And The World Laughed …

From the time I was born in 1951 until present, I see today as perhaps the darkest hour in the United States.   We should … every one of us … hang our heads in shame that we not only elected Donald Trump, but that he is allowed to remain in office and has the support of some 35% – 40% of the people.  Today, he took this nation down what is certain to be a very perilous path, a path apart from our allies, a path lined with brambles and briars.

This morning, Donald Trump stood before the United Nations General Assembly and started with …

“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled.”

The entire General Assembly broke into laughter.

We, my friends, for the first time in the history of this country, are the laughingstock of the entire globe.  Do you want to hear the ultimate irony, though?  In 2014, read what Trump tweeted:Trump-tweet-laughingstockSay WHAT???  

But in addition to being pompous, Trump made it clear that he does not intend the U.S. to participate in the initiatives of the U.N. and that the U.S. would not support the U.N. Global Compact on migration.  A few pertinent snippets from his speech:

  • “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism.”
  • “… America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.”
  • “… we will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese made goods. The total so far of $250 billion.”
  • “… the United States will provide no support and recognition for the International Criminal Court. As far as we are concerned the ICC has no legitimacy or authority. The ICC claims near universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness and due process.” (Note: he is so very wrong, and I will be doing a separate post about this issue at some point in the future)

Well, you get the general idea.  Trump alone will decide what’s good for America and let everyone else be damned.  And what Trump has decided is good for us is to be isolated completely from the rest of the world, to have no allies, only a bombastic, hot-headed, ignorant and dishonest leader.

In 1941, the combination of the Great Depression and the memory of tragic losses in World War I contributed to pushing American public opinion and policy toward isolationism. U.S. citizens did not wish our nation to become embroiled in the war that was taking place on the other side of the world.  People in this country wore blinders, thinking that if we just didn’t take sides, stayed home and minded our own business, all would be well here in the U.S.  After all, it wasn’t our problem, right?  And then came 07 December 1941, and it very quickly became our problem when Japanese planes attacked our military base on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

You can wear your blinders, put in your earplugs and ignore the neighbor’s fight … until a bullet comes through your wall and strikes one of your children.  But we live in communities, and whether we like it or not, we are a part of the community we live in.  What happens in that community affects us.  That is the small scale, but the same concept holds true on a much larger scale.

Donald Trump and others, particularly within the Republican Party, have convinced a large portion of the people in this nation that ‘globalization’ is a bad thing, and that it is something we have a choice to participate in … or not.  All of which is a lie.  We live, like it or not, in a world that is increasingly shrinking due to technology.  The Internet has made instantaneous communication possible.  Air travel has made it possible to go from New York to Paris in approximately seven hours instead of the days it used to take by ship.  International trade promotes global economic growth; creates jobs, makes companies more competitive, and lowers prices for consumers.  And nuclear weapons have made the world a very dangerous place.

Certainly, there are downsides to globalization, BUT … it isn’t an option!  Trump appears to see his “America First” policy, which would more aptly be called “America Only”, as a viable option that he has a choice about, but he takes us down a perilous path.  When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, the United States had allies, and we engaged in global cooperation.  It is a process of give-and-take … sometimes you give more than you receive, other times the opposite is true.  In the long run, it balances out, and most importantly, you have allies that you can count on to come to your defense, as you will do theirs, in times of trouble.

In under two years, Trump has destroyed those alliances.  He has denigrated the leaders of our closest allies, Canada & Mexico, has insulted UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and also the leaders of most every nation in the EU, most especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  If Iran declared war on us tomorrow, I’m not sure that any of those nations would be eager to come to our aid.  They would, because they have committed to do so, but not gladly, as they once would have.  We are on a very perilous path, and we are on it alone, for the rest of the developed world is laughing from afar.  I am ashamed, I am embarrassed, and I see a very dark future if this ‘man’ is not reigned in very soon.  Please, folks, vote the boot-lickers out in November and let’s put some people with brains and consciences back into Congress next year.  Let us stop earning the title, Laughingstock of the Planet Earth.Laughing-earth

No Laughing Matter …

The politics and inter-relationships of the Middle East are perhaps more complex than any other on the globe.  I have studied this area extensively for the past ten years, yet I do not claim to fully understand. What I can tell you, however, is that the Middle East has long been a powder keg, and is no less so today.  In fact, thanks to one Donald Trump, the turmoil in the Middle East is at an all time high.  Donald Trump does not, cannot possibly, understand Middle East politics and he does not appear to understand what he has caused.

jerusalen-2Trump, the ‘man’ who said on the campaign trail regarding numerous issues, “only I can fix this”, made a fateful decision on 6 December to announce that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. With that one announcement, he made the United States look like fools in the eyes of the world, set off a wave of violence in the Middle East, and forfeited any hopes of a U.S.-brokered peace between Israel and Palestine. And still he has no idea what he has done, is seeing himself as the victim of the backlash that was inevitable in the face of his announcement.

He made this decision with the assistance of Vice-President Mike Pence, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.  Not a single one of these four people have so much as a semester’s education in the history or politics of the Middle East.  Donald Trump is a former real estate developer and television sit-com actor. Mike Pence is the former governour of Indiana. Jared Kushner is a former newspaper man. Nikki Haley is the former governour of South Carolina.  The people who do have at least some experience in the situation in the Middle East, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis and their career staff recommended against the move. Trump chose, instead, to listen to newbies with no idea the havoc they were wreaking.

The results were swift and ongoing.  Our European allies sharply criticized the move.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected any U.S. role in peace talks going forward. Christian minorities in Egypt rejected a meeting request by Vice President Mike Pence. Palestinian Christians are also organizing boycotts of Pence. In the words of Hady Amr and Arsalan Suleman, writing for Brookings Institute, “all indications are that the president focused narrowly on his political agenda instead of safeguarding U.S. national security interests.”

Trump criticized Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for promising and then failing to deliver on the promise of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but both of those former presidents were smart enough to study the situation and listen to their advisors before determining that the consequences would be harmful to both U.S. national security interests and harmful to Israel itself. Trump, unfortunately, has no such intelligence.

But wait … now it gets even worse.  Fast forward, if you will, to yesterday when, in an emergency session, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. 128 members voted on Thursday in favour of the resolution supporting the longstanding international consensus that the status of Jerusalem – which is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinians – can only be settled as an agreed final issue in a peace deal. Only nine nations voted against the resolution: the U.S., Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala, Honduras and Israel.  Thirty-five countries abstained and twenty-one were absent.

Donald Trump, who of course must always be right, and who is a professional bully, threatened to withhold U.S. aid from any country that supported the resolution.  Nikki Haley said that the U.S. would make note and remember any nations that “disrespected” America by voting for the resolution.  Think about this one, friends.  Trump goes against all intelligent advice to interfere where he had no business, then threatens … yes threatens … our allies for voting in favour of a common sense measure to attempt to fix what Trump broke.  Donald Trump has, not for the first time, offended our allies and further isolated the United States, not to mention making us the object of worldwide scorn and derision.

This move by Trump has cast a long shadow over our relations with our allies. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu declared that …

“I believe that even though we don’t have an agreement yet, this is what will happen in the future. I believe that all or most of the European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace.”

Guess again, Ben. Mexico, Canada, the UK and the EU Commission have all announced that they will not be moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

The United States passed through the ‘laughingstock of the world’ stage some time ago and is now racing toward the ‘most hated nation in the world’ stage.  All, for the most part, because of one ‘man’, one narcissistic fool who thinks his uneducated opinion is the only one that matters.  We must soon find our way to removing this ‘man’ from the White House, for he is jeopardizing not only our own security and future, but also that of the rest of the globe.  Nobody has that right, and the arrogance of the United States is in the spotlight now more than ever. The U.S. stopped being the “leader of the free world” on the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated. We are coming close to being ‘non grata’ around the globe.  For my part, I am once again ashamed of my country.