Green Global WRECK – Deep in the Borscht! . . (March 7, 2017)

The continuing flood of mis-steps by the nascent Trump Administration provide plenty of fodder for what is becoming a series a blog posts under the heading of “Green Global Wreck”. The intention here is to chronicle, for ourselves, and any interested readers, the saga of US foreign policy implosion as it unfolds.  Rather lengthy post, I fear, but… lots going on…
So let’s get started.

1) Russia-gate / Kremlin-gate 

What started as a surprising amalgam of Trump Administration advisors – during the campaign, then during the transition and now in the new Administration – has blossomed into a hydra-like multi headed monster. There is just so much “content” with Russian flavoring that it’s hard to keep abreast of all the ingredients that have gone into the making of the deconstructing of American Democracy, which I will call the Trump Borscht policy.

In its initial stage, it appeared as though there was but a small handful of oddly interested parties, namely Paul Manaford, Roger Stone and General Flynn. How quaint were those days. The list of ingredients that make up that Borscht policy has now been augmented, and now includes:

– A couple of nameless mid level campaign national security advisors, who initially claimed to have had zero contacts with Russian officials, then reversed their position when their meetings were documented by the media. Why this matters is that these mid level advisors turn out to be the very folks who worked, during the Republican National Convention, to explicitly modify wording of the RNC platform, to take out any support for the sale of lethal weapons to the Government of Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and violation of its sovereignty.

What is at issue here is not whether the US should change its policy vis a vis Russia – it is after all the prerogative of an incoming President to reshape foreign policy per his/her liking. What is at issue is that these two advisors, far from being part of the sausage making of the comprehensive RNC platform on a whole host of issues, appear to have descended into the arena for the very sole purpose of taking out this specific piece of policy. Nothing more. And now there is the beginning of a dot-connecting effort that is firming around a possible quid pro quo whereby Candidate Trump may have  used his sway to remove the call for the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, in exchange for the timely release of damaging emails hacked from the Democratic Party by Russia.

The slow drip, drip, drip release of Democratic emails started precisely 3 days after the possible “deal” to remove the call for sale of weaponry to the Ukraine. This is a big deal. It would be evidence one in a possible menu of quid pro quo… stay tuned.

– Jeff Sessions, the incoming Attorney General, is also in the Borscht. We now know that, while serving as Senator, on the Armed Services Committee, and acting as a surrogate for DT, Senator Sessions, met with Russia’s Ambassador. This in and of itself, is not important. It is in fact the job of any Ambassador to meet with politicians, and it is perfectly reasonable for a senior member of the Armed Services Committee to meet with the Russian Ambassador, given the range of national security issues (such as the fight against ISIS, where US and Russia’s interest either collide or converge).

The problem, however, is that Sessions, under oath during his testimony or interview if you will, to become the Attorney General, either omitted, or lied, about meeting the Ambassador. Once again, the media caught up with his fib, and then Attorney General started to obfuscate, skirt the issue, and essentially started to say that there is no issue there and that the attention to these meetings is simply unwarranted.

Perhaps, but seeing as it comes on the heel of 17 US intelligence agencies confirming that Yes, Russia DID try to influence the outcome of the elections, it is pretty bizarre how casual our incoming Attorney General is about meeting the number one Russian official in the U.S.

Once faced with evidence that he did meet, he then took steps to move on, but the media did not let go and, ultimately, our Attorney General decided to recuse himself from a specific set of investigations that he carefully scoped as “investigations into the campaign”. There are so many problems here, it would take too long to elaborate, but let’s just clarify here: It is PRECISELY the job of the Attorney General to ensure the sanctity of the hearings and it is certainly in his brief to prosecute anyone who would perjure himself while under oath. He lied. Period. He got caught. He now has recused himself.

But this cannot be the end of the story, mostly because the carefully scoped recusal “about the campaign” is wholly inadequate. What may emerge from a multitude of parallel Congressional investigations will be pieces of a complex puzzle. The jury is still out whether an independent counsel will be granted the power to really investigate, not just the limited scope of campaign interference, but rather what is obvious to any layman who reads a newspaper, namely, that there is a pattern of multiple actors with Russian interests, and that there is a further pattern of deceipt, as though they had something to hide.

Of course true to form, Trump himself is baffled by the decision of his own Attorney General to recuse himself.  He of course would NEVER do that.  Deny, deny, deny is his M.O. combined with a skilled practice at changing the news cycle.  Truth and pertinence a not germane when the game is to change the conversation.  And so, as of this writing, Trump has lashed out through his Twitter account, a totally un-substantiated, and absurd charge to anyone who has but a passing understanding of how the US Government works, about Obama having wire tapped Trump Tower.  No matter that the President does NOT have the authority to issue a wire tap, and that there is a well oiled FISA process, with independent judges who review the merits of wire tap requests.  Still, he, unsurprisingly, is trying to muddle the conversation and media coverage… so now media commentators, even if they take aim at Trump’s latest tweets, are talking about… Obama and an alleged, but totally unsubstantiated wire tapping of Trump Tower.

– Rex Tillerson,the incoming Secretary of State. Remember him? It would be easy to forget though, as Tillerson is turning out to be the softest voice (so far) on a topic that is central to his job. How very, very sad that a Secretary of State, whose job description is to navigate the complex waters of international engagement, and that of course includes producing a strategy for engagement with all major powers, including Russia, has been positively mute.

How absurd is it that the Secretary of State is essentially AWOL? That he did not participate in the President’s first meetings with foreign heads of states, is a bit odd, and certainly does not bode well for the role of Secretary of State in this administration. But whether he was at a lunch with the Japanese Prime Minister or the Canadian’s Prime Minister, is not catastrophic by any means. The fact that he has been positively MUTE on this whole issue of US-Russian relations is yet one more indication that there are many more shoes to drop. This is only month 2. 46 months to go!  Calling Imelda Marcos and her famed museum of 500 pairs of shoes!

There are several other ingredients into the Trump Borscht, but suffice to say, these three new ingredients are potent indeed.

But the most, absolutely baffling, aspect of this great Borscht, is the Republican party in its near entirety.  Only TWO Senators, life-long foreign policy and national security experts, on key Senate Committees – Senator McCain and Senator Graham, have had the balls to cry foul.  Really? nearly 60 Republicans and only TWO feel impassioned enough to call foul?

That, folks, is the moment the Republican party lost any remaining soul it had.  In the words of some Republican politicians “better a Russian-Controlled Republican leadership, than a Hillary Administration”.  Really?  “Make America Great Again” you say?

The desire to keep a blog succinct should force a stop, but it’s not possible, because… the green global wrecking ball has struck multiple other fronts.

And if your stomach is not churning yet, check THIS out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5exiuko3-nQ

 

2) The Muslim Ban:

 Last month, it was a ban, per DT.  But then, he didn’t like the terminology once he heard it on TV, so he instructed his spokesman to say it’s not a ban.  OK, whatever it was, it was the most pathetic roll out of any policy (regardless of how one feels about the actual policy).  The total lack of coordination, the lack of interest in garnering input from experts within the government about how such things are done.  The lack of proper communication to implementing agencies… all this led to a screeching halt when a few courageous judges, at multiple levels of the legal system, placed a hold on the implementation of the policy.

