I’m certainly no expert on international relations, and it’s pretty obvious these days that Donald Trump isn’t either. But a great many things lately just don’t smell right to me. For starters is the big elephant in the room that is Donald’s arrogant white nationalism. Add to that his disdain for all multilateral organizations over which he does not hold personal individual control—the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, etc. He has withdrawn the U. S. from the Paris Accord on combatting Global Warming, disavows the multi-national Iran nuclear treaty—and this year has withdrawn from the United Nations human rights body, and threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organization, in addition to halting U.S. funding for the U.N. body that aids Palestinian refugees.
My opinion is neither humble nor unique when I describe Donald as an egomaniacal control freak—one whose arbitrary and capricious words and actions are imperiling our nation in many ways.
On 1 April 2016, the United States (under Obama) and China, which together represent almost 40% of global emissions, issued a joint statement confirming that both countries would sign the Paris Global Warming/Climate Change Agreement. 175 Parties (174 states and the European Union) signed the agreement on the first date it was open for signature. Donald Trump announced U. S. withdrawal from the accord, that noble attempt to save our planet, almost immediately after taking office—and has pushed on to weaken all manner of pollution control in our country.
And now it’s the International Criminal Court (ICC). The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It was formed by a treaty in Rome—“the Rome Statute”—signed in 2000 by 124 states. The U.S. signed during the Clinton administration, but it was not ratified by the Senate. The George W. Bush administration then said it would not join the ICC and withdrew the U. S. signature.
Donald disavows any power greater than Himself in evaluating criminal behavior. He’s looking a lot like a fox we hired to guard the henhouse.
SOME OF THE LATEST (Sept. 10)—The Trump administration was ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, D.C., because the PLO “has not taken steps to advance the set of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” the State Department said. As The Washington Post pointed out: “The decision follows an extended period of estrangement between the Palestinian Authority government on the West Bank and the [Trump] administration, which has already cancelled most U.S. aid to Palestinians and recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. These moves earlier this year provoked Palestinian withdrawal from talks over a still-to-be-released U.S. plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” The U. S., via Trump, meanwhile has poured $38,000,000,000 into Israel for military aid. Palestine’s is a weak voice in a hurricane.
In announcing the closure, the State Department said it was “consistent with . . . concerns” over Palestinian calls for an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court. Neither the U. S. nor Israel recognizes the ICC, and existing U. S. legislation calls for closure of the PLO office following any Palestinian move to use it against Israel.
This latest move, Sept. 10, came as the administration threatened to punish individuals who cooperate with the ICC in a potential investigation of U. S. wartime actions in Afghanistan, according to people familiar with the decision.
White House national security advisor John Bolton—in an address to the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian policy group—outlined threats of sanctions and a ban on travel to the U. S. for people involved in the attempted prosecution of Americans before the international court. Bolton is a longtime opponent of the court on grounds that it violates national sovereignty. He described the court as “fundamentally illegitimate” and called it “an assault on the constitutional rights of the American people and the sovereignty of the United States.”
The speech was Bolton’s first formal address since joining the administration in April. He said that any other countries that “cooperate with the ICC investigations of the United states and its allies we will remember that cooperation when setting U. S. foreign assistance, military assistance and intelligence sharing levels.”
He also stated: "We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own.” He poured scorn on the court for seeking to exercise "supranational" powers over the United States and mocked it as a toothless instrument of justice. He extolled "the righteous might" of the United States and its allies as "the only deterrent to evil and atrocity.”
So the U. S. will take it upon itself to determine the law throughout the world. That all seems to echo Donald Trump’s similar disdain for the United Nations and any other organization that holds views not exactly in accordance with his own. Seems to be an awful lot of bullying going on.
IF YOU’RE WONDERING—Are there U. S. troops stationed in Israel? On the Internet is a Sept. 18, 2017, article reporting that for the first time in history the U. S. had established a permanent military base in Israel: an air defense base in the heart of the Negev desert. “It’s nothing short of historic” said an Israeli general who stated that the move demonstrated the “years-old alliance between the United States and the State of Israel.”
March 9, 2018—2,500 American troops, along with more than 2,000 Israeli soldiers, participated in Juniper Cobra exercise preparing for massive missile, rocket barrage on Israel from multiple fronts, a scenario the likes of which Israel has never experienced—dealing with the possibility that thousands of rockets and missiles launched simultaneously from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip (Palestine). Said the Israeli commander of the exercise, “American tactical officers take to the stage, and say they're here to defend the State of Israel and its sovereignty as if they were fighting for their own country. They say they'll do anything to defend Israel.”
I do get it. Israel is an ally. But we have much-older ones—England,
France, Canada . . . who seem to be getting short shrift from Donald Trump these days for failing to knuckle under to his undiplomatic personal demands. It also bothers me that Israel is described as “A major purchaser and user of U.S. military equipment,” but is using the $38,000,000,000 in military support handed them by Trump to buy such equipment. This appears to be a sneaky way of supporting the U. S. weapons industry in a really big way.
MANY STILL SWEAR BY HIM! Some, I’m sure, for no other reason than having grown up in families that considered Republicanism a holy thing at all times—probably generally too young to have, like I, gone through Hoover’s Great Depression with the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Sept. 10: Donald tweeted that the quarterly change in the country’s gross domestic product has eclipsed the U.S. unemployment rate for “the first time in over 100 years.” Nowhere near true. Out of the 282 full quarters since 1948, the rate of change in the GDP has topped the unemployment rate 64 times, or more than a quarter of the time. So 64 times in the past 70 years. Not quite the same as once in a century.
PHOTO IDENTIFICATION AT THE POLLS—Correspondent Justin Hale in this forum recently commented that "A total of 34 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, all of which are in force in 2018.” I looked up the map he cited. He apparently just skimmed a little cream off that particular pail of milk. There are only seven states with strict photo ID requirements—Kansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. All seven went for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Draw your own conclusions regarding voter suppression. Twelve other states request photo ID; with the exception of Rhode Island, all of these states also went for Trump in 2016. Certainly seems to be a pattern here.
Some 13 other states can request ID without photo ID and the rest (18) require no document to vote. Despite our mail ballots, Washington is shown as an “ID requested” state; I presume that may refer to registration as a voter.
THE WORDS OF OTHERS—I enjoyed, as usual, the words of syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald) on the op-ed page of The Seattle Times Sept. 13. He referred to “the racism, misogyny, ineptitude, ignorance and corruption that trail Trump like an odor.”
A SHOUT-OUT today—on behalf of early education and a bow to our newest elementary school—to my second-grade teacher Vivian Finnell, who in 1936-’37 at Lincoln School set me on the road to mastery of the English language. I’ve mentioned some of the details here in the past.