Archive for the On Foreign Affairs Category

Hands Off Venezuela!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs with tags , on February 5, 2019 by playthell
Abrams and Pompeo: Hovering War Hawks

Is the US Engineering a Coup in Venezuela?

From the moment I heard that John Bolton was chosen as Trump’s National Security Advisor, I knew it was just a matter of time before the US would be involved in promoting armed conflict in foreign countries who chose a path of development, or foreign policy, that was not aligned with American foreign policy or perceived economic interests; the extent to which they allow private American corporations to dominate their economies.

The covert operation now underway in Venezuela is a classic case in point; there the largest oil pool in the world had come under government control through nationalization. And what is worse, the government was headed by Hugo Rafael Chavez, an Afro-Indian who was the youngest and first person of his racial background to become President of Venezuela, in which, like all the nations of Latin America, wealth and power was monopolized by a white oligarchy who proudly claimed descent from the Spanish Conquistadors.

Furthermore, the oil wealth of the nation was heavily invested in eradicating poverty; providing health care and educational opportunities to the lower classes; the people from whom Chavez came, which is why they loved him. Despite the hatred spewed against him by the oligarchs and the privileged affluent classes egged on by the US elite, Chavez was viewed as a genuine national hero by the poor and working classes of Venezuela, and also supported by radical intellectuals intent upon creating a more just and equitable society.

Yet the newspapers and broadcasters, which were owned by the oligarchs, conducted a vicious unceasing campaign against the progressive Chavez government which included scurrilous character assassination, and even hints that an actual assassination would be welcomed. No wonder he rightly saw them as the enemy of the people. It is the ultimate irony that Donald Trump, a pugnacious ignoramus and compulsive liar who has labeled the US press “enemies of the people” for simply reporting the facts about him; fulfilling their role as watchdogs over those elected to govern as mandated by the US Constitution, now defends the “free press” of Venezuela!

This campaign of disinformation and calculated lies against the Venezuelan government under Chavez was often echoed in the US corporate media, whose owners identify with the wealthy class in that country, and in the rhetoric of US politicians of both parties. When Chavez died of cancer and his close comrade Muduro took over the reins of government with a firm commitment to continue Chavez’s program, this hysterical propaganda campaign has systematically escalated to create a smoke screen behind which Mike Pompeo could appoint the old neo-con war hawk Elliot Abrams to manage American policy toward that beleaguered nation.

Abrams is a war criminal; he is responsible for the deaths of many thousands of innocent people in Latin America due to his involvement with the murderous Contras in Nicaragua; the death squads of El Salvador; and his support of the genocidal regime of military dictator Rios Mott in Guatemala – who was later convicted of genocide against the indigenous population. The only reason that Abrams was not convicted as an accomplice to this and other crimes against humanity is because he was an official of the American government, and the USA ignores the International Criminal Court when it is not in their interests to uphold the ICC’s judgements.

One need only look at the track record of the neo-cons during their ascendancy under the Administration of George W. Bush, and it is easy to recognize the danger they pose to pursuing a peaceful US foreign policy today. Right-wing Neo-con policy wonks from the Project for a New American Century such as Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and their sponsor “Dirty Dick” Cheney led us into the disastrous Iraq War against the protest of seasoned intelligence officers, scholars on the region, and concerned American citizens opposed to interventionist foreign wars – especially wars of choice against weaker nations that pose no danger to the USA like Iraq and Venezuela.

A deep thinking cosmopolite of humane vision, President Barack Obama pursued a different foreign policy; one that sought to empower international organizations such as the United Nations, and the Organization of American States. He also worked to build important international treaty alliances such as the Paris Accord on Climate Change. And he favored support for popular democratic forces against authoritarian leaders, especially in the Middle East during the “Arab Spring.” He also signed a major nuclear arms treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear stock piles, and opposed the development of new weapons; for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Alas, the Trump Administration has reversed that trend.

John Bolton, a pugnacous pootbutt nerd who always looks like his is still mad because the tough guns ate his lunch as a kid, is an unreconstructed neo-con hawk who is still committed to the PNAC vision of a unipolar world where the US is the only super-power and thus can impose its will upon the world with military might: A Pax Americana. Mike Pompeo is the point man for this retrograde policy, we saw this in his statements during his recent trip to the Middle East, especially his visit to Egypt, which was in sharp contrast to Barack Obama’s humane and visionary speech when he visited Egypt on his first trip to the Middle East early in his presidency. (See: “Of All the Places in the Muslim World Why Egypt?” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2009/09/17/of-all-the-places-in-the-muslim-world/

I warned that this guy was a dangerous snake when Dastardly Donald first appointed him Secretary Of State – See Vote No for Pompeo at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2018/04/13/vote-no-on-pompeo/. And Pompeo’s appointment of Elliot Abrams to run the State Department’s Venezuala Desk leaves no doubt about the return to an aggressive gun boat diplomacy in Latin America. Abrams first appears on the scene as an important player in US relations with Central American nations during the Reagan Administration when he organized illegal covert financing for the murderous right-wing Somosistas, aka “Contra’s” in violation of the Boland Amendment during the 1980’s.

This Amendment was a rider attached to the House approriations Bill of 1982, and specifically prohibited any American funding to forces attempting to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. It was named for it’s author Congressman Edward Boland, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and it passed the House 411-0! Abrams would later plead guilty to lying to Congress twice about his role in the Contra affair, but was spared jail time by virtue of a pardon by President George H. W. Bush – and old CIA spook.

Nothing gives us a better measure of the moral character of the man than Abrams’ response to the report of the United Nations Truth Commission on El Salvador. After examining 22, 000 war crimes committed by right-wing “death squads” during the 12 year Civil War between the traditionally white oligarchy and the impoverished Afro-Indio masses – in which Catholic Arch-Bishop Romero was murdered at the alter of the national cathedral while conducting mass – the Truth Commission concluded that 85% of the crimes were committed by right-wing forces funded by the Reagan Administration, a policy which Abrams played an important role in formulating. When the UN report was released Abrams was the US Assistant Secretary Of State for Human Rights, and his response was “The administration’s record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.” Obviously, there is no shame in this murderous clown’s game!

Alas, even this horrendous record does not exhaust the list of Abrams’ crimes. Ten years later, as a member of the PNAC cabal that seized control of US foreign policy after the 9/11 catastrophe, Abrams was an enthusiastic advocate for the invasion of Iraq. For an indepth analysis of the critical role neo-con policy wonks played in convincing George W. Bush see: “The Iraq War Was Spawned in a Think Tank” at, https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2011/05/06/the-iraq-war-was-spawned-in-a-think-tank/. Although this disastrous war cost the nation dearly in blood and treasure, and unleashed the dogs of chaos in the Middle East, Abrams and his PNAC goons remain unrepentant.
Abrams was also futzing around the White House lurking in the shadows when the Bushmen decided to launch and ill fated coup against Hugo Chavez, the elected leader of Venezuela. Although he remained in the background, Abrams’ Finger was all over this criminal enterprise. This is the man that Bolton has now selected to head the present US activity in Venezuela!

One need not be a prescient policy analyst in order to predict that the US will attempt to organize a coup in Venezuela in the near future. Many observers who are schooled in such matters believe that a coup is already underway. The signs are there and the blueprint is clear, for they have followed it before. The case of Salvador Allende comes to mind, where US induced economic instability led to social unrest, and the US government used that discontent to promote a coup led by the murderous fascist military strongman Agusto Pinochet, who literally murdered thousands of Allende supporters after causing the assassination of the country’s elected president and imposing a military police state on the populace.

Alas, I fear that we are witnessing a replay of that dreadful drama of subversion cloaked as democracy and carried out by economic sabotage and the murderous carnage of Civil War, which is certain to follow any coup in Venezuela. Fortunately, as I write, the opposion leader is opposed to America intervention…at least publicly. Given that support for President Maduro is down to 24% according to a recent Venezuelan poll, It is a propitious time for a US sponsored coup, and with a lazy ignorant president willing to concede policy decisions about Central America to his militaristic neo-con advisors….we shall see what unfolds.

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NOTE: This is the first of a multi-part series. Future essays will take a closer look at the nature of the “Bolivarian Revolution” initiated by Hugo Chavez, it’s origins, aims, victories, and defeats. As well as speculations on what the future holds.

SAUDI GOVERNMENT KILLS JOURNALIST!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on January 16, 2019 by playthell

Jamal Kahshoggi

DID TRUMP’S POLICIES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT?

Waddling along like an overstuffed porcine pugnacious Panda, Mike Pompeo huffs and puffs as he romps around the Middle-East visiting the Trump Administration’s partners in crime. In the land of the Pharoah’s he dutifully dished dirt on the legacy of President Barack Obama at the behest of his jealous master, Devious Donald. The basis of this disdain was Obama’s emphasis on the protection of human rights and the expansion of democratic freedoms for the Egyptian people and other Arab populations that opposed autocratic leaders during the mass upheaval of “The Arab Spring.”

Conversely, the major theme of Trump’s speeches when he visited Arabia and spoke to the Sheikhs of the Gulf area fiefdoms was that America would not interfere in their internal affairs the way President Obama had done; so long as they protect American interests in the region. This is also the major theme in the pronouncements of Secretary Pompeo, who is, after all, Trump’s messenger boy.

Tis a pity that a content analysis of the speeches given by Pompeo and Barack Obama in Egypt is beyond the boundaries of this essay; it would tell us much about dramatic differences in the character and intellect of Barack and his defamers: Dastardly Don and Mikey Mouse. But, alas, the objective of this commemtary is to interrogate the facts around the Murder of Jamal Kashoggi, and try to divine their meaning.

Now that we know Jamal Kashoggi- Saudi citizen, permanent US resident and Washington Post columnist – was the victim of a grotesque murder and dismemberment by agents of the Saudi government in their Turkish embassy, and the CIA has concluded it was ordered by the ruling sovereign, prince Muhammad bin Salman: What is the US government going to do about it?

Well, Donald Trump’s response makes it abundantly clear that he plans to do nothing. Trump is perfectly willing to accept the Saudi government’s bogus exoneration of the Crown Prince over the claims of the CIA, just as he has done with their assessment of Russian interference in the presidential election. Indeed, in a shameless display of moral depravity, Trump threw up his hands in mock despair and said we will probably never know the truth about who was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It is obvious that Trump has made a Faustian bargain with the Saudi royals, in which he openly bartered the reputation and moral standing of the United States for petro-dollars, Saudi support for Israel, and promotion of hostile US policies against the neighboring Shiite state of Iran.

In a written statement on the gruesome murder Trump first attacked Iran with a deluge of propaganda – although the Iranians have nothing to do with the issue at hand – then he had this to say regarding the Saudi murderers:

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.

If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!..Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi…In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

This statement raises so many troubling questions that it will require a separate essay to adequately discuss them. Yet even from the excerpts cited here, Devious Donald’s concerns are abundantly clear. There is no shame in his game as he brazenly elevates money above principle, letting the world know that corporate and personal profits mean more than truth, justice, freedom or life to the Trump administration.

After all, Trump has bragged about the enormous sums of money the Saudi royals have spent with his companies, even pulling several of his hotels out of the red. And the President’s bad judgment in citing the Saudi ruling clique’s claim that Mr. Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” calls to mind his repeated accusation that American journalists are “enemies of the people.”

Hence it is entirely reasonable to assume that this shared attitude toward journalists is what led Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmam – whom the CIA has fingered as ordering the horrendous hit “with high confidence” – to conclude that there would be no American sanctions for his crime. And if it is left up to his buddy “Dirty Donald” he is right.

However several US Senators have endorsed the conclusion that the crown prince ordered the murder after attending a CIA briefing conducted by by agency Director Gina Haspel. Senator Lindsay Graham, the shifty Carolina charlatan whose moral commitments appear to be negotiable, was unambiguous in his view of the Prince’s role: “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.” Another Southern Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, co-signed Lindsay’s views:”All evidence…leads back to the crown prince.” Senator Shelby went on to declare, “This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way.” This is a significant development because these senators represent the most avidly pro-Trump sections of the country.

Members of Congress who are inclined to support Trump’s amoral coddling of the Royals might view the matter differently when they realize that Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the sins of the Saudi’s – while attacking Iran and pledging unqualified support for Israel – confirms the widely held suspicion among the Arab masses that the Jihadist are right when they say “America is the Great Satan!” This will push many who are ambivalent into the camp of the Jihadists and nullify Trump’s claim that “It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

Indeed, one need not be a great strategic thinker, or an expert on the Middle East, in order to recognize that Trump’s policies will revitalize anti-American radicalism among the youths in the Islamic world; for it takes away the most powerful weapon the US has in the battle for the hearts and minds of young people from whom the Jihadist recruit their soldiers: The argument that “America stands for freedom, truth and justice.”

Despite the American government’s despicable collaboration with the Saudi murderers, members of the journalistic profession and folks who treasure democracy everywhere, are shocked and appalled as we mourn the death of Jamal Khashoggi, whose only transgression was that he dared to criticize the Saudi Royal family in his writings. To fully understand the true character of the Islamo-fascist Saudi regime, it is essential to understand who Jamal Khashoggi was and the nature of his relationship to the Royals that rule the Kingdom with absolute power. While he has been portrayed as an uncompromising hero of the dissident democratic movement in the Arab world by journalists in the western press, that characterization has been challenged by some radical Arab intellectuals who felt that his criticism of the Saudi royals was milquetoast at best.

For instance, David Hirst of the London Guardian argues Khashoggi was a committed advocate of “truth, democracy, and freedom.” While the Director of Human Rights Watch, which monitors the activities of repressive governments around the world says Khashoggi was a paragon of “outspoken and critical journalism.” However As’ ad AbuKhalil – a lebonese Arab intellectual who is a professor of political science at the California State University at Stanislaus and author of “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” – takes a different view of Khashoggi. Recounting his career as a “journalist” in Saudi Arabia Dr. Abukalil tells us:

“Khashoggi was an ambitious young reporter who knew that to rise in Saudi journalism you don’t need professionalism, courage, or ethics. In Saudi Arabia, you need to attach yourself to the right prince. Early on, Khashoggi became close to two of them: Prince Turki Al-Faysal (who headed Saudi intelligence) and his brother, Prince Khalid Al-Faysal, who owned Al-Watan (The Motherland) where Khashoggi had his first (Arabic) editing job. Khashoggi distinguished himself with an eagerness to please and an uncanny ability to adjust his views to those of the prevailing government. In the era of anti-Communism and the promotion of fanatical jihad in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Khashoggi was a true believer. He fought with Osama bin Laden and promoted the cause of the Mujahideen.”

Hence Abukhalil believes far too much as been made of Khashoggi as a fearless defender of democracy, and he challenges the widely influential columnist David Ignatius, a colleague of Khashoggi’s at the Washington Post, who describes Khashoggi’s stint with the Moujahidin during the anti-Russian Jihad as “an embedded reporter.” According to Abukhalil, Osama bin Laden – a dogmatic theocrat who was no fan of democracy – would never “invite independent journalists to report on their war efforts.” Instead “The entire project of covering the Afghan Mujahideen and promoting them in the Saudi press was the work of the chief of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki, Khashoggi’s principal patron-prince.”
Abukhalil argues that there is no real honest Journalism or “free press” in Saudi Arabia, where all media is owned or controlled – like everything else – by senior Princes of the House of Saud. Thus, all positions of influence in the Kingdom depends upon sucking up and gaining the favor of one of those princes. Hence the principal cause of Khashoggi’s fall from grace was due to his choice of the “wrong princes” to suck up to, not an uncompromising fight for democracy as we understand it in the US – which professor Abukhalil claims is amply verified by his writings in the Arabic language media, which his defenders like David Ignatious does not read.

Alas, Khashoggi chose two princes who have now fallen from grace with the new absolute ruler Muhammad Salman. According to this analysis, the Saudi government is even more repressive than many western observers of Khashoggi’s fate believed! However this critique of Khashoggi must not be confused with attempts by the Republican right to smear him and besmirch his character. They cite Khashoggi’s participation in the Afghanistan Mujaheddin as part of the Arab contingent in order to associate him with Osama bin Ladin, a leader of the “Afghan-Arabs who went on Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan, an effort encouraged and supported by the US and Saudi governments.

Indeed, at the time they were engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Jihadists were hailed as heroes by the US government and supported by the CIA, who trained Osama bin Ladin in terrorist tactics! Hence the Republican effort to smear him for those activities is based on disinformation that flies in the face of historical fact.

As I write the story the evidence that has been examined by the CIA confirms the Trukish government’s version of what happened. According to Turkish intelligence the Saudi government, presently headed by Crown Prince Salman aka “The Notorious MBS,” sent a hit team to Turkey that murdered and dismembered the Washington Post columnist inside their embassy while he was on an official visit to get documents he needed to get married, as his fiancee waited on him outside.

What the world must do now is demand that the Trump administration release the tapes of the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi provided by the Turks. By some accounts we can hear his fingers being cut off before he is beheaded. They say the forensic pathologist who headed the team can be clearly heard telling his ghoulish gang of cowardly assassins – with whom Donald Trump has now cast his lot – to play music as they butcher the journalist’s body for disposal.

Aside from the horror of it all this is an outrageous, reckless display of hubris. A respected American journalists is murdered in cold blood because the Crown Prince was offended by something he said? Although Lindsay Graham is feigning outrage, if you listen closely to his protestations Graham makes it clear that our outrage should be aimed solely at the Crown Prince not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; a sophistic statement which offers a distinction without a difference.

Alas, this atrocity was predictable given Donald Trump’s assurance to the Saudi royal Family – and all of the Arab despots of the gulf region – that so long as they keep the oil flowing at a cheap price and support his policies in the region, the US government will turn a blind eye to the oppression of dissenters struggling to democratize their societies. In May 2017 Trump spoke to a gathering of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and he left no doubt about his stance on their repressive policies.

“I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect.”

When you add to this license for governments to abuse their power should they deem in in their interest, Trump’s constant charge that a critical oppositional press is “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE,” this is the result! Alas, shameless, souless, megalomaniacal charlatan that he is; Dirty Donald is unrepentant! In fact, he not only continues to cling to an absurd version of events obviously concocted to shield the Crown Prince from culpability in this treacherous crime, but it appears that the Trump administration may be that co-author of this absurd charade.
Their version, which is as believable as the murder was committed by women from Venus, is clearly designed to provide plausible deniability to the Saudi Crown Prince. Despite the CIA’s conclusion that the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi came straight from the top, the Saudi’s insist the prince was clueless about the entire episode and the American President muses:”it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!…That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.” Then Devious Donald quickly reaffirms the solidity of the US-Saudi alliance:

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels…As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests… Very simply it is called America First!”

Partners in Crime!

A Faustian Bargain

Fred Ryan, Publisher and Executive Editor of the Washington Post, responded in a November 21 Editorial in which he wrote:

“A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder…Failing to demand accountability for these crimes does not make the United States more secure. Stable, peaceful societies, governed by leaders who respect the rights of their people, need journalists who can expose wrongdoing and hold the powerful to account. It is no mere coincidence that many of the worst abusers of press freedom are also some of the world’s most dangerous actors. The CIA has thoroughly investigated Khashoggi’s murder and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the crown prince. If there is reason to ignore the CIA’s findings, the president should immediately make that evidence public.”

There is an urgent lesson for American journalists in all this, because the way Trump is whipping the highly armed, half baked Republican base into a frenzy against Democrats; the “liberal leftist” and their partners in the “fake news” media, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! In fact, just recently Dirty Donald was speaking in Montana, whipping a Republican crowd into a frenzy by singing the praises of a congressman that attacked a reporter for the London Guardian. And this was after a Trump fanatic mailed bombs to his critics in Congress, the press and private citizens.

Who knows what will happen if the Democratic controlled House of Representatives – the legislative branch that best expresses the will of the people – initiates impeachment proceedings against Trump and he whips his base into a state of paranoid hysteria by denouncing it as a conspiracy to bring down his presidency by the lying Press, the Democrats, and the “Deep State” intelligence forces.

It is abundantly clear that the greatest danger to the free press and the personal safety of reporters in America, and around the world, is Donald Trump! If Journalists are assaulted here on American soil by right-wing fanatics it would come as no surprise to me.

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Listen to Kashoggi Discuss the problems of Saudi Leadership

https://www.c-span.org/video/?437464-1/jamal-khashoggi-discusses-saudi-leadership-2017

Did the Soviet Union Fall Due to Afghan War?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags on January 10, 2019 by playthell

Russian Troops Retreating from Afghanistan

Donald Trump Thinks So

Foreign policy wonks around the world were aghast at the version of the Afghan/Russian war spouted by Donald Trump as he answered reporters questions off the cuff during a cabinet meeting held the day after New Year’s break. Although the fact that Trump is a verbose ignoramus and compulsive liar with an unvarnished contempt for facts has now become conventional wisdom for those who know enough to recognize it, he somehow still manages to say things that astonish us. Given the fact that many Americans already believe that Devious Donald is a Russian puppet at the pinnacle of our government – some even call him “The Moscow Candidate” – it is astonishing that he could take the favorable positions he took regarding the motive and consequences of the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Jimmy Carter, who was President at the time, thought it was such an outrageous act he canceled American participation in the Moscow Olympics! The US government didn’t take this severe action even during the NAZI Olympics Games in Berlin. This was no easy decision for Carter because he understood that he was dashing the hopes and dreams of young American athletes who had labored a life time for a chance at their moment of Olympic glory. Yet Donald J. Trump enthusiastically endorsed the Russian invasion, declaring it the just and wise thing to do. Dumb Donnie opined:

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union, Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.”

Aside from revealing a deep ignorance of his subject, part of his statement sounds like it was written by a Russian intelligence officer tasked with conducting a disinformation campaign designed to obfuscate rather than clarify events. This passage would be considered a big victory for whoever was managing the disinformation campaign: “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.”

Here we have the President of the United States justifying the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan, a major triumph for Russian propaganda. It is almost a verbatim recitation of the new resolution that the Russians have crafted justifying their invasion of Afghanistan.  It is these kind of things that has alarmed some Americans to the point that they are openly calling for the US military to arrest Trump for treason! As crazy and alarming as it is, you can find an abundance of these calls in the comments below You Tube news videos that address Trump’s relationship with Russia!

Yet, given the absurdity of Trump’s claim that the Russia invasion was a response to the “terrorist” threat, it does not require a dramatist’s imagination to envision Putin laughing out loud. For it is obvious that Trump has no clue how the US government’s response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan led to the 9/11 attack, in response to which his Republican predecessor launched a disastrous war of choice in Iraq and invaded Afghanistan; falling into the quagmire the Russians had left. These wars continue as I write, albeit on a reduced scale, and are now America’s longest wars. And at a price of four trillion dollars they are also the most costly! Yet the “terrorists” we are fighting were created by the American Central Intelligence Agency, including Osama bin Laden, who organized and directed the devastating 9/11 attack!

What Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer, understands well is that it was the USA who equipped the Taliban with the modern weapons they later used wreak havoc on US forces a few years after the Russian retreat from Afghanistan. There is even a major movie about it featuring Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War, which details how the Texas Republican Congressman Charlie Wilson persuaded the US government to supply the Afghan Rebels with Stinger Missiles, a high tech shoulder held surface to air missile that can bring down a heavily armored attack helicopter. Although the claim that the introduction of this weapon was a game changer in the Russian/Afghan War is in dispute, there is no doubt they were deployed to great effect against American forces in the war against the Taliban after 9/11.

Why did the US do it, why did the American government go down a road that has cost this nation so much blood and treasure? It was a classic case of folly that should be a crime. In a Pulitzer Prize winning book, The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuckman analyzes elites across time and place that pursued self-defeating policies, despite the fact that all the observable evidence suggested that it would lead to disaster. And she labeled this class of phenomenon “Folly!”

A careful examination of the facts, viewed in retrospect, leaves no doubt that the decision to arm and train the Afghan Jihadists who came from all over the Islamic world to answer the call to Jihad against the Russians, was a classic case of folly! They called themselves Mujaheddin, “Holy Warriors,” and the US government celebrated them as “heroes,” with little skepticism, and no public opposition from the American media. Instead the media were willing mouth pieces for the government’s point of view…which is what happens when objectivity is overwhelmed by the passions of patriotism.

Alas, US policymakers should have know better. After all, the experience of Iran offered compelling evidence of the dangers of intervening in the affairs of a Muslim nation and helping to overthrow a secular government that that the US disliked. In 1953 the CIA engineered a military coup that toppled Muhammad Mossedeh – the democratically elected Swiss educated liberal secular leader – because he wanted to nationalize Iran’s vast oil resources and demand a fair price from the US and British companies. This nefarious covert action set forces in motion that would radically change Iranian society.

In President Mossedeh’s place the Eisenhower Administration installed the arrogant, oppressive, autocrat Shah Reza Palevi, whose excesses led to the first Islamic Revolution in the modern world and put the Ayatollah’s in power.  And they declared America “The Great Satan!” All of our present troubles with Iran stemmed from this misbegotten decision to overthrow their secular elected government.

Having witnessed the myriad problems posed by a radical Islamic state, prudence dictated that we avoid empowering Muslim Fundamentalists elsewhere. It was easy to see as a white elephant in a crowd of pigs. So why did wise men rush in where fools feared to tread?

It is impossible to understand the folly of America’s decision to arm the Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan, unless we view it from the perspective of the Cold War – the term of art employed to describe the struggle for global dominance between the US and the Soviet Union short of direct military confrontation between these nuclear armed nations check mated by the MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – doctrine. Aside from psychological warfare designed to win the hearts and minds of the hundreds of millions in emerging Third World Nations, the US supported “proxy wars” against pro-Russian forces all over the globe.

Based on this strategic view of the relationship of forces in the world, it made perfect sense for the US government to promote a militant Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan so long as they were willing to kill Russians! It was a short sighted view; the definition of Folly. Had US policymakers viewed the Afghan struggle from the Jihadists point of view they would have known their efforts would eventually backfire, because it is clear in the theology which guides their actions that the Jihadists found American beliefs as odious as Russia’s.

To the Muslim Jihadists who eventually overthrew the Marxist pro-Russian government of President Mohammad Najibullah in 1991, two years after the departure of Russian forces, both democratic Christian American Capitalism and totalitarian atheistic Russia communism are abominations; the work of barbaric apostates contemptuous of Sharia Law, Allah’s divine plan for man. Their alliance with the US in the Holy War against Russia was based on the old Muslim adage: “The enemy of my enemy is a friend.”

Hence, when the Saudi government called upon the US to oust Sadam Hussein from Kuwait, and offered to provide a base for American operations on Saudi soil, Osama bin Laden, a leader of the “Afghan -Arab” contingent that answered the call to Jihad in Afghanistan, pleaded with them not to station swine eating liquor drinking American barbarians on the sacred soil of Arabia where Mecca and Medina – the holiest cities in the Islamic world – are located. He begged the king to support his veterans from the Afghan war that had played a decisive role in their “victory” over a European super power.

The king chose to rely on American armed forces instead, and when US forces put boots on the ground in Arabia both the Royal Family and the US became targets of the Jihadists; resulting in the 9/11 attack on the US homeland. Planned and ordered by the former CIA apprentice in terrorist tactics Osama bin Laden, who had returned to Afghanistan to build Al Qaeda, the spectacular terrorist assault was carried out by 15 Saudi citizens and four from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. All counties that enjoyed good relations with the US. And, contrary to conventional wisdom on the subject, the Jihadists were not all from the poorer classes, some were quite well to do. Osama’s personal fortune was put at nearly 300 million dollars.

