Category: Foreign Policy

Trump’s post-truth presidency

Trump’s attack on his own intelligence services was both extraordinary and expected

By Hussein Ibish in The National, Feb 2, 2019

 

This week starkly illustrated a remarkable feature of Donald Trump’s administration: this president does not do policy; he only does politics.

Policy professionals always struggle to square sound foreign policy with the effective domestic politics that political leaders require. This tension cannot be completely resolved, although its intensity varies, depending on circumstances and personalities.

This conundrum has now sunk to its American nadir.

It’s not just that most current administration officials are internationalist hawks, while the president has neo-isolationist impulses.

It’s that Mr Trump simply does not see international strategic problems as arising against a backdrop of verifiable realities. Instead of a realistic representation of circumstances as they are, akin to a photograph, he sees a blank canvas, on which he can paint whatever surrealist landscapes best suit his agenda.

Hence, this week’s bizarre confrontation between Mr Trump and all 17 US intelligence agencies, led by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

On January 29, Mr Coats, flanked by the CIA and FBI chiefs, presented their 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment to Congress.

The annual National Intelligence Strategy document, on which it is based, is usually released in a redacted public version and a classified one for those with clearance.

This year, intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of issuing their entire strategy publicly.

Mr Coats said that they wanted to reassure the public that the agencies remain committed to producing “nuanced, independent, and unvarnished intelligence”, and not serving any other purpose.

That honesty and independence has been repeatedly questioned by Mr Trump who routinely denigrates US intelligence services, dismisses their findings, has compared them to Nazis and even sided with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over them.

The intelligence chiefs were essentially saying that, in light of the accusations the president has levelled against them, transparency was their best defence.

They knew they were provoking an argument they needed to win.

Certainly, they will have anticipated howls of protest from the White House, given that so many of their “independent and unvarnished” findings contradict core assertions that the president frequently cites as political rationalisations.

While Mr Trump constantly hypes the “progress” he has made with Pyongyang, the assessment finds that North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons” because its leaders view them as “critical to regime survival”.

It states that Russia has, indeed, engaged in election meddling, information warfare, and efforts to divide the West and undermine the post-Second World War international order. Mr Trump disputes all of this. He welcomes the division of the West, denigrates the international order, and dismisses allegations of Russian interference.

The assessment holds that, for all its other malign behaviour, Iran has not yet violated the terms of the nuclear agreement, which the president cites as a major reason for withdrawing from the deal.

While Mr Trump insists that ISIS has been thoroughly crushed to justify his order to withdraw all US forces from Syria, the assessment finds that it remains a potent threat.

And, most damningly, it makes no mention whatsoever of the entirely fictional “national security crisis” that has prompted Mr Trump to deploy thousands of US forces at the Mexican border and supposedly justifies building his wall.

The fact-based reality offered by the Annual Threat Assessment flatly refutes many fundamental claims Mr Trump relies on to justify his actions.

After the gauntlet was thrown down by the intelligence community, Mr Trump, inevitably, picked it up and hurled a series of insults, via Twitter, back at the agencies he characterises as the “deep state”. These included saying the intelligence services were simply “wrong” and that they “should go back to school”.

This is a particularly disturbing aspect of the relentless campaign of deinstitutionalisation this column has been consistently tracking. Yet again, Mr Trump is lashing out at another authoritative source of information and analysis that remains free of – or is actively resisting – his control.

He has admitted that he denounces the “fake news media” to blunt bad news or criticism of him by the press. He attacks his own intelligence services to rebut their contradictions of his ceaseless false claims.

As for the FBI and other police, Mr Trump is evidently concerned about what they may uncover about his activities, and those of his associates who have not yet been arrested or imprisoned.

Astonishingly, but true to form, he quickly compounded his assault on reality by tweeting that the intelligence chiefs’ statements had been “totally misquoted”, that they never really debunked his fraudulent claims, and that this profound and serious dispute isn’t real and was fabricated by the press.