Again, my intention here is not to get into the argument of whether such a ban is warranted (it is not, since none of the 7 countries have ANY linkage to ANY terrorist act in the U.S.), it is rather to observe and comment on the shortcomings of this incompetent and vile administration.

This, we were told was oh so urgent.  The sky was going to fall, and judges, or rather as DT called them “so called judges” were bringing lethal chaos to the U.S. and any US fatalities would be on them.  But here we are 6 weeks later, and… the Administration has not done ANYTHING to replace, reword, revisit, replan the ban.

It went from one extreme position that it was of utmost urgency, so urgent in fact, that some slight mis-steps might be forgiven given the necessary haste of implementation, to… silence.  What is coming across, in light of this silence, is that either it was not that urgent, or the incoming team, devoid of any experienced policy wonks, has actually no idea how to go about how to translate their strategic vision for America, into actual policy.  That their sophomoric roll out was completely flawed and that lives of muslim Americans, refugees, immigrants who have followed legal processes to get legal visas, and erstwhile muslim friends of the US who, for instance, have worked for years in very dangerous situations, as translators in Iraq or Afghanistan, did not bother the Administration a bit.  They are Muslim after all…

So 6 weeks on, no replacement language on the policy… One can pick interpretation.  Perhaps they just don’t know what they are doing.  Or perhaps they have managed to craft an improved set of policy guidelines, and perhaps they have managed to coordinate and we will eventually see the muslim ban 2.0 emerge, but then it begs the question as to the urgency.  Per Administration insiders – they wanted to bask in the glory of a Presidential Trump who managed to read an entire 60 minute speech without veering off into crazy land.  He was a good boy and stuck to the teleprompter.  That earned him a 72% rating as “more Presidential”.

But, forgive my incredulity, surely stopping the oh so dangerous hordes coming from Somalia takes precedence over affording DT the glory of a few days basking in the glow of his State of the Union.  As it turns out, the Great Borscht has completely cast shadow over the State of the Union glow, and attention is now on the Attorney General.  And so a Muslim Ban 2.0 will be released…

Immediate impact: 2 Indian men were shot to death in a Kansas bar by, evidently, a Trump supporter.  His defense when confronted by the Police? he thought he was shooting Iranians!  Ah well, in THAT case!!  As of this writing, another Indian national, a Sikh, was also shot, this time in Seattle.  Maybe they should consider renaming the Muslim Ban and just align it with the racist tendencies of the Trump fan club and call it the “Brown Ban”?

3) Israel:  

Where to start?  How about a “Jews and Israeli Democracy 101” for our non Jewish readers.  This should be incredibly obvious, but… just in case…  Israel is a Democracy.  A very vibrant Democracy.  And, like all Democracies, it has a range of political actors espousing a range of views.  Anyone who has had Jewish friends will know that it is pretty customary, if you have 10 Jews in a room, to have 10 opinionated voices.  And so it is in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

To grossly simplify (for the sake of brevity), let’s imagine that there were only two main parties, the Likud (more akin to Republicans) and Labor (more akin to Democrats).  In fact, it’s a lot more complicated than that, as there are multiple parties and governing Israel is an art form that, more often than not, requires a Prime Minister to govern through a coalition, of often shifting interests.  OK, so…  JUST like there are, obviously, differences, sometimes radical differences between visions of what’s good for America between Democrats and Republicans, so are there equally (in fact far more diverse) views of what’s good for Israel.

Enter Bibi Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, who had a famously antagonistic approach to Obama. The fact that he managed to convince a chunk of American Jews that Obama was “bad for Israel” and that Republicans would be “good for Israel”, is rather irksome to anyone with a passable understanding of the reality of US relations with Israel. But I digress.  That Obama passed the largest ever military aid package to Israel seems to be conveniently ignored.

Bibi is Likud.  But he is not just Likud.  He is a Prime Minister on life support who needs a coalition to govern, and he made his choice – he opted, years ago, to align with the far right in Israel, further to the right than Likud was, historically. These are the guys who have a Messianic zeal to execute a zionist vision, which in practical terms means – take land from Palestine families, steal or destroy their houses, build settlements for zionist Israelis and set up “facts on the ground” that go in the direction of a larger physical perimeter for the state of Israel.

OK, so what does all this have to do with Trump?

With a conservative jewish son in law and converted Jewish daughter and jewish grand-children, Trump thinks himself a great “friend of Israel” – whatever this means.  As I described above, there is not ONE vision of what’s good for Israel.  There is the Likud version – expand the land, subjugate the Palestinian population, and there is the Labor version – reach out, negotiate, emphasize economic development and try to build a common future.  This is obviously a very simplified version of a much more complicated topic.  But let’s be super clear.  Not all Israelis support the Likud’s expansionist policies.  In fact, most don’t.  But the magic of coalition governance makes it possible for a minority view to block a fragmented opposition.

Enter Trump who within 48 hours of being President does and says three things that pretty much disrupt a decades -old balancing act .

Bombshell number one was the Administration’s choice for an ultra-zionistic US Ambassador to Israel.  How extreme a choice? David Friedman, DT’s Ambassador’s to Israel famously said that liberal American jews, more aligned with a Labor Party view of Israel’s national interest, rather than a Likud view, are like the Kapos.  To appreciate how outrageous this is, one needs to understand that Kapos were the names given to Jews who opted for survival in the Nazi war camps, by collaborating with the Nazi  regime.  They ratted on fellow camp inmates, they facilitated in all sorts of ways the extermination of their fellow jews.  Now, who’s to say how any of us would react in the face of an existential threat?, but there is absolutely no denying that the concept of treason doesn’t even begin to cover the hideousness of their collaboration with the killing German machine.  So I, and everyone in my family, typical center-left leaning American Jews, am described by the new US Ambassador as one of these Nazi collaborators.  Nice!  That was just item 1.

Then of course, there is the proclamation by Trump that he would quickly move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  To be fair, many US Presidents, hoping to score some points with their Jewish electorate have made such statements, only to quickly back down in the face of facts on the ground.

And so, per ritualistic custom, here was a declaration of intent to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, a move that would put a blow torch to the Jerusalem powder keg.  Jerusalem, lest one forget is indeed a sacred city for Jews. The problem is, it is equally sacred to muslims, who revere the city quite as feverishly as Israeli Jews do.  The Temple Mount, is as sacred a  holy place to practitioners of Islam as the wailing wall is to Orthodox Jews.  But wait, there is more – Jerusalem is ALSO a sacred holy place for Christians. While Jerusalem does not compete with the Vatican in terms of the critical mass of Roman Catholic political and administrative influence, Jerusalem has its share of Christian historic and biblical importance.  And for these reasons, Jerusalem has been recognized and administered, as a multi-religious administrative region.

To move the US Embassy to Jerusalem would be tantamount to disregarding the legitimate claims to Jerusalem as a city of religious and historic significant to the three religions that cohabit it.  And, to no surprise, after a mere 6 weeks in office, the Trump Administration has had to walk back its bold statements after it came to understand how very fragile the balance is that has been achieved and maintained in Jerusalem.  No more talk of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

And the third fiasco brought to us by the Trump Administration concerns the so called peace process.  It has been a long standing policy of the US, both during Republican and Democratic Administrations, to seek to support a process of negotiation, no matter how arduous, with a view to reach an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians around a two state solution.  Another topic that is massively complicated.  But, fast forwarding past all the inevitable recriminations on both sides – Israelis believing that they have no one to negotiate with, as Palestinians are split between Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Authority, and believing the they are the ones who have made oh so many concessions, but that the Palestinians have been unable to find a way toward peace by accepting Israeli terms.  Of course, there is a completely different perspective, with Palestinians believing that Israeli offers have been a disingenuous, that an Apartheid-like regime has put forth deals that have not addressed their basic concerns, such as for instance, the right of return of Palestinians who were chased out of town by Israelis during the creation of the State of Israel, had their properties seized etc..

Again, way too long and too complex a history to boil down to a few sentences, but suffice to say that, as is often he case, there are multiple sides to the story of failed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  More than one US President has naively thought he would have the magic key to unlock ever lasting peace in the Middle East.

Trump joins the group of US Presidents, by assigning the task of “fixing it” to his son in law.  That he would do this certainly diminishes the influence of his incoming Secretary of State, but that’s the Trump way.  No doubt a smart and capable real estate developer, Jared Kushner has scant experience dealing with such a complex set of issues.  To Trump, his being Jewish and a smart guy seems to suffice to expect Jared to do what has eluded a lot of very smart people, over many decades.  But why not? give Jared the job and, who knows, maybe he can achieve what Kissinger and every Secretary of State since Kissinger has failed to do.  He seems to be taking an approach to reach out to Sunni muslim countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc…) and that’s not a bad place to start, so he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Except that within 6 weeks  of moving into the White House, and before Jared has even had the time to form a coherent play, Trump rushed in with declarations that he was prepared to jettison the decades old consensus, stating in company of a beaming Israeli Prime Minister, that he doesn’t care THAT much about the two-state solution, and that he would be fine supporting a one state solution.  His flippant comments at a news conference held during the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, about the one state solution, or the two state solution, (“whatever they are happy to do, we are happy to support”) speak volume about the lack of gravitas brought to this very serious topic.  But it was music to Bibi’s ears, as he is on record for having said, many times, that he no longer believes a two state solution is achievable.

Amusingly, Trump’s Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, was quick to back track and confirm at the U.N. that “the U.S. had not abandoned the two state solution vision”.  So which is it?  Yes, pursue a two state solution? or no, forget the past 30 years, push for a one state solution?

Why this matters? because the U.S. is very fond of proclaiming that Israel is the only fully functioning Democracy in the Middle East.  This is a recurring theme (especially during debates about the size of the US Govenrment’s financial assistance and military cooperation with Israel.  The problem is this: In a one state situation, Israel has to choose:  It simply CANNOT be both a) a Jewish State and b) a Democracy.

The reason is anchored in demographics.  I know, how petty of me to turn to facts when he is having such a good time dealing in “alternative facts”.  Yet, in the rest of the world, facts are facts.  And the facts here are that a Democracy in a One State solution would mean applying the “one man, one vote” philosophy and since the muslim population is  already over 20% and growing at a faster rate than the Jewish population, and this is BEFORE including in the “one state” the Palestinian population…

So Israel would have to CHOOSE between a) being a Jewish State (given the large and augmented muslim population of a “one state” solution, OR B) a democracy.

This is all a tad academic, because the level of organizational effort to assemble and sustain momentum toward a solution, any solution, is totally out of the realm of what this new Administration has demonstrated so far.

So here we are: the Borscht Administration, the Muslim Ban and Israel… a pretty good mess as we enter month 2.

And looming over the horizon, North Korea, which just lobbed 4 missiles at Japan.  If I was a betting man, I’d say that, as a good dictator, Trump will leap at the opportunity to change the topic in a very big way, and to engage in a new war, with North Korea.  How can he resist?  This would automatically make Americans line up behind their President, with a little of Patriotic packaging… After all, they have nuclear technology, there are supported by China, they are reckless and threaten our allies.  Not long before the U.S. strikes back at North Korea; that’s my bet.

See the prior Green Global WRECK post:

Green Global WRECK ~ Feb 15, 2017

 

42 thoughts on “Green Global WRECK – Deep in the Borscht! . . (March 7, 2017)

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hey Gib!! Funny that this is your reaction. For me, what’s going on rather gives me stomach pains and would have the opposite result of cutting my appetite! I feel bad about equating Borscht with Trump – I mean, I never met a borscht I didn’t like!
      Ben

  1. Liesbet

    Thanks for the in-depth information, guys. I am learning a lot about politics and foreign (in)policies. This is all scary and it still boggles my mind that a big and influential country like the US can be “governed” by a man like this, who only cares about his ego, power, Twitter account and ratings. He is like a little child who gets mad when he is not in the spotlight or doesn’t get what he wants. But with an incredible amount of power. It is insane. On top of that, not much wisdom, open-mindedness and tact is expected from him, so when he actually appears “normal” for a certain stretch of time, the bar is so low that people are happy and relieved about such event and rare occurrence, which should be expected in the first place! Darn, he played “everyone” well… I hope you are wrong in your end statement, but I would not put it beyond him. He seems to be smart about one thing, which is setting everything and everyone up so he rises to the top pedestal (dictator in times of war) and has the country, if not the world to play with.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks, Liesbet for reading and commenting. Hope to be wrong about the natural dictatorial default tactic of picking up external fights in order to protect against internal dissent. Some argue in fact that this is precisely Putin’s play in Crimea, as his popularity ratings shot up upon invading Ukraine. Hope to be wrong about this prediction.
      Ben

  2. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    Week 7 and we wake each morning with our hearts in our throats wondering what has happened in our country and throughout the world during the hours we sleep. The 5 hours time difference between the Washington DC time zone and our Portuguese time zone literally have us ahead or behind on any news and I imagine you both feel the same.
    How so much could have happened in the new world due to just a few characters is astounding. To realize that there are just a few knock-kneed and sycophantic GOP congressmen standing between us and chaos (anarchy?) is truly horrifying. Democracy is indeed fragile and has never been valued more that at this time.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes Anita, I think you make a good point… The U.S. electorate has one of the lowest levels of voter participation amongst democracies. Just to compare, the world’s largest democracy, India, which has some 1.2 Billion people, has a 65%+ pattern of voter participation. Malaysia hits a remarkably high level of over 80%. The U.S. struggles with a pattern of 40-45% at the best of times. This is shockingly, especially for a country’s whose foreign policy is in large part steeped in lecturing other nations about the value of Democracy.

      So let’s do the math: 40% of eligible voters actually vote. 50% of these were Republicans, and of these some where habitual Republican voters, versus true Trump converts. Let’s be generous and say that 80% of Republican voters where Trumpists. This means that about 15% of the eligible electorate actually delivered this emotionally wounded authoritarian figure.

      Whatever comes out of Russia Gate investigations – what they did, how much they infiltrated the Trump team etc, at the very least, we know for a fact that their intention was, at the very least, to wound Hillary and if they got nothing else, they certainly realized the objective of shaking the US democratic foundation to its core.

      This is not hyperbole, this is unfortunately fact. Never before have we seen a sitting US President trash simultaneously 1) the press, 2) the judicial system, 3) both parties, 4) a former President and 5) the credibility of the U.S. as a stable force in the international system.

      They may of course rue the day of their successful penetration when things go dramatically wrong and the U.S. and Russia go at each other militarily somewhere around the globe, but, for now, they have succeeded brilliantly at removing any semblance of moral authority of the US Government when it preaches around the world the sanctity of Democracy.

      Ben

  3. Estelea

    Thanks so much for this great indepth analysis. I learnt a lot and I hope you will keep on posting about it.
    I think I had read so much that even the name Trump was enough to make me sick. I really needed this paper to put it all into order. Thanks again and I am looking forward to reading more.

    Given the current situation in France, I can only hope we are not to compete with your president ..

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Well, Estelea, recent reports surrounding Russia-gate suggest that Putin has been a busy boy and is seeking to influence not just the US, but also France, Germany and Holland… The saga of Fillon, Jupe etc, is suggesting that your elections are also in play.

      How would that be for a new world: Brexit, Trump, and Le Pen! But while I think the Brexit decision was outrageously short sighted, and that Le Pen is, obviously, a racist with a vile platform, neither the UK nor France can match our level of crazy.

      The problem with Trump is not only that he is racist and is stimulating the most obnoxious tendencies of a fact-free, land locked, uneducated, judgmental population that fears and has no interest in the outside world… but on top of all that… he is simply emotionally unstable and fits all the definitions of a malignant narcissist.

      As one commentator on CNN just reported, there is mounting evidence that he has the mentality and behavior of a “day trader”, i.e. he is fundamentally in the NOW, and has neither interest, nor capability to take on a longer view and to consider the impact of his un-constrained actions (witness the current storm around his latest rounds of tweets claiming that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower, something that even his own FBI is refuting).

      The man is totally unfit of the job.

      Bon, et bien, bon courage!!

      Ben

  4. Joanne Sisco

    These are very scary times and I keep wondering what it will take to wedge this dangerous man into a prison cell where he belongs … although as we know with Nixon, it’ll never happen.
    Come to think of it, this guy actually makes Nixon look pretty good :/

    Let’s all hope you are wrong about North Korea.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Joanne for reading and commenting.

      Yes, you refer to Nixon, but who knew that we would be saying with a straight face, that George Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, in comparison, were the “good old days”. It’s one thing to have leaders that represent and govern from a philosophical perspective that one does not support (i.e. Democrats under Bush), it’s quite another level of pain when we look at a President that actually seeks to dismantle all the institutions that the US democratic experiment is based on.

      He told us he and Bannon wanted to “blow shit up”, but many actually thought he was talking figuratively and in humorously extreme terms about a sense of dissatisfaction and a desire to “right the ship”. I still don’t think that most Americans who voted for him quite understood how serious he was about what Bannon refers to as “deconstructing the system”.

      Deconstruction – that’s the term that they will use when historians consider the days when American Democracy came to a screeching halt.

  5. Shari Pratt

    Thank you for intelligent assessment of the current political situation. My husband and I and most of the people we know grow more horrified each day as our country is dismantled, not by pieces but by chunks. So many people cheering for their personal despised chunk lying in the gutter, blithely disinterested in the other chunks that my have removed another family’s health insurance (see the GOP no-Obama Care health insurance proposal just unveiled, and take note of defunding Planned Parenthood) or may have put more guns into more crazy hands (no limitations on guns at all, ever, even for those with mental instability, because God knows we wouldn’t want to violate their rights to be crazy with a weapon in their hands) or the destruction of the public school system, one of the best guarantees of promoting democracy, by appointing a completely unqualified promoter of private schools and school vouchers as the head of the education department (read, get to choose self-serving and limited interests in education) and the list goes on and on and on. Few see or care about the other side of the destructive process.

    There are members of GOP Congress who believe Trump’s aggressive trampling of American rights while maybe having the stamp of Putin’s approval (and which may have us speaking Russian in twenty years) is still better than Hillary in the White House. Having forgotten how vile and anti-democracy is the Russian player, it is still better in their view to be a Putin puppet.

    I’m astonished at how uneducated and misinformed the American electorate is. And inadvertently I helped create this monster. Shortly after I turned 21, I gave up a semester of college to campaign for the 26th amendment, believing that if a young man could be drafted to serve and maybe die for his country at 18, he should be considered old enough to vote. It never occurred to me that people would one day vote with their prejudices more intact than their knowledge. (I later married a Vietnam vet and continued to protest the Vietnam War.)

    As for Israel, I am also a Jew who wants desperately for there to be a true and just peace between Israel and Palestine, but I have lost heart about whether or not it will be achieved. Someone with greater vision than Bibi needs to lead the Israelis and someone with greater vision needs to lead on the Palestinian side as well. I wish each of them could think more of their grandchildren when negotiating than of whose toe is standing in the sand.

    And North Korea – anyone else see horrifying personality similarities between Kim Jong-un and Trump? We’re in a game of Russian roulette except with two nuclear bullets, and now we are back to the Russians. Oy.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Shari for this thoughtful set of observations. What can I say: “yes, yes, yes”. I agree with all your comments.

      I further think that some (less and less, but it is only month 2), continue to mistakenly think we are in a normal world of differing political philosophy. A portion of the electorate still thinks that some of what you describe is just that – a difference in political priorities. Much more worryingly is the very real possibility (I’d say fact, but I want to be open minded), that the man elected to lead the country is just completely unfit and mentally unstable. Sure, there will be tidbits of policy content that will make its way in the conversation. And I wouldn’t be so worried if, as you say, it was just a matter of “my team” losing and the “other team” winning, thus changing budget and policy priorities. But this is not at all what’s happening here. It is a full blown deconstruction of the political system, such that it will and can’t ever recover. Once demonstrated how fragile the democratic institutions are, well, there ain’t no pretending that “sorry, we messed up, it’s all ok now”. Some still think that we just have to grin and bear it for 4 years and then have another run at it. This is so fundamentally inaccurate, in my view. The problem of course, is that once enough of the US populace wakes up to the reality that its government has been taken over by a crowd that is showing a combination of incompetence and absolute disinterest or worse aggressive desire to blow up the U.S. system, while claiming to want to make the US “great again”, it will be too late.

      It is perhaps worth contemplating what recourse we will then have. The way to do this is to look at what other nations have experienced when the State deconstructs its foundations to lay the groundwork for an authoritarian regime. It pretty much comes down to four basic options:

      a) Popular upheaval (as in the crushed democratic movements in Iran, or Tiananmen Square in China) – this is where, ironically, the “2nd amendment” was supposed to apply, except of course that guns and even automatic weapons do not stand a chance against the governments’ tanks, helicopters and drones. So this results in a whole lot of civilian casualties.

      b) Internal govt opposition: this usually comes from the military that eventually turns its back on its leaders. I have little doubt that, at SOME point, the Trump administration will overplay its hands and the various militarized forces, be they the US Army, the national guard, the state and local police forces will simply say NO. But it’s unlikely that it would be a harmonious rejection and, like many other countries, we could be poised to see US gov forces fight, militarily, amongst each other. I shudder at that scenario.

      c) Calling upon a friendly other gov to interfere and influence. THat’s pretty much a non starter – who’s going to take on the US Gov?

      d) the targeted removal of the one or handful of leaders who are leading to the destruction of the State. I of course am not calling for this. I am just observing that this is what has happened in other states.

      But here is the rub: these are still early days and there is enough of a passive tolerance by the Republican party of some of Trump’s more exuberant behavior, to give this madman enough cover to proceed with deconstruction.

      The easiest and I still hope possibly available to us option path is for the Republican party to eventually rise up and say “enough!”. But, when you look at the egregious silence from Republicans in the face of a) attacks on the press, b) attacks on the judiciary, c) possible collusion with Russia, it is not encouraging. I have deep respect for Senator McCain and Graham’s willingness to stand up and say that no, this is NOT ok. But… two senators do not make a movement, yet.

      As I have written before. Things are bad, but the good news is: they are not as bad as they are likely to be as we go down this crazy path.

      US Democracy: R.I.P.

      Ben

  6. Anabel Marsh

    The depth of ignorance never fails to astound. I agree Brexit is bad but not on the same level – yet. It could get there: lots of racism and “othering” now encouraged. Scary times all over.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Anabel. What’s so unfortunate about Brexit is how unaware the voters were about what in fact Brexit would entail. It is always for easier to destroy than to build. I fear we haven’t but scratched the beginning of the Brexit disengagement from Europe and that the repercussion will be felt for a generation (or more). I understand SOME of the frustrations with the technocracy in Brussels, but really, this divorce will go far deeper – it will rob generations of Brits from a sense of kinship with their peers just across the narrow straights. Phenomenally short-sighted, no matter how valid some of the specific frustrations may be.

      I would predict that a future PM will want to reset, especially as the absurdity or recalibrating the UK relationship to an even more US-centric relationship, as the US partner’s own system is, as Bannon says “deconstructed”. It will be a lonely world out there for the UK. When the time comes and the UK wants back in, I imagine the EU’s reaction will be severe. To quote our US President “sad!”. 🙂
      Ben

  7. Stephanae McCoy

    This is a such an intelligent and comprehensive piece Peta. Since the Presidential race, I’ve never seen so much chaos and it’s frightening to me that lies and deflection seem to rule the day. I found the following list (many items are tongue in cheek) a couple of weeks ago.

    “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
    1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
    2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
    3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
    4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
    5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
    6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
    7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
    8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
    9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
    10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
    11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
    12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
    13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
    14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
    15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
    16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
    17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
    18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
    19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
    20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
    21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
    22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
    23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
    24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.” – Susan Keller (Co

  8. Lexklein

    Fantastic review and analysis for those of us who feel too sick to follow all this some days.

    Thanks for your sharp insights, Ben.

    On the rare occasions that I feel compelled to discuss current events, this information will help bolster my stance.

    1. JB

      Remarkable piece Ben, I agree with your analysis..

      I would like to emphasize the pathetic inertia of the republican senate. They are not listening to the only two voices of reason in their ranks….Scary, Sad, Sad, Sad…..
      JB

      1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

        Not listening? Ha! They are actively obfuscating.

        I am really not wired to be a conspiracy theorist. But I tell you, this is much, much, much bigger than it currently seems. Watch for unfortunate accidents where key people happen to get taken off the chessboard. You think this is paranoid? you watch… And watch for the retching up of conflict, INCLUDING conflict with Russia. I mean, what do good friends do for each other? they play helpful supporting roles. How could it POSSIBLY be true that there was collusion if, suddenly, the war of words between the Trump and Putin escalates? Watch for soon to escalate friction between the US and Moscow. ALL THEATER! Grab your popcorn and your anti-acid, cause this is going to get ugly.

        Ben

    2. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Well thanks, Lex… It really is starting to look so far reaching, so multi-tiered, that there is simply no way the little folks – that’s us – can possibly spend enough time to keep track and be comprehensive. Which is, of course, precisely why fully dedicated investigative powers are required.

      Lest we get obsessed by the Trump dimension, this is now starting to evolve into a bigger play. What is that? the abject failure of the Republican-controlled Senate committees involved in investigation, to do a thorough job. Why do I say this? because the British ex intelligence officer, the one who wrote the salacious memo about Trump’s exposure (both financial and sexual/behavioral) to blackmail, the same guy who disappeared from view by going “underground” when all this came out… well, he is back out in full view. Given the enormity of the claims, and the many tidbits that, then, seemed outrageous, such as European intelligence agencies reporting back to the US Intell community about secret meetings taking place between senior Russian intell officers, and senior Trump campaign officers, during the campaign, in Europe – which would be a very alarming data point about active collusion between the Trump campaign and a foreign intelligence agency, well this guy… doesn’t seem like the Republican Senate Committee chairmen feel any particular haste in hauling his ass in front of there committees to get to the bottom of things. How exactly is that possible??!!! SO there it is folks, initial crime (possibly) + failure to investigate (apparently) = cover up of a massive attack on US Democracy. You think we have a problem with Trump? not only, we now have a system-wide cover up going on. And this is only just starting. Grab your protective gear folks, this is going to get increasingly ugly. We are nowhere near the bottom. The Deflector in chief will of course do what he does, and there will be lots of deflection, like the General Flynn dismissal or the Attorney General Sessions recusal. These may SEEM big? but they are not. They are but pathetic attempts at moving on. We ain’t moving on, in fact, this thing will deepen, accelerate, until there is a complete breakdown of trust in our Democracy. OR, we go to war and hope to change the conversation. That is a more likely outcome, in my view.

  9. Paul Fowler

    Hey Ben,

    Thank you for this.

    I just arrived back in the states today after being in SE Asia for the past two months. I am now living and breathing air in the Trumpland circus. The change became real the minute I stepped off the plane, as the TSA did a passport check literally the moment we stepped off the plane – before we even got off the jet bridge. As if anyone could be on the plane without a passport or as if someone could get past customs without said passport. They had to make their tough presence known immediately, saying in essence that they mean business. As I showed the TSA lady my passport I said, “so this is a part of the new police state, eh?” She looked at me and shook her head yes. “It is”, she said, as I walked past. It made me think of all the people who, due to their position, have to do the new administrations bidding with a conflicted and heavy heart. Hopefully, many will resign if they are asked to participate in more outrageous activity than just an added, and worthless, passport check at the border.

    I want to make note that as I was talking to people in Thailand, Europeans or Canadians mainly, it was amazing how many of them were able to discuss in minute details of the insanity taking place here. Where names like Flynn, Sessions and Kushner rolled off their tongues easily. I took the time to bone up on my understanding of Brexit and other things happening outside the states in a quid pro quo and the recognition that although we need to know what’s going on here, we need to see bigger trends playing out throughout the entire world stage. This is one reason that your voice is so important, you have that global perspective and the ability to synthesis the information in a clear and readable way. Kind of like Rachel Maddow has been doing. After a major fuck-up leading up to the election, they are getting their footing and playing the roll that they are here to play.

    Finally, I really appreciate you taking the time to explain the situation regarding Israel.

    As a jew, it’s something that I am woefully under informed about and when I have jewish friends who voted for DT because they felt Obama’s dealings with Israel was weak, I had little to counter their assertions. I have more now and will continue to learn. Any further light on the situation in Israel is much appreciated. Perhaps you have a book recommendation?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hey Paul,
      First – Welcome back “home”, sorta. Second, making jokes about the police state to a TSA person? hmmm…. a bold one, my friend. Well, at least you are white skinned, had you spent more time in the sun, I don’t know, that’s the sort of stuff that gets one in trouble these days…

      Thanks for the first hand account of the TSA welcome mat. The funny thing about a police state (and I speculate here) is that insidiously normal it all becomes. When the simple X-ray machine becomes a 3D scanner; when the patting becomes a bit too invasive; when having a police car behind one’s car starts to feel just a tad uncomfortable, even if your tail light is fine and you are not speeding. Of course, ask any African-American about that feeling, and they’ll laugh your ass out the door. It is a way of life when “the Man” is not the protector of your hood, but the entity you fear.

      So you ask about more on Israel? Tsk tsk, you should know better than to poke my soap box persona… Here are a couple of purely anecdotal data points. Do they mean anything? not really, but… they serve to illustrate the TSA feeling. These are random data points… the more points on the canvas, the more the picture comes into focus.

      Fair warning: you asked for it!! I’d like to issue a blanket apology for any Jewish or Muslim friend who take offense at a clearly biased summary of historical events. I realize that this is an intensely emotional topic, and I probably should abstain, but hey… that’s not my style. So to those I offend, my apologies. Please feel free to correct and recast what you read, if you see a different reality.

      Item 1 / building a political reality, one home at a time: when Peta and I were in Israel, last year on a global trek back from Asia to the US via Turkey, Israel and Europe… we had dinner with a long time friend of hers. Lovely people, truly. Except perhaps for their politics.

      Orthodox as they are, Peta had “warned me / coached me” to possibly hold my fire so to speak – why spoil a rare get together with an old friend. Before dinner, they wanted to show us something and they drove past their neighborhood synagogue. This was the synagogue that had just been in the news as a Palestinian man (I don’t remember the details), had opened fire and killed several who attended services. He showed me the bullet holes and the ruptured glass. I nodded with compassion how terrifying an ordeal it must have been. My tongue bled, as I bit it hard not to ask if we were going to visit the house down the street where a Palestinian youth had been burnt alive, allegedly in retaliation.

      Later on during the dinner, as we skirted through inoffensive topics and talked about anything BUT politics, he asked me if I wanted to go see the modern new city yonder. You know, the modern new city? Ah.. I realized he meant the most recent settlement in occupied territory. I said I was oh so busy, maybe next time. What’s my point? normalization of insanity is part of the problem. It’s not a “brand new city” that brings awe, to me, if it is built on the foundations of bulldozed Palestinian homes.

      When President Obama’s Secretary of State visited Israel, soon after Netanyahu had just returned from meetings in Washington D.C. and spoke empty words about a two states solution, he was welcomed by the announcement of a bold initiative to build several hundred new homes, i.e. another “brand new city”. When confronted with the stunning double speak of the Likud led government, the response is more often than not, that “you don’t understand that we are under attack” and even more challenging a response, that because of the government coalition that I mentioned before, the Minister of Housing well, he was from a more right wing party than Bibi and, well, he is hard to control, and that the application process must have been in the works for months and that it was, well, just coincidence. Coincidence my ass. You and I have both lived in small countries, and the beauty of small countries is that, at the governing level, news travels fast. The odds of a government decision to allow more construction in occupied territory not being shared with the Prime Minister is simply zero.

      Item 2: Victim and oppressor: It doesn’t take an economics major or a historian of the Middle East process to understand that there is a correlation between jobs, and the lack thereof, and the temptation of violence. Every few years, there is a significant uptick in Palestinians’ willingness to take stones to tanks, to throw themselves at what they see as the occupying power, knowing full well that there is simply no way to win a military engagement with Israel. There was the first “intifada”, the second ‘intifada” and, surprise, there will be more. Why? Because there is simply no viable alternative future for someone who grows up in a land policed by militarily superior outsiders who speak a different language and have, demonstrably, a thirst to take more of their land.

      The act of facing military superiority with bare hands is by no means new nor limited to the Palestinians. The Indians did it under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. How many indians died or where beaten senseless by the militarily superior British forces, day after day, month after month. And yet they eventually succeeded. Why? because their only voice was to show the world the insanity of going stone to tank, or in their case empty handed against British soldiers who, in frustration, beat and shot more and more un-armed Indians. Until the thickness of the blood that ran through the Indian land became so unavoidable to the eyes of the world, that ultimately England had to walk away. The aim of such actions is not a mistaken hope of vanquishing a militarily superior overlord. IT is to shame them into abandoning their lethal path.

      It is IMPOSSIBLE to make most Israelis recognize that they are the oppressor. There are very good historical reasons why Jews start the conversation from the perspective of being the victims. After all, Israel was created as a modern state as a result of the existential imperative to find a different path to the brutal atrocities of the Nazi regime, when no one, simply no one came to the rescues of Jews as they were carted to their death in camps.

      It is sane for Israel to want and need a muscled presence so as to be able to be that force that, when needed comes to the rescue of Jews. A couple of decades back we saw a historically important turning point, when Israeli forces mounted a massive air bridge to rescue tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from dire circumstances in Ethiopia. And more recently, though it takes the form of first class tickets on commercial airlines, we have seen a large migration of French Jews moving to Israel, tired of the drip, drip creeping anti-semitism in France.

      So yes, there is one dimension of the puzzle, which is Jews as victims. And finally, there are plenty of reasons for Jews living in Israel to recall the not so distant future when, at the creation of the state in 1948, coming just 3 years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Israel was instantly and simultaneously attacked on multiple fronts by Arab armies in a coordinated attack to inhilate the just created state. How Israel managed to survive this military onslaught, the 6 day war, is a whole other topic, but be it the result of Arab armies’ incompetence, or the sheer grit of Israeli soldiers intent on standing their ground, Israel survived. So yes, Israel has plenty of reasons (and these are but a few) to feel the victim.

      But this does not excuse that.

      Zoom back down to the level of the Palestinian populations, who lived in the land that became Israel as the UK’s colonial footprint started to shrink, and to them, it is Israel that is the bully, and they who are the victims. What’s my point? if ANYONE should understand the inhumanity of living under an oppressor, it’s jews!

      For the tables to be turned and for a Jewish state to be so insensitive to the plight of the population that it controls is just historically unbelievable. Of course, as I have said earlier, there are plenty of Jews in Israel who look for ways to build bridges and to create jobs for Palestinians and to want to find a path to harmony. But that certainly is not and has not been the policy of the Israeli government for quite a while.

      So they build more settlements and they decry the horro, when regularly, Palestinians commit acts of terror – stabbings, suicide vests, and roundd of rockets sent purposely into civilian populations that reach deep into Israel… and each act of desperation further fuels the mindset that Israel needs to be safe, and the way to be safe, must be to subjugate the other. it is not. There is no end to the cycle of violence.

      Item 3: The PR War: This is just fascinating to me. Because of the asymmetric nature of Israeli versus Palestinian military capability, I ask myself, what would I do, if I were Palestinian?. Of course, to be fair, the true answer is that I would find a way to leave, and start a life elsewhere. Not necessarily easy to do if you are Palestinian, but… this is what my own interpretation of Jewish survival looks like. When it gets hot, move on.

      But while this is possible at the level of one person and one family, it is not at the level of an entire people. So what does one do when faced with asymmetric warfare? there is plenty of historical precedent.

      One path is the one previously mentioned – win through self sacrifice, hope that enough blood will shame the oppressor into abandoning its policy.

      But there is another way, which is what we now routinely refer to as terrorism. It is the act of having a smaller force behave in a way that yields disproportionate military results. Israel’s early Prime Minister, Menachem Begin was considered a terrorist before he became legitimized as Prime mInister. He used to blow shit up.

      In the European context this is also what Sein Fein in Ireland did. The conflict between Protestants and Catholics, in Northern Ireland lasted… wait for it… 700 YEARS!!! How did it come to an end? by having years, decades of terrorism, ie. people blowing shit up, killing civilians, taking the fight away from the oh so distant northern Ireland land, to the center of London.

      It doesn’t always work. The Tamil Tigers, in our adopted land of Sri Lanka, so frustrated by the asymmetric nature of their military capability against the Sinhalese, they too resorted to terrorism and they too blew shit up – downtown Colombo in Southern Sri Lanka, far from the northern region where Tamils live.

      In their case, the last Prime Minister decided to just deal with what they saw as a solvable military challenge, and the result was, depending on the estimate, between 60,000 and 100,000 civilians casualties in the last few months of a 29 year civil war. This earned the Sri Lankan government the ire of Europe, Canada and the U.S. for egregious human rights violations. And the current government is still crawling its way out of the penalty box, looking for ways to find a path toward reconciliation between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority.

      So what’s my point: Jews should understand this if they know their history or the stories told in the Torah. There was this boy, David, armed with a sling shot, and this giant Goliath – a classic case of asymmetric warfare.

      We all know that David ultimately won, through innovative military technology – the slingshot.

      Now bring this back to the Palestinians and today’s Israel. What are the Palestinians’ slingshot? the media.

      With helicopters, tanks, drones and bulldozers on one side, and stones and makeshift inaccurate rocket launchers on the other, there is simply no military solution that will take down the Israeli Goliath. But they have cell phones. and they have 24/7 news media and they have twitter accounts. So what do they do? they stage their limited military capabilities – their rocket launchers, their stocks of ammunitions, in hospitals, in mosques, in schools, in UN controlled camps. Why? so that they can draw Israel’s response and Israeli retaliation and, when Israel’s planes inevitably take out the launchers, what comes out in the media are the tales of Israel killing innocent children, elderly in hospitals etc.

      This is, from an Israeli perspective, a hideous and sick use of humans as shields. OF course, Palestinians see it differently – it is their way of dealing with asymmetric warfare.

      History will tell if the Palestinians of tomorrow, will be the annihilated Tamil Tigers, or the victorious Sein Fein of Ireland. What my point is here, and I fear I am going to trigger the ire of some (if not most) of my Jewish friends and family, is that there is plenty of historical precedent for how to deal with asymmetric warfare.

      The Indians chose to shame the English. The Irish chose the long, I mean LONG game, of exhausting the British rulers. The Tamils chose to take the fight to the center of power of their Sinhalese opponent. And the Palestinians are choosing social media and the use of civilian casualties to bring attention and possibly international pressure, on Israel.

      I am personally convinced that there is a better way. To put it simply: to create a thriving economy in the Palestinian territories. To create so many jobs, that no one has time to pick up a stone or to move a rocket launcher. To organize and execute a sort of “Marshall Plan” by Israel AND in full coordination with rich Sunni Arab states, and to make the Palestinian territory the gold standard for focused job creation and economic development. It’s possible and the investment required would probably be a fraction of the money spent on the military budget.

      But alas, this solution has no supporters. The human instinct of destruction and revenge is far stronger than the will for construction and obstinacy toward a more positive future.

      Israel is only 70 years old. The Irish were at war with the British for 700 years. It is early yet.

      (Sorry you asked?)
      Ben

  10. Sylvia

    Peta, your article is of necessity, long, but so eloquent and informed. I was riveted, mostly with horror, right to the bitter end. We are living in terrifying times indeed. I read quite a few of your comments too and Stephanie’s list was fantastic. At least it made me smile……wryly.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      I’ll take the credit for this post, this time 😉 … Long, yes indeed. The problem is that there is so much content, it’s hard to distill… so thanks a bunch for staying the course Sylvia. Loved Stephanie’s list, indeed.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Ben

  11. Gabe

    It is truly disturbing to see a condensed timeline of just 3 of the many troubling issues that have been horribly mismanaged with DT at the helm. The daily Twitter tantrums and sudden shifts in policy have left me (and so many) numb to the Lingchi we’ve endured over these first 49 days. I realize that I’m ranting now, but this post restores much-needed perspective on the scope of change we are facing. Perhaps a rant is not that unreasonable…

    Thank you for collating a well-researched summary of the US current position with respect to Russia Gate, Muslim ban, and Isreal/Palestine relations. As you alluded to already, there are several other topics we’ll need to be wary of in the coming days/weeks including health care reform, North Korean relations, and cyberespionage.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Ah yes, North Korea – the Administration’s first non-self-inflicted pain point. It will be interesting to see if they seek to calm things down (somehow), or rather if Trump’s natural inclination to escalate adds fuel to fire. It will also be interesting to see if the Secretary of State comes into his own and earns his keep as our chief diplomat.

      Thanks Gabe for stopping by and commenting. Glad you are truly disturbed, sorry to say. Being numbed by the tornado of disruptive changes is after all precisely what they are after. As the King of Chaos, it is part of the method to throw so much crazy out there, that people eventually start to desensitize and lose the ability to distinguish what’s real from what’s fake, what’s dangerous from what’s merely crazy etc. This is what we saw during the campaign, and this is what we just saw with an attempt to change the conversation from Russia-gate to accusations an alleged, but totally un-substantiated claim that President Obama had him wiretapped. It’s all part of the new Reign of Chaos. So we are going to calmly chronicle, even if just for ourselves, the meaningful bits, and not let the flood of crazy lead us to take our eyes off the ball. Disturbed you should be.

      Ben

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Darrell,

      Nice to hear from you. To get regular updates all you need to do is to sign up as a “follower” of the blog. Once you sign up, new posts will come directly to your email.

      Thanks
      Ben

  12. Frank

    Great read, Ben you know your stuff and I wish you were in politics (in either US or Israel) to provide some clear mindedness.

    I just watched a feature on Trump on our CBC, talking about fake news, how he switches back and forth on a topic. How he maybe believes his own lies and his strategy: basically repeat, repeat and repeat again and people will start believing it. Start that by discrediting the established media.

    They talked of Nixon and impeachment and spoke to a few historians and ex-politicians in the US – the call for the impeachment came from the people and ultimately led to his downfall. Would that ever happen today? I don’t think so. You’ve mentioned the apathetic populace in your comments who basically don’t give a shit. They’re more likely to tune in for the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars than vote. That’s changed, people were much more involved in the 1970s. But Nixon also not Trump. Trump would bask in the spotlight even if negative, I don’t see him ever stepping down.

    But in the end it comes down to the people. They voted him in. They deserve what they get and that’s true everywhere including Israel where nothing was solved before I was born and nothing will be solved during my lifetime.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for the compliments Frank.

      Rather than politics, I would indeed have enjoyed a career formulating policy as was my want, when I went to school for National Security Studies in Washington D.C. My career went in a different direction but I remain drawn to the big picture of foreign policy strategic thinking. Maybe next life?

      How astounding that the likes of Nixon or Bush seem tame and almost desirable compared to the 24/7 crazy that we have to contend with today! I hear what you say about the role of popular pushback but alas the fire of popular engagement has been dulled by decades of consumerism.

      Most surprising/frustrating to us, is when we have conversations with people who are awaking to the theme of politics as a result of Trumpism, who frequently try to distill the problem to “but what does it have to do with me, on a day to day basis?”. And unless the person we speak with happens to be “brown” the search for “how does it impact me concretely?” almost always comes down to abstract concepts of the integrity of democracy or empathy for your fellow humans who are under attack. It is this inability to value abstract impact that prevent Americans from rising up.

      Coming from France, where there is a historic tradition for “voting with your feet” and descending in the street, starting with a 1789 French revolution through the 1968 anti establishment street fights, to an almost ritualistic annual set of marches against the excesses of the French government, it is incomprehensible to me, that Americans have not taken to the street beyond an occasional surge like the Women’s march.

      Doing it one time, is a nice expression of solidarity, but is no substitute for sustained resistance, not just in editorials and blog posts but in the streets ready to face government forces such as police, national guard etc.

      So, popular revolt in the U.S. is extremely unlikely as the culture of creature comforts trumps any intellectual distaste for the direction the “Kremlin administration” is taking us into.

      Ben

    2. Patti

      Frank, Peta and Ben ~

      I agree with Frank’s statement that the people voted him in and they deserve what they get. The problem is, there are millions of us who did not vote for him and we are being thrown to the lions so-to-speak as we are being forced into an alternate universe. We are living this shit show every single day and we cannot escape it. We are surrounded in all aspects of our lives.

      I’ve done a lot of reading/researching/studying trying to understand how this happened and the mindset of those who voted for him. There are members of my family that voted for him and that has been especially difficult for me. My belief is, and it goes along with what Frank wrote, is that those who voted for him voted for all of him. They chose to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the hateful rhetoric. The extremely poor and uneducated saw him as a vessel of hope and change and they will suffer the worst fate as a fall out. Many of the educated who voted for him chose to do so on a particular issue, such as abortion. I understand why the poorest of the poor and uneducated voted for him, but I cannot forgive it.

      Shortly after the election there was an outcry from his supporters that they were not racists simply because they voted for him. In my head I can try to understand that thought process, but in the end racism wasn’t a deal breaker for them.

      While I have moments in which I can understand why those who voted for him did so, but what I will never understand, nor forgive, is the complacency of those who couldn’t be bothered to vote.

      So, yes, there are people who voted for him and deserve what they get, but what about those of us who are inundated by this horrid scene unfolding in front of us as the administration works to dismantle the government and people are being shot in cold blood because they were mistaken for Iranians.

      Imagine, if you will, how it feels to hear that news while your Iranian spouse sits next to you?

      We didn’t vote for him, we do not deserve this.

      1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

        Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Indeed, hard to come to terms with the gut punch that must come to someone with a family member who reads the casual nonchalant comments about Persians as justification (?!!) for killing two Indians.

        On the broader topic of “we don’t deserve this”, I would add that even the most racist, polarized partisan electors, I continue to think, would have paused before voting if they had understood what is starting to emerge as a broad-based intelligence operation by Russia’s government.

        I say this, cautiously, because comments from Republican Congressional leaders sure seem to be dismissive of what amounts to a never-before seen level of interference – one that can demolish the country’s democratic institutions.

        Frankly, it is this lack of reaction from Republican leaders (other than Graham and McCain) that is leaving the most bitter taste in my mouth. How can the very same people who hyper-ventilated for MONTHS about a possible security risk in Bengazy, be so nonchalant about a REAL threat, recognized by the nation’s intelligence services as such?!

        Something is very, very wrong with the state of our institutions if the desire for partisan score keeping is so blinding Congressional leaders about this very real, existential threat. As I wrote before – the problem is no longer just “Trump” and his team. The problem is the entire Republican back bench that is opting to protect party of country.

        Ben

  13. Sue Slaght

    Each morning as we awake in Canada i admit to wondering what could possibly happen next just south of the border. I have never thought twice about traveling to the US until recently. We have a trip booked to Mexico where we will be drive across the US/Mexican border. I have visions of being detained for who knows what reason.

    It seems endless and utterly chaotic.

    Your in depth analysis puts some clarity to it all. Wishing for calmer and truthful days ahead.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Same feeling when we wake up, Sue.

      There is a feeling akin to watching a gripping and scary drama ~ we want to watch the next episode and even as we do, we cringe. The sad truth is, you have nothing to fear in your Southern journey through the U.S. due to the color of your skin. Should you be Sikh for instance, you would be exposed to the ignorant racism that for instance resulted in a Sikh man being shot in Seattle, last week.

      “Calmer” days ahead?: Not for a long while and there is plenty of heart wrenching chaos between now and then.

      Ben

  14. Jeff

    I find myseld nodding in agreement all through this post. The point you make about McCain and Graham being the only two with the balls, but also the morals and devotion to country, to call him out it sad and true. So many republicans have put party before country.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in 18 months as they get ready for mid-term elections. If Trump is still unpopular and failing, you may see many people desert him.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Jeff. I actually don’t think the country, or in fact the Republican Party, can take 18 months of Trumpism without imploding. We are seeing already some fraying at the edges, with Republican push back on a) the Muslim Ban, b) Obamacare repeal/Replace and c) the budget proposed by the Trump Administration.

      This is just for the substantive stuff; there is also the beginning of a back bone emerging from Republicans in Congress responding to some of Trump’s craziest tweets, such as the most recent claims that Obama had wire tapped him, or, adding unnecessary fuel to an already invalidated claim, to Trump’s most absurd claim that Obama had circumvented the FBI, CIA, NSA etc by tasking British intelligence to spy on Trump.

      Of course, the British immediately slammed back that there was ZERO validity to the claim, but it doesn’t matter to Trump as this is all just meant to keep focus AWAY from the various matter of investigating the relationship between the Trump Campaign, then the Trump Transition Team and then the Trump Administration, with Russian intelligence services.

      The level of crazy and sheer lack of professionalism in the Trump team leads me to believe that the system will not tolerate another 18 months of this before he faces a full blown Republican revolt. Of course, he may love that as it will add more narratives for him to use with his excitable “deconstruct the administrative state” base.

      But… I firmly believe that, as he matures in his role as dictator, and sees that his campaign-style deflect and move on strategies don’t work, he will resort to a time-honored practice of standing behind the US President in a time of war. The wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen may not being enough to muster the required level of blind trust and support, I predict we will see the emergence of a full blown conflict with North Korea.

      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who didn’t even BOTHER to go to the US Embassies in Seoul and Tokyo (nice signal from the head of US Diplomacy to blow off his own diplomatic outposts in the region!!), unilaterally escalated the rhetoric with Pyongyang – saying that no options were taken off the table. How very interesting to have a Secretary of State take the lead in blowing past the array of diplomatic solutions that the State Dept normally advocates, to fast track the prospect of military conflict.

      Ben

  15. Pingback: Green Global Wreck – April 2017 – Empty Nesters on a Green Global Trek

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *