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Why Freedom Is Ending

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First, the force that is ending freedom will be identified and described; and, then, the force that they fear and hate the most (and are trying to destroy) will be identified and described.

THE FORCE THAT IS ENDING FREEDOM

The force that is ending freedom is empire.

Every empire is a dictatorship. No nation can be a democracy that’s either heading an empire, or a vassal-state of one. Obviously, in order to be a vassal-state within an empire, that nation is dictated-to by the nation of which it is a colony. However, even the domestic inhabitants of the colonizing nation cannot be free and living in a democracy, because their services are needed abroad in order to impose the occupying force upon the colony or vassal-nation. This is an important burden upon the ‘citizens’ or actually the subjects of the imperial nation. Furthermore, they need to finance, via their taxes, this occupying force abroad, to a sufficient extent so as to subdue any resistance by the residents in any colony. 

Every empire is imposed, none is really voluntary. Conquest creates an empire, and the constant application of force maintains it. Every empire is a dictatorship, not only upon its foreign populations (which goes without saying, because otherwise there can’t be any empire), but upon its domestic ones too, upon its own subjects.

Any empire needs weapons-makers, who sell to the government and whose only markets are the imperial government and its vassal-nations or ‘allies’. By contrast, ’enemy’ nations are ones that the imperial power has placed onto its priority-list of nations that are yet to become conquered. 

There are two main reasons to conquer a nation: 

One is in order to be enabled to extract, from the colony, oil, or gold, or some other valuable commodity. 

The other is in order to control it so as to be enabled to use that land as a passageway for exporting, from a vassal-nation, to other nations, that vassal-nation’s products.

International trade is the basis for any empire, and the billionaires who own controlling blocs of stock in a nation’s international corporations are the actual rulers of it, the beneficiaries of empire, the recipients of the wealth that is being extracted from the colonies and from the domestic subjects.  

The idea of an empire is that the imperial nation’s rulers, its aristocracy, extract from the colonies their products, and they impose upon their domestic subjects the financial and military burdens of imposing their international dictatorship upon the foreign subjects.

Some authors say that there is a “Deep State” and that it consists of (some undefined elements within) the intelligence services, and of the military, and of the diplomatic corps, of any given dictatorship; but, actually, those employees of the State are merely employees, not the actual governing power, over that dictatorship. 

The actual Deep State are always the aristocrats, themselves, the people who run the revolving door between ‘the private sector’ (the aristocracy’s corporations) and the government. 

In former times, many of the aristocrats were themselves governing officials (the titled ‘nobility’), but this is no longer common. Nowadays, the aristocracy are the individuals who own controlling blocs of stock in international corporations (especially weapons-making firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE, because the only markets for those corporations are the corporation’s own government and its vassal states or ‘allies’); and such individuals are usually the nation’s billionaires, and, perhaps, a few of the mere centi-millionaires. A small number, typically less than 100, of these extremely wealthy individuals, are the biggest donors to politicians, and to think tanks, and to other non-profits (these latter being also tax-write-offs to their donors, and so are tax-drains siphoning money away from the general public and paying the actual benefits, such as PR and increased control over the Government, to the billionaires) that are involved in the formation of the national government’s policies; and, of course, these billionaires also are owners of and/or advertisers in the propaganda-media, which sell the aristocracy’s core or most-essential viewpoints to the nation’s subjects, in order to persuade those voters to vote only for the aristocracy’s selected candidates, and not for any who oppose the aristocracy. These few, mainly but not exclusively billionaires, are the actual Deep State — the bosses over the dictatorship, the ultimate beneficiaries in any empire.

In order to maintain this system, of international dictatorship or empire, the most essential tool is deceit, of the electorate, by the aristocracy.   