In retaliation George Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, and was also talked into invading Iraq by the neo-con clique of warmongers from the Project For a New American Century that “Dirty Dick “ Chaney had installed in the Bush National Security establishment.* The overthrow of Sadam Hussein, a secular military strongman, who had prevented the rise of a militant Muslim movement in Iraq, opened the floodgates for a host of Jihadists to enter Iraqi territory.

This development was a major factor in creating the conditions for Al Qaeda to operate on Iraqi territory and gave rise to ISIS, a new militant Jihadist formation. All of these developments have their roots in the American intervention on behalf of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan. That is the lesson that is not being discussed in the hail of rhetoric being banded about regarding Trump’s musings on the causes and consequences of the Russian- Afghan War.

Of course Trump’s claims about the central role of that war in the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union stray even further from reality, and thus offer no useful insights. The remembrances of Robert Gates and Morton Abramowitz are far more valuable in helping us understand what actually happened. Although Gates is primarily known as the Secretary of Defense during the Administration of George W. Bush, and was held over by President Obama, he was a CIA officer in 1979.

Hence Gates was present at the meeting when the CIA decided to arm and train the Mujahideen. Gates recalls that their objective was “sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.”  In other words, they hoped Afghanistan would become for Russia what Vietnam was for the USA, a historic blunder in which they would expend massive amounts of blood and treasure in a futile war.

However in an interview with the London Guardian Morton Abramowitz, who was the Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence recalls: “In 1985, there was a real concern that the Mujahideen were losing, that they were sort of being diminished, falling apart. Losses were high and their impact on the soviets was not great.”

The first hand testimony of these principle players in the Afghan drama Trumps the fallacious fables of dumb devious Donald.
The reasons for the fall of the Russian Communist Party are complex- which is really what we are talking about- are far beyond the scope of this essay. Yet I feel compelled to address the issue since Trump was so emphatic in his views. The best way to sum up the problem that led to the collapse of the Communist experiment in Russia is to reiterate the views of the official Ideologist to soviet leader Andropov, who confessed in a PBS interview: “When reality contradicted our ideology, we dismissed reality.”

That’s why they were able to ignore flaws in the system that were baked in at the beginning. Things like the lack of economic incentives for excellence; the growing evidence that government bureaucrats cannot manage a large industrial economy efficiently, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” had degenerated into the Dictatorship” of the Communist Party.

This critical flaw in the leadership model was noted by the seasoned revolutionary anarchist Emma Goldman, a Russian born naturalized American citizen who returned to Russia in January 1920, after the triumph of the communist led 1917 revolution that overthrew the Romanovs. A brilliant and careful student of revolutions, Emma was a sympathizer with the Russian revolution;  yet she would later write searing a book – “My Disillusionment  In Russia” –  richly detailing her disappointment at what she found:

“The Russian workers, like the peasants, also employed direct action.  They possessed themselves of the factories, organized their own shop committees, and were virtually in control of the economic life of Russia.  But soon they were stripped of their power and placed under the industrial yoke of the Bolshevik regime…Just because I am a revolutionist I refuse to side with the master class, which in Russia is called the Communist party.”

Yet upon reflection it is clear that the situation could not have been otherwise.  For despite the ideal of a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the true proletariat does not possess the education or the leisure that’s required to read and comprehend the complex texts of Karl Marx; hence the great Russian “proletarian” revolution was led by de-classe intellectuals like Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.

Alas the “workers paradise” became something of a nightmare when the need for internal peace and economic stability became the paramount objectives of the Communist Party, who considered any independent workers organizations to be counter-revolutionaries because the party represented the interests of revolutionary workers. And when attempts to criticize these arrangements resulted in harassment, prison and even death, the seeds of the system’s eventual destruction were sown…it was just a matter of time. When compared to these unresolved issues Afghanistan was a sideshow.

Dumb Donald Holding Forth on the Afghan War

****************

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/10/2019

It’s Time to Call It Treason!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , on July 15, 2018 by playthell

Putin Instructing his Puppet?

Impeach the Moscow Candidate

The charge of treason is clearly defined in the US Constitution. Article 3 Section 3 states: 

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act.”

 Hence the question before the nation is what constitutes a state of war with a foreign country, and has Donald Trump given the enemy “aid and comfort.” First let us consider whether Russia committed an act of war against these United States of America. Like everything else in our lives, digitization has changed the nature of war as dramatically as it is changing the nature of work. Alas, it is quite enough to point out that a massive Cyber-attack by a hostile power has been added to the list of events that would justify a nuclear response. That is the ultimate act of war!  Yet the entire nation has witnessed our President giving “aid and comfort”  to the perpetrator.

Although commentators in and outside of government routinely refer to the Russian Cyber-attack that may well have determined the outcome of our presidential election as an act of war, they don’t respond to this attack with the same fervor and conviction they would have if the Russians had torpedoed an American submarine. Everyone would be up in arms demanding retaliation, and if the president dismissed the unanimous assessment of our intelligence agencies – the best in the world – and instead accepted the word of the leader of the hostile nation that launched the attack instead, there would be a deafening cry for his impeachment!

And if the President took no action to protect our nation’s assets from further attack, refused to even issue a scathing denunciation of the aggressor’s action; then arranged a meeting with the president of the hostile nation in which no one from the American government or press would be present; just the two presidents, there would be an urgent movement in Congress to impeach him for “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” Which is the definition of Treason!

All of these things are true in regard to Donald Trump’s response to the Russian Cyber-attack on our national election. Many astute observers believe the attack changed the course of American history by putting Trump in the Oval Office, and this now redounds to the benefit of the Russians. When we add the fact that US intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that the objective of the Russian attack was to help elect Donald Trump President, we have the motive for Treason! But what of the evidence people ask? Will the evidence support a charge as serious as treason?

Many legal scholars, former prosecuters and pundits – this writer included – believe the evidence is near overwhelming, a prima facie case.. However on the this a charge of such gravitas that many Americans are bewildered by the possible consequences. Indeed, Lawrence Tribe, Harvard Law Professor and the nation’s leading authority on the US Constitution, has just published a book on question in an attempt to clarify this complex process,To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.” It is no picayune matter that there have been only two impeachments of presidents in American history, and in each instance, after the Bill of Impeachment from the House of Representatives was presented to the Senate and the President was be put on trail, they beat the rap. However none has ever been charged with treason.

Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s Vice-President who ascended to the presidency after the assassination of Lincoln, was the first president to be impeached. However Johnson was impeached by the “Radical Republicans” of the Reconstruction period in the aftermath of the American Civil War, and his impeachment was the result of policy differences.The US Civil War was the most destructive and murderous war the world had ever witnessed by the mid-19th century. This is because it was the first modern war where arms could be mass produced by virtue of the development of an industrial base. Hence death and destruction could, and was, be dispensed on a massive scale.

