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Trumpophobia is illogical

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Capitalist-imperialist America is destined to have hawkish presidents in future too for advancing global interests of USA, both legal and illegal. After the successful launch of Islamophobia with full media backing, now the Hawks in USA are now busy introducing fear for the Trump phenomenon 0r Trumpophobia to terrorize the educated American voters fed up with problematic Obamamania and Democratic misrule after republican variety.

A major thrust in Democratic campaign against Republican hopeful Trump is presenting him as a serious threat to USA and world. They are generating fear of trump- Trumpophobia- to win points over him.

Ronald Trump may not the most sensible leader in USA but then he is not at all insane as many Clintonites fondly claim. However, Trump is one the most needed statesmen Americans badly need as they face an arrogant regime still seeking prolongation of terror wars for resources and routes to ensure US energy security permanently.

Trump can end antagonism with Russia and will ask Americans and world at large to respect the rights of Palestinians, among some of his wise ideas. Of course, there’s more than a little irony in the uproar over Trump’s ostensible encouragement of using violence to knock off a political opponent a strategy of former Jewish state secretary of USA. But then that is how begins his topics and attacks. Trump is only reminding the Americans of violence a key feature of Hillary as the terror phenomenon characterizes so much of the statecraft of Hillary’s idol, Henry Kissinger.

Responsible for illegal bombing campaigns that caused millions of deaths throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, Zionist Kissinger also fomented genocides in East Timor, Bangladesh, southern Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Argentina; the earliest Neocon boss also notoriously enabled and supported the Pinochet regime in Chile, which seized power in a military coup – a coup that led to the deaths of thousands, including the democratically-elected president Salvador Allende in the presidential palace.

Hillary Clinton is a democratic bomber and, like Trump, is horribly wrong.. Interestingly, former first lady at White House Hillary Clinton sharing honors her husband was enjoying, openly emulates Zionist Kissinger. Not only has she verbalized her admiration for Kissinger, as she did in the Democratic debates this year, in her 2014 review of Kissinger’s World Order Clinton wrote that Kissinger is “a friend,” and that she “relied on his counsel,” and consulted with him regularly when she was Secretary of State. Aside from words, though, or, Clinton emulates Kissinger both in theory and practice, in deeds. Her support of the coup d’etat in Honduras in 2009, for instance, when she was Secretary of State, came right out of Kissinger’s playbook – as was her support of launching strikes against Libya, not to mention her plans to bomb Syria.

The character of the 2016 presidential election is the fascist demagogy of the Republican billionaire, on the one hand, and on the other, the militarist, “patriotic” claptrap of the Democratic imperialist.

Neither Trump nor Hillary would be expected draw down the terror wars launched by Bushdom rouges and accelerated by lefty Obama team, but one can still feel Trump could be trusted as a true representative of capitalist-imperialism.

Not many countries are interested in the US elections or the outcome as nothing is going to change in terms of policies of USA and republican or democratic the next president is going to repeat the show of Bush-Obama, citing the so-called national interest. For instance, the Saudis have little hope that either of the two main US presidential candidates, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, will turn things around. The Russian deployment of combat aircraft into Iran to bomb Sunni targets in Syria is the latest step in what Saudi Arabia perceives as a steadily deteriorating regional security environment. The deployment of Russian bombers is the first foreign military presence in Iran since the fall of the Shah. It’s a nightmare for the royals. Riyadh sees the ever closer relations between Iran, Russia, Syria, Hezbollah and Shiite Iraqis as a fundamental shift in the strategic environment in the Middle East.

The Saudis have been frustrated for years by US President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to put more effort into eliminating Assad. Now the Syrian president seems more secure than ever. Saudis from the royals to the general population believe America and the world have betrayed Arab world and the Sunni majority in Syria. Arab nations view the Russian deployment a strategic “shock” that demonstrates how badly the USA underestimated Iranian and Russian aggressive intentions. The Saudis always feared the Iran nuclear deal would end Tehran’s pariah status and give it more strategic options. Saudi efforts to buy off Moscow have been a failure. With international sanctions lifted for the most part, Iran is a strategic partner more attractive than the kingdom. America cannot change the policies over night. Riyadh has bought over $110 billion in arms from Obama. But there is no confidence in the Saudi leadership about the future of American leadership. Yet, they have no clear idea about future relations. Iran nuclear deal worries Riyadh more than anything else.

