March 5, 2019

Crisis: Nuclear Arms & Saudi Arabia, End "Forever Wars", On Israel, Bernie & the DNC, On Trump

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 5, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

. Selections from March 5, 2019:
1. Giving the Bomb to Saudi Arabia’s Dr. Strangelove
2. U.S. Lawmakers Sign Pledge to End America’s “Forever Wars”

3. It Is Time to Indict Israel

4. The Biggest Obstacle for Bernie Isn't the DNC

5. Trump is not stable — and that should be a huge news story
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Giving the Bomb to Saudi Arabia’s Dr. Strangelove

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The most dangerous foreign policy decision of the Trump administration—and I know this is saying a lot—is its decision to share sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia and authorize U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country. I spent seven years in the Middle East. I covered the despotic, repressive kingdom as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. And I, along with most Arabists in the United States, have little doubt that giving a nuclear capability to Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the ruthless and amoral Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would see it embark on a nuclear weapons program and eventually share weaponized technology with Saudi allies and proxies that include an array of radical jihadists and mortal enemies of America. A nuclearized Saudi Arabia is a grave existential threat to the Middle East and ultimately the United States.

Yes, I agree. Here is more:

The Saudi government, which is soliciting bids for the nuclear reactors, reportedly spent more than $450,000 over a one-month period to lobby the Trump administration to approve its purchase of the equipment and services from U.S. sources. Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies are preparing to construct the facilities, which would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium. The secretive effort to give Saudi Arabia a nuclear capability is not only colossally stupid, but has been done without being reviewed by Congress, as required by law, and violates the Atomic Energy Act.

I agree again, and remark parenthetically that - to the best of my fairly extensive knowledge - the USA is since 2001 has been involved in more than seven wars, none of which was approved by Congress (except in 2001, in a very broad statement).

There is this on Salman:

Salman, whose psychopathic traits remind me of Saddam Hussein, is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. He has imprisoned dissidents, brutally ousted rivals, seized over $100 billion in extortion money from kidnapped and tortured members of the royal family and instilled a level of fear and terror inside the kingdom, always a repressive society, unrivaled in its modern history.

Well, in fact I do not know, but I trust Chris Hedges. There is rather a lot more that I skip.
Here is the ending of this article:

There is little time left to halt the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Iran, a mortal enemy of Saudi Arabia, will have no choice but to begin a nuclear weapons program if the Saudis build nuclear reactors. The thought of nuclear weapons being in the hands of Salman, an updated version of Saddam Hussein, and ultimately in the hands of nonstate radical jihadists who are supported and funded by powerful elements within Saudi Arabia, is terrifying.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article. Incidentally, here is more on the wars that the USA has been conducting since 2001:

2. U.S. Lawmakers Sign Pledge to End America’s “Forever Wars”

This article is by Alex Emmons and Ryan Grim on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Eight members of Congress have taken a pledge to work to bring ongoing U.S. global military conflicts to a “responsible and expedient” end, the result of a first-of-its kind lobbying effort by military veterans on Capitol Hill.

The pledge was written and organized by a group called Common Defense, made up of veterans and military families, which advocates for scaling back U.S. military commitments overseas. Common Defense boasts of more than 20,000 veteran members in all 50 states, and it threw its endorsement behind almost 30 candidates in the last midterm election cycle.

I say, which I do because I did not know anything about Common Defense. The last link is to its website, but I could not rapidly find more about it.

Here is more from the article:

All of the signatories so far are members of the Democratic caucus, and most of them are associated with the left wing of the party: Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren; Omar and other freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna, and Rashida Tlaib; and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan. Common Defense is also courting more moderate lawmakers, particularly those in swing districts and Democrats.

I like the signatories, and agree with Common Defense. Here is some more:

The progressive insurgents in Congress have built name recognition around domestic policy ideas like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. By lobbying members to sign the pledge, organizers for Common Defense are hoping to make U.S. military commitments a part of that conversation. The pledge by Sanders and Warren, who’ve previously been outspoken against endless U.S. military interventions, could have an impact on the 2020 Democratic primary.

Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The pledge leaves room for that conversation, with the use of the word “responsible” to describe the global pullback from combat operations that began after the September 11, 2001, attacks. In 2001, Congress authorized military operations against the groups responsible for those attacks. In the years since, that congressional authorization has been interpreted broadly and has led to combat against groups, like the Islamic State, that did not exist on 9/11.

“The United States has been in a state of continuous, global, open-ended military conflict since 2001. Over 2.5 million troops have fought in this ‘Forever War’ in over a dozen countries – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Somalia, and Thailand,” the pledge reads.

It continues: “I pledge to the people of the United States of America, and to our military community in particular, that I will (1) fight to reclaim Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of U.S. foreign policy and independently debate whether to authorize each new use of military force, and (2) act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion.”

I completely agree, and I add that in my opinion fighting against Islamic State "that did not exist on 9/11" by American troops should be illegal according to the USA's own laws. And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. It Is Time to Indict Israel

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians since weekly Great March of Return demonstrations began in Gaza nearly a year ago targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. That’s according to a new United Nations inquiry that found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report was released by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday. We speak with Norman Finkelstein, scholar and author of “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom,” and Sara Hossain, a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation.

Yes indeed, and I like Norman Finkelstein, and this was a link to more information about him.

Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the acting Israeli foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, responding to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s report.

YISRAEL KATZ: [translated] This report is another chapter in the theater of the absurd produced occasionally by the United Nations Human Rights Council, another hostile, mendacious and slanted report against the state of Israel. It’s a report based on distorted information, in which the facts were not at all checked, whose only purpose is to slander the only democracy in the Middle East and harm our right to self-defense in the face of the terrorism of a murderous organization. The state of Israel outright rejects this report.

AMY GOODMAN: Norm Finkelstein, the significance of Israel saying it rejects the report?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, Israel has always rejected the reports, whether they come from the United Nations or, more often than not, they come from reputable human rights organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch or the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. So it’s not as if—to use the words of the person you just had on, it’s not as if it’s a typically mendacious U.N. report. It’s a report that falls in line with the findings of every reputable human rights organization.

I think all of this is correct. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: What most struck you about this report?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What most struck me about the report was it was remarkably honest. It was very forthright in its conclusions. And it didn’t fake this kind of balance, which most human rights organizations, even reputable ones, attempt between Israel and the United States. So, just to take a couple of examples, it forthrightly stated that Israel targets intentionally children during these demonstrations. It targets reporters. It targets medical personnel. And that’s unusual.

I take it this is also true. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

AMY GOODMAN: This report comes out as the attorney general of Israel says he’s going to indict the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The significance of this?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the Israelis ignore the reports. So, in that context, it’s not significant. However, there is a critical significance. Namely, the International Criminal Court has had now two cases referred to it on the situation among the Palestinians.
And the fact of the matter is, if Netanyahu is out, Gantz will probably be the prime minister, and he will be up for indictment by the International Criminal Court. The chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is desperately trying not to investigate Israeli war crimes. But within the International Criminal Court, there has been an unprecedented pushback. There are large numbers of members—large numbers of members of the ICC who say it’s time to indict Israel. And the pressure—because of this report, the pressure on Bensouda, chief prosecutor Bensouda, is going to be enormous. It’s time to indict Israel (..)

I think I agree and this is a recommended article.

4. The Biggest Obstacle for Bernie Isn't the DNC

This article is by Norman Solomon on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Some people are attached to the idea that the Democratic National Committee will “rig” the presidential nomination against Bernie Sanders. The meme encourages the belief that the Bernie 2020 campaign is futile because of powerful corporate Democrats. But such fatalism should be discarded.

As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Of course top Democratic Party officials don’t intend to give up control. It has to be taken from them. And the conditions for doing that are now more favorable than ever.

I say, which I do this time because the above seems slanted in at least two points:

The first is the quotation of "rig", which suggests that some people who believe that the Democratic National Committee will try to rig the presidential nomination of Bernie Sanders (and I am one of them) do not even know what they are saying themselves.

The second point is that I am strongly in favor of Bernie's 2020 campaign, indeed whether or not there are "
powerful corporate Democrats" (and there are).

I more or less agree with the rest, but I don't like slanted arguments. Here is some more:

“I think I will not shock anybody to suggest that the DNC was not quite evenhanded” during the 2016 race, Bernie said last week on CNN. “I think we have come a long way since then, and I fully expect to be treated quite as well as anybody else.”

One big factor: This time, no candidate can gain frontrunner leverage with superdelegates the way Hillary Clinton did early in the race. Last August, under grassroots pressure, the DNC voted to abolish superdelegates’ votes at the Democratic National Convention for the first ballot of the nominating process. There hasn’t been a second ballot since 1952.

This is all correct, to the best of my knowledge, and yes: This is better than 2016.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

While ill-founded, the line that “the DNC will rig 2020” is apt to have perverse impacts. No doubt sincerely believed by some, the outdated notion serves to demoralize and de-energize.

Is the Bernie 2020 campaign facing a steep uphill climb? Of course it is. Are powerful forces arrayed to crush it? Absolutely.

But let’s be clear. The huge obstacle ahead is not the DNC—it’s the mass media. The corporate-owned and corporate-advertiser-funded media of this country are the biggest barriers between Bernie Sanders and the Oval Office.

No, I am sorry:

The first paragraph is again slanted and indeed in a totalitarian way: While the thesis that
“the DNC will rig 2020” (which is formulated too vaguely, but let that rest) is definitely factually true or false, and was true in 2016, it is asserted that believing it may or will have "perverse impacts" and "serves to demoralize and de-energize": That is plain totalitarian crap that suggests you may not believe something is factually true because if it were this would have "perverse impacts" and "serves to demoralize and de-energize".

And that is - to my mind, at least - bullshit: I believe that it (still) is more probable than not that a considerable part of the DNC will try to "rig 2020", precisely because they did so successfully in 2016; I do not know I am correct, nor does Solomon know he is correct; and it is baloney to try to influence my personal factual judgements by asserted "perverse impacts" etc.

Also, I disagree with the third paragraph: I think there are at least two obstacles ahead that will try not to nominate Sanders as the presidential candidate for the Democrats, and these are considerable numbers of leading Democrats and the mass media.

I do not think this article was honestly argued, and will not recommend it.

5. Trump is not stable — and that should be a huge news story

This article is by Eric Boehlert on AlterNet and originally on Daily Kos. It starts as follows:

If over the weekend you saw a rambling madman give a frighteningly incoherent, sweaty, two-hour shoutfest of a speech at a right-wing summit, then you viewed a president coming unglued on national television in a way that has probably never been seen before in United States history. And that is extraordinary cause for alarm.

But if, instead, you saw nothing more than a “fiery” Donald Trump give a “zigzagging,” “wide-ranging,” “campaign-like” address where the Republican really “let loose,” then you likely work for the D.C. press, which once again swung and missed when it came to detailing the escalating threat that Trump represents to the country.

Specifically, newsrooms today nearly uniformly refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump is a deeply unstable man (...)

As usual, I have not watched the speech by Trump, as I almost never watch speeches by politicians, especially not if they are two hours long or longer. But while I might disagree a bit with Boehlert if I were to see it, I am a psychologist who now thinks since three years that Trump is mad (see the link if you didn't: it is OK and clear), and I certainly agree more with Boehlert than with the mainstream media he also quotes.

Here is more on Trump's recent speech:

That wasn’t just some “long-winded” or “rambling” speech. That was pure insanity, and the fact that a sitting president unleashed such a bizarre performance, punctuated by so many incomprehensible nonsequiturs, means his stability and capacity ought to be questioned—and it ought to be a pressing news story.

Don’t just take my word for it. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star, who has spent more time than most listening to Trump speeches and meticulously detailing his relentless lies, confidently declared that the CPAC address was the most bizarre of Trump’s presidency (..)

I haven't seen it (and very probably never will), but I think Boehlert and Dale are very probably more correct than the mainstream media.

Here is some more:

Luckily, some journalists are addressing the key issues. Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hassan recently hosted a podcast titled “Why Won’t the Media Discuss Trump’s Mental Instability?” And following one of Trump’s signature Rose Garden performance art routines, Esquire’s Charles Pierce stressed, “If your uncle behaved like the president behaved on Friday, you’d hide his car-keys, lock up the booze, and drive him to the neurologist.”

But why the larger hesitation among the press? Why the lack of necessary truth-telling? It’s the same reason lots of large news organization, to this day, won’t call Trump a liar, even though he’s on pace to tell more than 16,000 lies while in office. Logically, the “liar” ban makes no sense. It’s only until you realize it’s in place for political reasons that you see why it’s done.

I mostly agree, although there is at least one additional reason - apart from "politics" - why the mainstream media do not wish to discuss Trump's (in)sanity: In fact, there are very few journalists who studied psychology (or psychiatry), and there also are not many people who know a lot about psychology, while the thesis that Trump is mad or at least that he may be mad is both frightening to many and - because they lack psychological knowledge - also difficult to judge.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

 “We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States,” reads a petition signed by 70,000 mental health professionals.

When it comes to absent coverage of Trump’s mental stability, I’m not suggesting it needs to be clinically based. But when the president of the United States gives a nearly incomprehensible, two-hour, flag-hugging performance, the press cannot and should not look away and pretend that Trump’s behavior even remotely approaches what passes for normal in American politics, let alone for an occupant of the Oval Office.

The president is not well. And that’s a helluva news story.

Yes indeed: I quite agree. Also, while I knew tenthousands of psychologist signed the petition quoted above, I did not know they number 70,000 now. And this is a strongly recommended article.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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