TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior American peace activist and author said the killing of African American people by US police has its origins in the country’s foreign policy.

In an interview with Tasnim, David Swanson, who is the director of the “World Beyond War” website, said that the institutionalized “culture of immunity "for police officers in the United States has led to fatal shootings against African Americans, who are in most cases “unarmed, non-threatening and non-law-violating people.”

Highlighting the role the Israeli military plays in the training of US law enforcement forces, Swanson related the shooting culture to US foreign policy.

“What people in the United States and around the world don’t connect enough is that the lessons, the model for this comes from US foreign policy, and the weapons, the training comes from US foreign policy. And we have police departments in the United States being trained by US military and the department of so-called Homeland Security, and by the Israeli military- US police departments are going to Israel for training,” Swanson said.

Elsewhere in his comments, the Virginia-based activist pointed to endless efforts by the US media to demonize countries such as Iran, Russia and China in order to justify US foreign policy worldwide and said, “The nation of Iran -I’m sorry to say- is along with Russia and China, endlessly demonized in the US media so that when there is fear-mongering about foreign threats and the need for military spending and the need to violate laws and the need to strongly enforce justice- meaning US power- Iran is more often than not the enemy. That’s put into people’s minds”.

As an example of the influence of the anti-Iran media hype on the minds of the public in the United States, Swanson referred to the arguments for and against the nuclear agreement with Iran in US political circles. According to Swanson, both advocates and the opponents of the agreement based their arguments on the “non-existent” threat fabricated by the US media and US officials together.          

“And we had a debate a couple of years ago – a year and a half ago- on whether to have a nuclear agreement with Iran over Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program. And the debate from both sides in this town, in Washington D.C. was ‘we must have the agreement, because the Iranians are so devious and evil and working on nuclear weapons or, ‘we must not have the agreement, we must bomb them, because the Iranians are so devious and evil and working on nuclear weapons’,” he said.

“We got the agreement which was the better alternative, but now we have the US public in a worse place and we have one presidential candidate talking about the need to go after Iranians because they captured a US ship that was in Iranian waters, as if the United States wouldn’t do the same if there was an Iranian ship in US waters. And the other candidate who has threatened to literally obliterate Iran if it steps out of line. These are your two choices of presidential candidates from the major parties in the United States,” Swanson noted.

Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) reached a deal on Iran’s nuclear program on 14 July 2015. The deal, commonly known as the JCPOA, would settle a decade-old controversy over Iran's nuclear development.

The United States has spearheaded propaganda campaign during the previous years to depict Iran’s nuclear program as one aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

As part of the anti-Iran propaganda, CIA launched a cover operation, codenamed “Operation Merlin” in 2000 aimed at sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program and branding it a weapons program. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who leaked the covert operation to a New York Times reporter has been imprisoned and convicted of espionage charges in the US.

Swanson touched on Sterling’s case in the Tasnim interview, noting he had been treated unfairly for doing what he was supposed to do. He also pointed out how Sterling, who is an African American, had been the victim of a selective, biased prosecution process because of his race.

Sterling’s wife told Russia Today in September 2016 that his husband’s incarceration is due to politics within the CIA that may be race-related. Jeffrey filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the CIA in 2000, but the issue was squashed in 2005 when, the government invoked state secrecy privilege stating that he could not have his day in court because it would be too detrimental and they would have to expose state secrets for Jeffrey to prove he had been discriminated against.

Swanson said, “And we have Jeffery Sterling – an African American man who was discriminated against at the CIA and became angry, as an employee of CIA who revealed to congress, as he was supposed to do, that the CIA was stupidly giving nuclear plans and nuclear parts to Iran trying to anyway dropping stuff through a mail slot in Vienna, Austria, and then accused based on nothing of giving that information to a New York Times reporter.”

“He’s now in prison, and he’s just had a heart attack, and they are not giving him proper medical care. And he’s in prison for upholding the rule of law, for saying here’s outrageous, dangerous behavior giving nuclear plans to other countries under the pretense that that’s going to slow down their non-existent nuclear weapons program, clearly in order to fine them for having one, just as they did with Iraq. And he’s in prison rather than being honored and thanked,” he continued.

Swanson also described the reasons behind efforts in US to demonize countries, including Iran.

“This is the US agenda to get troops and bases and weapons everywhere. Since the Second World War, since the permanent militarization of the United States, since the troops never coming home from Germany and Japan, there has been just this addition of more countries, more countries, and more countries”

“And the countries that do not yet have US troops are depicted in US media as threats, as destabilizing forces, as enemies of truth and justice,” according to Swanson.

“There was a poll by a US polling company, at about a year and a half ago, a Gallup polling of 65 countries around the world and they asked what country is the greatest threat to peace on earth? And in most countries the Unites States is easily one, but in the United States Iran is one- Iran which spends less than 1 percent of what the Unites States spends on wars. Iran which hasn’t started wars in centuries, Iran which isn’t threatening to nuke anybody, is seen by the people of the United States, a fairly educated group of people in some ways, as the greatest threat to peace on earth. Why? Because there are no US bases in Iran.   Even though, the US bases, where they are, instigate wars, provoke wars, create instability. The US public has been trained, taught over and over and over again that there must be US troops everywhere,” he said.

Arguing that “the US considers itself above justice”, Swanson said that “the United States cannot be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, by the International Court of Justice, by any foreign nation.”

The American activist noted that the US is now involved in “illegal wars” in seven countries in defiance of international laws and treaties.

“The United States is now in war in seven countries. Most people in the United States cannot name them. They can’t keep track of the wars. They can’t say Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

“Every single one of them is illegal; not a single one of them is legal under the United Nations Charter or Kellogg–Briand Pact; they are all violating the numerous parts of the Geneva Conventions. They are all, including the drone strikes – whether you call them war or non-war- violating the laws of the nations where they occur.”

Watch the video of Tasnim’s interview with David Swanson below: