Nel's New Day

January 6, 2020

The U.S. Stands Alone

A bully always expects an adversary to back down—the philosophy of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his mistaken belief that running a government is the same as running a business. He ordered the assassination Iran’s military leader, Qassem Soliemani, on Iraqi soil to show that he is the boss, but events prove him wrong.

Two days after Soliemani’s murder, the Iraqi Parliament voted by 170-0 to rid itself of U.S. troops by 170-0, primarily Shiites, with many of the 328 Parliament members, mostly ethnic Kurdish and Sunni Muslim minorities, absent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent Sunday on the “news” shows explaining that Iraq certainly didn’t want the U.S. to pull its troops.

Since its expulsion vote, the Iraqi Parliament determined that U.S. troops cannot leave their bases or fly in Iraqi airspace while plans are being made for their departure, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The U.S. sent a letter to Iraq giving information about moving troops out of Iraq, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley explained that sending it was an accident because it was a draft, poorly worded and “that’s not what’s happening.” DDT said that he wanted the letter “cleaned up.” Someone in the Iraqi military provided Information about the contents of the letter. DDT also threatens sanctions on Iraq if it expels U.S. troops and demands reimbursement for costs for keeping a military presence in the country, especially the “extraordinarily expensive air base [that] cost billions of dollars to build.”

During his appearances on TV, Pompeo kept assuring people that there was no danger but asked about retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Pompeo flippantly responded, “It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim.”  The Pentagon has sent six B-52 bombers to the Indian Ocean for use against Iran. DHS has also warned businesses to take precautions about possible cyberattacks. Computer experts also cautioned about Iran targeting such infrastructure as energy grids and financial institutions.  

Pompeo, supposedly in charge of diplomacy instead of violence, persuaded DDT to kill Soliemani against the advice of the Pentagon after a ten-year fixation to attack Iran. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Pompeo’s classmate at the U.S. Military Academy, and VP Mike Pence reinforced Pompeo’s recommendation. Esper ignored the traditional decision-making process when he failed to discuss plans with senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing. Pompeo had expected European allies to cheer his decision but discovered that they are giving him the cold shoulder.

DDT usually gets rid of people who don’t make him look good, but Pompeo thinks that he can stay, deciding that he won’t run for U.S. Senator from Kansas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had wanted Pompeo to be a candidate because he was considered a shoo-in. Kansas, known in the past as solid red, elected a Democratic woman governor in the last election because her predecessor ruined the state with his draconian tax cuts.

Brand new at his job, Esper has lost more experienced support when his chief of staff Eric Chewning, a former Army intelligence officer, quit. Esper had already not told senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing, ignoring the usual decision-making process. Chewning departure followed those of six other senior Pentagon officials in December.  Chewning’s replacement is Jen Stewart, minority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee. 

On March 16, 2003, Bush’s VP Dick Cheney said, “From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” For almost 14 years since George W. Bush set into motion the killing of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his male relatives, Iraqi life has worsened, and ISIS built a powerful organization that threatens the world. The U.S. put Shiites into power, and they developed a coalition with Iran. Bush’s VP Dick Cheney’s prediction that Iraqis would rejoice over the regime change and Bush’s early claim of “Mission Accomplished” have both proved to be wrong.

On January 3, 2020, Pompeo said, “I know that the Iraqi people will ultimately demand that the Iranians get out.” That and his claim that Iraqis would be “dancing in the street” after Soleimani’s death was as false as W.’s and Cheney’s statements. Instead Iraqis turned out in tens of thousands to mourn the Iranian’s killing.

In the past few months, the Iraqi government and militias, supported either by Iran or the U.S., have killed hundreds of unarmed protesters and injured thousands of them, mostly led by young men who came to age after Bush’s 2003 preemptive war who want to end foreign interventions. The U.S. escalated the military conflict by blaming Iran, and Iran blamed the U.S. as Iraqi militias attacked U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times within the last week of 2019. One U.S. military contractor was killed, and U.S. bombs killed 24 Iraqis and injuring another 50. After the Iraqi militia protested at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad (Iraq), the U.S. killed eight people at the Baghdad airport including Soleimani and the leader of the Iraqi militia.

