Archive for the On Foreign Affairs Category

Stumbling Towards Armageddon!

Posted in Did Russia Interfere in the US Election?, On Foreign Affairs, On Nuclear War with tags , , on December 18, 2016 by playthell
atomic-finger
What the end of the World Looks Like
 On the Danger of Covert Cyber-Wars between Nuclear States

As I write a very scary scenario is developing that features a rapidly escalating conflict between the US and Russia.  From all appearances it seems that we are in a state of cyber-warfare with Russia and millions of Americans are giddily pushing our government to become more aggressive in taking the offensive!

The catalyst for this growing hostility toward Russia, a nation situated on the other side of the globe thousands of miles away that Americans love to hate, is an assessment by our intelligence agencies that the Russian government tampered with our recent presidential election in an effort to help elect Donald Trump…who is far more pro-Russian in his views that Hillary Clinton; a warmed over cold warrior with long standing anti-Russian attitudes.  As a consequence of the spook’s conclusions regarding a covert Russian cyber assault on our political process, there is a growing cry among Americans for president Obama to do something dramatic in order to teach the Russians a lesson they will never forget.  They are crying out for a full scale cyber-war while apparently giving but little consideration to where it could lead.

Of all the bizarre behavior that human beings engage in, the euphoria that accompanies the decision to go to war is the ultimate folly. For whatever the outcome there will be bloody murder, massive carnage and destruction, and squandering of large quantities of the nation’s treasures that are making war. The strange and tragic character of warfare is highlighted by the fact that only human beings, who claim dominion over all other animals due to our uniquely developed brains which enable us to reason, engage in the systematic slaughter of their own species.  Yet despite the best efforts of our greatest philosophers, scientist and other deep thinkers, alas no one has found a formula for ending this plague upon humanity.

Yet it is indisputable that in the age of nuclear armed states that stockpile doomsday weapons of mass destruction with the capacity to destroy all life on this planet, humanity will find a way to end war or war will put an end to us. I wish I could share the optimism of Mao Tse Tung, the Chinese revolutionary philosopher/activist, who confidently proclaimed “The bomb will not destroy man…man will destroy the bomb.  The atomic bomb is a paper tiger.”  But knowing what I know about nuclear weapons, having seen them up close and gaining an intimate knowledge of their destructive capacity while serving in the United States Strategic Air Command, empowered with a Top Secret security clearance, I am far more aware than most citizens of the world as to the danger their very existence poses to our survival.

Indeed, I believe that every nation that stockpiles nuclear weapons is existentially engaged in a crime against humanity that dwarfs all the crimes of Nazi Germany….it ain’t even close!   It is no accident that General George C. Marshall, the most important American military officer from the Second World War, was deeply concerned that by dropping atomic bombs on Japan Americans would eclipse the Nazi’s war crimes! Yet when I entered the Strategic Air Command 15 years later, the colonel who introduced us to the atomic weapons on the base at Glasgow Montana – whose mission was the nuclear destruction of the Soviet Union – cavalierly dismissed the bombs dropped on Japan as “little more than fire crackers compared to the ordinance that we have on this base.”  He pointed out that the blast power of those bombs was the equivalent of 20.000 tons of TNT and the ordinance on our base had “megatons capacity.”

The Colonel went on to point out that if fully armed, the 25 bombers on our base could wreak enough destruction that the continuation of life on earth would be problematic.  That was in 1960, over half a century ago, when nuclear weapons system were relatively primitive compared to those deployed by the US and Russia today.  And it has made the world a far more dangerous place.  When I was in SAC the main strategy for nuclear war centered around intercontinental Strato-Bombers, mainly the B-52 on the American side, and some comparable aircraft on the Russian side.  The Nuclear Triad existed then – bombers, submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles – but the bombers were the main delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.

A half century later this equation has radically changed; it is the ballistic and cruise missiles that are now the main nuclear strike force, and these weapons are largely dependent upon computers in the launch process. Herein likes the potential for an accidental catastrophe that could destroy our planet.  In times past the means to launch a nuclear war required a great technological/industrial complex.   But today a computer whiz sitting in a cave in Pakistan could possibly provoke a nuclear exchange by hacking into the military computer systems of Russia, China or the USA.   They only need to access one, and make them think they are under attack by the others to start a nuclear war.

Hence when President Obama talks publicly about launching cyber- attacks against Russia, and threaten to do some of them as covert actions, he is setting the stage for a third party to step in and wreak havoc.  Nothing that any of the experts on Cyber-warfare have said addresses this very real possibility.  What the world needs now, most of all, is for Russia, China and the US to convene an urgent summit meeting to hammer out a treaty regarding the use of Cyber-space, just like they have done regarding germ warfare and poisonous gases.

Nevertheless, this event, Russian interference in the US election, should be treated as just another incident in the long history of international espionage; a practice in which the US has engaged more vigorously than any other nation state.  The US has subverted elections; organized the assassination of foreign leaders, overthrown democratically elected governments; engaged in torture; trained torturers and militarily attacked unoffending nations thousands of miles from our shores and slaughtered well over a million innocent souls whose only offense was that they sought to organize their societies in ways that Americans disapprove of.  And these actions are justified by recourse to the bogus doctrine of American Exceptionalism, a dangerous myth with no basis in historical fact.

That these transgressions are not well known to a willfully ignorant US electorate is part of our tragedy.  Yet with such a tawdry record the US government’s pretense that the Russian hacking of the Presidential election represents some special species of evil that they have never seen before is ludicrous and dangerous hypocrisy.  And it is rapidly fueling a hysterical hatred for Russia that could force US leaders to take some actions that we shall soon regret.

Failure to convene an international conference between nuclear armed states with the greatest haste could well lead us down the path to extinction. In the meantime, the critical question facing Americans is whether the election of Donald Trump – a man who lost the popular vote to Hillary by almost three million votes, won the Electoral College by less than a hundred thousand votes spread over three states, and is wholly unqualified for the job – is legitimate.  This is the issue that should consume our interests at this historical moment.

