Israel Has Played Trump as a Complete Fool

On December 6, United States President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy, defied international law, and ignored the advice of virtually all its allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 1995, bowing to pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S., the U.S. Congress voted to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but included a provision that the president could waive that move every six months. Each president since then has done so; Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama all cited national security interests to waive the provision.

During Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he promised to implement this move, and now he can proclaim that he has kept a campaign promise. He did not say that the national security concerns his predecessors noted have been reduced in any way; he merely recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump has often proclaimed himself the ultimate deal-maker. Since Israel’s leaders have desperately craved this recognition of Jerusalem as its capital for decades, one might think that the ‘ultimate deal-maker’ could have obtained quite a bit in return for this move. Trump could have demanded an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. He could have said there would be no recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until all the 500,000+ illegal settlers living on Palestinian land vacated it. Trump could have withheld recognition until all the checkpoints in the West Bank were disbanded. He could have demanded that Israel respect the pre-1967, internationally-recognized borders.

But the ‘ultimate deal maker’ did none of these things. David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator, had a different view. He said that, perhaps, “This might be the case where Trump applies a little honey now to show the Israelis he’s the most pro-Israel president ever, and then applies a little vinegar later.” With such beliefs, it is no wonder Miller failed as a negotiator. We will provide him with a brief history lesson.

In 1987, U.S Secretary of State George Shultz presented a three-point plan to resolve the underlying issues. The points were as follows:

1) The convening of an international conference;

2) A six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and

3) A date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected this plan immediately, claiming, most bizarrely, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”[1]

So any thought that Trump was applying ‘honey’ now, and would apply ‘vinegar’ later, would be laughable, were it not so stupid.

This might be compared to Fatah requesting that Hamas surrender its weapons, with the expectation that Israel will ‘do the right thing’. Fatah has no weapons, and Israeli soldiers and settlers brutalize Palestinians with impunity. The entire history of Israel is one of brutality, savagery, injustice, murder and genocide. Its history with the United States is one of constantly taking, and giving nothing in return. That Israel has played Trump as a complete fool cannot be disputed.

What does this action mean in terms of international law? After the 1967 war, Israel annexed the entire city of Jerusalem, an action which the United Nations promptly declared null and void. All of the international community, with the exception of Israel, respected that U.N. declaration, until December 6 of this year, when Trump defied it. Trump has shown his contempt for international law before, most recently when he refused, despite all evidence supporting it, to certify that Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement sanctioned by the U.N.

Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Russia, the Vatican, Turkey, Germany, France, the U.K, China, Indonesia, Pakistan are just some of the nations whose leaders have condemned Trump’s latest international misstep. The European Union and the United Nations have done the same. With the obvious exception of Israel, no country has spoken in support of it.

Domestically, even Jewish groups oppose Trump’s decision. The head of the largest organization of Reformed Jews in the U.S., Rabbi Rick Jacobs, issued the following statement just prior to Trump’s announcement:  “While we share the President’s belief that the US Embassy should… be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. We urge the President to do everything in his power to move forward with efforts to bring true peace to the region and take no unilateral steps.”

J-Street, another U.S., pro-Israel organization, also opposed the move. J-Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict. The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy.”

Apparently, none of these considerations were important to Trump. He had promised repeatedly during the campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has been unable to deliver on some of his other promises, most notably depriving millions of people of health care, something supported, oddly, by his base. This latest move is intended to keep his base – evangelical Christians and wealthy donors – happy.

Although Trump only became president due to the peculiar U.S. Electoral College, and despite losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, he continues to believe he is qualified to be president, and is highly popular. He has stated repeatedly that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. Yet there is no evidence to support this. He dismisses polls indicating that less than 40% of the populace approves of the job he is doing.  He has stated that he has accomplished more in less than a year in office than any other president, with the exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, Trump concedes, had a major depression to deal with. He makes this statement despite the fact that no major or significant legislation has been passed since he became president.

Many of Trump’s decisions have been met with domestic and international opposition: his travel ban on Muslims; withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement; decertifying of the JCPOA. But the opposition to his latest disastrous decision seems stronger and more unified than has previously been seen.

Finally, the U.S. can no longer proclaim that it is an honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis; all such pretense has now been exposed for the lie that it is. It is long past time for another nation to assume that role, and genuinely work for a peaceful resolution, which can be easily accomplished by forcing Israel to adhere to international law. If that is an outcome of Trump’s decision, than some good will come of it.

[1] Suleiman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Page 31.

 

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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Daesh Defeat in Iraq and Syria Means Beginning of the End for Saudi Arabia and Israel

After years of suffering and violence, Iraq and Syria now seem to be rid of Daesh, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, thanks mainly to the efforts of Iran. On Tuesday, November 21, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani sent Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei a congratulatory message on Daesh’s defeat in these countries, and thanked him for his leadership.

Although his own work with the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) was key to this victory, Major General Soleimani also praised the armed forces of Syria and Iraq, their governments and people, in their determination to expel foreign terrorists from their countries.

While this is a great victory for peace in these war-torn countries, it is not news that is welcomed in every corner of the world. When one looks at Daesh’s founding and financing, one sees why some nations are bitterly disappointed with Major General Soleimani’s news.

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, Yasmina Haifi, ‘tweeted’ the following in August, 2014: “ISIS (Daesh) has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”

The following month, a research scholar at Harvard University, Garikai Chengu, said that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.”

And herein we have the answer to many questions: the U.S. desperately wants to ‘counter Iran’s growing influence in the region’.

For decades, Israel was the Middle East’s strongest nation. Relying on $4 billion annually from the United States, it violated international law and human rights with complete impunity; it oppressed the Palestinians and stole their land, assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, and practiced its particularly brutal version of apartheid within its ever-expanding, illegal borders.

Yet with hapless U.S. support, it slowly overstepped its bounds. Urging the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the U.S. Congress that ‘enormous benefits’ would accrue if Saddam Hussein were overthrown. In the power vacuum that that immoral and illegal invasion caused, Iran stepped in and built new ties with Iraq, which the U.S. and Israel had not anticipated.

When Israel decided that Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad must go, so that a weaker government that would bow to Israel’s demands could be installed, it didn’t anticipate Iranian and Russian support for Syria. The U.S. accommodated Israel’s demands by calling for ‘regime change’ in Syria, and supported, with arms and training, what it called ‘moderate rebels’, who were, in actuality, brutal foreign forces with no respect for human dignity, or human life. The suffering these U.S.-supported terrorists caused is beyond description.

With Iran’s influence demonstrated in Syria, to the point that U.S.-supported forces were defeated, Israel looked to block Iran’s growing geopolitical strength, by supporting the drive for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. This, too, failed.

Perhaps the biggest tactical mistake that apartheid Israel and the oligarchy known as the United States made was underestimating the IRGC. U.S. forces quickly vanquished Iraq a decade ago; Syrian forces, on their own, would have been no match for the terrorists being supported by the U.S. Without this powerful assistance, it’s likely that Daesh would have overrun Syria, and it, like Libya and Iraq, would be in ruins, leaving Israel hegemony with little competition in the Middle East. That racist nation would then have been able to annex all of Palestine, completing the genocide it began in 1948, and which has continued to this day.

Alas for Israel, this was not meant to be! Iran, a nation that believes in self-determination and peace (Iran has not invaded another country since 1798), came to the assistance of its ally, Syria. Thus, Daesh, and Israel’s dreams for uncontested power in the Middle East, were destroyed.

Political affiliations can be unusual. It has now been reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in contact to determine how best to confront Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia have two of the most dismal human rights records in the entire Middle East; Israel is a brutal occupier, and Saudi Arabia is slaughtering Yemenis, including men, women and children, even as this is written. In Saudi Arabia, a decree was issued in September of this year, allowing women to drive; this new law is to be implemented by June 24, 2018. This very basic right is revolutionary in the oppressive nation of Saudi Arabia. In July, when this writer visited Iran, he saw as many women driving as men. Women cannot vote in Saudi Arabia; women in Iran have had that right since 1963.

It is not surprising that two nations with no interest in human rights would become allied to try to hold onto their fading power. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the Middle East and the rest of the world, there are many factors weighing against them:

  • The U.S. government is in complete disarray. While the money flow to Israel continues unabated, the current government seems unable to formulate any cohesive policy on almost anything, foreign or domestic. This is a good thing, since its policies in the past have always supported brutal dictators against the human rights of the majority.
  • Israel’s isolation from the world community continues to increase. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement continues to negatively impact Israel’s economy, academics, athletics and reputation. The alarm that the BDS movement has caused in Israel and the United States is evidence of its strength.
  • Russian power leans toward Iran, and away from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russian officials are scheduled to meet with officials from Turkey and Iran on November 22, to discuss Syria. The U.S. has not been invited. Russia’s and Iran’s leaders apparently see no reason to involve the U.S.; the situation simply doesn’t concern the U.S. Relations between the U.S. and Russia today are at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.
  • The strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In numbers, strategic ability and experience, the IRGC has no peer in the Middle East. Israel has nuclear weapons, but it is unlikely that any of its allies, including the United States, would support their use in a war with Iran. And while Israeli society may be slowly imploding under the weight of its own injustices, even Israel’s leaders must recognize that the use of nuclear weapons would cause a murder-suicide of historic proportions: they may destroy their target nation, but there are too many other nations that are nuclear-armed that would retaliate in kind. A nuclear attack on any other nation by Israel would mean the end of Israel. That fact hardly escapes its leaders.
  • Saudi Arabia’s leaders will not formally ally with Israel unless there is a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, assuring an independent Palestinian state. Israel has no interest in accomplishing this, which will hamper its ability to work with Saudi Arabia. Even if Saudi Arabia’s leaders drop that requirement, which is not unlikely, the other issues mentioned herein are too big for Israel and Saudi Arabia to overcome.

With decreasing interference from the U.S., Syria and Iraq will rebuild, supported by Iran and Russia. U.S.-supported terrorists have been defeated there; people have begun to return to their homes, and in time, they will return to a degree of normalcy. Israel’s next move to re-establish hegemony on the international stage is anyone’s guess, but much of the world has grown tired of its barbarity and violation of international law. As its power and influence fade, and Iran’s grows, the Middle East can hope for a more peaceful future.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

In the swirling, ever-changing but always-corrupt world of global political maneuverings, the jockeying for position in the Middle East is currently an area of international focus. This is caused mainly because Iran’s power and influence in that area of the world has been on the increase, much to the dismay of its bitter enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. And whatever displeases Israel, displeases the government of the United States, thanks to the influential Israeli lobbies operating in the U.S.

We will first look at the key players in this ongoing drama: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S.

  • Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. It has successfully defended itself against attacks, and has assisted its allies, most recently helping the democratically-elected government of Syria against foreign forces, supported by the U.S. and Israel, attempting to overthrow the government. Iran’s human rights record could be improved, but that statement is true about most of the countries on the planet.
  • Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is currently assisting the U.S. in the barbaric destruction of Yemen. Only in the last day or so has it allowed humanitarian aid to enter that country, where millions of children face death by starvation. A law was recently passed in the Saudi kingdom that will allow women to drive; this must be fully implemented by 2019. Women in Iran, on the other hand, have been driving since 1963. In July of this year, this writer visited Iran, and was greatly impressed by the freedom and independence of the women he observed there. This level of freedom, as manifested not only by driving, but by educational and employment opportunities, is not present in Saudi Arabia.
  • Israel, established in 1947 – 1948 on the brutal ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians, and the savage murders of at least 10,000, including men, women and children, the elderly and infants not being spared, has one of the most dismal human rights records on earth. It is an apartheid regime, with separate laws, roads and neighborhoods for Palestinians. The roads and neighborhoods are far inferior to those for Israelis, and to say that the laws that are applied only to Palestinians are Draconian is a classic understatement. Unarmed Palestinian men, women and children are routinely murdered by Israeli soldiers and settlers living illegally in occupied territories, with nearly complete impunity. At least 500,000 Israeli settlers live on Palestinian land, in violation of international law.
  • The atrocities committed by Israel and Saudi Arabia are either supported and/or financed by the United States. It violates its own laws by granting aid to Israel, amounting to more than it gives all other nations combined; U.S. law states that aid cannot be given to nations that don’t meet a certain standard of human rights, a standard Israel falls far below, and aid cannot be given to undeclared nuclear nations. Domestically, the income gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the largest of any nation in the world. Unarmed blacks are routinely shot and killed by white police officers, and any indictment for these murders is rare, with convictions even rarer. The current president was inaugurated despite losing the popular vote by more than 3,000,000 votes, mocking the very concept of democracy. Government officials appointed by the president are among the richest citizens in the country, and their policies are designed to further enrich them and their already-wealthy associates. The U.S. has been at war for over 210 years of its bloody 240-year history. Just since World War II, it is estimated that the U.S. has killed over 20,000,000 people. So while it supports the cruel, brutal regimes of foreign governments, it has not been idle in committing its own, heinous crimes.

Against this ugly background, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been holding ‘unofficial’ meetings, to determine how they can best work together to counter Iran’s growing power. The government of Saudi Arabia has long refused to recognize Israel, making such recognition contingent upon Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 borders (those established by the United Nations in 1947; the criminality and immorality of that decision is a topic for a different day), and the establishment of an independent Palestinian nation with East Jerusalem as its capital. This would require, among other things, the removal of the half-million settlers living illegally on Palestinian land, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sworn never to do; he has proclaimed that not even one will be removed, as he continues stealing Palestinian land and building more illegal settlements.

Could this be a positive development for Palestine? Does Israel want so desperately to receive diplomatic recognition from Saudi Arabia that it will agree to the terms and conditions established by international law? It seems unlikely. Saudi Arabia is just as desperate to ally with Israel against Iran, and will probably accept any Palestinian – Israeli ‘peace agreement’, despite how much it favors Israel and penalizes Palestine. Within Saudi Arabia, a clear alliance by the government with Israel, without a resolution of the Palestinian issue, would be seen as a major betrayal. And as little as the leaders of the Saudi kingdom care about their own people, they are not willing, at this point, at least, to risk a major uprising, the brutal and bloody defeat of which would be broadcast, if not through the news media, at least through social media, around the world. Those leaders could hardly then convince anyone that they need to ally with Israel to protect their people.

The U.S. has never been an honest broker between Palestine and Israel; it has always overwhelmingly favored the Zionist entity. President Donald Trump has promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move almost universally opposed by the international community. Thus far, he has refrained from doing so.

But he recently signed the largest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia; he refused to acknowledge that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which all other signatories have done. He and his spokespeople have endorsed ‘regime change’ in Iran, while the U.S. has full diplomatic relations with the barbaric regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Peace could be achieved in the Middle East by adherence to international law; that’s all it takes. But with the involvement of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, who believe that such law does not apply to them, and the United States, which has always believed that it could create its own rules, and force others to comply while the U.S. itself ignores them at will, seeking resolution by a voluntary adherence to international law is naïve. However, with Iran increasing in power and influence across the Middle East, Israel becoming more globally ostracized, and the U.S. government in near-total disarray under the haphazard and confused leadership of Trump, there are some hopeful signs. Saudi Arabia’s potential betrayal of Palestine, and Palestine’s own weak, corrupt government, are impediments to peace and justice, but they are insufficient to prevent it. How and if Saudi Arabia and Israel align in an attempt to thwart Iran remains to be seen. But Iran does not operate in a vacuum; it, too, has powerful allies, not the least of which is Russia. In a contest of either diplomacy or war, between an allied Saudi Arabia and Israel on one side, and an allied Iran and Russia on the other, the smart betting would be on the latter.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Political Corruption and the U.S. Government

It is almost astounding what the United States populace is willing to tolerate in those that call the shots and make the rules by which they – the plebeian populace – must live. The rule-makers, of course, are exempt from such concerns, but recoil in horror if anyone not a member of the 1% violates them. They are even willing to condemn others of their own class, for violations they, themselves, are guilty of.

The list is nearly endless.

This writer, a charter member of the 99%, with no aspirations to leave it, and no possibility of doing so anyway, must respect and live by certain laws. For example, if he wants to build an addition onto his house, and the local zoning board nixes the plan, he cannot grease the palm of a zoning board member, in order to get a different ruling. Such behavior would result in his arrest, and any of a variety of penalties, not to mention life-long damage to his reputation.

This is not so for members of Congress. Israel wants to ignore international law? Just have Israeli lobbies, the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) chief among them, donate large sums to Congress members’ campaigns. What does it get in return? Laws preventing the boycott of Israel (forget about the fact that such boycotts are protected by the Constitution; who needs that old thing when campaigns need to be financed?); protection from accountability in the United Nations for war crimes; $4 billion of taxpayer money annually, and a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed against the Palestinians.

The gun industry doesn’t want any regulations, whatsoever? Just get the National Rifle Association (NRA) to add their buckets of money to those of AIPAC. In return, anyone, even people who are legally blind, and people who are not allowed on U.S. airplanes because of suspected terrorist ties or activities, can purchase any gun or multiple guns that they choose. This includes semi-automatic weapons, designed to kill many people very quickly. Want to take your gun into a church? No problem!  Kill an unarmed person because you felt ‘threatened’? You have a right to protect yourself! Also, if someone is injured because of a faulty gun, he/she cannot sue the gun manufacturer. There are more laws in the U.S. regulating the manufacture of Teddy bears, than there are of guns.

For us little people, we must respect the personal boundaries of people to whom we may be physically attracted, but only marginally acquainted. Not so for the movers and shakers of the U.S; President Donald Trump has said that, if one is a celebrity, one can do anything they want to any unsuspecting woman who happens to pass by. Democratic Senator Al Franken took pictures of himself, grinning like the idiot that he is, fondling a sleeping woman. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, when in his thirties, trolled malls and high school football games, seeking teenage girls. Former Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a married, family-values arch-conservative, encouraged his mistress to have an abortion, while he championed the ‘pro-life’ movement. He did, however, resign as a result.

War and Peace.

If one were to ask the average person on the street if war is a good thing, one would probably be told that it is a ‘necessary evil’, and that the U.S. only wages war for the good of the U.S. and the world (no, that doesn’t make any sense, but U.S. politicians are ace snake-oil salespeople). One would probably find that such persons don’t believe U.S. government officials only seek power and wealth for themselves and their already-wealthy cronies, and don’t care about the soldiers they send to kill and die, or the innocent victims in faraway nations. These lemmings-like citizens will not listen to stories of neglect of injured veterans, or consider the possibility that the U.S. government is lying to them (see: weapons of mass destruction; Iraq), but will always show up for Veterans’ Day parades, equipped with a flag to wave and a handkerchief with which to wipe away the tears that begin to flow as the national anthem is played. They will say it is sad that children die, but, they will be quick to add, that is the fault of the victim nation, not the mighty U.S.

Political Prisoners.

Somehow, inexplicitly, the U.S. citizenry seems content that their vaunted ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ operates a torture chamber in Cuba, and utilizes the services of various other nations to house and torture other U.S. political prisoners, including U.S. citizens. The fact that many have been released and exonerated after years of unspeakable torture is not something that concerns them; the U.S., they will say, only tortures people for the good of society. So there.

And didn’t the aged Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, during his failed campaign for the presidency in 2008, say that there are some ‘really bad people’ in Guantanamo? As long as he decrees it to be so, what are things like due process? Who cares about the right to an attorney? They are ‘bad people’, as judged by McCain. That is all that is important to know.

It’s bad enough that the inmates are running the asylum, but why must the rest of the inmates tolerate it all? The answer, one supposes, is clear: they have lost sight, thanks to government officials, of who really has the power. They have successfully been made to believe that the power lies in Congress, the courts and the presidency, the three branches of government that activist Dahlia Wasfi correctly refers to as terrorist cells. Yet it is the populace who could, at the very least, vote en masse to rid the country of its current government officials. It is the populace who could take to the streets in numbers so large that there aren’t sufficient police to arrest them all, or cells to hold them. And if they did, it is possible that some of the police would join them. If the National Guard were called out, many Guard members might also join them. It is the populace who could refuse to pay taxes, swarm Congressional offices with their demands, refuse (males who are 18 years of age) to register for the draft, withdraw their money from banks that support terrorism, or hold a nationwide workers strike. This last action would, at least temporarily, cripple the economy, hurting the oligarchs exactly where it most matters to them.

In the 1960s, the phrase ‘Power to the People’ was often chanted at rallies protesting the U.S. war in Vietnam. But the people have always had the power; they simply choose not to use it.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kakistoligargacy

United States President Donald Trump, following a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said he believes him when Putin claims that the Russian government didn’t interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This belief in Russian innocence is not shared by U.S. intelligence services. Mr. Putin, certainly, has his own agenda. U.S. intelligence agencies also have their own agendas. Which agenda is better for the U.S. and the world is open to discussion, but this writer would trust Putin with his life before he’d ever trust the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or any of its corrupt affiliates.

Congress members, especially those saintly Democrats, are horrified at even the suggestion of foreign meddling in the U.S. elections. This, they proclaim, wringing their hands in righteous indignation, threatens the very essence of democracy. The U.S., that beacon of all that is good and just, supports democracy around the world, and serves, they say, as an example for the rest of the world. Any violation of this revered, sacred democracy by outside influences causes the angels in heaven to weep.

Not so fast. There are many, MANY ways in which this all smacks of hypocrisy. It also shows the contempt with which elected officials hold the intelligence of the average U.S. citizen, especially those relatively few who actually vote. We will leave for another day any discussion of whether or not that contempt is justified.

How, the reader may ask, does this arrogant, superior attitude manifest hypocrisy? Read on, Reader!

  • In a democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins the election. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore garnered about 500,000 more votes than George Bush, but Bush became president. As a result, the U.S. became involved in two unjust, illegal and immoral wars (all wars, of course, are immoral), one of which continues to this day. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million, yet Donald Trump became president. Whether or not she was the lesser of two evils is difficult to say, but in a functioning democracy, she’d be president.
  • Support for democracy abroad means supporting the will of people in individual nations. It does not mean financing and training terrorists attempting to overthrow democratically-elected governments, and invading foreign nations. The U.S. has done exactly that in many countries, including, but not limited to Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Today is supports terrorists in Syria, and seeks ‘regime change’ in Iran. One can easily imagine the outcry if Iran’s government leaders declared their support for regime change in the U.S.
  • The U.S. has ‘brokered’ meaningless negotiations between Palestine and Israel for decades, all the while supporting Israel financially, and protecting it in the United Nations from accountability for its crimes. A true democracy would either treat both parties the same, or, if favoring one party, would step back from any involvement in such negotiations.
  • In a democracy, all the people who satisfy the minimum requirements for voting, would be able to do so. But with a history of poll taxes, and current requirements in some states for picture identification, more eligible voters are being disenfranchised, a disproportionate number of Black voters being victimized in this way.

If the U.S. isn’t a democracy, what is it? Not a meritocracy; people in government don’t get promoted because of how well they have performed their current job (if that were the case, no one in government, ever, would be promoted).

Let’s consider the possibility that it’s an oligarchy. Elections require millions of campaign dollars, and the most successful candidates (see: Donald Trump) have personal fortunes of their own to spend. Over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires. Members of Trumps’ cabinet have more money that one-third of the rest of the population of the United States. Can any of these people really represent their constituents? Do they even want to?

The other options is a kakistocracy, in which the worst and most incompetent people are running the country. ‘Nuff said.

Perhaps a new term is required, and this writer is happy to provide it: Kakistoligargacy. This new term indicates that the most wealthy and corrupt people are running the show.

In U.S. society today, when racism is fashionable, sexual harassment and assault are seen as privileges of the elite, the middle calls is seen only as a source of tax revenue, and the poor are to be ignored, perhaps the idea of a kakistoligargacy can be accepted. Imagine any of the U.S.’s leaders from either side of the aisle, standing in front of a crowd on the Fourth of July, extolling the glories of the greatest kakistoligargacy in the world! He or she will proclaim that U.S. kakistoligargacy is the model for aspiring kakistoligargacies around the planet. It is, he/she will proudly say, the envy of every other kakistoligargacy that exists.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. The unmitigated nonsense that spews forth from the mouths of U.S. officials now is no more daft or imbecilic than the idea that they could brag about kakistoligargacy.

