Category Archives: Israel

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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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Palestine, Political Musings, U.S., U.S. Politics

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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Trump and the United Nations

United States President Donald Trump brought his own peculiar bellicosity to the United Nations this week, threatening North Korea and Iran, and ignoring the human rights abuses of Saudi Arabia and Israel. He proclaimed that each nation should have the right to pursue its own goals, and that the U.S. had no interest in forcing its brand of democracy (such as it is) on any other nation. Then he criticized the socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela, and harshly condemned both North Korea and Iran.

It is interesting that he seems to lump North Korea and Iran together. The former is a repressive, totalitarian regime with nuclear weapons, and the latter, with a democratically-elected president, has actually signed an international agreement saying its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. The U.S. is a signatory to that agreement, which Trump calls “the worst deal ever”.

This appears to be quite a contraction in the confused rhetoric of the U.S. president. He proclaims that Iran must never have nuclear weapons, and then wants to nullify the agreement that prevents that nation from creating them. What, one wonders, could be his motivation?

While it is next to impossible to determine at any given moment just what is happening in that pumpkin-like head, we will attempt to make some sense of this apparent contradiction.

At present, there are only a handful of countries in the Middle East that wield any great power: Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran.

The U.S. has full diplomatic relations with the barbaric, repressive Saudi regime. And it must always be remembered that oil trumps everything else: human rights, international law, even common decency take a back seat to sacred oil. The bottom line here is money.

Next is Israel, with whom the U.S. also has full diplomatic relations. But it is not oil that motivates this alliance, but powerful pro-Israel lobbies in the U.S. Israel’s barbaric occupation of Palestine, and its unspeakable treatment not only of Palestinians, but of any non-Israelis within its own dubious borders, is condemned worldwide. Even the U.S. pays lip service to condemning it. But once again, the bottom line is money, and almost all U.S. government officials benefit from the largesse of pro-Israeli lobbies. In return, they jump through whatever bloody hoops Israel chooses to hold. Regard for human rights? Bah! International law? Israel makes its own laws! Common decency? Upheld stringently, as long as it applies to Israelis; all others need not apply.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have been growing ever more cozy with each other, and that is fine with the U.S. As long as Israel has no objection, Saudi Arabia can continue doing whatever its leaders want it to do.

Now we get to Iran. This nation chooses not to share its natural resources with the U.S., and has no diplomatic ties to Israel; it fully condemns that regime’s cruel and illegal activities in Palestine. And thus we have the crux of the U.S.’s problems with Iran.

Increasingly, Israeli politicians see themselves as major forces of influence in the world, even as the reality of the occupation of Palestine is more fully recognized and condemned. Iran must not threaten Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East; no, any nation that has a human rights record superior to Israel’s (and it would be hard to find a worse one), cannot gain the upper hand. Such an event may only increase Israel’s growing international isolation, and provide support to those uppity Palestinians, who have spent decades demanding the most basic human rights, of which Israel denies them.

How fair, one might ask, is the U.S. assessment of the Middle East situation? It must be remembered that everything that U.S. government officials see in the Middle East is viewed through an Israeli lens. And U.S. reaction to anything Israel does is based on that skewed view.

One telling example occurred in 1988.

President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz, had created a three-part plan to resolve the Palestine-Israel ‘conflict’. This included: 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.

The response from Israel was not unexpected. Then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, saying, incredibly, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. The U.S. response was puzzling; the U.S. reinforced economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerated the delivery to Israel of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. An Israel journalist expressed the message this sent to Israel:  “One may say no to America and still get a bonus.”[1] Things have only gotten worse since then.

So as the Great Pumpkin plied his bizarre trade at the U.N., he succeeded in pleasing his racist, ignorant U.S. base, which for generations feared Communism and now fears Islam (Iran, it must be remembered, has a majority Islamic population). He also satisfied Israel, with that nation’s leader, Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own speech later, lauding the U.S. president, as he condemned the U.N.

What can we take from all this? What conclusions can be drawn from Trump’s words that not only threatened North Korea and Iran, but also criticized the United Nations?

If anyone anywhere on the planet feels reassured by these words, they should not be allowed to handle sharp objects unsupervised. With Trumps words, the threat of nuclear war increased; experts agree that even a ‘limited’ nuclear war, if such a thing is even possible, would result in a global catastrophe, with up to a billion people dying from the war itself, and the years-long nuclear winter that would follow. Even short of a nuclear war, Trump’s words troubled many of the U.S.’s longest allies, which could have severe economic impacts on the U.S. And oppressed people around the world, striving for the basic human rights and dignity that so many people take for granted, could only be discouraged by the absence of any allusion to human rights in Trump’s address.

This is the leader of the free world. This is the man with the nuclear codes. This is the future of the U.S., which, with a deeply sordid past, cannot look to any change in the foreseeable future. It must be hoped that, at least, there is a future.

 

 

[1] Suleiman, Michael W. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Association of Arab-American Graduates, 1995.Page 185.

 

Originally published by Counterpunch.

 

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Double Standards in United States’ Human Rights Practices

Remarks delivered at the conference, ‘United States, Human Rights and Discourse of Domination’, held in Tehran, Iran on July 2.

 

When discussing human rights, it’s helpful to define exactly what is meant. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.  Forty-eight countries, including the United States, ratified this declaration. It details fundamental human rights that are to be universally protected.

The document consists of thirty (30) articles, and is worth reading. For our purposes today, I will summarize just a few of the more common rights listed, and will address these and others during my presentation today.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone is entitled to:

  • Freedom and dignity
  • Life, liberty and security of person.

The following are prohibited.

  • Slavery in all forms.
  • Arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Arbitrary deprivation of one’s nationality
  • Arbitrary deprivation of one’s property.

The United States presents itself to the world as a beacon of liberty and a proponent of human rights around the world, ready and willing to stand up for and defend the downtrodden. Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently said that the world looks to the U.S. as an example of democracy. This myth is not believed outside of the United States’ borders, and decreasingly within. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights mentions the prohibition of ‘torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments’ and states that everyone is entitled to life.

In 2014, the U.S. government rightly condemned beheadings carried out by Daesh (aka ISIL, ISIS). In August of 2014, at least 22 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, and at least eight of them were beheaded. The following month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Saudi Arabia on an official visit; the U.S., of course, has full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. The topic of beheadings was not known to have been mentioned during Mr. Kerry’s visit. Apparently, beheading is acceptable, depending on who is doing it.

Let’s remember that the United States has full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. In a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton said that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban”.

Since I’ve mentioned ISIS, we’ll look at bit closer at that organization.

The following was reported by Global Research:

“In order to understand why the Islamic State has grown and flourished so quickly, one has to take a look at the organization’s American-backed roots. The 2003 American invasion and occupation of Iraq created the pre-conditions for radical Sunni groups, like ISIS, to take root. America, rather unwisely, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s secular state machinery and replaced it with a predominantly Shiite administration. The U.S. occupation caused vast unemployment in Sunni areas, by rejecting socialism and closing down factories in the naive hope that the magical hand of the free market would create jobs. Under the new U.S.-backed Shiite regime, working class Sunni’s lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Unlike the white Afrikaners in South Africa, who were allowed to keep their wealth after regime change, upper class Sunni’s were systematically dispossessed of their assets and lost their political influence. Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breeding ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al Qaeda in Iraq took root.”