Even Iraqis who oppose Soleimani are opposed to U.S. occupation in their country because they see DDT, like Soleimani, a villain because they don’t want foreigners to control their country—either the U.S. or Iran. That belief led to their vote “to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

U.S. interference in Iran goes back over a half century. In 1953, the U.S. ousted democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh because the oil industry was taken from Western petroleum companies. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, it obtained intelligence from Soleimani about fighting the Taliban, but the U.S. lost this source when W. Bush, through his VP’s direction, listed Iran as one of his “Axis of Evil.” Soleimani, however, continued to be a major influence in Iraq in opposition to the U.S. DDT continued to eliminate any diplomacy with Iran when he imposed sanctions on the country and dropped out of the six-country Iran agreement.

After Soleimani’s murder, Iran ended its commitments to limit nuclear fuel production but promised to return if U.S. economic sanctions are removed. Soliemani’s killing stopped the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Esper and Pompeo have claimed that DDT won’t attack Iranian cultural sites, but DDT repeated his threats to commit this barbaric war crime which would be a declaration of war. Targeting cultural sites violates the Hague Convention on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, ratified by the Senate in 2008. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, “Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do.”

The threats of destroying their cultural sites have united Iranians with the rally cry, “Attend the funeral for our cultural heritage.” Iranian information minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted:

“Like Isis, Like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures. Trump is a terrorist in a suit.”

European allies are trying to provide for the safety of their troops in the Middle East, and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said he would seek direct talks with Iran to discuss the safety of its troops in Iraq and continue the fight against ISIS. DDT has blocked Zarif from addressing the UN Security Council on January 9 by refusing him a visa to enter the U.S. in violation of a 1947 agreement with the UN that the U.S. allow foreign officials into the country for UN affairs.

Russia condemned DDT’s killing Soliemani, calling it “fraught with grave consequences for regional peace and stability.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences over Soleimani’s death in a conversation with Zarif, and they agreed that DDT’s actions “grossly violate the norms of international law.” Putin has been working with Soleiman on Syria including Soleimani’s invitation to Moscow for an Iranian-Russian coalition. The Russian Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, connected the attack’s timing to DDT’s re-election campaign, something that millions of people in the U.S. also believe.

Immediately after Soliemani’s assassination, Israel was the only country to support DDT’s actions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn any support since then, saying, “We’re not involved.” After losing two elections in less than a year, Netanyahu wants to win the March 2 election to keep his position and protect himself from criminal prosecution after his indictment.

Over the weekend, al-Shabaab, US African Command killed a U.S. service member and two private contractors for the DOJ at a Kenyan Defense Force used by U.S. Special Operations forces. Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda, but DDT has said nothing about bombing Kenya which has no natural resources that he would want.

March 12, 2015

Infamous 47 Senators Face Backlash over Treasonous Letter

The past week has seen news issues such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, two drunken Secret Service agents disturbing a crime scene at the White House, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott preventing state EPA officials from uttering the term “climate change.” All these major stories, however, have been eclipsed by the letter that 47 GOP Senators sent to Iran in an effort to either join Iranian hardliners in their effort to stop negotiations stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons or undermine the White House administration in working for a peaceful resolution with Iran.

Sen. Tom Cotton, the attempted coup’s leader, received $13.9 for his senatorial campaign, much of these funds from Israeli hard-line sources, almost $1 million from the Emergency Committee for Israel, that support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in going to war with Iran. Cotton has also called for supplying Israel with B-52s and so-called “bunker-buster” bombs for a possible strike against Iran. He has had a good week, going to the top of TV bookers’ lists and being sought out by colleagues on foreign policy. As such, he finds himself in “tall cotton,” a farmer’s term for success from good prices for crops. The attention, however, may come from his idiocy. Cotton is not known for his connection with reality and even takes pride in his ability to lie to the public. While a U.S. representative, Cotton told uninsured people not to use the health care marketplace because their personal information would be “stolen by Russian mobsters.” Others, however, may suffer from the continuing outrage about the senators’ treasonous action.