The fascistic character of the Trump campaign was displayed in the candidate’s frequent references to the need for “vicious” and “extreme” methods, not only against ISIS itself, but against immigrants from countries where ISIS is active Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made it clear he would not abandon the terror projects of Bush-Obama or permanent war agenda of Neocons just like that Trump, in a fascistic speech in Ohio, called for “vicious” and “extreme” methods to combat the threat of terrorism, including a crackdown on immigrants from the Middle East, expansion of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and a war of extermination against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Trump seeks to combine this bogus antiwar stance with ferocious militarism in relation to ISIS. A creation of USA, ISIS emerged out of the radical Islamist milieu in Syria, armed and financed under the auspices of the CIA, the Pentagon and US allies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The group only came into conflict with the US when ISIS fighters crossed the Syria-Iraq border in 2014 and began to wage war against the Shiite-dominated regime in Iraq.

US Vice President Joe Biden, in his first campaign appearance with Hillary Clinton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, denounced Trump for his professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, including his suggestion that Russia could be a suitable ally in the struggle against ISIS because of its own conflicts with radical Islamists. He was on his way from Pennsylvania to Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States, to reassure the right-wing governments of these countries that the US would stand by its obligation under NATO to defend them in any conflict with Russia. Biden complained that Trump was lending credence to those in Turkey who were accusing the Obama regime of backing the coup attempt against President Erdogan.

The presidential polls taking place against background of unexpected Brexit. The “Brexit” vote in the UK, together with the growth of nationalism and populism in Europe, has doomed the elite project of creating a federal Europe that can act as a superpower in world politics. Brexit also has challenged US superpower status. Europe will be a rich but fragmented trading bloc surrounded by colossal continental powers, the USA, China.

Experts have made prediction that the world will have three economic poles or cores—China, the USA and Europe. However, the USA is in long-term relative decline. America’s share of global wealth will decline since countries like China and other regions like Africa, are growing more rapidly. So will America’s share of global military power, which, is loosely rather than perfectly correlated with relative economic weight. Whether defined as polarity or hegemony, American global primacy is coming to an end.

Tomorrow’s world will be multipolar, not simply bipolar or tripolar. The rise of China as the second power after USA will allow regional powers, from Turkey to Vietnam and Brazil, to play the continent-states against one another and pursue their own independent interests.

The US president would be hawk and is expected to advance the global interests of the United States by employing all possible strategies and tactics to achieve the goals.

Trumpophobia is illogical mainly because any American who would assume office of White house would have to be aggressive, arrogant and hawk to prolong the terror wars as a permanent US foreign policy tool!

More than Trumpophobia it is Hillaryphobia which should terribly worry the American electorates.

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Americas

Biden’s Dilemma: Caught Between Israel and Iran

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

By all indication, the latest sabotage at Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz aimed at more than just disabling thousands of Iran’s centrifuges and thus cause another setback for Iran’s nuclear program, it was also meant as an indirect diplomatic sabotage vis-a-vis the on-going nuclear talks in Vienna; the latter had shown real signs of progress before the April 10th incident at the Natanz facility, blamed on Israel by the Iranian officials, who have vowed to get revenge — an attack on an Israeli cargo ship off the coast of Oman as well as an attack on an Israeli post in Iraq’s Kurdistan may indeed be the acts of Iranian retaliation.

But, from Iran’s vantage, the biggest response was the decision to upgrade the enrichment level from 20% to 60% percent, thus bringing Iran closer to the weapons grade enrichment, bound to raise the ire of Tel Aviv, which is intent on dispossessing Iran of nuclear weapons capability.  Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has followed suit by stating that Iran will not be dragged into a “protracted negotiation” with the US and that US’ removal of sanctions needs to be the first step in a future US return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  In turn, this raises the question of how will the Biden administration respond, and adjust to, the latest developments?