The method of control is: the bought agents of the Deep State (including the major ‘news’-media, etc.) lie to the public about what their polices will be if they win, in order to be able to win power; and, then, once they have won power, they do the opposite, which is what they have always been paid by the Deep State (the aristocracy) to do. Thereby, elections aren’t “democratic” but instead ‘democratic’: they are mere formalities of democracy, without the substance of democracy, because there can be no democracy where truth is suppressed and lies are spread instead. All of the well-financed candidates for the top offices are actually the Deep State’s representatives, and virtually none are the representatives of the public, because the voters have been deceived, and were given (by the DNC and RNC) choices between two or more candidates, none of whom will represent the public, if and when elected. Individuals who want to represent the public instead of the aristocracy get drowned by the aristocracy’s campaign-money.

Here are some recent examples of this system — the imperial system, international dictatorship, in action — as shown by its results:

During Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, he said, “The approach of fighting Assad and ISIS simultaneously was madness, and idiocy. They’re fighting each other and yet we’re fighting both of them. You know, we were fighting both of them. I think that our far bigger problem than Assad is ISIS, I’ve always felt that. Assad is, you know I’m not saying Assad is a good man, ’cause he’s not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS. … I think, you can’t be fighting two people that are fighting each other, and fighting them together. You have to pick one or the other.” Assad is allied with Russia against the Sauds (who are the chief ally of the U.S. aristocracy), so the U.S. (in accord with a policy that George Herbert Walker Bush had initiated on 24 February 1990 and which has been carried out by all subsequent U.S. Presidents) was determined to overthrow Assad, but Trump said that he was strongly opposed to that policy.

Months before that, Trump had said: “I think Assad is a bad guy, a very bad guy, all right? Lots of people killed. I think we are backing people we have no idea who they are. The rebels, we call them the rebels, the patriotic rebels. We have no idea. A lot of people think, Hugh, that they are ISIS. We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t be fighting ISIS and fighting Assad. Assad is fighting ISIS. He is fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting now ISIS. And Iran is fighting ISIS. We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t go — and I watched Lindsey Graham, he said, I have been here for 10 years fighting. Well, he will be there with that thinking for another 50 years. He won’t be able to solve the problem. We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting — you’re fighting a lot of different groups. But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time.”

In that same debate (15 December 2015) he also said: “In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now. We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.”

Did he do that? No. Did he instead intensify what Obama had been trying to do in Syria — overthrow Assad — yes. As the U.S. President, after having won the 2016 Presidential campaign, has Trump followed through on his criticism there, against the super-hawk, neoconservative, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham? No. Did he instead encircle himself with precisely such super-hawks, such neoconservatives? Yes. Did he intensify the overthrow-Assad effort, as Graham and those others had advocated? Yes. Did America’s war against Syria succeed? Not yet. Did he constantly lie to the voters? Yes, without a doubt. Should that be grounds for impeaching him? A prior question to that one is actually: Would a President Mike Pence be any different or maybe even worse than Trump? If yes, then what would be achieved by removing Trump from office? Maybe it would actually make things a lot worse. But how likely would the U.S. Senate be to remove Trump from office if the House did impeach Trump? Two-thirds of the U.S. Senate would need to vote to remove the President in order for a President to be removed after being impeached by the House. A majority of U.S. Senators, 53 of them, were Republicans. If just 33 of them voted not to convict the President, then Trump wouldn’t be removed, and he wasn’t. In order to remove him, not only would all 47 of the Democrats and Independents have had to vote to convict, but 20 of the 53 Republicans would have needed to join them. That’s nearly 40% of the Republican Senators. How likely was that? Almost impossible. What would their voters who had elected them back home think of their having done such a thing? How likely would such Senators have then faced successful re-election challenges that would have removed those Senators from office? Would 20 of the 53 have been likely to take that personal risk? Why, then, were so many Democrats in the House pressing for Trump’s impeachment, since Trump’s being forced out of the White House this way was practically impossible and would only have installed a President Pence, even if it could have succeeded? Was that Democratic Party initiative anything else than insincere political theater, lying to their own gullible voters, Democratic Party voters, just being phonies who manipulated voters to vote for them, instead of who were actually serving them? Is that what democracy is, now: such insincere political theater? Is that “democracy”? America’s voters are trapped, by liars, so it’s instead mere ‘democracy’. It’s the new form of dictatorship. But it’s actually as ancient as is any empire. There’s nothing new about this — except for one thing: the U.S. regime is aiming to be the ultimate, the last, the final, empire, the ruler over the entire planet; so, it is trying especially hard, ‘to defend freedom, democracy and human rights throughout the world’, as Big Brother might say.

Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, was just as evil, and just as insincere, as Trump, but a far more skillful liar, who deceived his voters to think that he would fight corruption, work to improve relations with Russia, provide a public option in his health-insurance plan, and otherwise work to reduce economic inequality, to improve the economic situation for disadvantaged Americans, and to prosecute banksters. He abandoned each one of those stated objectives as soon as he won against John McCain, on 4 November 2008, and then yet more when he defeated Mitt Romney in 2012. And aren’t some of those promises the same ones that candidate Trump had also advocated and then abandoned as soon as he too was s‘elected’?

THE THREAT TO THE EMPIRE

Empire always depends upon lies; it is always built upon lies; and, so, the biggest threat to it is the truth, and especially the champions of truth, who are the whistleblowers. The whistleblowers are up against two enemies: the aristocracy, and the aristocrats’ agents who censor-out truth and leave only lies which the aristocracy’s agents spread to the public. Censorship always serves liars, because it is imposed from above and serves the aristocracy, against the public. Every dictatorship needs censorship. No democracy does.

The heroic fighters for the freedom of everyone in the world are the whistleblowers, who report to the public the corruption and evil that they see perpetrated by their superiors, their bosses, and perpetrated by people who are on the public payroll or otherwise obtaining increased income by virtue of being selected by the government to become government contractors to serve an allegedly public function. All liars with power hate whistleblowers, and want to make special examples of any part of the press that publishes their truths, their facts, their stolen documents. These documents are stolen because that’s the only way for them to become public and thereby known to the voters so that the voters can vote on the basis of truths as in a democracy, instead of to be deceived as in a dictatorship. Even if the truth is stolen from the liars, instead of being kept private (“Confidential”) for them, are the whistleblowers doing wrong to steal the truth from the liars? Or, instead, are the whistleblowers heroes: are they the authentic guardians of democracy, and the precariously thin wall that separates democracy from dictatorship? They are the latter: they are the true heroes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of such heroes are also martyrs — martyrs for truth, against lies. Every dictatorship seeks to destroy its whistleblowers. That’s because any whistleblower constitutes a threat to The System — the system of aristocratic control.

In all of U.S. history, the two Presidents who pursued whistleblowers and their publishers the most relentlessly have been Trump and Obama. The public are fooled to think that this is being done for ‘national security’ reasons instead of to hide the government’s crimes and criminality. However, not a single one of the Democratic Party’s many U.S. Presidential candidates is bringing this issue, of the U.S. government’s many crimes and constant lying, forward as being the central thing that must be criminalized above all else, as constituting “treason.” None of them is proposing legislation saying that it is treason, against the public — against the nation. Against the public.

Every aristocracy tries to deceive its public, in order to control its public; and every aristocracy uses divide-and-rule in order to do this; but it’s not only to divide the public against each other (such as between Republicans versus Democrats, both of which are actually controlled by the aristocracy), but also to divide between nations, such as between ‘allies’ versus ‘enemies’ — even when a given ‘enemy’ (such as Iraq in 2003) has never threatened, far less invaded, the United States (or whatever the given imperial ‘us’ may happen to be), and thus clearly this was aggressive war, and an international war-crime, though unpunished as such, because it was done by the empire. The public need to fear and hate some ‘enemy’ which is the ‘other’ or ‘alien’, in order not  to fear and loathe the aristocracy itself — the actual source of (and winner from) the systemic exploitation, of the public, by the aristocracy. It’s distract, and divide, and rule. 

The pinnacle of the U.S. regime’s totalitarianism is its ceaseless assault against Julian Assange, who is the über-whistleblower, the strongest protector for whistleblowers, the safest publisher for the evidence that they steal from their employers and from their employers’ government. He hides the identity of the whistleblowers, even at the risk of his own continued existence. Right now, the U.S. regime is raising to a fever-pitch and twisting beyond recognition not only U.S. laws but the U.S. Constitution, so as to impose its will against him. President Trump is supported in this effort by the corrupt U.S. Congress, to either end Assange’s life, or else lock him up for the rest of his heroic life in a dungeon having no communication with the world outside, until he does finally die, in isolation, punishment for his heroic last-ditch fight for the public’s freedom and for democracy — his fight, actually, against our 1984 regime. What Jesus of Nazareth was locally to the Roman regime in his region, Assange is to the U.S. regime throughout the world: an example to terrify anyone else who might come forth effectively to challenge the Emperor’s authority.

A key country in this operation is Ecuador, which is ruled by the dictator Lenin Moreno, who stole office by lying to the public and pretending to be a progressive who backed his democratically elected predecessor, Rafael Correa, but then as soon as he won power, he reversed Correa’s progressive initiatives, including, above all, his protection of Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

On 11 April 2019, RT headlined “Who is Lenin Moreno and why did he hand Assange over to British police?” and reported that:

Following his 2017 election, Moreno quickly moved away from his election platform after taking office. He reversed several key pieces of legislation passed under his predecessor which targeted the wealthy and the banks. He also reversed a referendum decision on indefinite re-election while simultaneously blocking any potential for Correa to return.

He effectively purged many of Correa’s appointments to key positions in Ecuador’s judiciary and National Electoral Council via the CPCCS-T council which boasts supra-constitutional powers.

Moreno has also cozied up to the US, with whom Ecuador had a strained relationship under Correa. Following a visit from Vice President Mike Pence in June 2018, Ecuador bolstered its security cooperation with the US, including major arms deals, training exercises and intelligence sharing.

Following Assange’s arrest Correa, who granted Assange asylum in the first place, described Moreno as the “greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history” saying he was guilty of a “crime that humanity will never forget.”

Despite his overwhelming power and influence, however, Moreno and his family are the subject of a sweeping corruption probe in the country, as he faces down accusations of money laundering in offshore accounts and shell companies in Panama, including the INA Investment Corp, which is owned by Moreno’s brother.  

Damning images, purportedly hacked from Moreno’s phone, have irreparably damaged both his attempts at establishing himself as an anti-corruption champion as well as his relationship with Assange, whom he accused of coordinating the hacking efforts.

On 14 April 2019, Denis Rogatyuk at The Gray Zone headlined “Sell Out: How Corruption, Voter Fraud and a Neoliberal Turn Led Ecuador’s Lenin to Give Up Assange

Desperate to ingratiate his government with Washington and distract the public from his mounting scandals, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has sacrificed Julian Assange – and his country’s independence”, and he described some of the documentation for the accusations that Moreno is corrupt.  

On 12 April 2019, Zero Hedge headlined “Facebook Removes Page Of Ecuador’s Former President On Same Day As Assange’s Arrest”, and opened: “Facebook has unpublished the page of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, the social media giant confirmed on Thursday, claiming that the popular leftist leader violated the company’s security policies.”

On 16 April 2019, Jonathan Turley bannered “‘He Is Our Property’: The D.C. Establishment Awaits Assange With A Glee And Grudge”, and opened:

They will punish Assange for their sins

The key to prosecuting Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government concealed alleged war crimes and huge civilian losses, the type of disclosures that were made in the famous Pentagon Papers case. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program.

A glimpse of that artificial scope was seen within minutes of the arrest. CNN brought on its national security analyst, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. CNN never mentioned that Clapper was accused of perjury in denying the existence of the National Security Agency surveillance program and was personally implicated in the scandal that WikiLeaks triggered.

Clapper was asked directly before Congress, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” Later, Clapper said his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make.

That would still make it a lie, of course, but this is Washington and people like Clapper are untouchable. In the view of the establishment, Assange is the problem.

On 11 April 2019, the YouGov polling organization headlined “53% of Americans say Julian Assange should be extradited to America”.

On 13 April 2019, I headlined “What Public Opinion on Assange Tells Us About the US Government Direction”, and reported the only international poll that had ever been done of opinions about Assange. Its findings demonstrated that, out of the 23 nations which were surveyed, U.S. was the only one where the public were anti-Assange, and that the difference between the U.S. and all of the others was enormous and stark. The report opened:

The only extensive poll of public opinion regarding Julian Assange or Wikileaks was Reuters/Ipsos on 26 April 2011, “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is not a criminal: global poll”, and it sampled around a thousand individuals in each of 23 countries — a total of 18,829 respondents. The Reuters news-report was vague, and not linked to any detailed presentation of the poll-findings, but it did say that “U.S. respondents had a far more critical view” against Wikileaks than in any other country, and that the view by Americans was 69% “believing Assange should be charged and 61 percent opposing WikiLeaks’ mission.” Buried elsewhere on the Web was this detailed presentation of Ipsos’s findings in that poll. Here are what those findings were:

Oppose Wikileaks:

61% U.S.

38% UK

33% Canada

32% Poland

32% Belgium

31% Saudi Arabia

30% Japan

30% France

27% Indonesia

26% Italy

25% Germany

24% Sweden

24% Australia

22% Hungary

22% Brazil

21% Turkey

21% S. Korea

16% Mexico

16% Argentina

15% Spain

15% Russia

15% India

12% S. Africa

Is the U.S. a democracy if the regime is so effective in gripping the minds of its public, as to make them hostile to the strongest fighter for their freedom and democracy?

On 13 April 2019, washingtonsblog headlined “4 Myths About Julian Assange DEBUNKED”, and here was one of them:

Myth #2: Assange Will Get a Fair Trial In the U.S.

14-year CIA officer John Kiriakou notes:

Assange has been charged in the Eastern District of Virginia — the so-called “Espionage Court.” That is just what many of us have feared. Remember, no national security defendant has ever been found not guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Eastern District is also known as the “rocket docket” for the swiftness with which cases are heard and decided. Not ready to mount a defense? Need more time? Haven’t received all of your discovery? Tough luck. See you in court.

… I have long predicted that Assange would face Judge Leonie Brinkema were he to be charged in the Eastern District. Brinkema handled my case, as well as CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s. She also has reserved the Ed Snowden case for herself. Brinkema is a hanging judge.

On 20 May 2019, former British Ambassador Craig Murray (who had quit so that he could blow the whistle) headlined “The Missing Step” and argued that the only chance that Assange now has is if Sweden refuses to extradite Assange to the U.S. in the event that Britain honors the Swedish request to extradite him to Sweden instead of to the U.S. (Sweden, however, subsequently dropped its charge against Assange, and so now only Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are keeping him imprisoned until he will die.)

How can it reasonably be denied that the U.S. is, in fact (though not nominally) a dictatorship? All of its allies are thus vassal-nations in its empire. This means acquiescence (if not joining) in some of the U.S. regime’s frequent foreign coups and invasions; and this means their assisting in the spread of the U.S. regime’s control beyond themselves, to include additional other countries. It reduces the freedom, and the democracy, throughout the world; it spreads the U.S. dictatorship internationally. That is what is evil about what in America is called “neoconservatism” and in other countries is called simply “imperialism.” Under American reign, it is now a spreading curse, a political plague, to peoples throughout the world. Even an American whistleblower about Ukraine who lives in the former Ukraine is being targeted by the U.S. regime.

This is how the freedom of everyone is severely threatened, by the U.S. empire — the most deceitful empire that the world has ever experienced. The martyrs to its lies are the canaries in its coal mine. They are the first to be eliminated.

Looking again at the top of that rank-ordered list of 23 countries, one sees the U.S. and eight of its main allies (or vassal-nations), in order: U.S., UK, Canada, Poland, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France, Indonesia. These are countries whose subjects (‘citizens’) are already well-controlled by the empire. They already are vassals, and so these nations are ordained (accepted by America’s aristocracy) as being ‘allies’.

At the opposite end (as of 2011, when that poll was taken), starting with the most anti-U.S-regime, were: S. Africa, India, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, S. Korea, Turkey. These were countries where the subjects were not yet well-controlled by the empire, even though the current government in some of them is trying to change its subjects’ minds so that the country will accept U.S. rule. Wherever the subjects reject U.S. rule, there exists a strong possibility that the nation will become placed on the U.S. regime’s list of ‘enemies’ and be subjected to at least attempts at “regime-change.” Consequently, wherever the residents are the most opposed to U.S. rule, the likelihood of an American coup or invasion is real. The first step toward a coup or invasion is the imposition of sanctions against the nation. Any such nation that is already subject to them is therefore already in severe danger. Any such nation that refuses to cooperate with the U.S. regime’s existing sanctions — such as against trading with Russia, China, Iran, or Venezuela — is in danger of becoming itself a U.S.-sanctioned nation, and therefore officially an ‘enemy’ of today’s version of nazism (as Nuremberg defined it: imperialistic fascism).

And this is why freedom and democracy are ending. 

Unless and until the U.S. regime itself becomes conquered — either domestically by a second successful American Revolution (this one to eliminate the domestic aristocracy instead of to eliminate a foreign one), or else by a World War III in which the U.S. regime becomes destroyed even worse than the opposing alliance will — the existing insatiable empire will continue to be on the war-path to impose its dictatorship to everyone on this planet.

The force that is ending freedom is empire, and it’s now being wielded by the U.S.A. Like all empires, it thrives on lies, and therefore its biggest enemies are whistleblowers.

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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Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer

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When Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up on the scene as White House Press Secretary, the reaction was that of relief. Finally — someone civil, normal, friendly. Jen Psaki’s entry this year was something similar. People were ready for someone well-spoken, well-mannered, even friendly as a much welcome change from the string of liars, brutes or simply disoriented people that the Trump Administration seemed to be lining up the press and communications team with on a rolling basis. After all, if the face of the White House couldn’t keep it together for at least five minutes in public, what did that say about the overall state of the White House behind the scenes?

But Psaki’s style is not what the American media and public perceive it to be. Her style is almost undetectable to the general American public to the point that it could look friendly and honest to the untrained eye or ear. Diplomatic or international organization circles are perhaps better suited to catch what’s behind the general mannerism. Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer, but a Sean Spicer nevertheless. I actually think she will do much better than him in Dancing With The Stars. No, in fact, she will be fabulous at Dancing With The Stars once she gets replaced as White House Press Secretary.

So let’s take a closer look. I think what remains undetected by the general American media is veiled aggression and can easily pass as friendliness. Psaki recently asked a reporter who was inquiring about the Covid statistics at the White House why the reporter needed that information because Psaki simply didn’t have that. Behind the brisk tone was another undertone: the White House can’t be questioned, we are off limits. But it is not and that’s the point. 

Earlier, right at the beginning in January, Psaki initially gave a pass to a member of her team when the Politico stunner reporter story broke out. The reporter was questioning conflict of interest matters, while the White House “stud” was convinced it was because he just didn’t chose her, cursing her and threatening her. Psaki sent him on holidays. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Psaki has a level of aggression that’s above average, yet she comes across as one of the most measured and reasonable White House Press Secretaries of the decade. And that’s under pressure. But being able to mask that level of deflection is actually not good for the media because the media wants answers. Style shouldn’t (excuse the pun) trump answers. And being able to get away smoothly with it doesn’t actually serve the public well. Like that time she just walked away like it’s not a big deal. It’s the style of “as long as I say thank you or excuse me politely anything goes”. But it doesn’t. And the American public will need answers to some questions very soon. Psaki won’t be able to deliver that and it would be a shame to give her a pass just because of style.

I think it’s time that we start seeing Psaki as a veiled Sean Spicer. And that Dancing with the Stars show — I hope that will still run despite Covid.

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As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them

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Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*

In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.

New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming

To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.

Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.

We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.

How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?

Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.

As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.

Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.

Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.

Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.

Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.

Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.

Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.

Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.

Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.

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Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success

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This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.

The indictment of businessman Thomas  J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. Trump’s inauguration committee once he won the 2016 election, puts at risk the UAE’s relationship with the Biden administration.

It also threatens to reduce the UAE’s return on a massive investment in lobbying and public relations that made it a darling in Washington during the last four years.

A 2019 study concluded that Emirati clients hired 20 US lobbying firms to do their bidding at a cost of US$20 million, including US$600,000 in election campaign contributions — one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure by a single state on Washington lobbying and influence peddling.

The indictment further raises the question of why the Biden administration was willing to allow legal proceedings to put at risk its relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, one that last year opened the door to recognition of Israel by Arab and Muslim-majority states.

The UAE lobbying effort sought to position the Emirates, and at its behest, Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed’s counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, at the heart of US policy, ensure that Emirati and Saudi interests were protected, and shield the two autocrats from criticism of various of their policies and abuse of human rights.

Interestingly, UAE lobbying in the United States, in contrast to France and Austria, failed to persuade the Trump administration to embrace one of the Emirates’ core policy objectives: a US crackdown on political Islam with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed views political Islam and the Brotherhood that embraces the principle of elections as an existential threat to the survival of his regime.

In one instance cited in the indictment, Mr. Barrack’s two co-defendants, a UAE national resident in the United States, Rashid Al-Malik, and Matthew Grimes, a Barrack employee, discussed days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration the possibility of persuading the new administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated foreign terrorist organization. “This will be a huge win. If we can list them. And they deserved to be,” Mr. Al-Malik texted Mr. Grimes on 23 January 2017.

The unsuccessful push for designating the Brotherhood came three months after Mr. Barrack identified the two Prince Mohammeds in an op-ed in Fortune magazine as members of a new generation of “brilliant young leaders.” The billionaire argued that “American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East… By supporting their anti-terrorism platforms abroad, America enhances its anti-terrorism policies at home.”

Mr. Barrack further sought to persuade America’s new policymakers, in line with Emirati thinking, that the threat posed by political Islam emanated not only from Iran’s clerical regime and its asymmetric defence and security policies but also from the Brotherhood and Tukey’s Islamist government. He echoed Emirati promotion of Saudi Arabia after the rise of Mohammed bin Salman as the most effective bulwark against political Islam.

“It is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support…. The confused notion that Saudi Arabia is synonymous with radical Islam is falsely based on the Western notion that ‘one size fits all,’ Mr. Barrack asserted.

The Trump administration’s refusal to exempt the Brotherhood from its embrace of Emirati policy was the likely result of differences within both the US government and the Muslim world. Analysts suggest that some in the administration feared that designating the Brotherhood would empower the more rabidly Islamophobic elements in Mr. Trump’s support base.

Administration officials also recognized that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt constituted a minority, albeit a powerful minority, in the Muslim world that was on the warpath against the Brotherhood.

Elsewhere, Brotherhood affiliates were part of the political structure by either participating in government or constituting part of the legal opposition in countries like Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia.

The affiliates have at times supported US policies or worked closely with US allies like in the case of Yemen’s Al Islah that is aligned with Saudi-backed forces.

In contrast to UAE efforts to ensure that the Brotherhood is crushed at the risk of fueling Islamophobia, Nahdlatul Ulama, one of, if not the world’s largest Muslim organization which shares the Emirates’ rejection of political Islam and the Brotherhood, has opted to fight the Brotherhood’s local Indonesian affiliate politically within a democratic framework rather than by resorting to coercive tactics.

Nahdlatul Ulama prides itself on having significantly diminished the prospects of Indonesia’s Brotherhood affiliate, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), since the 2009 presidential election. The group at the time successfully drove a wedge between then-President Susilo Yudhoyono, and the PKS, his coalition partner since the 2004 election that brought him to power. In doing so, it persuaded Mr. Yudhoyono to reject a PKS candidate as vice president in the second term of his presidency.

Nahdlatul Ulama’s manoeuvring included the publication of a book asserting that the PKS had not shed its links to militancy. The party has since failed to win even half of its peak 38 seats in parliament garnered in the 2004 election.

“Publication of ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ had a considerable impact on domestic policy. It primarily contributed to neutralizing one candidate’s bid for vice president in the 2009 national election campaign, who had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said militancy expert Magnus Ranstorp.

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