Tag Archives: Trump administration

The Trump Administration’s Human Rights Confidence Game: Targeting Adversaries, Excusing Allies, by Doug Bandow

The Trump administration wields human rights as a cudgel; there’s no genuine concern for anyone’s human rights. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Promoting human rights is a central tenet of US foreign policy. Sometimes. In practice, Washington is most enthusiastic about defending life, liberty, and happiness where America has the least clout. And American policymakers most often remain silent when allied governments, whom the US could most influence, are detaining, torturing, and murdering opponents.

The Trump administration has taken this approach to an extreme, losing all credibility on the issue. For President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo human rights are a weapon to be used against adversaries. When friends are the abusers, the issue is quietly and speedily dismissed, never to be mentioned again.

Last week Pompeo presented the conclusions of his Commission on Unalienable Rights at the United Nations, attempting to shape the definition of human rights. The US was joined by 56 other nations in affirming that “Certain principle are so fundamental as to apply to all human beings, everywhere, at all times.”

It was a grand gesture. However, few robust liberal democracies that respect human rights joined Pompeo. Indeed, 46 of the supporting countries were rated not free or partly free by the group Freedom House: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Gambia, Gabonese Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Niger, North Macedonia, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

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Those Who Destroyed Yemen Must Be Prosecuted for War Crimes, by Doug Bandow

Helping one of the most corrupt governments on the planet wage a war on one of the poorest countries on the planet is a war crime for which US officials must be called to account. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:

That includes prominent American officials. Punishing the perpetrators is the only way to restore our credibility.

Workers search through debris at a warehouse, after it was reportedly hit in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July, 2, 2020. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently announced that it was providing $204 million in aid for the impoverished and war-ravaged country of Yemen. That sounds generous, but it’s the Saudi royals themselves who are responsible for most of the death, destruction, starvation, and disease in Yemen, in which 80 percent of the population, some 24 million, need outside assistance.

Riyadh has spent more than five years conducting a brutal air campaign intended to restore a pliant regime to power. The claim that the Kingdom is generously helping the needy is a bit like a man murdering his parents only to throw himself on the court’s mercy since he is an orphan. If Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted to help the Yemeni people, he would simply end the war.

But he won’t, at least in part because the Trump administration is underwriting the Saudi government’s murderous campaign. Why is the president forcing Americans to assist the Saudi royals, who respect no political or religious liberty and kidnap, imprison, and murder their critics? President Donald Trump appears to be almost bewitched by the licentious and corrupt Saudis.

Washington sold Saudi Arabia planes and munitions used to kill thousands of Yemeni civilians. American personnel serviced and refueled the same planes, as well as providing intelligence to assist in targeting Saudi strikes. That makes U.S. officials complicit in war crimes committed day in and day out for more than five years.

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The Escalating Crisis Over Iran’s Nuclear Inspections, by Scott Ritter

We’re seeing the all too predictable downside of the US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement—sanctions are the only leverage the US has on Iran, and they’re not working. From Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:

An IAEA resolution based on questionable Israeli intelligence has sparked a crisis with Iran that could spin out of control, warns Scott Ritter.

The Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration pulled out of last year is on the verge of collapse.

The National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament last Tuesday ratified a motion that required the Iranian government to cease its voluntary implementation of its Additional Protocol agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The motion, if turned into law, would represent a death knell to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), the groundbreaking agreement between Iran and the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union to end the crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.

There is still time before the matter could be brought up for a vote; indeed, the committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on July 6, and has invited Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif and Nuclear Chief Ali-Akbar Salehi to testify.

IAEA Resolution

The current crisis over Iran’s nuclear program was triggered by the IAEA Board of Governors, which on June 19 passed a resolution expressing its “serious concern” over Iran’s refusal to provide “access to the Agency under the Additional Protocol to two locations.” The resolution said that “discussions engaged, for almost a year, to clarify Agency questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear related activities in Iran have not led to progress.”

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The Embalming of Syria, by Edward Hunt

For the Trump administration the best Syria is a zombie Syria. From Edward Hunt at antiwar.com:

The Trump administration is doing its best to keep Syria dismembered and near death

The Syrian civil war, which has been raging since 2011, is one of the worst tragedies of the early twenty-first century. Approximately half a million people have died, about six million people have fled the country, and another six million people remain internally displaced. Much of the country lies in ruins, perhaps never again to recover.

The war is also far from over. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been gaining momentum, but his regime has failed to recapture many parts of the country. Multiple foreign powers remain active in Syria, including Iran, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and the United States. In the northwest, Idlib Province is dominated by tens of thousands of Islamist militants, many of whom are active in al-Qaeda-style terrorist organizations.

“It’s a kind of conflict where the kindling is sufficient for it to burn for decade after decade and continue to be an engine of jihadism and instability for the entire region and beyond,” a senior State Department official said early last year.

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US Treasury’s Steve Mnuchin Virtue Signals Economic Terrorism, by Finian Cunningham

US economic sanctions kill people as surely as its bombs and bullets do, although everybody seems to fill better about sanctions. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin seems to think that nations under the hammer of American sanctions should be thanking Washington for not attacking them militarily instead. How generous, how virtuous of Uncle Sam!

Speaking at the Doha Forum in Qatar last week, Mnuchin made a virtue of the US imposing economic sanctions on countries it dislikes because such measures, he claimed, were a way to avoid the worse alternative of war.

The reason why we’re using sanctions is because they are an important alternative for world military conflicts,” said the US Treasury Secretary.

The sleight of hand here is to portray Washington as somehow being more responsible and principled in its foreign policy by using coercion against other nations supposedly without harming civilians, damaging infrastructure or spilling blood.

Billionaire Mnuchin is living in a bubble of American propaganda if he thinks that economic sanctions are some kind of sterile lever which do not have any impact on human suffering. Sanctions are acts of war, conducted as other means to troop invasions, air strikes and naval blockades.

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Let Venezuela Decide Its Own Destiny, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The Trump administration is going to have to up its game if it’s going to do regime change in Venezuela. So far, nobody in the administration is publicly question whether regime change is even a good idea. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Who would be free themselves must strike the blow…

“By their right arms the conquest must be wrought.”

So wrote Lord Byron of Greece’s war of independence against the Turks, though the famed British poet would ignore his own counsel and die just days after arriving in Greece to join the struggle.

Yet Byron’s advice is the wise course for the United States, and for the people of Venezuela who seek to free their country of the grip of the incompetent and dictatorial regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Let the Venezuelans decide their own destiny, as did we.

As of today, Caracas seems to be in something of a standoff.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the U.S. and 50 other nations as president, has failed to persuade the army to abandon Maduro.

Yet he can still muster larger crowds in the streets of Caracas to demand the ouster of Maduro than Maduro can call out to stand by his regime.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Guaido announced that the regime’s final hour was at hand. But by midweek, the army’s leaders, including the minister of defense, still stood with Maduro.

Guaido’s opportunity seems to have passed by, at least for the moment. Maduro remains in power, though his generals, weighing the odds, have apparently been negotiating in secret with Guaido.

The Trump administration has backed Guaido, only to see him fail twice now at taking power.

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On to Caracas and Tehran! by Patrick J. Buchanan

In Washington, nothing succeeds quite like failure, which is why the Trump administration is pressing for regime change in Venezuela and Iran, the same policy that has led to a string of US failures around the globe stretching back to the 1950s. From Patrick J. Buchanan at antiwar.com:

In the Venezuelan crisis, said President Donald Trump in Florida, “All options are on the table.” And if Venezuela’s generals persist in their refusal to break with Nicolas Maduro, they could “lose everything.”

Another example of Yankee bluster and bluff?

Or is Trump prepared to use military force to bring down Maduro and install Juan Guaido, the president of the national assembly who has declared himself president of Venezuela?

We will get an indication this weekend, as a convoy of food and humanitarian aid tries to force its way into Venezuela from Colombia.

