Joe Biden

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

Public Safety Dance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/08/2022 - 10:59pm in

Public “safety” for whom?

Fist Bumping Dictators: A Fish Rots from the Head Down

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/07/2022 - 11:16pm in

CJ Werleman fears a return to cynical transactional politics in the US Democratic Party, as a leading Indian-American congressman appears to move closer to Narendra Modi's divisive Hindu nationalism

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

President Joe Biden was elected on a mandate to restore American democratic values at home and rebuild a “rules-based-order” abroad, but his visit to Saudi Arabia, where he legitimised the rule of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a fist bump, betrayed American voters and global human rights defenders.

Biden has sold weapons to Egypt, despite promising on the 2020 campaign trail he wouldn’t. He cites Amnesty International when condemning China for its human rights abuses but refutes the UK-based human rights organisation when it accuses Israel of operating a system of apartheid in the Palestinian Territories.

Biden’s foreign policy is as transactional in nature as that of his predecessor – Donald J. Trump. And it appears a transactional approach to foreign policy has trickled down from the Oval Office to the Democratic Party caucus.

DON’T MISS A STORY

Sign up to email updates from Byline Times

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

Last week, Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced an amendment to the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) to foster deepening military ties between the US and India, and to protect the Indian Government from sanctions over its continued military partnership with Russia under the provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

“There’s no relationship of greater significance to US strategic interests than the US-India partnership. It’s necessary to affirm democracies…We should not be sanctioning India under (CAATSA)," said Khanna when introducing the bill to the House on 15 July. 

In a press release, Khanna described the bill as the “most significant piece of legalisation for US and Indian relations out of Congress since the US and India nuclear deal” in 2008, while praising India for its “democratic values” and for standing up for “sovereignty and international law”.

This is a notable departure from earlier statements Khanna has made towards the Indian Government and the far-right, Hindu nationalist agenda that drives it, but even more telling is his sudden effusive praise of Indian democracy comes at the same time the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom has recommended that the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people a “country of particular concern” over its anti-democratic crackdown on civil society and religious minorities.

It was only a few years ago when Khanna denounced former Democratic Party congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her ties to the Hindutva Lobby, while calling on Hindus to “stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians”.

The existential crisis facing India’s religious minorities and democracy has significantly worsened since Khanna posted those remarks on Twitter three years ago.

Last year, Freedom House downgraded India from a free democracy to an “electoral autocracy,” while accusing the Indian Government of increasing pressure on human rights groups, intimidating journalists and activists, and inciting hate crimes, particularly against Muslims – all of which has led to a “deterioration of political and civil liberties” in the country.

In the past month alone, the homes of Muslim activists have been bulldozed as a form of collective punishment and intimidation. Muslim journalists have been arrested and jailed over tweets critical of the Hindu nationalist ideology, as members within the country’s ruling party vow to make Muslims “second class citizens,” while religious leaders urge economic boycotts and genocide against the religious minority.

“The early warning signs of genocide are present in India,” said Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch in January.

There’s nothing here Khanna does not know, but he hasn’t commented on India’s descent into the abyss under Prime Minister Narendra Modi since March 2020, when he condemned the Indian Government’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) as “absurd” and “extraordinary discrimination” against Muslims.

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

His silence towards unfolding events in the country of his heritage, along with his recent praise of Indian “democracy” has sparked fears Khanna has been co-opted by the powerful Hindutva Lobby in the United States, which has amassed more $100 million in assets through two dozen Hindu nationalist organisations in the US, including Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (EVF), Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), and others.

These fears were heightened on 3 June, when Khanna was photographed with Asha Jadeja Motwani, a California based venture capitalist and unabashed supporter of Modi, who praises the Prime Minister for signalling to “divisive forces within India,” presumably Muslims, that “we will be ruled by our [Hindu] universalist spirituality”. Her father also served in the far-right, Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which draws its ideological inspiration from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party.

In a photo Motwani shared on Twitter, showing her seated at a restaurant with Khanna, she claims to have “convinced Ro to bring a large group of US Congressmen to India in next few months and get to know Modi team more closely,” adding, “Mission quite accomplished,” with a smiley face emoji.

I have reached out to Khanna, but he has not responded to my request for comment on his apparent relationship with Motwani or possible ties to Hindu nationalist groups.

It’s becoming increasingly evident, however, that far-right, Hindu nationalist and Hindu supremacist groups are gaining a tight grip over the Democratic Party, as evident in a recent Counterpunch investigation that found Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign financing between 2014 and 2020 from groups and individuals tied to VHP, HSS, EVF, and OFBJP.

A report titled “Hindu Nationalist Influence in the United States” found that Democratic Party candidate Srinivas Rao Preston Kulkarni received more than $95,000 between 2018 and 2020, with Democratic Congressperson Brad Sherman (D-CA) receiving more than more $27,000 between 2014 and 2019. 

Clearly, the Democratic Party has a problem within its congressional caucus. It cannot credibly champion global human rights, while at the same time taking money from far-right, ultranationalist groups that have degraded India’s democracy and pushed religious minorities to the brink of genocide.

Although, Biden did a fist bump a murderer and hardly a single Democrat cared.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

Front page July 22

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

Prelude to a Redeployment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/07/2022 - 10:30pm in

Listening for signs of the Americans in Kismayo, Somalia.

A History of Israeli Destruction of the Two State Settlement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/07/2022 - 1:35am in

Since President Biden still insists that he is committed to the Two State Solution, maybe we should take another poke at it. A fresh look cannot hurt at what has become the most common phrase in the discourse on Palestine-Israel.

 

1947

There have been several versions of the Two State idea. The one that came closest to being implemented is known as UN Resolution 194, or the Partition of Palestine. It almost became a reality in that the United Nations voted on it, and accepted it on November 29, 1947. But then, even before the ink was dry on the paper, the Zionist forces embarked on a sweeping campaign of ethnic cleansing to rid the country of its people and to take over as much land as possible. During this campaign, close to one million Palestinians were forced out of Palestine, countless civilians were massacred and hundreds of towns and villages were destroyed.

The Zionists took the cities and made them theirs. They took the crops in the fields and the fruit in the orchards, they stole the money from the banks, untold millions worth of vehicles and agriculture equipment, and made it all theirs. It was obvious that the Zionists had no intention to accept a plan to partition a country they wanted all to themselves. They took the country and its riches and then claimed they made a desert bloom.

The campaign tapered down – though it did not stop completely – at the beginning of 1949, and by the early 1950s two regions hitherto unknown were established: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These regions were not drawn along any geographic or otherwise natural borders but forced onto the map of Palestine by the Zionists, who at that point controlled close to 80% of the country.

 

1967

Skipping forward to 1967 when Israel once again attacked its neighboring countries, and in five days it occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the entire Sinai Peninsula. This history is well known. At that point, the idea came to redraw the partition plan, this time along the boundaries of the pre-1967 war borders, and allow the Palestinians a small “state” within those boundaries.

There were a few prominent Zionists, including my own father, who at that point was a general in the Israeli army and a member of the Israeli high command, and several others, who supported this plan. There were also Palestinian voices from within the West Bank and Gaza who were open to the idea. From that moment on any discourse regarding “peace” included the idea of a small Palestinian state alongside the larger Israel. Israel for its part did everything in its considerable power to make its new conquests irreversible, and for the most part, it was successful.

 

A footnote

A country that was known as Palestine and has a recorded history going back at least four thousand years had become a footnote to Israel. The newly established Israel is a state that draws its legitimacy from the Bible, a religious book with little or no significance when it comes to recording history. This was achieved through a great deal of violence and a well-planned and well-funded targeted campaign of misinformation and political arm-twisting.

The paradigm in which Palestine is merely a footnote to Israel was accepted and is now dominant. Israel is the main story, and Palestine is a little region where the “Arabs of Israel” may enjoy some independence as long as Israel is agreeable to it.

The divisions of Palestine that Israel created were fully accepted and became the reality of Palestine: the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Arab citizens of Israel – who are not recognized as Palestinian at all, as though they all just landed out of nowhere – and the refugees who live outside of Palestine. The reality is that these divisions are not real, they have no history or legitimacy, and Palestinians have been forced to live within them.

 

Reversing the paradigm

Can one reverse this paradigm? Partition of Palestine is not possible and has no value. As long as Israel exists, it will never agree to a partition and it does not serve Palestinian interests. However, let us suppose for a moment that partition of some sort was possible and beneficial, how would this be done? The prevailing notion is that Israel will receive the larger part of the country, over 80%, and Palestinians will accept whatever they are given.

But what if it were up for negotiation? Perhaps the Palestinians, who are now the majority of the population between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea should have their state on the larger portion of Palestine, and Israel will be confined to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It has become acceptable that Palestinians are the footnote to Israelis, and it is obvious that Israelis deserve the lion’s share of the country on their terms. However, there is no reason to accept this.

 

Time to change the terms

One has to be either ignorant or corrupt to claim that the Two State Solution is a realistic idea. It is not unlikely that Joe Biden is both. Defeating the violent apartheid regime in Palestine and replacing it with a democracy with equal rights is the only realistic, viable and somewhat just approach to Palestine. The Two State Solution is nothing but a license for Israel to continue to abuse and destroy Palestine while killing and oppressing Palestinians.

Entitlement is the driving force of the colonizers, and Israelis are no different. They believe that they are entitled to Palestine, as much of it as they want, and that even if they were willing under a strict set of unrealistic conditions to accept that Palestinians deserve some semblance of self-determination, it will be done on their terms. They are the masters and they are entitled to the country and the resources. They are also entitled to determine who lives and dies and which of the Palestinian people get to live in what parts of the country and under what sets of laws.

However, this entitlement, like the entire Zionist enterprise, has no legitimacy and must be recognized as the crime against humanity that it is. As such, the perpetrators of the crime must be stopped and brought to justice, the system of apartheid dismantled, and a liberated, democratic Palestine must take its place.

