U.S. Foreign Policy Has No Policy

Why can’t we just leave everyone alone?

By Philip Giraldi
Source

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to “bitch” status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it, are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the “leader of the free world.”

Trump’s memo on the Saudis begins with the headline “The world is a very dangerous place!” Indeed, it is and behavior by the three occupants of the White House since 2000 is largely to blame. It is difficult to find a part of the world where an actual American interest is being served by Washington’s foreign and global security policies. Indeed, a national security policy that sees competitors and adversaries as enemies in a military sense has made nuclear war, unthinkable since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, thinkable once again. The fact that no one is the media or in political circles is even talking about that terrible danger suggests that war has again become mainstreamed, tacitly benefiting from bipartisan acceptance of it as a viable foreign policy tool by the media, in the U.S. Congress and also in the White House.

The part of the world where American meddling coupled with ignorance has produced the worst result is inevitably the Middle East. Washington has been led by the nose by Israel and Saudi Arabia, currently working in sync, to have the United States destroy Iran even though the Iranians represent no threat whatsoever to Americans or any serious U.S. interests. The wildly skewed view of what is taking place in that region is reflected in Trump’s memo in the first paragraph, which reads:

“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’”

Almost all of that is either patently untrue or grossly exaggerated, meaning that Trump’s profoundly ignorant statement is remarkable for the number of lies that it incorporates into 631 words which are wrapped around a central premise that the United States will always do whatever it wants wherever it wants just because it can. The war being waged by the Saudis against Yemen, which reportedly has killed as many as 80,000 children, is not a proxy struggle against Iran as Trump prefers to think. It is naked aggression bordering on genocide that is enabled by the United States under completely false pretenses. Iran did not start the war and plays almost no role in it apart from serving as a Saudi and Emirati excuse to justify the fighting. Other lies include that Bashar al-Assad of Syria has killed millions of his own citizens and that Saudi Arabia is fighting terrorism. Quite the contrary is true as the Saudis have been a major source of Islamic terrorism. And as for Iran being the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” that honor currently belongs to the U.S., Israel and the Saudis.

The core of Trump’s thinking about Khashoggi and the Saudis comes down to Riyadh’s willingness to buy weapons to benefit America’s defense contractors and this one sentence: “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.” Yes, once again it is Israel pulling Trump’s strings, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading the charge to give Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a pass on the gruesome murder of a legal resident of the United States who, once upon a time, might have actually had the U.S. government on his side.

The reckless calibrations employed to set American policies in other parts of the world are also playing out badly. Russia has been hounded relentlessly since the 2016 election, wasting the opportunity to establish a modus vivendi that Trump appeared to be offering in his campaign. Russian and American soldiers confront each other in Syria, where the U.S. has absolutely no real interests beyond supporting feckless Israel and Saudi Arabia in an unnecessary armed conflict that has already been lost. There is now talk of war coming from both Moscow and Washington while NATO in the middle has turned aggressive in an attempt to justify its existence. The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Russia is now worse than it was towards the end of the Cold War while the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s doorstep has threatened the Kremlin’s vital interests without advancing any interest of the United States.

Afghanistan has become the longest war in U.S. history with no end in sight and China too has seen what began as a dispute over trade turned into something more vitriolic, a military rivalry over the South China Sea that could explode. And North Korea? A love fest between two leaders that is devoid of content.

One might also add Venezuela to the list, with the U.S. initiating sanctions over the state of the country’s internal politics and even considering, according to some in the media, a military intervention.

All of the White House’s actions have one thing in common and that is that they do not benefit Americans in any way unless one works for a weapons manufacturer, and that is not even taking into consideration the dead soldiers and civilians and the massive debt that has been incurred to intervene all over the world. One might also add that most of America’s interventions are built on deliberate lies by the government and its associated media, intended to increase tension and create a casus belli where none exists.

So what is to be done as it often seems that the best thing Trump has going for him is that he is not Hillary Clinton? First of all, a comprehensive rethink of what the real interests of the United States are in the world arena is past due. America is less safe now than it was in 2001 as it continues to make enemies with its blundering everywhere it goes. There are now four times as many designated terrorists as there were in 2001, active in 70 countries. One would quite plausibly soon arrive at George Washington’s dictum in his Farewell Address, counseling his countrymen to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.” And Washington might have somehow foreseen the poisonous relationships with Israel and the Saudis when he warned that “…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”

George Washington or any of the other Founders would be appalled to see an America with 800 military bases overseas, allegedly for self-defense. The transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the military industrial complex and related entities like Wall Street has been catastrophic. The United States does not need to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that are armed to the teeth and well able to defend themselves. Nor does it have to be in Syria and Afghanistan. And, by the way, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union and NATO should be abolished.