Author and Middle East expert Kevin Barrett told Press TV the following:

“It has been a standard part of American policy and it is not just al-Qaeda and Daesh. These are the biggest and most spectacular current manifestations of the United States long-standing policy of supporting terrorists but it goes way back to the era of the Cold War.”

He further stated that the United States created the Daesh terrorist group in order to implement its regime change policy in Syria, and to divide and conquer the Middle East by stirring up ethnic and sectarian tensions.

In a June, 2015 column in The Guardian, Associate Editor Seumas Milne said this:

“[T]he U.S. and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ — despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity — as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.”

Garikai Chengu, a researcher at Harvard University, suggested in September of 2014 that ISIS “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.”

Further information came from Vice-President Joe Biden. Speaking to students at Harvard University in October 2014, he said that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates “were determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war. What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world”. The vice-president dismissed the idea that any moderate Syrian groups could be fighting ISIS and Assad at the same time.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has focused in on the government’s funding of terrorists. “The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.”

She went on to say this: “This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists.”

In late 2015, Ms. Gabbard visited Syria. She said this:

As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”

Not all of ISIS’s weaponry was intentionally provided to it.

In Iraq, after the first phase of the U.S. war there, the U.S. left untold amounts of weaponry scattered about Iraq. As Iraq descended into the chaos and violence of civil war, that weaponry fell into the hands of anyone who wanted it.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense, which really has nothing to do with defense, issued a press release, saying this: “The three strikes destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles, an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, an ISIL checkpoint and an IED emplacement.” Very impressive, one might think.

However, Alex Kane, writing in Alternet, presented a different view. He said:

 “What went unmentioned by the Pentagon is that those armed vehicles and artillery guns they bombed were likely paid for with American tax dollars. The arms ISIS possesses are another grim form of blowback from the American invasion of the country (Iraq) in 2003.

In the first 13 years of the U.S.s’ so-called ‘war on terror’, U.S. taxpayers spent close to $14  million dollars every hour. This is an astounding amount for a war wherein the ‘enemy’ is being financed by the U.S. and other countries with which the U.S. has full diplomatic relations. Perhaps ‘victory’ isn’t the goal. The U.S. is the world’s largest supplier of weaponry, and with so many countries purchasing its goods, even to sell them to international terrorist groups, perhaps the U.S. isn’t interested in losing this lucrative market.

In March of 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border.” Again, as long as U.S. arms manufacturers are happy, what else matters? So what if a third of Syrians have had to flee their homes? What difference do nearly half a million deaths of innocent people make? For the U.S., human rights must not stand in the way of profits.

That same year, foreign military sales rose to a record high of $46.6 billion.

It is no exaggeration to say that America’s Middle East policy revolves around two factors: oil and Israel. By invading Iraq, the U.S. was able to obtain the oil it covets.

But as the U.S. continues bombing Syria and supporting terrorist groups in that country, and sanctions or threatens to sanction Iran, we clearly see that it is doing so for Israel. The U.S. wants to prevent Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine, from receiving support from Iran and Syria.  In the eyes of the U.S., only Israel can be a powerful force in the Middle East.

Another point in the Declaration of Human Rights is that ‘the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’.

Currently in the U.S., multiple investigations are ongoing to explore possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. Arizona Senator John McCain said that such possible interference threatens the very essence of U.S. democracy. Former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said it’s almost unthinkable, when discussing reports about possible Russian interference in U.S. elections.

In typical U.S. style, interference in foreign elections is only acceptable when the U.S. does it. In 2006, when commenting on the election in the Gaza Strip that brought Hamas to power, Mrs. Clinton, then a U.S. senator, said this: “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake — and if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.” So while Mrs. Clinton is now filled with great anger that Russia, perhaps, attempted to interfere in the U.S. election, she was certainly not above supporting the same behaviors, when she was a U.S. senator.

After Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, and President George Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine, historian and political activist Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:

“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we [the United States] say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. This was, ostensibly, to rid that country of so-called weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, then the leader of Iraq, had welcomed Hans Blix, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Iraq to search peacefully for such weapons. Mr. Blix and his team were gaining unprecedented access to any area of the country they requested, and were finding nothing. Finally, before they had exhausted their search, U.S. President George Bush told Mr. Blix to remove his team from Iraq; his invasion as coming. Shortly thereafter, he began bombing Iraq. This resulted in the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and the displacement of millions more. The human rights of these innocent victims were not considered by the mighty United States. The fact that the Iraqi people have suffered, and continue to suffer, far more since the U.S. invasion then they did under the previous government, is not considered, as the U.S. looks for its next target.

In October of 2007, four years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and while that war was still raging, Turkey was having difficulties with Kurdish rebels on its border with Iraq. There were signs that the Turkish government was considering an attack against them in Iraq. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack made this statement at that time: “If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue.” He further stated: “We have counseled both in public and private for many, many months the idea that it is important to work cooperatively to resolve this issue”.

If Mr. McCormack wasn’t sure that unilateral incursions were inappropriate, and that nations in conflict need to work cooperatively to resolve their issues, perhaps he could have so advised Mr. Bush.  However, such counsel would nullify that time-honored maxim: “It’s not wrong if the U.S. does it.” So while Turkey must not venture into Iraq to end Kurdish incursions into the country, the U.S. was then, and is now, free to attack any country it so chooses.

Perhaps we might benefit by looking at the by looking at how some words. During the height of the U.S. war against Iraq, the U.S. government officials and corporate-owned media called those Iraqis fighting the U.S. invasion ‘insurgents’. Somehow, in the view of the U.S., the invading soldiers were the ‘heroes’ and the people resisting them were the ‘terrorists’.

When a person or group commits an act of violence against the U.S., they are not seen as heroes, but as terrorists. The victims of those limited acts of violence are seen as heroes.

In 2015, the movie American Sniper was released in U.S. theatres to rave reviews and public acclaim. This was the story of Chris Kyle, a mass murderer, employed by the U.S., who was ‘credited’ with over 160 ‘confirmed kills’.

Imagine if Vietnam, or Palestine, or Iraq, or Yemen, or Syria, or any other country that the U.S. has oppressed or continues to oppress, were to release a movie praising and glorifying someone who killed 160 U.S. citizens, after the U.S. had bombed their country. Government officials would condemn the movie and the country; sanctions would be imposed; there would be universal condemnation throughout the U.S.

Again, in the view of the U.S., its own actions are never criminal, but those same actions, performed by other nations, are international crimes.

The United States government is currently considering declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a ‘terrorist’ organization. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a powerful branch of the Iranian military, responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation in the event of an attack by the U.S. or Israel, the two nations most likely to attack Iran. Protecting the U.S. from attack is, ostensibly, the role of the U.S. military. However, unlike the U.S. military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps does not invade other nations. Its role is to protect the citizens of Iranian from enemies foreign and domestic. The role of the U.S. military, despite the lofty proclamations that country’s leaders may make, is to ensure the capitalist advantage of the U.S. around the world. This includes the overthrow of nations with governments considered too leftist, or those with natural resources (e.g. oil) that the U.S. wants to control. Based on this information, it certainly seems that it is not the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the U.S. military that is, in fact, a terrorist organization.

Keeping in mind that ‘The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’, we will look at one example, among many, where, in the eyes of the U.S., political expediency trumped human rights.

In Chile, in 1970, Salvador Allende became the first Marxist democratically elected in a Latin American country.

Richard M. Nixon, a rabid anti-communist, was president at this time, and under his direction, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spent $3 million (over $19 million in today’s dollars) in anti-Allende propaganda during the campaign, and invested another $2.6 million (nearly $17 million in today’s dollars) into the campaign of Mr. Allende’s opponent. Please note again the U.S. anger about the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Once Mr. Allende was elected, the U.S. attempted to prevent him from coming to power.

Yet Mr. Allende became president and began implementing the socialist program he’d promised, including the nationalization of several industries, reforming education, and increasing land distribution that had begun under his predecessor.

But the U.S. could not countenance a Marxist as the president anywhere. The U.S. supported radical, right-wing groups and publications, and funded major workers’ strikes. All this eventually led to the overthrow of the government, and Mr. Allende was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet. With his ascent to power, democratic rule in Chile ended after 41 years, and tens of thousands of Pinochet’s opponents were kidnapped, tortured and murdered. But his rule, in the view of the United States, was preferable to that of Mr. Allende.

In transcribed correspondence between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Mr. Nixon after the overthrow of the Allende government, we read the following:

“Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?

Kissinger: Nothing of great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.

Nixon: Isn’t that something. Isn’t that something.

Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heros.

Nixon: We didn’t – as you know – our hand doesn’t show on this one though.

Kissinger: We didn’t do it. I mean we helped them. ______ created the conditions as great as possible.

Nixon: That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played.”

Millions of people in Chile were deprived of basic human rights for a period of decades, due to the deliberate actions of the United States.

The United States’ double standard on human rights is seen no more clearly, and is no more blatant, then in its dealings with Palestine and Israel.

In the U.S. there is a law referred to as the ‘Leahy law’, so named after its sponsor Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. The basic provision of this law is as follows: “No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act [22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.] to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

We will look for a moment at the Human Rights Watch World Report for 2017, and its descriptions of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. This report states that, during 2016, Israel:

  • Enforced severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, to facilitate the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied West Bank, and to severely restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.
  • Used lethal force against suspected attackers in more than 150 cases, including in circumstances that suggest excessive force and at times extrajudicial executions.
  • Killed at least 94 Palestinians and injured at least 3,203 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as of October 31, including suspected assailants, protesters, and bystanders, according to the United Nations.
  • Destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices that severely restrict Palestinians’ access to construction permits and forcibly displaced, as of October 17, 1,283 Palestinian residents in West Bank areas under direct Israeli administrative control.
  • Maintained severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, exacerbated by Israel’s refusal to allow Gaza to operate an airport or seaport.
  • Continued the closure of the Gaza Strip, restricting movement of people and on outgoing goods, having severe consequences for the civilian population, separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty.
  • Restricted the delivery of construction materials to Gaza which, along with a lack of funding have impeded reconstruction of the 17,800 housing units severely damaged or destroyed during Israel’s 2014 military operation in Gaza. About 65,000 people who lost their homes remain displaced.
  • In the West Bank, as of October 31, Israeli security forces and settlers fatally shot at least 83 Palestinians and wounded at least 3,015, including passersby, demonstrators and those suspected of attacking Israelis, according to UN monitoring. In some cases, video footage and witness accounts strongly suggest that excessive force was used.

The many ways in which these barbaric practices violate the basic human rights of the Palestinians, as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are obvious.

Despite all this, the United States provides $4 billion annually to Israel. It also consistently uses its veto power on the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel from the international consequences of its cruel and illegal actions.

In 2014, as Israel was bombing the Gaza Strip, U.S. President Barack Obama said that attacks on Israel were ‘inexcusable’. And U.S. officials constantly say Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas’s rocket attacks.

Let’s talk for a minute about those ‘rockets’ fired by Hamas. Normal Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an ardent advocate for the rights of the Palestinians, calls these ‘rockets’ ‘enhanced fireworks’. They are nothing compared with the deadly, precise weaponry that the U.S. gives to Israel.

Yet these same officials ignore the fact that Israel is in violation of international law in countless ways: displacing Palestinians from their homes; moving its residents permanently onto occupied territory; having separate laws for Israelis and Arabs living in Israel; the existence of Israel-only roads; indefinite detention without charge; the occupation of the West Bank itself, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, they refuse to recognize the international law that states that an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation by whatever means are available.

Yet the U.S. condemns all Palestinian resistance. As Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said, “the Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.”

So in saying that Israel can defend itself against Hamas rockets, but ignoring Palestinians rights to resisting the occupation, the double-standard on human rights is again evident. And it is also worth noting that during 50 days in 2014, Israel fired more rockets into the Gaza Strip, than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

And can the U.S. reasonably question whether or not Israel is in violation of international law? Section 3 of the Leahy Law states the following:

“In furtherance of paragraphs (1) and (2), the President is directed to formulate and conduct international security assistance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote and advance human rights and avoid identification of the United States, through such programs, with governments which deny to their people internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, in violation of international law or in contravention of the policy of the United States as expressed in this section or otherwise.”

There is one phrase in that paragraph that stand out: “avoid identification of the United States with governments which deny internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ The U.S. is closely identified with rogue, brutal, apartheid regime of Israel.

Let’s look at some of the things the U.S. chooses to overlook. In 2014, Israel bombed United Nations refugee centers in Gaza. It also targeted residences, mosques, press vehicles and hospitals. All these crimes are violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The U.S. may, somehow, be able to ignore many of these incidents, but the bombing of U.N. refugee  centers cannot be ignored; Israel was notified at least ten times that these centers were holding unarmed citizens. The U.S. offered some tepid criticism of Israel at that time, but didn’t reduce by one cent the billions of dollars it provides to that rogue nation.

The killing of four children playing on a Gaza beach was widely witnessed by the international press, but Israel ‘investigated’, and found the soldiers who shot those children were in no way culpable. So foreign aid from the U.S. to Israel continues to flow.

Let’s turn now to the United States’ foreign military bases.

The U.S. uses military bases around the world to control and dominate most of the planet. The United States has at least 800 military basis in 70 countries, housing hundreds of thousands of military personnel. This is far more than any other nation today or at any time in history. Of all the foreign military bases of all countries, about 95% of them are owned by the U.S.

Ostensibly, these bases exist to enable the U.S. to deploy thousands of soldiers anywhere in the world where they are ‘needed’, ‘needed’ being defined by U.S. corporate interests, of the interests of powerful lobby groups, such as AIPAC, although as activist David Swanson has said, with current technology, proximity isn’t important; soldiers and weapons can reach anywhere in the world just as quickly from the United States. These bases provide no benefit to the U.S. economy, or to the host country, whose citizens often resent the presence of a U.S. military base on land that could be used for farming, industry or housing. The advantages accrue only to certain contractors, and the politicians to whom they generously donate.

One foreign U.S. military installation is worth some discussion in this forum.

Guantanamo Bay is the Cuban location of one of the U.S.’s most barbaric and notorious torture chambers. The case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is instructive.

Mr. Khadr was 15 years old when he was seriously injured in Afghanistan, and arrested by United States’ soldiers, and charged, on very flimsy evidence, with throwing a hand grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. It must be remembered that international law categorizes any ‘soldier’ under the age of 18 as a ‘child soldier’, who cannot be charged with a war-related crime. However, international law is not something that the mighty U.S. feels any obligation to follow.

When captured, Mr. Khadr sustained extremely serious injuries, including two gunshot wounds in his chest, multiple broken bones, and shrapnel splattered all over his body, costing him the sight in one eye. Yet his immediate medical treatment was lacking.

