Archive for the ‘Trump (Donald’ Category

Why China Won’t Pressure North Korea as Much as Trump Wants

September 20, 2017

News Desk

By Evan Osnos
8:54 A.M.

China’s leaders don’t trust North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un—but they trust President Trump even less.Photograph by Jim Watson / AFP / Getty
At the center of the North Korean nuclear crisis is a pivotal question: How much is China really willing to pressure and punish its longtime ally in Pyongyang? Recent conversations in Beijing and Washington suggest that Chinese leaders have decided to increase pressure substantially but are not—and probably never will be—willing to help President Trump strangle North Korea into submission. China doesn’t trust Kim Jong Un—but it trusts Trump even less.
For decades, China backed North Korea in hostilities with the United States. The fellow Communist armies had fought alongside one another in the Korean War, and North Korea still relies on China for as much as ninety per cent of its overseas trade. In Chairman Mao’s analogy, the two nations were as close as “lips and teeth.” But that is no longer true; since taking power, in 2011, Kim Jong Un, who is suspicious of China’s efforts to control North Korea or spur it to follow its model of economic reform, has openly antagonized the government in Beijing, including launching rockets that would embarrass the Chinese leadership. (Earlier this month, Kim fired a rocket just as Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, was opening an annual summit of developing countries in the Chinese city of Xiamen.)
By several measures, Chinese leaders have become more willing to get tough with Kim. Until recently, Chinese intellectuals rarely questioned China’s commitment to North Korea. But, in March, Shen Zhihua, one of China’s best-known experts on the Korean War, said, in a speech, “We must see clearly that China and North Korea are no longer brothers-in-arms, and in the short term there’s no possibility of an improvement in Chinese-North Korean relations.” The speech circulated widely, without much in the way of official censorship—a sign, to many Chinese analysts, that some of the country’s leaders agree.
When I met Shen last month, in Beijing, he told me, “I think more and more leaders share this view. At a minimum, they think that multiple views should exist.” Shen is a calm, silver-haired scholar who works in a research center at East China Normal University, in Shanghai. As a historian, he believes that long-standing tensions between Beijing and Pyongyang are becoming irreparable. “Officially, they tried to paper over the cracks, but the differences were inevitable,” he said.
Shen does not speak for the leadership or advise powerful officials. Rather, his views should be understood as a reflection of the change that is under way in the Chinese establishment. Of North Korea, he said, “I think China doesn’t care who is running the country. Xi and Kim have not met. It used to be a tradition if there is a new leader, to meet him. But not now.” Fundamentally, he said, some have come to believe what was once anathema—that North Korea could one day turn its aggression on China: “Many in China don’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons are, first, threatening to China.”

I wondered if Shen was expressing a minority view. When I met Zhao Tong, who specializes in nuclear issues as a fellow at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, I asked him about Shen’s speech. “I think most people would broadly agree,” Zhao said. “It’s not a warm relationship of ‘brothers.’ ” Given that North Korea has continued to test nuclear weapons in the face of Chinese protests, he said, China would not feel automatically compelled to defend North Korea under their mutual-assistance treaty. “Most Chinese would laugh at the proposal that China should provide security guarantees,” he said.
Zhao ticked off examples of China’s new pressures on Pyongyang: “China has stopped coal imports. That’s a big step. It’s stopped supplying diesel and gas. That’s a big step. It has tightened regulations on companies and financial institutions, and the big ones have stopped doing business with North Korea. It’s the smaller ones that are motivated by narrow interests and are still doing business. China has enhanced inspections of goods at the border. They made efforts to help private-sector companies strengthen their export-control practices.”
But, importantly, Zhao added that it would be a mistake to misread those steps as China signing on, wholesale, to American efforts to force North Korea to the edge of collapse—a tactic, favored in Washington, known as “strategic strangulation.” “No, it’s just balancing Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Zhao said. “The reason China agreed to much tougher sanctions is to calm Trump down.” China has strategic tensions of its own with the U.S., so it is keeping both countries off balance. “It’s basically, ‘Who is the bigger evil?’ For China, the U.S. is always the top geostrategic concern, the top threat.”
Zhao notes that the U.N. sanctions against North Korea that were passed on August 5th, which China supported, stopped short of seeking to undermine trade and humanitarian activities. “They are trying to draw a line between North Korea’s military program and civilian trade. To put more pressure on North Korea, without undermining it. China has been taking the incremental approach,” he said. In Zhao’s view, even though China has agreed to limit oil exports to North Korea, it is unlikely to cut them off entirely, which the Trump Administration believes is a vital step to change Kim’s behavior. “If China remains the sole supplier, meaning Russia won’t step in, I think China would find it very hard to do that,” Zhao said.
There are hard limits to China’s willingness to advance American interests in Asia, because the two powers have deep disagreements—about trade, contested territory in the South China Sea, and Taiwan. As the North Korea crisis has escalated, China has urged the U.S. to consider offering North Korea a deal known as “freeze for freeze,” in which the North would halt further tests if the U.S. halts or reduces joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan—exercises that China resents as well. “I think some Chinese are secretly hoping the North Korean position can actually help drive the U.S. forces away from the Korean Peninsula,” Zhao said. “It is in China’s interest if, in the mid-to-long term, the North Koreans can have a deal with the United States where the U.S. reduces troops or reduces its exercises.”
In recent years, overly hopeful U.S. politicians and commentators have repeatedly misunderstood China’s views of North Korea and assumed that Beijing was, at last, turning against its irksome ally. In private meetings with President Obama, and later with President Trump, Xi has repeated a bottom-line principle about North Korea: “No war. No chaos. No nukes.” A former U.S. official, who was at several of those meetings, told me, “Every American senior official that I know hears, ‘Blah, blah, blah—no nuclear weapons.’ And thinks, ‘Oh, we agree! Excellent!’ So the Chinese ought to be willing to limbo under this bar for us. But, no, that’s third in the list of three strategic priorities. The first two are avoiding war on the Korean Peninsula, and avoiding chaos and collapse.” In that spirit, China has sought to limit the scope of U.S.-backed sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In the latest round, earlier this month, China succeeded in forcing the U.S. to drop its pursuit of a full oil blockade, which China fears would drive North Korea to collapse.
Nothing worries Chinese officials more than the following scenario: the U.S. uses harsh sanctions and covert action—and possibly military strikes—to drive North Korea close to the point of regime collapse. In turn, Pyongyang lashes out with violence against America or its allies, sparking a full-blown war on China’s border, just as China is trying to maintain delicate economic growth and social stability. Xi, in separate sessions, has offered Obama and Trump the same Chinese adage in reference to North Korea: “When a man is barefoot, he doesn’t fear a man with shoes.” In other words, even if attacking America would be suicide for North Korea, if it sees nothing left to lose, it just might do the unthinkable. For that reason, China, above all, wants the U.S. to avoid backing Kim into a corner from which he has no exit.
Trump is fervently seeking China’s coöperation, but, ironically, his rhetoric and aggression may be putting that further out of reach. On Sunday, Trump mocked Kim as the “Rocket Man.” Members of his Administration have repeated their openness to “military options,” despite projections that air strikes, or other attempts at targeted attacks, could spark a wider war. Chinese intellectuals have taken to joking that “Telangpu”—which is one of the Chinese pronunciations of Trump’s name—sounds like “te meipu (得没譜?),” which means clueless or lacking a plan. In recent months, Trump has alternately praised China and threatened it with a trade war. “I don’t understand Trump,” Shen, the historian, told me. “One day he is saying something good about Xi Jinping and the next he is criticizing him. Trump is becoming more and more of a problem. China is becoming more and more stable.”

Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and covers politics and foreign affairs. He is the author of “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.”Read more »

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Trump’s Articles of Impeachment: A Greatest Hits Collection

August 23, 2017

Trump’s Articles of Impeachment: A Greatest Hits Collection

By David Swanson, FireDonaldTrump.org

Several years back, I led a team of authors drafting articles of impeachment against then-President George W. Bush for then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich. We drafted over 60 and settled on the best 35. Had Congress moved forward, it would not have passed all 35 or convicted on them. But we felt it was important to establish the record and present the options. In fact, I would have preferred to go with more than 35, including a wider range of topics. The fact that someone has abused power in 10 ways should constitute no license to abuse it in an 11th way.

Believe it or not (hint, hint: I don’t need more emails on this) I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment and removal in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction.

I’m further aware that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s team wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can “oppose” him. The task before the public is to compel members of both major parties to impeach, not to sit back and observe them doing so of their own volition.

Although several potential articles of impeachment against Trump stand very strongly on their own, and picking any one of them would be sufficient, the very strongest case for impeachment is a cumulative one. I cannot predict which articles, if any, will gain the most popular or Congressional support. I am, therefore, collecting the strongest ones available here at FireDonaldTrump.org. I will add more as the crime wave rolls on. I pushed for impeachment of Bush and of Obama for some similar offenses and some completely different ones. Many of Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors are unprecedented. None are identical to the abuses by those who have gone before him.

I. Domestic Emoluments

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from the United States government and from individual state governments.

The Constitutional ban on domestic emoluments is absolute, not waivable by Congress, and not subject to proving any particular corrupting influence.

President Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building in Washington D.C. violates the General Services Administration lease contract which states: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” The GSA’s failure to enforce that contract constitutes an emolument.

Since 1980 Trump and his businesses have garnered, according to the New York Times, “$885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” Those subsidies from the state of New York have continued since President Trump took office and constitute emoluments.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

II. Foreign Emoluments

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from foreign governments. Foreign emoluments are banned by the U.S. Constitution.

Donald J. Trump’s business has licensing deals with two Trump Towers in Istanbul, Turkey. Donald J. Trump has stated: “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.”

China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower in New York City. It is also a major lender to Donald J. Trump. Its rent payments and its loans put President Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Foreign diplomats, including the Embassy of Kuwait, have changed their Washington D.C. hotel and event reservations to Trump International Hotel following Donald J. Trump’s election to public office.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

III. Incitement of Violence Within the United States

In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally incited violence within the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brandenberg v. Ohio in 1969 that “advocacy directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action . . . likely to incite or produce such action” is not protected by the First Amendment.

An incomplete sampling of public statements by candidate Donald J. Trump:

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

“See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.”

“You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“See the first group, I was nice. Oh, take your time. The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I’ll be a little more violent. And the fourth group, I’ll say get the hell out of here!”

“I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”

“You see, in the good old days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. A lot quicker. In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast — but today, everybody’s politically correct.”

“He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. That’s what we need more of.”

Numerous incidents of violence followed these comments. John Franklin McGraw punched a man in the face at a Trump event, and then told Inside Edition that “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Donald J. Trump said that he was considering paying McGraw’s legal bills.

Since Trump’s election and inauguration, his comments appearing to incite violence have continued, as have incidents of violence in which those participating in violence have pointed to Trump as justification.

On July 2, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him.

In August 2017, participants in a racist rally in Charlottesville, Va., credited President Trump with boosting their cause. Their violence included actions that have led to a murder charge. President Trump publicly minimized the offense and sought to blame “many sides.”

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

IV. Voter Intimidation

In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of voter intimidation and suppression.

For months leading up to the November 2016 elections, Donald J. Trump publicly encouraged his supporters, the same ones he had encouraged to engage in violence, to patrol polling places in search of participants in the virtually nonexistent practice of voter fraud. In so doing, candidate Trump made would-be voters aware that they might face such patrols. His remarks included:

“I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places, and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine.”

“We’re going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”

Trump urged supporters to target Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other cities with large minority populations.

He created on his campaign website a way to sign up to “volunteer to be a Trump election observer.”

When early voting began, incidents were reported of Trump supporters photographing voters and otherwise intimidating them.

Trump ally and former campaign advisor Roger Stone formed an activist group called Stop the Steal that acted in line with Trump’s public statements. The group threatened violence against delegates if the Republican Party denied Trump its nomination. It then organized intimidation efforts in the general election around the unsupported claim that Trump’s opponents would somehow “flood the polls with illegals. Liberal enclaves already let illegals vote in their local and state elections and now they want them to vote in the Presidential election.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006, in all federal elections between 2002 and 2005, a total of 26 people out of 197 million were convicted of trying to vote illegally.

Stone’s organization created official-looking ID badges for volunteers and asked them to videotape voters, and conduct phony exit polls in nine cities with large minority populations.

One such volunteer, Steve Webb of Ohio, told the Boston Globe, “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Since becoming president, Donald J. Trump has continued with voter intimidation efforts. He has created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which has sent letters to states requesting sensitive voter information. Most states have refused. But thousands of people have canceled their registrations rather than have their information turned over to Trump’s administration.

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

V. Muslim Bans

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and other laws by seeking to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Donald J. Trump had openly campaigned for office promising a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once in office, he created an executive order that his advisor Rudy Giuliani, said on Fox News had been drafted after Trump had asked him for the best way to create a Muslim ban “legally.” The order targeted several majority-Muslim countries for restrictions on immigration to the United States, but made allowances for people of minority religions within those countries. Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christian refugees would be given priority. When a federal court stopped this order from taking effect, President Trump issued a new one containing, in the words of his advisor Stephen Miller “minor technical differences.”

In these actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

VI. Environmental Destruction

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has actively sought to endanger the future existence of human life in the United States and elsewhere.

On December 6, 2009, on page 8 of the New York Times a letter to then-President Barack Obama printed as an advertisement and signed by Donald J. Trump called climate change an immediate challenge. “Please don’t postpone the earth,” it read. “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” An overwhelming consensus of climate scientists agreed with and still agree with that statement.

As president, Donald J. Trump has taken the opposite course, refusing to take any significant steps to protect the earth’s climate, and actively taking steps to endanger it, including by seeking to de-fund the Environmental Protection Agency and to censor its publications. President Trump has issued an executive order curbing enforcement of climate regulations. He has withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement. He has disbanded the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. He has canceled a study of the health impacts of mountain-top removal.

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has written than environmental crimes are crimes against humanity.

In the above and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

VII. Illegal Wars

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has waged numerous wars in violation of the United Nations Charter and of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, both treaties part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

VIII. Illegal Threats of Wars

In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has threatened war against additional nations, including North Korea, in violation of the United Nations Charter, a treaty that is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

IX. Sexual Assault

Prior to becoming President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, stated:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

By this action, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner that makes it impossible for him to fulfill his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

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 Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville

August 14, 2017

 
Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville
By David Swanson
http://davidswanson.org/top-10-misconceptions-about-charlottesville

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, are actually two completely different places in the world. The flood of concern and good wishes for those of us here in Charlottesville is wonderful and much appreciated. That people can watch TV news about Charlottesville, remember that I live in Charlottesville, and send me their kind greetings addressed to the people of Charlotte is an indication of how common the confusion is. It’s not badly taken; I have nothing against Charlotte. It’s just a different place, seventeen times the size. Charlottesville is a small town with the University of Virginia, a pedestrian downtown street, and very few monuments. The three located right downtown are for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Confederacy. Neither Lee nor Jackson had anything to do with Charlottesville, and their statues were put up in whites-only parks in the 1920s.

2. The racists who have begun coming to Charlottesville to campaign for governor, garner attention, threaten violence, engage in violence, and commit murder are almost all from outside Charlottesville, and extremely unwelcome here. Charlottesville is a slightly left-of-center, Democratic Party area. Most people don’t rally for good causes or against bad ones. Most people don’t want the Lee statue taken down. (Or at least they didn’t until it became a gathering point for neo-Confederates.) Most people want other memorials added to public space to diversify. And most people don’t want white supremacists coming to town with their hatred and their violence.

3. Armed attacks are not covered by the First Amendment. I can and have argued at length for the strategic — never mind legal — need to respect odious free speech, and — more importantly — to respect and build bridges of understanding to the troubled people preaching hatred. But the human right to free speech is not found in a gun or a torch or a can of pepper spray any more than in corporate advertising. When we hold peace rallies in U.S. cities we are sometimes forbidden to bring posters on wooden poles. We have to use hollow cardboard tubes to hold up our signs, because — you know — advocates of nonviolence can be so violent. Yet racist, nationalist, white supremacist agitators are allowed to bring an arsenal with which to attack the general public and counter-demonstrators! Whatever that is, it is not free speech. I’d be willing to say it’s closer to enabling terrorism. All media habits of “balance” and “even handedness” become lies when respect for rights, and blame for deaths and injuries, are based on the notion that premeditated violence and threats of violence and the carrying of weapons are not worth noticing.

4. Charlottesville’s mayor voted against taking down the Lee statue, even if he now sounds on NBC News as if it had been his idea. Seen from a certain angle, that’s progress. I want people to get on board with the idea of taking down all racist monuments and all war monuments, and this one is both. But it is a misconception to imagine that the decision to take down General Lee came from the top or that it came without extensive public input. It’s true that City Council member Kristin Szakos publicly proposed the dominance of our public space by Confederate statues as a problem, and that City Council member Wes Bellamy pushed for that. But it was the national movement of Black Lives Matter, and local activism, that created the demand in the first place, as well as making Bellamy a member of City Council. The City held very lengthy and public and extensive hearings and gathering of facts and views. A Blue Ribbon Commission produced a report. And when the City Council voted to take down Lee (but leave up Jackson) it did so because City Council Member Bob Fenwick joined Szakos and Bellamy in a 3-2 vote, in which Mayor Mike Signer was on the losing and cowardly side. Because that is typical of him, we should be wary of fale perceptions of him as a leader, until he really becomes one. It’s possible that had he shown the leadership of the Mayor of New Orleans in taking down statues and explaining why, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

5. The military and militarized police are not here to protect you. An armed force on the streets and in the air of Charlottesville crashed a helicopter, tragically killing two people. But what else did it accomplish? It heightened tensions. It reduced turnout by those opposed to violence and racism. Its aggression toward anti-racists following the KKK rally in July contributed to fears of what it would do this time. The Charlottesville police do not need the mine-resistant vehicle they keep in their garage, because we do not have land mines. We do not need our skies filled — including on the Friday before the rally — with military helicopters. We do not need tanks on our streets for godsake. We need to disarm those seeking to exercise their First Amendment Rights, not arm someone else. The helicopter never should have crashed because it never should have flown. And every individual who assaulted and threatened people with pepper spray, torches, sticks, fists, or an automobile, should have been welcomed to nonviolently, without guns or other weaponry, speak their mind — and to meet and converse with those opposing their views.

6. The events in Charlottesville, like foreign and domestic emoluments, additional forms of financial corruption, Muslim bans, illegal wars, threats to North Korea, voter intimidation, environmental destruction, and sexual assault, make up yet another article of impeachment for Donald Trump awaiting only the awakening of a House of Representatives. Incitement of acts of violence is a crime, and it is certainly a high-crime-and-misdemeanor, the Constitutional phrase refering to an abuse of power that may or may not be criminal. Donald Trump went out of his way to persuade racists that they were free to engage in their racism openly. Numerous racists, including some of those who have been active in Charlottesville, have openly communicated their understanding of that presidential permission. Those sitting silently by in this moment are condoning racism. So are those not advocating for impeachment and removal. Yes I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction. I’m further aware that the D.C. Democratic leadership makes Mayor Signer’s cynicism look like child’s play, and that Nancy Pelosi wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can “oppose” him. But I’m not asking you to believe he’s going to be impeached without your doing anything. I’m asking you to compel his impeachment.

7. The answer to racist violence is not anti-racist violence or passivism, and the idea that those are the only two choices is ridiculous. Charlottesville’s and the United States’ resistance to racism would be far stronger with disciplined nonviolence. The behavior of a few anti-racists in July allowed the corporate media to depict the KKK as victims. There is nothing the alt-right crowd longs for more in this moment than some act of violence against them that would permit pundits to start trumpeting the need for liberals to be more tolerant of racists, and to proclaim that the real problem is those reckless radicals who want to tear down statues. We need nonviolent activism, and we need a thousand times more of it. We need to initiate the next rally in Charlottesville ourselves.

8. Tearing down statues is not opposing history. Charlottesville has three Confederate war statues, two (pro) genocide of the Native Americans statues, one World War I statue, one Vietnam War memorial, one statue of Thomas Jefferson (whose words and deeds, I’m sorry to say, agreed almost entirely with the latest racists), and one statue of Homer (poet of war). And that’s it. We have no memorials, whether monumental statuary or otherwise, to a single educator, artist, musician, athlete, author, or activst, nothing for Native American history, slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, or ANYTHING ELSE. Almost all of our history is missing. Putting up a giant statue for racism and war is not a step for history. Taking it down is not a blow to history. It could be a step forward, in fact. Even the renaming of Lee Park as Emancipation Park is educational. Creating a memorial to emancipation, and one to civil rights, and one to school integration, and one to peace would be more so.

9. The Lee statue is still there, not because racists rally around it, but because legislators glorify war. While neither side has any interest in opposing or even particularly in promoting war, and while the national and local media have gone through endless contortions to avoid mentioning it, the court case holding up the removal of Robert E. Lee and the horse he never rode in on is about war glorification. A state law that may or may not apply to this statue forbids taking down war memorials in Virginia. For fair and balanced free-speech advocates I should note that no similar law forbids taking down peace monuments. Also there really aren’t any to take down if you wanted to. This is a symptom of a culture that has come to accept endless war and the militarization of local police, and to report on rallies of “white nationalists” without ever considering that there may be a problem with both of those words.

10. As I’ve written in recent months, many sympathizers with the racist cause are understandable. This is a quite different thing from being acceptable or praise worthy. To say that someone is understandable is to say that you can understand them. They’re not monsters acting on inexplicable subhuman impulses any more than do the people they hate or the people against whom the United States wages wars typically behave that way. These racists live in one of the most unequal societies ever known, and they don’t live at the top of it. They hear about endless efforts to alleviate injustice toward all sorts of wronged groups that don’t include them. They notice the cultural acceptability in comedy shows and elsewhere of mocking white people. They seek a group identity. They seek others to blame. They seek others to place beneath themselves. And they hear hardly a peep out of Washington D.C. about creating universal rights and supports for everyone, as in Scandinavia. Instead they hear that hatred and violence and racism come with the Presidential seal of approval.

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Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump

May 27, 2017

David Swanson via ActionNetwork.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
May 24

Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson

By Ann Garrison at Black Agenda Report
Anti-war activist and author David Swanson told the author that party partisanship fuels the anti-Russian obsession among rank and file Democrats. “If the Democratic Party had made a grand cause of friendship with Russia and disarmament and ending nuclear weapons madness, then liberal supporters of the Democratic Party would be out there saying, ‘Let’s be friends with Russia.’”

Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson


by Ann Garrison



“Russians have absolutely no idea that hatred of Russia can be driven by hatred of Trump.”

In American politics, Donald Trump has been so effectively identified with Russia that hostility or friendship toward Russia is now driven by feelings about Trump. David Swanson, founder of World Beyond War and author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just,” was on a friendship tour in Russia when a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a Confederate monument in his hometown and chanted “Russia is our friend.” I spoke to David Swanson upon his return.

Ann Garrison: On May 13, in your hometown—Charlottesville, Virginia—a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protesters chanted “Blood and Soil,” a well-known Nazi slogan invoking the bloodline of a people and its territory, and “Russia is our friend.” You were in Russia at that time on a friendship tour, so could you tell us how Russians perceived this?

David Swanson: At that time, few of them had heard about it, and I hope that remains the case. I did discuss it with some, and I mentioned it immediately to a Russian friend I was with. He objected, “But we didn’t have slavery; we had serfdom. It’s not the same.” He just didn’t understand connecting Russia to slavery, much less to Nazism, given that Russia is the country that defeated Nazism. 

Russians have absolutely no idea that hatred of Russia can be driven by hatred of Trump. They have no idea whatsoever that Trump is doing anything unpopular on the domestic front. They don’t know that he’s going after environmental protections, or poverty relief, or women’s rights, or that he’s going after immigrants. They do know about longstanding, deeply entrenched, decades-long hatred of Russia in Washington, D.C. They think that hatred of Russia drives hatred of Trump. Of course, the reality is both ways, but they only know about the one. So you have to explain to them who Trump is, why somebody who wants to be friends with Russia, like myself, does not like Trump. There’s a lot of explaining to do.

AG: Didn’t you lead the effort to have the Robert E. Lee statue taken down there in Charlottesville?

“The only statues we have here in Charlottesville are war statues. There are no peace statues.”

DS: No, I certainly don’t think anyone would give me credit for that. In fact, the push to get rid of these Confederate statues in Charlottesville came from directions similar to the Black Lives Matter movement and was driven, I think, purely by opposition to racism. Most of the advocates for taking down the Confederate general statues in Charlottesville probably having nothing whatsoever against war any more than any other good war-loving Americans. Their problem is with racism, with bad wars, with a war for slavery and defending the slavery side of that war. That’s why they wanted these statues gone. 

I jumped in and said, “Yes, you’re absolutely right. Get rid of these statues. There are some other reasons, too, to get rid of these statues. They’re war statues. The only statues we have here in Charlottesville are war statues. There are no peace statues. There are no anything else statues. There are no civil rights statues, no women’s rights statues, no labor movement statues. There’s nothing memorializing 99.99% of the history of this town. Only these two Confederate generals who, so far as I know, never even visited this town are memorialized by monumental statues.” 

Ironically, the issue of memorializing war, which nobody in the United States ever wants to face, was forced into the conversation because there’s a law in Virginia that says, “Thou shalt never tear down a war statue.” Even if you’re doing it purely because it’s a racist statue. Now it’s in the courts. Even though the city has said, “Take down the statue,” there’s a court case arguing that it can’t be taken down because we’re not allowed to take down any war statues. 

There is no law that says you can’t take down any peace statues or any peace memorials. For that matter, there aren’t any peace memorials to consider taking down. Yet that’s hardly scratched the surface of the ongoing conversation, which remains purely about racism and that’s of course been inflamed further by the racists at this torch-lit rally chanting Nazi slogans and “Russia is our friend.” I’m very glad that at least a few people were confused by this “Russia is our friend” slogan.

AG: I know that you always favor dialogue over confrontation, and you’ve said that despite everything, you feel some empathy for these people and understand their concerns. Could you explain that?

DS: Well, we should feel empathy for everyone. I’ve had people attack me in this debate for trying to humanize the racists. If you can’t humanize humans, who can you humanize? Some of them are cynical politicians, including a candidate for governor of Virginia who comes from Minnesota, a pro-Trump guy who wants to become a Confederate by leading the charge to defend the Confederate monuments. By the way, these monuments are coming down in New Orleans just ahead of Charlottesville, and there’s discussion of taking them down in Richmond.

Aside from the cynical politicians, a lot of these people share the obvious, legitimate grievance of living in a country that’s rolling in money and does not provide decent education, opportunity, retirement security, or health care, and leaves them on edge and ill at ease about their lives all the time.

And it must be noted that we’re a culture that’s progressed so far in certain ways that it’s just inexcusable to make sexist or racist comments about women and most minorities, but you can make jokes about white rednecks anytime you like. You can have comedy specials about rednecks. You can push any sort of stereotypes or generalizations about white people, and especially poor white people, and that’s totally acceptable. That fuels this sort of resentment among people who haven’t been taught anything about history, but know that some African-American kid got a scholarship to a school that they didn’t get. 

We haven’t found the wisdom and the political force to do things right, to do things the way Scandinavia does—to provide rights for everyone, a basic income for everyone, health care for everyone, job security, retirement, paid vacation, a clean environment, transportation, and child care for everyone. We have a system that funnels resentment into our politics by creating giant bureaucracies to weed out the deserving poor from the undeserving poor and make sure the little scraps get tossed to the right people and not the wrong people. So that’s a lot of where this movement comes from.

“We haven’t found the wisdom and the political force to do things right, to do things the way Scandinavia does—to provide rights for everyone, a basic income for everyone, health care for everyone, job security, retirement, paid vacation, a clean environment, transportation, and child care for everyone.”

These people will tell you they’re not racist. They’ll tell you they don’t want slavery. They’ll tell you they’re out there to defend the white something, and sometimes they’ll say the white race. Sometimes they’ll say the white ethnicity. They identify with the white something as their group. They ask, if it’s acceptable to identify with and celebrate being a Latino, an African American, or an African American homosexual, or this, that, or the other thing, then why isn’t it acceptable to celebrate being white? This is their cause. I don’t think it’s a kind or generous or productive cause. I don’t think it’s helpful and I wouldn’t defend it, but to suggest that they’re not human, that they’re monsters, that they just behave irrationally without any explanation is to treat them the way U.S. government propaganda treats Russia, Iran and North Korea, and that’s not helpful.

AG: When I volunteered at the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans after the flood, they let us know that the racist aspersion “cracker” was not acceptable there.

DS: I don’t think it should be acceptable anywhere. I don’t think any racial insults should be acceptable anywhere.

AG: How do you think the people at this torch lit protest understood the chant, “Russia is our friend”?

DS: I don’t know any more than you do really. I haven’t spoken with them or communicated with them about it. The other response to that protest that I heard first in Russia, then back here at home, was, “Oh, it’s the work of the deep state. The CIA has planted that.” No, I don’t think so. This is the work of a handful of racists feeding off of what has been deeply implanted in U.S. culture over the past six to eight months. That is, the idea that Trump is on one side and the people attacking Trump are on the other side, and Russia is on the Trump side. It doesn’t matter if six months ago, you would have cared nothing about Russia or been hostile toward Russia. The defenders of Trump accept without any evidence, just as the opponents of Trump accept without any evidence, that Russia had something to do with electing Trump. 

We haven’t seen a shred of proof. I’m absolutely certain that if there were any proof we would have seen it by now. The whole thing’s become a bait and switch where, instead of any evidence coming forth, we start hearing about other abuses whether it’s obstruction of a federal investigation—whether that investigation was going anywhere or not—or financial ties to Russian criminals on the part of Trump’s subordinates, or whatever. Even so, this idea that Russia somehow determined the outcome of our presidential election has been so firmly implanted in U.S. culture that both sides just accept it. The side that’s out there to cheer for Trump, they want to thank Russia and be friends with Russia.

“I’m absolutely certain that if there were any proof we would have seen it by now.”

If the right wing populists in this country had, for whatever reasons, chosen to demonize Russia, these same people would be out there demonizing Russia. If the Democratic Party had made a grand cause of friendship with Russia and disarmament and ending nuclear weapons madness, then liberal supporters of the Democratic Party would be out there saying, “Let’s be friends with Russia.” 

