Trump/Russia: Collusion, shmallusion; whatever it is, it stinks, and it’s bad for America

October 2, 2018

The Trump doll doesn't fit into the Putin doll, and vice versa; but that doesn't mean Trump's destructive anti-U.S./pro-Russia policies are good, nor that Russia didn't illegally interfere in U.S. elections, nor that illegally activities on both sides didn't tip the election, even if not formally coordinated. Christian Science Monitor image, From Dmitri Lovetsky/AP, dolls in a St. Petersburg, Russia, souvenir shop.

The Trump doll doesn’t fit into the Putin doll, and vice versa; but that doesn’t mean Trump’s destructive anti-U.S./pro-Russia policies are good, nor that Russia didn’t illegally interfere in U.S. elections, nor that illegally activities on both sides didn’t tip the election, even if not formally coordinated. Christian Science Monitor image, From Dmitri Lovetsky/AP, dolls in a St. Petersburg, Russia, souvenir shop.

This is a couple of weeks old, which means investigators and reporters have even more damning evidence that the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself worked with the Russian government and Russian agents to foul up our 2016 presidential election, succeeding beyond the wildest hopes of Vladimir Putin.

But in the end, two years down the road from 2016 our best hopes for putting America back on the right track lie in the ballots Americans will cast in 2018. We have the power to make things better.

How are you going to vote in November 2018? Will you vote Democratic, to save the U.S? Or will you vote Republican?

Am I putting the stakes too severely? Have you read this investigative piece from Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times, which newspaper itself played an ugly role of journalistic failure in 2016?


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Good thing it’s in German!

May 12, 2018

Cover of Germany's Der Spiegel, May 12, 2018, after President Donald Trump announced U.S. would no longer participate in nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran.

Cover of Germany’s Der Spiegel, May 12, 2018, after President Donald Trump announced U.S. would no longer participate in nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran.

But don’t judge a magazine by its cover. Go read the article, and more, at the magazine’s English language site:

Exit from Iran Deal

Trump Strikes a Deep Blow to Trans-Atlantic Ties

With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety — and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged

Brian Klaas also suggests Putin is eating Trump’s lunch and whipping U.S. silly in international war for hearts and minds.

Read this Der Spiegel editorial from Germany. America’s closest allies have lost faith in the United States because of Trump’s bullying & disrespect. Putin’s biggest foreign policy goal has been achieved: to weaken the West by splintering the NATO alliance

Do you think it’s that bad? What can we do about it? Comments are open.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Brian Klaas on Twitter.

 


This is why Putin wanted to get Clinton; what he hoped Trump would stop

October 6, 2017

Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer for Bill Browder, whose murder in 2007 invited economic sanctions against Russia, and especially Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his money-moving colleagues. Those sanctions angered Putin so much, he worked to swing the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton.

Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer for Bill Browder, whose murder in 2007 invited economic sanctions against Russia, and especially Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his money-moving colleagues. Those sanctions angered Putin so much, he worked to swing the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton.

Campaign for human rights in Russia rolled through Canada yesterday.

Canada’s parliament passed a bill authorizing trade and other sanctions against Russia, partly over Russia’s actions in killing human rights acitivists in Russia.

U.S. businessman Bill Browder was the client of Sergei Magnitsky. Browder works tirelessly to see that Magnitsky’s murder is not forgotten. Browder, with a huge assist from Hillary Clinton’s State Department, put sanctions on money transactions for Vladimir Putin, suspected of being the person who ordered Magnitsky’s murder. Those sanctions worked, and crippled Putin’s ability to move and launder money, and the ability of his ally oligarchs in Russia. Stopping Clinton, and getting those sanctions lifted, is the chief reason Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 (and it explains all the meetings Trump campaign officials and administration officials have had with Russian officials and lobbyists and minions).

Contrary to complaints from President Donald Trump, there is a lot of dirt around Russian dealings and sanctions under the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

Yesterday, Canada agreed to support the memory of Sergei Magnitsky, and justice.

Watch those spaces.

Here’s a Twitter Moment with news of the new Canadian law.

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Timely encore: Middle East politics explained in six short paragraphs

September 26, 2016

On Twitter, I’ve been bombarded by Trumpettes who claim Hillary Clinton did something dastardly and evil in the Middle East when she was Secretary of State, or maybe as U.S. Senator from New York, or maybe as First Lady of Arkansas (tough to remember exactly when, apparently).

These accusers point to some mess in Syria, or Libya, or Saudi Arabia, or East Gotchastan, which they claim was a total mess advocated solely by Clinton who then mustered the Pentagon and State Department to “go to undeclared and illegal war” by going over the head of the President of the United States and Jesus, and personally directing war crimes. In each case, the accusers point out that the Middle East was a calm backwater before Mrs. Clinton, with 100 years of peace broken up only by her perfidy.

It would be amusing, were it not so that many of these people are not Trumpbots posting from Lithuania. Some people believe those stories. They don’t know. They do NOT know. They have so little clue about what really goes on in the world.

Their answer attempts demonstrate they don’t anything about conflict in the Middle East.

Fortunately, a concerned Londoner provided a thorough primer on who is who in the Middle East, who are our friends and enemies, in only six short paragraphs.

Seven paragraphs, if one counts the cheery close.

Letter to the editor of a London newspaper (trying to track that down), explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East.