Thus “Binding up the nations wounds” with “Malice toward none and charity for all,” as the martyred President had called for before before he was shot to death during a night out at Ford’s theater, was much easier said than done. The nation’s problems were monumental: complex, illusive, and in search of solutions in an atmosphere of inter-sectional and racial hatred, passionate resentments and despair. It was the kind of poisoned atmosphere in which there was little chance that “the better angels of our nature” would prevail, as President Lincoln had prayed.

President Johnson was a pro-union southerner who, like the northerner Lincoln, came from the poor white working class. However, although he hated the rich, arrogant, decadent, slave holding planter class he was also a virulent racist with no sympathy for Afro-Americans. Hence he opposed every effort of the Congress to help Afro-Americans overcome the handicaps resulting from 250 years of chattel slavery, a system the great freedom fighted Harriet Tubman said was “Worse than hell!” And the peerless Afro-American Abolitionist writer and orator Frederick Douglass said “would disgrace a nation of savages.” When the Radical Republican Congress, led by Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Stevens in the House and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts in the Senate, had their fill of the Southern domcrat’s obstructionism they Impeached him! Although Johnson survived the Senate trial by one vote when Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas surprised his colleagues by voting “not guilty,” the great abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner said of him: Andrew Johnson is the impersonation of the tyrannical slave power. In him it lives again.”

A century later Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, had just won a second term in the presidency by a historic landslide when he faced imminent impeachment due to the Watergate scandal resulting from operatives working for The Committee to Reelect the President aka CREEP breaking into the Democratic Party Headquarters in Washington’s Watergate Hotel. The group, a motley crew led by former intelligence officers known to history as “The White House Plumbers,”was on a mission to find damaging information on the democratic Party that could be used to damage their presidential candidate.

Nixon’s attempt to cover up White house involvement in the crime led to Congress passing the first Article of Impeachment on July 27, 1974 for Obstruction of Justice – one of the charges now being considered against Trump. With Impeachment a certainty Nixon chose to resign instead….the only President in US history to do so. In a striking historical irony, 44 years later we have another Republican President under investigation for interfering in the campaign of a democratic candidate for president, and is also facing the possibility of Impeachment for Obstruction of Justice!

However whereas as the Nixon era Republicans used former US intelligence operatives, the Trump campaign is being investigated for colluding with active agents in the Russian military intelligence establishment, several of whom have just been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This is no picayune matter, for whereas the Nixon operatives were guilty of a botched burglary, the Trump campaign is alleged to have conspired with a hostile foreign power to steal massive amounts of documents from the Democrats that were used in an attempt to sway the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump…which he won by a mere 77, 000 votes spread over three states while losing the popular election to Hillary Clinton by 3, 000,000 votes.

This was a political event that has no precedent in US history, nor has a US president ever chosen to believe the leader of a hostile foreign power over his own intelligence agencies. Yet Devious Donald has embarked on a campaign to discredit those agencies, comparing them to the evil genocidal Nazi gestapo, and labeling the American press “enemies of the people” for objectively reporting the facts about Russian cyber-aggression and the unfolding evidence of collusion by members of his campaign. In fact, many professional prosecutors have noted that Trump’s behavior fits the description of what they call “consciousness of guilt” on the part of suspects.

Alas, it has been repeatedly pointed out by a variety of observers that Trump is famous for coining demeaning nicknames for anyone with whom he has a disagreement, including many fellow Republicans – “Lyin Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Sloppy Steve,” Low Energy Jeb,” et al – and he still refers to his former Democratic adversary as “Crooked Hillary.” But Trump has NEVER called Vladimir Putin out of his name! “Whassup wit dat?” many people are asking. Speculation about the reasons for this abound, some people have even coined some sobriquets for him. My personal favorites are: “Putin’s Puppet” and “Putin’s Pussy!”

Yet whatever Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s and other investigations proves to be the case, on the face of it we can see there is a rottening in the Oval Office. It is clear from readily available facts that the President is violating his oath to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.” Just now, he has become an enemy of the Constitution with his constant attacks on the legitimacy of the free press, whose independent role as a watch dog over those who govern us and a protector of the public interest is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the wisest of the Founding Fathers, thought it so important he said if given a choice between a free press and no government or a government and no free press, he would choose the free press and no government. By attacking the legitimacy of our free press and trashing US intelligence agencies, the front line soldiers in the Cyber-war against Russia, setting Americans at each other’s throats in the process, Donald J. Trump has failed in his pledge to “insure domestic tranquility,” as the Chief Excutive of the nation, and by refusing to confront the Russians about their military cyber-attack on our nation he has abdicated his constitutionally appointed role as “Commander-In-Chief.”

Yet in a couple of days Trump has the unmitigated gall to meet with Putin in private without a single representative of our government, military or press in attendance. This inexplicable folly will further disgrace his office and destroy confidence in our government for millions of Americans who are already greatly disillusioned by his behavior. For many loyal Americans who have served in the military- this writer included-Trump is a draft dodging coward; a blabbermouth chicken hawk who loves to wrap himself in the flag and claim to speak for veterans, but the chump is all blow and no go! Eric Watree – a writer an honorably discharged Marine who volunteered for service in our most audacious fighting force when Donnie Dipshit was using his daddy’s money and influence to escape military service – has penned a song titled “Draft Dodging Donnie,”which gives expression to how every veteran that I know feels about this slacker stinking up in the Oval Office.

We consider this meeting with Putin a far greater offense against flag and nation than NFL players taking a knee to protest white police murders of their unarmed black brothers, a fate that could easily befall them. After all, they are simply exercising their First Amendment rights under the Constitution that Trump has sworn to defend and instead he calls them “sons of bitches” on national television. On the other hand, Devious Dastardly Dirty Donnie’s cloak and dagger huddle with KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin has the stench of Treason!

Even former CIA Director John Brennan, and former military intelligence operative Malcolm Nance – author of two seminal books on the role of Russian intelligence agencies in engineering the Trump presidency – has openly suggested the possibility that Trump could actually be a Russian intelligence asset! A kind of modern “Manchrian candidate” made in Moscow. To me it is something of a moot question, because if he is not Putin’s puppet I cannot imagine what he would do differently if he were. Alas, enough of the shilly shally: I say if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a fuckin duck! If it talks like a traitor and acts like a traitor: It’s probably a goddamed traitor! In any case it’s time to charge Trump with treason and put his ignorant arrogant ass on trial; that is the only way to finally solve this enigma that poses a grave danger to our democratic Republic.

*********************

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 15, 2018

Captain Oliver Law Takes Command!

Posted in A Rendezvous With History, Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs with tags , , , on June 18, 2018 by playthell

Anti-Fascist Hero of the Spanish Civil War

 Heroic African-American Communist Fights Fascism in Spain

 General Colin Powell was three months old when at 33 tall, broad-shouldered Texas African American Oliver Law, became the first Black Commander of an American Army. The date was June 12, 1937. Law was selected by a committee of three white officers to lead this integrated army.  Heard of Colin Powell but never heard of Oliver Law? Hardly surprising. Law’s not mentioned in school books or social studies classes and has yet to find a place in most college texts or history courses. But Law made his mark on world history in June 1937 and for very good reasons.

