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A Note To Whoever Wins On Tuesday 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: Never Again Ever

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

By American Presidential election day this coming Tuesday ,November 3, at least 85 million citizens would have casted their early votes.That already breaks the 1908  eligible voter turn out record.

Well, through the virtues of international courier DHL, my absent ballot  from Mauritius just barely made it to the rightful local voting precinct   on this past Friday for early  Presidential voting along with an unprecedented millions of  fellow American voters. I hope every other American in Africa and elsewhere abroad did the same as absentee voters.

It is a proud day to be an American in  confirming the extraordinary  fight within our American   societal soul when our societal  back is against some societal threatening wall. We rise hopefully just in time and fight back the poltical and cultural evil trying to overwhelm us and enslave us in the wicked tryanny of dictatorial governance with its glaring symptoms of an attempted facist state.

No matter the outcome though of Tuesday or however it takes to tabulate the voting results, let us not sit on our laurels, that is, this incredible electoral feat. There will be great work which needs to be done and accomplished to get our democracy back and to continue on the road of making it more authentically inclusive to match its dramatic  demographic transformation away from its not too distance White Supremacy governance past.

So, let us, shaken incredibly from our civil society slumber,  regain our pride observed in the though far from perfect though still  transformation moment — the  Obama -Biden 2008-16 years– in getting back on the  1950s-1960s bandwagon of being what a democracy is supposed to be: for us, we the people no matter who or what we are.

And let us rebuild from here never again allowing any one again in the White House or any house attempt to divide us and tear us apart and steal away and destroy our democracy   through manipulating our naive and intentional phobias and  bigotries.

And let those who come into power know their feet shall be held to the fire like never before to be  truly committed to justice for all not just for a very few. And be accounted for healing the  breaches in public confidence in government and in civil society kick started with the fall of President Richard, reinforced in the fall of  President Bill, and now there has been President Donald reminding us of our need to heal and recover from our 50 years of moral decay trauma in elite public  governance in America with its grave private sector and civil society rotten unethical  leadership parallels.Those we elect to Presidential  and Congressional  power and next appoint to federal benches, must restore and expand the  use instruments of diplomacy rather than war .We  Americans must  ,become and remain , a respectful inclusive empowering global partner shedding , for good, our imperialistic Cold War indeed colonial obsolete arrogant view that  we are an exceptional super power to be worshipped and bowed down to in ethnocentric  deference. We need allies in the spirit of equal partnership in pursuing  common good positive global goals of justice and peace not in the spirit of treating other nations and global government bodies like  our foot stools and boot licking  servitude stoogies.

And let us heal and transform into equality for everyone, our broken internal divides. They  have sustained their shattered states of being and too well remaing  since the 1970s and especially since the 1990s making us think we  Americans are superior or inferior to one another  due to our ancestry,  color,class, gender, religion, age, or education. We have seen and learned much painfully in the past four years  ,as super large hormone injected chickens coming home to roost,what happens when we are not genuine in our democracy proclamations,  when we indulge in cosmetic and symbolic rather than authentic justice policy implementations, thus playing with inequalities rather than really dealing with them and ending them.  It provides space for the governance leadership horror which has nightmared our  nation and world this four year long night feeding on our worst prejudices, fears, and proness to violence and otherwise harming others and self. 

Rather than pretending  such does not exist , we need to expose and get rid of the big money interests which have come to erode and taint  our free press, our free elected officials,  our impartial  judges and justices, our free worship communities,  our nonpartisan federal civil service,and the access to quality employment,  heathcare, education, and legal services. Our children, youth, and older citizens deserve much better care and love and much more material support and more than that more attention and appreciation.

And whoever comes to power needs to know from those of us now wide eyed and awakening waiting in long lines to cast our votes and defying false massive mail voting fraud claims  in mailing in our ballots anyways  that we will no longer be sleeping at our wheels.  We will never again indulge in taking our freedoms for granted;  just to be exploited by charismatic reality show and otherwise  dictatorial cult like leaders who come in as high as the White House and living in more everyday houses.

We will be demanding that those seeking political office will not just come around when they need our votes.We will no longer tolerate their hypocritical smiling faces ,giving  them our  donations and votes  they plead for and have no results except broken promises and no answered phones. We will demand each day they somehow show they are working on our behalf rather than vacationing with wealthy special interest sponsors. Never again will we allow ourselves to be used as pawns by those who take oaths to represent us who actually like in the worst most corrupt so called first, second,  or third world countries, waste time, space, and tax dollars while we the people suffer massively,  in COVID-19  pandemic  and other wise ill health and unnecessary death, low or no education, or just substandard education, joblessness or lousy paying jobs,  overpriced poor housing, unjust incarceration, law enforcement brutality, and ruthless exploitation by banks and consumer businesses.

In doing this we will take advantage of this grand unprecedented performance at the polls to make justice for all a real thing and democracy, that is, we the people, the real thing for once and for all. Let us never allow this to happen to  us again.Never.Ever Again. Don’t do it again. Let us not let such a close call to losing who we are happen to us again.Never. Ever Again.

Director Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas ( ASARPI) SSR Chair of African Studies University of Mauritius

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Hardened US and Iranian positions question efficacy of parties’ negotiating tactics

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The United States and Iran seem to be hardening their positions in advance of a resumption of negotiations to revive a 2015 international nuclear agreement once Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in early August.

Concern among supporters of the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program which former US President Donald J. Trump abandoned in 2018 may be premature but do raise questions about the efficacy of the negotiating tactics of both parties.

These tactics include the Biden administration’s framing of the negotiations exclusively in terms of the concerns of the West and its Middle Eastern allies rather than also as they relate to Iranian fears, a failure by both the United States and Iran to acknowledge that lifting sanctions is a complex process that needs to be taken into account in negotiations, and an Iranian refusal to clarify on what terms the Islamic republic may be willing to discuss non-nuclear issues once the nuclear agreement has been revived.

The differences in the negotiations between the United States and Iran are likely to be accentuated if and when the talks resume, particularly concerning the mechanics of lifting sanctions.

“The challenges facing the JCPOA negotiations are a really important example of how a failed experience of sanctions relief, as we had in Iran between the Obama and Trump admins, can cast a shadow over diplomacy for years to come, making it harder to secure US interests,” said Iran analyst Esfandyar Batmanghelidj referring to the nuclear accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by its initials.

The Biden administration may be heeding Mr. Batmangheldij’s notion that crafting sanctions needs to take into account the fact that lifting them can be as difficult as imposing them as it considers more targeted additional punitive measures against Iran. Those measures would aim to hamper Iran’s evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles by focusing on the providers of parts for those weapon systems, particularly engines and microelectronics.

To be sure, there is no discernable appetite in either Washington or Tehran to adjust negotiation tactics and amend their underlying assumptions. It would constitute a gargantuan, if not impossible challenge given the political environment in both capitals. That was reflected in recent days in Iranian and US statements.

Iranian Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that agreement on the revival of the nuclear accord was stumbling over a US demand that it goes beyond the terms of the original accord by linking it to an Iranian willingness to discuss its ballistic missiles program and support for Arab proxies.

In a speech to the cabinet of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, he asserted that the West “will try to hit us everywhere they can and if they don’t hit us in some place, it’s because they can’t… On paper and in their promises, they say they’ll remove sanctions. But they haven’t lifted them and won’t lift them. They impose conditions…to say in future Iran violated the agreement and there is no agreement” if Iran refuses to discuss regional issues or ballistic missiles.

Iranian officials insist that nothing can be discussed at this stage but a return by both countries to the nuclear accord as is. Officials, distrustful of US intentions, have hinted that an unconditional and verified return to the status quo ante may help open the door to talks on missiles and proxies provided this would involve not only Iranian actions and programs but also those of America’s allies.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks seemed to bolster suggestions that once in office Mr. Raisi would seek to turn the table on the Biden administration by insisting on stricter verification and US implementation of its part of a revived agreement.

To achieve this, Iran is expected to demand the lifting of all rather than some sanctions imposed or extended by the Trump administration; verification of the lifting;  guarantees that the lifting of sanctions is irreversible, possibly by making any future American withdrawal from the deal contingent on approval by the United Nations Security Council; and iron-clad provisions to ensure that obstacles to Iranian trade are removed, including the country’s unfettered access to the international financial system and the country’s overseas accounts.

Mr. Khamenei’s remarks and Mr. Raisi’s anticipated harder line was echoed in warnings by US officials that the ascendancy of the new president would not get Iran a better deal. The officials cautioned further that there could be a point soon at which it would no longer be worth returning to because Iran’s nuclear program would have advanced to the point where the limitations imposed by the agreement wouldn’t produce the intended minimum one year ‘breakout time’ to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. At some point, the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be fully recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program…The ball remains in Iran’s court, and we will see if they’re prepared to make the decisions necessary to come back into compliance,” US Secretary Antony Blinken said this week on a visit to Kuwait.

Another US official suggested that the United States and Iran could descend into a tug-of-war on who has the longer breath and who blinks first. It’s a war that so far has not produced expected results for the United States and in which Iran has paid a heavy price for standing its ground.

The official said that a breakdown in talks could “look a lot like the dual-track strategy of the past—sanctions pressure, other forms of pressure, and a persistent offer of negotiations. It will be a question of how long it takes the Iranians to come to the idea they will not wait us out.”

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Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn

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Photo: Miller Center/ flickr

US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, had high hopes for the meeting in China. At first, the Chinese side did not agree to hold the meeting at all. The reaction had obvious reasons: Antony Blinken’s fiasco in Alaska left the Chinese disrespected and visibly irritated. This is not why they travelled all the way.

So then the State Department had the idea of sending Wendy Sherman instead. The US government actually needs China more than China needs the US. Sherman was in China to actually prepare the ground for Biden and a meeting between the two presidents, expecting a red carpet roll for Biden as if it’s still the 2000s — the time when it didn’t matter how the US behaved. Things did not go as expected.

Instead of red carpet talk, Sherman heard Dua Lipa’s “I got new rules”. 

That’s right — the Chinese side outlined three bottom lines warning the US to respect its system, development and sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, China wants to be left alone.

The bottom lines were not phrased as red lines. This was not a military conflict warning. This was China’s message that if any future dialogue was to take place, China needs to be left alone. China accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy”. I have written about it before — the US is looking for a new Cold War but it doesn’t know how to start and the problem is that the other side actually holds all the cards

That’s why the US relies on good old militarism with an expansion into the Indo-Pacific, while aligning everyone against China but expecting the red carpet and wanting all else in the financial and economic domains to stay the same. The problem is that the US can no longer sell this because there are no buyers. Europeans also don’t want to play along.

The headlines on the meeting in the US press are less flattering than usual. If the US is serious about China policy it has to be prepared to listen to much more of that in the future. And perhaps to, yes, sit down and be humble.

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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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