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America’s Billionaires Congealing Around Warren and Buttigieg

Eric Zuesse

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The Democratic Presidential candidates who have been the most backed by billionaires have not been doing well in the polling thus far, and this fact greatly disturbs the billionaires. They know that the Democratic nominee will be chosen in the final round of primaries, and they have always wanted Pete Buttigieg to be in that final round. Therefore, they have backed him more than any of the other candidates. But what worries them now is that his opponent in that round might turn out to be Bernie Sanders, whom they all consider to be their nemesis. They want to avoid this outcome, at all costs. And they might have found a way to do it: Elizabeth Warren. Here is how, and why:

Among the top three in the polling — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — only Biden is among the top five in the number of billionaires who have backed him, and each of the other four candidates scores higher than Biden does in the number of billionaire backers. Furthermore, Biden is sinking in the polls. Consequently, Democratic Party billionaires are increasingly worrying that their Party might end up nominating for the Presidency someone whom they won’t support. That person would be Sanders. And the Democratic National Committee — which relies heavily upon its billionaire backers in order to be able to win elections (just as the Republican National Committee relies upon Republican billionaire backers in order to win) — is terrified by this possibility (alienating its Party’s crucial moneybags).

The saving grace for these billionaires (and for the DNC) increasingly seems likely to be Senator Warren’s candidacy, which draws support away from Sanders, and therefore gives Buttigieg a chance ultimately to win the nomination. 

As of August 30th, the most-comprehensive website reporting on the latest polling information and trendlines concerning the Democratic Party presidential primary contests, https://projects.economist.com/democratic-primaries-2020/, reports that more registered Democrats are considering whether to vote for Warren (50%) than for any of the other candidates, including #2 Biden (48%), and #3 Sanders (38%). The percentages shown there as currently intending to vote for each one of those are 27% Biden, 18% Warren, and 16% Sanders. Buttigieg is currently only at 5% who are intending. The “intending” trendlines are downward for all of the candidates except Warren, whose trendline is steadily upward ever since May and is trending to surpass Biden at around the time when the primaries actually start in February 2020. So: right now, Warren clearly seems to be the likeliest winner of the Democratic Party’s nomination. The likeliest possibility to block that would be for Sanders to reduce his loss of progressive voters to Warren, and for Warren to start trending downward while Sanders trends upward; so, that’s what the billionaires would want to prevent from happening.

On August 27th, the top website for Democratic Party activists, Political Wire, headlined “Warren Overtakes Biden as Most Favorable Candidate”, and reported that not only does Warren now edge out both Biden and Sanders in net favorability rating, and top the entire field of candidates in that extremely important measure, but Warren is overwhelmingly the most frequently mentioned second choice of Democratic Party primary voters, which means that not only would the voters who intend to vote for her in the primary be delighted if she were to become the Democratic nominee — this outcome would also likeliest produce the most-unified Party going into the general election. This, in turn, would mean that Democratic Party billionaires, instead of Republican Party billionaires, would almost certainly control the country after 2020 — the country would be controlled by people such as Thomas Steyer and Donald Sussman, instead of by people such as Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer. It would be a different ‘democracy’, but not really much different; it would be like the difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama — it would be different in rhetoric and bumper-stickers, but very similar in actual policies. (For examples: whereas Bush invaded and destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama invaded and destroyed Libya and Syria; and, all the while, both of them supported the Sauds and Israel; and, moreover, both of them supported Wall Street, though Obama tongue-lashed them, which Bush didn’t.) So: though the rhetoric is sometimes different, the basic policies aren’t. The policies of Republican billionaires and of Democratic billionaires are basically similar.

As of just a few weeks ago, the Democratic Party’s five top U.S. Presidential candidates, in terms of whom had been backed the most strongly by America’s billionaires, were, in order from the top: Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Michael Bennett, and Joe Biden. Warren was 12th down from Buttigieg’s #1 position, in support from the billionaires. Sanders was at the very bottom — zero billionaires backing him (he was the only one of the 17 reporting candidates who had no billionaire backer). 