The new Republican tax reform program has been unveiled, and it certainly supports the idea that the U.S. is a kakistoligargacy. It includes lower taxes on the storing and staffing of private jets; large cuts in the taxes of the highest earners, and the estate tax, which applies only to estates exceeding $5.49 million, would be increased to only estates exceeding $10 million, and would be eliminated completely in six years.

The tax reform proposals benefit the rich: oligarchy in action. They hurt the middle class and ignore the poor: kakistocracy. A marriage made somewhere other than in heaven, and resulting in kakistoligargacy.

Trump faces little opposition among members of Congress, simply because there is little for them to oppose: his policies benefit them and their corrupt cronies. Yet a basic economic principle of capitalism is that there must be a strong middle-class for a society to succeed. Although this writer would be glad to see capitalism ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again, a more orderly transition, one that avoids the inevitable chaos the U.S. is heading for, is to be desired. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before the kakistoligarchs experience the impacts of their policies. Until then, they will continue to make money, come what may.

This is not a phenomenon of the current Republican president; he is merely its latest incarnation. Look at the last several GOP candidates for president: Mitt Romney (net worth between $190 and $250 million); John McCain (a mere $21 million, but his wife has a net worth of at least $100 million); George W. Bush ($11 – $29 million at the time of his election); Bob Dole ($7.7 million at the time of the 1996 election, in which he was defeated); George H.W. Bush ($23 million). These are supposed to be the ‘representative of the people’.

Democrat or Republican; liberal or conservative, it is all the same. The left wing and the right wing are both parts of the same kakistoligargical bird.

 

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Disreputable Candidates

Every year in the United States, there are elections. Presidential elections are held every four years; senate elections are held every few years, with senators’ terms being six years. Elections for the House of Representatives are held every two years. Interspersed among these are various so-called ‘off year’ elections, such as those recently held in New Jersey and Virginia. A special election will be held next month in Alabama, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who, incredibly, is now Attorney General of the U.S.

Governmental spokespeople will point to these many and varied exercises in electoral futility as evidence of a vibrant democratic nation, where the people oh-so-frequently are able to choose their ‘representatives’, by a majority vote. The fact that increasing numbers of voters are disenfranchised, or that the ‘majority’ doesn’t count in presidential elections, thanks to the bizarre Electoral College, are not topics for today’s discussion. Rather, this writer would prefer to look at the caliber of the people among whom the hapless electorate is forced to choose.

Take, for example, Judge Roy Moore, running on the Republican ticket for Senate in Alabama. He was twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, first in 2001 and then again in 2013. He was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary in 2003, for failing to abide by the order of a federal court judge that required the removal of a copy of a Ten Commandments monument from the state judiciary building. Following his second election in 2013, he was again removed, by the same body, in 2016, for ordering judges and their employees to defy the federal court ruling that granted marriage equality. Hardly a sterling character.

But wait! There is more to Moore than his disregard for federal law. While unmarried and in his thirties, he was known for dating high-school aged girls. Several have surfaced over the past several weeks, one stating that he touched her ‘inappropriately’ when she was 14!

When men in their 50s and 60s date women half their age, one might say that the woman is particularly mature; she may have an advanced university degree, a responsible position in business, government or a social service agency. Perhaps she has travelled extensively. He may be far advanced in a career in which she is still establishing herself. There are unlimited topics they might share, and, therefore, there are many legitimate reasons why a man in his 50s and a woman in her 20s might be attracted to each other, beyond the physical one.

The same cannot be said of a man in his 30s who ‘dates’ a girl (a 14-year-old can hardly be referred to as a ‘woman’) half his age. What, one wonders, could they discuss? Perhaps they converse about the boredom of Study Hall; talk about their very favorite band, or complain about parental restrictions. Or is it possible that a man in his 30s has something else very different in mind, when ‘dating’ a girl in her early teens?

But this perversion is just a part of the model that has been presented by the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, who has been accused by numerous women of inappropriate touching, grabbing, etc., and who has not confessed to such behaviors, but has proclaimed them as a privilege.

This is nothing new; President Bill Clinton admitted to causing ‘pain’ in his marriage due to his serial philandering, but at least (and this is the very least) he issued some sort of apology for it. But he, too, took advantage of someone who was powerless by comparison, during his tawdry experiences with intern Monica Lewinsky.

And these are not exceptions; they seem to be the rule.

It might be said (and this writer has said it), that a politician having an extra-marital affair is no one’s business but that of the people involved; it should be of no concern to the voter. But the issues discussed herein are not ‘affairs’: touching a 14-year-old girl is simply perverted. Voters may choose to overlook Moore’s double expulsions from the bench, due to their particular side in the U.S.’s so-called ‘culture wars’, but how any decent person could vote for him now escapes the understanding of this writer.

Donald Trump ‘grabbing’ women by their genitals is not an affair; it is sexual assault. This writer understands the contempt and disdain that voters had for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (his own contempt and disdain for her is not exceeded by anyone else’s), but Donald Trump? Why didn’t the voters look for a third-party candidate they could get behind? There were dozens running.

And when Bill Clinton involved himself with Ms. Lewinsky, it wasn’t an affair; he was arguably the most powerful person in the world, and she was a young White House intern.

The sleaze factor is not limited to sexual abuse and perversion. Money is always at the forefront of the minds of Congress members. For example, Rep. Mike Kelly, (R-PA) sponsored a natural gas bill at the same time that Exxon negotiated a multimillion-dollar deal with his wife, an oil company heiress. The Kellys reaped a fortune as a result.  When Dennis Cardozo, (D-CA) was a member of the House of Representatives, he was instrumental in passing a bill that involved tax breaks for people purchasing racehorses; this does not seem to be an issue that is foremost on the minds of most U.S. citizens. Once those tax breaks became law, he purchased seven racehorses. Unlike the little peons who vote them in, elected officials are able to make laws that benefit them financially.

The U.S. has a population of over 320 million people. Is this the best that can be done? Alabama has nearly 5 million people; could the Republicans come up with no one better to run for Senate than a child molester who has twice been kicked off the bench?