If the United States were to withdraw its military from the Middle East and the rest of Asia tomorrow, it would be to nearly everyone’s benefit. If the armed forces were to be subsequently reduced to a level sufficient to defend the United States it would put money back in the pockets of Americans and end the continuous fearmongering through surfacing of “threats” by career militarists justifying the bloated budgets.

Will that produce the peaceable kingdom? Probably not, but there are signs that some in powerful positions are beginning to see the light. Senator Rand Paul’s courageous decision to place a “hold” on aid to Israel is long overdue as Israel is a liability to the United States and is also legally ineligible for aid due to its undeclared nuclear arsenal and its unwillingness to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The hysterical reactions of American Jews and Israel suggest that any redirection of U.S. Middle East policy will produce a hostile reaction from the Establishment, but even small steps in the right direction could initiate a gradual process of turning the United States into a more normal country in its relationships with the rest of the world rather than a universal predator and bully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing in Any Conspiracy Theory Is As Bad As What’s Being Done Out in The Open

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Yesterday President Trump posted a statement on the White House website saying his administration will be standing with the House of Saud despite the CIA’s assertion that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman personally ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was living and working in the United States.

The statement reads like a long form version of one of Trump’s tweets, replete with gratuitous exclamation points and slogans like “America First!” and the lie that Iran is “the world’s leading sponsor of terror”, which will never be trueno matter how many times this administration deliberately repeats it. The world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is of course Saudi Arabia, along withIsrael and the United States.

Trump’s alleged opposition has responded with melodramatic outrage, as though a US president continuing to stand by Saudi Arabia in the face of horrific acts of violence is somehow new and unprecedented and not standard operating procedure for decades. Dismembering a journalist while he’s still alive would be a fairly typical Tuesday afternoon for the Saudi government and would not rank anywhere near the top ten most evil things this government has done, but because it involves America and a conspiracy it’s a sexy story that everyone laps up. Add in the fact that Trump is more blunt and forthcoming about American depravity and you’ve got yourself a yarn.

This has remained a hot story through to today, invigorated by a tweet by America’s WWE president in which he crowed about low gas prices and added “Thank you to Saudi Arabia” like a good little muppet. And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.

The lack of any sense of proportion in response to the Khashoggi case compared to the destruction of civilian lives in Yemen has been roundly criticized by anyone with a public platform and open eyes, and rightly so; obviously a government murdering a journalist in cold blood would be a terrible thing, but to hold that as more worthy of attention than the anguished deaths of untold tens of thousands is obscene.

This dynamic is also not unique to Saudi human rights violations. Take the ongoing Russiagate conspiracy theory, for example. Even if Mueller’s investigation did somehow prove that Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election (and it won’t), that act would still have been far less horrible than the ongoing cold war escalations that this administration has been continually advancing against a nuclear superpower. The existence of every single organism on this planet has been placed in jeopardy by Trump’s idiotic, unforgivable, still very much ongoing game of nuclear chicken with Russia, but hardly anyone ever talks about it. They focus on an empty conspiracy theory instead, partly because it is the mass media’s job to manufacture support for warmongering while downplaying its risks, and partly because theoretical conspiracies draw more attention than the things our rulers are doing right out in the open.

I often get conspiracy buffs asking/telling me to write about this or that theory of 9/11 or the JFK assassination or whatever, and I’m just like, dude, have you seen the stuff they’re doing in broad daylight?? It’s not that I have any attachment to the official narratives the TV tells me I’m required to believe, I just find I can get a lot more traction with much better arguments pointing out the facts that are publicly known and undisputed, especially because those things are often far worse than anything alleged in any conspiracy theory.

I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.

On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.

Pretty much all other conspiracy theories are like this as well; interesting and intriguing due to the idea of catching powerful people in the act of something horrible, but much less horrible than the things those same powerful people are doing publicly. Mass media outlets make no attempt to hide who owns them or to mask their virulently pro-establishment bias as they manipulate our minds day in and day out, medicine money is spent on bombs and war ships, civilians are starved to death with sanctions, wars are waged on lies and when those lies are uncovered we get nothing but a “Fuck you we do what we want,” billionaires influence the legislative branch with corporate lobbying and campaign donations right out in the open to tilt the scales in favor of the plutocratic class, money is hemorrhaging upward to the richest of the rich while Americans die of lack of healthcare, we inch closer to extinction by either ecocidal end-stage capitalism or nuclear holocaust, and lucrative arms deals are cut with an unfathomably wealthy royal family that is causing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth in Yemen.

If we could see with fresh eyes what is being done to us and our fellow man right out in the open, we would recoil and fall to the ground trembling in sheer terror. The only reason we don’t treat these terrible things like what they are is because they have been normalized for us to the point where we take them for granted and assume that’s the only way things could possibly be. Conspiracy theories sparkle because those are new stories we haven’t been desensitized to, but it’s usually the things that powerful people do out in the open that does the most damage.

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation Is a Core Element of US Imperialism

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By Frederico Pierccini
Source

Nixon’s decision in 1971 to withdraw the United States from the gold standard greatly influenced the future direction of humanity. The US dollar rose in importance from the mid-1950s to become the world reserve currency as a result of the need for countries to use the dollar in trade. One of the most consumed commodities in the world is oil, and as is well known, the price is set by OPEC in US dollars, with this organization being strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia.

It is therefore towards Riyadh that we must look in order to understand the workings of the petrodollar. After the dollar was withdrawn from the gold standard, Washington made an arrangement with Riyadh to price oil solely in dollars. In return, the Saudis received protection and were granted a free hand in the region. This decision forced the rest of the world to hold a high amount of US dollars in their currency reserves, requiring the purchase of US treasuries. The relationship between the US dollar and oil breathed new life to this currency, placing it at the centre of the global financial and economic system. This privileged role enjoyed by the dollar allowed the United States to finance its economy through the simple process of printing its fiat currency, relying on its credibility and supported by the petrodollar that required other countries to store reserves of US treasuries in their basket of currencies.

This arrangement continued to sustain itself in spite of numerous wars (the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan), financial crises (the Black Monday of 1987, the Dotcom bubble of 2000, and Lehman Brothers’ subprime crisis of 2008), and the bankruptcies of sovereign states (Argentina in 1998). The explanation is to be found in the credibility of the US dollar and the US itself, with its ability to repay buyers of treasury bonds. In other words, as long as the US continues to maintain its dominance of the global financial and economic system, thanks to the dollar, its supremacy as a world superpower is hardly questioned. To maintain this influence on the currency markets and the special-drawing rights (SDR) basket, the pricing of oil in US dollars is crucial. This explains, at least partially, the impossibility of scaling down the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. Nobody should delude themselves into believing that this is the only reason why Saudi-US relations are important. Washington is swimming in the money showered by Saudi lobbies, and it is doubtful that those on the receiving end of such largesse will want to make the party stop.

The agreement made between Washington and Riyadh guaranteed that the latter would receive protection from the former and Washington would look the other way regarding Riyadh’s behavior within its kingdom and in the region – so long as Saudi Arabia sold its black gold in US dollars alone. This agreement was clearly a controversial one and has been kept away from the general public, even in the light of Khashoggi’s death and the liberal mainstream media’s piling on the Kingdom. Yet this is not the only reason why US-Saudi ties are so close. The initial agreements between the Saudis and the Americans concerned the petrodollar; but after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 (Iran’s nationalist prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, had been previously overthrown by the US and UK in 1953), Riyadh and Washington decided to declare war on their common enemy, with the hearty approval of Israel. The cooperation between Riyadh and Washington became even closer in the 1980s, through the common campaign against the USSR in Afghanistan through the use of jihadists recruited, trained and armed by the Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the US secret services. The use of jihadist terrorism as a geopolitical weapon has been a main feature of Riyadh’s statecraft.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US evolved from a mere economic and protection agreement, to a full-fledged collaboration against the shared enemies of Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh, expanding on the existing cooperation since the 1980s of using jihadism to advance strategic objectives. The situation with Iran became of primary importance for US strategy in the region. Riyadh, with the passage of time, assumed a triple role, namely, that of being the guarantor of the petrodollar, a facilitator in the use of Islamic terrorism as a geopolitical weapon, and a regional opponent of Iran.

