Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

By Stephen Lendman
Source

The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility. Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.”

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them. 

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people. 

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.

Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.

Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.

Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.

Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.

Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.

Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.

Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

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Thanksgiving: The Annual Genocide Whitewash

BY Belen Fernandez
Source 

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When I was a schoolchild in the US a couple of short decades ago, I spent my time acquiring important life skills, ranging from how to fake a wrist fracture in order to obtain a purple cast, to how to craft a teepee replica out of a paper bag.

The latter art was perfected in accordance with the holiday of Thanksgiving, which arrived each November to great fanfare, and which, in addition to teepee replication, required my classmates and I to mass-produce turkey drawings, paper Pilgrim hats, and modified, feathered headdresses.

These materials were then incorporated into our reenactments of the “original” Thanksgiving feast: that mythologised, gastronomic encounter of 1621 between Pilgrims and Native Americans that now serves as a cornerstone of the fairytale version of US history.

On the surface, it may seem that there’s not much to criticise about a holiday based on gratitude and eating – especially when it’s accompanied by absurd spectacles like the presidential turkey pardon.

But a glance at the historical context of Thanksgiving reveals a thoroughly nauseating affair.

Land grabs and massacres

For starters, as University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen reminds us in a dispatch on the AlterNet website, the very term “thanksgiving” is saturated with disgrace.

By 1637, Jensen writes, Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop “was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children” – a bloody pattern that would “repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated”.

The work of historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, serves up plenty of additional food for thought, on why Thanksgiving perhaps shouldn’t inspire too many warm-and-fuzzy feelings.

In a 2015 paper on the indisputable genocide of Native Americans, Dunbar-Ortiz explained point blank that settler colonialism in general “requires a genocidal policy” and that “Euro-American colonialism, an aspect of the capitalist economic globalization, had from its beginnings a genocidal tendency.”

Among the many, obvious financial perks of land theft, Dunbar-Ortiz noted that the seizure of Native American trade routes also prompted acute shortages of food and other necessities, thereby “weaken[ing] populations and forc[ing] them into dependency on the colonisers, with European manufactured goods replacing indigenous ones.”

So much for bountiful harvests.

In his book, A People’s History of the United States, late historian Howard Zinn outlined other mechanisms of capitalist dispossession. An 1814 “treaty” with the Creek nation, for example, functioned by “splitting Indian from Indian, breaking up communal landholding, bribing some with land, leaving others out – introducing the competition and conniving that marked the spirit of Western capitalism.”

Furthermore, US “land grabs” of Native American territory “laid the basis for the cotton kingdom, the slave plantations.”

In short, with such a sinister past on their plate, it’s no wonder US mythmakers prefer to focus on pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

Predatory capitalism

In recent remarks headlined “I am tired of being invisible to you all,” rural development economist and indigenous rights activist Winona LaDuke summed up the logic underpinning the United States’ vigorous campaign to whitewash its criminal history vis-a-vis the Native Americans: “If you make the victim disappear, there is no crime.”

But how, exactly, to go about making victims disappear when US crimes are far from said and done with, and the ramifications of genocidal policy are ongoing?

There are, it seems, several possible approaches. Consider the fact that, as late as the 1970s, the forced sterilisation of Native American women in the US was not uncommon.

In other, even more literal instances of physical elimination, as CNN reported earlier this month, data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that “Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group.”

Case in point: just a few days prior to the CNN report, a 14-year-old Native American boywas gunned down by a US law enforcement official on a reservation in the state of Wisconsin.

Last year, meanwhile, the Independent observed that, of 29 Native Americans killed by US police between 1 May 2014 and 31 October 2015, “27 of those deaths received no coverage” in the media.

Talk about disappearing acts.

As it turns out, many of those killed suffered from mental illness. And indeed, one can easily argue that the prevalence of mental health conditions among Native American groups isn’t enormously surprising in light of continuous antagonism by US authorities and society, often in the form of socioeconomic ostracisation and environmental destruction – not to mention food insecurity.

It’s pretty clear, then, that a lot of people in the United States won’t have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. But at least there’s Black Friday to look forward to: the ode to gross overconsumption that directly follows the supposed day of gratitude (and that has been known to result in news headlines like “Wal-Mart worker killed in Black Friday shopping stampede”).

To be sure, the Black Friday phenomenon only befits a nation built on predatory capitalism – where material excess is rendered sacred, obscene inequality is the name of the game, and communal bonds are systematically obliterated along with any remaining potential for human symbiosis with the physical environment.

In the end, you don’t need to gorge yourself on turkey and stuffing to see that the United States itself is positively sick.

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?

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