Category Archives: Political Musings

Trump and Chaos

Once again, the political world is agog over new, ‘shocking’ revelations about the Donald Trump presidency. With excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’, being leaked, and an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times supporting some of the book’s major premises, there is, once again, talk of impeachment, this time focusing more on the mental state of the president.

This entire bruhaha brings up many questions, which this writer will attempt to answer.

  1. Is any of this new?

No. This is business as usual in the Trump White House. The chaos surrounding this administration is obvious to anyone who follows any news; even aficionados of FOX news must surely have gleaned that all is not well at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. With contradictory announcements, multiple bizarre tweets, top advisors arriving and departing with lightening speed, and trusted allies shunned, surely it’s clear to everyone that something is rotten in the state of D.C.

  1. Where is the Republican opposition?

Hiding under their desks, hoping the storm blows over while they still have their high-paying, low responsibility jobs. South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham has basically said ‘so what?’ to the NYT op-ed. House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to comment on the book, other than to say that he didn’t provide Woodward with any information; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel did the same.

Wouldn’t one think that, perhaps, the nation’s ‘leaders’ would show some concern about this? It isn’t as if there aren’t piles of public evidence that support the idea of major dysfunction in the White House. Like an ostrich when it senses danger, do they simply bury their empty heads in the ground, hoping it will all blow over?

We all know, of course, that politicians on both sides of the aisle will only take a ‘brave’ stand once they have measured the direction of the political winds, and consulted with the special interest groups which are their true constituency. With the GOP base still gaga over their racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic president, they are grabbing onto his tattered coattails for all they’re worth.

  1. Was the NYT op-ed a real picture of reality?

In the ‘through-the-looking-glass’ world of U.S. politics and governance, it is never a good idea to seek reality. That anonymous writer praises some of Trump’s ‘accomplishments’. We will digress for just a moment to review them.

  1. “Effective deregulation”. What this actually means is that protections for the public against air and water pollution have been relaxed, resulting in increased profits for big corporations, and increased cancer and other diseases for the common man and woman (you know, those people like you and me who pay taxes and vote, for whatever that’s worth).
  2. “Historic tax reform”. One wonders how ‘historic’ this actually was, since during the administration of George W. Bush the rich also got a huge tax benefit. Again, for the common man and woman? Not so much.
  3. “A more robust military”. The U.S. spends more on the military than the next eight largest nations combined. The infrastructure is collapsing, public schools are in shambles, health care is beyond the reach of most citizens, and a university education leaves students with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Was the military not sufficiently ‘robust’ under the presidency of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, when seven nations were being bombed, and troops were in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are not hundreds of military bases threatening the world, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers manning them, sufficiently ‘robust’?
  4. Is Trump going to purge the White House to remove the leakers?

Why not? Employment in the current administration is a revolving-door anyway, so why not simply increase the speed? According to preliminary reports, Trump has accepted the proclamation by Chief of Staff John Kelly, widely considered on of the ‘adults’ in the room (heaven help us), that he didn’t provide information to Woodward. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration of unbreached loyalty has also been accepted.

We will note, however, that what Trump accepts and believes today has no bearing on what he may accept or believe tomorrow; actually, we must look at the present minute, not the day, and consider the next one. So, Kelly and Pompeo are naïve indeed if they consider their positions in the administration safe. But if they are fired, just think of the books each will write.

  1. With the Republicans so cowed by Trump, will the Democrats unite to stop the madman president?

The chances of this happening, even should they gain majorities in the House and/or Senate with the November elections, are slim and none. Doing so would demonstrate courage and statesmanship, something that has been lacking on either side of the aisle since at least the presidential campaign of George McGovern (1972, just in case you were wondering). And that wasn’t a typical circumstance (please remember Lyndon Johnson, much as we’d all like to forget him).

  1. Lastly, are we actually doomed?

Probably. As much as this writer likes to consider himself an optimist, he doesn’t see any positive outcome from the current mess the U.S. has gotten itself into. Perhaps Trump will be removed from office; then the country and the world will be stuck with Mike Pence as president, someone less disturbed but certainly as dangerous as Trump. If Trump manages to muddle along and run for re-election in 2020, it’s highly possible that the Democrats, hardly the saviors of anything at all, will repeat their colossal mistake from 2016 and again nominate someone who has a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected. And with Donald Trump as the opponent, that should be difficult to do, although the Democrats managed it two years ago.

Yes, this writer will continue to vote for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning, because the Democrats and Republicans have arranged things so they maintain their stranglehold on public office. Yes, Democrats in the mold of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will continue to topple long-term, entrenched Democrats, but will be silenced or marginalized by the party’s power-brokers. And yes, the oligarchy that masquerades as a democracy, an illusion perpetrated by members of the oligarchy for their own benefit, and not believed much outside of U.S. borders, will continue to run the show.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Human Rights, Political Musings

The Hypocrisy of Trump on Iran

As United States President Donald Trump slowly descends into madness in front of the entire world, he seems determined to destroy Iran in the process. This would keep intact the U.S. government’s age-old policy of destroying countries that dare to defy it in any way, regardless of the toll in human suffering that that causes.

We’ll look at a few of the statements made by Trump and his various minions, and then compare them to that illusive concept that he seems to be completely unaware of: reality.

  • S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas ‘tweeted’ this: “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the courageous Iranian people protesting their corrupt regime.”

Apparently, according to the august Mr. Cotton, standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with people means issuing brutal sanctions that cause untold suffering.

Government officials say that sanctions are benign, that they only target the government.

However, the U.S. has been highly critical of an organization called ‘Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order’ (EIKO). When EIKO was established, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.” By targeting EIKO, the U.S. is intentionally targeting the innocent people of Iran.

In this regard, author David Swanson said this: “The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that’s what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack.” Two points are worth considering here: 1) sanctions hurt the common man and woman more than they do any government, and 2) the Iranian people have a fierce pride in their nation, and will not succumb to U.S. blackmail.

And let’s pause for a moment and consider Cotton’s idea of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ regime. Was it not elected in free and democratic elections? Did the Iranian government not work smoothly with the previous U.S. administration, several other nations and the European Union to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S., under Trump, violated?

If Cotton wants to discuss ‘corrupt’ regimes, he’d be better served to start at home. Did not Trump assume office after losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes? Is not the Trump administration involved in numerous scandals reflecting the president’s own personal corruption, as well as that of several of his appointees? Has not the U.S. government supported terrorist groups in Syria? If Cotton believes that Iran is corrupt and the U.S. isn’t, he has an odd opinion of a ‘corrupt regime, indeed!

  • Trump himself seems to govern by ‘tweet’. On July 24, he ‘tweeted’ the following in response to a ‘tweet’ from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, unlike Trump, was elected with the majority vote: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” (Please note that the upper-case letters are Trump’s, not this writer’s).

Trump is hardly one to be talking about ‘demented words of violence and death’. The U.S. is bombing several countries, continues its brutality in Afghanistan, and is threatening Iran.

And what was it that Rouhani said that was so terribly offensive? Exactly this: Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.” These words seem to invite the U.S. to make its own selection: start a deadly and devastating war with Iran, or reach out in peace for trade and mutual security. Trump, obviously, is far more interested in the former.

  • The U.S.’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, said this: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Let’s look at another country that does things ‘to the negative’ and suffers no consequences. Israel occupies the West Bank of Palestine in violation of international law; it blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law; it targets medics and members of the press, in violation of international law. During its periodic bombing campaigns in Gaza, it targets schools, places of worship, residential neighborhoods and United Nations refugee centers, all in violation of international law. It arrests and holds without charge men, women and children,  all in violation of international law. Why does Israel not “pay a price like few countries have ever before”? Instead, it gets more financial aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. Could the vast amounts of money that pro-Israel lobbies contribute to U.S. government officials possibly be the cause of this?

And should we mention Saudi Arabia? Women are stoned for adultery, and public executions are common. Its human rights record is as bad as Israel’s, and it is run by a crown prince, rather than a democratically-elected leader, but the U.S. says nothing critical of it.

Additionally, the U.S. is backing the terrorist group, Mujahedeed-e-Khalq (MEK). This group is external to Iran, and its stated goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. Perhaps Trump wants to replicate the ‘success’ of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who overthrew the stable government of Iraq, thus causing the deaths of at least a million people (some estimates are much higher), the displacement of at least two million more, and who never cared about the chaos he left behind that remains today. This is what Trump wants for Iran.

With the U.S. violating the internationally-accepted JCPOA, which was endorsed by the United Nations, the country has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Diplomatically, this is a problem for the other nations that are part of the JCPOA, since they all wish to remain in the agreement, but Trump has threatened them with sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran. In Iran, the sanctions damage the economy, which is Trump’s goal; he hopes, naively, that the Iranian people will blame their government, rather than the real culprit – the United States – for these problems.

What is behind Trump’s hostility to Iran? Prior to the signing of the JCPOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress, urging that body to disapprove of the agreement. He is the leader of one of the only two countries on the planet that endorsed Trump’s violation of international law in his withdrawal from the JCPOA (Saudi Arabia was the other country that supported Trump’s decision). Trump has surrounded himself with Zionists: his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law, Jared Kushner; John Bolton, and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to name only a few. These are the people who are in Trump’s inner circle, and whose advice and counsel he seems to take at face value. These are the people who support the concept of Israel as a nation-state for the Jews, which by definition makes it apartheid. These are the people who disdain international law, and want to continue ‘negotiations’ that only buy time for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land. And these are the people who want Israel to have complete hegemony in the Middle East; its main rival is Iran, so in their twisted, Zionist minds, Iran must be destroyed. The amount of suffering that would cause is never factored into their deadly equations.

With a president as unstable and erratic as Trump, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy what he will do next. But hostility toward Iran is one thing if it is just words; any attack on that nation would cause more trouble and problems than Trump can possibly imagine. Iran is a powerful country in its own right, but is also allied with Russia, and any aggression towards Iran will bring the strength of the Russian military into play. This is the Pandora’s box that Trump is threatening to open.

Originally published by The Balkan Post.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Political Musings, U.S. Politics

Pity the Democrats and Republicans

It is a rare occasion when one can only pity both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) has hitched its rather dilapidated wagon to a racist, sexist, narcissistic man-child of a star who has only the most tenuous grasp on reality. But it is not them we are here to discuss today. It is the Democrats, the Party that, had it been a person, would never have been voted most likely to succeed upon graduation from high school.

Currently, one would think that the Democrats would be poised for great success. Mid-term elections are approaching; the president, Donald Trump, has record-breaking low approval scores, and there is dissatisfaction with him from coast to coast. Now, one might think, is the time for the Democrats to clearly articulate their platform, allowing the populace to know exactly where the party stands, and what it will do to achieve its goals. This might include such popular items as sensible gun-control; recognition of Palestine’s human-rights struggles and Israel’s violations of international law; income equality, gender equality, and an end to institutionalized racism, among other things. These, according to public opinion polls, are topics that resonate with voters who mainly identify as Democratic.

But no! Horror of horrors! Best, according to the Party leaders, to lay low, and allow dissatisfaction with the Republicans to drive voters into the arms of the Democratic Party. Maintain the status quo, don’t rock the boat, steady as she goes, and adhere to every other tired out cliché that means don’t show any backbone. So what if voters enthusiastically evicted a ten-term, good-old-boy Congress member from New York, in favor of a socialist Democrat! Who cares that a large swath of the Party still feels the deep wounds of betrayal from the Party’s manipulation of delegates to give the 2016 presidential nomination to the candidate who is corporate America incarnate, Hillary Clinton, instead of the (somewhat) more progressive Bernie Sanders! The power brokers, such as they are, in the Democratic Party are not willing to surrender their positions, and are terrified to risk what they have by showing anything related to statesmanship. Those currently in power have been elected and re-elected despite their namby-pamby positions, or non-positions, on the current issues of the day. Why do anything differently now?

Well, we can answer that question, although the people who really need to hear the answer won’t bother to pay any attention. We’ll look at a few factors that one would think would cause the Party that claims to be progressive (you can stop laughing now) to take careful note.

  • Following a long series of mass shootings, high school students in Florida finally said ‘enough’. Several of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre travelled around the country, saying that if the current Congress won’t act, a new Congress must be installed. Millions of people in this age cohort will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2018. Study after study shows that they are overwhelmingly to the left of where the Democratic Party is today. They probably won’t stay home, but they may seek third-party candidates, so they can vote for someone they actually believe in, rather than the slightly lesser of two evils. But if Democrats renew calls for sensible gun control, including the banning of semi-automatic weapons, they may find these new voters flocking to the polls to vote for them.
  • Israeli government officials are having apoplexy over what they correctly see as an increasing disconnect between Jewish-Americans and the racist, apartheid Jewish state of Israel. In the aforementioned 14th Congressional district of New York, twenty-year incumbent Joe Crowley, financed in part by AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been highly critical of Israel. Might not some other candidates want to take a page from her playbook, and speak out for human rights and international law? Or are even those topics too controversial for Democrats to address?
  • Polls indicate that most voters aren’t thrilled with the newly-enacted tax reform (Surprise! Surprise!), which was an early Christmas present to the rich. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan showed how out-of-touch he was after the tax bill became law, when he ‘tweeted’ this: “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for a year.” So while this secretary received a whopping $78.00 annual raise, the richest 1% of the nation’s population receive about 34% of the total benefits from the multi-billion dollar tax reform. A platform by the Democrats to really reform taxes would probably resonate, even with people who are $78.00 richer as a result of the GOP version.
  • Trump and Company are beating the war drums for ‘regime change’ of the democratically-elected government of Iran. Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against the wishes and advice of nearly the entire international community, and his own military advisors. Wouldn’t a plank in the Democratic platform that says that Democrats will work to reinstate U.S. involvement in the JCPOA, and attempt to prevent chaos in yet another Middle Eastern country, possibly have wide appeal? Yes, U.S. citizens, inexplicably, seem to love their wars, but a new breed of voter is on the horizon, and will be pulling levers in voting booths in just three short months. They may be a bit less enthused about sending U.S. soldiers to die for Israel, whose influence was a main factor in Trump’s decision to abandon the JCPOA.
  • The Republicans have made good on their promise to deprive millions of people of health care. Democrats who will unflinchingly condemn those actions, and vow to reinstate the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), or something better, may find unexpected popularity.
  • Young people often graduate from universities and colleges in the U.S. with crippling debt. Even if the free tuition advocated by Ocasio-Cortez and others isn’t possible at present (it is, but this writer doesn’t see the Democratic Party ever going that far), couldn’t interest rates be lowered? Why is it necessary for lenders to make huge profits from the efforts of the next generation to become educated? And couldn’t there be some kind of debt forgiveness program? Even 25% would be a windfall to many people.

These are just a few of the many areas in which the Democrats could differentiate themselves from the Republicans. Will they do it? Will the Party unite, look at not only what the people want, but also what is morally right, and stand up for those principles? When pigs fly. Government officials today (this writer refuses to refer to them as ‘representatives’, since they represent only special interests and anything that will benefit them personally, and not the voting populace) are only concerned with keeping their high-paying jobs with almost unlimited benefits. The idea of public service, working for the greater good, or sacrificing for those who are less fortunate are alien concepts to them.

It is possible that the Democratic Party will take control of one or both houses of Congress as a result of the November elections. If that happens, not much will change. The NRA (National Rifle Association), AIPAC, various military lobbies and others will still be the ones actually in control. The U.S. voters will have participated once again in what government officials proudly and disingenuously point to as a hallmark of U.S. democracy, but what is in reality an exercise in futility. With each election, the names may change, but all the injustice, domestically and internationally, continues.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Palestine, Political Musings, U.S., U.S. Politics, Uncategorized

Presidential Candidates 2020: a Preview of the Democratic Contenders

Apparently, two years out isn’t too early to start speculating on who the hapless Democrats may run for president in 2020. Let’s remember that in the last seven elections, they have only been able to elect two presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), despite only losing the popular vote once (George Bush’s second term, and the legitimacy of that is not something we will explore right now). Whoever they run may in two years may win the popular vote, but still not move into the White House. This is democracy, U.S. style.

So who are the candidates currently on the horizon? Please take a moment to prepare yourselves emotionally, since the picture this writer is about to paint is not a pretty one. In fact, it is downright terrifying.

  • Bernie Sanders. Yes, the darling of whatever remains of the leftist part of the Democratic Party still sees Sanders as the savior. The ‘Bernistas’ received a shot in the arm with the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York’s 14th district primary in June, when the much-feared word ‘socialism’ began its rehabilitation.