In the U.S., it is impossible to run for office beyond the local level without vast personal funds. While Moore’s finances are not public, he is known to have taken about $1 million in salary from a charity he ran; that is somewhat beyond the net worth of the average U.S. citizen, which is in the neighborhood of $60,000. That sum is certainly insufficient to mount any kind of even statewide campaign, let alone a national one.

So there we are. The rich are the only people who can run for office, and the respectable rich probably aren’t interested in hob-nobbing with the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Roy Moore.

Is it time for a third party in the U.S.? Is the pope Catholic? Does the sun rise in the east? But the more important question is this: will it happen? No time soon, this writer fears. As Frederick Douglass once said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” As long as a lethargic populace is willing to pick between a racist, Islamophobic misogynist, and a greedy, money- and power-hungry career politician for president, and will overlook sexual assault and pedophilia, it will never demand that the powers-that-be surrender their monopoly on government. As a result, the quality of elected officials, already in the gutter, will continue to deteriorate, to the detriment not only of the U.S., but of the entire world.

 

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Failed to Divide Syria, U.S. Plans to Decentralize the Country

One can be excused for being confused about the convoluted foreign policy of the United States. Things are bad enough when there is a reasonably sane, Apartheid Israel war-monger in the White House, but with the irrational Donald Trump as president, any semblance of logic and reason is absent.

This is no clearer than with the recent and current situation in Raqqa, Syria. For years, since the U.S. began arming and training terrorist rebels to attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Basher al-Assad, Raqqa was a stronghold for ISIS. In a very bizarre twist of fate, once the U.S. decided that it had lost control of the narrative, and ISIS was not serving its U.S.-created purpose, it decided to attempt to drive ISIS out of Raqqa. In doing so, it was on the same side as Iran, which, allied with Syria, was attempting to help the Syrian people, and to bolster and strengthen the Syrian government.

Now, with ISIS on the run and Raqqa liberated,  Raqqa, according to news reports, is to be a quasi-independent part of Syria, autonomous, but still bearing the name of Syria. This is the decree of the U.S.-backed militia that was part of liberating Raqqa from the U.S.-backed ISIS. If one is not confused yet, please read on.

Recently Kurdistan, which is a province of Iraq, held a referendum in which the people of Kurdistan voted to secede from Iraq. The U.S. had difficulty either supporting or opposing this move, since it ostensibly supports a unified Iraq, but has long had positive relations with Kurdistan.  Apartheid Israel strongly supported this move, since Iran, one of Apartheid Israel’s many and varied ‘existential threats’, is growing in power and influence in the Middle East, and an independent Kurdistan, backed by the U.S. and Apartheid Israel, would block unimpeded Iranian geographic access to region. Add a semi-autonomous Raqqa, and the firewall that Apartheid Israel so desperately wants would be strengthened.

Unfortunately for the apartheid Zionist regime, gaining this firewall may not be quite as easy as a referendum, and the proclamation of a ragtag U.S. militia group. There are a few other major considerations in the mix.

  • The government of Iraq is not willing to see its country partitioned. Discussion of dividing Iraq into its component pieces, thus strengthening Apartheid Israel, was discussed as far back as the U.S. invasion and occupation, but it doesn’t have much popularity outside of the twisted minds of U.S. and Apartheid Israel leadership. Surely, even government officials in those two violent, war-mongering nations would need to get some agreement from Iraq to end the millennia-old nation. That such agreement will not be forthcoming is a foregone conclusion.
  • The same is true in Syria. After years of U.S., United Kingdom and Apartheid Israeli interference in the form of arming, training and financing terrorists, victory for the Syrian government is all but assured. Bashar Al-Assad will not take kindly to efforts by the United States, which killed at least half a million of his country’s citizens, who never did the U.S. any harm, to divide his country. And Syria is allied with Iran which, despite strenuous efforts by the U.S., remains a force to be reckoned with by itself alone, but is even more powerful due to its alliance with Russia. And Russian assistance to Syria can’t be discounted, as Russia worked with the Syrian and Iranian forces to end the U.S.-backed rebellion.

It is disturbing to see what ends the U.S. will go to in order to do the bidding of Apartheid Israel. One would think that the U.S. would be far better served to establish diplomatic ties with Iran, and cease its futile attempts to block its influence. Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798: yes, that is 219 years ago. Just since the end of World War II, the U.S. has invaded and/or otherwise destabilized at least 33 nations.  These include Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time.

And now, the U.S. wants to divide up Syria, so Apartheid Israel can be protected from Iran. This simply isn’t going to happen, any more than the independence of Kurdistan will happen, regardless of any referendum.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘decertifying’ Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) must be seen as part of the plan to protect Apartheid Israel from its many enemies. But why should the U.S. care about Israel’s future? That rogue nation has a dismal human rights record, is in violation of several international laws, and has been censured by the United Nations more often than all other countries combined. Why does the U.S. not only protect and finance the criminal Zionist entity, but also wages wars at its behest?

This is only explained by the corruption of the U.S. government, which allows campaign contributions from any special interest group with a cheque book, and pro-Apartheid Israeli lobbies have very generous donors for those in Congress who will do their bidding. In exchange for millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Apartheid Israel lobbies, Congress members are willing to ignore the human rights aspirations of the oppressed Palestinians, and look the other way at Apartheid Israel violations of international law.

To summarize: Syria is now mainly rid of foreign-backed terrorists, and the U.S. is deciding that that nation will be ‘decentralized’. Iraq, finally beginning to achieve some level of stability following the criminal U.S. invasion of 2003, is also to be divided, both measures supported to please the Zionist regime. Opposition by Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran and Russia, doesn’t seem to enter into the U.S. foreign policy equation.

The U.S. is risking a major war that will cause the deaths of millions of people, and which it cannot win, simply because lobby groups that own the U.S. Congress demand it.

Toward the end of the presidential administration of Richard Nixon (in office from 1969 – 1974), his closest advisors instructed the military not to respond to his orders. More sensible people than the increasingly irrational Nixon recognized that some of his decrees risked the end of civilization. Trump and his puppet-master, the brutal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are playing the same game, with stakes just as high. One clings to a faint hope that there are those in the White House inner circle who recognize the folly of current foreign policies in the Middle East, and will instruct the military as Nixon’s inner circle did. It is not much on which to pin the hopes of the continuation of civilization, but it is all we have.