It’s pure partisanship, and yet it’s very dangerous because it’s stirring up hostility between two nuclear-armed governments. Much of the deep state in Washington, D.C. benefits from and openly wants hostility with Russia to increase weapons sales and bureaucratic power, and this is playing with fire. It’s playing with apocalypse. It might be funny if it weren’t for that.

AG: In this piece you recently wrote, “Leave Russia the Блядь Out of U.S. Scandals,” you address the recent uproar about Donald Trump sharing classified info about ISIS with Russian officials. Could you tell us what you had to say about that?

DS: Well, I don’t know any more about what was shared than you do. We were told it was information helpful in going after ISIS that came from Israel’s so-called intelligence so-called services and that this might therefore endanger our relationship with these so-called intelligence services. 

Trump has always maintained that he wants to work with Russia on combating terrorism. Russia has always maintained the same public approach to working with the United States, and, as far as we know, the same private approach. They want us to work together. 

Now they want to work together on something that I see as counterproductive, immoral and illegal on its own terms. That is, using warfare to stamp out terrorism, using a larger tactic of terrorism to stamp out terrorism, which of course just fuels a cycle of violence and produces more terrorism, but this is what they both want to do. This is what just about everybody agrees the United States should be doing. They’re just outraged that Trump would do it in collaboration with Russia.

“Some Russians complained to me that Stalin was never demonized in the U.S. media the way Vladimir Putin has been.”

You can go back and look at when past U.S. presidents and past presidents and premiers of Russia and the Soviet Union have shared all kinds of secrets with each other. Bush the First told Gorbachev that there was a coup coming and who the source of the information was. FDR and Stalin shared all kinds of information. And by the way, some Russians complained to me that Stalin was never demonized in the U.S. media the way Vladimir Putin has been. And Stalin killed millions of people. The bait and switch that I mentioned earlier, beginning with the story that Russia decided the U.S. presidential election, then switching to all these other crimes that have some sort of connection to Russia—any connection to Russia—is creating this atmosphere where not just the Russian government but the Russian people are identified as enemies of the United States. A people is not a government, and a government that has flaws does not typically see those flaws improve in response to threats, sanctions, attacks, or lies about it.

I met with opponents of Putin in Russia who said, “The sanctions have cut Russian incomes by about ten percent even though they’ve benefited Russian agriculture. As long as these sanctions are in place, I’m not going to oppose Putin. I’m going to align with Putin and unite behind Putin, and if the sanctions ever end, well, then I’m going to go back to criticizing Putin.” This is the predictable and consistent result of going after a country. The country unifies against the external aggressor. The approach the United States has been taking since Obama put these sanctions in place and created this new Cold War is not working, and it’s never going to work.

AG: Anything else you’d like to say?

DS: Go to Russia, if you’re going to take a vacation. Russia has the largest, most beautiful cities in Europe. Russian people speak English and love Americans. The signs are in Russian and English. You get lots of rubles for your dollar. The sun comes up in the middle of the night now and stays up nearly twenty-four hours, and it’s beautiful weather. More Americans need to meet more Russians and invite Russians to come back and meet them.

David Swanson is the founder of World Beyond War, and the author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just.” He can be reached at davidswanson.org or worldbeyondwar.org.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in Oakland California. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@kpfa.org.

Ann Garrison’s blog

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

May 27, 2017

David Swanson via WarIsACrime.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
May 23 (3 days ago)

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-francis-boyle-on-how-to-impeach-trump.

http://davidswanson.org/talk-nation-radio-francis-boyle-on-how-to-impeach-trump/
Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Professor Boyle has served as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He has represented the Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. And he has been a strong advocate over the years for the proper use of the power of impeachment.

Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

May 11, 2017

David Swanson via WarIsACrime.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
12:27 PM (10 hours ago)

Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

By David Swanson
http://davidswanson.org/impeach-trump-for-right-reasons/
The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial and business interests on the day he became president (in the real sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became president” by bombing enough people) at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org.

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about) Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

As of a 2015 disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump owns stock in the maker of the missiles he sent into Syria, Raytheon, as well as numerous other weapons makers, Canadian tar sands, etc. Trump has continued, escalated, and threatened numerous illegal and immoral wars. That he may be personally profiting from them just adds to the supreme international crime, which of course already violates the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, supreme laws of the U.S. under the Constitution.

Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again.

Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court even against a non-member. On December 6, 2009, Trump signed a public letter to President Barack Obama urging action to protect the earth from climate change. “If we fail to act now,” the letter read, “it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” Trump is knowingly endangering all human (and many non-human) residents of the United States, right along with the other 96% of humanity.

Trump openly sought to intimidate voters prior to his election, and fought the counting of ballots where they existed, was elected with a minority of votes, was elected with numerous votes uncounted and numerous voters blocked from voting by the partisan stripping of the rolls and by ID laws, following a nomination principally decided by dramatically biased media coverage. If none of that put the Constitution into crisis, why keep the rotting document around at all?

Pre-presidency but still available grounds for impeachment, Trump violated, according to the list in Alan Lichtman’s book on Trump impeachment, the Fair Housing Act, New York charity law, tax laws, the Cuban embargo, casino regulations, the RICO statute, laws against employing undocumented immigrants, and of course laws against sexual assault. You don’t have to have never been in Congress to spot a pattern of criminality here.

Of course there is one charge against Trump that has not been proven, risks confrontation with a nuclear armed government, and needlessly adds a xenophobic excuse to the dozens of solid reasons that last year’s U.S. election was illegitimate. So of course this is the one everybody wants to focus on: blaming Russia for exposing the Democratic Party’s slanting of its own primary against its strongest candidate. Let’s remember that the people who have most vigorously pursued this approach are the same people who nominated possibly the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump.

Now we come to a charge of possible, conceivable, or an appearance of possible or conceivable obstruction of justice — and perhaps something or other at the base of the story around which justice was being sought. If we can remove Trump this way, by all means, proceed. And proceed with impeachment, not with a 2020 election campaign by some otherwise repulsive candidate who plans to win by virtue of not being Trump and somehow surviving four years of Trumpism.

But here are my concerns:

The coverup is not worse than the crime. Serious crimes are available as impeachment charges, and overlooking them effectively permits them going forward, along with any other crimes, as long as there’s no coverup.

We have yet to see any actual evidence of any actual Russian influence on the U.S. election. Toying with hostility toward a nuclear government is more reckless than anything (else) Trump has done. Can you impeach and try Trump for obstructing an investigation into what all the corporate media refer to as if it were established fact, without actually focusing on whether there is any evidence, and without demonizing Russia?

If some lesser crimes are proven that involve Russia in some way, can you try them without advancing the notion that the fundamental crime is friendship with Russians?

Can you keep in perspective the hypocrisy that all of this telegraphs to the earth? Barack Obama recorded a campaign ad for a French candidate in last week’s election, while Samantha Power was busy accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to influence the French election. The U.S. has openly sought to influence dozens of elections, including Yeltsin’s (the Trump of Russia?), not to mention overthrowing dozens of governments — still being pursued in Syria. How does this look? Wouldn’t it look better to at least add in a few articles of impeachment for the highest of crimes even if Russia isn’t involved in them?

And, yes, I mean even crimes committed by Obama and Bush and others before them. I’m not expecting consistency. While I supported impeachment for Bush and Obama as well as Trump, one cannot expect all Democrats to have gone that far in supporting the rule of law when Obama was drone master — although they may now ask Republicans to reach that higher standard of integrity. I understand that partisanship is strong poison. I just ask for at least the appearance of seriousness — even if only because going into a trial in the U.S. Senate with charges that are already proven makes a conviction far more likely.

The bigger concern, of tamping down the warmongering, of lowering the risk of nuclear conflict should be made to appeal to as many as can hear it.