The Democratic Party’s billionaires are just crazy about Buttigieg, but the question right now is whom will they choose to be running against him during the decisive final round of the primaries? Would they rather it be Sanders? Or instead Warren? 

They definitely prefer Warren. Her recent soaring poll-numbers are raising her support, from them, so strongly that the neoconservative-neoliberal (i.e., pro-billionaire) David Bradley’s The Atlantic magazine headlined on August 26th, “Elizabeth Warren Manages to Woo the Democratic Establishment”. This magazine reported (to use my language, not theirs) that the rats from the sinking ship Joe Biden have begun to jump onboard the U.S.S. Elizabeth Warren’s rising ship, which might already be tied even-steven with the other two leading ships, of Biden and of Sanders. Since Sanders is the only American Presidential candidate whom no billionaire supports, there are strong indications that Warren is drawing some of them away from Biden. This could turn the nominating contest into, ultimately, Buttigieg versus Warren (both of whom are acceptable to billionaires), instead of into Buttigieg versus Sanders (which would pose the threat to them of producing a Sanders Presidency). There is little reason to think that Buttigieg will decline to the #2 position in billionaires’ support; but, if this contest turns into Sanders v. Buttigieg, instead of into Warren v. Buttigieg, then Democratic Party billionaires not only would pour even more money into Buttigieg’s campaign against Sanders, but they would likely end up donating to the Republican Presidential nominee in 2020 if Sanders ends up beating Buttigieg (as polls indicate he almost certainly would). By contrast, if this nominating contest ends up being between Warren v. Buttigieg, then the Party’s billionaires wouldn’t likely switch to supporting the Republican Presidential nominee — they’d continue donating to the Democratic Party, regardless of which of those two candidates wins the nomination, in order to defeat Trump (or whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be), and take the control of the country away from Republican billionaires (as it now is).

Therefore, David Bradley’s propaganda organs are turned on, really hot, by Lizzie. For some typical examples, at Bradley’s biggest-circulation one, The Atlantic, its recent stories gushing about her have been headlined: “Elizabeth Warren Had Charisma, and Then She Ran for President”, and “Elizabeth Warren’s Big Night”, and “The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President”. For example: the last-mentioned of those articles was about “Netroots Nation, a conference that’s been around since the early 2000s,” which “is run by the liberal political blog Daily Kos.” Here’s what it hides: Daily Kos was founded and owned by the CIA asset and El Salvadorian aristocrat Markos Moulitsas, a ‘former’ Republican far-right person, who set up his website in 2002 and suddenly specialized in fooling progressive Democrats to endorse whomever the billionaire-run Democratic National Committee wants them to support. Unlike David Bradley’s ‘moderate’-Democrat rags, Moulitsas’s ‘progressive’-Democrat rag, Daily Kos, targets to make suckers of Democrats who might vote in the primaries for people that the billionaires actually fear — and that’s now especially Sanders — in order to turn them instead toward favoring the ‘mainstream’, ‘more electable’, Democratic Party candidates (such as Biden, Buttigieg, and Harris — not David Bradley’s darling as Buttigieg’s stalking horse, Warren). In 2016, that ‘mainstream’ was Hillary Clinton (whom the DNC had rigged the primaries to ‘win’ against Sanders), but more recently it was Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg; and, now, this ‘mainstream’ is starting to include (from the billionaires’ standpoint) Elizabeth Warren. That’s because Warren is vastly more preferred by billionaires than is Sanders, and so they want the Party’s progressives to choose her, instead of Sanders, so that the final Democratic Presidential contest will be between Warren versus the billionaires’ actual favorite, which is Buttigieg. If they can’t get him, at least they can get her, the Party’s billionaires clearly now are hoping.