What does Bernie have going against him? For one thing, by the time the 2020 election rolls around, he will be 79 years old. Secondly, it will be difficult for some people to forget his enthusiastic endorsement of the woman who cheated him out of the nomination in 2016. It’s not as if there were no other candidates he could have endorsed. Gloria La Riva, who represented the Party for Socialism and Liberation, comes to mind. Her platform was one that anyone of intelligence and compassion would support.

  • Joe Biden. Now there’s a name to bring excitement to any dedicated Democrat. Don’t the words ‘Joe Biden’ conjure up change, dynamism and charisma? Can’t the reader imagine young people throwing themselves enthusiastically behind a ticket led by the former vice president? No, this writer can’t, either. If the party wants to once again shoot itself in the foot, nominating Biden might be just the ticket.

We will also mention that the former vice president will be a few weeks shy of his 78th birthday when some small percent of eligible voters next cast a presidential ballot. This is not to imply that a 78-year-old can’t be energic, sharp as a whip and ready to run the U.S; but that doesn’t describe Biden.

  • Hillary Clinton. You were warned; a terrifying picture was about to unfold to your view. Yes, there are rumors abounding now that Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State, will once again toss her tiara into the ring for another go-round with Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party really wants to commit suicide, surely there are less painful ways of doing so. Clinton lost the election (granted, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes; see note above about U.S-style democracy) to one of the least qualified, most dangerous candidates ever nominated for president, and now she may actually think she has a chance of beating him. The election of Trump was never an endorsement of his policies; his approval rating has rarely gone above 40%, and never above 50%. No, his election was not an endorsement of Trump, but a startling repudiation of Clinton. Her blatant greed, blind ambition, disdain for the poor and less fortunate, her ties to Wall Street and her questionable ethics all led large swaths of the population to vote for the odious Trump.

Why, one might reasonably ask, would the Democrats want to nominate someone who so un-democratically manipulated the delegates in 2016 to wrest the nomination from Bernie Sanders? Does the word ‘democracy’ mean nothing to the Democrats?

On the plus side, of these three potential candidates, Clinton is the most ‘youthful’. She will turn a mere 73 a few weeks before the next election. Does anyone remember a time, perhaps back in the days of George McGovern (only 50 when he ran for president), when the Democrats were the party of the young people? Has that entire age cohort now been dismissed from consideration?

  • Elizabeth Warren. The junior senator from Massachusetts is forever saying she isn’t interested in the presidency. We’ll see. She gets publicity every time Trump notices her, since he insists, in his juvenile way, on calling her ‘Pocahontas’. She did give a very good impression when questioning bankers following the bailout during the administration of Barack Obama, and she certainly put several of Trump’s Cabinet appointees on the hot seat during their appearances before the senate, but none of that has really resulted in very much. All form; no substance. And can one ever forget, in 2014, when Apartheid Israel was bombing Gaza, and she was asked her opinion on the matter, she actually ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after seeing that pro-Israel lobbies donated $115,203.00 to her campaign, she endorsed that genocidal activity. But to give her the minimal credit she may be due, she has been critical of Israeli actions against unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border.

And just to keep things consistent, Warren will be 71 on the next presidential election day.

It is still very early days. No one has actually declared for the nomination yet, and these four, and who knows how many others, may rise like a phoenix, and then flame out, adding to the debris that always litters the campaign trail. This writer, unfortunately, can think of no Democrat whose name he can suggest; being an elected member of the House or Senate in the U.S. automatically means that one has sold one’s soul to the highest corporate or lobby bidder. This is nothing new; as Matthew said in the New Testament, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  Congressional members have shown that their ‘treasure’ is the money they get for their campaigns, and these are not the $5.00 and $10.00 donations that some misguided citizens occasionally send them. During her muddied career, Clinton received $2,473.367 from pro-Israeli lobbies. That’s quite a treasure, and there can be no doubt about where it leads her heart.

What is to be done? Surely, Trump must be prevented from another term in office, but what are, or will be, the alternatives? Probably, on the Democratic side, another old or aging white man or woman who is bought and paid for by corporations and lobby groups.

As mentioned earlier, the world is still more than two years away from the quadrennial circus known as U.S. presidential elections; it is probably about six months away from the first candidates to declare their candidacy. Is it too early for this writer to encourage readers to look to third-party candidates? The futility of voting for the lesser of two evils was brought home to him clearly in 2016, when there didn’t seem to be one. So he found the candidacy of Ms. La Riva, and voted for her.

While the outcome of any U.S. election probably doesn’t impact this writer as much as it does other U.S. citizens (he fled to Canada after the 2004 election; things were that bad then. He can’t imagine how fast he’d have left if he’d still been in the U.S. in 2016!), the leader of a war-mongering, nuclear-armed nation is of concern to everyone on the planet. If enough people take a stand, and say a resounding ‘no’ to both major parties, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a chance for change. The probability is small, but the consequences of not acting are too great.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Gaza, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Political Musings, Uncategorized

Why Palestine is the Civil Rights Issue of our Time

In the last several days, Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians has been featured in the news like never before. The U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, in violation of international law, assisted in publicizing Israel’s crimes. It’s important to understand why this change in favor of Palestine is so important, not only for Palestinians, but for human rights and international law.

In 1948, the newly-minted United Nations gave over 50% of the nation of Palestine to establish Israel. Over 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no decision in their own displacement, and no recompense. Thousands were killed.

Since that time, Israel has had no regard for Palestine’s borders, constantly stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes, displacing more Palestinians, and building illegal settlements for Israelis. International law clearly states that an occupying power cannot move its citizens permanently onto the occupied territory. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated clearly that not one of the over 500,000 illegal settlers will ever be removed.