Impeachment certainly should be pursued, and certainly cannot wait. But it will only establish the proper threat of impeachment for the next person to hold the office if it is done for the right reasons in the right way. The right way includes being led by the public. We, not Congress, must decide when there is a crisis.

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A HUNDRED DAYS OF TRUMP

April 26, 2017

COMMENT MAY 1, 2017 ISSUE

With his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, he threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker.
By David Remnick
170501_r29883illuweb_rd

Illustrations by Tom Bachtell
On April 29th, Donald Trump will have occupied the Oval Office for a hundred days. For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. The hundred-day marker is never an entirely reliable indicator of a four-year term, but it’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama were among those who came to office at a moment of national crisis and had the discipline, the preparation, and the rigor to set an entirely new course. Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has, in the same span, set fire to the integrity of his office.

Trump has never gone out of his way to conceal the essence of his relationship to the truth and how he chooses to navigate the world. In 1980, when he was about to announce plans to build Trump Tower, a fifty-eight-story edifice on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street, he coached his architect before meeting with a group of reporters. “Give them the old Trump bullshit,” he said. “Tell them it’s going to be a million square feet, sixty-eight stories.”

This is the brand that Trump has created for himself—that of an unprincipled, cocky, value-free con who will insult, stiff, or betray anyone to achieve his gaudiest purposes. “I am what I am,” he has said. But what was once a parochial amusement is now a national and global peril. Trump flouts truth and liberal values so brazenly that he undermines the country he has been elected to serve and the stability he is pledged to insure. His bluster creates a generalized anxiety such that the President of the United States can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats. When Kim In-ryong, a representative of North Korea’s radical regime, warns that Trump and his tweets of provocation are creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment,” does one man sound more immediately rational than the other? When Trump rushes to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for passing a referendum that bolsters autocratic rule in Turkey—or when a sullen and insulting meeting with Angela Merkel is followed by a swoon session with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the military dictator of Egypt—how are the supporters of liberal and democratic values throughout Europe meant to react to American leadership?

Trump appears to strut through the world forever studying his own image. He thinks out loud, and is incapable of reflection. He is unserious, unfocussed, and, at times, it seems, unhinged. Journalists are invited to the Oval Office to ask about infrastructure; he turns the subject to how Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, is a “good person,” blameless, like him, in matters of sexual harassment. A reporter asks about the missile attack on Syria; he feeds her a self-satisfied description of how he informed his Chinese guests at Mar-a-Lago of the strike over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.”

Little about this Presidency remains a secret for long. The reporters who cover the White House say that, despite their persistent concerns about Trump’s attempts to marginalize the media, they are flooded with information. Everyone leaks on everyone else. Rather than demand discipline around him, Trump sits back and watches the results on cable news. His Administration is not so much a team of rivals as it is a new form of reality entertainment: “The Circular Firing Squad.”

This Presidency is so dispiriting that, at the first glimmer of relative ordinariness, Trump is graded on a curve. When he restrains himself from trolling Kim Jong-un about the failure of a North Korean missile test, he is credited with the strategic self-possession of a Dean Acheson. The urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his flagrant incompetence and dishonesty—to wish it all away, if only for a news cycle or two—is connected to the fear of what fresh hell might come next. Every day brings another outrage or embarrassment: the dressing down of the Australian Prime Minister or a shoutout for the “amazing job” that Frederick Douglass is doing. One day nato is “obsolete”; the next it is “no longer obsolete.” The Chinese are “grand champions” of currency manipulation; then they are not. When Julian Assange is benefitting Trump’s campaign, it’s “I love WikiLeaks!”; now, with the Presidency won, the Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against him. News of Trump’s casual reversals of policy comes with such alarming regularity that the impulse to locate a patch of firm ground is understandable. It’s soothing. But it’s untenable.

Cartoon

“Someone’s at the hole.”
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There is frustration all around. During his first hundred days in office, Trump has not done away with populist rhetoric, but he has acted almost entirely as a plutocrat. His Cabinet and his cast of advisers are stocked with multimillionaires and billionaires. His positions on health care, tax reform, and financial regulation are of greatest appeal to the super-wealthy. How he intends to improve the situation of the middle class remains obscure. A report in Politico described thirty staffers holed up in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, attempting a “rebranding” of this first chapter of the Trump Administration. The aides furiously assembled “lists of early successes” on whiteboards.

One success they can name is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, although Democrats rightly judge that his seat was stolen from Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. The first hundred days are marked most indelibly by Trump’s attempted ban of travellers from six Muslim countries, which failed in the courts, and the effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which imploded in the House of Representatives. The list of domestic initiatives is largely confined to reversals of achievements of the Obama era. Trump has proposed an expansion of the prison at Guantánamo and ordered the easing of Dodd-Frank financial regulations. He has reversed plans to save wetlands and protect waterways from coal waste; he has reversed executive orders that banned gun sales to the mentally ill and that protected L.G.B.T. federal employees from discrimination; his Vice-President voted in a Senate tiebreaker to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood clinics. Trump, because of the lavish travel habits of his family, is shaping up to be the most expensive executive in history to guard. At the same time, his budget proposals would, if passed in Congress, cut the funding of after-school programs, rental-assistance programs, the Community Development Block Grant program, legal assistance for the poor, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scorekeepers will credit these as promises kept. Guardians of democratic values and the environment, champions of economic opportunity and the national well-being will view them as an ever-growing damage report.

ere’s a slight madness to thinking you should be the leader of the free world,” Obama admitted before he went ahead and ran for President. But even after Richard Nixon’s anti-Semitic rants and Ronald Reagan’s astrology-influenced daily schedule, we are at a new level of strangeness with Donald Trump—something that his biography had always suggested.

Trump emerged from neither a log cabin nor the contemporary meritocracy. He inherited his father’s outer-borough real-estate empire—a considerable enterprise distinguished by racist federal-housing violations—and brought it to Manhattan. He entered a world of contractors, casino operators, Roy Cohn, professional-wrestling stars, Rupert Murdoch, multiple bankruptcies, tabloid divorces, Mar-a-Lago golf tournaments, and reality television. He had no real civic presence in New York. A wealthy man, he gave almost nothing to charity. He cultivated a kind of louche glamour. At Studio 54, he said, “I would watch supermodels getting screwed . . . on a bench in the middle of the room.” He had no close friends. Mainly, he preferred to work, play golf, and spend long hours at home watching TV. His misogyny and his low character were always manifest. Displeased with a harmless Palm Beach society journalist named Shannon Donnelly, he told her in a letter that if she adhered to his standards of discretion, “I will promise not to show you as the crude, fat and obnoxious slob which everyone knows you are.” Insofar as he had political opinions, they were inconsistent and mainly another form of performance art, part of his talk-show patter. His contributions to political campaigns were unrelated to conviction; he gave solely to curry favor with those who could do his business some good. He believed in nothing.

By the mid-nineties, Trump’s investment prospects had foundered. Banks cut him off. He turned to increasingly dubious sources of credit and branding opportunities at home and abroad. A typical deal, involving a hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan (described at length in these pages by Adam Davidson), included as partners an Azerbaijani family distinguished for its outsized corruption and for its connections to some Iranian brothers who worked as a profit front for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. There is little mystery as to why Trump has broken with custom and refuses to release his tax returns. A record of his colossal tax breaks, associations, deals, and net worth resides in those forms. It may turn out that deals like the one in Baku will haunt his Presidency no less than his grotesque conflicts of interest or any of the possible connections to Russia now being investigated by the F.B.I. and congressional committees will.