About a week after his capture, he regained consciousness and was detained at the Bagram air base. There, he was tortured. This torture included the following:

* Being tied to a fence with his hands tied high above his head; due to his injuries, raising his hands at all was extremely painful;

* Being tied up with a bag secured tightly around his head, making breathing difficult, as attack dogs snarled and growled at him from inches away;

* Having cold water thrown over him;

* Forcing him, despite, or perhaps because of, his injuries, to pile heavy water bottles together. Once he finished the task, his torturers knocked over the pile, and forced him to re-pile them. Please remember, he was 15 years old.

After this, he was transferred to Guantanamo, where the torture continued.

One such method is referred to as ‘the mop incident’. It is documented as follows:  Guards “pulled his arms and legs behind in a ‘bow’ position, until his limbs strained painfully at their sockets. This was known in the officially-sanctioned American torture guides as a ‘stress position,’ and victims often pass out from the pain. Over several hours, the guards contorted Mr. Khadr into different stress positions, each time shoving him into a painful position on the ground. Eventually, inevitably, he urinated himself. MPs returned, mocked him for a while and then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body. Without altering his chains, they began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. Because his body had been so tightened, the new motion was extremely painful. The MPs swung him around and around, the urine and solvent washing up into his face. The idea was to use him as a human mop. After this, the MPs uncuffed him and carried him back to his cell. He was not allowed a change of clothes for two days.”

He was only 15 years old; even one of the torturers at Bagram, Damien M. Corsetti, known as the ‘Monster’ and the ‘King of Torture’, later said this of Mr. Khadr. “He was a 15-year-old kid with three holes in his body, a bunch of shrapnel in his face. That was what I remember. How horrible this 15-year-old child looked.” Further, he described Mr. Khadr as an injured “child” detained in “one of the worst places on Earth.”

Yet the U.S. government saw him differently. Initial requests for information about Mr. Khadr’s incarceration, from the Director General of the Canadian Consular Affairs office, were ignored. In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powel, a representative of the Consular Affairs office asked if Mr. Khadr was being well-treated; if he would have proper legal representation; if his status as a minor, as covered by the international conventions dealing with youths, was recognized, and when Canadian officials would be able to meet with him. Mr. Powell’s response was that Mr. Khadr had killed a ‘fine young American’ and would be treated by what passes in the U.S. for a justice system. Apparently, Mr. Powell had determined that, without official charge or trial, Mr. Khadr was guilty, and the U.S. ‘justice system’ would now administer the penalty in one of its foreign torture chambers.

Mr. Khadr was held at Guantanamo for ten years, during which he sustained ongoing torture and eventually, under extreme duress, confessed to several crimes. His incarceration and treatment were widely condemned around the world and by the United Nations.

In 2012, he was transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence, and was released on bail in 2015. The Canadian government, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, appealed this court decision. The appeal was dropped when the new government of Liberal Justin Trudeau came into power.

This is just one example of how the United States simply tramples the basic human rights of people it deems unworthy of them.

Domestically, the U.S. is no more straightforward or honest in its dealings with human rights than it is on the international stage.

Going back to 1999, Amadou Diallo, age 23, was shot 41 times in 1999, after reaching for his wallet to provide police officers with his identification. An investigation by the New York City police department after the death of Mr. Diallo found that the officers acted ‘within policy’.  Four officers were charged with second-degree murder and reckless endangerment, but all four were acquitted.

Since then, the murders of people of African descent by white police officers have become almost epidemic, with the offending officers seldom, if ever charged. And these shootings seem to be routine procedure.

The Black Lives Matter movement grew out of the almost weekly shootings of unarmed men, women and children of African descent, usually by white police officers, almost always with complete impunity. But the crimes of the police go beyond race, to an atmosphere of exemption from consequences for almost any crime.

Just last week, two police officers were acquitted of all charges in the deaths of two, Black men. This is not unusual; it is rare for a police officer to be charged in the death of a man or woman of African descent, and convictions almost never occur. The trial of a third officer ended in a mistrial, for the second time.

Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of killing Philando Castile, age 32, in Minnesota. Mr. Castile’s crime was having a bulb burned out in the taillight of his car. When stopped, he told the policeman that he was carrying a gun, for which he was licensed. It seems unlikely that someone intending to shoot a policeman would first announce that he was armed. Nevertheless, he was shot seven times, just moments after he was stopped by the police.

Also acquitted last week was Dominque Heagan-Brown, also an African-American, found not guilty in the death of Slyville Smith, age 23, in Wisconsin, despite a damning video taken by another office that the jury saw. In it, Heaggan-Brown shot Mr. Smith in the chest, after the victim had thrown his weapon over a fence, and had his hand raised. He was on the ground when he was fatally shot. Beyond racism, this indicates a separate set of rules for the U.S. police.

In Ohio, the trial of Officer Ray Tensing ended in a mistrial for the second time, in the killing of Samuel Dubose, who was stopped because his car lacked a front license plate. Things escalated quickly until the unarmed Mr. Dubose was shot in the head while still sitting in his car.

Michael Brown, age 18, was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, for allegedly robbing a convenience store, although he was unarmed. His body lay in the street for four hours, until police allowed it to be moved.

Eric Garner, 44-years old and the father of six children, was strangled by New York City police for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.

Tamir Rice, age 12, was shot and killed for carrying a toy gun. Within two seconds of arriving on police arriving on the scene, the child had been shot in the chest, twice. There was no demand to drop the ‘gun’, just the shooting. The policeman who shot him was not charged with any crime.

In one incident that wasn’t fatal, 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a social worker of African descent, was trying to bring a severely autistic man with whom he worked back into the residential facility. Police were called to the scene, and ordered Mr. Kinsey and his client to lie on the ground. Mr, Kinsey did so, although his client, sitting cross-legged and playing with a toy truck, refused. Mr. Kinsey addressed the police: “Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”  One of the officers then fired three shots, hitting Mr. Kinsey in the leg. When Mr. Kinsey asked the officer why he had shot him, the officer responded “I don’t know.” He then handcuffed Mr. Kinsey, and rendered no first aid for 20 minutes. The officer, Jonathan Aledda, is on paid leave as this incident is investigated.

The belief has become common in the United States that if a man of African descent commits a crime, he is a thug, a criminal. If a Muslim man commits a crime, he is a terrorist. But if a man of European descent commits a crime, he is emotionally troubled, and requires assistance to help him regain his rightful place as a productive member of society.

In the U.S., over half a million people are homeless every day of the year, sleeping in shelters or on the street; of these, about 8% are veterans, men and women who have done the U.S. military’s dirty work around the world, and now, troubled by guilt resulting in substance abuse, domestic violence, inability to keep a job and other problems, the government simply dismisses them to live on the streets.

One of the basic human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a “Standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”.

The official poverty level in the U.S. is ridiculously low: for a family of four, a family income below $24,600 annually is considered ‘poverty’.  A report from the Economic Policy Institute from August of 2015 indicates the following:

“The basic family budget for a two-parent, two-child family ranges from $49,114 (Morristown, Tenn.) to $106,493 (Washington, D.C.). In the median family budget area for this family type, Des Moines, Iowa, a two-parent, two-child family needs $63,741 to secure an adequate but modest living standard. This is well above the 2014 poverty threshold of $24,008 for this family type.”

Based on this report, a more realistic poverty line would be $49,000.00.

Determining a poverty level of $24,600 may reduce the number of people that U.S. statistics say live in poverty, but it doesn’t hide the fact that millions more are actually living in poverty.