 

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Haley, Iran and Hypocrisy

The pronouncements of the United States’ clownish Embarasser to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, never cease to amaze this writer. The nonsense the spews forth from her mouth is only matched by the buffoon who appointed her, U.S. President Donald Trump.

She has weighed in, once again, on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement between Iran, the U.S., and several other countries that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities. She wants the United Nation to adopt Trump’s approach to Iran and address what she refers to as its “destructive conduct”. She proclaims that Iran “has repeatedly thumbed its nose” at council resolutions that purport to address Iranian’s alleged support for terrorism and regional conflicts. She says that Iran has illegally supplied weapons to Yemen and Hezbollah militants in Syria and Lebanon. “Worse, the regime continues to play this council,” Haley said. “Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits of its behavior, and we have allowed them to get away with it. This must stop.”

And this pearl of wisdom:  “Iran must be judged in the totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish.”

We will all take a deep breath and attempt to absorb the lies, distortions and astounding hypocrisy within these statements. Looking at them individually may be the most productive approach.

Limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities is not enough for Haley.

Perhaps someone should remind her that Iran has signed the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Iran’s leaders have repeatedly said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and that with or without the JCPOA, Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, because of the NPT. While pointing out this fact to the Embarasser, it might also be mentioned that Israel is not a signatory to the NPT, and is in possession of nuclear weapons. Perhaps she might turn her attention there.

Iran “has repeatedly thumbed its nose” at council resolutions.

Again, we feel compelled to instruct Haley. The U.N. has issued more resolutions critical of Israel for its violations of international law than it has of all other nations combined. Why do we not hear her screaming for sanctions and war against Israel?

And what council resolutions has Iran “thumbed its nose” at? (This writer will only pause for a moment to comment, as he has in the past, about Haley’s elegant, refined and intellectual vocabulary). Currently, the International Atomic Energy Agency is inspecting Iranian nuclear sites on a regular basis. Israel will not allow any representatives from the U.N. to enter Gaza to investigate charges of war crimes. That seems, to this writer, to be ‘thumbing its nose’ at the U.N.

Iran’s support for terrorism and regional conflicts.

At first, one wonders how Bozo Haley can make such statements with a straight face, but based on her vocabulary and very tenuous grasp of reality, it is likely that her intelligence level is such that she believes her own words. This is probably more frightening that outright lying, and in this, she is also similar to her orange-complected boss. But we will take the time to explore this statement.

The U.S. is currently bombing seven countries in the Middle East. Is this not terrorism? Additionally, for years the U.S. supported ISIS and other organizations that were seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government. Is this not terrorism and support of regional conflicts? The U.S. invaded and overthrew the government of Iraq, destroying the infrastructure, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and displacing millions more. Is this not terrorism?

And what has Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another nation since 1798, done to deserve the wrath of the current Court Jester to the U.N? It has assisted its ally, Syria, in defeating foreign-supported terrorists within the country. It has helped Iraq as it rebuilds from U.S. terror and destruction, and supports Lebanon, and the oppressed people of Palestine. Due to its support for peace and justice, its influence throughout the Middle East is growing, and this the Embarraser cannot tolerate: she adores Apartheid Israel, and will not countenance any country that represents peace and justice to eclipse its influence in the region.

“Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits of its behavior.”

How, one might ask, is Iran hiding behind its technical compliance of the nuclear deal? Isn’t complying with an international agreement a good thing (despite Trump’s disdain for such practices)? And what, exactly, does to the term “violates the other limits of its behavior” even mean? Iran is testing defensive weaponry. Its leaders, like that of every other country in the world, have an obligation to protect its citizens from invasion or attack of any kind by outside forces. The U.S. and Israel are threatening Iran with war; Iran is doing exactly what it needs to do to protect itself and its people from this aggression. The only thing Iran threatens in the Middle East is United States and Apartheid Israel hegemony.

“We have allowed them to get away with it.”

By ‘we’, she seems to be referring to the United Nations Security Council. The U.S. is one of the permanent members of the Council (having permanent members at all is its biggest flaw), and with its long record of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is in no position to ‘allow’ or forbid any other country to do, or from doing, anything. And, as previously stated, Clowny objects to Iran violating “the other limits of its behavior” (whatever on earth that even means; the phrase simply doesn’t make sense).

“Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish.” 

Let us substitute ‘The United States’, for ‘Iran’ in that sentence:  “The United States must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish.” We have mentioned, above, some of the U.S.’s ‘aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior’. We will add to it the following, although it could be a very long list; for the sake of time, we will keep it brief:

+ Supplying Israel with the weaponry, some of it illegal under international law, to oppress and kill innocent Palestinians. Is this not aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior?

+ Killing by drone thousands of people in Yemen and other countries. Does this not fall under the categories of aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behaviors of which Haley is so concerned?

We could also substitute ‘Israel’ for ‘Iran’ in Haley’s statement above, and reach the same conclusions.

What happens next? The future of the JCPOA is now in the hands of an incompetent, dysfunctional Congress which, unfortunately, is bought and paid for by Israeli lobbies, the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) chief among them. It has 60 days to decide whether or not to re-impose sanctions, which would then put the U.S. in violation of the agreement, thus rendering it null and void, although Iran’s spokesmen have said that as long as the other parties maintain the agreement, Iran will continue to do so as well. But U.S. financial sanctions against Iran could impact some of the other countries that are party to the agreement, causing them to withdraw. At that point, Iran would have no reason to continue to comply, at which time Haley, Trump, et. al will proclaim: “There! We told you Iran wouldn’t keep its end of the bargain”, and make ready the war planes.

The Orange President and his Embarrassing Court Jester at the U.N. seem oblivious to facts, current events and history. Iran, unlike Iraq, is not a small, isolated, Third World country.  Iraq, when the U.S. invaded, had a population of about 25 million. Iran today has a population more than three times that amount. Iraq had a small, weak and ineffective army. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran is large, well-trained and powerful. Iraq was mainly isolated in the world. Iran is allied with, among other countries, Russia, which would in all likelihood come to its assistance in the event of a U.S. or Israeli invasion. None of this paints a pretty picture, but Trump and Haley don’t seem to see it quite this way.