On the one hand, the Iranian setback in Natanz, widely interpreted inside Iran as a major “embarrassment,” as it is the second time in 9 months that Israel has successfully inflicted serious damage on the facility, weakens Iran’s hand at the table in Vienna, no matter how the Iran negotiators seek to spin the issue.  With Iran’s vulnerability to “nuclear sabotage” irrefutably established, Tehran’s ability to utilize its nuclear chips in the bargaining with US has been diminished, perhaps for the duration of the current year, thus leading some conservative politicians to urge the government to withdraw from the Vienna talks. 

On the other hand, it is by no means clear that the Biden administration favors Israel’s spoiler role, which might lead to an escalation of tensions in the region to the detriment of Biden’s determination to re-embrace the JCPOA as part and parcel of an Iran “re-thinking” policy at odds with his predecessor’s maximum pressure strategy.  Chances are that, much like the Obama administration, the Biden administration will need to defy Israel’s will on Iran and push ahead for a new understanding with Tehran at a time Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and, to a lesser extent the Saudi rulers, are wary of Biden’s resurrection of Obama’s (perceived) conciliatory approach toward Iran.  The big question is if President Biden is willing to act independently of Israel’s hawkish recipe for Iran and make meaningful concessions, above all in the area of post-2015 sanctions on Iran, in order to achieve its key demand of bringing Iran in compliance with its JCPOA obligations?  Lest we forget, Obama’s defiance of Israel on the JCPOA caused a major rift benefiting the Republican Party opponents of the deal, such as Donald Trump, and so far there is little evidence that Biden is unmindful of that prior experience.  In turn, this may explain the timing of US Defense Secretary Austin’s Israel visit coinciding with the Natanz sabotage, which may not have been coincidental as Israel most likely had informed Washington of the coming attack on Natanz beforehand.  

Naturally, Tehran is irritated at Austin’s presence in Israel at that particular time and his expression of “ironclad support” for Israel instead of raising any criticism of nuclear terrorism against Iran, just as China and Russia have done.  In fact, none of the Western governments, as well as the EU, partaking in the Vienna talks, have bothered to condemn the attack on Natanz, thus adding salt to Iran’s injury.  Instead, the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, dispensed with any criticism of Israel and confined himself to questioning Iran’s post-attack decision to increase the enrichment level, which he called “irresponsible.”  But, is it really responsible for the US and European powers to refrain from condemning an act of sabotage with respect to a facility that, under the terms of JCPOA, is recognized to be the hub of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle? Germany, France, and England, as well as the European Union, ought to act in unison denouncing the acts of nuclear sabotage in Iran, irrespective of Israel’s prerogative.  Their failure to do so simply adds another layer of distrust between Iran and these powers, to the detriment of any prospect for tangible progress in the Vienna talks.

As for Biden’s foreign team, which has reported of its “serious proposal” on the table, it must recognize that unless there is some pressure applied on Israel to stop its spoiler role, US’s national interests maybe harmed and even sacrificed by a hawkish Middle East ally that behaves according to its own calculation of risks to its interests.  In a word, an Obamaian rift with Israel may indeed be both inescapable and inevitable for the Biden administration.

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Roads and Rails for the U.S.

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For those who expect the newly announced $2 trillion Biden infrastructure program to be a goodbye to potholes and hello to smooth-as-glass expressways, a disappointment is in store.  The largest expenditure by far ($400 billion) is on home/community care, impacting the elderly or disabled.  The $115 billion apportioned to roads and bridges is #4 on the list. 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) keeps tabs on our infrastructure and their latest report (2020) gave it an overall grade of C-.  Although bridges worsened, this is a modest improvement on the previous report (2017) when the overall grade was D+.  If $115 billion in spending sounds adequate, one has to remember it costs $27 billion annually for upkeep.

Astounding it might be the backlog in spending for roads and bridges runs at $12 billion annually.  Go back 20 years and we have a quarter trillion shortfall.  Add all the other areas of infrastructure and the ASCE comes up with a $5 trillion total.  It is the gap between what we have been spending and what we need to.  Also one has to bear in mind that neglect worsens condition and increases repair costs. 