One of the many myths that the U.S. perpetuates about itself to its citizens is the concept of ‘U.S. exceptionalism’. This is the belief that the United States has a unique mission to order the world to its concept of freedom and democracy. It also includes a sense of superiority over all other nations.

In 2014, President Barack Obama said “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”

Some more quotes on this bizarre topic: Texas Senator Ted Cruz said this: “And it was American exceptionalism that stood up to the Soviet Union and freed hundreds of millions from behind the Iron Curtin.” He proved once again that he has no concept of history, as when, while bowing at the unholy AIPAC altar, he proclaimed that the nation of Palestine didn’t exist.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, when campaigning for the presidential nomination in 2015, made this peculiar statement: “We are the greatest nation in the history of all mankind. Never be afraid to teach that to your children…. Our kids need to know the truth — that they were born citizens of the single greatest nation in the history of all of mankind.”

When South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham was campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, a press release from his office said this: “Now he is ready to take those leadership skills to the White House, to restore faith in America’s exceptionalism, and our belief that the United States is still the leader… and best hope… for a free and safe world.”

This dangerous concept probably had its origins in an equally ugly and destructive concept, that of Manifest Destiny. . The term is believed to have been coined by John O’Sullivan, the cofounder and editor of The United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 1845.The term signified “…the mission of the United States ‘to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.’” Mr. O’Sullivan further told his readers: “Until every acre of the North American continent is occupied by citizens of the United States, the foundation of the future empire will not have been laid.” Manifest Destiny became a catchphrase for what many considered to be a divinely-authorized continental expansion.

It is easy to see how that sense of superiority that belief that the United States was destined by Deity to occupy the entire North American continent, would evolve into today’s idea of exceptionalism. And it must be remembered that the U.S. stole large parts of Mexico, and invaded Canada in 1812, with the hope of conquering it and making it part of the U.S.

So a nation whose citizens feel it is divinely authorized to control the entire planet will naturally have no allegiance to international law; such laws are for other countries, not the mighty United States.

This is the United States, that self-proclaimed beacon of peace and justice. This is international hypocrisy at its most blatant and deadly. People within the U.S. and without are working tirelessly to resolve these issues, but they are opposed by powerful interest groups. Yet such shocking cruelty and violations of international law and the human rights of millions of innocent people cannot continue forever. The end of the injustices perpetrated by the United States will be a welcome day around the world.

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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Filed under Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Military, Palestine

Trump, Palestine and ‘The Deal’

On May 4, United States President Donald Trump said that the Palestine-Israel problem may not be as hard to resolve as people have thought. And, as the self-proclaimed ultimate deal-maker, he was confident he could resolve it.

Much as one hates to ever agree with the former reality-TV star who currently occupies the White House (and whose tenure may be considerably shorter than 4 years, if the chaos he engenders continues), but it is true: the resolution to the problem is clear. However, it isn’t whatever the delusional Mr. Trump may think it is. All it takes is adherence to the rule of international law.

In 1947, the newly-minted United Nations partitioned Palestine to establish Israel. This had been the plan of Zionists for at least fifty years, and the atrocities committed by Germany against the Jewish people motivated the U.N. to commit a major, ongoing atrocity against the Palestinians. The illegality and immorality of that action will not be addressed here. Suffice it to say that the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors were not keen on this plan, which displaced, in that and the next year, at least 750,000 Palestinians, and caused the deaths of at least 10,000. And the death toll has mounted drastically since then, along with the number of people brutally displaced from their homes and homeland.

So on this bloody ethnic cleansing, Israel was born.

Following the 1967 ‘war’, Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and has done so ever since, this year marking the half-century point. Although it ostensibly left the Gaza Strip in 2005, it has blockaded it since, and the U.N. considers it still occupied.

Despite its key role in the monster it created, the U.N. has issued more resolutions condemning Israeli activity than it has against any other nation.

Currently, nearly 500,000 Israelis live illegally in the West Bank. Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian homes to make room for new buildings that only Israelis can inhabit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in disdaining international law, has stated categorically that not one settler will ever be removed from the West Bank.

But the easy resolution Mr. Trump sees is not the one that actually exists. With his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move sure to bring more hostility toward the U.S. throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, international law does not seem to be anywhere on his radar. His request to Netanyahu to, perhaps, slow down on settlement building reinforces that idea. But, as the ‘ultimate deal-maker’, he is confident he can broker an agreement between the two sides.

Let’s look at a similar situation. A bank is robbed; the robber wore no mask, and made no attempt to conceal his identity as he brandished a gun, shot a few tellers, and emptied their drawers. He escaped in a police vehicle

The police are notified. They go to the robber’s house and ask him to please meet with the bank manager, to discuss how much of the money he stole, if any, could be returned to the bank. The murders of the tellers isn’t even mentioned.

The robber agrees; after all, what does he have to lose? As he sits down with the bank manager, word is received that an associate of the robber has robbed yet another bank. The bank manager leaves, seeing that the robber isn’t negotiating in good faith. The police ask the robber to please meet again, but to agree not to rob any more banks during the negotiation period. The robber refuses; he agrees only to negotiations with no pre-conditions. The police drive the robber back home.

Now, this scenario is, of course, ridiculous. When a bank is robbed, the perpetrator, if known, is arrested and the money, if found, is all returned to the bank. If anyone was killed during the robbery, the robber is also accused of murder, and tried for his or her crimes.

But in the lofty circles of international crime, such petty considerations as law, justice and fairness have no role. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine – land, natural resources, etc. – with complete impunity. Why should Israel negotiate, when in doing so, it may have to give up something? Without negotiating, it simply takes whatever it wants, and gives nothing in return.

So what if international law demands an end to both the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the occupation of the West Bank? So what if the land on which 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements belongs to the Palestinians from whom it was stolen? What is any of that, when the mighty U.S. finances Israeli crimes, spits on the United Nations, and holds international law in contempt? Israel and the United States are two of just a few nations that haven’t signed on to the International Criminal Court, and are, therefore, not under its jurisdiction. That makes perfect sense from their point of view: when guilty of crimes against humanity, why involve oneself in an international organization that may hold you accountable for such crimes?

So what is to be done? One looks to the U.S., that self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and democracy, in vain. With a government owned by powerful lobbies, with AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) among the most powerful, such trivialities as international law, human rights and basic human dignity have no place in the equation. Photo-ops with Netanyahu, as he accepts $4 billion annually from the U.S., are far more important that tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, struggling to find clean water in the largest outdoor prison in the world. The monies that flow from various Israeli lobbies, AIPAC chief among them, cannot be jeopardized by such trivialities as human rights and international law. Between 2010 and 2016, those political contributions amounted to $20,193,517. When lobbies donate that much money on a consistent basis, one knows that they are getting what they paid for. And what they pay for has nothing to do with human rights.

The Trump White House is, by all accounts except his own, in total disarray, with morale low and confusion high. The current focus is on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the now-former head of one branch of U.S. terrorism. Why he was dismissed from his job is in question; the reason seems to change from one presidential ‘tweet’ to the next. Not even his vice-president, the radical Christian-right Zionist Mike Pence, seems to have that particular story straight.

So it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will be brokering any new ‘deals’ between Palestine and its brutal occupier, Israel. What is required is a continuation of the growing people’s movement, informing the public of Israel atrocities by publicizing them on social media. Additionally, pressure must be put on elected officials (this writer does not refer to them as ‘representatives’, since that implies that they represent their constituents, not the multiple lobbies whose work they actually do) to demand that the U.S. adhere to its own laws, which prohibit financial aid to countries in violation of human rights. The continued boycott of Israel, through the ever-growing BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, must increase.

