Connect with us

Americas

Ukraine, Trump, Biden: The Real Story Behind “Ukrainegate” -Part 1

Published

on

TRUMP’S 25 JULY 2019 PHONE-CALL TO ZELENSKY

Since this news-report is going to be especially harsh regarding today’s Democratic Party in the United States, readers should be aware that until that Party nominated Hillary Clinton in 2016, this writer was, and consistently voted as, a Democrat, and that I have never been, and never could be, a Republican. In no way does this article reflect a Republican viewpoint. It is not partisan — not favoring one person’s viewpoint over any other’s. (Though it does favor trustworthy evidence over untrustworthy hearsay and witnesses, etc.) This article is written by a consistent progressive, which means a person whose top value is truth, nothing else than 100% honesty and reflecting only personally verified sources, real facts. Intense care has therefore been taken in checking and cross-checking and validating information before accepting here anything as constituting information instead of as being disinformation (which is sadly rampant). The following article is written only because it reports what my own independent researches have found to be the actual case regarding what is now commonly called “Ukrainegate” (the focus of the impeachment-proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump).

The ‘news’-media and the Democrats have been grossly misrepresenting what the “Ukrainegate” narrative and the impeachment proceedings against the current U.S. President are all about; and, as a result of this widespread misinformation, ABC News headlined on November 18th, “70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine were wrong: POLL”, and reported that “32%, say they made up their minds about impeaching the president before the news broke about Trump’s July phone-call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.” This poll found that 100% of the 506 scientifically sampled respondents had heard at least some of the impeachment hearings, and that 51% of them agreed with the statement, “President Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached by the House and removed from office by the Senate,” while 6% agreed instead with “President Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached by the House but NOT removed from office by the Senate.” 25% agreed instead with “President Trump’s actions were NOT wrong.”

However, far more was actually involved in this phone-call than allegations against the Bidens; and those allegations regarding the Bidens have themselves been grossly misrepresented in the press, as this article will show, and will document in its links to the actual and most trustworthy evidence in the case. (Of course, the very best evidence is the call itself, and that will therefore be the first thing linked to and discussed here.)

Furthermore, the American public should have been far more skeptical about the Ukrainegate narrative than they were, because, at first, Democrats were trying to use, as their ground on which to impeach Trump — and thereby to install the current Vice President Mike Pence as being America’s President — Trump’s having colluded with Russia in order to win the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, but that effort failed because it was false and was based on highly questionable evidence, supplied largely through a firm, Crowdstrike, that the Democratic National Committee had hired in order to find dirt against then-candidate and now-President Trump. Now the Democrats’ ground, for replacing President Donald Trump by his Vice President Mike Pence, is that in Trump’s 25 July 2019 phone-call to Ukraine’s new President Volodmyr Zelensky, Trump supposedly pressured Zelensky to have Joe Biden investigated. 

One of the first signs of a liar is that the person switches his story — changes to a new and different reason for ‘justifying’ his actions (in this case, impeachment) — and this clearly is being done now by the Democrats and the ‘news’-media, in order to replace President Donald Trump by his Vice President Mike Pence. Consequently: Americans are insufficiently suspicious against the present impeachment hearings. Americans need to examine carefully beyond the mere surface — much deeper. The links here are provided in order to facilitate the reader’s direct access to the highest quality (i.e., most trustworthy) evidence in the case, so that the reader may see, on one’s own, what the ‘news’-media do not report.

25 September 2019 was when a clear and copyable version of the transcript of that complete July 25th phone conversation finally became published, online, by Rhode Island’s Providence Journal; and here is the only passage in the complete transcript where Trump mentioned Biden (three times, in fact — the only three times that the word “Biden” appears in the entire transcript):

Rudy [Giuliani] very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him, that would be great. The former ambassador

[to Ukraine]

from the United States, the woman [Marie Yovanovitch], was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the [U.S.] Attorney General [William Barr] would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

What “prosecution,” of whom, for what, and why? The media ignore those questions. when they aren’t simply assuming an answer to them. But no such answer ought to be assumed. Nor should these important questions be ignored. Here, the answers to those questions will be documented.

Furthermore, elsewhere in that conversation, Trump said:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it.