This relationship has been mutually beneficial. The House of Saud has been free to run its country according to the strict strictures of Wahhabism without Western interference; and Washington enjoys a capacity for unlimited military spending (especially after the 2008 crisis and the beginning of quantitative easing) simply through the printing of debt in the form of government bonds that are immediately acquired by other countries. Washington has effectively been printing waste paper and obtaining consumer goods in return, a state of affairs that has allowed the United States to squander six trillion dollars in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without suffering significant economic consequences.

Ever since Donald Trump took over the White House, the process of de-dollarization that begun during the Obama era has only accelerated. With the unprecedented move in 2012 to remove Iran from the SWIFT international banking system, a dangerous precedent had been set that acted as a warning to the rest of the world. The United States revealed itself as willing to abuse its dominant position by wielding the dollar as a weapon against geopolitical adversaries.

The consequences of that action continue to be felt today. Many within the Western elite have come to recognize this mistake and are regretting it. Russia and China understood that they were next on the chopping block and set about creating alternative payment systems like CIPS that would serve to act as a backup system in case Washington tried to exclude Moscow and Beijing from the SWIFT system.

Trump contributed more than any of his predecessors towards further pushing the world in the direction of de-dollarization. Sanctions and tariffs have weakened confidence amongst US allies and forced the rest of the world to start looking for alternatives. The cases of Iran and Russia are instructive, with commercial exchanges being undertaken in currencies other than the dollar for a number of years now. There are dozens of other examples where the use of the dollar in commercial transactions has been abandoned. More complicated, however, is the financing of debt for private or public companies that often takes place in dollars. This exposes industries to a difficult situation in the event that their national currencies devalue against the dollar, making it more expensive to find the US dollars needed to repay creditors, leaving what are major national companies with the prospect of facing bankruptcy. As Russia learned in 2014 with the attack on its Ruble, exposure of potentially strategic sectors of the country to the economic influence of a foreign adversary should be avoided.

The push to renounce the use of the dollar in financial transactions also stems from the fear that the next financial crisis may affect global debt as expressed in dollars; not only destroying the US economy, but dragging down with it countries that are large holders of US treasuries. This is not speculation or conspiracy theory but simple deduction from observing the economic situation over the last 10 years. The global economy was saved in 2008 as a result of the confidence held by citizens following the intervention of central banks. The corrosive mechanism laid out by the Fed and its partners became evident months later. Central banks started printing unlimited amounts of money at 0% interest rates and furnishing it to banks and financial institutions to cover the debts left by the bursting of speculative bubbles like the one involving subprime mortgages.

The average citizen, seeing Bernanke and Draghi on TV talking about “unprecedented actions to save the system”, felt reassured, and therefore felt their money remained safe, in banks or in US dollars. The next financial crisis – potentially the worst ever – is likely to be caused by either the raising of interest rates by the Fed and other central banks, or from the popping of one of the numerous debt bubbles around. The central point is that the citizens’ belief in the system will be put to the test because, as Draghi said, “[this weapon of QE] can be used only once”. There is no protection for banks and speculative entities that could be in debt to the tune of many billions of dollars with no chance of survival.

With a view of to the possible collapse of the dollar-based financial system, several countries are selling their US government bonds, reducing their exposure and accumulating gold. This involves not just China and Russia, but even the European Union.

In such a situation, a crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia is unthinkable for Washington, especially when the region now seems to be guided by an axis that starts from Tehran and ends in Beirut, including Baghdad and Damascus. Riyadh is necessary for the Israeli strategy in the region, and Washington follows in tow for reasons related to the US dollar. Factoring the importance of Riyadh in supporting the petrodollar and in countering Iran in the region, it is not surprising why the Israeli lobby in Washington is doing its utmost to calm US senators down intent on punishing Riyadh for the Khashoggi affair.

If Saudi Arabia were really convinced of the innocence of MBS in the Khashoggi affair, it could use this situation to its advantage by reducing the role of Washington in its foreign policy. Turning to the east and increasing partnerships with China and Russia would have beneficial effects on the whole region, as well as reducing the importance of the United States in the world. Saudi Arabia is governed by a large family riven with divisions and feuds spanning decades. MBS has no interest in his kingdom and is occupied with his survival alone. He is aware that Netanyahu and Trump are his best bet for continuing to reign. Trump is equally aware of the importance of MBS in his communication strategy in the US, with a view to the midterm and the 2020 elections. MBS is for Trump the golden goose that finances the MAGA project, thanks apparently to Trump’s mesmerizing negotiation skills with the Saudis. Of course this is far from the truth, but what matters is the spin that Trump gives to this alliance.

