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.

 

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Democrats and Republicans: United on Glorifying Authoritarian Systems 

With President Donald Trump fighting against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), his Republican minions have managed to navigate a somewhat tortuous road. They have to somehow criticize one of the many authoritarian organizations that they generally revere. Ultimately, this has proved not too difficult for them; they simply attack the leadership, while praising the rank-and-file.

Democrats, on the other hand, are able to avoid this conundrum altogether, by maintaining their obvious adoration for the corrupt, invasive bureau.

As the Russia-Trump Campaign probe drags on, providing headlines that few people are genuinely interested in, the worship of authority continues unabated. The U.S. military, the largest and most powerful terrorist organization in the world, one that is responsible for the murders of at least 20,000,000 people over the last fifty years, continues to receive increasing amounts of U.S. taxpayers’ money, to the determent not only of the millions of people victimized by the U.S. military, but also of those very taxpayers. Money that goes to weaponry has to come from somewhere, and in the eyes of those who run the U.S. government, both Republican and Democrat, such frivolities as food for the poor, roads, public education and higher education are expendable, as long as the war machine gets all that its lobbyists want.

And then, of course, we have the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Talk about a rogue organization! This is the arm of the U.S. government that is responsible for overthrowing democratically-elected governments, funding and training foreign terrorists, and torturing U.S. citizens and others at various sites around the world.

Let us not forget the ‘boys in blue’, the U.S.’s domestic terrorist organization, the police force. One might think that ‘officers of the law’ might be expected to adhere to the laws they are purportedly hired to enforce. But this is not the case; after all, they are the police! Let them shoot innocent, unarmed people, usually but not always people of color, with nearly complete impunity. But when five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas in July of 2016, one newscaster said the crime had cast a pall over the entire nation. Was not a pall cast over the entire nation when Michael Brown, unarmed, was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson, who then left his body to lie in the street for hours? Was not a second pall thrown over the U.S. when, in November, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson?

And what about when Eric Garner was killed for selling cigarettes? Or when Philando Castile was executed on the spot for the dastardly crime of driving with a burned-out tail light? Or the murders of Alton Sterling, Oscar Grant (unarmed, handcuffed and lying face-down when he was shot by police officer Johannes Mehserle, who spent nearly seven whole months in prison for that murder), and the hundreds of others who have been killed by members of that unholy brotherhood, the U.S. police force? Why did not each of these brutal, senseless murders cast a pall over the entire nation?

In the U.S., murder is a horrendous crime unless committed by someone wearing a uniform of the U.S. government. Whether the murder is perpetrated by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq, or by soldiers in the U.S. controlling the drones that cause such unspeakable carnage in Yemen and other countries, the victims are unimportant. Unarmed men, pregnant women, children, including infants – the murders of all of them are excused when done by a man or woman wearing a uniform.

Domestically it is the same; a murder perpetrated by someone in the uniform of the U.S. police force is not a murder at all; it is an example of ‘justified use of force’. Yet if a person not a part of the repressive, out-of-control U.S. police force shoots and kills an unarmed man or woman, he or she is arrested and charged with murder. The loved ones of his or her victim are allowed to make impact statements before sentencing, and, as long as the perpetrator is not wealthy, he or she can expect to spend a significant amount of their remaining life in one of the U.S.’s for-profit prisons.

Has either party condemned any of these killings, whether done domestically or internationally? Have any of the U.S.’s so-called ‘representatives’ in the House or the Senate demanded that police procedures be analyzed or that military expenditures be more carefully scrutinized? Has any Republican or Democrat forcefully denounced U.S. military adventurism around the planet? Hardly!

Yet when five members of the police force were murdered in Dallas, then President Barack Obama, and candidates Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton all weighed on the event. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, issued a statement. But whenever confronted with the horror and tragedy of innocent people being killed in the U.S.’s multiple war zones, these luminaries mumble something about ‘collateral damage’, and may add, as an afterthought, that it is ‘unfortunate’.

That U.S. citizens live under a heavily-militarized police state cannot be disputed. That people of color are far more likely to be casualties of this police state is also true. Internationally, although no one is safe from the long and brutal arm of the terrorist U.S. military, today it is Arabs who suffer most from it.  U.S. soldiers kill innocent people both on the battlefield, and from the comfort of offices thousands of miles away from their victims. The CIA arms and trains terrorist groups that cause unspeakable suffering in Syria and other nations. FBI surveillance of U.S. citizens has been ongoing for decades.

For eight years, Obama made some attempts to close the Cuban-based U.S. torture center at Guantanamo Bay; he was unsuccessful, mainly because Congress saw no reason for the U.S. not to continue torturing people. He made no effort, however, to end the war in Afghanistan, now in its seventeenth year. He increased the use of murder by drone, and did nothing to reign in the U.S. police.

