Trump administration to push through hard-line policies championed by influential domestic political constituencies despite the complications they create for State Department lawyers, humanitarian interests abroad, and the incoming Biden administration," The Washington Post reported Monday.

Gramer and Detsch, however, suggested that the Trump administration is carrying out these actions not despite the harm they will cause the Biden administration but rather because the changes will constrain the incoming White House.

Cuba joins Iran, North Korea, and Syria on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a list that critics say conspicuously leaves out "U.S. allies that actually do sponsor terrorist groups: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan."

The U.S. first added Cuba to its list of terrorism-sponsoring states in 1982 even as the Reagan administration provided financial support and arms to Nicaragua's right-wing counterrevolutionary forces accused of widespread human rights violations.

The State Department removed Cuba from its blacklist in 2015, part of what the New York Times called former President Barack Obama's "normalization of relations between Washington and Havana."

In his statement attempting to justify the State Department's re-designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, Pompeo accused Cuba of "repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists."

As The Guardian reported, "That is partly a reference to the former Black Panther Assata Shakur who was jailed in the U.S. for the 1973 killing of a police officer and later escaped to Cuba where she was granted asylum by its then-leader Fidel Castro. It is also based on Cuba's refusal to extradite a group of guerrillas from Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN) for alleged involvement in a 2019 bomb attack in Bogotá," as well as the nation's ongoing support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who survived a failed U.S.-backed coup attempt in 2019.

Last week's attempted coup on U.S. soil, wherein an insurrectionary pro-Trump mob killed a police officer during a violent attack on the Capitol following weeks of lies from the president and Republican lawmakers about the legitimacy of the presidential election outcome, was also at the forefront of critics' minds on Monday. 

"This designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism with less than a week to go in his presidency and after he incited a domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol... that's hypocrisy," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) told The Associated Press in an interview.

As journalist Reese Erlich explained in a column late last week:

In reality, Cuba has never been a state sponsor of terrorism. It supported armed insurgents in Latin America and sent troops to Angola to beat back a South African invasion of that country. But it never supported intentional attacks on civilians practiced by such groups as Al Qaeda.

Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez denounced Pompeo's announcement, calling it "hypocritical" and "cynical" for the U.S. to put Cuba on its list of terrorist-sponsoring states. "U.S. political opportunism," Rodríguez added, "is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims."

According to journalist Dan Cohen, "the U.S. sponsored and protected right-wing fanatics who used actual terrorism to destroy the Cuban economy while Cuba has aided liberation movements around the world and sought peace."

Erlich provided a brief snapshot of how the U.S. has weaponized the concept of "terrorism":

According to the State Department, "Terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."

By that definition, the people who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 were terrorists. Although the group attacked soldiers in a conflict zone, the marines were "noncombatant targets," not soldiers fighting in the field.

By contrast, the 2019 U.S. military drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraq militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was not terrorism because it was carried out openly, not by "clandestine agents."

How convenient! Insurgent groups can only kill soldiers in the battlefield, whereas the Pentagon can create battlefields anywhere in the world so long as it assassinates people openly.

The State Department uses gobbledygook to lump together Al Qaeda, ISIS, Marxist guerrillas, and Palestinians who are engaged in armed struggle. Its "terror list" has always reflected Washington's drive for hegemony rather than a fight against terrorism.

In recent months, Cuba has been sending doctors around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Despite being burdened for decades by harmful economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., the biggest export of the small island nation, which has a lower child mortality rate than its more powerful and hostile neighbor to the north, is medical care.

In addition to drawing attention to the fact that the U.S. has run a "gulag" in Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba for nearly two decades, CodePink's Medea Benjamin juxtaposed Cuba's international medical brigades with U.S. support for the Saudi regime's starvation-inducing blockades and deadly airstrikes on Yemen and asked, "Who is the state sponsor of terrorism?"

Paul Pillar, a retired 28-year veteran of the CIA and former deputy chief of the agency's Counterterrorism Center, told Erlich that the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism has been highly politicized since Congress created it in 1979 and included only countries aligned with the Soviet Union.

"The U.S. won't put allies on the list even though they engage in terrorist behavior," Pillar said, citing the example of Saudi Arabia's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead, experts say, the U.S. uses the blacklist as a coercive tool to reward compliant countries and punish noncompliant ones or entice them to bend to the will of Washington.

Decrying the hypocrisy of the list, renowned linguist and activist Noam Chomsky told Erlich by email that the U.S. should "either eliminate it, or make it honest."

"As the case of Cuba reveals, 'terrorism' means resistance to massive U.S. terrorism and refusal to bow down to the master," Chomsky said.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·

'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·

After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo