TRUMP HELPING TO ENABLE FAMINE THAT THREATENS LIVES OF MILLIONS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-trump-is-enabling-famine/2017/08/20/f687dda2-835d-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.69ae0886ac93

Jackson Diehl writes in the Washington Post:

“That’s where the real responsibility of President Trump lies, too. His pathological need to focus attention on himself has created the vortex into which public discourse on vital issues such as this disappears. But his larger offense has been his love affair with the despotic regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are largely responsible for creating — and perpetuating — the food and cholera crises in Yemen.

The problem is this: About 90 percent of food and medicine for Yemenis is imported through a seaport, Hodeida, which is controlled by Yemeni rebels against whom the Saudis and their allies have unsuccessfully waged war for the past 2½ years. In the name of enforcing an arms embargo, the Saudis have blockaded Hodeida from the sea and also forced the closure of the international airport in the capital, Sanaa. Ships carrying food and approved by the U.N. are supposed to be allowed to dock, but in practice are often held up by the Saudis.

The result, says Joel Charny of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, is that the Yemen crisis “is not about aid or aid dollars.” It’s about the blockade — and the Trump administration is complicit. It is backing the Saudi war effort with intelligence and military supplies and, says Charny, “failing to pressure the Saudis to do basic things that would remediate the situation.”

 

Two weeks ago, the U.N. Security Council finally took action on this problem, unanimously adopting a statement calling on “all parties” to “facilitate access for essential imports of food.” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley issued her own broadside, saying that “we must hold governments and armed groups blocking access accountable.” Unfortunately, as Charny puts it, “that is not actually U.S. policy, if you look objectively at what is going on.” In fact, Trump is, in more ways than one, enabling famine.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Just another day at the office for a President who lacks compassion and can’t take responsibility for the consequences.

PWS

08-20-17

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA’S GREATNESS CONTINUES –TILLERSON DECONSTRUCTS CENTURIES OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/29/how-rex-tillerson-destroying-state-department-215319

Max Bergmann writes in Politico:

“The deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.

I recently returned to Foggy Bottom for the first time since January 20 to attend the departure of a former colleague and career midlevel official—something that had sadly become routine. In my six years at State as a political appointee, under the Obama administration, I had gone to countless of these events. They usually followed a similar pattern: slightly awkward, but endearing formalities, a sense of melancholy at the loss of a valued teammate. But, in the end, a rather jovial celebration of a colleague’s work. These events usually petered out quickly, since there is work to do. At the State Department, the unspoken mantra is: The mission goes on, and no one is irreplaceable. But this event did not follow that pattern. It felt more like a funeral, not for the departing colleague, but for the dying organization they were leaving behind.

As I made the rounds and spoke with usually buttoned-up career officials, some who I knew well, some who I didn’t, from a cross section of offices covering various regions and functions, no one held back. To a person, I heard that the State Department was in “chaos,” “a disaster,” “terrible,” the leadership “totally incompetent.” This reflected what I had been hearing the past few months from friends still inside the department, but hearing it in rapid fire made my stomach churn. As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire. And now Bloomberg reports that Tillerson is blocking all lateral transfers within the department, preventing staffers from moving to another office even if it has an opening. Managers can’t fill openings; employees feel trapped.

Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? Who do you send to international meetings and summits? Maybe, my former colleagues are discovering, you just can’t implement that program or show up to that meeting. Tillerson’s actions amount to a geostrategic own-goal, weakening America by preventing America from showing up.

State’s growing policy irrelevance and Tillerson’s total aversion to the experts in his midst is prompting the department’s rising stars to search for the exits. The private sector and the Pentagon are vacuuming them up. This is inflicting long-term damage to the viability of the American diplomacy—and things were already tough. State has been operating under an austerity budget for the past six years since the 2011 Budget Control Act. Therefore, when Tillerson cuts, he is largely cutting into bone, not fat. The next administration won’t simply be able to flip a switch and reverse the damage. It takes years to recruit and develop diplomatic talent. What Vietnam did to hollow out our military, Tillerson is doing to State.”

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While Trump and his cronies fabricate security threats from refugees, Muslims, and immigrants (and, I guess we can now add “grandparents” to that list), the greatest threat to our national security is the Trump Administration itself and its toxic mix of arrogance, incompetence, ignorance, and disdain for America and all it has stood for.

PWS

06-25-17

SYRIAN REFUGEE HYPOCRISY: I’m Not The Only One To Notice The Moral Disconnect In Shooting Missiles While Ignoring The Plight Of Millions Of Vulnerable Syrian Civilian Refugees, Many Children!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-syria-humanitarian-refugees_us_58e6fd6ee4b051b9a9da3d6e

Akbar Shahid Ahmed writes in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― As President Donald Trump on Thursday night announced a military strike on Syria because of his deep concern for “beautiful babies” and other civilians killed in a chemical weapons attack this week, two legal battles continued over his efforts to keep Syrian children and their families out of the United States.

The president’s first ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries is being litigated in a federal court in Seattle. His second attempted Muslim ban remains blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii, with an appeals court scheduled to hear the case in May.

Both executive orders halted the entry of refugees, and targeted Syrians in particular. The language of the orders echoed Trump’s campaign talk about the humanitarian crisis facing more than 20 million people from that country. In September, the then-candidate said denying U.S. entry to Syrian refugees is “a matter of terrorism” and “a matter of quality of life.”

Since his inauguration, Trump has repeatedly spread lies about refugee-related problems in Sweden. And his administration has tried to mislead the public on the number of refugees being investigated on terror charges. The Washington Post rated Trump’s talking point on the issue “highly misleading” last month.

After a U.S. intelligence analysis suggested that Syrian President Bashar Assad used the banned chemical weapon sarin in an attack on an opposition-held village on Tuesday, Trump spoke multiple times about children and other civilians who were affected.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack,” Trump said after launching the strike Thursday night. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

The White House confirmed after the attack that Trump has not altered his position on refugees. National Security Adviser James McMaster said the refugee issue “wasn’t discussed as any part of the deliberations” for the strikes, according to a White House pool report.

The hypocrisy did not go unnoticed.

. . . .

“More than 11 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, when Assad attacked peaceful protests against his family’s decades-long rule.

“In many cases, children caught up in this crisis have fared the worst, losing family members or friends to the violence, suffering physical and psychological trauma, or falling behind in school,” the nonprofit World Vision wrote in a post on March 15, the sixth anniversary of the civil war. “Children affected by the Syrian refugee crisis are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited.”

Trump’s strike in itself is unlikely to have any serious impact on civilian suffering. A one-off U.S. show of force may help the president and his team feel they’re taken action. But the Assad regime’s assault on Syria’s people will likely continue, perhaps after some small break.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested this would be the case Thursday night, telling reporters not to expect a change in U.S. policy toward directly trying to force Assad out.

“If Trump just wants Assad to stop using [chemical weapons] but does nothing about sieges, torture & mass executions, then Assad will likely say ‘deal,’” Kristyan Benedict, campaigns manager for Amnesty International UK, tweeted. “Stopping Assad’s chemical attacks has value for sure but [chemical weapons] are just one tool the regime use to terrorize civilians & maintain their power.”

The hypocrisy also was noted in  a NY Times Op-Ed by Anthony J. Blinken on the need for an effective diplomatic follow-up to the military response:

“Here at home, Mr. Trump must speak directly to the American people about the country’s mission and its objectives, thoroughly brief Congress and seek its support, and make clear the legal basis for United States actions. And while he’s at it, he should reopen the door he has tried to slam shut on Syrian refugees. The president’s human reaction to the suffering of those gassed by the Assad regime should extend to all the victims of Syria’s civil war, including those fleeing its violence.”

Read Blinken’s entire op-ed here: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/opinion/after-the-missiles-we-need-smart-diplomacy.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170407&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0&referer=

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Sorry, but I wouldn’t expect any real humanitarian or moral leadership out of this Administration. It’s really all about muscle, authority, acting tough, showing up the Obama Administration, throwing bones to the military, and shoring up shaky support among GOP hawks in Congress who have been itching to start another un-winnable war in the Middle East for years. Oh yeah, and it changed the subject from the Russia investigation, internal war in the West Wing, failed health care, and more attacks by this Administration on America’s environment, health, safety, privacy, and civil rights.

I also wouldn’t let new NSC head Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster off the hook here. Yes, he did America and the world a huge service by getting alt-right nationalist Steve Bannon off the NSC and perhaps shaking his standing in the West Wing. And, he undoubtedly brings a much needed voice of military and national security expertise to the table. The idea of Gen. Mike Flynn, a proven liar and flake, and Bannon being given any part in America’s national security apparatus is scary beyond belief.

But, McMaster’s failure to “connect the dots” between military policy and the intertwined ongoing civilian humanitarian refugee crisis in Syria is simply inexcusable. And, by publicly turning our back on Syrian refugees we actually signal that our talk of humanitarian concerns in Syria is merely a “smokescreen.”

We have, and will continue to, show little concern for the real human victims of the Syrian war. This signals to both Assad and Russia that our only real interest is maintaining politically visible “red lines.” As long as Assad sticks to “conventional means” of murdering, maiming, terrorizing and displacing Syrian civilians we will continue to turn our back on the suffering of refugees.

Both knowledge of and actual hands on field work in the area of refugees and humanitarian relief should be a job requirement for any military officer promoted to the rank of General or its equivalent in other branches of service. War, at the end of the day, is about only one thing: people. And, there is no such thing as a war that doesn’t produce both civilian deaths and refugees.

PWS

04-07-17

 

 

 

SYRIA/HUMAN RIGHTS: Firing Missiles To Solve A Humanitarian Crisis, While Ignoring The Plight Of Syrian Refugees Makes Little Sense — But It Does Serve To Undermine U.S. Moral Leadership — By Turning His Back On Syrians Who Could Be Saved, Trump Made The Situation Worse!

President Trump’s suddenly discovered moral outrage over the gassing of Syrian civilians and his hasty resort to military force seems odd in light of his studied indifference, and even demonization, of millions of desperate Syrian refugees in need of resettlement in America and the West. Pelting Syria with missiles is likely to kill some innocent civilians as well as Assad supporters and Russians. But, helping Syrians in need who actually managed to flee the country would be a sure-fire way of saving the lives of civilians, many of them women and children, enriching United States, taking pressure off our allies in the region with overflowing refugee camps, and showing some moral leadership to other Western nations who are wavering in their humanitarian commitments.

Here’s a clip from HuffPost showing how UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, notwithstanding her pictures of gassed Syrian kids, had no answer for why the U.S. is failing to fulfill its humanitarian responsibility to take a fair share of Syrian refugees.

HuffPost reports:

“Earlier on Wednesday, Haley gave a fierce speech at the United Nations condemning the Syrian regime and its Russian ally.

“How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” Hayley asked at the meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Despite Hayley’s comments, it’s unclear what response the U.S. is considering in the wake of the attack. Trump said during a joint press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday that Tuesday’s attack had changed his attitude toward the Assad regime and the country’s ongoing civil war. Just last week, the Trump administration had signaled it would no longer push for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s removal.

But neither Hayley nor Trump addressed whether Tuesday’s atrocity changed anything toward the president’s stance on Syrian refugees. Though there are already stringent requirements for refugees to enter the U.S., Trump repeatedly said during the presidential campaign that he considered Syrian refugees a terrorist threat.

After taking office in January, Trump signed an executive order on immigration that blocked admission to the U.S. for all refugees for 120 days and for Syrian refugees indefinitely, while also cutting the goal for refugee admissions this fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000. The ban was later struck down in court. The implementation of a revised version of the executive order, which didn’t single out Syrian refugees but still blocked admission of all refugees for 120 days and decreased the total number of refugees to be admitted, was also halted in court.

At one point during Haley’s exchange with Van Susteren, a woman sitting in the mezzanine yelled out: “What about refugees?”

Haley went silent. Van Susteren paused, and then said, “Moving on.” The subject of refugees did not come up again.

. . . .

Haley’s talk came directly after a panel on the weaponization of medical care in Syria, in which two doctors asked those in the audience to start caring about Syrian doctors, civilians and refugees.”

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The sad fact is that the dead children in Syria are dead. Neither missiles nor recriminations about failed Obama Administration policies will bring them back to life. But, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of still alive Syrian kids in refugee camps whose lives can be saved and who need our help. Sooner, rather than later.

PWS

04-06-17