Friday, April 28, 2017

North Korea 4-28-2017

28, April 2017                                  North Korea

World-renowned professor Noam Chomsky offered some sobering thoughts during a recent interview.

He reminded his listeners that an attack on North Korea would unleash massive artillery bombardment of Seoul where 28,500 American troops are stationed. US troops based in Japan would also be in the line of fire.

B52 military maneuvers flying near North Korea’s border are highly provocative and have exacerbated an already explosive situation. North Koreans have much to fear. According to the Air Quarterly Review, US aircraft carpet bombed North Korea in June 1952 and then proceeded to destroy the dams releasing huge amounts of water destroying villages and rice crops, the main staple of North Korea. Tens of thousands of men, women and children died. Destroying the dams is a serious war crime for which the US was never held accountable. The massive ‘shock and awe’ and racist comments that followed was reminiscent of the Iraq war and the recent Tomahawk missile strike in Syria.

A former proposal offered by China and North Korea should be vigorously pursued. Simply stated, the de-escalation quid pro quo would freeze North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons systems and in return the US would halt its B52 flights near North Korea’s border and gradually withdraw US forces from South Korea and Japan.
There is universal revulsion of the North Korean leadership but their basic instinct for survival is understandable. They remember the fate of Mohammed Kaddafi of Libya who paid the ultimate price after he surrounded his nuclear arsenal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trump & Indonesia 4-26-2017

26, April 2017                                      Trump & Indonesia

It’s a pity that VP Mike Pence seems to be unaware of the close ties that his boss has long established perhaps unwittingly, with the elites of the Indonesian underworld. In a shocking expose’, long time reporter, Allan Nairn revealed supporters of Donald Trump have aligned themselves with army officers and vigilante groups linked to ISIS in an attempt to remove Indonesian’s president. Several prominent supporters of the coup are a corporate lawyer working for the mining company Freeport-McMoRan who has close links with Trump’s advisor, Carl Icahn and a Fadli Zon, vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives. Closely associated with this group is Hary Tanoe, Trump’s primary Indonesian business partner, who is building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta.

Carl Icahn’s Freeport lawyer was videotaped not long ago at an ISIS swear-in ceremony, where he was one of two people presiding as a group full of young men pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. The program of massive street demonstrations, aimed at bringing down the Jokowi elected government, has been endorsed by radical Islamic Indonesians who have gone to Syria and joined up as ISIS fighters.

This once again raises critical ethical questions regarding Trump’s business interests with Indonesia’s unsavory underworld. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nikki Haley 4-18-2017

18, April 2017                                   Nikki Haley

During the “Women in World Summit” on April 6, the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, was heckled repeatedly by a hostile audience. Sadly, she was attempting to defend the indefensible policies of Donald Trump. As exasperated members of the audience called her out several times, Haley made the absurd comment that “we have to express American values. We are the moral conscience of the world.” Oh really! Haley would do well to read a primer of US misdeeds throughout its short history from the genocide of Native Indians, enslavement of the African Americans, internment of Japanese Americans to its more recent misadventures.

Perhaps, Haley is unaware of the coup orchestrated by the United States and the United Kingdom which overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953 to steal their oil which was gifted to the British and subsequently became British Petroleum.

The US then replaced Mosaddegh with a US puppet, the Shah of Iran, who unleashed a reign of terror on dissidents using the dreaded Savak, Iran’s secret police. It is not surprising that the Iranians still harbor fierce resentment towards Britain and the US.

In 1954, The CIA overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo by another US puppet, Carlos Castillo Armas who continued to exploit poor peasants to enrich the US, United Fruit Company. This move triggered a bitter civil war which has deepened Guatemala’s poverty, civil strife and created a huge refugee crisis.

In 1971, - in the events preceding the birth of Bangladesh, former President Nixon and his Secretary of State Kissinger provided massive military support to the brutal Punjabi military of West Pakistan to crush East Pakistan’s Muslim Bengalis. Over 500,000 perished in the ensuing conflict.

In 1973 the United States overthrew the democratically elected Chilean dictator President Allende, a supporter of Chile’s poor. He was replaced by another US puppet, Augusto Pinochet who killed and “disappeared” tens of thousands.

The US also orchestrated  coups in the Congo, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, and Grenada.

Space does not permit a complete summary of US transgressions but older readers may remember the disastrous wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and more recently the invasions of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The US continues to send billions of dollars to the Gulf States which have been used to wage war on their neighbors. Saudi bombing on neighboring Yemen has created a huge humanitarian crisis. No, Ms. Haley the US is not the moral authority of the world. It is a waning empire that is guilty of imposing its military power and covert operations (the CIA) to subjugate weaker nations. As the daughter of Sikh parents, Haley would do well to study and follow the basic pillars of Sikhism, “the principles of universal equality, brotherhood and sisterhood.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Afghanistan Bombing 4-16-2017

16, April 2017                            Afghanistan Bombing

In an effort to demonstrate his toughness and decisiveness, Trump authorized the US military to drop “the mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan. What a despicable way of describing an instrument of mass killing which will surely intensify hostility towards the US and prolong the conflict. Why not call the bomb “the father of all bombs”? – after all it is invariably men who wage war.
Why are we continuing to wage on the Afghans traumatized by decades of war.
The 21,600-pound bomb reportedly unleashed an explosion equivalent to 11 tons of TNT with a mile-wide blast radius. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history, extending into its 16th year and has been a monumental failure.  The war hawks have been empowered by the Trump administration and seem to have abandoned diplomacy in favor of brute force.
Firepower will never subdue ISIS or the Taliban into submission. More and more innocent people will die which will surely enrage and radicalize more people to join their ranks. Prior to the latest US bombing, the Afghan people have opposed ISIS and the Taliban terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The latest US bombing will further traumatize the Afghans especially the children.  Decades of war has reduced Afghanistan to an environmental and ecological disaster.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Missile attacks 4-11-2017

11, April 2017                          Missile attacks

The public performance of President Trump and his team responding to their first major foreign policy challenge hardly inspires confidence.