And now a man who doesn’t even pay lip service to wanting to stop the U.S.’s crimes, and who blatantly seeks to increase them, is president of the U.S. His possible pre-election crimes are being investigated, yet his racism, sexism and Islamaphobia not only go unchecked, but also seem to have become fashionable. That, combined with the reverence for brutal authoritarian forces, domestic and foreign, is a recipe for more death and suffering around the world. Yet if people look for a change in governance from the Republicans to the Democrats to alleviate this suffering at all, they look in vain.

Originally published on Counterpunch.

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CNN as Propaganda

With a variety of news sites, real and artificial, at his disposal, this writer always takes a few minutes out of his day to glance at CNN. He rushes to assure the reader that this is not to obtain news; CNN is in the entertainment and propaganda business. It is not a genuine news reporting outlet.

But, knowing that CNN is a popular program that many people mistake for news, this writer wants to know what these multitudinous lemmings are being fed, and what they are told to think, and to care about.

Last week, he was once again astounded by ‘news’ as presented by CNN. The article was one expressing shock and dismay about a recent ‘tweet’ by the incompetent egomaniac currently ensconced in the White House. United States President Donald Trump taunted the North Korean government, basically saying ‘my nuclear arsenal is bigger than yours’, sounding more like a schoolyard bully than a world leader.

CNN’s analysts, needless to say, were outraged, as any thinking person should be. But there were other comments slyly inserted that are the focus of this writer’s concern. We will look at them in some detail.

  • “The tweet was remarkable not just for its content but for the fact it was generated by a President, the holder of the office that for decades has been the effective guarantor of a US-enforced 70-year era of global peace.”

On what planet, one must ask, has this 70-year era of global peace existed? Certain not earth, since that alleged guarantor of peace has been at war for at least 223 years of its 242 year existence. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the U.S. has been the effective guarantor of a 70-year era of global warfare?

Do these CNN so-called analysts spend all their time in some ivory tower, unaware that the U.S., in the last 70 years, has bombed at least 33 countries? How on earth do they define ‘peace’?

  • The tweet “…illustrates how he (Trump) has turned the United States from being a bulwark of stability and sobriety in the international system into an agent of disruption and unpredictability in his own volatile image.”

According to the learned analysts at CNN, the U.S. has been a ‘bulwark of stability and sobriety.’ Careening off from one disastrous military misadventure to another; destabilizing democratically-elected governments either because they lean too far to the left, of they challenge Apartheid Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East, appears, to CNN analysts, as stable and sober behavior. Ignoring the millions of people who march to prevent ill-advised wars, such as was done prior to the invasion of Iraq, represents, according to CNN analysts, ‘stability and sobriety’. Acting as a dishonest broker between Israel and Palestine, all the while favoring Israeli interests and disdaining international law and the human rights aspirations of the occupied Palestinians, somehow qualifies the U.S. to be referred to as a ‘bulwark of stability and sobriety’.

These two quotations were the most astounding in the article, but there were others worthy of note. We will review just one.

  • “Trump’s fraught day is also likely to raise new questions about his temperament and capacity to fulfill the profound responsibilities of his position….” You think? Are there really any new questions that can be raised about his temperament? Chief of Staff John Kelly stated that he had never been spoken to, in thirty-five years of government employment (he called it service, but he’s a career military man, so ‘service’ is a misnomer), as Trump speaks to him. Trump remains obsessed about crowd sizes, and still talks about the margin of his election victory, claiming still that he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes due to voter fraud, evidence of which exists nowhere.

As far as his ‘capacity to fulfill the profound responsibilities of his position’, he proved more than once during the campaign, and countless times since then, that few people with less ability have ever been nominated by a major party. He appeals to the basest instincts of the most ignorant members of the population, and was only elected because the Democrats fixed the nomination process for one of the most polarizing candidates in recent history.

So, dear reader, these are the lessons to be learned by that august site, CNN: The world has been at peace since World War II; please don’t talk to veterans, war widows, orphans or parents who lost loved ones during the less-than-peaceful periods of the Korean War, Vietnam War, or during conflicts in Haiti, Grenada, Yemen, Syria, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Iraq, Panama, Afghanistan, Libya, or any of the dozens of other times the U.S. has attacked another nation. And despite all that, and violence in the streets, political assassinations, torture of political prisoners and support for the most brutal and repressive of regimes (see: Israel; Saudi Arabia), the U.S. is a ‘bulwark of stability and sobriety.’

CNN and Trump are not fans of each other, but CNN certainly serves as an effective cheerleader for the violent, oppressive and corrupt U.S. government. But ‘news’ reporting (read: government propaganda) transcends any one president. The powers behind the throne, the people who grow ever richer due to arms sales, who wish to order the world to their twisted way of thinking, firmly maintaining their positions of the 1% as separate, distinct and far removed from the 99%, care little about who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at any given time. The names change, but the policies, with cosmetic differences, remain the same.

That Trump may be more dangerous than his predecessors is an open question; the CNN article sited herein mentions that other presidents have considered using nuclear weapons, which only shows their lack of knowledge and morality. Such weapons should not exist, let alone be even considered for use. The global disaster of even a ‘limited’ nuclear war (if such a thing is even possible), should motivate every world leader to destroy their nuclear arsenal.

But no, that is not to be the case, when madmen such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu all have such weapons. If one of them decides to push the button, civilization as we know it will end, with the very real possibility that all life on earth will be extinguished. Propaganda pieces from CNN do not help to avoid this potential disaster.

 

 

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Are the Iranians Actually ‘Acting’ against Their Government?

In the last few days, the corporate-owned news has been filled with information about unrest in Iran. United States President Donald Trump is gleeful, pointing out that the U.S. government has named Iran a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’, and criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for releasing to Iran money that was being withheld, prior to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015.

Trump made several bizarre statements in reference to the unrest in Iran. We will look at a two of them, to determine if his hypocrisy knows any boundaries at all.

  • “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” In the U.S., many mainly white police officers receive training by the most brutal military organization in the world, that of Israel. Those police officers routinely shoot and kill unarmed men, women and children, usually people of color, with nearly complete impunity. Is this not government-sponsored brutality?

Recently, the U.S. passed historic tax reform. At a meeting with his wealthy friends shortly after signing that bill into law, Trump told them, “I just made you all a lot richer”.  Members of Congress routinely pass laws that further enrich the wealthiest citizens, while doing nothing for the middle class and the poor. Is this not government corruption?

Congress members accept huge campaign contributions from lobbyists, including those representing foreign governments, which causes the elected U.S. officials to overlook unspeakable human rights violations perpetrated by those countries. Israel is a case in point. More corruption.

At present, the U.S. is bombing seven countries. More brutality.

And are the people of Iran actually ‘acting’ against the Iranian government? Or is the U.S., as it has done so often in the past, fomenting insurrection for its own purposes? It would greatly surprise this writer if it were found that the U.S. is not behind the current unrest in Iran. It has worked repeatedly over the decades to destabilize governments that displease it; Syria was the nation most recently so victimized, but with assistance from Russia and Iran, it was able to defeat U.S.-sponsored terrorists.

Does not all this not make the U.S. a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’?

So before Trump criticizes Iran or any other nation for corruption and brutality, he should look at the horrendous crimes his own country is committing.

  • “All the money that President Obama so foolishly gave to them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets’.” Obama didn’t ‘give’ Iran any money; it released to Iran money belonging to Iran that the U.S. had ordered ‘frozen’ in various international accounts. Some of that money was released as part of the JCPOA.

The ‘terrorism’ that Trump refers to is unclear, but he probably means Iranian support for the government of Syria, which spent years fighting U.S.-supported terrorists. Iran has diplomatic relations with Syria, and it is appropriate that it assisted that nation in preserving its government.

Regarding money going into anyone’s pockets, again, what Trump is referring to is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he objects to it going to the people to whom it rightly belongs.

It is no secret that President Obama had a highly conflicted relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or that Trump all but worships the ground on which the savage Netanyahu walks. Israel fears Iran’s increasing power and influence in the Middle East, and that is enough to alarm U.S. government officials who rely on pro-Israeli lobbies to fund their campaigns. The U.S. was successful in destroying and/or destabilizing Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, less so in Lebanon due to the continued strength of Hezbollah there, and failed in Syria. The fact that millions of innocent people died, and millions more continue to suffer because of U.S. interference to please Israel is of no concern to U.S. government officials.

If the United States government wants to target a ‘brutal and corrupt regime’, it might start with Israel. That rogue, apartheid nation has been censured by the United Nations more often than all other nations combined. It illegally occupies Palestine, kills unarmed Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity (a lesson, as mentioned above, that it teaches to U.S. polices forces), and yet it receives $4 billion annually from the U.S., as cities in the U.S. declare bankruptcy, and the infrastructure falls apart. U.S. tax dollars at work, but not for U.S. citizens.

It is highly possible that the U.S. has, with its interference in Iran, opened a situation beyond its ability to control. Iran is a powerful nation, with strong international alliances, a large population, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is not to be trifled with. Yet it seems that that is exactly what the U.S. government is doing.

U.S. support for rebels in Iran will not topple the government. It was almost 40 years ago that the people of Iran defeated a brutal, U.S.-supported dictator, and the U.S. has done nothing to gain the trust of the Iranian people since then. Hopefully, more sensible people in Washington, D.C. will prevent Trump from making the colossal mistake of invading Iran. If not, the U.S. will suffer far more than any nation in the Middle East.

Originally published in American Herald Tribune.

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Israel Has Played Trump as a Complete Fool

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) The convening of an international conference;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Political Corruption and the U.S. Government

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

The list is nearly endless.

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

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

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

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

War and Peace.

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

Political Prisoners.

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kakistoligargacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Disreputable Candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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