In the West Bank, there are roads on which only Israelis can drive. If a newly-build Israeli road crosses one used by Palestinians, the Palestinians are not permitted to even cross it.

Palestinian farmers must obtain permission from Israel to farm their own lands. That permission is often only granted after a long waiting period, after the time for planting or harvesting has passed. When farmers are able to plant on time, their crops often rot in the fields, because Israel refuses permission to harvest them.

In Israel, there is one set of laws governing Israelis, and another governing Arabs. Penalties for crimes committed by Arabs are far more severe than those for the same crimes committed by Israelis. Palestinian children who are accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers can spend 15 years in prison. Israeli soldiers, filmed shooting unarmed Palestinian teens in the back, face no consequences whatever.

The West Bank is full of checkpoints, staffed by Israelis and arbitrarily opened and closed. These arbitrary openings and closings turn what should be a short commute to school or work into an hours-long ordeal. Women in labor have been blocked from crossing, resulting in dozens of babies being born at checkpoints, without medical assistance. Many babies requiring medical attention have died because Israeli soldiers refuse to allow their mothers to take them through a checkpoint to a medical facility.

Israel has a powerful military, provided by the United States. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. The media is quick to report any ‘rockets’ fired into Israel by Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, describes those rockets as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Calling them rockets, he says, serves a purpose for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, they at least feel that their government is doing something on their behalf (please remember that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible); for Israel, calling them ‘rockets’ conjures up a picture of deadly missiles raining down on defenseless people.

The facts, however, tell their own story. In the last 18 years, 242 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. During that same time, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. These tolls include 134 Israeli children, and 2,167 Palestinian children.

Much criticism is directed toward Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip. The United States has decreed this to be a terrorist organization. Yet after Hamas’ election, the government in the Gaza Strip worked to improve conditions there.

Hamas is criticized for not recognizing the existence of Israel. Yet Israel has been slowly destroying Palestine for decades. Hamas does not have the power to destroy Israel, yet by ‘appropriating’ more and more Palestinian land for Israeli-only housing, Israel is slowly destroying Palestine.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip since the election of Hamas. Shortly after Hamas’ electoral victory, an Israeli official describe Israel’s response: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” By restricting the amount of food that is able to be imported, and blocking Palestinian efforts to grow their own, Israel further oppresses the people of Palestine.

The Gaza Strip is blocked by air, sea and land, on all sides. Palestinians in Gaza wanting to visit friends or relatives in the West Bank, part of their own country, are not allowed to do so. Leaving the Strip for medical attention which isn’t available in Gaza, mainly due to Israeli restrictions on medical imports, is next to impossible.

These facts have been concealed by the U.S. and Israel for decades, partly due to the power of Israeli lobbies in the U.S. Yet as U.S. citizens learn the truth, sympathy for the Palestinians is growing. This is shown in a variety of ways. International condemnation of Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinians, even killing members of the press, is increasing. In the U.S. there is a sea change; not a single Democrat attended the recent opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel’s existence as a nation is an accepted reality, despite the fact that it is only 70 years old. Palestinians, whose country predates Biblical times, fight for that same recognition. Increasingly, the world is siding with Palestine, justice, international law and human rights.

Originally published by AHTribune.

Leave a Comment

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

What’s Wrong With the United States?

Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.

The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.

Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.

The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.

Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!

Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.

When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.

And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.

While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.

Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.

Originally published by AHTribune.

Leave a Comment

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

CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim

As Palestinians continue to struggle under the heavy, deadly hand of U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression, the world’s governments mainly ignore them. This is business as usual for most governments, including U.S. officials, many of whom are ‘PEP’ – Progressive Except for Palestine.

March 30 is Land Day in Palestine, a day commemorated annually to mark events first held in 1976, in response to a major land theft announced by Israel. This year, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators camped and marched on the Palestinian side of the Palestine – Israel border, once again demanding the basic human rights that the world community has refused them. In response, Israeli snipers killed at least 18 unarmed Palestinians.

On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.

We will look at just a few quotations from his ill-informed editorial. We will start with the title of the article.

“The Timing of the Gaza Protest is No Coincidence.”

Is there anyone who is familiar with the situation in Palestine who thought it was a coincidence? The organizers were clear from the start: the demonstration would start on Land Day and continue to May 15, the day of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when, on that date in 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, with no voice in the matter, no choice and no recompense. Does Robertson not know that this current protest was to be a major event, planned carefully to hopefully draw international attention to the plight of the Palestinians? Or did he, in his oh-so-insightful way, see that those crafty Palestinians were up to something, hidden from view but obvious to his particular brand of cleverness?

In this bizarre article. Roberson recognized that the scheduled end of the protest coincides with the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something which the Palestinians and the vast majority of the world oppose. Said he, again demonstrating that particular intelligence that is clear throughout his article: “Given that Palestinians oppose this move, the timing of the protest is not likely a coincidence.” Right.

“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”

Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel.  Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.

On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.

“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”

Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!

“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”

Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.

“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”

Robertson sees no problem with Palestinians being threatened for committing the ‘crime’ of being ‘close’ to the Israeli border. He did not choose to comment on that at all.

“It is hard to ignore the calculation on Hamas’s part that some of their protesters would get killed.”

Was this Hamas’ ‘calculation’, or an expectation, based on Hamas’, and the world’s, knowledge of the savagery of Israel? Robertson, like most U.S. government officials, seems to see Palestinians demanding equal rights from their apartheid oppressor as something that is ‘calculated’ by a scheming ‘terror’ organization.