Late in the administration of President Richard Nixon, as his behavior became more erratic, on some occasions his top aides told the military not to follow his instructions. This may have prevented World War III. While Trump has hardly surrounded himself with military advisors seeking a peaceful world (are there any that do?), hopefully there is a sufficient number of working brains to recognize the risks of invading Iran as indicated above.

The best case scenario is that there will be no sanctions and no invasion, and that the clown-like Haley will simply continue to sing her ugly songs to an ignoring audience. Iran will continue to grow in power and influence, using those capabilities to help stabilize the region, successfully opposing U.S. efforts to the contrary. But with the delusional Trump in the White House, anything can happen.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Commentary on ‘We the People’ Television News- PressTV

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/09/25/536405/Donald-Trump-United-Nations-General-Assembly

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Respect for the Flag: Ignorance or Hypocrisy?

With all that’s currently going on in the world, United States President Donald Trump continues to obsess on football players and the U.S. flag. He is demanding that they show ‘proper’ respect for a piece of cloth that represents a repressive oligarchy. Yet, this is, sadly, nothing new.

In 1807, crew members from the British ship Leopold sought to board the U.S. ship Chesapeake, to seek sailors who had deserted from the British navy. They were refused, so they fired on the Chesapeake, killing four U.S. sailors, and causing severe damage to the ship. This was considered an outrage, and an incident that contributed to the war that started five years later. In 1808, the new captain of the Chesapeake, Stephen Decatur, declared that “… the reputation of the Flag of the United States…” required the Chesapeake to be defined properly by the number of guns it had; there had been some discrepancy previously.

The wounds remained raw; Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, in complaining about U.S. relations with Britain in 1809, outlined several areas, including “…the inhuman and dastardly attack on our Frigate Chesapeake – an outrage which prostrated the flag of our Country….”

Notice the importance of the flag, as early as 1807.

Perhaps we can look at the pledge of allegiance, that statement that is recited by school students from kindergarten through high school all across the country, and dissect it into its component parts.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

  • ‘I pledge allegiance to the Flag.’ Really? One pledges allegiance to a flag? Although this writer recited it for 12 years, he had no real idea of what he was saying. But today, looking at even just the first six words, it is difficult to describe how ridiculous it sounds. The bald eagle is another symbol of the United States. Should we, perhaps, pledge allegiance to it? “I pledge allegiance to the bald eagle….”
  • ‘And to the republic for which it stands.’ Well, one supposes that one can feel a sense of allegiance to a country; although this writer can understand it, he does not experience it.
  • ‘One Nation under God’. Says who? This would seem to mean that atheists are exempt from making this pledge (lucky them!). Right-wing religious leaders are forever proclaiming that God is about the strike down the mighty U.S. because of such things as marriage equality, or health care for everyone. If Deity was in the business of smacking around countries when they displeased him (and this writer, an actively religious Christian, cannot see how either of those two things would), wouldn’t the U.S have felt that wrath during the time of slavery?
  • ‘Indivisible’. Discounting, of course, the Civil War, the nation has been indivisible from a geographic point of view. But there do seem to be a number of significant divisions: left and right; white and people of color; police and people of color; police and poor people; rich and poor; Muslims and conservatives; liberals (a vanishing breed, indeed) and conservatives; rural residents and their urban counterparts; East Coast and Midwest; elected officials and their constituents, etc.
  • ‘With liberty and justice for all’. How one can utter these six words in the context of the United States completely eludes this writer. Banks are ‘too big to fail’ and their corrupt executives ‘too big to jail’. Unarmed black men, women and children are routinely gunned down by white police officers, with almost complete impunity. Wealthy people accused of crimes hire the lawyers necessary to represent them, and help with plea bargaining, while impoverished people serve years-long jail terms for minor drug offenses. This list could go on.

The NFL protests began during the playing of the national anthem. Perhaps a look at those words, too, might be informative.

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The convoluted language here makes this almost as difficult to make any sense of, as the musical arrangement makes it to sing. For the convenience of the reader, this writer will re-write it into contemporary English.

“It’s early morning, can you see that thing we praised last night? You know, the flag that we watched in awe. As it got dark, the bombs that were killing people were lighting up the air so while we couldn’t see the people writhing in pain on the ground in mortal agony, we could sure see that flag! Yes, it still waves over our wonderful country!”

Alright, so perhaps there was a bit of editorializing here; the song doesn’t say anything specifically about people dying, but it’s a reasonable inference when bombs are dropping and rockets firing.

So, according to the illustrious U.S. president, when that song is being sung, and that flag is flapping in the breeze, everyone must stand in reverent, worshipful awe.

It has been decades since this writer attended any event where the U.S. national anthem was played. He expects to successfully avoid such circumstances for the rest of his life, a goal made easier by the fact that he hasn’t lived in the U.S. in years. But he must ask: don’t people have any idea what they are saying? Admittedly, this writer didn’t pay any attention during his elementary and high school years, but once that point is passed, shouldn’t people know what they are pledging allegiance to? Perhaps the habit of simply standing, putting hand on heart and then mouthing the vapid and vacuous words is too deeply ingrained; it’s as natural as breathing, and no one questions it.

But it’s high time people did. We can thank Colin Kaepernick for raising this consciousness, even a little bit. He, obviously, thought about the words, and decided not to ‘respect the flag’ (a ludicrous concept, at best) in a very public manner. His actions were sufficient to bring down the wrath of the president of the United States: good move, Mr. Kaepernick!

What will happen now? FOX Sports announced it will no longer broadcast the pre-game anthem, thus preventing the delicate sensibilities of its audience members from being offended by someone sitting or kneeling during it. Trump will, in all probability, continue to rail at the ‘sons of b——-‘ that want to protest racial discrimination in the U.S. And people of color will continue to be marginalized to an even greater degree during the Trump years than they have since prior to the passage of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s.

Oh yes! The ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’! Indeed.

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