As Trump struggled in business, he made a deal with NBC to star in “The Apprentice,” which, for fourteen seasons, featured him in a role of corporate dominance. It was there that he honed his peculiar showmanship and connected to a mass audience well beyond New York City, perfecting the persona that became the core of his Presidential campaign: the billionaire populist. That role is not unknown in American history: in the eighteen-seventies, wealthy leaders of the Redeemer movement, a southern faction of the Bourbon Democrats linked to the Ku Klux Klan and other white paramilitary groups, set out to defund public schools, shrink government, lower taxes for land owners, and undercut the rise of a generation of black politicians.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
And yet Trump has discovered that it’s far more difficult to manage the realities of national politics than the set of “The Apprentice.” In the transitional period between Election Day and the Inauguration, Obama’s aides were told that Trump, who has the attention span of a hummingbird, would not read reports of any depth; he prefers one- or two-page summaries, pictures, and graphics. Obama met with Trump once and talked with him on the telephone roughly ten times. The discussions did little to change Obama’s mind that Trump was “uniquely unqualified” to be President. His grasp of issues was rudimentary, at best. After listening to Obama describe the framework of the nuclear agreement with Iran—a deal that Trump had previously assessed as “terrible” and vowed to dismantle—he conceded that maybe it made sense after all. In one of the many books published under his name, “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire,” he said, “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.”

On Inauguration Day, at the Capitol, Trump no longer affected any awe of the task before him or respect for his predecessors. He furiously rebuked the elected officials seated behind him and the international order that they served. Using the language of populist demagogues, from Huey Long to George Wallace to Silvio Berlusconi, the new President implied that he, the Leader, was in perfect communion with the People, and that together they would repair the landscape of “American carnage” and return it to its prelapsarian state of grace. In this union, it seemed, there was no place for the majority of the electorate, which had voted for Hillary Clinton. African-Americans, Muslim Americans, Latinos, immigrants—it was hard to tell if Trump counted them as the People, too. More likely, they remained the objects of anxiety, fear, and disdain that they had been during the campaign. As George W. Bush was leaving the grandstand, according to New York, he was heard to say, “That was some weird shit.”

By all accounts, the West Wing has become a battlefield of opposing factions. The most influential of them is also the only one with a guarantee of permanence—the Family, particularly Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. (His sons Eric and Donald, Jr., have remained in New York to run the family business. Despite the responsibility to put country before personal profit, the President refuses to divest from the business.) Kushner has no relevant experience in foreign or domestic policy, but he has been tasked with forging a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, steering U.S. relations with China and Mexico, reorganizing the federal government, and helping to lead the fight against the epidemic of opioid use. It is hard to know if Kushner, as an executive, is in charge of everything or of nothing at all. But, as a counsellor, he clearly is powerful enough to whisper in his father-in-law’s ear and diminish the prospects of rival counsellors, including those of the Administration’s most lurid white nationalist, Steve Bannon. Ivanka Trump’s duties are gauzier than her husband’s, but they seem to relate to getting her father to go easier on L.G.B.T. and women’s-rights issues and calming his temper.

The way that Trump has established his family members in positions of power and profit is redolent of tin-pot dictatorships. He may waver on matters of ideology, but his commitment to the family firm is unshakable and resists ethical norms. The conflicts and the privileges are shameless, the potential revenues unthinkable. On the day that the Trump family hosted Xi Jinping in Palm Beach, the Chinese government extended trademarks to Ivanka’s businesses so that she could sell her shoes and handbags to the vast market from Harbin to Guangzhou.

Trump is wary of expertise. During the campaign, he expressed his distrust of scientists, military strategists, university professors, diplomats, and intelligence officers. He filled the executive branch accordingly, appointing a climate-change denier as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency; a Secretary of Education who, during her confirmation hearing, displayed stunning ignorance of public education; an Energy Secretary who previously called for closing the Department of Energy; a United Nations Ambassador whose international experience is limited to trade missions for the state of South Carolina; and a national-security adviser who trafficked in Islamophobic conspiracy theories until, three weeks into the job, he was forced to resign because he lied to Vice-President Pence about his ties to the Russian government.

Trump has left open hundreds of important positions in government, largely because he sees no value in them. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have,” he has said. “I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.” Among the many federal bureaucracies that are now languishing with countless empty offices are the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Defense. A recent article in The Atlantic described the State Department as “adrift and listless,” with officials unsure of their duties, hanging around the cafeteria gossiping, and leaving work early.

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Trump seems to believe that foreign affairs require only modest depths of thought. It’s the generals who are the authoritative voices in his Administration. To a President whose idea of a strategic move is to “bomb the shit out of” isis, they are the ones who have to make the case for international law, the efficacy of nato, the immorality of torture, and the inadvisability of using the rhetoric of “radical Islamic terrorism.” At the same time, the pace of bombing in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen appears to have increased; tensions with Iran, Russia, and North Korea have intensified. Trump, an erratic and impulsive spokesman for his own policy, needs competent civilian advisers, if only as a counterweight to the military point of view and his own self-admiring caprices. When conservative columnists write about Trump and fondly recall Richard Nixon’s “madman theory” of international relations—a calculated unpredictability directed at the North Vietnamese—they tend to leave out that it did not work. The war in Southeast Asia went on for years after Nixon’s brinksmanship.

The Trump Presidency represents a rebellion against liberalism itself—an angry assault on the advances of groups of people who have experienced profound, if fitful, empowerment over the past half century. There is nothing about Trump’s public pronouncements that indicates that he has welcomed these moral advances; his language, his tone, his personal behavior, and his policies all suggest, and foster, a politics of resentment. It is the Other—the ethnic minority, the immigrant—who has closed your factory, taken your job, threatened your safety.

The Trumpian rebellion against liberal democracy is not a local event; it is part of a disturbing global trend. When the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved, two years later, the democratic movement grew and liberalism advanced, and not only in Eastern and Central Europe. During the course of thirty years, the number of democracies in the world expanded from thirty to roughly a hundred. But, since 2000, nation-states of major consequence—Russia, Hungary, Thailand, and the Philippines among them—have gone in the opposite, authoritarian direction. India, Indonesia, and Great Britain have become more nationalistic. The Arab Spring failed nearly everywhere. The prestige and the efficacy of democracy itself is in question. The Chinese Communist Party, which crushed a pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square, in 1989, then set out to make the case that it could achieve enormous economic growth while ignoring the demand for human rights and political liberties. In Russia, Vladimir Putin has suppressed political competition, a nascent independent media, and any hope for an independent judiciary or legislature while managing to convince millions of his countrymen that the United States is hypocritical and immoral, no more democratic than any other country. In Turkey, Erdoğan has jailed tens of thousands of political opponents, muzzled the press, and narrowly won a referendum providing him with nearly dictatorial powers. Western Europe is also in question. In France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is polling credibly in a Presidential campaign guided by two of her longtime associates and fascist sympathizers, Frédéric Chatillon and Axel Loustau.

The stakes of this anti-democratic wave cannot be overestimated. Nor can it be ignored to what degree authoritarian states have been able to point out the failures of the West—including the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Libya—and use them to diminish the moral prestige of democracy itself. As Edward Luce writes, in “The Retreat of Western Liberalism,” “What we do not yet know is whether the world’s democratic recession will turn into a global depression.”

If we were ever naïve enough to believe that progress in political life is inevitable, we are experiencing the contradiction. Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization that researches global trends in political liberty, has identified an eleven-year decline in democracies around the globe and now issues a list of “countries to watch.” These are nations that “may be approaching important turning points in their democratic trajectory.” The ones that most concern Freedom House include South Africa, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and, the largest of them, the United States. The reason the group includes the U.S. is Trump’s “unorthodox” Presidential campaign and his “approach to civil liberties and the role of the United States in the world.”

In 1814, John Adams evoked the Aristotelian notion that democracy will inevitably lapse into anarchy. “Remember, democracy never lasts long,” he wrote to John Taylor, a former U.S. senator from Virginia, in 1814. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.” As President, Donald Trump, with his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker, and a fulfillment of Adams’s dark prophecy.