Zelensky responded by asserting that “the next prosecutor general [in Ukraine] will be 100% my person” and that “he or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company [Crowdstrike] that you mentioned in this issue.” Nothing at all was said by Zelensky about any Biden, at any point in the entire phone-call. It wasn’t mainly about the Bidens such as the press alleges to be the case.

In fact: the “favor” that Trump was asking about wasn’t concerning the Bidens, but it instead concerned the investigation that Trump’s Attorney General (referenced here when Trump said “whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great”) is now heading, into the question of why Obama’s FBI and entire intelligence community had proceeded with the highly suspect Christopher Steele and Crowdstrike report that the Democratic National Committee had hired under Obama in order to come up with allegations to use against Trump, and why the Obama Administration never demanded to inspect the DNC’s own server in order to examine the key physical evidence in the alleged Russiagate case against Trump — much less, what testimony and evidence Julian Assange might have in the alleged Russiagate case. What did Trump mean when he said “The server, they say Ukraine has it”? Did Trump actually think that Zelensky could supply that physical evidence? What did he mean? What was he asking of Zelensky when Trump said, “The server, they say Ukraine has it”?

One can’t understand the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump unless one understands accurately what was happening in Ukraine and what the motivations were of the persons who were involved in U.S.-Ukraine policy, first under U.S. President Barack Obama, and then under his successor Donald Trump. Information will be presented here, about those matters, which probably won’t come up in the House impeachment hearings. These matters are likelier to be publicly discussed afterward, when the case goes to the Senate, but might be too ‘sensitive’ to be brought up even there — especially if they make both Democratic and Republican officials look bad, such as, for example, if both Democrats and Republicans had participated in a February 2014 coup against, and overthrowing, Ukraine’s democratically elected Government, and — if that happened, as we will show it did — how this fact might affect Trump’s relationship with Zelensky. So: a lot is to be shown here, and this will be information that the ‘news’-media have been hiding from the public, not reporting to the public. 

There are many instances of U.S. coups that the Government lied about and that afterward had negative blowback. The 1953 U.S. coup against Iran’s democratically elected Government wasn’t revealed to the American public until decades after it had happened. It had long been alleged to have been a ‘democratic revolution’ in Iran. Our Government and media have been lying to us for a long time, and not only about ‘WMD in Iraq’. We shall be documenting here that that 1953 coup in Iran (and other similar instances by the U.S. Government) is being repeated (yet again) in the case of the February 2014 U.S. coup that occurred in Ukraine. The regime is very effective at lying, at deceiving, at manipulating, its public, no less now than it was then. Without understanding the reality of Obama’s coup in Ukraine, there is no way of honestly explaining Ukrainegate. The 1953 Iran coup produced, as blowback, the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Obama’s 2014 coup in Ukraine likewise is having its blowbacks, but of different types.

TRUMP’S PURPOSE IN THE 25 JULY 2019 CALL TO ZELENSKY

The argument to be presented here is that Trump, in this phone-call, and generally, was trying not only to obtain help with evidence-gathering in the “Crowdstrike” matter (which A.G. Barr is now investigating, and which also is the reason why Trump specifically mentioned “Crowdstrike” at the only instance in the phone-call where he was requesting a “favor” from Zelensky), but to change the policy toward Ukraine that had been established by Obama (via Obama’s coup and its aftermath). This is a fact, which will be documented here. Far more than politics was involved here; ideology was actually very much involved. Trump was considering a basic change in U.S. foreign policies. He was considering to replace policies that had been established under, and personnel who had been appointed by, his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama. Democrats are extremely opposed to any such changes. This is one of the reasons for the renewed impeachment-effort by Democrats. They don’t want to let go of Obama’s worst policies. But changing U.S. foreign policy is within a President’s Constitutional authority to do.

Trump fired the flaming neoconservative John Bolton on 10 September 2019. This culminated a growing rejection by Trump of neoconservatism — something that he had never thought much about but had largely continued from the Obama Administration, which invaded and destroyed Libya in 2011, Syria in 2012-, Yemen in 2015-, and more — possibly out-doing even George W. Bush, who likewise was a flaming neocon. Trump’s gradual turn away from neoconservatism wasn’t just political; it was instead a reflection, on his part, that maybe, just maybe, he had actually been wrong and needed to change his foreign policies, in some important ways. (He evidently still hasn’t yet figured out precisely what those changes should be.)

For example, on 15 November 2019, the impeachment focus was on the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump had recently (in May 2019) fired as the Ambassador to Ukraine. Democrats presented her as having been the paradigm of professionalism and nonpartisanship in America’s foreign service. She was actually a neoconservative who had been appointed as an Ambassador first by President George W. Bush on 20 November 2004, after her having received an M.S. from the National War College in 2001. Obama appointed her, on 18 May 2016, to replace Geoff Pyatt (shown and heard in this video confidentially receiving instructions from Obama’s agent controlling Ukraine-policy, Victoria Nuland) as the Ambassador to Ukraine. Obama had selected Yovanovitch because he knew that (just like Pyatt) she supported his polices regarding Ukraine and would adhere to his instructions. Yovanovitch was part of Obama’s team, just as she had previously been part of George W. Bush’s team. All three of them were staunch neoconservatives, just as Ambassador Pyatt had been, and just as Victoria Nuland had been, and just as Joe Biden had been. 

A neoconservative believes in the rightfulness of American empire over this entire planet, even over the borders of the other nuclear superpower, Russia. Obama’s standard phrase arguing for it was “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation”, meaning that all other nations are “dispensable.” This imperialistic belief was an extension of Yale’s ‘pacifist’ pro-Nazi America First movement, which was supported by Wall Street’s Dulles brothers in the early 1940s, and which pro-Nazi movement Trump himself has prominently praised. Unlike the progressive U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had planned the U.N. in order to be the anti-imperialist emerging first-ever global world government of nations, which would democratically set and ultimately enforce international laws of a new global federation of nations — a global democratic federation of sovereign republics — neoconservatives are U.S. imperialists, who want instead to destroy the U.N., and to extend American power over the entire world, make America not only the policeman to the world but the lawmaker for the world, and the judge jury and executioner of the world, the global dictator. The U.N. would be weakened to insignificance. This has gradually been occurring. It continued even after what had been thought to have been the 1991 end of the Cold War, and after Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his deceptive rhetoric. Yale’s John Bolton was the leading current proponent of the America First viewpoint, much more straightforward in his advocacy of it than the far wilier Obama was; and, until recently, Trump supported that unhedged advocacy for the neoconservative viewpoint: U.S. imperialism. Regarding the campaign to take over Russia, however, he no longer does — he has broken with Bolton on that central neoconservative goal, and he is trying to reverse that policy, which had been even more extreme than Obama’s policy towards Russia was (which policy had, in fact, produced the coup in Ukraine).

When the Cold War had supposedly ended in 1991, it ended actually only on the Russian side, but secretly it continued and continues on as policy on the American imperialists’ side. The neoconservative side, which controlled the U.S. Government by that time (FDR’s vision having been destroyed when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981), has no respect whatsoever for Russia’s sovereignty over its own land, and certainly not over the land of Russia’s neighbors, such as Ukraine, which has a 1,625-mile border with Russia. Neoconservatives want U.S. missiles to be pointed at Moscow all along Russia’s border. That would be as if Russia had wanted to position Russian missiles all along Canada’s and Mexico’s borders with the U.S.; it would disgust any decent person, anywhere, but neoconservatives aren’t decent people. Neoconservatives (U.S. imperialists) seek for all of Russia’s neighbors to become part of the U.S. empire, so as to isolate Russia and then become able to gobble it up. All neoconservatives want this ultimately to happen. Their grasp for power is truly limitless. Only in the tactical issues do they differ from one-another.

In her testimony behind closed doors to Senators, on 11 October 2019, Yovanovich stated her views regarding what America’s policies toward Ukraine should be, and these were Obama’s policies, too; these views are the neoconservative outlook [and my own comments in brackets here will indicate her most egregious distortions and lies in this key passage from her]:

Because of Ukraine’s geostrategic position bordering Russia on its east, the warm waters of the oil-rich Black Sea to its south, and four NATO allies to its west, it is critical to the security of the United States [this is like saying that Mexico and Canada are crucial to the security of Russia — it’s a lie] that Ukraine remain free and democratic [meaning, to neoconservatives, under U.S. control], and that it continue to resist Russian expansionism [like Russia cares about U.S. expansionism over all of the Western Hemisphere? Really? Is that actually what this is about? It’s about extending U.S. imperialism on and across Russia’s border into Russia itself] Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea [but, actually, “Clear and convincing evidence will be presented here that, under U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. Government had a detailed plan, which was already active in June 2013, to take over Russia’s main naval base, which is in Sevastopol in Crimea, and to turn it into a U.S. naval base.”], its invasion of Eastern Ukraine, and its defacto control over the Sea of Azov, make clear Russia’s malign intentions towards Ukraine [not make clear Russia’s determination not to be surrounded by enemies — by U.S.-stooge regimes. For Russia to avoid that is ‘malign’, she says]. If we allow Russia’s actions to stand, we will set a precedent that the United States will regret for decades to come. So, supporting Ukraine’s integration into Europe and combating Russia’ s efforts to destabilize Ukraine [Oh, America didn’t do that destabilization?] have anchored our policy since the Ukrainian people protested on the Maidan in 2014 and demanded to be a part of Europe and live according to the rule of law [But Ukrainians before Obama’s takeover of Ukraine in February 2014 didn’t actually want to be part of the EU nor of NATO, and they considered NATO to be a threat to Ukraine. “In 2010, Gallup found that whereas 17% of Ukrainians considered NATO to mean ‘protection of your country,’ 40% said it’s ‘a threat to your country’.”] That was U.S. policy when I became ambassador in August 2016 [after Obama’s successful coup there took over its media and turned Ukrainian opinion strongly against Russia], and it was reaffirmed as that policy as the policy of the current administration in early 2017. [Yes, that’s correct, finally a truthful assertion from her. When Trump first came into office, he was a neoconservative, too.] The Revolution of Dignity [you’ll see here the ‘dignity’ of it] and the Ukrainian people’s demand to end corruption forced the new Ukrainian Government to take measures to fight the rampant corruption that long permeated that country’s political and economic systems [and that still do, and perhaps more now than even before]

That’s just one example —  it’s about the role of Ambassador Yovanovitch. But the focus of Ukrainegate isn’t really that. It’s not Yovanovitch. It is what Trump was trying to do, and what Joe Biden was trying to do, and what Obama had actually done. It is also about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, because this is also about contending dynasties, and not only about contending individuals. Trump isn’t certain, now, that he wants to continue being a full-fledged neoconservative, and to continue extending Obama’s neoconservative policies regarding Ukraine. So: this is largely about what those policies actually were. And here is how Joe Biden comes into the picture, because Democrats, in trying to replace President Donald Trump by a President Mike Pence, are trying to restore, actually, Barack Obama’s policy in Ukraine, a policy of which the Bidens themselves were very much Obama’s agents, and Mike Pence would be expected to continue and extend those policies. Here will be necessary to document some personal and business relationships that the U.S. news-media have consistently been hiding and even lying about, and which might not come up even in the expected subsequent Senate hearings about whether to replace Trump by Pence:

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

Continue Reading
Comments

Americas

Roads and Rails for the U.S.

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Americas

Congress and the Biden administration should end FBI immunity overseas

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Americas

Competition and cooperation between China and the United States and the eighth priority

Published

on

In mid-March U.S. President Biden held his first press conference since taking office. Speaking about Sino-U.S. relations, Biden said: “I will prevent China from surpassing the United States of America during my term of office”. At the same time, he also stressed that he would not seek to confront China, but to keep up fierce competition between the two countries.

Focusing on competition between major powers is one of the important changes in U.S. foreign policy in recent years. As the strengths of China and the United States draw closer together, the United States increasingly feels that its own ‘hegemony’ is threatened. During Trump’s tenure, the United States has caused a trade war, a technology war, and even a complete disagreement with China in an attempt to curb China’s development momentum and erode Chinese positions.

The expansion of the competitive field and the escalation of the competitive situation have become the hallmarks of Sino-U.S. relations during this period. Although Biden’s policy line has made substantial changes to ‘Trumpism’, it still has much of its predecessor’s legacy with regard to its policy towards China.

The first foreign policy speech made by U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken listed China Challenge as the eighth priority, preceded by:

1) ending the COVID-19 pandemic;

2) overcoming the economic crisis, reviving the economy at home and abroad, as well as and building a more stable and inclusive global economy;

3) renewing democracy;

4) reforming immigration and creating a humane and effective immigration system;

5) rebuilding alliances, revitalising U.S. ties with allies and partners with the system that the military calls force multiplier;

6) tackling climate change and leading a green energy revolution;

7) securing U.S. leadership in technology; and

8) confronting China and managing the greatest geopolitical test of the 21st century, i.e. relations with China, which is the only country with economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the international system and equilibria.