Israel is the primary ally of MBS, given that the crown prince is the first Saudi monarch openly willing to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish State and bring relations between the two countries out into the open. The upper level of the US government, the so-called deep state, tried for a few weeks to use MBS against Trump. But this strategy came to an end after the Israelis, together with some elements of the US deep state, saw the risk of downsizing the global relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US. MBS will hardly be pushed aside, and within the Kingdom his position seems firmer than many expected, as seen at the Davos in the Desert conference. Breaking up with MBS would have had unimaginable repercussions for the US’s hegemonic position, and this is something Washington can ill afford at the moment.

The use of jihadism and petrodollars as political and financial weapon against Washington’s adversaries is reason enough to quickly forget Jamal Khashoggi and go back to ignoring the various abuses committed by Saudi Arabia. In this phase of the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world, the US cannot afford to renounce some of the most potent weapons in its arsenal to wield against its geopolitical foes.

Has America Lost Its Moral Compass?

By Reverend John Bryson Chane
Source

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The alleged direct ties of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad Bin Salman linking him to the murder and dismemberment of United States resident and Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi has heightened the awareness of President Trump’s willingness to put his self-interests and “deal making” first, before condemning the criminal behavior of the Saudi Government.

Our Nation is living through a time of political anomaly. Donald Trump has ascended to the Office of the President as a businessman, deal maker, and a media-savvy political chameleon. Whether we watch FOX and Friends, CNN, follow Trump’s Tweets, claim residency in a Red or Blue State, as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, Jews or Muslims we need to come to terms with the debilitating cost of making “America Great Again.”

Truth be told democracy is a complex and messy way of governing any nation, let alone one as diverse as America. Yet there are indissoluble values enshrined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and affirmed by the Rule of Law, freedom of the press, and the important balance of powers between the Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches of government. They are being undermined each day by the current occupant of the White House. The president surrounds himself with an inner circle of staffers who have discarded their sense of right and wrong by agreeing to serve Mr. Trump with absolute loyalty. They behave like co-dependents afraid to confront a president who is heavily addicted to power and control and has a hard time with reality. And their co-dependency is mirrored by the behavior of many in the House and Senate.

Morality is understood to mean knowing the difference between right and wrong, of good and bad behavior. Its definition comes from the core teachings of all monotheistic religions, the ancient roots of philosophical thinking and sustaining cultural mores. Moral behavior is open to human interpretation fed by an individual’s upbringing, their interpretation of religious teaching, cultural traditions and engagement with the world. Sadly, President Trump’s decision making, and behavior exhibit the personality of an amoral person, one who doesn’t seem to comprehend what it means to live a moral life and too often appears unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

He consistently uses language that is disrespectful, bullying, racist, and homophobic. He is a classic example of a misogynist. And because the people of this nation have become so polarized by the current politics of divide and conquer at any price very few confront his behavior and condemn it. If we say we are a “religious people” how can we condone such behavior without calling it out for what it is…unacceptable, unembraceable and immoral?  Or as so many are doing in America right now, turning a blind eye and defending the president because he is fulfilling his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”  Whatever happened to living out the basic values of treating others with dignity and respect, behavior that mirrors empathy, a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own actions and compassion for the least among us?

This president has a history of not telling the truth.  He is a confirmed liar, well documented by the media. Bipartisan fact-checking has shown Trump has either lied or manipulated the truth to suit his needs and reinforce his power and leadership in over a thousand instances.

In a statement made on the day of his inauguration, Trump promised to bring a country divided by his election back together to meet the challenges that are ahead for our country and the world. He has done just the opposite. Our country is losing the respect and support of our European allies. Our isolation from the global community with “America First” is causing world leaders to doubt the ability of America to lead the world with its better angels during times of increasing violence, climate change, and the rapid uptick of emerging un-democratic authoritarian regimes.

And because of this president’s self-promotion as an international deal-maker what we get in return for those “deals” are relationships with despotic leaders such as Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. All represent undemocratically governed countries that are known for their egregious human rights violations. And because of the deals, this president looks the other way when human rights are continuously violated, and the rule of law is a non-existent reality. What price as a country are we willing to pay for this president’s deal-making?

The compass is a necessity for anyone when lost in the wilderness seeking a way out. Its consistent pointing to true north can be lifesaving. As a nation we are badly divided politically, culturally and tribally. Our true compass point used to be focused on the Office of the President whether we liked him or not. But when the compass is being stolen from the American people by this president’s behavior we are in real danger of becoming a morally rudderless nation, rapidly losing our soul. Is this country and its citizenry willing to forfeit our democracy and very soul as a nation in order for Donald Trump to make another deal?