In 2014, Robertson met with Khaled Meshaal Hamas’ political leader. In the current article, he says this: “He told me that Hamas does not seek international sympathy through its own victims. Today, that notion is increasingly questioned amid criticism that the group is once again sacrificing civilians for political gain.”

Once again, he is blaming the victim. The government of Gaza is right to encourage its citizens to peacefully demonstrate for their rights. The government of Israel is in violation of international law by shooting them and tear-gassing them. Yet it is the Palestinians in whom Robertson sees culpability.

It has been some time since this writer has seen such a blatantly one-sided, biased article about Palestinian’s struggles on a ‘mainstream’ news site. Generally, although Israel is usually seen as defending its ‘national security’, there is usually some bone thrown to Palestinian aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. But CNN’s ‘International Diplomatic Editor’ was content to find fault only with the Palestinians, a people who have been brutally oppressed by Israel for decades.

Thankfully, Robertson is in the minority, although it is far more than a shame that he is given a national audience. The unspeakable injustices committed against the Palestinians seem to not only continue, but also increase, as more of the world stands up to Israel. Eventually, however, justice will prevail; it’s tragic that so many innocent Palestinians must suffer and die before that occurs.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Palestine, Political Musings, Uncategorized

Guns, Violence and the United States

Let us all take a quick look at the news:

  • The White House is in chaos.
  • The investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia drags on.
  • The U.S. won some Olympic medals.

Is there anything else? Oh yes:

  • Seventeen people were killed in a school shooting, the eighth such shooting in the U.S. this year (and it is only mid-February), making it hardly newsworthy.

One might think that politicians in the U.S. would take note of this last item. This is not a ‘one-of’, but an ongoing pattern in schools across the country. This latest shooting happened in Parkland, Florida, named ‘Florida’s Safest City’ in 2017.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered his thoughts and prayers for the victims; very nice, indeed, but he is one of 50 people who could make changes that might have prevented this, and the seven other such shootings that have occurred this year. Yet he has consistently opposed any kind of gun control. Perhaps the fact that he’s accepted over $3,000,000.00 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the course of his career may have something to do with his opposition to sensible gun laws. Following this latest tragedy, he said that it was too early to discuss gun control, “…because people don’t know how this happened.”

This writer is puzzled by Rubio’s pearls of wisdom. ‘How this happened’ seems quite clear; he will explicate it for the good senator: A man with a semi-automatic weapon, designed to shoot many bullets quickly, thus enabling the person operating it to kill many people quickly if he so chooses, walked into a school, activated the fire alarm so students would come running out of their classrooms, and began doing with his gun exactly what it was built do to. As a result, seventeen people are dead, and dozens more are injured. Seventeen families now must bear unimaginable grief. Thousands of students are now at risk of post -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); whether or not they will return to that school, or if they will need to be relocated is yet to be determined. School administrators now face a situation they should never have had to experience. But Rubio doesn’t know how this happened.

A year and a half earlier, in June of 2016, Florida had another massacre, this one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Fifty people, including the assailant, were killed and 58 wounded by an assassin using the same kind of gun that was used in Parkland. Republican Governor Rick Scott, another darling of the NRA, said at that time that “…the Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody.” He implied that that shooting was somehow related to ISIS and terrorism, although the perpetrator was U.S. born. And in Florida, it’s easier to purchase an AR-15 than it is to buy a pistol. But the governor, like Rubio, sees no point in doing anything more than offering ‘thoughts and prayers.’

Just this year, there have been at least 31 mass shootings, causing 58 deaths and 124 injuries. These have occurred in high-crime areas and well-to-do neighborhoods. No one is exempt, even people living in the ‘safest city’ in the country.

Also this year, 123 people have been killed by the police, another group for whom guns and gun violence are a way of life.

As of this writing, we are 46 days into the new year. That means that there is a mass shooting in the U.S. every day and a half. It means that more than one person per day dies as a result of a mass shooting. It means that the police in the U.S. kill nearly 3 people every day.

This does not occur in any other nation on the planet. Rich or poor, democratic, socialist, or any other form of government, the U.S. leads in gun deaths.

It is simplistic to say that the availability of guns is the cause; that is merely one of many, and reasonable, sensible gun laws would certainly reduce this tragic number of deaths. But there is an acceptance of violence that permeates U.S. society, and is glorified within it.

In the media and through the words and actions of government officials, soldiers, who are trained to kill, are revered. The more they kill, the greater their respect. A soldier named Chris Kyle, the most deadly sniper in U.S. history, was the subject of a movie showing his ‘heroics’ in killing people. It is ironic that, in 2013, he was shot to death by a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD, who used a gun Kyle owned.

This attitude of reverence for killers is nothing new in the U.S. After Lieutenant William Calley was convicted of murdering hundreds of people in My Lai, Vietnam, he was sentenced to life in prison. Surveys in the U.S. indicated that 79% of the U.S. public thought the verdict was too harsh. He wound up serving for less than four years under house arrest.

Parents, when speaking of their grown children in the military, speak proudly of their ‘service’. Veterans, those who do not regret their time in the military, talk about how they helped ‘keep America free’. Police officers appear to have little concern about their countless victims, or the suffering and grief of the loved ones of those victims. That they act as judge, jury and executioner cannot be denied. Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014 described his victim as a demon. He testified thusly: “I looked at his face. It was just, like, intense; was very aggravated, aggressive, hostile.” This is a significant amount of information to be gleaned from a look on a person’s face. He further stated: “You could tell he was looking through you. There was nothing he was seeing.” What this means is anyone’s guess, but it was sufficient for Wilson to determine that Brown had sufficiently bad intentions to warrant his immediate death.

The U.S. movie industry differs from that of many European nations in how it rates films. In the U.S., movies with explicit sex scenes receive R and X ratings, but explicit violence tends to garner a PG-13 or R rating. In many other nations, the reverse is true; younger audience are permitted to see movies with some sex, but are prevented, at least according to the ratings systems, from seeing those with excessive violence.

For these nearly constant acts of violence to end, the U.S. must recognize that killing is not beneficial; U.S. wars only increase hatred towards the U.S., glorifying soldiers only begets violence, and granting impunity to the police for their murders only intensifies hostility towards all police officers.

This mindset will not be easy to change, and will be impossible under the current government. Republicans and Democrats alike share the blame, and as long as it is legal for them to be bribed by ‘campaign contributions’, nothing will change.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Guns, Political Musings, U.S. Politics, Violence

Juvenile Delinquency in U.S. Government

Just when, one wonders, did United States political discourse become the juvenile embarrassment that it is? Today, of course, we are in an environment when the president immediately responds to any criticism, usually using personal attack or insults to do so. One current brouhaha is instructive.

On December 11, Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on the illustrious President Trump to resign, due to the many, many allegations of sexual harassment and assault with which he’s been accused. This, of course, didn’t sit well with the president. In his response via ‘Tweet’, he called her a lightweight and a flunky, and said she would do anything for campaign contributions.

Rising to the bait, Gillibrand ‘bravely’ proclaimed that she would not be silenced. She again called for his resignation.

The current darling of whatever passes these days for the liberal establishment, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who Trump, in his mature, statesman-like way refers to as ‘Pocahontas’, felt compelled to support her New York counterpart, weighing in with yet another ‘Tweet’, one more applicable to the playground than the halls of Congress. Said she: “Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that.” Fight on the schoolyard! Don’t let any grown-ups catch you!

But the combative Trump, and the elected officials who take delight in baiting him, are just the current manifestations, showing that things have gotten totally out of hand. Looking back at the pre-2016 election primary season, there were more taunts, with Trump insulting the appearance of his female competitor, and himself being ‘accused’ of having small hands. Things got even more childish when the size of his anatomy was questioned. These were the words of people seeking the highest office in the land, the worst of whom actually found his way there.

We will turn our attention now to Alabama, where a judge who was twice removed from the bench for defying Federal orders was narrowly defeated this week in his bid for senate. The first time he was removed was in 2003, when ordered to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments that he’d had installed in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. He refused to do so. Sadly for him, his defiance, like that of any unruly child, gave way to the authorities in control.

Thirteen years later, after he’d been elected again (what is wrong with the people of Alabama?) the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional. Now, one would think that it’s the responsibility of federal judges to uphold federal law. But Moore didn’t like that new law! He instructed Alabama’s probate judges to continue to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bad boy hadn’t learned his lesson from a decade earlier, and he was once again sent to his room, and told he couldn’t be a judge anymore.

During the last week of his campaign for U.S. Senate, it seemed that someone must have grounded him, since he was unavailable for interviews, and was not spotted on the campaign trail. This might be a result of a desperate attempt to prevent people from talking about his penchant for dating girls as young as 14, when he was in his thirties. The GOP must be breathing a major sigh of relief today, since the party wasn’t looking forward to the fun and games they would have had, trying to deal with that particular overgrown juvenile delinquent.

Trump responded to the defeat of the candidate he’d endorsed in his own, childish manner, when he ‘Tweeted’ this: “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right!” I told you so! Nah! Nah!

Other examples abound in recent history. One recalls former GOP candidate Mitt Romney dismissing 47% of the electorate (not the popular kids, obviously), and bossing around the staff at the restaurant where that infamous quotation was filmed, like some schoolyard bully. Four years earlier, John McCain shocked the Republican establishment when he suspended his campaign activities to deal with a financial crisis, not having the maturity to handle more than one issue at a time.

And what of his loose-cannon running-mate? Sarah Palin’s inability to form a coherent sentence did nothing to raise the esteem in which U.S. officials would like to bask, among the hapless citizenry. When she resigned as governor of Alaska, she said she was making her own way, because “only dead fish go with the flow”.  Her sophistication and eloquence astound!

The media, which, other than a few far-right outlets, has no fondness for Trump, seems to be gloating collectively at Moore’s defeat, calling it a ‘stinging loss’ for the president, and seeing an increasing possibility of the Democrats retaking the senate next year. While one supposes there is some benefit in that, the Democrats are hardly riding in like the Calvary in a bad movie, to rescue the damsel in distress, or in this case, the sinking pseudo-democracy known as the United States. Under the Democrats, there may be some diminution of overt racism, but Blacks will still be disproportionally incarcerated for minor drug crimes, as wealthy white criminal bankers go free. Muslims may be allowed freer entry to the U.S., but any ‘terrorist’ acts by anyone purporting to support Islam will be met with demands that all ‘law-abiding’ Muslims reject terrorism. Israel will still be able to oppress, humiliate and murder innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity, as that apartheid nation defies international law and basic human decency.

But what is any of that? We are back on the schoolyard, and the clique that ran the show last year, and was so popular with so many of the kids, isn’t doing so well this year, and so the rival clique is going to try even harder.

The grown-ups have all gone home; a most unfortunate situation for the U.S. and the world.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Political Musings

The U.S. Military and the Rest of the World

The United States, the world’s foremost sponsor of domestic and international terrorism, is embarking on a new initiative to increase its ability to kill. Called the ‘National Defense Strategy’, it was announced by Elbridge A. Colby, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, and builds on the so-called National Security Strategy that was announced by President Donald Trump in December.

“The National Defense Strategy seeks to implement the pillars of the National Security Strategy: peace through strength, the affirmation of America’s international role, the U.S. alliance and partnership structure and the necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power,” said Colby.

An examination of these four components is instructive.

  • “Peace through strength.” Nowhere in Colby’s pronouncements, or those of Trump, for that matter, are the concepts of justice, human rights, or international law mentioned. That may be because those ideals are of no concern to the mighty U.S. As long as the U.S. is able to use its ‘strength’ to bomb into submission any country that displeases it, there will be peace. Oppression, death, carnage and human suffering are all simply the prices that must be paid for the U.S.’s skewed definition of peace.
  • “The affirmation of America’s international role.” And just what is that role? It seems to be that of a corrupt international police force (perhaps mimicking the U.S. domestic police force), making up the rules as it goes along, acting as judge, jury and executioner. The U.S. has given itself the responsibility of overthrowing democratically elected governments and sponsoring and training terrorists, resulting in the deaths, torture and disappearance of millions of people across the globe.
  • “The U.S. alliance and partnership structure.” The U.S. displays its vaunted alliances from time to time, but anything more than a cursory look at them shows them for the lies that they are. For example, during the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. spokespeople talked about the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, proclaiming with great fanfare how it had assembled several countries to send forces to Iraq to overthrow the government there. In reality, over 90% of the soldiers sent on that fool’s errand were from the U.S.
  • “The necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power.” There is no balance of power today; the U.S., which spends as much on its military as the next eight countries combined, bombs, destabilizes and sanctions any nations it chooses to, with nearly complete impunity. It is to destroy a regional balance of power that the U.S. threatens Iran; the U.S. seeks to maintain the hegemony of the apartheid regime of Israel in the Middle East, and so Iran’s growing power and influence must be stopped. If the U.S. were truly interested in peace, in the Middle East or anywhere else, it would cease supporting Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Iran.

Additionally, the U.S. has close to 1,000 military bases around the world, at least 40 of which are in close proximity of Iran. Its military advantage is already overwhelming, and threatens the entire world.

Colby also said that the U.S. must counter the threat posed by terrorism, singling out, of course, North Korea and Iran. So the nation that has killed over 20 million people since World War II; that has invaded at least 30 nations since then, some of them multiple times, and that is currently bombing seven countries needs to increase its arsenal to counter terrorism.  It seems obvious that worldwide terrorism would decrease dramatically if the U.S. were to reduce its military expenditures.

And what of North Korea and Iran? During the Korean War, waged by the U.S. from 1950 – 1953, the U.S. caused unspeakable suffering in the North. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” said Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The U.S. bombed cities, towns and villages throughout the North, with no concern for the civilian population. North Korean hostility towards the United States can only be seen as valid.

U.S. aggression towards Iran has even less justification than its aggression towards North Korea. Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. Yet the U.S., to please Israel, accuses Iran of terrorist activities.

In George Orwell’s landmark novel 1984, the reader is introduced to the concept of ‘Newspeak’. This is the twisting of language to enable governments to act in ways that are contrary to the will and good of the people.  U.S. government officials have become champions of ‘Newspeak’; they talk of fighting terrorism, when the U.S. is the chief international source of terrorism. They speak of building alliances and partnerships, when those associations are often tenuous at best, or bought through foreign aid, or made only by coercion. They speak of the threat to U.S. ‘national security’, when it is the U.S. that threatens the security of nations around the world.

The U.S. spends over 50% of its discretional budget on the military. Other nations spend a fraction of this amount, and yet they are not constantly being invaded or bombed. One must ask why the U.S. needs to spend so much to protect itself, when other nations need to spend very little on their military forces.

Nearly 13% of the U.S. population lives below the officially-established poverty line, which is ridiculously low. Over 20% of U.S. children live in poverty. In terms of public education, the U.S. ranks in the middle of industrialized nations, putting its students at risk of not being able to compete in an increasingly global market. The so-called ‘safety net’, resources for the poor, is continually shrinking so the military can be fed. University students graduate with huge debt, due to high-interest government loans, while other countries charge a fraction of the amount that U.S. schools charge for tuition, or offer university education free of charge. These problems could all be rectified by redirecting even a portion of the U.S. military budget to address these other issues.

And now the already bloated U.S. military spending budget will be increased. U.S. officials refer to it as the ‘defense’ budget, but the U.S. military has little or nothing to do with defense; it is all offensive, as the millions of worldwide victims can attest. Yet members of Congress, beholden to the ‘defense’ industry lobbyists who so generally support their election and re-election campaigns, will tell their constituents that the U.S. must have this budget to defend them from all the evil that exists in the world. They ignore the fact that much of that evil originates in the United States, and that the military budget only increases it.

International surveys indicate that it is the United States that is seen as the greatest threat to world peace.  A study in 2017 indicated that, globally, 24% of respondents viewed the U.S. in that way.  The next most feared country was Pakistan, with 8%. The U.S. self-perpetuates this fear, and does it intentionally, to keep the international community doing its bidding.

But it cannot control the world forever; China, Russia, India and Iran are growing in military and economic power. The U.S.’s closest ally, Israel, is experiencing international condemnation due to its horrific, ongoing, brutal oppression of the Palestinians. Under Trump’s disjointed leadership, U.S. allies are distancing themselves, and forming closer alliances with different partners.

A world power in decline is always dangerous; as other nations grow in power and influence, and that of the U.S. wanes, the entire world is at some risk. It is hoped that these other nations, which have far more interest in peace than does the U.S., will be able to eclipse the U.S., and exert their influence internationally. Only then will the world’s perpetual state of war have a chance of ending.

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Military, Palestine, Political Musings