One notable example of maintenance is the Forth rail bridge in Scotland.  A crisscross of beams forming three superstructures linked together, it was a sensation when opened in 1890 and now is a UN World Heritage Site.  Spanning 1.5 miles, its upkeep requires a regular coat of paint.  And that it gets.  Rumor has it that when the unobtrusive painters reach the end of their task, it is time to start painting again the end where they began — a permanent job to be sure though new paints might have diminished such prospects.

Biden also proposes $80 billion for railways.  Anyone who has travelled or lived in Europe knows the stark contrast between railroads there and in the U.S.  European high-speed rail networks are growing from the established TGV in France to the new Spanish trains.  Run by RENFE, the national railway, Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) trains run at speeds up to 310 km/h (193 mph)  — a speed that amounts to a convenient overnight trip between Los Angeles and Chicago.

The hugely expensive new tracks needed can be considered a long-term investment in our children’s future.  But it will take courage to contest the well-heeled lobbies of the airplane manufacturers, the airlines and big oil.

If Spain can have high-speed rail and if China already has some 24,000 miles of such track, surely the US too can opt for a system that is convenient for its lack of airport hassle and the hour wasted each way in the journey to or from the city center.  Rail travel not only avoids both but is significantly less polluting.  

Particularly bad, airplane pollution high above (26 to 43 thousand feet) results in greater ozone formation in the troposphere.  In fact airplanes are the principal human cause of ozone formation.

Imagine a comfortable train with space to walk around, a dining car serving freshly cooked food, a lounge car and other conveniences, including a bed for overnight travel; all for a significantly less environmental cost.  When we begin to ask why we in the US do not have the public services taken for granted in other developed countries, perhaps then the politicians might take note.

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Congress and the Biden administration should end FBI immunity overseas

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Image source: U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan

The FBI notably has an extended international presence running 63 offices in select countries overseas. The offices are called “legats” and are situated at the US Embassy in the host country. One of the major reasons for FBI’s international presence is fighting international terrorism.

The FBI legat personnel at the US embassies are fully accredited diplomats enjoying full diplomatic immunity but that poses several questions that are worth asking, such as: how is it possible for law enforcement to be diplomats and is that a good idea, legally speaking?

Police work should not enjoy diplomatic immunity because that opens the door to abuse. Does the FBI’s immunity overseas mean that the FBI attaches can do no wrong in the host country? How do we tackle potential rights infringements and instances of abuse of power by the FBI towards locals in the host country? The DOJ Inspector General and the State Department Inspector General would not accept complaints by foreigners directed at the FBI, so what recourse then could a local citizen have vis-a-vis the FBI legat if local courts are not an option and the Inspector Generals would not look into those cases?

This presents a real legal lacuna and a glitch in US diplomatic immunity that should not exist and should be addressed by Congress and the new Biden administration.

While FBI offices overseas conduct some far from controversial activities, such as training and educational exchanges with local law enforcement, which generally no one would object to, the real question as usual is about surveillance: who calls the shots and who assumes responsibility for potentially abusive surveillance of locals that may infringe upon their rights. It’s an issue that most people in countries with FBI presence around the world are not aware of. The FBI could be running “counter-terrorism” surveillance on you in your own country instead of the local police. And that’s not nothing.

When we hear “cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism”, as recent decades show, there is a great likelihood that the US government is abusing powers and rights, without batting an eyelash. That exposes local citizens around the world to unlawful surveillance without legal recourse. Most people are not even aware that the FBI holds local offices. Why would the FBI be operating instead of the local law enforcement on another country’s territory? That’s not a good look on the whole for the US government.

The legal lacuna is by design. This brings us to the nuts and bolts of the FBI legats’ diplomatic immunity.

Diplomatic immunity is governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, under Chapter III on privileges and immunities. The US is also a state party to the Convention, along with most states around the world. While there could be some variations and disagreements on bilateral basis (including on weather for example one state could be hosted and represented through the embassy of another state in a third state), on the whole there is a universal consensus that the Vienna Convention sets the rules establishing diplomatic immunities and privileges.