Lacking any sense of propriety, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) used the letter for fundraising.  A communication from his “Reclaim American PAC” stated that a $25 donation “will allow us to immediately fight back against these outrageous attacks [against the letter signers].” He should instead be apologizing for telling Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. can’t fight ISIS because the president is afraid of antagonizing Iran. Rubio said, “Tell me why I’m wrong.” Kerry did. “Because the facts completely contradict that,” he said, before he offered more details in a classified session. ISIL is a threat to Iran, and the country appreciates the U.S. campaign against the terrorists. Rubio repeated his false theory, and Kerry described it as “flat wrong,” following the statement with information about his meeting with King Solomon who supports U.S. actions against ISIL.

Facing the outrage across the country, other senators are trying to cover their sabotage like a cat in its sandbox. Republican aides tried to excuse the letter as a lighthearted attempt to show Iran that Congress should have a part in the negotiations. Other aides described it as a “cheeky” reminder of congressional rights, accusing the administration of having “no sense of humor.”

Failing in this tack, the GOP blamed President Obama for their letter. If he had consulted legislators or not threatened a proposed bill to give them the final vote on the agreement, they wouldn’t have had to write the letter, they said. This argument  also came from both Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who did not sign the letter, and hopeful GOP presidential candidate, Jeb Bush.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that the letter might not have been the best idea. He also said, “I saw the letter, I saw that it looked reasonable to me and I signed it, that’s all. I sign lots of letters.” Next time he might want to actually read what he signs. His next excuse was that “everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he signed it to “strengthen the president’s hand.” He has lost any credibility as a non-interventionist, non-nation builder libertarian Republican by saying that he wants to create a new nation for the Kurds by giving them arms. He wants a new independent country, Kurdistan, by redrawing borders of Syria and Iraq. This claim came two weeks after he told Tea Party libertarians that the GOP should stop attempts at international nation building.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) might want to reconsider her signature; as an active duty lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, she may have violated her state’s Code of Military Justice, specifically, Chapter 29B.85:

“Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Chapter 29B.1 notes that “this chapter applies to all members of the state military forces, while not in federal service.” Thomas Jefferson, one of the constitutional founders who Ernst reveres, wrote, “[The president] being the only channel of communication between this country and foreign nations, it is from him alone that foreign nations or their agents are to learn what is or has been the will of the nation….”  An Iowa National Guard representative said that Ernst is an on active duty, but Ernst claimed on CPAC that “today I serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.”

Before the letter, some Democrats had considered joining GOP senators to pass a bill requiring more sanctions against Iran. The plan that would kill Iranian negotiations is likely dead.

Historically, the GOP has fought congressional interference with White House foreign policy. In 1986, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, joined by Cotton’s letter signer Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), insisted that President Reagan had the constitutional authority to ignore the congressional ban on aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. That was when Reagan provided weapons to Iran in its war with Saddam Hussein, who was backed by the United States at that time. Cheney’s support of the president’s constitutional powers applied to all issues and all occupants of the White House:

“[C]ongressional overreaching has systematic policy effects…. Congress’ efforts to dictate diplomatic bargaining tactics, as well as the efforts by individual members to conduct back channel negotiations on their own, make it extremely difficult for the country to sustain a consistent bargaining posture for an extended time period, whomever the President and whatever the policy.”

A fact-check pointed out the flaws in Cotton’s letter. President Obama is working on an “executive agreement,” not a treaty, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the president has authority to carry these out. Cotton maintains that future Congresses could “modify” the agreement, but the agreement would be supported by five permanent UN Security Council members plus one: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany. Modification requires all signers to agree to changes. Even if Congress demanded this action from the United States, at least 67 senators would have to vote in favor of this to override a veto, an unlikely number now and perhaps less likely after the 2016 election which could lose some GOP senatorial positions. Even with a GOP president, the action would require 60 votes.

Reneging on an executive agreement may violate international law, and doing so would certainly endanger the nation’s diplomatic credibility. At this time, 95 percent of international agreements are done through executive agreements; reversing one of these would create global doubt to the United States commitment to most of the existing international agreements.

Asked about the letter from the infamous 47, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif expressed the same astonishment that at least 22 major newspapers across the country expressed on their editorial pages. Like the media, Zarif pointed out that the senators fail to understand both international law and their own Constitution as it pertains to presidential powers in foreign policy.

As of this evening, a White House petition against the 47 letter signers has reached almost 260,000 signatures.

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