Mr Trump’s biggest advantage in political and rhetorical fights seems to be his unique shamelessness and boundless willingness to lie when almost anyone else would at least think twice.

Clearly, there’s no room for “unvarnished intelligence” and other inconvenient facts that interfere with his political imperatives.

Mr Trump only does politics, but he heads a government full of highly competent experts. For their continued professionalism, they are traduced and abused by their own chief, who then blames journalists.

During an actual crisis – and there will eventually be one – the president and intelligence services must support each other with trust and confidence. But how can they, when the chasm between them is only widening as Mr Trump’s term staggers on?

Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States ­Institute in Washington

 

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/trump-s-attack-on-his-own-intelligence-services-was-both-extraordinary-and-expected-1.820751

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2019/02/03/trumps-post-truth-presidency/

What we should be talking about

 

Seems a mea culpa – Latin for “Oops!” – is in order. Who knew our prodigal practitioner could issue a challenge and then dictate rules of engagement for any who dared?  My last ramble apparently strayed far afield from doctor’s orders.

Oops! #2 – my last letter left the impression that China’s “Great Wall” was something of a success.  It was not.  Like Sam Cooke’s song, don’t know much about history.  Especially sixteenth century Ming Dynasty history.  It is a wonderful world, but I’ve got to admit – don’t know much about Chinese history during any century.

Then I read Michael Schuman’s article “China Built a Big, Beautiful Wall, Too. It failed.”  Everything I thought I knew about that wall was wrong.  So wrong it reminded me of an unscripted television moment in 2008.  MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was attempting to defend the indefensible, reciting all the usual excuses for yet another assault on besieged Gaza.  Israel calls it “mowing the lawn” – a genteel euphemism for its periodic butchery of a trapped people with nowhere to run.

Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski was a guest on Joe’s show that day. When finally allowed to respond, Brzezinski was brutal. “You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it’s almost embarrassing to listen to you.”

Reading Schuman’s article (in Bloomberg.com) it was obvious I, too, had a “stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on” in sixteenth century China.   Schuman’s conclusion is a sobering, cautionary tale for our own times.

“The ultimate lesson of the Great Wall of China is that a physical barrier, no matter how expensive and impressive, will fail if detached from a broader set of policies to alleviate the sources of insecurity along the border. The Ming never figured that out. Hopefully Washington’s mandarins will.”

Still part of that dwindling minority fired up for Trump’s big, beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for (when hell freezes over)?  Ask yourself what it is about this particular border in the year 2019 of the Common Era that preserves it for all eternity. Why not the borders of 1845 or those that may exist a thousand years from now?

Trump’s “Great Wall” is an exercise in arrogance, a billboard for bigotry. “On this side we are exceptional Americans. On that side, you are not exceptional – stay away.”  Walls deny our own sordid history.  For centuries we have meddled where we did not belong and we have stolen what is not ours.  Like it or not, Americans play a part in much of today’s human misery.

We who have much have a duty to repair what we can, to apologize and pay for what we cannot, and to learn to see our neighbors as equal to ourselves regardless of color or creed or which side of a border we find ourselves on.

This is what we should be talking about.

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Photograph: AFP

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2019/01/25/what-we-should-be-talking-about/

My conscience leaves me no other choice

Time to Break the Silence on Palestine

By Michelle Alexander, Jan. 19, 2019

 

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the lectern at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. The United States had been in active combat in Vietnam for two years and tens of thousands of people had been killed, including some 10,000 American troops. The political establishment — from left to right — backed the war, and more than 400,000 American service members were in Vietnam, their lives on the line.

Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement.

King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and added, “that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”

It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.

I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States.

Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns.

Similarly, many students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of the McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission, which blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers.

Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”

And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.

We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel.

And finally, we must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel, a system complete with, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians — such as the new nation-state law that says explicitly that only Jewish Israelis have the right of self-determination in Israel, ignoring the rights of the Arab minority that makes up 21 percent of the population.

Of course, there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. The evidence regarding King’s views on Israel is complicated and contradictory.

Although the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians, King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement.

Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, “I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.”

He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.

Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand. Yet I find myself in agreement with the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who concluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.”

Indeed, King’s views may have evolved alongside many other spiritually grounded thinkers, like Rabbi Brian Walt, who has spoken publicly about the reasons that he abandoned his faith in what he viewed as political Zionism. To him, he recently explained to me, liberal Zionism meant that he believed in the creation of a Jewish state that would be a desperately needed safe haven and cultural center for Jewish people around the world, “a state that would reflect as well as honor the highest ideals of the Jewish tradition.” He said he grew up in South Africa in a family that shared those views and identified as a liberal Zionist, until his experiences in the occupied territories forever changed him.

During more than 20 visits to the West Bank and Gaza, he saw horrific human rights abuses, including Palestinian homes being bulldozed while people cried — children’s toys strewn over one demolished site — and saw Palestinian lands being confiscated to make way for new illegal settlements subsidized by the Israeli government. He was forced to reckon with the reality that these demolitions, settlements and acts of violent dispossession were not rogue moves, but fully supported and enabled by the Israeli military. For him, the turning point was witnessing legalized discrimination against Palestinians — including streets for Jews only — which, he said, was worse in some ways than what he had witnessed as a boy in South Africa.

Not so long ago, it was fairly rare to hear this perspective. That is no longer the case.

Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about “the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.” Growing numbers of people of all faiths and backgrounds have spoken out with more boldness and courage. American organizations such as If Not Now support young American Jews as they struggle to break the deadly silence that still exists among too many people regarding the occupation, and hundreds of secular and faith-based groups have joined the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

In view of these developments, it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic.

This is not to say that anti-Semitism is not real. Neo-Nazism is resurging in Germany within a growing anti-immigrant movement. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose 57 percent in 2017, and many of us are still mourning what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history. We must be mindful in this climate that, while criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic, it can slide there.

Fortunately, people like the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II are leading by example, pledging allegiance to the fight against anti-Semitism while also demonstrating unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling to survive under Israeli occupation.

He declared in a riveting speech last year that we cannot talk about justice without addressing the displacement of native peoples, the systemic racism of colonialism and the injustice of government repression. In the same breath he said: “I want to say, as clearly as I know how, that the humanity and the dignity of any person or people cannot in any way diminish the humanity and dignity of another person or another people. To hold fast to the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child.”

Guided by this kind of moral clarity, faith groups are taking action. In 2016, the pension board of the United Methodist Church excluded from its multibillion-dollar pension fund Israeli banks whose loans for settlement construction violate international law. Similarly, the United Church of Christ the year before passed a resolution calling for divestments and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Even in Congress, change is on the horizon. For the first time, two sitting members, Representatives Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, publicly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In 2017, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, introduced a resolution to ensure that no U.S. military aid went to support Israel’s juvenile military detention system. Israel regularly prosecutes Palestinian children detainees in the occupied territories in military court.

None of this is to say that the tide has turned entirely or that retaliation has ceased against those who express strong support for Palestinian rights. To the contrary, just as King received fierce, overwhelming criticism for his speech condemning the Vietnam War — 168 major newspapers, including The Times, denounced the address the following day — those who speak publicly in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people still risk condemnation and backlash.

Bahia Amawi, an American speech pathologist of Palestinian descent, was recently terminated for refusing to sign a contract that contains an anti-boycott pledge stating that she does not, and will not, participate in boycotting the State of Israel. In November, Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for giving a speech in support of Palestinian rights that was grossly misinterpreted as expressing support for violence. Canary Mission continues to pose a serious threat to student activists.

And just over a week ago, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, apparently under pressure mainly from segments of the Jewish community and others, rescinded an honor it bestowed upon the civil rights icon Angela Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and supports B.D.S.

But that attack backfired. Within 48 hours, academics and activists had mobilized in response. The mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, as well as the Birmingham School Board and the City Council, expressed outrage at the institute’s decision. The council unanimously passed a resolution in Davis’ honor, and an alternative event is being organized to celebrate her decades-long commitment to liberation for all.