Yet, even given the brutality of the regime and the suffering of the people — 1 in 10 have fled — it is hard to see Trump sending the Marines to fight the Venezuelan army in Venezuela.

Where would Trump get the authority for such a war?

Still, the lead role that Trump has assumed in the crisis raises a question. Does the reflexive interventionism — America is “the indispensable nation!” — that propelled us into the forever war of the Middle East, retain its hold on the American mind?

Next week, Trump meets in Hanoi with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

While Kim has not tested his missiles or nuclear warheads in a year, few believe he will ever surrender the weapons that secure his survival and brought the U.S. superpower to the negotiating table.

Is Trump prepared to accept a deal that leaves a nuclear North but brings about a peace treaty, diplomatic relations and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula? Or are American forces to be in Korea indefinitely?

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Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache: Examining the Freak Show, by Fred Reed

None of the important people in the Trump administration are particularly admirable human beings. Fred Reed has a strong constitution. From Reed at theburningplatform.com:

American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren’t crazy. Today’s administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And–this is important–their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America. It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF  treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

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Trump Looks Set to Lock Horns With Europe Over Iran Nuclear Deal, by Middle East Monitor

The Europeans are looking like they might challenge US domination, breaking with the US over sanctions on Iran. From Middle East Monitor at theantimedia.com:

The Trump administration is apparently exasperated at the European Union’s bid to bypass US sanctions on Iran. Infuriated by the EU’s effort to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) agreed in 2015 when Barack Obama was in the White House, Washington has threatened to punish any efforts seeking to circumvent the sanctions.

The US government is said to be putting the Europeans on notice, saying that if they try to bypass the sanctions on Iran, they will be subject to stiff fines and penalties. A senior Trump administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity about EU efforts to set up an alternative payment method to allow trade with the Iranians told the Associated Press that the US “will fully enforce its sanctions and hold individuals and entities accountable for undermining them.”

European leaders, however, are unfazed by the threats and are said to be marching forward with the plan, which, if implemented, could further strain trans-Atlantic relations. AP reported that a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that preparations for the alternative system are “at an advanced stage.”

The EU is working on an initiative that will enable payments from companies that want to trade with Iran and offer protection from US penalties. According to Bloomberg, the proposal could be presented as early as today. EU government envoys are said to be discussing the “three nation initiative” in Brussels and looking into the “positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran.” A statement is expected soon.

 

Is the Trump Revolution Over? by Paul-Martin Foss

Has the establishment taken over the Trump administration? From Paul-Martin Foss at ronpaulinstitute.org:

A year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, analysts and commentators are assessing both his performance in the first year of his presidency as well as the outlook for the remainder of his first term. Entering office as a surprise winner and a political neophyte, many people didn’t know just what to expect from Trump. Would he do what he pledged to do as a candidate, or was his campaign rhetoric just a lot of hot air to bamboozle enough people into voting for him? One of Trump’s most popular promises was to “drain the swamp” and, while the President has tried to make some strides in that respect over the past year, there are concerning signs that any swamp draining may be coming to an end.

Personnel Is Policy

One of the primary rules in politics is “personnel is policy.” What a politician says he’ll do is less important than who he hires to implement his policies. In many cases, the people he hires may not agree with his policies and may work to surreptitiously (or not so surreptitiously) undermine and co-opt him. We certainly see this on Capitol Hill all the time, where class after class of freshman Congressmen enters Congress pledging to fix the way Congress works. Yet time after time they get corrupted by the system in Washington. Why is that? It’s because of the people they hire.

Coming into office often with no experience of how things operate in DC, they rely on their respective party apparatuses to staff their offices. They’ll hire Hill veterans as their chiefs of staff and legislative directors, staffers who are more concerned with the future of their careers and who consequently do everything they can not to upset party leadership so that they can maintain their ability to work on the Hill and work the government/lobbying revolving door. We’re seeing much the same thing happening in the White House today too, as Trump continues to hire establishment Republicans who wouldn’t be out of place in a Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, or John McCain White House.

To continue reading: Is the Trump Revolution Over?