Is The Donald Legit?

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

An incompetent Demagogue who got elected President

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Watch Dr. Stephen Cohen Explain US Russian Relations
http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/12/17/exp-gps-1218-stephen-cohen-us-russia-cold-war.cnn
Our most learned and insightful Russian Scholar speaks to CNN
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For a quick lesson on Nuclear Weapons watch this video

 What would Nuclear War be like?

https://youtu.be/tW7IgKJWtqk
Watch this brilliant lecture with dramatic graphics on Nuclear War
Presented by Dr. Irwin Redlener
Columbia University Professor 
World Renowned authority on disaster Preparedness
 (What Would Happen in Washington DC was Nuked?)
https://youtu.be/WCme_K6MYLY
A Presentation of the History Channel
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
December 18, 2016

It Was Bound to Happen!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Nuclear War with tags , on November 24, 2016 by playthell

a-new-russian-missile-ii

A Russian Nuclear Missile capable of hitting US Targets.

Reflections on the New Russian Missiles

Often virtually alone among American pundits, I have repeatedly warned about the danger of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe.  My abiding fear is that, given the vast superiority in conventional forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – an American led military alliance whose raison d’etre was the containment of the Soviet Union by military encirclement – the continued expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe will eventually lead to nuclear war.  Hence I have argued against such menacing intrusions into the region, because given the critical role of computers in the launch function of nuclear weapons systems: Accidental nuclear war is more likely than ever.

This is due to two major factors: The US refusal to recognize Russia’s Sphere of Influence, and Article Five of the NATO Treaty which commits the US to engage Russia militarily should they have a military conflict with Latvia!  Alas, very few Americans are even aware of this fact, let alone understand that it could precipitate a conflict that could destroy the world.  In fact, most media commentators talk about the antagonism between Russia and NATO i.e. the USA, as if it were a wrestling match not a march toward Doomsday.   The deployment of this new missile system forces us to confront the terrifying reality of nuclear holocaust.

The question being asked by most American foreign policy analyst is “why now?”  The answer given by a professor at the Naval War College, who serves as a consultant to MSNBC, is that there are two basic reasons for President Putin’s decision to deploy the missiles just now: Putin’s “contempt” for President Obama, and based on the things Trump has said regarding improving relations with Russia Putin feels that Trump would never go to war due to a conflict between Russia and a former member state of the Soviet Union.

I think it is more the former than the latter; Putin would have considered such a move too risky earlier in the Obama presidency, especially when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  An anti-Russian hawk whose views were forged in the heated environment of the Cold War era, such a move on Putin’s part, although perfectly reasonable in view of NATO’s strategy of encircling Russia with military proxies, would have been a dangerous act of brinksmanship.

And under a Clinton presidency would have plunged the world to the edge of disaster.  Hence if there is any silver lining to be found in the dark clouds that surround the election of Donald Trump, it is that he does not share Hillary’s hostility and paranoia regarding Russian military power and Putin’s intentions.  Although it has been used against him by Democrats and Republicans alike whose attitude toward Russia was forged during the Cold War, Trump’s position that we should be friends with Russia rather than enemies, and NATO is a dangerous anachronism whose cost is far greater than its benefit to the US is the more enlightened position.  Even it is true – as his critics commonly claim – that Trump has no real knowledge of the situation and is just guessing: He is like the broken clock that’s right twice a day.

The most surprising thing regarding the deployment of these new Russian missiles is that it should come as a surprise to anyone who has been observing NATO’s strategy in Eastern Europe with any degree of objectivity.

a-new-russian-defensive-missile-batteryIskander Missile Battery in Kalingrad

I have written repeatedly this would happen, and Professor Stephen Cohen- arguably the most insightful American scholar on Russia – has issued many dire warnings that NATOs aggressive actions  was pushing Putin into a corner and he would be forced to take a stand.  Now it has happened and the world is a more dangerous place because of it.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was unambiguous about Russian intentions in deploying the Iskander Missiles:

“Russia is doing all that is necessary to protect itself against the backdrop of NATO’s expansion toward its borders. NATO is indeed an aggressive bloc, that is why Russia is doing everything that is necessary.  Russia has all the sovereign rights to take the necessary measures across all the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Although Russian officials are reluctant to specify the exact model of missiles they deploy, Viktor Ozerov –  the Senator who Chairs the Defense and Security Committee in the Upper House of their parliament – told the news channel Russia Today that the Russian decision to deploy these new missiles was a response to the danger to Russian security posed by the US cruise missiles recently deployed to Poland and Rumania – two former members of the disbanded Warsaw Pact, the Russian dominated counter-part to NATO.  Senator Ozerov explained:

“One of the reasons why Russia opposed the deployment of the American ABM [anti-ballistic missile] system in Europe was the concern that this infrastructure may be quickly converted to deploy strike systems, in particular land-based cruise missiles. These concerns are being confirmed today.   In response to that we will be forced to beef up our air and space defense system in that direction, [and to] deploy additional forces to defend our military facilities and command centers. This includes the deployment of S-400 and Iskander systems in Kaliningrad, and the formation of new units in the Western and Southern military districts”

Both of these missile systems are defensive in nature.  The Iskander system is capable of firing cruise and ballistic missiles, and the S-400 is an anti-missile system designed to protect critical Russian sites such as cities and strategic missile silos, both of which are critical to the survival of the Russian nation.  Hence in view of NATO’s steady encroachment into the Russian sphere their statement to the Associated Press that the Russian missile deployment “does not help to lower tensions or restore predictability to our relations”  or “avoid incidents and the risk of misunderstandings” rings hollow.

Like a town crier in the night, Professor Cohen has been sounding the alarm in a thus far futile effort to get American policymakers to turn away from the road to war with Russia.  Reading his cautionary writings in retrospect they seem like exhortations from Old Testament prophets warning the Princes and Powers of their time to reject the path of death and destruction and choose the path of live preserving righteousness.

 Conventional NATO Forces amassed on the Russian Border
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The US would not permit similar Russian forces in Mexico or Canada

Cohen argues that this build-up is unprecedented even during the last 40 years of the US/Russian Cold War and amounts to the opening of a “NATO Eastern Front.”  This kind of military mobilization accompanied by bellicose rhetoric and saber rattling, looks like preparation for war to a country that has been invaded from the west twice and lost millions of its citizens in their struggle to resist.

Due to America’s self-righteous arrogance fueled by the dangerous mythology of “American Exceptionalism” – which is shared by both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but ironically not Donald Trump – is pushing us straight on course for a military conflict with Russia.  Professor Cohen candidly points out the suicidal folly of this policy.

What NATO is mobilizing there is a lot more than a couple of divisions here and a couple of divisions there, some armor here and some there.  We need to understand that tens of thousands of western troops will be parked now permanently, they may say that they are rotating, but they are there permanently on Russia’s borders. Along with nuclear-ready missiles, along with a lot of tanks and, above all, in Russia’s eyes, the missile defense installation.  The US builds up forces all around Russia and then blames Moscow for Holding on to Nukes this is so serious, so fraught with the possibility of war.”

Alas, According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, who are the world’s foremost authorities on the causes and consequences of nuclear war:  “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”  To note the dire state of the human predicament, as I write the scientist have set the Doomsday Clock at three minutes before midnight!  Let us hope…and pray if you are the prayerful type, that our leaders can be persuaded to change their nihilistic course before the hand strikes midnight…..

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Dr.Stephen Cohen on the Myth of Missile Defense

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
November 23, 2016

The End of the World is Near!!!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Nuclear War, On Sports!, On the 2016 Presidential Election, You Tube Classics on September 21, 2016 by playthell
a-terryfying-nuclear-explosionA Vision of Doomsday

Sixty Minutes Exposes the Doomsday Machine

God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign/No more water/The Fire Next Time!

This is an exceedingly strange political season where the bizarre has become common place.  For instance a New York real estate huckster and transparent con man with no experience in government is threatening to defeat the most qualified candidate in US history for the presidency.  Yet the fact that there is no serious mention, let alone discussion, of the unique horrors of nuclear weapons and the growing probability of an accidental nuclear war is the strangest thing of all.

For despite the false sense of security most Americans enjoy, believing the end of Communism and the Cold War with what was Soviet Russia has removed the danger of nuclear holocaust, it ain’t necissarily so.  It is a comforting but dangerous illusion that could lead to a catastrophe which would put an immediate end to human civilization and eventually all life on this planet.

Far from being hallucinations hatched in the fevered imaginations of nervous Nellies, the danger of nuclear war is as probable today as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the Early 1960’s; the most volotile nuclear confrontation since the introduction of atomic weapons into modern warfare with the bombing of Japan during World War II.

Anyone who doubts how close the US and Russia came to destroying the world in their fight for Spheres of Influence – portions of the globe located close to the territory of major powers that claim them as being under their influence – should see Robert McNamara’s film The Fog of War.  McNamara was the US Secretary of Defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the US Navy put a blockade around Cuba and challenged the Soviet fleet on the high seas to prevent them from delivering nuclear missiles to that small Island, which had been attacked by the US in a CIA led a covert action intended to overthrow the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro known as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion.”  As a result of this US aggression against Cuba to prevent them from establishing a socialist economy they formed a military alliance with Russia and requested the missiles for protection.

Robert McNamara

PCC-53242 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. January 12 , 1961. DoD photo by Oscar Porter, U.S. Army. (Released)

He Presided over the Missisle Crisis

The world came so close to destruction by nuclear war as a result of the confrontation the blockade provoked with the Soviet Union that even a half century later Robert McNamara had not come to terms with the part he played in this near catastrophe for mankind.  In his documentary film McNamara tells us how he was ready to engage the Soviet Union in an all-out nuclear war and was obsessed with finding out if his counterparts on the other side were also ready to engage.  When they told him that they were also prepared to launch their nukes McNamara was profoundly shaken and contemplates the madness of it all.  The thing that perplexed him the most was the fact that highly educated sane and rational men were prepared to destroy the world!

The relevance of this frightening tale for us today is that we are on the verge of provoking a similar crisis with Russia through our insane policy of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe; even though the Cold War is officially over and the Communist Party has been banned in Russia. As I write President Obama is giving his final speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations extolling the end of wars between major nations.  Yet despite his lofty rhetoric, soaring eloquence, impeccable logic and Solomonic wisdom the reality of US-Russian relations do not match his heroic optimism.

Even as the President speaks the US and Russia have thousands of Nuclear missiles targeted at the other’s cities and towns,  each armed with warheads over 50 times more powerful than the devastating bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima – the only time such a weapon was deployed in the history of the world.  To just stockpile such weapons is an unspeakable horror, but the fact that they are armed and on high alert – which is to say that they are on line and can be fired by computers – is a monstrous crime against humanity.

General James Cartwright

general-catwright-iii

Warning against the danger of accidental Nuclear War

When we consider the claim made by General James Cartwright, the former head of the US Strategic Command, which has responsibility for deploying our nuclear forces, that attempts by hostile forces to hack into our nuclear weapons system average ten million a day, our present nuclear strategy of keeping our land based Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles – ICBMs – armed and on high alert can only be considered a manifestation of collective madness. Since the hackers only have to get it right once!

This is why General Cartwright has been vociferously advocating disarming them and taking them off alert, pointing out that we are no longer in a cold war footing with Russia, where instant response from these missiles are necessary. The General, who knows what he is talking about, considers this policy dangerous folly that could instantly become fatal for the earth.  Alas, the fact that there is no discussion of this clear and present danger is irrefutable evidence of a flaw in human character that could well lead to the extinction of our species.

Thus the CBS Sixty Minutes feature story of October 18th,The New Cold War, should be viewed as a revelation; a final Wake-Up call to pull back from the brink of extinction; to turn away from the path to doomsday that we are presently trudging.  Done in the grand style of fact based reportage that has characterized the journalistic product of Sixty Minutes, the report provides us an unprecedented look into the command structure of America’s nuclear forces.  It is at once enlightening and frightening, for it allows a look into the abyss and see how the world could end in a bang.

The report begins by taking us aboard the USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class American nuclear submarine, the most destructive weapon in the history of the world.  The Kentucky is twice the length of a football field and is armed with 200 independently targeted nuclear warheads – enough to destroy every major city in the US and Europe!

If it were an independent nation it would have more weapons than Great Britain – which has 160 operational warheads – and only 100 less than France, which is reducing its stockpile.  Canada, our neighbor to the north has none; it dismantled its stockpile in 1984 and repudiated their use in a treaty signed in 1998.  And China has around 260 warheads.  However the US has 14 Nuclear armed subs in the “Trident” class such as the Kentucky.

Alas, the Trident submarines are but one leg of the US Nuclear “Triad” which includes intercontinental bombers and land based ICBMs: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.  Altogether the US arsenal stockpiles 6, 970 nuclear warheads and is second only to Russia, which maintains 7, 300 warheads.  Yet because of their explosive power the US arsenal is the most destructive force on earth.

In the Sixty Minutes report Captain Brian Freck, Commander of the Kentucky, explains the protocols under which he would launch his doomsday weapons, and he leaves no doubt that if these conditions were met he wouldn’t hesitate to shoot his deadly load. Viewers of this report should pay close attention to the casual way in which Commander Freck talks about taking an action that would set in motion a chain of events that would surely destroy civilization.

Commander-In-Chief

President of the United States Barak Obama visited Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq April 7. This was Obama first trip to Iraq as commander in chief and took time to talk to the service members and civilians serving here.

Recieving big love from the troops in Iraq

Admiral Cecil Haney
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Commander of the US Nuclear Triad

When we leave the Submarine and are ushered into the super-secret operations center of the US Strategic Command, where we are introduced to Admiral Cecil Haney, a very powerful man that virtually no one has ever hear of, including myself, despite the fact that I served in the old Strategic Air Command with a Top Secret security clearance under General Curtis Lemay, back in the day when the B 52 Strato-bombers were the heart of the US nuclear strike force, and I  have been studying and writing about the dangers of nuclear war for years…..often alone among American pundits.  By virtue of my Top Secret clearance I was privy to the war fighting plans of SAC, and serving under General Lemay –whose colleagues on the Joint Chiefs nicknamed him “The Mad Bomber”- during the heat of the Cold War, a hot war seemed a real possibility.

Cast from a different mold than the burly, crude, bombastic Lemay, Admiral Haney is an Afro-American officer and gentleman who is soft spoken, slight of stature, and elegant of style and manner.  Yet he is the supreme commander of the entire nuclear Triad, a far more destructive force, and answers only to President Obama; who appointed him to his Command. Like the President, the Admiral has a very impressive academic record.

Haney grew up in Washington D. C. and graduated from the Naval Academy – which is harder to get in and out of than Harvard – and rose through the ranks based upon brilliant performance.  Although he says that President Obama would invite his advice in the few minutes he would have before ordering a nuclear attack, should they disagree he would have no hesitation in carrying out the president’s orders.  “I am a soldier and I will carry out the orders of my Commander-In-Chief,” said Admiral Haney.   After listening to these men who would be tasked with giving the order to incinerate millions of men, women and children discuss their mission with a near cavalier attitude I was reminded of the philosopher Hanna Arendt’s intriguing thesis about “the banality of evil.”

If America’s doomsday weapons were launched today it will be a decision made by two elegant, brilliant, Afro-American gentlemen: President Obama and Admiral Haney. The irony here is thick and obvious.  For most of my life we were told “It’s a white man’s world,” but at this moment in time the fate of the earth resides in the hands of two very wise black men!  It is a dubious honor and a supreme irony that a society still so rife with racism that a morally deformed, intellectually lightweight charlatan and buffoon like Donald Trump could become a serious pretender to the presidency, buoyed on a wave of white racist resentment, could have invested such awesome power in these black men.

It is a power one associates with the Gods.  And what this Sixty Minutes report makes clear is that it is a power only the God’s should possess….no mortal – especially one as fatally flawed as Herr Trump – should hold the power to destroy the world.  Hence the paramount problem urgently facing mankind as I write, is ridding the earth of all nuclear weapons…putting the atomic genie back in the fuckin bottle!

In his acceptance lecture upon winning the Nobel Prize for literature William Faulkner assured us that whatever happens, come what may, mankind will endure.  This faith was echoed on the other side of the globe in a different tongue, by the great Chinese revolutionary poet and philosopher Mao Tse Tung, who led the mass movement that transformed China from a feudal to a modern society.  The Great Helmsman dismissed atomic weapons as “paper tigers” and declared “The Bomb will not destroy man; man will destroy the bomb.”   I hope they are right, and if I were a religious man I would pray.  But being a prisoner to reason and an ardent student of human history….I am not so sure they are right alas.

What I am absolutely certain of is that the mere existence of atomic weapons impeirls our continued existence…and if we do not soon put an end to them they will surely put an end to us!   As things stand at this hour the preeminent experts on the question of nuclear annihilation at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist have their Doomsday Clock set at three minutes to midnight! Which means the end of the world is closer than you think.

The Most Destructive Weapon in the World
a-nuclear-submarine
A waste of wealth and technological
Double Click on link to see video and Transcript of CBS Report
 http://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/60-minutes-the-new-cold-war/
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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 21, 2016

 

Heeeeare’s Donnie!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags , , on June 25, 2016 by playthell

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, at his Turnberry golf course, in Turnberry, Scotland, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

A Chump on the Stump

 Dumb Dangerous Donnie Cuts the Fool in Scotland

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, loves to talk about all the great lessons he learned from his daddy, but apparently old Fred Trump never told his son it is far better to be thought a fool than open your big moth and remove all doubt!   From the moment Trump’s helicopter landed at his golf resort and was met by reporters he immediately let the world know that he is clueless about world affairs.

Trump walked up to the microphone and announced that he supported the people of Scotland’s decision to “take your country back” by voting to leave the European Union.  His remarks elicited snickers of derisive laughter from the press on the scene as well as the commentators on the set of WNBC’s Morning Joe.  Their laughter was provoked by the fact that Trump evidently did not know that two thirds of the Scots had actually voted against the decision to take Britain out of the EU!  It was par for the course with Dumb Donnie.

Never able to pass up a chance to mouth off whether or not he has any idea what he is talking about, this proved to be just the beginning of a series of harebrained comments. Unlike all other major party candidates for the American presidency instead of visiting with officials of the country in an attempt to develop personal relationships, Trump concentrated on promoting his two golf courses in Britain.   Hence when he was asked what he thought about the fact that the Pound was being devalued by Britain’s exit from the EU, Trump replied that he thought it would be good for his business because the weak pound would make the United Kingdom an attractive vacation choice for American tourists.

Donnie showed not the slightest glimmer of regret for the trials of the Scottish people; instead he revealed his true colors as a New York real estate hustler – a gang of economic predators whose values rank several notches below the ethics of Barbary pirates – and began presenting a sales pitch for the luxury apartments and restaurant located on “the best par three in the world.”  He then described the state of the art sprinkler system he had installed and raphsodized about the beauty of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks.  Trump was shameless in pitching his properties and got so caught up in his sales presentation that for a moment he appeared to forget where he was; pointing to the lighthouse that contained some especially plush suites and declared: “This lighthouse is very important to Florida.”

The Donald resembled the bumbling cartoon character “Mr. Magoo,” with that goofey cap pulled down on his head, and he sounded as silly as he looked.  When asked if he thought the breakup of the EU was a good thing, he responded with a rambling anecdote about some German friends that really loved their country but was considering immigrating because of all the undesirable aliens being allowed to settle there.  Trumps answers were so off the wall that one of the reporters asked if he consulted with any foreign policy experts.  To wit Dumb Donnie said yes but they were just advisors and offered different opinions.  He went on to say that he saw no reason to meet further with foreign olicy experts, especially any who have been instrumental in formulating foreign policy in the last five years. Hence it came as no surprise that when Trump was asked to point out the members of the Scottish government in attendance he couldn’t.

Trump’s performance was so far beneath what seasoned political reporters expect from a potential president of the USA, more than one of them described it as “surreal.”  Mike Barnacle, one of the commentators witnessing this fiasco on Morning Joe, felt compelled to remark “We would be remiss if we didn’t point out that in great historical moment for Great Britain Trump choose to talk about real estate zoning laws.”  He was a complete embarrassment to educated Americans, and the idea that this clueless clown could be our next president seemed at once ludicrous….and terrifying.

The extent of his cluelessness was nowhere more convincing than when he began to explain how the vote to quit the EU was sparked by the fact that the Brits and Scots hate President Obama, and they did it just because he was against it. Yet the fact is that President Obama is widely admired in Britain and Dumb Donnie is both feared and despised.

Evidence of the contempt in which the Scots hold him could be seen in everything from newspaper editorials  – which he does not read, nor appear to have anyone reading them for him – to the Mexican Flags they were flying near his properties; to the box of golf balls with Swastikas on them presented to him by a Scottish citizen; to Scots waving a large banner reading “Dump Trump!”

The Scots were Clear in their Sentiments!
Donald Trump in Scotland Dump Trump
They want no part of “The Donald”

Donald Trump - Greatest Liar

There was nothing that Dumb Donnie said which suggested he has any idea how the European Union came into existence, what its mission is, nor its accomplishments.  Verbose airhead that he is Donnie just prattled on ad nauseum with no  hint that he was talking like a fool, to the shock and amusement of the onlookers.   Just as when he said on an earlier occasion when asked who was advising him about ISIS: “I mostly consult myself because I have a good brain.”

A pompous megalomaniac and shameless charlatan, Trump spouts nonsense as if it were divine wisdom. Watching his act conjures up memories of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini – two other charismatic demagogues who excited the passions of insecure and untutored mobs in search of a savior, and soulless amoral elites that knew better but thought they could use them as point men in their quest for power.***  History tells us how that turned out, and prudence dictates that we heed the warning of the late Harvard Philosopher George Santayana: “Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.”                                                                                                                                                                                                    ***************          

                To see Trump’s Speech and News Conference  double click on Link        

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****For a thorough discussion of the Similarities between Hitler, Mussolini and Trump my multi-media presentation on this question see: “Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?”

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
June 24, 2016

The World According to Hillary

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Israel, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on April 3, 2016 by playthell
 Hillary Clinton at Stanford
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

 Hillary Clinton Reveals her Core Beliefs on Foreign Policy

Anyone who is listening to the contenders for the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will recognize that Hillary’s expertise cannot be matched by the Republican frontrunners.  Nevertheless, some of her policies make less sense that those of Donald Trump, a loose cannon whose misbegotten election to the US presidency most thoughtful observers of international relations around the world believe would be an unmitigated disaster.

The problem is that some of Hillary’s views on critical internationl issues are calcified relics of her history as a Cold War hawk.  She is committed to interventionist policies and says that NATO is America’s smartest investment.  For one who believes that the maintenance of NATO is a blunder of historical proportions that violates the spirit of the agreement with Russia ending the Cold War, and puts this nation in greater danger of a hot war with Russia than during the Communist era, a war which could go nuclear, the former Secretary of State sounds detached from political reality to me.