The eighth medium-term guideline for the national security strategy sees China as an important competitor. These guidelines clearly show that competition still sets the tone in the way President Biden’s Administration’s manages relations with China, as was the case in the previous four-year period.

At a press conference on March 26, 2021, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the above statements were not surprising. It is clear that China and the United States are competing on different interest levels.

The key factor, however, is to compete fairly and justly and to improve oneself. The appeal to the other side is moderation and restraint, not life or death, or a zero-sum game. These words are along the same lines as Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s statement when he spoke about Sino-U.S. relations at a session of the National Congress of People’s Representatives of the People’s Republic of China (the Chinese Parliament). It is not only a response to the U.S. strategy of competition with China, but it also provides a model for the future way in which superpowers should proceed together.

The reality of Sino-U.S. competition is unavoidable, but competition can be divided into benign and vicious. The former is a winning model for “improving oneself and understanding the needs of the other side”.

Since Deng Xiaping’s reforms and opening up to international trade, China has begun its own reconstruction. It has continuously widened the scope for benign competition and has changed its mindset by actively embracing the world’s different political parties and participating in international competition. It has also inspired enthusiasm for innovation and creativity and made progress in various fields.

At the same time, development has also provided ample opportunities for countries around the world and injected growth momentum into the global economy: this is a typical example of China’s good interaction and common development with all countries around the globe.

Conversely, fierce competition means breaking rules and systems and even breaking the demarcation line to prevent or contain the opponent, and this is usually followed by fierce conflicts.

The two World Wars of the last century were extreme examples of violent competition between great powers: the first as a clash between capitalist imperialisms in search of new markets; the second as a result of mistakes made in the peace treaties that ended the Great War, plundering the losers and causing misery, resentment and chauvinistic desires.

In today’s world, competition without respect for the other side has not disappeared from the scene of history. Trump Administration’s frantic anti-China activity over the last four years has not only failed to make the United States ‘great again’, but has caused a linear decline in its national competitiveness, at least according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020 published by the Lausanne-based International Institute for Management Development, which sees the United States dropping from third to tenth place. Besides the fact that its international image has seriously plummeted and Sino-U.S. relations have hit the lowest ebb since the establishment of diplomatic relations. It can clearly be seen that fierce competition will only restrain its promoters and ultimately harm the others, themselves and the international community.

In December 2020 General Mark Alexander Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (a body that brings together the Chiefs of Staff of each branch of the U.S. military and the Head of the National Guard Bureau), said in an interview that ‘great powers must compete. This is the essence of the world’.

There is no problem with this statement: it is not wrong, but it is important to maintain a state of competition and contact between major powers, precisely to ensure that it does not turn into conflicts or wars that are fatal to mankind and the planet as a whole.

The gist of the speech shows that some U.S. elites also believe that China and the United States should adhere to the principle of ‘fighting without breaking each other’. The importance and the overall and strategic nature of Sino-U.S. relations determine that no one can afford the zero-sum game, which is a lose-lose as opposed to a win-win game – hence we need to ensure that competition between the two countries stays on the right track.

Competition between China and the United States can only be fair and based on rules and laws. This is the basic rule of international relations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations as its point of reference.

Regardless of the common interests of China, the United States or peoples in the world, both countries should make this system promote healthy and fair competition, thus turning it into the greatest value of sharing and cooperation.

China’s goal has never been to surpass the United States, but to advance steadily and become better and no longer a prey to imperialism and colonialism as it has been the case since the 19th century, when Great Britain waged the two Opium Wars (1839-1842 – 1856-1860) to have not only the opportunity, but also the right to export drugs to the Middle Empire – hence Great Britain was the first pusher empowered and authorized by the force of its weapons.

Although – by its own good fortune -the United States has never been England, it should not always be thinking of surpassing the others or fearing being overtaken by the others, but should particularly focus on Secretary of State Blinken’s first seven priorities and raise its expectations.

China should show its traditional political wisdom and manage Sino-U.S. relations in accordance with the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, so that Sino-U.S. relations can develop in a healthy and stable way for the good of the whole planet.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending