Nel's New Day

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

October 17, 2019

DDT: Kurds Need to be ‘Cleaned Out’

Eleven days after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blew up the Middle East by pulling 50 U.S. service members helping Kurds in northern Syria, he declares victory by allowing Turkey to take over northern Syria and drive the Kurds, U.S. allies, from their land (green area). In the “agreement,” the U.S. will help Turkey fight “terrorists” (the term that Turkey uses for all Kurds) and protect the “safe zone” (the Kurdish land).

Because of DDT’s telephone call with Turkey, hundreds of ISIS supporters, including many leaders, have escaped from camps where the Kurds were keeping them, and U.S. troops were attacked by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally of the U.S.

The end result for the United States is that ISIS now has a place to rebuild its forces, the world knows that the U.S. is unreliable, and DDT supported another autocrat. The U.S. even bombed its own base in an attempt to avoid embarrassment about its disorganized pullout. Europeans also further separate themselves from the United States. 

Tonight, DDT stayed indifferent to the plight of a former U.S. ally by saying that the area earlier occupied by Kurds has been “cleaned out,” a term for genocide. About the conflict that he generated, DDT said, “Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.” In this case, the “fight” displaced over 100,000 Kurds, causing them to lose their homes and killing many of them, while permitting Turkey to annex part of Syria. 

Turkey got everything it wanted, and DDT gave Vladimir Putin another favor. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.” Brett McGurk, former civilian head of the administration’s U.S.-led counter-IS campaign, wrote that the deal was a gift to the Turks “with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground” and “non-implementable.”

VP Mike Pence and State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo brokered the deal that gave away Syrian land to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was far more clear about the strategy, saying that the only reason for the 120-hour hiatus was to allow Kurds to flee their homes. The U.S. has no way to monitor the agreement, and ISIS will have the land to build their forces.

Every day since DDT’s call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a disaster as he moved between surprise and disaster. His October 6 proclamation showed that he knew Turkey would attack the Kurds. Twelve hours later he threatened Turkey and then said that any conflict was not his problem. Three days later he wrote Erogan a letter that looks like a joke from beginning: 

“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people ….”

To his conclusion: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” 

After nine days, he doubled tariffs on steel, increasing the percentage to the same as last May which had caused imports to sharply fall by 76 percent. He also lied about putting tariffs on the $100 billion in trade: reality is closer to $24 billion. DDT imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense and energy ministries, as well as some high-profile Turkish officials. With these ineffectual measures, a bipartisan congressional coalition considered targeting Erdogan’s U.S. assets and suspending U.S. military support. For months, senators worked on bipartisan sanctions required by law to punish Turkey’s purchase of an advanced Russian antimissile system.

ISIS has reason to thank DDT: U.S. air surveillance turned from them to U.S. troops in an attempt to protect them from attacks by Turkey. Earlier this week, DDT tweeted:

“After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….”

As usual, DDT lied. The caliphate is not defeated, and DDT didn’t single-handedly win any victories.

Iran also benefits from DDT’s laissez faire toward the crisis. Monday, he tweeted indifference about the conflict because we are 7,000 miles away!” Russia moved into the vacuum that DDT left in northern Syria into a military outpost that the U.S. abandoned, and Vladimir Putman may be replacing DDT in Saudi Arabia, as indicated by Putin’s meeting with King Salman. China, alienated by DDT’s trade war, has reached out to Russia, and India is being folded into their partnership. Russia and China have joined in military exercises for joint power, and they work together in energy and aerospace. India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, has said for two years that his country needs a relationship of “stability,” which doesn’t represent the United States. Together China, Russia, and India comprise over 36 percent of the world’s population; the United States has under 5 percent.

DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also taken a part in Turkey in Erdogan’s desired attempted extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, hoping to send Gulen back to his death in Turkey. Living in exile for the past 20 years in Pennsylvania, Gulen is blamed for plotting the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan but denied any involvement in the plot. White House aides worried that Giuliani is working on behalf of the Turkish government. DDT frequently questioned officials about why Gulen shouldn’t be turned over to “my friend” Erdogan although officials explained that the extradition was illegal and would politically damage DDT. Giuliani’s aggressive work at Gulen’s extradition began after Michael Flynn, in prison for lying about his paid work for Turkey, lobbied DDT for the same purpose. Giuliani was also behind the attempt to stop prosecution of a Turkish Iranian man for money laundering which could violate lobbying laws.  

Advisers had told DDT that not doing anything about the Kurdish issue is costly, the lack of U.S. presence in the region strengthens Iran, and he will be politically damaged by the deteriorating situation. Another problem with Turkey is that the U.S. has stored as many as 50 nuclear weapons in the country at Incirlik, public knowledge because DDT frequently discloses sensitive information. On Wednesday, he appeared to confirm information about the weapons’ location which the U.S. attempts to hide. DDT claimed the weapons were safe because “we have a great air base there—a very powerful air base.” According to Vipin Narang, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Incirlik is Turkey’s air base.”

DDT has caused deaths in the United States with his endorsement of violence. Now he tacitly grants Turkey the right to kill Kurds. In the humanitarian disaster of the Turkish invasion, at least 100,000 Kurds have been displaced. Last weekend, Turkish-backed military executed Kurds, including a women human-rights activist. In 2018, when DDT was resistant to U.S. troops in Syria, the Pentagon and State Department persuaded Kurds not to plan for a U.S. departure. Without this betrayal, Kurds could have eased out of the relationship and moved on to a partnership with Syria and Russia. Instead, they were forced into a crisis.

Once again, DDT demonstrated his indifference to human life when he said yesterday that the Kurds would be fine because they “know how to fight.” He added, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” In a meeting with congressional leaders, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “third-grade politician” and referred to former Defense Secretary James Mattis the “world’s most overrated general” after the House bipartisan resolution criticizing DDT’s pulling troops out of northern Syria. The vote was 354 to 60 with three Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voting present. Although the GOP leadership were among the 129 Republican supporting the resolution, opposition came from the leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Tom Reed (R-NY), and VP Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence (R-IN).  

In his delusion, DDT claimed that he himself “captured” the Islamic State after accusing Mattis not being “tough enough.” He falsely declared that U.S. soldiers “are totally safe” although they were “bracketed” by artillery fire by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally, and may need to be airlifted away from Turkish attacks. DDT pulled out military forces with no contingency plan, no idea of how to rescue the troops under attack.

DDT briefly broke up his beautiful friendship sometime sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said that DDT “will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back, and if any American is killed anywhere because a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on the Trump administration like it did Obama.” Like other tiffs between DDT and Graham, the senator will likely back off: he thinks he needs DDT to get reelected next year. 

The goal of Republicans now is to convince their base, including the evangelicals, that killing the Kurds is a good idea.

 

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