John Bolton comic character, an older man in a suit with white hair, bushy white eyebrows, white mustache and wire rimmed glasses spinning a wheel of misfortune wheel with names of countries like Iran, Syria, Venezuela on it and his bubble words say Who's my next target?

Bait and Switch 

In 2016, the then presidential candidate Donald J. Trump dangled a bait before US voters: Make America Great Again, by making fewer wars abroad and investing in infrastructure at home. Criticizing Hillary Clinton, Trump said: “I would be very, very cautious. I think I'd be a lot slower. She has a happy trigger. You look, she votes for the wars, she goes in Libya. I think it's a tremendous burden.” Wooing both Democrats and Republicans, he also promised a one-trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure with no tax hikes. The only campaign promise he has kept, though, is a huge tax cut for the capitalist class. The rest of America has been given nothing but bait-and-switch. 

The nominal author of The Art of the Deal turns out to be a No Deal president. As of this writing, no infrastructure deal with the Democrats, no nuclear deal with Iran or North Korea, no trade deal with China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, or the European Union. Removing the mask of an improbable “peace candidate” that he wore during the campaign, Trump hired hawks (like Robert E. LighthizerJohn R. Bolton, and Stephen Miller) and proceeded to launch war after war on the economic front, while plotting a military coup in Venezuela and issuing a genocidal threat against Iran

Economic Imperialism  

Make no mistake: economic sanctions can be as deadly as shooting wars, though their casualties are made invisible by the capitalist media. At the Community Organizing Center’s May 14 teach-in on Venezuela, Dan Kovalik, author of The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela (with a foreword by Oliver Stone, forthcoming on June 25), informed the audience of a shocking finding by economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs: the US sanctions on Venezuela caused “a 31 percent increase in general mortality from 2017 to 2018,” i.e. “an increase of more than 40,000 deaths,” and put the lives of “more than 300,000 people” at risk by denying them “access to medicines or treatment.” Not a single major media corporation has mentioned these devastating statistics. (If you missed the teach-in, listen to Bob Fitrakis’s interview of Kovalik at 

Why have Trump’s Venezuela sanctions taken so much toll in such a short time? Satyajit Das explains how the US government can weaponize the dollar: “While the U.S. accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s economic output, more than half of all global currency reserves and trade is in dollars. . . . Any dollar payment flowing through a U.S. bank or the American payments system provides the necessary nexus for the U.S. to prosecute the offender or act against its American assets. This gives the nation extraterritorial reach. . . .” 

Trump’s aggressive use of the US Commerce Department’s “Entity List” in his trade war against China similarly has “extraterritorial reach.” It subjects Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, to onerous export controls, effectively preventing the company from importing not only US-made goods and services but also foreign-made ones that incorporate US-licensed parts. 

Trump has also weaponized tariffs against just about all major trade partners of the United States. The latest victim isMexico, which, as we write this, is being blackmailed by Trump to stop asylum seekers on the way to the United States, on pain of punitive tariffs scheduled to rise as high as 25% on October 1. 


Trump’s indiscriminate economic warfare, going far beyond the sanctions against the long-standing targets of US imperialists, is beginning to backfire. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calmly but firmly rejected Trump’s diktat: “Social problems cannot be resolved by tariffs or coercive measures.” Nor has Trump been able to bully China, Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea into submitting to patently unequal treaties. In fact, by disrupting global supply chains, thus threatening the bottom lines of many corporations, Trump has unwittingly given strong incentives to the power elites of many countries, even close US allies, to consider taking steps to become less economically dependent on the US capitalist system. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), spearheaded by France, to facilitate European trade with Iran while sidestepping the US sanctions is one such example. As for China, its import of Iran’s oil “jumped by a fifth last month” while its “energy purchases from the U.S. have faded” according to the Financial Times and Bloomberg. 

What about resistance from inside the United States? Regarding Venezuela, CodePink says: “Send a message to your Senators and Representative telling them to cosponsor S.J.Res.11 in the Senate and H.R.1004 in the House to prevent Trump, Bolton, and Abrams from being able to send the U.S. military to intervene in Venezuela.” Tell them, too, that it’s time to stop Trump’s economic wars, against Venezuela or any other country. 


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