American Woman Turns to Hunger Strike to Break Media Blackout on Yemen

Pamela Bennett | Yemen Hunger Strike

By Whitney Webb
Source

SAN FRANCISCO — In Yemen, 18 million civilians are now at the brink of starvation, including 5 million children. The situation in the country, widely considered to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, is entirely man-made – the sordid result of the Saudi Arabia/UAE coalition’s war to control the Middle East’s poorest nation, a war that deliberately targets civilian infrastructure and the civilian food and water supply. Despite the fact that these are clear war crimes, and despite the mass suffering it has inflicted on Yemen’s innocents, this effort continues to receive U.S. and U.K. support.

In the face of the enormity of this completely preventable crisis, some international activists have taken matters into their own hands, giving it their all in order to bring much-needed attention to the plight of the Yemeni people by sacrificing their own quality of life in a stunning and inspiring show of solidarity.

Pamela Bennett, an American woman living in San Francisco, has been on a hunger strike since October 8 in an effort to show solidarity with Yemenis facing famine and to raise awareness in the United States in particular about upcoming congressional efforts to reduce or end the U.S.’ role in the genocide currently occurring in Yemen. Bennett is not alone in her efforts, as a contact from her Facebook page, “Yemen Rising,” is also currently in the seventh day of his hunger strike. Bennett, however, is on her 23rd day.

Others had initially joined the hunger strike but had to end, some leaving for personal reasons while others were forced to stop after being hospitalized as a consequence of their participation. After some of the original hunger strikers had been hospitalized, Bennett began drinking juices and broth in addition to water in order to prevent major health complications.

As part of her bid to raise awareness about Yemen through the hunger strike, Bennett posts daily videos to Facebook discussing her experiences as a result of the hunger strike and her reasons for taking such a drastic step to raise awareness about the crisis in Yemen.

What Bennett hopes her hunger can accomplish

Bennett told MintPress that one of her main reasons for hunger striking for Yemen was that she was “enraged at how well the [Western] media has hidden this,” explaining:

I considered myself a quasi-activist, and I had no idea. I thought it [the humanitarian crisis] was a drought in Yemen or something when I even saw the rare post. When I discovered it was man-made, and that my own government was greatly responsible, I was frightened at how easily I was misled. I wanted action to combat that fear, so I thought of a strike.”

Another of Bennett’s motivations to start a hunger strike was:

How unfair it is for me to have food when millions of people, including pregnant women and children, don’t have any food because of corrupt people in my complicit media hiding what’s happening, and my culpable government preventing them from having good water and electricity with a blockade that decimated their economy, and bombs that destroy their world.”

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A doctor shows a photo of Fadl, an 8-month-old Yemeni boy taken in his last days before he starved to death, in this Feb. 10, 2018 photo at a hospital in Mocha, Yemen. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

She continued, stating:

I also felt that this action would keep my attention, and that of others, on the lack of food that most are suffering in Yemen, and would show solidarity with the Yemeni people. I can tell you, at [23] days now, it is much harder to distract myself than it was at the beginning, and I feel a tiny inkling of what millions are suffering at the hands of greedy people right now.”

However, it continues to be the glaring lack of coverage about the crisis in Yemen that has served as the main impetus for Bennett’s solidarity efforts. Bennett told MintPress:

I would not have to strike if the media did their jobs. I have not seen a fraction of the coverage needed on Yemen. I am sent photos, videos, and stories daily by the Yemeni people. Why would the Yemeni people be doing this if there was adequate coverage? As one Yemeni man put it, on feeling invisible in his suffering, ‘only God sees our tears.’”

Action from Congress?

At this moment in her hunger strike – now in its fourth week – Bennett stated that her immediate goal in continuing the strike was to raise awareness about current legislation in the U.S. Congress related to either reducing or ending the U.S.’ participation in the Yemen conflict, either by ending arms sales to the coalition or by ending the U.S. military’s role in the fighting and the coalition’s bombing campaign. In particular, Bennett is calling on U.S. citizens to contact their representatives, urging them to support Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) JR 54 that would end the U.S.’ role in Yemen as well as Rep. Ro Khanna’s (D-CA) HR 138that also calls for a U.S. withdrawal from Yemen. Another House bill, Rep. Jim McGovern’s (D-MA) JR 102, would restrict arms sales to the Saudi government.