Oliver Law was among a brave band of 2800 American men and women (including 90 other African Americans) who rushed to help the Spanish Republic Spain during its Civil War (1936-1939). Their aim was to stop Hitler and Mussolini from seizing and using Spain to launch their march across Europe. This was a crucial Nazi warm-up for World War II. These brave Americans were joined by 40,000 other men and women fro52 countries who also volunteered to save Spain’s Republican government from Hitler and Mussolini and General Francisco Franco, their Spanish fascist ally.
For the only time in world history a global volunteer force left their homelands to defend democracy in a distant land. Though few volunteers had any military training they aimed to shame and prod their governments to stop fascist aggression “at the agates of Madrid.” But at this point England, France, the US and other democratic governments did nothing about fascist aggression – and England and France encouraged it. So, as one American Volunteer said, “someone had to do something!”

Among the US volunteers in the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade” military experience ran a low fourth to enthusiasm, commitment and sheer guts. Oliver Law was different. In Texas he had served six years in the Buffalo Soldiers, “US Colored Troops.” This was during the long night of US segregation and lynching lasting through World War II. US War Department policy prevented Law from becoming an officer or reaching higher than corporal.
But for African Americans in Spain life was different. “I can rise according to my worth, not my color,” Law said. This volunteer army included Black and white men and women who united during the Great Depression to fight for unemployment insurance, union rights and social security, and to end to segregation, discrimination and lynching.
After the Lincoln Brigade’s first battle at Jarama, Law’s courage was
rewarded with a promotion to lieutenant. Next he was placed in charge of a machine-gun company. Then Lincoln Brigade Commander Marty Hourihan recommended him for officers’ school.

When the position of Lincoln Brigade Commander became available on June12th, a committee of three white Brigade officers voted Law a Captain and Brigade Commander. One of the three, Steve Nelson, who had worked with him in Chicago, told why they picked Law: “He had the most experience and was best suited for the job.” Further, he was “the most acquainted with military procedures on the staff at the moment . . . he was well liked by his men . . . .” Nelson continued, “When soldiers were asked who might become an officer — ours was a very democratic army — his name always came up. Itwas spoken of him that he was calm under fire, dignified, respectful of his men
and always given to thoughtful consideration of initiatives and military missions.”
The rest of the story is sadder — for Law, the Lincoln Brigade, the International volunteers and the world. At 10:00 AM on July 9th at the battle of Brunete Commander Law insisted on leading his men against a fortified fascist position at Mosquito Ridge. Law, his runner New Yorker Harry Fisher recalled, was “running to the top of the hill,” waving his men on. Law did not “attempt to protect himself, and in a matter of seconds, machine-gun fire ripped into him.” Law’s other runner, Jerry Weinberg of Chicago, crawled across the battlefield to pull law to safety.  It was too late: “He died less than an hour later, Fisher recalled.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Battle

Oliver Law’s comrades buried him under a sign that proudly declared
him the first Black commander of a US military unit.  Hitler, Mussolini and Franco defeated democracy in Spain and five months later, Nazi Germany’s marched into Poland and began World War II. Had the democracies heeded the warning of the 40,000 volunteers, the
story of World War II might have been different.
Though Oliver Law and a majority of the Americans died in Spain,
survivors returned home to again fight fascism after Pearl Harbor. After the war veterans of the Lincoln Brigade continued to battle racism in the United States and oppose imperialist wars abroad, some into the 21st century. Now this year the last one has died.

***********************

By: William Katz

 

NOTE:  This article is based on THE LINCOLN BRIGADE: A PICTURE HISTORY and based on interviews with Brigade veterans Steve Nelson, Harry Fisher, Sam Walters, and others during two trips to Spain with the veterans and their families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Mad King Donald’s Delusions of Grandeur

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , on June 14, 2018 by playthell

Spouting Madness at the G-7

Donnie Dimwit Cuts the Fool in Canada

If the Bard of Avon was right, “all the world is a stage and we are but players upon it,” Donald Trump was born to the role of fool and perpetually panders to the poot-butts in the cheap seats.  Alas, his recent performance appears to have been based on a script written by ideologues and charlatans intoxicated by the opiate of American Exceptionalism, mesmerized by American military might, and Donnie Dimwit seemed to have arrived straight out of central casting to play the fool yet again.

After analyzing that incoherent drivel masquerading as a serious speech, delivered by clueless Don before his early departure from the G-7 Summit headed for Singapore, long time intelligence operative Malcolm Nance, whose bestselling book “The Hacking of America,” provided early warning of interference into the US presidential election by Russian Intelligence operatives, remarked that Trump came across as “Mad King Donald.”

In response to Trump’s comment that he didn’t need extensive preparation for his upcoming summit meeting with Kim Jung Un of North Korea, because he would be able to tell in the first few minutes if it was possible to do a deal or not, MSNBC host Joy Reed asked Nance how he thought Russian and North Korean intelligence services viewed Trump.

“I’m almost afraid to say what a professional intelligence officer would think about someone who is potentially recruitable, and asset, or a person who becomes a useful idiot,” says Nance. “He’s a fool!  And fools are easily manipulated.  If it’s about money you give them money.  If its about ideology you give them an ideology. And if you need to coerce them you coerce them by finding something you have compromised their integrity with.  Donald Trump has all of those!  He is a dream for a foreign a intelligence case officer.  He is being handled right now by a former KGB human intelligence officer who has him by the puppet strings.   And the North Koreans understand if you want to manipulate Donald Trump, you give him something for his ego.  The Chinese will give him licenses for his daughter and the Saudis will try to buy him outright!  No President has ever been like this!”  Nance went on to observe that’s why many of these leaders didn’t like President Obama: “His integrity level was so high there was no getting at the man.”

When Trump’s treatment of longstanding American allies at the G-7 Summit is calmly reviewed in retrospect, it is easy to see how one could conclude that Trump is working in collusion with the Russians to advance their interests as repayment for the role they played in his election – a charge US intelligence agencies unanimously agree on despite Trump’s vociferous denials. Yet even if there is a method to his madness…the way he goes about it is madness none-the-less.

One need only consider Trump’s child like temper tantrum when President Justin Trudeau, as calm and reasonable head of state as one will find among world leaders, in order to recognize that Donny Dimwit is a wakadoodle.  In response to Trump’s bogus claim that the US is running a trade deficit with Canada, and his decision to levy tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in retaliation, Trudeau announced that Canada would respond in kind.  His statement was as calm and reasoned a response as one could expect from a leader whose country has just been the target of a hostile act:

It would be with regret but it would be with absolute certainty and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1st. Applying equivalent tariffs to the ones Americans have unjustly applied to us.” Said Trudeau.  I have made it very clear to the President that this is not something we relish doing but it is something we absolutely will do.  Because we are Canadians, we are polite and reasonable. But we also will not be pushed around.”