Under the Vienna Convention, only top diplomats are given the highest degree of immunity from the law. This means they cannot be handcuffed, arrested, detained, or prosecuted by law enforcement officials of the country in which they’re stationed. Diplomatic immunities and privileges also include things like diplomatic “bags” (with very peculiar cases of what that could entail) and notably, protection and diplomatic immunity for the family of diplomats.

It is a universal consensus that not everyone who works at an Embassy has or should have diplomatic immunity.  Immunity is saved for diplomats whose role has to be protected from the local jurisdiction of the country for a reason. Not all embassy staff should enjoy diplomatic immunity. Granting law enforcement such as the FBI full legal immunity for their actions is bad news.

Only the top officials at an embassy are diplomats with an actual full immunity — and that’s for a reason.

It makes sense why a diplomat negotiating an agreement should not be subjected to local courts’ jurisdiction. But the same doesn’t go for a law enforcement official who acts as a law enforcement official by, for example, requesting unlawful surveillance on a local citizen, in his law enforcement capacity, while thinking of himself as a diplomat and being recognized as such by the law.

Law enforcement personnel are not diplomats. Dealing with extraterritorial jurisdiction cases or international cases is not the same thing as the need for diplomatic immunity. If that was the case, everyone at the export division at the Department if Commerce would have diplomatic immunity for protection from foreign courts, just in case. Some inherent risk in dealing with international cases does not merit diplomatic immunity – otherwise, this would lead to absurdities such as any government official of any country being granted diplomatic immunity for anything internationally related.

The bar for diplomatic immunity is very high and that’s by design based on an international consensus resting upon international law. Simply dealing with international cases does not make a policeman at a foreign embassy a diplomat. If that was the case every policeman investigating an international case would have to become a diplomat, just in case, for protection from the jurisdiction of the involved country in order to avoid legal push-back. That’s clearly unnecessary and legally illogical. Being a staff member at an embassy in a foreign country does not in and of itself necessitate diplomatic immunity, as many embassy staff do not enjoy diplomatic protection. It is neither legally justified nor necessary for the FBI abroad to enjoy diplomatic immunity; this could only open up the function to potential abuse. The FBI’s arbitrary surveillance on locals can have a very real potential for violating the rights of local people.  This is a difference in comparison to actual diplomats. Diplomats do not investigate or run surveillance on locals; they can’t threaten or abuse the rights of local citizens directly, the way that law enforcement can. Lack of legal recourse is a really bad look for the Biden administration and for the US government.

The rationale for diplomatic immunity is that it should not be permitted to arrest top diplomats, who by definition have to be good at representing their own country’s interests in relation to the host state, for being too good at their job once the host state is unhappy with a push back, for example. The Ambassador should not be exposed to or threatened by the risk of an arrest and trial for being in contradiction with the interests of the host state under some local law on treason, for example, because Ambassadors could be running against the interests of the host state, by definition. And that’s contained within the rules of diplomatic relations. It’s contained in the nature of diplomatic work that such contradictions may arise, as each side represents their own country’s interests. Diplomats should not be punished for doing their job. The same doesn’t apply to the FBI legats. Issuing surveillance on local citizens is not the same as representing the US in negotiations. The FBI legats’ functions don’t merit diplomatic immunity and their actions have to be open to challenge in the host country’s jurisdiction.

The FBI immunity legal lacunae is in some ways reminiscent of similar historic parallels, such as the George W. Bush executive order  that US military contractors in Iraq would enjoy full legal immunity from Iraqi courts’ jurisdiction, when they shouldn’t have. At the time, Iraq was a war-torn country without a functioning government, legal system or police forces. But the same principle of unreasonable legal immunity that runs counter international laws is seen even today, across European Union countries hosting legally immune FBI attaches.

Congress and the Biden administration should end FBI immunity overseas. It can be argued that for any local rights infringements, it is the local law enforcement cooperating with the US Embassy that should be held accountable – but that would ignore that the actual request for unlawful surveillance on locals could be coming from the FBI at the Embassy. The crime has to be tackled at the source of request. 

When I reached out to the US Embassy in Bulgaria they did not respond to a request to clarify the justification for the FBI diplomatic immunity in EU countries.

To prevent abuse, Congress and the Biden Administration should remove the diplomatic immunity of the FBI serving overseas.

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