Feature photo | An Israeli soldier looks down from a rooftop in Hebron, Occupied West Bank, May 3, 1980. Rina Castelnuovo | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post A History of Israeli Destruction of the Two State Settlement appeared first on MintPress News.

Who is Biden Working For? On Israel Visit, “Zionist” Biden Whitewashes Israel’s Crimes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 2:02am in

Upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, which sits on the lands of the occupied Palestinian city of El-Lyd, President Joe Biden repeated his age-old mantra, “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” Indeed you do not. To be a Zionist, you only need to be a racist, a supporter of the hate-filled, violent, intolerant apartheid regime that has been occupying Palestine since 1948. You need to believe that people who are not Palestinians have a right to Palestine and to its resources. To be a Zionist, you don’t need to be Jewish, you just need to repeat the absurd claim that the Bible gives all Jewish people around the world the right to kill people because they are Palestinians who want to return to their homes and their land.

In a nauseating show of hypocrisy, President Biden, Israeli President Yitzhak Hertzog, and Prime Minister Lapid spoke of peace, justice, and human rights as the shared values of the United States and the State of Israel. This was less than twenty-four hours after John Bolton admitted to orchestrating coup d’états in countries around the world. This is also after Israeli military, and political figures openly talked about assassinating Iranian scientists and officials.

The values shared by Israel and the United States are clearly represented in the fact that President Biden is visiting a country that only recently assassinated the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh and is keeping silent about it. The president of the United States is in Israel, meeting with heads of the Israeli state, and yet rather than using the full force of his position – which is considerable – to demand accountability, he says and does nothing.

American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The murders of Khashoggi and that of Shireen Abu Akleh are not the only crimes committed by the two regimes for which Biden is showing love, but these two were well publicized and involve U.S. nationals, so one would think he would act or at least speak out.

 

A bad deal

U.S. support for Israel is a bad deal for the American taxpayers. $3.8 billion dollars of American taxpayers’ money gets sent to Israel at the beginning of each year. And with the exception of the military-industrial complex, Americans get little out of this.

American citizens who wish to travel to Palestine, particularly if they have an Arab name or family there, are subjected to harassment by the Israeli authorities. This harassment takes place at Tel-Aviv airport, where the authorities are notoriously racist, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. The harassment can last for many hours and often results in refusal of entry into the country. U.S. citizens are not protected from the inhumane interrogation process that takes place at the airport on the way in, and they are not protected by their U.S. citizenship when they leave the country.

A U.S. passport does not even protect Americans from being shot and killed by Israeli forces. Rachel Corrie and Shireen Abu-Akleh, both citizens of the United States, were killed in broad daylight. They were wearing safety equipment, they were well identified as non-combatant civilians, and they were both butchered in plain sight. Washington made no effort to bring the criminals to justice.

Joe Biden in Israel

Israeli President Isaac Herzog watches as Biden signs a guest book at the Israeli President’s residence, July 14, 2022, Evan Vucci | AP

Another U.S. citizen who died at the hand of IDF soldiers is Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad. He died on January 12 after he was arrested by IDF troops. According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the seventy-eight-year-old As’ad “was arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and gagged,” after which the soldiers left. Also, according to the Post report, “the soldiers did not call for medical assistance and left him there believing that he had fallen asleep.” Although several members of congress did issue statements, no real action was taken to hold Israel accountable.

Where was the U.S. government to protect him? Where was the demand to investigate and bring the culprits to justice? and where are the sanctions against the State of Israel, which shows no regard for the lives of Palestinians?

The Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem commented that: “The army’s announcement regarding the death of Omar Assad is adorned with empty words about ‘moral failure’ – concluding, as expected, with the faintest of rebukes…In fact, the fundamental moral failure is that of Israel’s senior echelons, leading a regime of Jewish supremacy, one in which the human life of Palestinians has no value.”

 

No democracy, no stability

Contrary to what is said about Israel, it is neither a democracy nor an island of stability. It has been several years since Israel has been able to function as a state. This is due to the fact that there has not been a government with a stable majority in place. Elections are held over and over again, and even though the results are predictably the same, no stable government is formed. The election results have been consistent, clearly showing what Israeli voters want, namely, they are in favor of a strong, ultra-right-wing government led by racists like Benjamin Netanyahu, who was indicted for corruption, and war criminal generals like Benny Gantz.

Neither the corruption nor the war crimes seem to have any impact on the voters, and these people are elected over and over again. The only thing that changes are the partnerships between the politicians who rarely last very long and the new generals that join the political arena. The one thing that remains constant in Israeli politics is Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his loyal Likud Party followers are the only stable, consistent element in Israeli politics.

 

Who is Joe Biden working for?

Judging by his performance, Joe Biden is working for AIPAC and not for the American people. He hit every note, shook every hand and repeated his mantras, clearly trying to please his donors back home. According to reports, he even made sure to tell Benjamin Netanyahu that he likes him. His interview on Israeli television included a commitment to keep the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the list of terrorist organizations and even to attack Iran if that was what it took to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. That is not what his constituents in the U.S. want, but it is what Israel and AIPAC expect of him.