It is ironic that with her superior knowledge of foreign affairs Ms. Clinton should show less wisdom that Donald the Clown regarding the aims of US foreign policy.  For instance, Trump opposed the invasion of Iraq and correctly pointed out that the overthrow of Sadam Hussein would destabilize the region.  I had written the same thing on the eve of the invasion (See: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq,” on this site)   Today Trump went on the record stating his views on NATO, America’s most important and costly military alliance, and to my shock, surprise and profound disappointment  Trump’s ideas were decidedly more realistic and advanced than those of Clinton’s.

While Clinton champions NATO, Trump questions its continued existence, correctly pointing out that NATO is an anachronism that has outlived its original purpose.  In a recent “on the record” interview with the Editors of the Washington Post – where he first introduced his advisors on foreign policy and national security matters – Trump had this to say regarding America’s leadership of NATO:  “We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore, NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”  He also questioned the contributions of other members of the alliance “They are not doing anything,” he concludes.  On foreign policy Trump is like a broken clock that is wrong almost all the time but gets it right twice a day.

In order to point out the absurdity and danger of US commitment’s to NATO Trump had this to say regarding the conflict in the Ukraine, one of the most dangerous situations in the world: “

“Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we’re doing all of the lifting. They’re not doing anything. And I say: ‘Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren’t they dealing? Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war with Russia.’ “

A more accurate description would be to the second deployment of nuclear weapons in an international conflict, and this time it will be Dooms Day.  World wars are a phenomenon of the twentieth century, the next war between industrial nations will go nuclear and that will spell the end of the homo-sapiens species.  Although Trumps pronouncements lack elegance and are innocent of real erudition, despite their crudity some of them hit home.

His view of the Ukraine situation raises the fundamental questions that we should ask when evaluating America’s role there, a place where we could end up in an accidental war with a Russian military whose nuclear arsenal rivals our own.  And what is worse, because of our commitments to NATO we could become entangled in a military conflict with Russia should they have a military incident with Estonia!  Hence Trump is right to question both the relevance of this 20th century Cold War alliance designed to contain an enemy that has vanished from the face of the earth: The Soviet Union.

The fact that both Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz quickly attacked Trump’s position on NATO, and foreign interventionism in general, testifies to the truth of the axiom “Politics make strange bedfellows.”  The truth is that, despite differences in approach, both Clinton and Cruz deeply believe in the myth of “American Exceptionalism” and they also believe the United States is the rightful leader of the world and all nations must fall in line behind us and follow our wise counsel.  They were unambiguous on this point, and therein lies the problem.  Ironically, Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump are closer in their views of the US role in the world than they are with their party counterparts Clinton and Cruz….and Kaisch too.

Trump’s skepticism about US military involvement in foreign countries is greatly influenced by the amount of American treasure expended on the security of our allies.  For instance he says of South Korea, a country where the US still maintains military bases after 60 years – a blunder the Republican chicken hawks are eager to repeat in Iraq – and has never signed a treaty ending the war we fought on the Korean Peninsula all those decades ago.  “South Korea is very rich, great industrial country,” says Trump,  “and yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do.  We’re constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games — we’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.”

Yet despite these insights Trump often comes across as some sort of idiot savant when discussing national security issues; he is like the proverbial cow that gives a good bucket of milk then kicks it over.  For example his insane in the brain suggestion that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear arsenals!    And his whacko plan to construct a wall on the Mexican border and coerce the Mexican government into paying for it; or his proposal to ban over a billion Muslims from the US, despite the fact that many are coming from countries America considers valued allies; or his call to attack the families of terrorists – a war crime reminicent of the Nazis!

Alas, to the horror of thoughtful people all over the globe, Trump took his animus toward Muslims to the point of utter madness in suggesting that he may nuke ISIS, and refused to take the option of firing nukes in Europe “off the table.”  Anybody who understands anything about nuclear weapons knows that they are weapons of mass genocide against civilian populations!  Hence, to even contemplate such a crime against humanity makes Trump unfit to be President – either because he is a dangerous ignoramus who does not understand the implications of what he is proposing, or he is the type of morally deformed cretin that would casually commit mass murder.  Next to this guy, and Teddy Cruz too, Hillary looks like a paragon of Solomonic wisdom…as dangerous and antiquated as some of her core beliefs are!

We need only examine her views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as expressed in her speech before AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee – the most important organization in the all-powerful Israel Lobby, which maintains an effective strangle hold over US Middle East Policy.  Her performance was a shameful genuflection before the policies of the Israeli government, no matter how outrageous those policies appear to thoughtful principled Americans interested in a just peace in that troubled region.

Hillary Goes Nuts at AIPAC!

Hillary Clinton speaks to AIPAC

The Beleagured Palestian People are Invisible to her
 While this is what the rest of the world is witnessing
Palestinian GirlA Palestinian town reduced to rubble with the advanced weapons supplied by the US

To hear Hillary tell it only the Israeli’s have justified grievances; she showed no objectivity at all and no empathy for the plight of the beleaguered Palestinian people.  It is hard to know how to evaluate her statements.

The Real World of Palestinian Children

Palestinia boy in the sights of Israeli Soldier

Forever in the Gunsights of armed Israeli Settlers and Soldiers!

If Hillary truly believes her version of the relations between Israel and the Palestinians she is a nincompoop who never should have been Secretary of State, because despite the voluminous intelligence reports available to her about the realities of the region she appears to have learned nothing alas.  On the other hand, if she does not believe this Barney and Bailey view of Israeli/Palestinian relations then she is a shameless charlatan.  Hence we are left to pick our poison: Charlatan or fool for president!

