Is There a Consistent Moral Litmus Test in Politics?

“I have known 11 Prime Ministers and 7 of them were adulterers”

~Prime Minister William Gladstone~

~The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland~

T.H. White, an American political journalist who covered the six presidential elections from 1960 to 1980 famously once said he only knew of three Presidential candidates who were faithful to their wives: Harry Truman, George Romney, and Jimmy Carter.

While it’s easy to either throw all the presidents under the bus or to blindly defend all of them (or at least our favorites), they are all individuals. Many owned slaves and having sexual relations with slaves was not uncommon. Also, many grew up in times when prostitution was legal. The Reynolds Affair, The Petticoat Affair and the infamous womanizing of Ben Franklin show that the Federal Period of American history had as much sexual scandal as our more modern era.

And we’re not even talking about pre-marital affairs….  Or how about the social acceptance or non-acceptance of age differences?

Grover Cleveland, at age 49, married one of his best friends’ daughter who was 21?? 28 years difference? And if you think that’s bad, Tyler and his second wife were 30 years apart….

GW                  Sally Fairfax*

GW                  Venus (Mother of West Ford)*

GW                  Lavenia Vanderweaver*

GW                  Mary Gibbons*

Adams             (hahahahah, ya, right!)

TJ                    Sally Hemmings

TJ                    Maria Cosway*

Madison

Monroe

Adams             Alleged to have ‘pimped’ for Czar Alexander*

Jackson            Rachel Donelson (technicality)

VB

Harrison          A slave (named “Dilsia” or mother of “Dilsia”)*

Tyler                Lydia Ann Taylor mother of John Dunjee Taylor*

Polk

Taylor

Fillmore

Pierce              Jane Means Appleton?

Buchanan        Sen. William R. King*

Lincoln            Ann Rutledge? Hannah Armstrong? Matilda

Edwards??

Johnson           At age 18, married a 16-year-old Eliza McCardle

Grant               Madly in love with Julia!

Hayes

Garfield           Lucia Calhoun

Arthur

Cleveland        Maria Halpin

Harrison

Cleveland        Francis Folsom?

McKinley

TR                   Edith Kermit Carow?

Taft

Wilson             Mary Peck

Harding           Nan Britton

Harding           Carrie Fulton Phillips

Coolidge

Hoover

FBR                 Lucy Mercer, etc., etc., etc….

Truman

IKE                 Kay Summersby

JFK                  Angie Dickenson

JFK                  Marlene Dietrich

JFK                  Gunilla Von Post

JFK                  Gene Tierney

JFK                  Pamela Turnure

JFK                  Marilyn Monroe

JFK                  Judith Campbell

JFK                  Ellen Rometsch

JFK                  Mary Pinchot Meyer

JFK                  Mimi Beardsley

JFK                  Mimi Alford

JFK                  Judith Campbell Exner

JFK                  Blaze Starr

JFK                  Fiddle and Faddle

LBJ                  Alice Glass

LBJ                  Madeline Brown

LBJ                  Helen G. Douglas

Nixon              Marianna Liu*

Ford                 Ellen Rometsch

Carter              (“I have lusted in my heart many times”)

Reagan             Nancy Davis (while married to Jane Wyman)

Bush                Jennifer Fitzgerald*

Clinton            Paula Jones

Clinton            Gennifer Flowers

Clinton            Monica Lewinski

Bush

Obama

But it goes beyond consensual heterosexual relationships, as I mentioned already, there is the issue of non-consensual, whether it be the infamous quote by Donald Trump to Billy Bush, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings or Bill Clinton and his relationships, specifically Monica Lewinski.

Washington, Harrison, and Taylor too are believed to have had sexual relations with their slaves….

GW                  Venus (Mother of West Ford)

Harrison          A slave (named “Dilsia” or mother of “Dilsia”)

Tyler                Lydia Ann Taylor (mother of John Dunjee Taylor)

Isn’t it interesting that Gary Hart’s career was ended over consensual sex, and Bill Clinton won the presidency in the very next election? Womanizing is ok, just don’t tell me about it, oh wait, now I know, that’s horrible in 1988 and I guess its ok in 1992 and 2016?

Think of all the social stigmas that have been used to judge people over time, and we all may have different opinions as to whether those were or are legitimate reasons for supporting or not supporting a political candidate. The presumed gay relationship between James Buchanan and VP William King

FDR’s polio…

Deficiencies that may have actually impacted the execution of the office of the President like Grant’s alcoholism or W’s dry drunk syndrome.

And then there are the issues that have been used to derail political careers that are hard to understand such as Thomas Eagleton who had to drop out of the 1972 race because he received electrotherapy for depression… oh, but untreated depression like Nixon’s melancholy moodiness and presumed bouts of depression is ok….

And, speaking of 1972, Edmund Muskie had to drop out because he cried…. And then we wind up with John Boehner as the 53rd Speaker of the House lol

Douglas Ginsburg and so many others who lost their careers or the momentum of their careers because of drug use… then Bill Clinton famously says he didn’t inhale, and we wind up with a wider acceptance of marijuana use by politicians… Clinton, W, and Obama…

I mean heck, Bill Clinton essentially dodged the draft and even went to Russia during the Vietnam War and was elected President… just like W avoided Vietnam by joining the OK Air National Guard, then barely ever showed up.

Obama and the racist lying birther movement that Donald Trump enflamed…

The presidents of the United States have a collective history of owning slaves, Non-consensual sex, alcoholism, drug use, and draft dodging, and almost George Wallacesque use of racist rhetoric… and the losers? Some of them cried and sought treatment for mental health…

So, you know, if someone ever asks you if walking into a pot shop or grabbing a beer will derail your future political career, just remind them, heck, it might even increase your chances these days….

 

Conservative Rapprochement Bias

Meet the FOCRs? I’d really like to call it the FOCR Theory (Favoritism of Conservative Rapprochement), but let’s just call it Conservative Rapprochement Bias (CRB). Conservative Rapprochement Bias is the propensity for diplomatic breakthroughs to be initiated or codified by political conservatives. The phrase “Conservative Rapprochement Bias” is not an attempt to be derogatory, but to be descriptive; more moderate protagonists and those with a wider viewpoint are often already committed to change, so the gamechanger occurs when conservative or extremists commit to change or peace.

I wrote about this years ago and called it Narrowism. At the time, I defined the phenomena as a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. That definition certainly describes the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In that situation, there were four Northern Irish political parties, as well as three nation-states party to the negotiations. The three nation-states (The US, UK, and Ireland) all wanted a deal. Among the Northern Irish, there were the more mainstream parties that desired a deal, namely the Social Democratic and Labour Party of John Hume, and the David Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party. Those two Nobel Laureates deserve all the praise that the peacemakers received, but the deal was never a deal, until the other two parties with narrower and more politically extremist parties agreed to the Agreement, or at least participated in the result. The extremist Loyalist, Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), initially participated in the negotiations but withdrew when his ideological mirror, Gerry Adams of Sein Fein was allowed a seat at the table following his Nationalist party’s paramilitary (terrorist) affiliate the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced a ceasefire. My point is, negotiations between centrist Nationalists like SDLP, and center Loyalists like UUP, was never going to end The Troubles. The Troubles ended when the IRA announced a ceasefire, Gerry Adams and Sein Fein took their seats at the negotiating table and, post Agreement, Ian Paisley’s DUP took control of the new government after winning the plurality of seats and, ultimately, with Ian Paisley becoming First Minister in 2007.

~~~

Yes, the Good Friday Agreement is a perfect example of Narrowism, however, when I proposed the term in 2011, I was naïve. Narrowism is certainly valid, but I now see the phenomena differently. I know believe that the more common pattern is Conservative Rapprochement Bias.

Sometimes that Conservative Rapprochement may even play out within a side of the political spectrum. Look at the US Civil Rights movement: It took a conservative Southern Democrat and master legislator like LBJ to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Would Southern Democrats ever accept a deal brokered by Northerners like JFK, had not been assassinated?

~~~

Let’s look back at a few examples of the Conservative Rapprochement Bias:

1972, US President Richard Nixon travels to China and meets Mao Zedong. Would a President Eugene McCarthy have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader?

On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of the conservative Likud Party, not the liberal Labour Party of Yitzhak Rabin or the centrist party of Yigael Yadin.

In the 1980 Election, candidate Ronald Reagan ran for president against Jimmy Carter railing against Iran and called Russia the Evil Empire, but later the Reagan Administration coordinated the infamous Iran-Contra deal with Iran, and Reagan sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev on multiple occasions. To paraphrase my earlier rhetorical question, would President Jimmy Carter have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader? Or a President Mike Dukakis?

We already discussed that in the Anglo-Irish peace process, nothing mattered -not only Gerry Adams came to the table- but moreover, the Agreement didn’t truly matter until Paisleyists took ownership of the new government. When political extremists like Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, or even Yassir Arafat as another example, when the political extremists (or even terrorists or former terrorists) participated in peace talks, THAT’S when peace happens. Hardline soundbites like, “The US does not negotiate with terrorists” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different.

I would even point out that it was a conservative US Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), but on the other hand, there hasn’t been a liberal SCOTUS since the Warren Court ended in 1969. More to the point, it was also the transitionally conservative Burger Court that legalized abortion, banned the death penalty… most recently, it was the conservative Roberts Court that not only legalized same-sex marriage as mentioned before but also confirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

[As I said, hardline soundbites like, “No ‘bamacare” and “Repeal Obamacare” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different when a person or a party has to govern, not just criticize. Heck, the repeal shouters even changed their mantra to “Repeal and Replace,” and it’s still the law of the land… but I digress.]

~~~

Back in 2008, former Presidential candidate William J. Bennett wrote in the National Review: “Barack Obama’s position on negotiating with U.S. enemies betrays a profound misreading of history,” adding that if Obama were to meet with Iranian officials, “he will lower the prestige of the office of the president.”

~~~

And now we have, not kimchi, but Kim-Trump: The Singapore Summit. The reclusive leader of one of the most reclusive regimes in the world, travelled 3,067 miles to meet with the man who has described Kim as:

“North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons.”
~Sept. 16, 2015~

“Rocket Man [who] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
~September 19, 2017~

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea… is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people”
~September 22, 2017~

And, finally, on November 11, 2017, the President of the United States referred to Chairman Kim as “short and fat.” Perhaps even the same words General George Washington used to describe King George III or perhaps it was what Abraham Lincoln called Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis?

~~~

When US President George W. Bush uttered that infamous phrase ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, it got all of our attention. For some of us who follow international relations closely, personally I wondered why “W” baited the Iranians since the Iranian government had just shared their intelligence on Afghanistan with the US military in September and October of 2001… just 3 months earlier… but anyway…

Most people, and the media, we knew what he meant, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Libyans, and the North Koreans… the Bush Administration was serving notice to these rogue states. In fact, one of those rogue-states, Libya, straight-up capitulated and offered to give up its WMDs programs. To an extent, it hurts me to admit it, but the Libyan reaction to the 2002 speech is an example of saber-rattling actually working as an instrument of peace, to an extent.**

  • Libya, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil. Done. Credit given to Bush 43.
  • Saddam’s Iraq, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Done. Credit (as it were) given to Bush 43.
  • Iran, neutralized by the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework. **Done. Credit: none.

What???? The Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And they were *all* somehow duped?

Under the Corker-Cardin framework establishing oversight of the Iran deal, Congress could vote to approve or disapprove of a final deal, determining whether Obama has the authority to temporarily lift Iran sanctions needed to implement the Agreement. If Congress fails to pass disapproval of the deal — or if Congress does pass a disapproval measure, then fails to override Obama’s veto of it — the deal would move forward.

And it did. The Corker-Cardin framework provided Congress with the right to review the Iran Agreement, regardless of what you’ve heard spun by the pundits.

~~~

No sitting-President of either political party has ever met with the leaders of North Korea. This policy was to avoid legitimizing a rogue-state as well as to hold onto that strategic carrot in order to draw concessions from North Korea. And now, like the US Embassy move in Israel, the United States has given up a negotiating item, for apparently nothing in return. But, the reaction to Trump’s meeting with the dictator of North Korea?

Senator McConnell praised the “historic first step” and noted that it was “the beginning of the arduous process,” but he said, “I support the goals contained in the statement and I remain supportive of the administration’s mission.” On the Iran Agreement, Mitch McConnell criticizes Iran nuke deal as “windfall” for Tehran…

On the Iran Agreement, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said, “It is an agreement that will reward a violent, terrorist regime. Instead of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, it merely delays it. This deal is shortsighted and dangerous for our security.” But of the Trump-Kim Summit, Rounds said: “Good news coming from Singapore. @POTUS has made early strides in making our world a safer place. A lot of work to do yet.”

And how about this for sarcastic bitterness:

Of Obama and the Iran Agreement, Jim Risch (R-ID) said: “This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires.”

And of Trump and North Korea? Risch said “If Barack Obama had accomplished what Donald Trump just accomplished, they’d be calling for the stonemasons to get out to Mount Rushmore and put off his head on Mount Rushmore. This is a historic occasion.”

Hahahahahaahhaha…..

Personally, I’m kinda wondering what exactly Trump *has* accomplished besides a handshake that North Korea has been seeking for decades, and now the regime received without capitulating on anything.

On Trump and North Korea, Sen. James Inhofe (OK) said “I do not trust Iran who has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism for generations, and I have no faith that President Obama’s deal will change the irrational and dangerous behaviors of Iran’s government leaders,” so I guess I’m really curious how Inhofe feels about Kim and his country’s history of bank fraud, cyberterrorism, saber-rattling and breaking of promises to South Korea as well as US Presidents of both political parties….

Here ya go: Of Trump and North Korea, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) even said “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen,” and even praised Trump for being the first person to ever get Kim Jong-un’s attention and for playing him “like a fiddle.”

Really? Inhofe knows this already? Isn’t it equally possible that Kim played Trump like a fiddle?

The truth is that we won’t know for a long time whether President Trump gave away the cow for free, or if he was the one who started the North Koreans down the road to peaceful coexistence. John Delury, a North Korea watcher and professor at Yonsei University, thinks that it’s even possible that Kim Jung Un is creating a détente with the United States to pivot out of China’s orbit. At this point, who knows? Certainly not I…

But what I do know, is that there is a hypocrisy in the rightwing media (not that there’s not a blindness in the leftwing media on other issues), that there is a selectivity in history and an inconsistency in opinion on international rapprochement initiatives.

Perhaps it’s just partisanship? Or perhaps it’s just that the worst of partisanship is what ultimately becomes the dominant narrative in history. I hope not.

As I said, the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And somehow *all* six parties are incompetent and have somehow duped?

To be fair, North Korea and Iran are not in the same place in their nuclear research and capabilities. And that’s some of the reason for the confusing messages out of some conservatives. After all, North Korea’s research has been entirely weapons-based, so *if* (and that’s a huge if) North Korea stopped its nuclear weapons research, then it would be stopping all of its current nuclear work.

Iran’s nuclear research is much more sophisticated and more of a dual-tracked research. Iran has civilian nuclear research programs as well, so the Agreement honors civilian research.

So, on Trump and North Korea:

Sen. Jon Ernst (R-IA) can say that she was “excited about the opportunity.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) can say the “critical summit is happening because of President Trump’s leadership and unwavering resolve to make the world a safer place,” and added that “[t]he Trump Administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) can say a “big opportunity” and “clearly there has been progress.”

But on Iran, the same three said:

Ernst: “This to me is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran…This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities.”

Purdue: “This deal won’t prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state — it just delays it,” and “As I’ve said all along, I cannot support any deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”

Sullivan: “Principal objective of Iran negotiations was to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This #IranDeal does NOT do that.”

~~~

These statements, to me, are a lot more consistent than the statements by Inhofe, Risch, Rounds, and McConnell…

Ernst, Purdue, and Sullivan are correct. The Iran Agreement does not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 10 years if the Iranians want to. It was never intended to. The Agreement was intended to create breathing room, for Iran to be integrated into the world economy for a period of ten years, so that, as a member of the world economy, there would be a disincentive for Iran to throw those incentives away after ten years of participation in the international system.

Whereas the Trump Administration has, at this point, not offered North Korea the path to peaceful nuclear technology as Iran has been guaranteed, and at this point North Korea is still expected to terminate its nuclear weapon programs in perpetuity as South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and the former Soviet Republics outside of Russia have all done.

Two different nation-states. Two different nuclear programs.

So, the issue isn’t so much about the “deal” but about the reception of engagement with rogue leaders and rogue states.

  • Nixon meets Mao, and is praised.
  • Reagan meets Gorbachev, and is praised.
  • But Clinton normalizes relations with Vietnam, and its criticized.
  • Clinton allows Gerry Adams a visa to the US as part of the Northern Irish Peace Process, and its criticized.
  • Bush pressures UK PM Tony Blair to release the PanAm 103 bombers to reward Libya, and its ignored by the public.
  • Obama normalizes relations with Cuba, and its criticized.

Yes, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro, and it’s the end of the world, but President Donald Trump shakes hands with the leader of a rogue state one called a member of the Axis of Evil by President George W. Bush and…

Sen. Jim Inhofe says “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen.”

~~~

The two most consistent voices have been Ben Shapiro and Jim Geraghty:

“I’m not certain why meeting with Kim without preconditions is suddenly a grand coup when we would have gone nuts had Obama done the same,” said conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who criticized Obama back in 2009 and is now often critical of Trump.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wondered the same. “Remember how much we condemned then-senator Barack Obama’s pledge to ‘meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?’ That wasn’t wrong,” Geraghty wrote.

~~~

Yes, Conservative Rapprochement Bias is a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. While “not fair” it is none the less true that there is a pattern in politics, sociology, psychology, and religion that the seminal events are most often decided when those with the narrowest perspective agree to change or compromise.

As Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.” And here we go again…

Top Diplomat: US Will Crush Iran (May 21st)

Trump, Pompeo, and Iran

Current US policy toward Iran has three facets of pettiness, ignorance, and arrogance. My criticism of the leadership style of Donald Trump, the new normal of abusive language in political rhetoric, and the arrogance and ignorance of the President and his Administration is well known. The President’s petty Obamaphobia and the hypocritical interpretation of historical facts is dangerous and self-indulgent. He has surrounded himself with washed-out neocons like John Bolton and, now, I’m just waiting for the rehabilitation of Paul Wolfowitz next. And now a Tea Partier is the Secretary of State. Mike Pompeo is highly qualified for many offices, perhaps the CIA, and perhaps even the Pentagon. The leader of the State Department ought to be a Warhawk. Yet, on May 21, 2018, the top diplomat of the United States of America said that the US will “crush” Iran. Crush? Is that now the new-normal for diplomatic parlance?

I. Pettiness

  • From the White House Correspondents Dinner of 2011 to the campaign trail of Election 2016, it is apparent that the US President Donald Trump has a personal vendetta with all things Barrack Obama. No, it’s not even a policy disagreement, its personal Obamaphobia. The cornerstone of this Administration seems to be to dismantle the name Obama from the government as if the name was an interloper’s moniker on the side of a Trump Tower. Indeed, there seems to be little logic behind policy-reversals, just that the policies were ascribed to Obama… Obamacare anyone? From DACA, to Cuba, the Paris Accord and Net Neutrality, to off-shore drilling, Bears Ear, transgender bathrooms, and the Iran Agreement. Of course, an incoming president has the right and, as presidents from opposite political parties, perhaps the ideological interest in reversing policies. However, this Administration is obsessed with undoing policy at rates of speed and indifference to law more than prior administrations.
  • While questionably legal, many on both sides of the aisle were relieved with the DACA policy because it removed Congressional responsibility for a legislative fix. The Republican-led Senate brokered a deal, only to have President Trump undermine the deal at the last minute.
  • Was anyone outside Little Havana in Miami even complaining about the normalization of relations with Cuba? Then why change the policy… because it was done by Obama.
  • Climate Change? Obama, so it was “undone” even though it is legally binding under international law. Article 4 of the Paris Accord reiterates the obligations already contained in Article 4 of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which became binding law after US Senate ratification in 1992.
  • On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, the Republican-led Senate passed legislation to repeal Trump’s FCC decision by Trump’s appointees.
  • President Trump lifted the off-shore drilling ban, even though the coastal governors of both political persuasions lobbied Trump not to reverse the ban.
  • And don’t get me started about Bears Ear National Monument…
  • Even in the face of North Carolina’s gubernatorial election, Donald Trump’s Administration reversed the interpretation of Title IX regarding transgender bathrooms.

Pettiness at its finest.

II. The Hypocrisy of Selective History and the Selective Application of National-Sovereignty and International Norms

A. The Hypocrisy of Selective History

Again, each incoming presidential administration has the right to make policy changes and reprioritize both domestic and international agendas. Presidents of both political parties have had a history of engaging with rogue states and terrorist organizations. Yet, hypocritically, some presidential candidates and presidents seem to only vilify engagements by presidents of the opposite political party. From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the Iran-Contra Deal, from the Reagan-Gorbachev Summits to the USS Stark cover-up, from Bush 41’s official acceptance of the Japanese apology for Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1991, to Bush’s continuation of pro-Iraq policies as NSD 26. And Clinton’s normalization of relations with Vietnam and his negotiations with the PLO in the Middle East as well as the IRA and UDA terrorist organizations in Northern Ireland.

In 2004, President George W. Bush began the process of normalizing relations with Libya. Additionally, the Bush Administration used US funds to create the Sunni Awakening militias by essentially hiring the militiamen away from the Sunni uprising militias that had been attacking the US and Shi’a forces.

The point is this: it is hypocritical and/or ignorant to denounce meeting and negotiation with rogue nations and terrorist organizations. It is a tool of diplomacy that has been used by US Presidents from both political parties. In fact, the current president seems as proud of his impending meeting with Kim Jung Un as he and others were critical of President Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro.

B. The Hypocrisy of Selective National-Sovereignty and International Norms

Again, it is important to remember that the UN Treaty is binding US law based upon Article VI of the US Constitution and the ratification of the UN Treaty by the US Senate in 1945. And Chapter VI of this binding document requires negotiation and arbitration of international disputes, not one-sided ultimatums.

US foreign policy for many decades has been a double standard, to say the least. American rhetoric often refers to the rule of law, yet the American government categorically ignored the decision in USA v. Nicaragua (1986). The more recent American use of drones as extrajudicial execution squads are as illegal internationally and, in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki and others, against domestic law as well.

The US government often asserts national sovereignty as a bulwark defense of US policy and unilateral actions yet labels other sovereign states who assert the same supposition as rogue-nations. Either the Americans has the right to impose a unilateral economic blockade against Cuba and Iran has the right to develop nuclear technologies, or Iran does not have the right to develop nuclear technologies and the US does not have the right to unilaterally impose economic sanctions. Both are examples of national sovereignty. Either Iran must comply with international regimes and the US must comply with international regimes as well (again, like USA v. Nicaragua), or international regimes are not compulsory on either nation-state.

If the US government can arbitrarily withdraw from international treaties such as the US Small Weapons Ban, Kyoto Protocol, the Rome Statute, NAFTA, the Paris Accord, the Iran Agreement… If the United States can withdraw from international agreements, then is there any reason for Iran to stay party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons? Iran can hardly be held in violation to an agreement that the government has withdrawn from, right? What is the incentive for Iran to stay a party to the NPT?

Yes, there is a clear, non-partisan, double standard in how the United States government interprets the concepts of national sovereignty and international law. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously once said that everyone has a right to their opinion, but not to their own facts. Too often in the past, the American government has interpreted the facts of international law to suit US foreign policy. Now, in the Age of Trumpism, we have ignorance and categorical lies, coupled with American’s tradition of selective history and the selective application of International norms.

III. An Ignorance of History and the Concept of Cultural Diffusion

On May 21, 2018, Mike Pompeo made his first formal comments on Iran since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the party agreement was negotiated by the P5, the European Union, and Germany with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Seven sovereign nation-states and a non-state actor worked on the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Framework, and now the United States is taking its proverbial ball and going home. More ignorance of international norms.

The President’s petty Obamaphobia influencing Trump’s understanding of the Iran Agreement, combined with the hypocritical ignorance of historical facts that ignores Reagan’s attempts to negotiate with the Iranian government. In addition, this self-indulgent

Candidate Trump, President-Elect Trump, and President Trump have all repeated ignorant and categorical lies, such as stating that President Obama sent millions in US currency to Iran, without either understanding or articulating that the transfer was a return of Iranian assets frozen since the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The return of those frozen assets (+interest) was part of the negotiated Framework.

Conclusion

President Trump and Neocons, like Bolton, as well as Tea Partiers, like Pompeo, seem to think that negotiation is when everyone else agrees with you. The international community has done that before, it’s called the Treaty of Versailles. And, thanks to the Treaty of Versailles, we got Hitler, Nazism, and World War II. A successful treaty is a negotiated agreement in which each side gets something and, frankly, no one is happy. That’s called diplomacy. Total warfare may work in military combat, but it always fails in international diplomacy.

Let’s go back to Pompeo’s visit to the Heritage Foundation today; in the 16th paragraph of his speech, Pompeo said that, after complying with US demands, Iran will be welcomed back into the “League of Nations.” Yup. He said the League of Nations. And please don’t tell me that it’s an expression, take a look at the text of the speech, League of Nations was capitalized. Who the heck is his speech writer? If it was meant as just an expression, who is the editor? Who released the text of the speech to the public? Did the Secretary read his speech before he arrived at the Heritage Foundation today? Did *he* notice? I dunno, should someone tell, or have told, the top diplomat of the most powerful nation-state on Earth, the United States Secretary of State, …that the League of Nations does not exist anymore? For some reason, I personally feel that he should have known that already.

And these of the people who are in charge of our diplomacy and our reputation throughout the world…

Yes, on May 21, 2018, the top diplomat of the United States of America said that the US will “crush” Iran. Crush. Yes, the new-normal for diplomatic parlance. And, in the same speech, the chief diplomat referred to the League of Nations that has been defunct for 72 years.

Yes, my criticism of Donald Trump’s leadership style is already on record. I do not appreciate the debased new-normal of abusive language in our political rhetoric, as well as the arrogance and, in my opinion, ignorance of the President and his Administration. The President’s has a petty Obamaphobic hang-up and a dangerous and self-indulgent interpretation of historical facts. The President has surrounded himself with washed-out neocons like John Bolton and Tea Partiers like Mike Pompeo. Pompeo, like Rex Tillerson, is highly qualified for many offices like the CIA and the Pentagon. But the leader of the State Department is a Warhawk who promises to “crush” Iran until it rejoins the 72-year defunct League of Nations.

The US policy toward Iran is three comprised of pettiness, ignorance, and arrogance. Apparently, one the one hand, Obama gave the cow away to Iran, but it’s the Art of the Deal to sit down with Kim Jung Un. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. No, no one knows what the future holds for Iran or North Korea, but US negotiations with the PLO and the IRA seem to have gone well. US normalization of relations with Vietnam and Libya seem to have gone fairly well too.

The fact is that the Iranians will have nuclear weapons if they want… maybe not this year, or the next, maybe not in 5 years, but you can’t stop it permanently. It’s called cultural diffusion. The British couldn’t prevent Samuel Slater from bringing the Industrial Revolution to America, nor could America stop the transfer of electronics technologies to East Asia. More to the point, the US and its allies were unable to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Russia, China, India, Pakistan, or North Korea. But few Americas fear waking up to nuclear war with the UK, France, India, or even China or Russia. So, the issue is not nuclear proliferation, its the relationship that the United States has with other nuclear power that matters most. No, the US government cannot permanently prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb forever, but the US can manage the US-Iranian relationship so that in ten years Iran is not an enemy.

Perhaps its time to let go of Zero Sum politics, the hypocritical application of international norms, and Obamaphobia? Perhaps Obama’s engagement and negotiation with the Iranians is as valid as Trump’s engagement and negotiation with the North Koreans?

Just the thoughts of a Babbling Professor…

My name is Tom Keefe, and, remember, Today’s Tomorrow’s Yesterday!

Thanks for Listening!

 

May 1st ~ Mystics, Nazis, Saints and Terrorists

Welcome to This Day in Today,

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

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On this day, May 1, 1881, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., was born in Orcines, Auvergne, France. Chardin (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He created the field of vitalism and conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving) and further developed upon Vladimir Vernadsky’s concept of the noosphere concerning the third phase of evolution based upon human consciousness. Although many of Chardin’s writings were censored by the Catholic Church during his lifetime because of his views on original sin, Chardin has been post-hum-ous-ly praised by Pope Benedict XVI and other eminent Catholic figures, and his theological teachings were cited by Pope Francis in the 2015 encyclical, Laudato si.

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On this day, May 1, 1945, a German newsreader officially announced that Adolf Hitler has “fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany.” The Soviet flag was then raised over the Reich Chancellery, by order of Stalin. Allegedly the last picture of Adolf Hitler before he committed suicide was Hitler and his adjutant Julius Schaub looking at the ruins of the Reich Chancellery, April 28, 1945.

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On this day, May 1, 1955, just twenty days after the death of Chardin, the Catholic Church established the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker.  May 1 was already known around the world as #MayDay or #InternationalWorkerDay. This had begun in late 19th century America as an effort by labor unions to institute an eight-hour workday in the United States—a movement that culminated in the horrific Chicago riot of May 4, 1886, in Haymarket Square.

Saint Joseph had already been venerated as the patron saint of workers, particularly Carpenters, for centuries. The decision to establish a new Feast Day for one of the oldest Catholic Saints, Saint Joseph, was made in clear in solidarity with the international labor movement and the rights of workers.

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On this day, May 1, 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun. Growing up, Stein was an observant Jew, but became an atheist in her teenage years. During WWI, Stein worked in nursing, later went to college and earned her doctorate in philosophy. In her studies, she was drawn to the writings of Teresa of Avila and was baptized into the Catholic Church in 1922.  After teaching for several years Stein joined the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Cologne, Germany, and received the religious habit, and taking the religious name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (“Teresa blessed by the Cross”). In 1938, she was sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, the Netherlands for their safety. Even prior to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Stein believed she would not survive the war and so created a will. Her fellow sisters would later recount how Stein began “quietly training herself for life in a concentration camp, by enduring cold and hunger” after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. She also wrote to her Prioress that Stein was preparing to “offer [her]self to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.” The Nazis did invade the Netherlands in May 1940, and Stein remained safe for two years. She was finally arrested on August 2, 1942, because of her Jewish heritage, and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She died in an Auschwitz gas chamber seven days later, on August 9, 1942.

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Finally, in a late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House on May 1, 2011, US President Barack Mr. Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he announced that American military and C.I.A. operatives had cornered Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, in a Pakistani compound. American officials said Bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. Osama’s death occurred on May 2nd, local time, but May 1st in the United States. Osama bin Laden was later given Muslim burial rites and buried at sea in the Indian Ocean.

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

April 29th ~ War Crimes and Reconciliation

Welcome to This Day in Today,

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

~~~

  On this day, April 29, 1946, The International Military Tribunal for the Far East convened and indicted former Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo, as well as 28 other former Japanese leaders, with war crimes. Tojo was the highest ranking Japanese national charged by the Tribunal. Supreme Allied Commander for the Pacific Theater, General Douglas MacArthur, had decided to give the Imperial Family immunity from prosecution in order to smooth the restructuring of Japan’s government. Thousands of other alleged war criminals were remanded to other countries for national criminal prosecution. Ultimately, seven defendants were later given death sentences and executed; 16 received prison sentences. A shout out to MY home state of Little Rhodey, The chief prosecutor, Joseph B.  Keenan, was from Pawtucket, RI, United States.

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Sixty-nine years later, on April 29, 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Prime Minister of Japan to address a joint session of the US Congress and offered his “profound respect” and “eternal condolences” for US soldiers who died in World War II.  On December 27, 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also became the first Prime Minister of Japan to visit Pearl Harbor and laid a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial.  Earlier, in May of 2016, US President Barack Obama similarly became the first sitting US President to visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.  Regardless of one’s opinion of the decision to drop the bomb, it is an inescapable fact that the US use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed an estimated 220, 000 people combined…

That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

History of the US Embassy in Israel

Image result for un partition of palestine

In 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne recognized British authority for the Mandate for Palestine. Neither US Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, nor Franklin Roosevelt questioned British authority in the Mandate for Palestine, nor Jerusalem…

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181(II), which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and an international authority for the city of Jerusalem…

Harry S. Truman, President of the United States for approximately 7 years, did not object…

  • On May 14, 1948, Jewish leaders in the Mandate for Palestine issued the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in defiance of the United Nation as Resolution 181(II)… setting the stage for the 1948 Arab–Israeli War (or the First Arab–Israeli War) between the State of Israel and a military coalition of Arab states, and forming the second stage of the 1948 Palestine war.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States for two full terms, “minimized relations with Israel, but he did not reduce the U.S. commitment to the existence and survival of Israel” (Source).

John F. Kennedy, President of the United States for approximately 3 years, ordered Israel to terminate its nuclear program in exchange for US defense (Source)

Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States for approximately 6 years, ordered the U.S. 6th Fleet, previously sent on a training exercise toward Gibraltar, to be re-positioned to the eastern Mediterranean to be able to assist Israel during the Six-Day War of June 1967.

  • On June 7, 1967, Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • On June 8, 1967, Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, an American naval research ship incident.

Richard Nixon, President of the United States for almost two full terms, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Gerald Ford, President of the United States for approximately 3 years, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • In June 1976, a UN proposal supporting the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines was vetoed by the United States.

Jimmy Carter, President of the United States for a full term, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • On September 17, 1978, following twelve days of secret negotiations at Camp David, the Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Ronald Reagan, President of the United States for two full terms, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • In 1987, Jonathan Pollard, a former US intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty to spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel.
  • On November 15, 1988, Palestinians declared the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, which referenced the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and “UN resolutions since 1947” and was interpreted as an indirect recognition of the State of Israel, and support for a two-state solution.

George H. W. Bush (41), President of the United States for a full term, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • From October 30th to November 1, 1991, Spain hosted the Madrid Conference (co-sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union), to revive the Israeli–Palestinian peace process through negotiations, involving Israel and the Palestinians as well as Arab countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Bill Clinton, President of the United States for two full terms, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • In 1993, the Oslo I Accord, an agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, was signed in Washington, D.C.
  • In September 1995, the Oslo II Accord, an agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, was signed in Washington, D.C.
  • October 28, 1995, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was passed by the US Congress. President Clinton, however, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem at any point in his for two full terms as president.
  • In 2000, US President Bill Clinton convened a peace summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. In May of that year, according to Nathan Thrall, Israel had offered Palestinians 66% of the West Bank, with 17% annexed to Israel, and a further 17% not annexed but under Israeli control, and no compensating swap of Israeli territory. The Israeli prime minister reportedly offered the Palestinian leader approximately 95% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip if 69 Jewish settlements (which comprise 85% of the West Bank’s Jewish settlers) be ceded to Israel. East Jerusalem would have fallen for the most part under Israeli sovereignty, with the exception of most suburbs with heavy non-Jewish populations surrounded by areas annexed to Israel. The issue of the Palestinian right of return would be solved through significant monetary reparations. According to Palestinian sources, the remaining area would be under Palestinian control. Depending on how the security roads would be configured, these Israeli roads might impede free travel by Palestinians throughout their proposed nation and reduce the ability to absorb Palestinian refugees. Borders, airspace, and water resources of the Palestinian state would have been left in Israeli hands. President Arafat rejected this offer and did not propose a counter-offer. No tenable solution was crafted which would satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian demands, even under intense U.S. pressure. Clinton blamed Arafat for the failure of the Camp David Summit. In the months following the summit, Clinton appointed former US Senator George J. Mitchell to lead a fact-finding committee that later published the Mitchell Report.

George W. Bush (43), President of the United States for two full terms, did not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • In July 2002, the “quartet” of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia outlined the principles of a “road map” for peace, including an independent Palestinian state. The roadmap was released in April 2003 after the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as the first-ever Palestinian Authority Prime Minister.
  • From December 2006 to mid-September 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority met 36 times; there were also lower-level talks. In 2007 Olmert welcomed the Arab League’s re-endorsement of the Arab Peace Initiative. In his bid to negotiate a peace accord and establish a Palestinian state, Olmert proposed a plan to the Palestinians. The centerpiece of Olmert’s detailed proposal is the suggested permanent border, which would be based on an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank. Olmert proposed annexing at least 6.3% of Palestinian territory, in exchange for 5.8% of Israeli land, with Palestinians receiving alternative land in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, as well as a territorial link, under Israeli sovereignty, for free passage between Gaza and the West Bank. Israel insisted on retaining an armed presence in the future Palestinian state. Under Abbas’s offer, more than 60 percent of settlers would stay in place (not return).
  • In December 2008, Ben-Ami Kadish, a former U.S. Army mechanical engineer, pleaded guilty to being an “unregistered agent for Israel,” and admitted to disclosing classified U.S. documents to Israel in the 1980s.

Barack Obama, President of the United States for two full terms, never moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

  • On October 19, 2009, Stewart David Nozette was arrested by the FBI for espionage. Nozette, an American scientist for the United States Department of Energy, the United States Department of Defense, DARPA, the United States Naval Research Laboratory, and NASA. At trial, Nozette admitted attempting to sell U.S. classified information to someone he believed was an Israeli Mossad operative. He was convicted for attempted espionage and fraud against the United States.
  • In September 2010, the Obama administration pushed to revive the stalled peace process by getting the parties involved to agree to direct talks for the first time in about two years.
  • On July 29, 2013, United States Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to restart the peace process through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald J. Trump, ordered the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, on his 320th day in office as President of the United States, with no connection to any direct talks, negotiation, or peace plan.