Feature photo | President Joe Biden, center, speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog at the Hall of Remembrance of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, July 13, 2022. Debbie Hill | Pool via AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Who is Biden Working For? On Israel Visit, “Zionist” Biden Whitewashes Israel’s Crimes appeared first on MintPress News.

Werleman’s Worldview: Donald Trump has Left American Democracy in Limbo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/07/2022 - 8:30pm in

The decision to prosecute the former President, or to absolve his crimes, will shape US politics for generations, says CJ Werleman

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

The US House of Representatives January 6 Committee hearings into the US Capitol insurrection have been riveting, convincing, and damning. But, like any other reality television show that drags on a little too long, you want to fast forward to the ending. We want to find out whether Donald Trump is going to jail or not.

The answer to that question will be determined in a federal court if the Department of Justice (DoJ) determines, based on the evidence brought forward by the committee, that the former President can or should be charged with a crime. What started out as an uncertainty a few weeks ago has become more and more likely with each passing televised hearing.

“As someone who looked at investigations at the FBI – the breadth of information and depth of people who were involved at the White House has led me over the past few weeks to say…man, if you’re at DoJ you’re in one hot place. If you ignore this, you’re ignoring a lot of evidence. It’s pretty clear they tried to change the election,” said former CIA counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd in an interview on Tuesday, referring to the Trump campaign.

The same day, Mother Jones published leaked audio, revealing former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon telling a group of associates before election day that Trump had already concocted a plan to declare victory on election night – even if he was losing by 10 points.

“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner,” Bannon, laughing, told the group. “He’s just gonna say he’s a winner. At 10 or 11 o’clock Trump’s gonna walk in the Oval, tweet out: ‘I’m the winner. Game over. Suck on that.’”

Trump knew that he and the Republican Party would have an early lead in vote count, given a greater proportion of Democratic Party voters opting for mail-in ballots because of the pandemic. His plot was to use this fact to claim victory, while falsely asserting the inevitable shifts in vote totals towards Joe Biden during the night were the result of “widespread voter fraud”.

“After then, Trump never has to go to a voter again,” Bannon added, seemingly predicting the breakdown of democracy in the country. “He’s done his last election”.

Hardly a secret, since Trump had spent the final few months of the campaign telegraphing this exact same “strategy” by forewarning a “rigged election”, this was the same warning he gave in 2016, until he won.

The DoJ will soon be presented with a range of possible crimes that Trump may have committed in his frenzied efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 Election, and we know that top DoJ officials have been paying close attention, having sent a letter to the January 6 Committee on 15 June, saying the testimony and evidence collected by the committee is “potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations” in connection to the attack on the US Capitol, which left five Americans dead.

“This committee has laid out details of a multipart pressure campaign driven by the former President aimed at aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 Presidential Election and blocking the transfer of power,” said committee chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) during the sixth hearing on 28 June. “We’ve shown that this effort was based on a lie – a lie that the election was stolen, tainted by widespread fraud: Donald Trump’s big lie”.

There has been far more damning evidence presented since, including eyewitness testimony alleging that Trump knew the insurrectionists were armed and didn’t care, even telling Secret Service officers: “You know, I don’t f*cking care that they have weapons. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here”. 

We now also know there was a level of coordination between the White House and the armed mob – but the most potentially damning evidence against the former president are text messages showing that the Trump 2020 campaign tried to obstruct Biden’s election win through an illegal scheme to send fake slates of electors to Congress.

There’s also potential evidence of witness tampering and intimidation regarding Trump’s effort to stop a White House staffer from corroborating the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, who had testified under oath that Trump demanded to be taken to the US Capitol with the armed mob.

A Watershed Decision

So, what criminal charges might the DoJ bring against the former President?

These are the four main options:

  1. Inciting Insurrection: that Trump incited lawless and violent action before and during his speech to the armed mob at the Ellipse on January 6.
  2. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States: that Trump knew his claims of widespread voter fraud were untrue but brought in others to support his big lie in a criminal plot to overturn the will of American voters.
  3. Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding: that Trump intended to disrupt and stop the certification of Electoral College votes by the US Congress.
  4. Seditious Conspiracy: that Trump plotted with others, including white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, to overthrow the US Government.

Based on the past six hearings alone, the DoJ has a slam dunk case for bringing charges against Trump, but there are concerns that the DoJ is too narrowly focused on the January 6 insurrection itself, and not on the wider ‘hub and spoke’ conspiracy to defraud the United States.

“Instead, what the hearings have revealed is evidence of a plot orchestrated by Mr Trump and his allies in the White House and elsewhere – including players from the Mueller investigation like Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani as well as new players like Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman,” argues Andrew Weissmann, a former DoJ prosecutor and senior prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

He says that the ‘spoke’ of the January 6 insurrection should be seen and investigated alongside the other spokes, which include “orchestrating fake electors in key states, pressuring state officials like those in Georgia to find new votes, plotting to behead the leadership of the Justice Department to promote a lackey who would further the conspiracy by announcing a spurious investigation into election fraud, and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to violate the law”.