I cannot say for certain that King would applaud Birmingham for its zealous defense of Angela Davis’s solidarity with Palestinian people. But I do. In this new year, I aim to speak with greater courage and conviction about injustices beyond our borders, particularly those that are funded by our government, and stand in solidarity with struggles for democracy and freedom. My conscience leaves me no other choice.

Michelle Alexander became a New York Times columnist in 2018. She is a civil rights lawyer and advocate, legal scholar and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/opinion/sunday/martin-luther-king-palestine-israel.html

Photograph:  https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-hX02I7JY-oo/TluhEyG3WhI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/C8kqKo-euqA/mlk2.jpg or http://bit.ly/uQ6gKI

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2019/01/21/my-conscience-leaves-me-no-other-choice/

Everyone loves a parade

 

Dear editor,

George Bernard Shaw is credited with this bit of wisdom:  “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you.”  John Naisbitt, American author and speaker, was perhaps following that sage advice when he wrote “leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”

If you’re looking for a parade to get out in front of, there’s a ridiculous one right under your noses.  Day after day, and week after week, circus clowns prance and parade their blissful ignorance and brazen bigotry across these very pages.  Some rise, like the mythological phoenix, from the ashes of their self-imposed “burnout” exile to ponder the preposterous.  Others feel compelled to call down damnation on heathens and heretics alike.  And Democrats…

Our petulant president’s next barrage of mangled tweets will soon have us chasing new shiny objects, but the latest outrage du jour is remarkable Rashida Tlaib, newly representing in the hallowed halls of Congress.  Oldest of 14 children growing up in rough-and-tumble Detroit, she had the unmitigated audacity to use a common vulgarity to describe our purest President.  Republicans everywhere are clutching their pearls and swooning over her disrespect of Donald Trump.

No matter that our tangerine POTUS is on record using the same language and worse.  “You lie!” screamed a Congressman at Obama’s first State of the Union speech.  Remember?  Were your petticoats ruffled then?

Of course not.  You were too busy breathlessly following Trump’s intrepid quest for The Lost Birth Certificate.

To his beguiled Dear Leader personality cult, he can do no wrong.  He has never done wrong and yea, verily, will maketh America great again.  He will build a big, beautiful wall to protect us from caravans of impoverished invaders in flip-flops.  Mexico will pay for it.

To dream The Impossible Wall.  If you can’t smell its stupidity and sheer vanity, your olfactory sensibilities have utterly abandoned you.  How is a wall going to stop suicidal terrorists in airplanes?  Or home-grown vigilantes with assault rifles?

They must not teach history in medical school.  A recently thrown gauntlet insists walls always work.  Walls alone never work.  Hadrian’s Wall had garrisons stationed every Roman mile.  The Great Wall of China was built to rush defenders to wherever the enemy appeared.  The “wall” between East and West Germany was rigorously patrolled by shoot-to-kill soldiers.  Even the much-lauded wall holding Palestine’s refugees at bay and out of sight is adorned with phallic watchtowers and remote-controlled machine guns.¹

Not all walls work.  The walls of Jericho came a-tumbling down.  A trick pony got past Troy’s walls.  Jerusalem’s walls certainly didn’t prevent annihilation.

Walls are all about us and them.  About exceptionalism.  Walls are an immoral, ugly desecration of this beautiful planet.  Must we continue this selfish madness until her beauty is a long forgotten fable told only in the dust of whirlwinds?

Fortress America.  Is that what you want?  Tell me, patriots, are walls Christian?

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

¹ This sentence was slightly edited after I had already submitted this letter.  The original version read, “Even the much-lauded wall holding Palestine’s refugees at bay and out of sight has phallic observation towers and remote-controlled machine guns.”  The edited version has a slightly more contemptible ring to it…

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2019/01/16/everyone-loves-a-parade/

Well-orchestrated hysteria

In U.S. Media, Israel Is Untouchable

By Gideon Levy, Dec 02, 2018 4:01 AM

 

Marc Lamont Hill is an American writer and lecturer in communications at Temple University in Philadelphia, and also an analyst with CNN. In a speech last week at a United Nations conference he called for “international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

In a matter of hours, the skies collapsed into well-orchestrated hysteria. Seth Mandel, editor of the Washington Examiner, accused Hill of having called for Jewish genocide; Ben Shapiro, an analyst on Fox News, called it an anti-Semitic speech; Consul Dani Dayan tweeted that Hill’s remarks were like a “swastika painted in red,” the Anti-Defamation League said they were tantamount to calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. The inevitable outcome was not long in coming and CNN fired the rebel analyst on the very same day.

How dare he? What was he thinking? Where did he think he’s living, in a democracy with free speech or a country where dialogue about Israel is under the serious censorship of the Jewish establishment and Israeli propaganda? Hill tried to claim that he’s opposed to racism and anti-Semitism and his remarks were intended to support the establishment of a binational, secular and democratic state. But he didn’t stand a chance.

In the heavy-handed reality that has seized control over dialogue in the United States, there’s no room for expressions that may offend the Israeli occupation. On a liberal day it’s permissible to say “two states” as long as you do it in a whisper.

What would have happened if Hill had called for the establishment of a Jewish state between the Jordan and the sea? He would have safely continued holding down his job. Rick Santorum, the former senator, said in 2012 that “no Palestinian” lives in the West Bank. Nobody thought of firing him. Even Hill’s critic, Shapiro, has called in the past for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the territories (he backtracked on it a few years later) and nothing happened to him.

You can attack the Palestinians in America uninterrupted, call to expel them and deny their existence. Only don’t dare to touch Israel, the holy of holies, the country that exists above suspicion. And the height of chutzpah? Israel and the Jewish establishment keep on accusing the media, including CNN, of being slanderers of Israel. There’s no worse joke than that. Try to publish a critical article about Israel in a mainstream newspaper in the West – it’s getting more and more difficult, more often than not, impossible. But nothing will satisfy the lion’s hunger: The more he complains, the stronger he gets.

The key word of course is anti-Semitism. A lot has been written about the use Israel and its supporters make of anti-Semitism. And it works wondrously, it’s a magic word that silences people. There has not yet been a single critique of occupation that isn’t tagged as anti-Semitism. Everything is anti-Semitism: Hill is anti-Semitic because he favors a one-state solution, Roger Waters is an anti-Semite because that’s how Gilad Erdan described him at a conference last week about propaganda in Germany, UNRWA is anti-Semitic, and of course, BDS. The whole world is against us.

Last week there was a lot of fuss over a world survey of anti-Semitism conducted by CNN. It turns out that the Jews are not as hated as Israel would like: Only 10 percent said they had any negative feelings about them. Nearly four times as many people said they don’t like Muslims. Along with its worrisome aspects, the survey points up more than a few truths you can’t deny. Twenty-eight percent of those questioned said that anti-Semitism in their countries is a result of Israeli policy. A third believe that Israel takes advantage of the Holocaust to advance its positions. One in five thought the Jews have too much influence in the media.

Fire more analysts who dare to criticize Israel or suggest just solutions to the occupation – and more people surveyed will say what everyone knows: The Jews and Israel have an incredible degree of influence in Western media. Now you can call me an anti-Semite, as well.

 

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-cnn-firing-marc-lamont-hill-proves-israel-is-untouchable-in-u-s-media-1.6702572

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIIGuRuD7aY

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/12/02/well-orchestrated-hysteria/

This and that

Dear editor:

As I write this, the dust of Tuesday’s election has not yet settled.  Either our nation’s lurch towards full-blown fascism continues unabated, replete with swastikas and flag-waving, cross-burning white supremacy, and out-in-the-open Christianist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant bigotry.  Or perhaps – and hope springs eternal – reasonable voters have turned out in numbers that shout “our rights shall not be denied!”

My friend Mike Nunn is fond of reminding us we live in strange times.  Indeed we do.  Ever vigilant George is startled to learn that Arkansas’s brightest teachers and students are mostly liberals.  Surely, a conspiracy is afoot!  Mary is, as always, fixated on Benghazi and the sins of Democrats long gone and now inconsequential.  But God Bless President Trump, nevertheless.  Meanwhile, Billy Graham wannabe Lloyd offers us yet another altar call.  Just as we are, if only we weren’t…

To arms!  To arms!  A rag-tag caravan of impoverished refugees slowly approaches our southern border, bearing gifts “perhaps” of polio, drug sales, and even possible gang affiliations.  An invasion!  Where is Ellis Island when America really needs her?  A Villager pleads for civility in our national discourse, and then abandons the moral high road for a few shekels in arms sales (after all, Khashoggi wasn’t even an American citizen…).

Our very own local Donald warns us that only the 1611 KJV is flawless, and anything else is a fast foxtrot down the path to perdition.  And of course there’s the always verbose Bradley R. Glitz from Batesville, Arkansas, who appears about twice a week on these hallowed pages.  I swear he must be paid by the word, or at least for every time he refers to Democrats as socialists and communists.  According to his erudite rationale, if you dare vote for anything but Republicans, you are nothing but a slave to orthodoxy.

Indeed, we live in strange times.  Sign me a slave to orthodoxy,

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/11/05/this-and-that/

Which 9-11?

Dear editor,

One final observation, one final broadside against our balmy Benghazi! bellowers…  It is exceedingly curious that they fixate their wrath only upon the 9-11 of 2012, when four white Americans died in the violent anarchy of a civil war that we actively participated in.  No matter that it also killed tens of thousands of Libyans.  Libyans were neither white nor Christian.  To navel-gazing Americans, their deaths were inconsequential.

Curious that the 9-11 of 2001 is barely mentioned any more.  Almost 3,000 Americans died that day, but it seems that Dubya, good white Methodist Republican that he is, is beyond reproach.  Another 7,000 Americans died in the endless wars he and others spun up in that 9-11’s aftermath.  More than a million Iraqis and Afghans have also surely died, but then they were brown-skinned and few were Christian, so their deaths, too, were of little consequence.

That 9-11, and the thwarted “awakenings” after it triggered a tsunami of human migrations that are still roiling Europe.  They have died by the thousands trying to reach safety and the hope of new opportunities.  The Mediterranean’s sharks are well fed and dead babies routinely wash up on its glorious beaches, but these dead babies are usually Muslim, so it matters not.  The little heathens probably got what they deserved.

Curious that the 9-11 of 1973 is never mentioned.  Nixon’s CIA helped overthrow Chile’s first democratically elected (but tragically socialist) leader.  General Pinochet replaced Allende, who died on this particular 9-11.  Thousands were “disappeared” and it was common to see bodies along roadsides, or floating in Santiago’s Mapocho River.  Later investigations revealed more than 3,000 people killed and 32,000 tortured.  But then they were brown-skinned and did not speak English, and that was a long time ago.  We didn’t care then or now.  And besides, we’re cool with torture these days.

We could go on, and include the 9-11 of 1857, when Mormon zealots and their Paiute allies murdered 120 Missouri and Arkansas Americans trying to immigrate into Utah.  Let us pray they used machetes to expedite Trump’s hagiography.

America’s hands are hardly clean.  For more than a century, we have helped giant fruit corporations and anti-communist juntas turn tiny countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador into cesspools of violence and corruption.  Our “War on Drugs” is a losing proposition for everyone but gangs and governments.  We have sowed misery and we are reaping a whirlwind of desperate families at our borders.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”  Such eloquence rings hollow when all we yearn for is a new wall to keep out suffering humans who are only guilty of having undertaken incredible, dangerous journeys for one last chance to start over.

No, we are much too busy hating Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to even notice what we have allowed ourselves to become…

Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Photograph of “Augusto Pinochet en una imagen del año 1988” (AP). http://blogs.elpais.com/fondo-de-armario/2013/09/golpe-de-estado-de-pinochet-en-chile.html

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