If Americans step up and put enough pressure on their representatives and any one of these bills is passed, the U.S. may pull out. Bennett opined that, if the U.S. is forced to withdraw, “I think that there is every chance Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the UAE will follow suit, with enough pressure.”

To join the effort

Any person interested in participating in the hunger strike alongside Bennett is urged to contact her either through her page “Yemen Rising” or her personal Facebook page. Bennett stated that water-only fasts are no longer encouraged and that all potential hunger strikers need to be in good health before beginning. She emphasized that the hunger strike is “a media campaign to combat media silence, [so please make] videos about what you are doing and why these actions are needed to spread the word.” She also noted that some people have done shorter-term solidarity fasts, anywhere from one day to one week, in order raise awareness.

For those looking to aid solidarity efforts in another way, Bennett stated that it is of the utmost importance for U.S. citizens to search online for “the contact sheets for senators and representatives, and email, call and write. And tell your friends to do the same.”

Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was Easy. Explaining It Is Much Harder

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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Getting to the bottom of the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance is a bit like peeling an onion. It is known that Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd to get a document that would enable him to marry a Turkish woman. It is also known, from surveillance cameras situated outside the building, that he never came out walking the same way he entered. The presumption is that he was either killed inside or abducted, though the abduction theory would have to be based on a Consulate vehicle leaving the building with him presumably concealed inside, something that has not been confirmed by the Turks. If he was killed inside the building and dismembered, as seems likely, he could have had his body parts removed in the suitcases carried by the alleged fifteen official Saudis who had arrived that morning by private jet and left that afternoon the same way. The supposition is that the fifteen men, which may have included some members of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s bodyguard as well as a physician skilled in autopsies who was carrying a bone saw, constituted the execution party for Khashoggi.

There are certain things that should be observed about the Turks, since they are the ones claiming that the disappearance of Khashoggi may have included a summary execution and dismemberment. The Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very good, very active and very focused on monitoring the activities of foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. They use electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to the Turkish government. In my own experience when I was in Istanbul, I had microphones concealed in various places in my residence and both my office and home phones were tapped. A number of local hire consulate employees were believed to be informants for MIT but they were not allowed anywhere near sensitive information.

As Turkey and Saudi Arabia might be termed rivals if not something stronger, it is to be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, and may have had a Turkish employer inside who observed some of what was going on. Which is to say that the Turks certainly know exactly what occurred but are playing their cards closely to see what they can derive from that knowledge. The two countries have already initiated a joint investigation into what took place. Turkey’s economy is in free fall and would benefit from “investment” from the Saudis to create an incentive to close the book on Khashoggi. In other words, Turkey’s perspective on the disappearance could easily be influenced by Saudi money and the investigation might well turn up nothing that is definitive.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has a couple of cards to play also even if it did kill and dismember Khashoggi under orders from the Crown Prince. First of all, the system of petrodollars, which basically requires nearly all purchases of petroleum to be paid in dollars, is underwritten by the Saudis. Petrodollars in turn enable the United States to print money for which there is no backing knowing that there will always be international demand for dollars to buy oil. The Saudis, who also use their own petrodollars to buy U.S. treasury bonds, could pull the plug on that arrangement. That all means that the United States will be looking for an outcome that will not do too much damage to the Saudis.

Second, Saudi Arabia is in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran. This means the Israel Lobby and its many friends in Congress will squawk loudly about Khashoggi but ultimately shy away from doing anything about it. It already appears that a cover story is halfway in place to explain what happened. It is being suggested that a “rogue” element from Saudi Arabia might have carried out without the knowledge of the Crown Prince an interrogation or abduction attempt that went too far. Donald Trump speculated on Monday that that might be the case, suggesting that it may already be part of the official line that will be promoted. Those who know Saudi Arabia well, however, consider a high-level assassination not ordered by the Crown Prince directly to be extremely unlikely, but that does not necessarily mean that a cover story including that feature might not be successfully floated.

In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart. Riyadh is also committed to buy tens of billions of dollars’ worth of American arms, an agreement that could be canceled if Washington begins to pressure the Saudis for answers. Beyond that, Saudi Arabia could stop pumping oil or fail to increase production when Iranian oil becomes subject to U.S. sanctions early next month, driving the price per barrel up dramatically for everyone. The Saudi government has already indicated that it will respond forcefully to any attempts to punish it over Khashoggi and there is no reason to doubt the seriousness of that threat.