DON’T MISS A STORY

Sign up to email updates from Byline Times

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

Ultimately, the only opinion that matters is that belonging to US Attorney General Merrick Garland. If he concludes that Trump has committed crimes, he would be faced with the “hardest decision” he has ever had to make, observes Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Garland would have to decide whether the national interest would be served by prosecuting Trump. “This is not a question that lawyerly analysis alone can resolve. It’s a judgement call about the nature, and fate, of our democracy… indicting a past and possible future political adversary of the current President would be a cataclysmic event from which the nation would not soon recover,” Goldsmith says. “It would be seen by many as politicised retribution. The prosecution would take many years to conclude, would last through and deeply affect the next election and would leave Mr Trump’s ultimate fate to the next administration, which could be headed by Mr Trump”.

Others have argued that it might even incite civil war.

But if Trump escapes criminal prosecution due to these potential fears, and not on the merit of the case against him, then the DoJ will have signalled that the US President sits above the law, therefore delivering another death blow to American democracy.

“It would encourage lawlessness by future presidents, none more so than Mr Trump should he win the next election,” Goldsmith says.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

Front page July 22

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

As Biden Visits Israel, Netanyahu is Plotting a Return to Power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/07/2022 - 2:58am in

Washington, D.C. – There is a line in a famous Hebrew poem written in 1903 by one of the most important Jewish poets Haim Nachman Bialik, which reads (loosely translated):

כִּי-קָרָא אֲדֹנָי לָאָבִיב וְלַטֶּבַח גַּם-יָחַד

הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ זָרְחָה, הַשִּׁטָּה פָּרְחָה וְהַשּׁוֹחֵט שָׁחַט

God has commanded the spring and the slaughter together

The sun rose, the tree blossomed and the butcher slaughtered.”

I am reminded of this line as I watch the preparations and the analysis surrounding the upcoming visit of U.S. president Joe Biden to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The fanfare goes on and at the same time the killing of Palestinians continues uninterrupted.

The Israeli newspapers dedicate a great deal to reporting on the length of the red carpet (75 meters, or about 245 feet), and to the enormous efforts by the Israeli police and other security agencies to ensure that the visit goes ahead without any glitches.

Similarly, there is analysis of what may be expected from this trip. The latest star to rise in the Israeli political arena is retired general Gadi Eizenkot, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, the IDF. As with every retired army chief, speculations as to his political career and the promise that he will bring have been going on since before he actually retired in 2019 and began his “cooling off” period.

In a well publicized event at an Israeli national security forum, Eizenkot advised to “lower expectations” regarding the upcoming Biden visit. One would do well to lower expectations regarding what this retired general and army chief, who is one of many, and what he may bring to the table once he entered politics. Currently he is expected to join another retired general and former IDF chief, Benny Gantz, who is currently the Israeli minister of defense.

 

The big boss is back

As all of this is taking place, Benjamin Netanyahu, the “big boss” of Israeli politics, the one who is seen as the only adult in a room of petulant children, is planning his return in a big way to the prime minister’s office. In his current role as head of the opposition, Netanyahu will be meeting with Biden during his visit to occupied Jerusalem.

Meanwhile Netanyahu said in a statement that if elected he will sign a peace treaty with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that will “bring us to the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict.” He added that the Arab leaders who are not yet part of the Abraham Accords are waiting for him to lead the way. This, Netanyahu claims, will prove to the naysayers of the world that the Abrahamic Accords (which were signed in his previous tenure as prime minister), were successful and that the Palestinian rejection was ineffective.

Netanyahu’s timing is no coincidence as he wants to make sure that any credit Trump might claim for the Abraham Accords – or Biden might claim if Saudi Arabia signs on – will be directed towards him. Netanyahu will not sit idly by as other politicians take credit or enjoy the limelight while he waits in the shadows of the opposition. It is also unlikely that any agreement that may be reached with Saudi Arabia will be ratified by the Knesset – Israel’s House of Representatives – before the next elections take place in November 2022.

 

The butcher slaughters

Setting aside for a minute the politics, preparations and diplomatic protocol, none of this will provide even one iota of relief to Palestinians. Not one home demolition in the Naqab will be prevented, not one child in Gaza will have better access to life saving medicine, and not one Palestinian prisoner will see the light of day. Furthermore, Palestine will not be closer to the freedom it deserves and for which it has been yearning for decades.

In fact, the Israeli butchery with all of its might will continue to oppress, arrest, torture, demolish, destory, kill and otherwise continue to operate the brutal Aparthied system that it imposes on Palestine. While the fanfare of the presidential visit will be heralded as a success – failure is not an option – and both Biden and the new Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, will use images of their visit together for their upcoming campaigns, Palestinians will continue to bleed with no end in sight.

 

Strategy

It is safe to say that every Palestinian wants to see their country free. It is also fair to say that regardless of what people see as politically realistic, when Palestinians think of their country, they don’t imagine a small percentage of it but rather all of historic Palestine. We would also not be exaggerating if we said that every Palestinian parent wants to live in their country safely and raise their children in a fair, equal and prosperous Palestine.

The vision of a free, democratic, prosperous Palestine is the wish and the vision of both political and non-politically active Palestinians. It is true that in Palestine existence is resistance, so how active someone may be politically is not a measure of their commitment to seeing their country free.

Palestinian activists on the ground from the Naqab in the south to the Galilee in the north share a vision and risk their lives every day to achieve this dream. Biden’s vision and the upcoming Israeli elections want to overshadow both the goals and the heroic work of Palestinians on the ground. Israeli politicians have said time and again that they must crush Palestinians and whatever dreams they may have of a future.

 

Spring

Spring in Palestine is spectacular and it is true that as the poet said, spring comes even as the butcher slaughters, and the sight of these two happening side by side is an awful one. Biden and Zionists like him who believe in Apartheid and who support the injustice, the lack of tolerance, and the hate and killing that Israel perpetrates cannot be allowed to win.

Palestine was a thriving country with a rich history and spectacular beauty. It must be allowed to enjoy spring without fear of the butcher.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post As Biden Visits Israel, Netanyahu is Plotting a Return to Power appeared first on MintPress News.

Lessons from American Progressives: Ro Khanna, Sanders Presidential Campaigner with a Broader Reach

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/06/2022 - 9:06pm in

Larry Cohen profiles the US Democratic Representative for California who, despite representing arguably the wealthiest place on Earth, is focused on appealing to working America

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

The United States is heading towards a full-scale showdown with a nativist, supremacist minority entrenching its power. The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade is just one part of the mobilisation underway in a rigged democracy.

The majority – represented in 2020 by the seven million more votes Joe Biden won than Donald Trump – may be crushed because the system is so undemocratic. If it is, it will also be because Biden has failed to mobilise his supporters, deliver where he could have, and express convincing anger when he has been frustrated. 

A new factor is also driving down his support: devastating inflation. People have more jobs than ever but, when they have to drive to work, the price of gas may decide their vote – or the price of milk, up 38% since 2019. When it comes to inflation, Biden also seems unable to convince Americans that he is leading the fightback.

At the beginning of this month, in the coveted, prime editorial opinion space of The New York Times, the Democratic Representative for California, Ro Khanna, proposed an “all-out mobilisation, not just a few ad hoc initiatives”.

His conclusion used a language missing from the official opposition in the UK as much as in the US. “There is no patience for incrementalism or political spin about economic numbers in these times," he said. "Democrats can’t just blame the Republicans for lacking a plan. People elected us to solve problems. We told them that government could improve their lives and they want to see tangible action, movement and energy out of Washington. Let’s reject the orthodoxy that makes us timid and dilatory about government intervention and show that our government is still capable of decisive action when it comes to both demand and supply.”

Denouncing a Supreme Court that proclaims US state governments cannot forbid people from carrying concealed weapons but may forbid a woman’s right to choose, Khanna is also capable of voting where his mouth is. Most recently he was the only member of the House Armed Services Committee to oppose adding $37 billion to the defence budget of $773 billion the President requested. 

His record makes Khanna a leading member of the new generation of serious US progressives that are becoming the voice of besieged majority – now fighting for democracy across America. Another is Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, who led the impeachment of Donald Trump, recently profiled in Byline Times by Katrina vanden Heuval. The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, Democrat Pramila Jayapal, is also among them. All three are rooted in the real majority on which, I believe, our futures in Europe as well America depends.  

Aged 45, Democratic Representative Ro Khanna is an outstanding example of the middle generation of US progressives and a politician worth watching as the United States struggles with overcoming Donald Trump and his legacy.

A complex problem-solver – pragmatic more than ideological – Khanna is willing to align with grassroots groups, from environmental to community and labour. 

Born in Pennsylvania, the son of immigrant Indian-American parents – with a grandfather who went to prison with Gandhi – he identifies with and supports communities of colour while also optimistically believing in the promise and potential of a multicultural America.  

The path for social change in the US begins in the House of Representatives and, within the House, with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Led by Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, the caucus is home to Democrats intent on serious, realistic change and its growth arguably provides the best, if not only, path to move the progressive agenda.

For five years, Khanna has focused on the needs of working class families and, as deputy caucus whip, on building a stronger CPC.  

This might seem surprising given his district includes California’s Silicon Valley. As he has observed, the companies registered there have a market value of $11 trillion, making it the wealthiest place on Earth. Yet, he is capable of challenging the tech giants. He demands Government policies that ensure their investments benefit all Americans. And, as his recent book Dignity in a Digital Age demonstrates, he has an exceptional grasp of the issues posed by new technology for democracy as well as employment. 

Before his election in 2016, Khanna worked in the Obama's Department of Commerce and focused on rebuilding America’s manufacturing base. In his book, Khanna argues that we must rebalance wealth and opportunity beyond the coasts to include the forgotten communities across the nation. Abandonment of these communities by government and investors has fuelled the rise of right-wing Trump authoritarianism and Khanna forcefully argues that innovative investment in rural and mid-America should be unleashed.

In a recent trip to Galesburg, Illinois, Khanna first addressed Monmouth College on the need to invest in Midwest manufacturing, and then spoke to workers laid off when the local Maytag washing machine plant moved to Mexico shortly after Whirlpool acquired the firm. With his focus on the value of “making things”, he was able to relate to both academics and workers, linking trade and tax policy to good jobs and strong communities.

In 2020, Khanna was one of four co-chairs of Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign, supporting his core message of economic and social justice, as well as his own of investing in forgotten communities. He has also been a champion of 'Our Revolution', the successor organisation to ‘Bernie 2016’, leading on critical issues from environmental to economic justice.

In Congress, Khanna chairs the environmental sub-committee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee. He has held hearings focused on fossil fuel companies and ending the special tax subsidies that encourage more exploration and drilling even as wildfires caused by global warming spread. 

He recently introduced legislation that would tax the windfall profits of oil and gas enterprises and describes the 100-year impact of “petro-states” – including Russia and Saudi Arabia – as major threats to global peace and prosperity that, notoriously, lack innovation internally and suffer a massive deficit of democracy. 

Khanna has led congressional efforts to end US support for the Saudi war against Yemen – a prime example of petro-state domination and brutality – deployed with US weaponry. He calls for a “moon shot” in renewable energy, as the way to break out of fossil fuel dependency and bring energy manufacturing opportunities to declining communities.

He also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and, from its platform, helps lead the effort in the House of Representatives to stop annual increases in the military budget and to end funding for new rounds of nuclear weapons. A long-time opponent of ‘regime change’, he argues that military spending is driving down social spending as well as encouraging military intervention and the “sale” of US weapons to authoritarian regimes.

Khanna believes that we must invest in children, wherever they live, with child care and free college. He sees wealth taxes that will fall disproportionately on billionaires in his district as a fine way to fund a better future. He supports cancelling student debt by executive action and has joined a chorus of CPC congressional Democrats demanding that Joe Biden act on this.

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

He is a core supporter of Medicare for All, co-sponsoring the legislation authored by Pramila Jayapal and Bernie Sanders. Like Jayapal, he supports interim steps that would gradually lower the eligibility age for Medicare and also supports Medicare negotiating pharmaceutical prices for the nation, cutting their costs nearly by half and matching the prices paid by other nations. These measures would rapidly pay for themselves by cutting current US  healthcare spending from its bloated 22% of GDP – way more than any other country.  

While predictably progressive, as expected from a Sanders presidential campaign co-chair, Khanna’s reach is broader. It incorporates a unique perspective on the wealth generation of the well-known tech giants based in his district, praising their innovation but demanding that they decentralise investment. He also champions an 'Internet Bill of Rights' that includes data privacy and safeguards to protect against warrantless government surveillance. In his book he develops a call for a “progressive patriotism” echoing Frederick Douglass.  

As a member of the core constituency of the CPC, leading and organising on key issues, Khanna seems secure as he runs for re-election in November. The CPC remains short of a majority of House Democrats but, as the election calendar moves forward, it already seems likely that there will be more progressive Democrats in the next Congress and that they will work to support a broad array of issues – from economic and environmental justice to criminal justice reform, curbing military spending and a new foreign policy. At the same time, they will be working with grassroots groups across the nation to generate a path for change that is practical and popular. 

The typical knee-jerk response levelled at progressives is that they are impractical, unrealistic and do not appeal to working America. No one could make these charges against Ro Khanna.  

Larry Cohen is the founding board chair of ‘Our Revolution’, the successor organisation to ‘Bernie 2016’. He was previously president of the Communications Workers of America, and has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 2005

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

Albo Declares Japanese Trip A Success After Tracking Down Rare Iggy Pop Live Album In Tokyo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 7:00am in

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared his first international trip a success after he managed to track down a rare Iggy Pop live album whilst perusing the record stores in Tokyo.

”Was such a great trip, Japan is a wonderful place, you should see all the different types of Kit Kats they have there,” said the PM. ”But, was also good to get down to brass tacks and have a chat with Boris, Joe, Narendra and Fumio.”

”Great bunch of guys, Joe was telling me about the time he saw Iggy and the Stooges in Raleigh North Carolina.”

When asked what implications the Quad gathering will have for the people of Australia, Prime Minister Albo said: ”They were very fruitful discussions that will very much benefit the country.”

”I talked trade with all leaders and fingers crossed we will start trading records relatively soon.”

”Narendra Modi in particular is a big You Am I fan so I promised to send him a few of my bootlegs that I’ve gotten over the years and who knows maybe we can appoint Timmy Rogers as a Special envoy to Mumbai.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

Biden’s Boycott of Cuba Is “A Failure at Regional Diplomacy”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/05/2022 - 2:03am in

On May 16, the Biden administration announced new measures to “increase support for the Cuban people.” They included easing travel restrictions and helping Cuban-Americans support and connect with their families. They mark a step forward but a baby step, given that most U.S. sanctions on Cuba remain in place. Also in place is a ridiculous Biden administration policy of trying to isolate Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the rest of the hemisphere by excluding them from the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in June in Los Angeles.

This is the first time since its inaugural gathering in 1994 that the event, which is held every three years, will take place on U.S. soil. But rather than bringing the Western Hemisphere together, the Biden administration seems intent on pulling it apart by threatening to exclude three nations that are certainly part of the Americas.

For months, the Biden administration has been hinting that these governments would be excluded. So far, they have not been invited to any of the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself is now less than a month away. While former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price have repeated that “no decisions” have been made, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said in an interview on Colombian TV that countries that “do not respect democracy are not going to receive invitations.”

Biden’s plan to pick and choose which countries can attend the Summit has set off regional fireworks. Unlike in the past, when the U.S. had an easier time imposing its will on Latin America, nowadays there is a fierce sense of independence, especially with a resurgence of progressive governments. Another factor is China. While the U.S. still has a major economic presence, China has surpassed the U.S. as the number one trading partner, giving Latin American countries more freedom to defy the United States or at least stake out a middle ground between the two superpowers.

The hemispheric reaction to the exclusion of three regional states is a reflection of that independence, even among small Caribbean nations. In fact, the first words of defiance came from members of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or Caricom, which threatened to boycott the Summit. Then came regional heavyweight, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, who stunned and delighted people around the continent when he announced that, if all countries were not invited, he would not attend. The presidents of Bolivia and Honduras soon followed with similar statements.

The Biden administration has put itself in a bind. Either it backs down and issues the invitations, tossing red meat to right-wing U.S. politicians like Senator Marco Rubio for being “soft on communism,” or it stands firm and risks sinking the Summit and U.S. influence in the region.

Biden’s failure at regional diplomacy is all the more inexplicable given the lesson he should have learned as vice president when Barack Obama faced a similar dilemma.

That was 2015, when, after two decades of excluding Cuba from these Summits, the countries of the region put down their collective feet and demanded that Cuba be invited. Obama had to decide whether to skip the meeting and lose influence in Latin America, or go and contend with the domestic fallout. He decided to go.

Oabam a visit to CUba

Cristobal Marquez, owner of “Cristobal’s,” the restaurant where Michelle and Barak Obama had lunch during their visit to Cuba in 2016, shows the book made by White House photographer Pete Souza, in Havana, Cuba. Ramon Espinosa | AP

I remember that Summit vividly because I was among the bevy of journalists jostling to get a front seat when President Barack Obama would be forced to greet Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, who came into power after his brother Fidel Castro stepped down. The momentous handshake, the first contact between leaders of the two countries in decades, was the high point of the summit.

Obama was not only obligated to shake Castro’s hand, he also had to listen to a long history lesson. Raúl Castro’s speech was a no-holds-barred recounting of past U.S. attacks on Cuba—including the 1901 Platt Amendment that made Cuba a virtual U.S. protectorate, U.S. support for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the scandalous U.S. prison in Guantanamo. But Castro was also gracious to President Obama, saying he was not to blame for this legacy and calling him an “honest man” of humble origins.

The meeting marked a new era between the U.S. and Cuba, as the two nations began to normalize relations. It was a win-win, with more trade, more cultural exchanges, more resources for the Cuban people, and fewer Cubans migrating to the United States. The handshake led to an actual visit by Obama to Havana, a trip so memorable that it still brings big smiles to the faces of Cubans on the island.

Then came Donald Trump, who skipped the next Summit of the Americas and imposed draconian new sanctions that left the Cuban economy in tatters, especially once COVID hit and dried up the tourist industry.

Until recently, Biden has been following Trump’s slash-and-burn policies that have led to tremendous shortages and a new migration crisis, instead of reverting to Obama’s win-win policy of engagement. The May 16 measures to expand flights to Cuba and resume family reunifications are helpful, but not enough to mark a real change in policy—especially if Biden insists on making the Summit a “limited-invite only.”

Biden needs to move quickly. He should invite all the nations of the Americas to the Summit. He should shake the hands of every head of state and, more importantly, engage in serious discussions on burning hemispheric issues such as the brutal economic recession caused by the pandemic, climate change that is affecting food supplies, and the terrifying gun violence–all of which are fueling the migration crisis. Otherwise, Biden’s #RoadtotheSummit, which is the Summit’s Twitter handle, will only lead to a dead end.

Feature photo | President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 17, 2022. Gemunu Amarasinghe | AP

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK. She is the author of ten books, including three books on Cuba—No Free Lunch: Food and Revolution in Cuba, The Greening of the Revolution, and Talking About Revolution. She is a member of the Steering Committee of ACERE (Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect).

The post Biden’s Boycott of Cuba Is “A Failure at Regional Diplomacy” appeared first on MintPress News.

Pages