To this perfectly reasonable, almost milquetoast statement, Trump and his economic advisors unleashed a gaggle of vulgar tirades against the Canadian Prime Minister.  Trump, who arrived at the Group of Seven economic summit late and left early, was in the air when he saw Trudeau’s press conference on television, tweeted his outrage against Trudeau -calling him “very dishonest and weak” –  and decided to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of economic cooperation among the US and her closest allies by ordering American representatives not to sign the joint declaration by the G-7 on their basic economic goals.

Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”

Trump’s outrage and vile characterization of Prime Minister Trudeau was echoed in the statement of Peter Navarro, a White House trade advisor, fulminated: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.” And Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, declared with great indignation on CNN’s State of the Nation on Sunday Morning: “POTUS is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around, He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea, nor should he.”

And John Bolton, the walrus mustachioed chicken hawk from the Project for a New American Century – the think tank that engineered the Iraq invasion – reincarnated as Trump’s National Security Advisor, tweeted a photo of a scowling Trump surrounded by G-7 members.  This was soon followed by the following statement to the press: “Just another #G7 where other countries expect America will always be their bank, The President made it clear today. No more.” 

In his outrage against members of the G-7 Trump has even threatened to stop trading with countries that refuse to accept his economic nationalist agenda.  Trump’s belligerence has left America’s closest and oldest allies, Britain and France, angered and puzzled; all thoughtful Americans cannot are embarrassed and dismayed that our president has once more decided to play the fool on the world stage.

Statesman and Clown

Trump Should take Lessons from Trudeau in Diplomacy

**********************

Playthell G .Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 14, 2018

End of A Delusion?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , on May 17, 2018 by playthell

Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump

Did Kim Chump Trump?

North Korea’s dramatic termination of a scheduled meeting with the leaders of south Korea, and the rejection of Donald Trump’s proposal for complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, caught clueless Donnie and his acolytes off guard and left them stumbling around like dancers in the dark.  Just a fortnight ago, like Giddy high school girls with their knickers a twitter waiting their prom date, Republicans in Congress were projecting Donald Trump as the next Nobel Laureate for peacemaker.

Since the guiding ambition of Trump’s political career is to outdo former President Barack Obama, a political Super Nova, and undo his legacy, Trump became quickly enamored with the idea of wining the Nobel Prize because the much-coveted award was conferred upon President Obama.  Alas, being the brazen braggart and tireless self-promoter that he is, Trump could barely contain his delight at the prospect.  In fact, one got the impression that Trump believes this award could salvage what promises to be a tarnished legacy.  Alas, the North Koreans are paying close attention and understand that they are the key to realizing Trump’s grandiose ambition…and they are suddenly playing hard to get.

That he so easily swallowed the fiddle faddle about the North Koreans being willing to scrap their nuclear arsenal is further evidence that Trump is a rank amateur at the game of politics, and clueless about the complexities of international relations. On the face of it the proposition struck me as absurd, given the threat the US poses to North Korea’s national existence. The Trump administration’s position wandered into the realm of fantasy when they began to demand that the North Koreans disarm even while the US kept military forces station on it’s border; has yet to sign a peace treaty ending the war that resulted from a horrific American invasion over half a century ago; maintains injurious economic sanctions against them and is presently conducting a joint military exercise with South Korea just off their shores, which they rightly regard as a rehearsal for an invasion of their country.

Hence it should come as no surprise to anyone whose head is not buried in their ass and has a reasonable understanding of the political realities that shape the state of US-North Korean relations, that Kim and his posse are backing away from any idea of Nuclear disarmament.  And the fact that Trump’s newly appointed National Security Advisor John Bolton, a crazy old warmonger, has suggested in a public statement that the US should impose “the Libyan Model” on North Korea does not inspire confidence that American objectives coincide with theirs.

Trump’s fumbling attempt to fudge Bolton’s statement in his White House press conference with the Secretary General of NATO, a day after the release of the North Korean statement of their position on the matter, only revealed his confusion on the subject and almost certainly had the opposite effect of his intention to put Kim Jung Un’s mind at ease.  The point of referencing the Lybian Model for the Koreans was to remind Americans that after Mumar Khadaffi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons program he was later overthrown and assasinated with the help of the US and NATO.  Trump was arguing that if they gave up their nukes the US would insure the safety of Kim Jung Un’s regime, but should they fail to comply with US demands they would suffer the same fate as Lybia.  Neither position was acceptable to the North Koreans.

Alas, Donald Trump has been running about crowing like a barnyard rooster, telling the world that he has convinced Kim Jung Un to “completely denuclearize,” before the US will consider any concession to North Korean concerns.   But in light of the official government statement issued by Kim Kye Gwan, the first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, it looks as if The Donald has been “cuttin tha fool” before the world…again, as my grandfather would put it.  The North Korean’s were unambiguous in their position.

prior to the DPRK-U.S. summit, unbridled remarks provoking the other side of dialogue are recklessly made in the U.S. and I am totally disappointed as these constitute extremely unjust behavior. High-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” “total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles and biochemical weapons” etc. while talking about formula of “abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterwards.”

Wherever the Trump administration got the idea that the North Koreans would go for the okey doke and concede to demands that the US would consider the acme of absurdities if demanded of them by a foreign power, the Korean statement leaves no doubt that it is not anchored in reality. The candid statement goes on to say:

This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.

I cannot suppress indignation at such moves of the U.S., and harbor doubt about the U.S. sincerity for improved DPRK-U.S. relations through sound dialogue and negotiations. World knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate. It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial state of nuclear development.”

In his attempt to explain the deal he is offering to North Korea at the press conference to discuss NATO – i.e. give up their nukes in exchange for American private sector assistance with economic development – it was embarrassingly clear that Trump, a notorious non-reader, had not read the North Korean statement.  For they had unambiguously addressed and dismissed this offer:

The U.S. is trumpeting as if it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon nuke. But we have never had any expectation of U.S. support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future, too.  It is a ridiculous comedy to see that the Trump administration, claiming to take a different road from the previous administrations, still clings to the outdated policy on the DPRK… If President Trump follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, he will be recorded as more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his initial ambition to make unprecedented success… if the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit.

It is abundantly clear that Trump has embraced a dangerous delusion.  Fueled by the arrogance of power and blinded by the self-serving doctrine of “American Exceptionalism,” Donald Trump believes he can seduce or coerce Kim Jung Un into accepting a deal hatched in the fevered imagination of John Bolton, that insults the dignity of North Korea as a sovereign nation and threatens their security.  The Koreans recognized Bolton as the incubator of aggressive policies in the Trump Administration and called him out on it: “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him.”

Dredged up from the pits of foreign policy purgatory and provided unmediated access to the ear of Donald Trump – whose head is a tabula rasa on which anything can be written by an advisor – Bolton, a bellicose neo-con ideologue from the Project for a New American Century, the think tank whose misguided foreign policy views landed us in the Iraq War – which is still in progress 17 years later – will increasingly shape Trump’s view of the world.  Hence, as the bluesman Percy Mayfield warned: “The whole-world is in trouble…and the danger zone is everywhere!”

 

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

5/17/2018