Just days before the strike, Trump and his close associates all stated that Syria’s civil war was no longer a major US concern.

Sensing the political fallout following the chemical attack, Trump backtracked and launched missile strikes to a largely abandoned hanger. According to the London Guardian, the White House contacted Russia to give them a “heads up” of the impending strikes. Let us hope “mission accomplished doesn’t morph into mission creep.  As a footnote, Trump personally profited from Raytheon’s sudden surge in stock value.  The missile strike harkens memories of the disasters wars in Vietnam and Iraq,  which started in much the same way.

The missile strike also raises troubling questions of their legality. According to the US Constitution the president may only take unilateral action, without Congressional approval, if there is an imminent threat to the US. This is an extremely dangerous precedent. Let us remember one strike does not make a strategy. If Trump’s compassionate genes have finally kicked in he should immediately lift the travel ban on Syrian refugees – otherwise his actions will be interpreted as self-serving.
The temptation to unleash America’s awesome war machine is both seductive and addictive and extremely dangerous in the hands of Trump who operates more on impulse than intellect. What is urgently required is the application of soft power not mighty hammers.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Syria 4-7-2017

7, April 2017                                     Syria

Never failing to lose an opportunity to score political points over his erudite predecessor, Trump faulted Obama for not following through on his red line ultimatum in Syria’s civil war.
Trump rightfully condemned the recent “chemical attack as reprehensible” contradicting his earlier advise in 2013 “not to attack Assad” citing it was not America’s problem.” This was followed by a barrage of tweets repeating the same advice, NOT to attack Syria” as “there is no upside and tremendous downside” and telling him to “stay out of Syria.” In a further statement which should have raised multiple red flags, Trump endorsed Russia’s support for the demonic Assad.

In May 2016, in a further clarification of his “hands off” policy, Trump tweeted “bigger problems than Assad.” He even ignored the advice of VP Pence who favored air strikes. In 2015 Trump told CNN “Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we, care?” In the general election, Trump admonished Hillary Clinton and Obama for pushing for “immediate regime change in Syria.” Then in another major flip-flop, Trump criticized Obama for failing to remove Assad. His invisible secretary of state, Tillerson, also flip flopped initially advising a “hand’s off” policy then changed to a more hawkish position.

A “shock and awe” strike on Syria would in the short term, dispel Trump as a weak and indecisive president and distance himself from the bare chested czar of Russia.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Trump’s curse 4-4-2017

4, April 2017                        Trump’s curse 

Contrary to his campaign pledge to hang up his golf clubs and work for the American people, Trump now spends an excessive amount of time golfing and vacationing at his Florida resort. Readers may recall how he mocked Obama for indulging in an occasional weekend golfing with his friends. Sadly, Trump’s offspring have been cursed with the same lust for money capitalizing on the Trump name. Son-in-law Kushner is wobbling right on the edge of an ethical precipice. Swing state members of Congress are cursed with their support of Trump and may lose their seats in the mid-term elections. Eight-term Congressman Devin Nunes is in free fall after his clock-and-dagger escapades at the White House. His chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee is in serious trouble. Paul Ryan, once Republicans rising star, is reviled by the Freedom Caucus and the Dems. Ryan suffered the ultimate humiliation by his boss who urged his followers to tune in to “Judge Jeanine,” of Fox News who demanded Ryan relinquish his speakership. Reince Priebus is the Trumpcare’s fall guy and has faded into obscurity. Chris Christie who was recently invited to the White House, has been cursed by Trump’s son-in-law for indicting his father. Sean Spicer has an impossible task as a “defense lawyer”, bobbing and weaving to defend Trump’s policies and manic tweets. And last but not least are the Trump voters who have been duped by the world’s biggest con man.   

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Rex Tillerson 4-1-2017

1, April 2017                           Rex Tillerson

It was profoundly disturbing to witness Rex Tillerson’s effusive greeting and photo op with Turkey’s leader, President Erdogan. Perhaps, Tillerson is unaware that Turkey is rapidly sliding towards a dictatorship. He failed to raise US concerns over mass arrests of protestors, a purge of political opponents and a fierce crackdown on the news media. President Trump has shown an unhealthy fascination for dictators – Egypt’s General Sisi,  Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the gun-toting Duterte of the Philippines. Turkey is set to hold a referendum next month which may extend Erdogan’s presidency to 2029.

Currently, Turkey is waging a brutal war with the Kurdish minority which comprises twenty five percent of the population. Following the unsuccessful coup, Turkey has dismissed and imprisoned 130,000 people from their jobs. Over 6,300 academics have been fired and fifteen universities have been closed. A staggering number of journalists, fifty percent of the world’s total, are languishing in jail in Turkey.

If Trump is serious about his promise to crush and defeat ISIS he needs to push for greater autonomy to the Kurdish minority. Tragically, the Kurds are fighting on three fronts, Assad’s Syrian fighters, ISIS and Turkey.

Tillerson needs to resist Trump’s efforts to gut the State Department. Soft power is far more effective than relying on the barrel of a gun.  Tillerson may be an expert on extracting oil from the ground but he is clearly a lightweight in statecraft.