As I write Clinton is demonizing President Putin with a paranoid view of his designs on Europe  that is a relic of the Cold War era, while attacking Trump for his suggestion that the US greatly reduce its role in NATO.  Yet even a cursory interrogation into the nature of this alliance should raise a red flag for those who want to steer this country away from a policy of perpetual war – and the increasing possibility of a catastrophic war with Russia.   Alas, whatever the considerable virtues of Hillary Clinton, she is no dove in matters of war and peace.

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
 March 25, 2016

To Hell with The Turks!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , , on February 11, 2016 by playthell

Erdogan of Turkey

Recep Tyyip Erdogan: President of Turkey

Barack’s Restraint in Syria is the Right Policy

The recent outburst by Recep Erdogan, President of Turkey, accusing the US of supporting terrorists in Syria is a slap in the face of an ally whose military might alone prevented Putin from leveling part of his country, maybe even bombing major cities like Ankara or Istanbul, when he recklessly shot down a Russian fighter Jet that he claims drifted into Turkish air space while flying a combat mission over Syria.

If anybody had doubts about the extent of Erdogan’s recklessness that incident should have convinced them.  If Putin had not exercised restraint – a decision the Republican controlled Congress would have impeached president Obama over had he shown similar restraint if an American plane had been downed by Iranian fire – the US and Russian would have been at war.

By virtue of our treaty commitments as a member and dominant power in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, we would be required to come to the aid of Turkey with military force.  In such a state of hostility anything could have happened because Russia cannot successfully wage a conventional war against NATO forces, which could be deployed from the territories of countries surrounding Russia that were a part of the Soviet Union until the break-up of the USSR after the fall of the Russian Communist Party in the last decade of the 20th century.

As I have written elsewhere it was extreme folly to expand NATO – a military alliance formed to contain the expansion of the international communist movement in the post-World War II period – into Eastern Europe after the collaspe of communism.   As Professor Stephen Cohen, and other serious scholars of US-Russian relations have pointed out: It was a move that violated the spirit of the accommodation Russia made with the West ending the Cold War.

As I write the leaders of NATO are making plans to supply arms to these former Russian republics, which I view as a step towards doomsday because in any military conflict with NATO Russian will quickly introduce the nuclear deterrent by putting their weapons systems on alert.   And no knowledgeable observor doubts that the Russian nuclear arsenal is quite capable of obliterating every city in the NATO alliance within an hour!

Hence the US is doing a death dance with the devil in forming alliances with little countries whose existence has no real bearing on the national interests of the United States, countries like Turkey. These misguided and dangerous foreign policy decisions are driven by the bogus ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” which underlies the assumption that the US has a divine right, even an obligation, to shape the rest of the world in our superior image.

It is this ideology which keeps the US in a state of perpetual war by promoting the idea that American leadership of the world is essential; it is a refrain that we constantly hear from the Republicans in Congress and is a belief shared by most Americans, including many Democrats, who are willing to squander trillions of dollars on foreign military adventures while our roads are barely traversable in many parts of the country, our bridges are falling down, our electric grid is out of date, and the water supply of an entire city is poisoned by lead from antiquated pipes and Republican budget cuts. The belief in American Exceptionalism has led us into otherwise inexplicable military alliances with third rate countries like Turkey.

After only recently taking an action that could have thrown us into a military conflict with Russia, which could plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust, Prime Minister Erdogan – a pugnacious fool who is perhaps the most admired political figure in Turkey if judged by electoral success – has now accused the Obama administration of supporting Terrorism against Turkey.  After declaring that the US was responsible for “A sea of blood” in Syria, because of its support of Kurdish forces in the YPG, which the US says are the only fighters that have proved effective against ISIS, Erdogan went on the accuse the UN of double crossing them and said to Americans:

I told you many times: Are you with us or with this terrorist organization?  Is there a difference between the PKK and the PYD? Is there a difference with the YPG?  We have written proof! We tell the Americans: ‘It’s a terror group.’ But the Americans stand up and say: ‘No, we don’t see them as terror groups.’”

These comments provide irrefutable evidence that further US military involvement in Syria would be a fool’s errand, extreme folly.  The Syrian conflict is playing out in a theater built on quicksand, and in the fog of war it is hard to tell who’s who.  We have only to carefully consider President Erdogan’s statement to see that this assessment is true.

The paramount objective of the US in Syria is to overthrow the regime of Bashar al Assad and destroy the militant jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: ISIS.  And they want to do this without putting American “boots on the ground.” This means the actual fighting must be carried out by surrogate forces.  However the problem with US policy is that it is contradictory and therefore they are working at cross purposes.

Fierce Kurdish Forces to the Rescue
Kurds PKK
PKK Fighters: Reliable Allies against ISIS

To overthrow the Assad regime and defeat ISIS is a paradoxical proposition because the other forces fighting Assad are often indistinguishable from ISIS and thus are only interested in overthrowing the Syrian government and replace it with an Islamic regime.  There may be some forces interested in replacing the dictatorial Assad regime with a liberal western style democracy, but the evidence shows that they are few and far between.

President Obama understands this; that’s why he has steadfastly refused to arm any of the factions, although there are signs that his resistance is crumbling in the face of persistent and slanderous Republican criticism.  The truth be told, the two most effective military opposition forces to ISIS are the Iranians and the Kurds.  Alas, the Iranians are unacceptable to the Republicans and the Kurds are unacceptable to Turkey.

Alas in the swirl of claims, counter-claims, and ancient animosities that fuel the conflicts in the region, one ally’s hero is the other’s villain. Hence while the US views the Kurdish forces as a godsend, the Turks view them as denizens of the devil.  This is because the Kurdish militants in the PKK have been fighting the Turks in a protracted struggle for independence and when they take territory they hold it with the intention of making it part of a new Kurdistan.   But this is of little concern for the US, whose fundamental objective is crushing the ISIS Caliphate ruled by Caliph Ibrahim.  In a New York Times article of August 12, 2015 titled “Why Turkey is fighting the Kurds who are Fighting ISIS,” we are told by Idris Nassan, a senior Kurdish official from Kobani:

“Kurdish fighters have been coordinating with the American military since last October. From cloaked rooms in northern Syria, members of the militia known as the Y.P.G. have relayed intelligence and coordinates for potential airstrike targets to an American operations center hundreds of miles away.The resulting strikes have in turn helped the Kurds seize a broad stretch of territory along the Turkish border from the Islamic State. The role of the coalition jets has been essential to these victories.”  

Since 1978, when the Kurdish Workers Party – PKK- was founded, the Turkish government has attempted to suppress them by force of arms – much like the American Civil War.  According to some estimates thousands of Kurds have been slaughtered by the Turks at a cost of around 450 billion dollars. Not willing to admit the legitimacy of their claims for a national homeland as a human right, the Turks have labeled them “Terrorists.”  But since the US was born as a result of a fight with their British colonial masters many Americans, including the Obama administration, view them differently.

Without this historical perspective it is impossible to make sense of Turkish President Erdogan’s hysterical charge. Alas it is an irresolvable contradiction, we view the Kurds as valued allies in the fight to defeat ISIS, and the Turks view them as dangerous “terrorists” who are trying to dismember the unitary Turkish State.  Erdogan wants Barack to join him in defeating the nationalist goals of the Kurds, but Barack wants no part of that…and rightly so.   The French are also disatisfied with Barack’s refusal to be drawn into extraneous fights that deter or retard the fight against ISIS, and wants him to commit more American forces to the fight.  I say the president should keep his eyes on the prize and to hell with Turkey…France too!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
February 11, 2016

Playing Russian Roulette with the World!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on November 24, 2015 by playthell
Russian Fighter PlaneThe Russian Fighter Shot Down by Turkey
Drifting into Nuclear War over Syria

Caliph Ibrahim is laughing his ass off!   Here the powerful and meddlesome “crusaders” from the East and West – Russians and Americans – the infidels and swine eaters that have come to destroy his Caliphate, are about to destroy each other in a tragic/comic fiasco.   In fact, looking at the issues involved it is hard to foresee a solution that will not end badly.  The only question is how badly.

The Turkish Air Force has shot down a Russian fighter plane flying combat missions over Syria; the Turks say the Russians violated their airspace but the Russians deny it.  The radar records released by the Turks is confusing; which means that even if the Russian aircraft did violate Turkish air space it was  a close call and it lasted only a few moments before the Turks shot them down.

Listening to the television talking heads, even on CNN, one gets no clue as to how dangerous the present situation is. Hence most Americans have no idea of the catastrophe that confronts us as this dangerous drama unfolds.  As I write NATO is in an emergency meeting and President Putin is meeting with his advisors formulating a response.   This is the kind of situation that I have long feared and warned against; the kind of situation that could lead to a military confrontation between the US and Russia.

Looking at the situation objectively, one could argue that this was bound to happen.  The proximity of combat forces on conflicting and sometimes confusing missions made a US/Russian confrontation inevitable. The Russians are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government, with whom they are allied.  Hence Russian firepower is directed at all the armed opponents of the Syrian government.

This puts them at odds with the US and NATO, who is committed to overthrowing the Syrian government; which makes NATO de-facto allies of ISIS, Al Qaeda, al Nuesra, and other Islamic Zealots whom NATO has defined as their paramount enemy. Hence the idea of a moderate opposition is a dangerous fiction; any arms that the US gives to anti-Assad forces will end up in the hands of the Jihadists.

As I write the world awaits the Russian response to the Turks and  depending what they decide to do in retaliation, the security of the entire world could suddenly be at stake.  The fact that a third rate country like Turkey could plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust demonstrates in no uncertain terms the folly of the NATO alliance, where the USA is bound to join Turkey and even Estonia in any military conflict in which they are engaged.

This might have made some sense during the Soviet era when were in a Cold War with Russia and forever trying to encircle and outflank them.   But it makes no sense at all today.  Alas, the nature of the alliance means it is a relic from another era, one that endangers US national security far more than it enhances it.  As I write President Obama is making a speech at a news conference with the President of France, whom he is huddling with in an attempt to put together a strategy for destroying the ISIS Caliphate.

However his speech rings hollow against the brewing crisis over the downed Russian plane by a member of NATO.  Yet I have listened intently and there has been no mention of the growing crisis in relations between the US and Russia.   If ever there was a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees this is it!   The eradication of ISIS is a picayune matter when compared to the possibility of an armed conflict between the US and Russia.

If any country had willfully shot down an American plane there would be no question of retaliation with superior military force.  Alas, should Russia respond in the way Americans would we could end up in a war between the world’s foremost nuclear  powers and NOBODY can  say how it will end.  Alas, while the French leader blathers on about building a grand coalition against ISIS at the White House, it seems further and further away.

This point is underscored by the anemic response to a question from reporters to President Obama.  His response was woefully inadequate given the gravitas of the issue.  Instead of expressing regret for the downing of the Russian plane he chose to lecture Russians on their policy of supporting the Assad government.  I thought it was arrogant and unfeeling.  Given the fact that Russia cannot hope to prevail in a military conflict with NATO, it would not surprise me if we find ourselves on the brink of a nuclear confrontation in the following days.

The Russian jet crashed into the Mountains
Turkey-Syria-Russian-warplane-downed.jpg III 
And no one knows where it would lead

When a similar question about Turkey’s downing of the Russian fighter was put to the French Prime Minister, he followed the example of President Obama; pontificating about who the Russians must target in Syria, although they have no clue who is and is not a “terrorist” among the forces fighting President Assad. The self-righteous declarations of the US and French presidents cannot fail to be insulting to the national pride of the Russians. All the pugnacious buffoons who have been calling for establishing “no fly” zones in Syria, like the Republican presidential candidates, should take note.  These are very dangerous times indeed and pugnaceous motormouth airheads can only add to the danger!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 24, 2015