There are, of course, possible impediments to selling the fake news narrative. Some early reports suggested that Khashoggi’s fiancé had observed and possibly recorded the execution inside the consulate using the victim’s Apple wristwatch linked to an iPad in her possession. If that is true, the release of such material to the media will create worldwide demand to learn the truth that will be difficult to control. Also, there are unconfirmed reports that U.S. intelligence knew in advance of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, which could prove embarrassing to the Trump administration and could narrow its options.

The trick will be to see how a bit of extreme brutal behavior by the Saudis can be manipulated by all interested parties to produce a solution that doesn’t damage anyone too much. It will undoubtedly be far from the truth, but truth doesn’t necessarily matter much these days.

Will Khashoggi Incident Be Saudi Crown Prince’s Undoing?

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance since October 2 after entering Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate clearly suggests foul play.

His likely abduction and possible murder by Riyadh created an international uproar.

Make no mistake. Saudi relations with the US and other Western countries are strong – given its huge oil reserves and support given Washington’s regional imperial agenda.

How crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) fares if Khashoggi’s abduction and/or murder is proved is another issue entirely.

His status and ascension to the kingdom’s throne could be doomed. Saudi king Salman may replace him as crown prince to soothe international anger, especially in the region and West.

On Monday, Turkish President Erdogan demanded Riyadh prove Khashoggi left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as claimed.

“Do you not have cameras and everything of the sort,” Erdogan asked? “They have all of them. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it.”

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was abducted and killed because of his outspoken criticism of the kingdom.

Until Monday, Trump was silent, finally expressing weak-kneed concern saying:

“I don’t like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now, nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.”

Pompeo on Monday tried downplaying the incident, saying there are “conflicting reports on (Khashoggi’s) safety and whereabouts.”

Turkish media reported that a number of diplomatic vehicles left the consulate on October 2, the day Khashoggi disappeared. 

Turkish investigators believe he may have been killed, his body dismembered, taken from the consulate in boxes, and flown to the kingdom for disposal.

The so-called anonymous Saudi Julian Assange whistleblower known as Mujtahid uses Twitter as a platform for his remarks.

Last April, he was wrong tweeting in Arabic: “Circles close to Mohammed bin Salman have disclosed that he has coordinated with Trump and Jared Kushner to have King Salman step down from power to be succeeded by the Saudi Crown Prince by July 4 at most.”

On Tuesday, he tweeted: “It seems that the details that Turkey will announce (in the near future about the fate of Khashoggi) are enough to put an end to the political career of Mohammed bin Salman.” 

“It is also likely that an international stance will be formed against Saudi Arabia which is a law-breaking government and bin Salman will be sued (in) the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

He believes evidence Turkish investigators uncover may dissuade the Trump regime to stop supporting MBS – suggesting Ankara already has enough evidence to prove his responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance and likely death, adding they’re waiting to complete their investigation before passing judgment publicly.

According to Turkish/Arab Media Association head Turan Kislakci, “(w)hat was explained to us (by Turkish officials) is this. (Khashoggi) was killed. Make your funeral preparations,” adding:

“We called a few other places. These are lower officials, but they said: ‘We have evidence he was killed in a barbaric way. We will announce it’ ” later this week.

Last May, exiled Saudi prince Prince Khaled bin Farhan Al Saud since 2013 said the kingdom could “descend into chaos,” destabilizing the region and elsewhere.

“I would like to say to Europeans that the situation in Saudi Arabia resembles a volcano that is about to erupt. And if this volcano erupts, it will not only affect the situation inside Saudi Arabia or in the Arab region, but it will also have an effect on you too,” he said, adding:

“(I)f Saudi Arabia descends into a state of chaos, there will be global chaos, and (the kingdom) will be a source of terrorism for the entire world as it will support and sustain international terrorism” – what it’s done for many years, he failed to explain.

On Monday, he tweeted: “If the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi is proved, I invite all walks of life in Saudi Arabia to cooperate in a legal measure and change the political system through civil disobedience.”

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), at least 81 members of the profession were killed in 2017 globally, calling attacks and threats against journalists at “epidemic levels.”

So far this year, IFJ reported 73 journalists killed worldwide. No fatalities from their ranks in recent memory caused the international uproar like Khashoggi’s disappearance and likely murder.

By Stephen Lendman
Source

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