Despite the continued Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians, all financed and supported by the U.S., Palestine will be free. That day cannot come soon enough for the suffering Palestinians.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Qatar and Saudi Arabia: Trump Adds Fuel to the Fire     

As if there weren’t enough crises in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emeritus have broken diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar. This, they claim, is because of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran. This action has been endorsed by United States President Donald Trump, who signaled his support in typical fashion, by  ‘Tweet’.

Perhaps we can look at the objections that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the U.S. have against Qatar.

  • Alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood. This organization dates back to 1928. “Founded by Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood – or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Arabic – has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.” It supports moving away from secularism, and following the teachings of the Quran. In recent years, the brotherhood has taken a far more activist role in politics, and, although denouncing violence, some offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood have been linked to various attacks.

One would not condemn Christianity, because some so-called Christian groups bomb abortion clinics.  The entire Jewish population should not be condemned because of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Yet is seems acceptable to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for the actions of some violent wing of that organization.

  • Support for Hamas. The U.S. and several other countries have decreed Hamas to be a ‘terrorist’ organization. How the U.S. can so designate anyone, when its long history of terrorism is certainly the worst in world history, is a mystery to this writer. Hamas is the democratically-elected government of Palestine’s Gaza Strip. It is no wonder the people of Gaza elected Hamas over Fatah, the U.S. and Israel-supported puppet government of the West Bank. Hamas promised jobs, and real aid, promises it delivered on until blocked by Fatah ‘leader’ Mamoud Abbas. Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim that Qatar support for Hamas is one of the reasons for its current actions against Qatar. Apparently, supporting an organization that is duly elected, and seeks to genuinely work for the people who elected it, cannot be countenanced.
  • And last, but not least, we get to Qatar’s alleged support for Iran. In February, U.S. Secretary of Defense, one James Mattis, made this most puzzling statement: “As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” He said this, with a straight face, even as the country he represents was bombing six countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen). Iran, of course, is not bombing anyone. Is not dropping bombs on innocent people the greatest form of terrorism there is?

Well, let’s put that aside for a minute. The U.S. funds and trains terrorist groups in Syria, including the White Helmets. Is this not ‘state sponsored’ terrorism?

And we could look along the terrorism spectrum, with the U.S. being at the extreme end, with its constant bombing of countries, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and Iran being at the other end, basically attempting to serve its people and prepare to protect them from foreign invasion. What other nations may fall somewhere along that continuum? Well, Israel comes to mind as a nation close to the U.S. It brutally occupies Palestine, killing and terrorizing innocent Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity. Its IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers (read: terrorists) are just as brutal when confronting Israelis who support Palestinian human rights. And every few years, Israel decides to ‘mow the lawn’, carpet-bombing the Gaza Strip, often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison.

And where might Saudi Arabia fall on this continuum? It will be grouped with the U.S. and Israel, due at least to its bombing of Yemen.

And why is Iran at the other end of this spectrum? The last time Iran attacked a country was in 1798. Yes, that is not a typographical error; it was 219 years ago.

We will now take a moment to view Mr. Trump’s 140 character analysis of this situation. In his elegant, erudite manner, he wrote this: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Well, there you are. Yet Mr. Trump is funding terrorist groups attempting to overthrow the government of Syria. Perhaps those ‘leaders’ should have been pointing to Mr. Trump.

And what is the source of all this? It was a speech that the Qatari ruler was said to have made that indicated support for Iran. U.S. news outlets now state that the report was false, and was planted by Russian intelligence.

During the Cold War, there was a Russian Communist believed to be hiding under every bed in the United States. Today, it seems, any diplomatic crisis can be tracked, at least by the U.S., to Russia. It isn’t surprising that U.S. intelligence would perceive this, since that is the way it operates, supporting rebel groups, planting false stories, and undermining governments, democratically-elected or not, which don’t meet some capitalist standard that the U.S. demands. And in the Middle East, any nation that opposes the sacred cow of Israel, as Iran does, must be thwarted.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Waleed al-Modallal, head of political science at the Islamic Unviersity of Gaza, commented on the currently controversy. “The pressure on Qatar is not to do with Hamas, but it’s the fact that it is a successful state that tries to engage in dialogue and it has been very successful in solving issues in the region.” Further, he said: “Qatar is a small country playing a big role in the region. That is what seems to have angered the bigger countries nearby.”

Yes, it seems that only the U.S. and Israel, aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia, can call the shots in the Middle East. Any other country trying to usurp that authority must pay a price.

What will come of this? Will a peaceful outcome be assured, due to the cool heads that prevail in the international arena today? Hardly! Although Israel isn’t directly, or at least publicly, involved, one can be sure that its Prime Murderer, Benjamin Netanyahu, is anxiously awaiting the raining down of U.S. bombs on Iran. And Mr. Trump is such a wild card, that what he’ll do next is anyone’s guess.

All this has little or nothing to do with anything Qatar’s leaders may or may not have said. As indicated by Mr. al-Modallal, It’s all jockeying for position in a roiling Middle East, where Iran remains a powerhouse, but Israel, aligned with Saudi Arabia, has nuclear weapons. With Zionists in control in the U.S., Iran must be ‘neutralized’, so Israel can remain supreme.

It is as obvious that Donald Trump is playing with matches while sitting on a powder keg, as it is that he is oblivious to that perilous fact. While no one can predict with accuracy what may occur, the outcome is sure to bring more suffering to millions of innocent people. For the U.S., that is business as usual.

Originally printed by the American Herald Tribune.

 

 

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Tulsi Gabbard: the New Democratic ‘Savior’

The grossly misnamed Democratic Party has a brand new savior. Yes, with former Senator Hillary Clinton having been vanquished, and her ardent cheerleader, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, being ‘old news’, one Tulsi Gabbard, Representative from the state of Hawaii, has ridden in on her white stallion to save the day.

Ms. Gabbard gained the attention of the Democrats when she dared criticize President Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria, saying that without hard evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was, indeed, responsible for the alleged chemical attack that killed several Syrian citizens, there should be no retaliation. It is puzzling that Ms. Gabbard seemed to be almost alone in this assertion, since it would seem to be common sense that before punishing anyone for anything, it should be known that that person was responsible for whatever deed is being punished for. And why U.S. government officials feel the need to punish any international entity for anything is a topic for a different essay.

But this position has launched Ms. Gabbard’s new career in what passes for the progressive wing of the party, as a leader in the Democratic Party, and a potential contender for the White House.

Sadly, like many Democrats, Ms. Gabbard is ‘PEP’: Progressive except for Palestine. She has said that she believes Palestine and Israel must negotiate the terms of peace, and supports an independent, demitiliarized Palestine. A few quotations from her official website are instructive:

“I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is. My vote upholds my commitment to maintaining and strengthening this alliance, as well as my long-held position that the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.

“Ultimately, a negotiated solution must come from Israelis and Palestinians themselves, and can only happen when both parties are committed to peace, where they alone determine the terms of the settlement.  I co-sponsored H.Res.23 which reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel, and a negotiated settlement leading to a sustainable two-state solution that re-affirms Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state and establishes a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to bring an end to this enduring conflict.”

As we dissect these few sentences, we must remember that between November, 2014 and November, 2016, the illustrious Ms. Gabbard received $21,975 from pro-Israeli lobbies. This is a mere pittance when compared to the contributions of some of her colleagues, with Illinois Representative Bradley Scott Schneider being the big winner, with a windfall of $300,932 during that same time period. But that grand prize is one that Ms. Gabbard, if she plays her Zionist cards right, can obtain, or even exceed.

+ “I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is.” Ms. Gabbard may know it, but would someone, anyone, please enlighten this writer? Why should the U.S. have any alliance with an apartheid state, one that spits in its eye and then demands, and receives, billions of dollars in aid?

+ “…the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.” Again, this writer needs to be enlightened. If I am in ‘negotiations’ with another party, and I am able to take from that party whatever I want, whenever I want, and give nothing in return, what would be the advantage to me in negotiating? Oh, I might proclaim to whatever idiotic entity is encouraging negotiations that I am willing to sit down with the other party, without preconditions (meaning I can continue taking whatever I want as we ‘negotiate’), and then actually do so, but it will have no meaning. I will never honestly negotiate, since doing so won’t be in my best interest.

+ Gabbard reaffirms “Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.” That is a two-pronged sword, and we will try to prevent being stabbed by either one.

Like most Democrats, Ms. Gabbard does not seem to understand the root words from which the term originates. Basically, it means ‘citizen rule’, and implies equality. In a democracy, there are not separate rules for different ethnic and religious groups, as there are in Israel. Yet she is willing to spout the happy mantras that have served the party for so long, despite the fact that they have long since their luster among the populace.

She further affirms Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Again, the meaning of that term is unclear. The only reasonable definition contradicts the idea of a democracy. If Israel is to be a Jewish state, than non-Jews living there will not have the same rights, as is true today.

The concept of a ‘Jewish, democratic state’ is a contradiction in terms. For generations, the U.S. was, in effect, a ‘White European, democratic state’, meaning that all laws favored the predominately white population, and everyone else was a second-class citizen. Democracy? This writer thinks not.

+ Gabbard further wants to “establish a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state”. How is it possible for anyone to utter those words with a straight face? Set aside for a moment the fact that an independent Palestine will have a mortal enemy at its border, one that has been actively working on its destruction for decades. Leave out for just a minute the fact that that enemy has an extremely powerful military, and is backed by the strongest and most violent nation on the planet. Even without those considerations, why should any country be prevented by any other country from having the means to defend its land and citizens?

All of this indicates that Ms. Gabbard is either ignorant of international law, or cares nothing for it. International law states clearly, and this has been reiterated by numerous United Nations resolutions, that the occupation of Palestine by Israel is illegal. This, apparently, means nothing to Ms. Gabbard.

It’s also worth noting, that the celebrated Representative from Hawaii also condemns the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

And this is the new savior; this is the ‘new breed’ of ‘progressive’ Democrat who will carry the mantle of the war-mongering former President Barack Obama; former standard-bearer, the war-mongering Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the war-mongering Democrats.

This is what ‘progressive’ has come to mean in Democratic Party circles. The party has long been nothing but a cosmetically-different version of the Republican Party, with opposition to Republican policies only on display when the GOP is in power; the same policies, with few exceptions, are promoted when the Democrats are in power, and one constant is the bowing at the Israeli altar and the accompanying complete disdain for the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people. And with that, of course, is an equal disregard for international law.

As long as the government and the corporate-owned media are able to maintain their stranglehold on what passes for the two-party system in the U.S., nothing will change. Politicians will do the bidding of the lobbies that support them, ignoring the will of the people. Suffering in the U.S. and globally will be ignored, as long as the U.S.’s elected officials are able to keep their low-challenging, high-paying jobs.

To say that a third party movement, a real one not beholden to any outside interests but with the good of the people in mind, is long overdue, is a classic understatement.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Trump, Salman and Netanyahu: The Match Made in Hell

As United States President Donald Trump struts his limited stuff across the international stage, his ‘accomplishments’ during this tour will benefit no one but the wealthy elites at home and abroad.

Let us look first at his time in Saudi Arabia, and what that means for the U.S. and the Middle East.

The reality-tv-star-turned-president signed a $100 million dollar weapons deal with the Saudi kingdom. If anyone in power in the U.S. would like to look closely at this, he/she would find that this deal is, in all likelihood, illegal. It seems that Mr. Trump and Congress should be reminded of the U.S. law referred to as the Leahy law; it is described thusly:

The “Leahy law vetting is a process through which the U.S. government vets U.S. assistance to foreign security forces, as well as Department of Defense training programs, to ensure that recipients have not committed gross human rights abuses.  When the vetting process uncovers credible evidence that an individual or unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, U.S. assistance is withheld, consistent with U.S. law and policy.  This obligation to vet foreign security forces can be found in section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA).”

So, based on Mr. Trump’s action, one would think that Saudi Arabia does not commit “gross human rights abuses”. A look at a report from Human Rights Watch about Saudi Arabia is instructive:

“Through 2016 the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued an aerial campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen that included numerous unlawful airstrikes that killed and injured thousands of civilians. Saudi authorities also continued their arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists continued to serve long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities continued to discriminate against women and religious minorities.”

Well, what’s a little crime against humanity when $100 million is on the table? And what a benefit to those holding stock in the so-called U.S. ‘defense’ industry! A report in Moneywatch from May 22 of this year is headlined: ‘U.S. Defense Stocks Jump on Saudi Arms Deal’. The article is very clear: “Investors hailed President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia by boosting the share prices of major U.S. defense contractors. Their stocks advanced on Monday in the wake of announcements of arms sales to the kingdom that could be worth $109 billion over the next decade, one of the largest-ever deals of its kind.”

The article continues with rather puzzling information: “The Saudi Arabian deal could lead to additional sales for both Israel and the Persian Gulf countries, all of which are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

Now, this simple statement requires further study. We will break it down to its component parts and attempt to make sense of it.

  • The deal could lead to additional sales for Israel.

Once again, perhaps we could consider the Leahy Law, referenced above, and see just what Human Rights Watch has to say about Israel: “Israel continued in 2016 to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, to facilitate the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied West Bank, and to severely restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.” There is more, but for our purposes today, this will suffice.

  • Israel and surrounding countries, according to the Moneywatch article, “are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

If we are to talk about ‘aggressive foreign policy’, perhaps we should point out that the U.S. is currently bombing six countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Its minions are causing tremendous unrest and suffering in Venezuela. It might also be worth noting that, since World War II, the United States has either invaded or intentionally destabilized at least thirty-three (33) countries, including 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 and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time. This doesn’t include Palestine, which the U.S. has only bombed by proxy, by giving Israel the weaponry and the permission (cover at the United Nations) to bomb that country.

We should also not forget that the U.S. is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, bombing two, heavily-populated cities in Japan that had no military importance. Hundreds of thousands died, some instantly, and other later, as a result of the horrific injuries they suffered.

And as far as support for terrorist groups is concerned, the U.S. military can be seen as the biggest, most powerful and most dangerous terrorist group in the world. And there is ample evidence to suggest that the U.S. initiated ISIS, and supports groups that actually fight each other.

We would look at the list of countries that Iran has invaded since World War II, but there are none to see. So any ‘fear’ of Iran’s ‘aggressive foreign policy’ is being invented by the U.S. to sell weaponry, and to help Israel maintain military superiority in the Middle East.

 

We will now turn to Israel, and the president’s short visit there. Certainly, there can be no doubt that Mr. Trump is an adoring Zionist, willing to kiss the feet of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. He has proclaimed that he can make a ‘deal’, settling the ‘conflict’ between Israel and Palestine. He never refers to ‘occupation’, ‘human rights’ or ‘international law’ in the context of this ‘conflict’.

But, significantly, prior to his visit, he back-tracked on one of his main Zionist promises, the vow to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This may be because the only other nation on the planet that supports such a move is Israel, and it is vehemently opposed by everyone else. It appears that even the immature, narcissist Mr. Trump can be prevailed upon when the opposition is strong enough.

Nothing of any significance was done in Israel, either helpful or detrimental to Palestinians. What Mr. Trump may have said to the Israeli Prime Murderer, about compromising Israeli intelligence during his meetings with Russian diplomats, is unknown, although he has denied ever having done any such thing. The confusion by his staff over where the Western Wall is located, Israel or Palestine (it’s in Palestine), did not sit particularly well with his apartheid hosts. And his sunny optimism about brokering a deal was generally dismissed as the nonsense that it is.

If Mr. Trump has any thoughts in his rather limited brain, he must realize that the controversies he left behind in Washington, D.C. will still be there when he returns. He will dismiss them, no doubt, and talk about his successful visits to the Middle East and the Vatican (heaven only knows what he and the most progressive pope in centuries will have to talk about).

To summarize: one of the world’s most egregious  violators of human rights has struck an historic weapons deal with another one, the U.S.; no discussion of those human rights abuses is known to have occurred. Israel hosted the U.S. president, but nothing of substance, other than a strengthening of the ‘special relationship’ the U.S. has with that apartheid nation, was accomplished. And next stop is with a religious leader who has condemned war and capitalism, two of Mr. Trump’s disreputable gods.

Much as one would like to see Mr. Trump leave office, the thought of his vice-president, the Zionist, Christian-right conservative MikePence taking the reins, is, perhaps, even more frightening.

What happens next in foreign or domestic policy remains to be seen, but the indications are not favorable for any but the ruling elite.

Originally published in The American Herald Tribune.

 

 

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Trump, Palestine and ‘The Deal’

On May 4, United States President Donald Trump said that the Palestine-Israel problem may not be as hard to resolve as people have thought. And, as the self-proclaimed ultimate deal-maker, he was confident he could resolve it.

Much as one hates to ever agree with the former reality-TV star who currently occupies the White House (and whose tenure may be considerably shorter than 4 years, if the chaos he engenders continues), but it is true: the resolution to the problem is clear. However, it isn’t whatever the delusional Mr. Trump may think it is. All it takes is adherence to the rule of international law.

In 1947, the newly-minted United Nations partitioned Palestine to establish Israel. This had been the plan of Zionists for at least fifty years, and the atrocities committed by Germany against the Jewish people motivated the U.N. to commit a major, ongoing atrocity against the Palestinians. The illegality and immorality of that action will not be addressed here. Suffice it to say that the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors were not keen on this plan, which displaced, in that and the next year, at least 750,000 Palestinians, and caused the deaths of at least 10,000. And the death toll has mounted drastically since then, along with the number of people brutally displaced from their homes and homeland.

So on this bloody ethnic cleansing, Israel was born.

Following the 1967 ‘war’, Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and has done so ever since, this year marking the half-century point. Although it ostensibly left the Gaza Strip in 2005, it has blockaded it since, and the U.N. considers it still occupied.

Despite its key role in the monster it created, the U.N. has issued more resolutions condemning Israeli activity than it has against any other nation.

Currently, nearly 500,000 Israelis live illegally in the West Bank. Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian homes to make room for new buildings that only Israelis can inhabit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in disdaining international law, has stated categorically that not one settler will ever be removed from the West Bank.

But the easy resolution Mr. Trump sees is not the one that actually exists. With his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move sure to bring more hostility toward the U.S. throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, international law does not seem to be anywhere on his radar. His request to Netanyahu to, perhaps, slow down on settlement building reinforces that idea. But, as the ‘ultimate deal-maker’, he is confident he can broker an agreement between the two sides.

Let’s look at a similar situation. A bank is robbed; the robber wore no mask, and made no attempt to conceal his identity as he brandished a gun, shot a few tellers, and emptied their drawers. He escaped in a police vehicle

The police are notified. They go to the robber’s house and ask him to please meet with the bank manager, to discuss how much of the money he stole, if any, could be returned to the bank. The murders of the tellers isn’t even mentioned.

The robber agrees; after all, what does he have to lose? As he sits down with the bank manager, word is received that an associate of the robber has robbed yet another bank. The bank manager leaves, seeing that the robber isn’t negotiating in good faith. The police ask the robber to please meet again, but to agree not to rob any more banks during the negotiation period. The robber refuses; he agrees only to negotiations with no pre-conditions. The police drive the robber back home.

Now, this scenario is, of course, ridiculous. When a bank is robbed, the perpetrator, if known, is arrested and the money, if found, is all returned to the bank. If anyone was killed during the robbery, the robber is also accused of murder, and tried for his or her crimes.

But in the lofty circles of international crime, such petty considerations as law, justice and fairness have no role. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine – land, natural resources, etc. – with complete impunity. Why should Israel negotiate, when in doing so, it may have to give up something? Without negotiating, it simply takes whatever it wants, and gives nothing in return.

So what if international law demands an end to both the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the occupation of the West Bank? So what if the land on which 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements belongs to the Palestinians from whom it was stolen? What is any of that, when the mighty U.S. finances Israeli crimes, spits on the United Nations, and holds international law in contempt? Israel and the United States are two of just a few nations that haven’t signed on to the International Criminal Court, and are, therefore, not under its jurisdiction. That makes perfect sense from their point of view: when guilty of crimes against humanity, why involve oneself in an international organization that may hold you accountable for such crimes?

So what is to be done? One looks to the U.S., that self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and democracy, in vain. With a government owned by powerful lobbies, with AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) among the most powerful, such trivialities as international law, human rights and basic human dignity have no place in the equation. Photo-ops with Netanyahu, as he accepts $4 billion annually from the U.S., are far more important that tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, struggling to find clean water in the largest outdoor prison in the world. The monies that flow from various Israeli lobbies, AIPAC chief among them, cannot be jeopardized by such trivialities as human rights and international law. Between 2010 and 2016, those political contributions amounted to $20,193,517. When lobbies donate that much money on a consistent basis, one knows that they are getting what they paid for. And what they pay for has nothing to do with human rights.

The Trump White House is, by all accounts except his own, in total disarray, with morale low and confusion high. The current focus is on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the now-former head of one branch of U.S. terrorism. Why he was dismissed from his job is in question; the reason seems to change from one presidential ‘tweet’ to the next. Not even his vice-president, the radical Christian-right Zionist Mike Pence, seems to have that particular story straight.

So it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will be brokering any new ‘deals’ between Palestine and its brutal occupier, Israel. What is required is a continuation of the growing people’s movement, informing the public of Israel atrocities by publicizing them on social media. Additionally, pressure must be put on elected officials (this writer does not refer to them as ‘representatives’, since that implies that they represent their constituents, not the multiple lobbies whose work they actually do) to demand that the U.S. adhere to its own laws, which prohibit financial aid to countries in violation of human rights. The continued boycott of Israel, through the ever-growing BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, must increase.

Despite the continued Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians, all financed and supported by the U.S., Palestine will be free. That day cannot come soon enough for the suffering Palestinians.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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