On April 19th, Jonathan Martin headlined in the New York Times, “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum”, and he opened:

“When Leah Daughtry, a former Democratic Party official, addressed a closed-door gathering of about 100 wealthy liberal donors in San Francisco last month, all it took was a review of the 2020 primary rules to throw a scare in them. … “I think I freaked them out,” Ms. Daughtry recalled with a chuckle, an assessment that was confirmed by three other attendees. They are hardly alone. … But stopping Mr. Sanders … could prove difficult for Democrats.

Martin went on to say:

His strength on the left gives him a real prospect of winning the Democratic nomination and could make him competitive for the presidency if his economic justice message resonates in the Midwest as much as Mr. Trump’s appeals to hard-edge nationalism did in 2016. And for many Sanders supporters, the anxieties of establishment Democrats are not a concern.

That prospect is spooking establishment-aligned Democrats. …

David Brock, the liberal organizer [founder of the Media Matters anti-progressive Democratic Party website against Republicans], … said he has had discussions with other operatives about an anti-Sanders campaign and believes it should commence “sooner rather than later.” …

Howard Wolfson [here’s the wiki on him], who spent months immersed in Democratic polling and focus groups on behalf of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, had a blunt message for Sanders skeptics: “People underestimate the possibility of him becoming the nominee at their own peril.” …

The matter of What To Do About Bernie and the larger imperative of party unity has, for example, hovered over a series of previously undisclosed Democratic dinners in New York and Washington organized by the longtime party financier Bernard Schwartz [the billionaire former Vice Chairman of Lockheed Martin]. …

[Rufus] Gifford [former President Barack Obama’s 2012 finance director, who] … has gone public in recent days with his dismay over major Democratic fund-raisers remaining on the sidelines, said of Mr. Sanders, “I feel like everything we are doing is playing into his hands.”

But the peril of rallying the party’s elite donor class against a candidate whose entire public life has been organized around confronting concentrated wealth is self-evident: Mr. Sanders would gleefully seize on any Stop Bernie effort.

“You can see him reading the headlines now,” Mr. Brock mused: “‘Rich people don’t like me.’”

So: the rise of Elizabeth Warren gives the billionaires a ‘progressive’ candidate who might either win the nomination or else at least split progressive voters during the primaries (between Sanders and Warren) and thus give the nomination to Buttigieg, who is their first choice (especially since both Biden and Harris have been faltering so badly of late).

This explains the gushings for Warren, at such neocon rags as The Atlantic, The New Republic, New Yorker, and Mother Jones. It’s being done in order to set up the final round, so as for its outcome to be acceptable to the billionaires who fund the Democratic Party. Her record in the U.S. Senate is consistently in support of U.S. invasions, coups, and sanctions against countries that have never invaded nor even threatened to invade the U.S., such as Venezuela, Palestine, Syria, and Iran; she’s 100% a neocon (just like G.W. Bush, Obama and Trump were/are); and, to billionaires, that is even more important than her policy-record regarding Wall Street is, because the Military Industrial Complex, which she represents, is even more important to enforcing and spreading the U.S. megacorporate empire than the investment-firms are. So, whereas they would be able to deal with Warren, they wouldn’t be able to deal with Sanders, whose policy-record is remarkably progressive in all respects, and not only on domestic U.S. matters. Whereas the public pay attention virtually only to domestic matters, billionaires care even more about foreign than about domestic affairs — and this fact — more than anything else — makes Sanders utterly unacceptable to them. Under a President Warren, America’s string of invasions, coups, and economic blockades (sanctions) would continue; but, under a President Sanders, all of that wasted money would be spent instead on improving the lives of the American people, rather than on destroying the lives of the residents in those foreign lands so as to conquer those lands in the name of advancing ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ there and of ‘defending America’ against ‘enemies’ who never even have threatened us. This con is the reality that both the Democratic and the Republican sides of The Establishment (the collective operation of all billionaires and their ‘news’-media and think tanks, etc.) constantly hide from the public. And that is why, for example, America went from invading Iraq on the basis of lies in 2003, to invading Libya on the basis of lies in 2011, and Syria on the basis of lies in 2013-, and maybe Venezuela and Iran on the basis of lies after the upcoming Presidential ‘election’.

Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Americas

U.S. Elections: Trump’s Strategy of “Peace” might help

Sojla Sahar

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Presidential elections in the United States are around the corner and campaigns by the presidential candidates are in full swing in whole of the United States. The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their presidential candidate whereas the Democrats have chosen the seasoned politician Joe Biden who has also served as the vice president under the Obama administrations. Over here, a fact shouldn’t be forgotten that the so-called Democrats have also imposed an unnecessary war and burden of foreign intervention on the people of America. Let it US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria this has imposed huge financial burden on the American people that is being pay by their taxes. United States has around 200,000 troops scattered in the world. There are around 38,000 in Japan, 34,000 in Germany, 24,000 in Korea, 5,000 Bahrain, 5,000 in Iraq, 3,000 in Spain and 12,000 in Afghanistan. Under the Trump administration, much needed decision was taken by the administration for pulling out of troops from all the unwanted and unwelcomed foreign interventions. This has cost huge monetary burden and heavy taxes on the people of US. These interventions were a gift by Democrats to its people that led American to nothing.

Under Trump administration, US decided to withdrawal its troops from Northern Syria. US have around 1,000 troops positioned in the Northern Syria for deterring Iranian influence and countering ISIS expansion in the country. They have decided only to leave special operations force in Syria and will pull out the rest from the conflict zone. It is not the task that will come to an end in days it will take years and huge budget to relocate the troops. This decision might be a breath of fresh air for the Americans but it might weaken the US military positions in front of the Russian military on the globe. United States also has American military troop’s presence in Germany as well. Trump administration is willing to reduce the troops in Germany by around 25%. There is around 11,900 troop’s present in Germany for securing Europe’s security. The Trump administration is focused on relocation and strategic repositioning of the US troops in the world. For this, the Trump administration has decided to pull out its 6,400 troops from Germany as they whole burden is on the US shoulders for costs maintaining alliance and Germany is not paying its share in the defense budget of NATO putting all the burden on the US citizens. Trump administration also slammed the European countries of not paying their due share in NATO defense budget. Italy spends about 1.22% from its budget and Belgium spends around 0.93% from its GDP on the NATO defense budget.

In addition, the Trump administration has shown that they do not want war and conflict. They have also retreated themselves from the foreign intervention drama that has led to damage to the peace of the world. Trump has given an impression that he aims to bring peace in the world not by arms but through negotiations with the conflict actors. Its example is US negotiations with Taliban’s for ending the endless war fruitless war that brought destruction for Afghanistan and brutally damaged the standing of US in the world.

There are around 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan that are now reduced to 8,600 troops. The rest are sent home and some are being settled in Italy and Belgium. The Trump administration has declared to reduce the number of troop in Afghanistan by 5,000 by November and will reach 4,000 by June 2021. They are aiming to completely withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months if a concrete peace deal is signed between Taliban’s and United States.

There were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan that went there to fight war on terror but are coming back empty handed. But still in even in these circumstances it will benefit the American people and their issues will be addressed in a better way. Not just this, Trump administration has also decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq that has been there for more than 19 years now putting a burden on American shoulders.

 All of this decision by the Trump administration shows that under Trump USA will go for the isolationist impulses that will help them to rebuild domestically and resolve the problem of its people who are indulged in unemployment, poverty, crumbling health system particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19. The health system of United States has proven to be fragile. Despite of being the wealthiest country, its health system crumbled within days leaving thousands of people to die in waiting for their appointment. Many of the people had severe financial crisis that refrained them to go to the hospital and get them treated.

According to some sources many hospitals in New York were running out of financial and had to send people on leave because they were unable to pay them. This led to massive unemployment during such desperate times of the year. Developing countries like Pakistan coped with the virus in a better way despite of having poor health facilities.

Under Trump, USA is moving towards “American First” strategy that will lead towards massive shrinkage in the defense budget of US military. The strategy of retrenchment and aversion of foreign intervention might help Trump in winning the next elections because right now United States has more domestic issues than international problems. The flag of truce in the hand of Trump and aim of brining peace in the world might bring him back in the oval office. It seems like Trump will make USA resign from its self-proclaimed post of “world policemen” that will benefit the world and the people of USA.

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Mistrust between Russia and the United States Has Reached an All-Time High

Igor Ivanov

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In August 2020, Politico magazine published three letters outlining their authors’ views of the ways the United States, and the West in general, should build relations with Russia. The first, published on August 5 and signed by over 100 prominent American politicians, diplomats and military leaders, states that Washington’s present policy towards Moscow “isn’t working” and that it is time that the United States “rethink” it. The gist of the proposals is that the United States “must deal with Russia as it is, not as we wish it to be, fully utilizing our strengths but open to diplomacy.”

This letter prompted a response, first from another group of former American ambassadors and political scientists (Politico, August 11) and then from several eminent politicians from Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (August 13). Both groups agree that now is not the time to reconsider policies toward Russia.

I am well acquainted with many of the signatories to these three statements. I worked closely with some of them during my tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and met some of them during negotiations. I still keep in touch with several of them, as we participate in various informal international projects. Since most parties to the emerging discussion are both highly experienced professionals and public figures, their stances on Russia are well known. The list of signatories under each statement hardly came as a surprise to anyone.

I do not think it makes sense to dwell in too much detail on the arguments presented by the parties. At the same time, proceeding from my own experience of U.S.–Russia relations, I would think that I have the right to put forward some considerations of my own.

First of all, on whether a “new reset” in relations between Washington and Moscow is either possible or desirable. One gets the impression that the authors of the letters see the “old reset” spearheaded by the Obama administration as a kind of bonus or advance offered by the United States to Russia in the hope that the latter would “behave” properly. The debate focuses on whether or not Russia has justified this “advance,” and whether or not it deserves a new bonus. Personally, I cannot recall a single instance where the United States (during Barack Obama’s presidency or under any other administration) gave Russia a “bonus” or “advance” of any kind, made a unilateral concession or indeed did anything that was not in the interests of the United States.

As I see it, the “reset” fully met the long-term interests of both states, particularly in security. Only a very biased observer would claim that the New START Treaty constituted a unilateral concession to Moscow on the part of Washington. Similarly, NATO’s call at the 2010 Lisbon Summit for a true strategic partnership with Russia can hardly be viewed as a unilateral concession. In both instances, the interests of both parties were taken into account, as were the interests of international security in general.

Russia and the United States remain the world’s leading nuclear powers, boasting the largest strategic weapons capabilities. Moscow and Washington have been engaged in mutual deterrence for decades now. However, an objective analysis of the challenges and threats to Russian and U.S. security shows that the very real dangers that do exist emanate not from the two countries themselves, but rather from processes and trends that lie outside the bilateral relations. Accordingly, any predictions about the possible and desirable prospects for interaction between the two states will be incomplete at the very least if they are taken out of the overall context of the development of the international system.

We have to admit that mistrust between Russia and the United States has reached an all-time high. It will take years, maybe even decades, to rectify this situation. However, I am confident that, sooner or later, we will have to start moving in that direction, not because one party will “wear” the other down, forcing it to make unilateral concessions or even throw itself at the mercy of the winner. First, each side has a large safety margin and is willing to continue the confrontation for many years to come. Second, history shows us that peace achieved through unilateral concession rarely lasts.

Life itself, by which I mean each side understanding the long-term need of its own security, will force the United States and Russia to resume progress towards cooperation. Such an understanding, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the elections in the two countries, or with the opportunistic calculations of individual political forces. Regardless of these calculations, the world is rapidly moving towards the line beyond which a global disaster looms with increasing clarity. Once we take a peek beyond this line, the entire world, primarily its leading states, which bear special responsibility for the fate of the world, will have to make decisions that go beyond their own immediate interests.

As for the debates on when and with whom the United States should enter into a dialogue with Russia, I believe such discussions have zero practical value. It would be extremely unreasonable and even irresponsible to defer talks in the hope that more convenient or more accommodating interlocutors will appear in the partner country or, alternatively, that a more favourable general political situation for negotiations will appear.

I would like to refer to my own experience. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I constantly kept in touch with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and then with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. That was in the late 1990s–early 2000s. The bombings of Yugoslavia, the war in Iraq, the Middle Eastern crisis, the expansion of NATO and many, many other events objectively made the U.S.–Russia dialogue more difficult. Obviously, our views on many issues differed greatly. But we never broke off our dialogue, not for a day, no matter how difficult it was. Strictly speaking, this is the art of diplomacy: conducting a dialogue with a difficult partner, achieving agreements where the stances of the parties veer widely and the chances of reaching a comprise appear minimal.

Critics will hasten to say that the U.S.–Russia dialogue in the early 21st century failed to prevent many conflicts and wars, and that is true. But it also helped prevent far graver consequences and, where possible, even led to the signing of important mutually acceptable agreements (New START, etc.). The experience of global diplomacy tells us that the only way to find solutions is through dialogue. The sooner our leading politicians realize it, the faster we will step away from mutual public accusations and destructive information wars waged with cutting-edge technologies and move towards earnest talks on the crucial issues of the 21st-century agenda.

Giving general advice is easy. It is even easier to take the high horse, insisting on staying faithful to one’s values and principles. It is much more difficult for those who have been accorded the requisite powers to make specific decisions. As the great American economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” All we can do is hope that politicians in Russia and the United States will prefer the unpalatable to the disastrous.

From our partner RIAC

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The Farce of Post 9/11 U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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This week refugee camps in Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos were set ablaze rendering over 20,000 refugees homeless.  Apparently the fires were started by the refugees themselves who are sick of lives in limbo on the EU periphery.  They want to reach the heartland, get jobs, build lives for themselves.

An inevitable consequence of our modern wars, refugees have become an emblem.  Old newsreels show us their lined, worried faces in the Second World War and TV has them live from Yugosloavia, a country disappeared and reemerged as several ethnic  parts, while numerous principal actors of the time faced judges in the international courts.

Then there is 9/11 in the US — a term meaning September 11 as in the US, unlike Europe and many parts of the world, the month is written first followed by the day and year.  Patriot Day, as it has been labeled, September 11 marks the day when commercial airliners were used as weapons to destroy the World Trade Center, a skyscraper in New York City, and attack the Pentagon, the military’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

If the mastermind of the attack was a turned, non-Afghan, Mujahedin commander camped out in Afghanistan, who following Soviet withdrawal turned his attention to the other major power … committing, in his mind, the unpardonable sin of parking troops on his native soil of Saudi Arabia — no matter, they were there for protective purposes from an increasingly belligerent Saddam Hussein.

The results we know.  A naive George Bush and a populace thirsting for revenge attacked Afghanistan leading to the longest war in American history.  Many presidents later, Donald Trump too is trying to negotiate a pull-out of US troops with the Taliban.  Yes, Afghanistan holds elections and has a president, even a military, but guess what will happen if US troops leave without any resolution with the Taliban.

George Bush’s rival for governor in Texas had a great line.  ‘Poor George,’ she would say, ‘he can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.’  So George went after Iraq and lacking his father’s good sense (who after liberating Kuwait withdrew) he stayed to democratize Iraq without examining the country’s demographics.  Majority Shia, it has a democratic leadership now that is Shia and closely allied with Shia Iran.  Fast forward to the present and the current president, Donald Trump, is withdrawing troops from Iraq and is in a stand-off with Iran. 

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking American foreign policy in the Middle East is a plot from a Gilbert and Sullivan farce.  Except for a sad and sobering fact.  More than a million lives lost, refugees still streaming out and many, many millions of lives displaced … including a Christian Iraqi from Baghdad who runs a 24-hour convenience store a couple of miles from my house.

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