Pushing back against Trumpism will not be easy. Even if the President drops some of his most brutal promises, even if he throws his smartphone into the Potomac, and ceases to titillate his base with racist dog-whistling and to provoke his enemies with a rhetoric of heedless bravado, he still commands a Republican Congress, and he is still going to score some distressing political victories. He is certainly not finished with his efforts to repeal Obamacare in a way that would deprive millions of people of their health insurance; he is certainly not going to relax his effort to enact hard-line immigration restrictions; he is certainly not through trying to dismantle legislative and international efforts to rescue an environment that is already suffering the grievous effects of climate change.

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“Can you ask them to do a little dance?”

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Trump forces us to recognize the fragility of precious things. Yet there are signs that Adams and the doomsayers of democratic values will be proved wrong. Hope can be found in the extraordinary crowds at the many women’s marches across the country on the day after the Inauguration; in the recent marches in support of science and a more compassionate, reasonable immigration policy; in the earnest work of the courts that have blocked the “Muslim ban” and of various senators and House members in both parties who, unlike Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, have refused to put cynicism and expedience before integrity; in the exemplary investigative journalism being done by traditional and new media outlets; in the performance of anti-Trump candidates in recent congressional races in Kansas and Georgia.

The opposition to Trump also has to give deeper thought to why a demagogue with such modest and eccentric experience could speak with such immediacy to tens of millions of voters anxious about their lives and their prospects, while the Democratic nominee could not. The intellectual and political task ahead is at once to resist the ugliest manifestations of the new right-wing populism—the fears it plays on, the divisions it engenders—and to confront the consequences of globalism, technology, and cultural change. Politicians and citizens who intend to defeat the forces of reaction, of Trumpism, need to confront questions of jobs lost to automation and offshoring head on. Unemployment is at five per cent, but that does not provide an accurate picture of an endangered middle and working class.

The political math is clarifying: four hundred and eighty-nine of the wealthiest counties in the country voted for Clinton; the remaining two thousand six hundred and twenty-three counties, largely made up of small towns, suburbs, and rural areas, voted for Trump. Slightly fewer than fifty-five per cent of all voting-age adults bestirred themselves to go to the polls. That statistic is at least as painful to process as the Comey letter, the Russian hack of the D.N.C., the strategic failures of the Clinton campaign, and the over-all darkness of the Trump campaign. It’s a statistic about passivity, which is just what a democracy in the era of Trump can no longer afford.

There is still time for younger politicians to gather themselves for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 Presidential race. One well-established figure, Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, just published “This Fight Is Our Fight,” a book on the decline of middle-class prospects and conservative ideology since the Reagan era. It’s the sort of manifesto, like “The Audacity of Hope,” that frequently augurs higher political ambition. Warren came by our offices last week for an hour-long interview, and, while she made the ritual demurrals about a run for the Presidency, she spoke with a combative focus on precisely the issues that Clinton ceded to Trump in the 2016 race. Warren will be sixty-nine when it comes time to make a decision, but it would be foolish to think that she is not among those who are testing the waters.

The clownish veneer of Trumpism conceals its true danger. Trump’s way of lying is not a joke; it is a strategy, a way of clouding our capacity to think, to live in a realm of truth. It is said that each epoch dreams the one to follow. The task now is not merely to recognize this Presidency for the emergency it is, and to resist its assault on the principles of reality and the values of liberal democracy, but to devise a future, to debate, to hear one another, to organize, to preserve and revive precious things. ♦

David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. He is the author of “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.” More
This article appears in other versions of the May 1, 2017, issue, with the headline “One Hundred Days.”
MORE: POLITICS DONALD TRUMP RUSSIA SYRIA AMERICAN HISTORY

Tell Trump: No War on North Korea

April 26, 2017

World Beyond War via WorldBeyondWar.org info@worldbeyondwar.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
8:38 AM (5 hours ago)

Donald Trump claims he has no choice but to threaten North Korea with war — a war that would prove disastrous for multiple countries, if not the entire world.

In reality, from all appearances, Trump has no clue as to the choices available or the history at work.

From everywhere in the world, please click here to help educate him — or at least the U.S. media and some of those around him.

The fact that North Korea is a horrific dictatorship does not change the reality that threatening to attack that nuclear-armed country is an extremely reckless policy that gravely risks setting off a cataclysmic catastrophe.

North Korea has repeatedly offered to abandon its nuclear weapons program if the United States and South Korea would stop flying over North Korea practicing to bomb it as well as engaging in other explicitly threatening military exercises nearby.

North Korea has shown interest in developing a peace treaty with the South to finally end the Korean War.

North Korea adhered to an agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program right up until George W. Bush labeled it a member of an axis of evil and viciously attacked one of the other designated members, Iraq.

A lot of such information is unfamiliar to many people. The “Background” links below provide a bit of that information.

Let’s remind Trump and the U.S. media of this context, and of the options it opens up.

When Trump says he’s sending ships to North Korea, people in North Korea with historical knowledge will remember the devastating bombing inflicted on the country by the United States nearly 70 years ago. The U.S. bombed dams, bridges, and villages. It dropped huge quantities of napalm. It dropped insects and feathers infected with anthrax, cholera, encephalitis, and bubonic plague.

The United States has never relinquished wartime command of the South Korean military, and it has been building big new bases in South Korea opposed by serious popular protests. The U.S. is building what it calls a missile defense system in South Korea that North Korea and China consider offensive and part of an offensive first-strike policy. The people of South Korea have been protesting it in huge numbers.

Click here to tell Trump some of the damaging policies that he has the option of halting.

Legally, when North Korea tests missiles it breaks no laws. The United States tests missiles all the time. But when the United States threatens war it commits a grave violation of the law as well as risks getting us all killed.

Let’s chart a different course before it is too late.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

Share on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are in the United States, you should also phone your two senators today at 1-202-224-3121.

Background:
> Bruce Cumings, The Nation, “Korean War Games”
> Dave Chaddock: “This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since”
> John DeLury, The Washington Post: “Instead of Threatening North Korea, Trump Should Try This”

Sign the Declaration of Peace.

Find events all over the world that you can take part in.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support World Beyond War’s work by clicking here.

Find out why we support World Beyond War:

Webinar: Passing resolutions to stop Trump war budget

April 25, 2017

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World Beyond War via WorldBeyondWar.org info@worldbeyondwar.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
3:00 PM (7 hours ago)

WEBINAR on Tuesday, April 25th

Cities are passing resolutions like this one against Trump’s military budget:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/resolution
Here’s a free webinar with those who’ve done it, to help you do the same in your town, city, or county. Join World Beyond War, Code Pink, and U.S. Peace Council.

Time: 8:30 pm eastern, 5:30 pm pacific
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/345776823
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656, 345776823# or +14086380968, 345776823#
Or Telephone: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 345 776 823
International numbers available:
https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=m5-jAw0lM0PmYWkkIuKN1kBfcyjp6Kbf
*****
On Saturday, April 29, in Washington, D.C., please join the peace contingent of the People’s Climate March.

As you know, we worked hard to get peace included in this march. Ending war is now part of the central message, and we have a peace rally and march planned.

We will join with other marches for a unified march and rally at the end.

To be part of the peace rally, be at 3rd Street south of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, before 11 a.m. for our 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. rally before marching.

Learn more, get involved, print flyers:
https://peace.peoplesclimate.org

More flyers:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/flyers

How war threatens the natural environment:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/war-threatens-environment-detail

Sign the Declaration of Peace.

Find events all over the world that you can take part in.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support World Beyond War’s work by clicking here.

Find out why we support World Beyond War:

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

February 28, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 2/27/2017 at 19:53:08

By David Swanson Follow Me on Twitter Message David Swanson Permalink
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Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Ski Plant
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Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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