Letter to the editor of the Financial Times of London, explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East. August 22, 2013, captured by Randy Prine

A woman named Randy Prine (@RandyPrine) Tweeted this photo, and said:

THIS is why we Voted for an analytical and not ‘shoot from the hip’ McCain or ‘How can I make money’ Romney.

Most of the ObamaH8ers I run into can be stopped on almost all Middle East issues simply by asking them whether the group they rant at, at that moment, is Sunni or Shiite.  For some odd reason, they never know.

Text of the letter [which may be behind a paywall, though you might be able to get free with registration] (links added here, for your convenience):

From Mr. K N Al-Sabah.

Sir,

Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.

But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!

Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!

Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!

Gulf states are pro-US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro-Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi.  And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

K N Al-Sabah
London EC4, UK

That clears up a lot, doesn’t it?

Would another perspective help?

A fellow named Richard Alan Jones posted a similar piece on Facebook. In response to an earlier post, qhite a few people pointed ultimately to Jones’s work.

Richard Alan Jones on Middle East politics

More Richard Alan Jones on Middle East Politics

Politics, and especially relations between nations, in the Middle East are messy, on a good day.  Hillary Clinton didn’t start any war in the Middle East, but instead worked to keep the U.S. out of war, holding to that grand old piece of advice that one of the classic blunders a nation may make is getting involved in a land war in Asia, or Asia Minor or Near Asia in this case.

Hillary Clinton tried to fix it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is scheming, and not to be trusted.

Update, June 7, 2017:

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July 8, 1853: Perry anchors U.S. ships in Edo Bay, the beginning of American Imperialism 161 years ago

July 7, 2014

History item:  On July 8,1853 four black ships led by USS Powhatan and commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry, anchored at Edo (Tokyo) Bay. Never before had the Japanese seen ships steaming with smoke. They thought the ships were “giant dragons puffing smoke.” They did not know that steamboats existed and were shocked by the number and size of the guns on board the ships.

President Millard Fillmore, defying H. L. Mencken’s later, crabby, hoax claim of do-little-government, sent Matthew C. Perry to Japan to open Japan as a refuge for shipwrecked sailors, and as a coaling stop for steamships.  For the previous 200 years, Japan had been closed to all but a few Dutch and Chinese traders.   On July 8, 1853, Perry’s small fleet sailed boldly into restricted waters of Japan and anchored.

Delivering the American presents to the Emperor of Japan, at Yokohama.  Nimitz Museum, Annapolis

Delivering the American presents to the Emperor of Japan, at Yokohama. A. O. P. Nicholson image, 1856 publication, “Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan” – artist not identified (Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson, 1856); Nimitz Museum, Annapolis. A list of the presents can be seen at a link near the end of this post; some of the gifts, such as the model of the steam engine, can be identified in this picture.

After some contretemps, which included Japan’s telling Perry to go to Nagasaki instead (where a military party was probably waiting) and Perry’s shelling a few buildings on shore, the Emperor accepted the letter from President Fillmore.  Perry told the Emperor he would return the following year for an answer.  Perry returned on March 8, 1854, and within a month concluded the Convention of Kanagawa, opening Japan to trade from the west.  Generally unheralded, this may have been one of the more important pieces of U.S. diplomacy in history, especially considering the dramatic rise of Japan as an economic and military power, on the basis of the trade Commodore Perry demanded Japan engage in.

We should make special note of the chain of events over the following 85 or so years, culminating in World War II in the Pacific.  Had Fillmore not sent Perry, had the U.S. not insisted Japan open itself to the world, would there have been an attack on Pearl Harbor, and war in the Pacific?  Alternative histories we’ll never see.  But see the discussion at Salon, in 2014, about this topic (conveniently leaving out Millard Fillmore’s role), “What sparked Japan’s aggression during World War II?”

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Documents below the fold 

Steam frigate U.S.S. Susquehanna, Matthew Perry's flagship; the black hull won this small fleet a nickname,

Steam frigate U.S.S. Susquehanna, Matthew Perry’s flagship; the black hull won this small fleet a nickname, “the Black Ships.” Japanese Woodcut, from the University of Indiana

 

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President Obama’s statement on preliminary agreement to stop nuclear proliferation in Iran

November 24, 2013

After the agreement was announced, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embraced.

Foreign ministers of several nations collaborated in Geneva, Switzerland, to get an agreement to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran; an agreement to lead to a larger agreement was struck Saturday, November 23, 2013. After the agreement was announced, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embraced.

Obama, Iran, Kerry, Nuclear, sanctions

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Foreign Ministers announce agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons development, November 23, 2013

Image and caption via CNN: Chief negotiator Catherine Ashton and Iran’s foreign minister announce agreement on Iran’s nuclear program early on Sunday, November 24 in Geneva. From left to right: British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.


Middle East politics explained, for the novice or anyone else, in six short paragraphs

August 26, 2013

Seven paragraphs, if one counts the cheery close.

Letter to the editor of a London newspaper (trying to track that down), explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East.

Letter to the editor of the Financial Times of London, explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East. August 22, 2013, captured by Randy Prine

A woman named Randy Prine (@RandyPrine) Tweeted this photo, and said:

THIS is why we Voted for an analytical and not ‘shoot from the hip’ McCain or ‘How can I make money’ Romney.

Most of the ObamaH8ers I run into can be stopped on almost all Middle East issues simply by asking them whether the group they rant at, at that moment, is Sunni or Shiite.  For some odd reason, they never know.

Read the rest of this entry »


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