Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ain't Nothing But a Hypocritical Hound Dog

Although Trumpism and human rights are obviously mutually contradictory, it still came as a huge shock in official circles when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke precedent and coldly refused to trumpet his agency's annual report on global human rights abuses. And to add insult to injury, he's even reportedly planning to close down State's War Crimes division.

How very oily of him. 

Not that the United States has ever actually looked in the mirror and condemned its own abuses and war crimes, which include but aren't limited to capital punishment, solitary confinement and the shackling of pregnant women in domestic prisons; aggressively invading other countries; torture by the CIA in black sites; bombings of hospitals; and extrajudicial assassinations by drone.

 It's that the Trump administration refuses to abide by the norms and traditions of its virtue-signalling predecessors. The serial giant middle fingers of Trumpian contempt make our exceptional country look bad to the rest of the world. His regime deprives us of our righteous opportunities to lecture the rest of the world. 

A further indication of the domestic erosion of human rights is the fact that the State Department official who did comment to the press on the annual human rights report did so anonymously, out of fear of retaliation from the Trump administration.

The government's annual report calling attention to global crimes against humanity has ever had any legal clout, mind you. As a matter of fact, the State Department has always functioned as a major arms broker to the same vicious regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, which it presumes to occasionally criticize. Still, as PRI reported in March, Tillerson's lack of engagement and flouting of tradition sends a chilling message to rights organizations as well as a tacit message of encouragement to autocrats in places like Turkey and the Philippines. The shallow hypocritical American rhetoric which has historically waved its feeble pompoms for human rights efforts around the world is completely evaporating:
The international watchdog Human Rights Watch linked Tillerson's no-show to what it fears is a broader decision by Trump's administration to downplay America's leadership role on the issue. 
"Trump's anti-Muslim refugee policy and hinted cuts to foreign aid have heightened concerns that the US won't be a vocal player on human rights issues abroad," HRW Washington director Sarah Margon said. 
 Tillerson's absence, she added "reinforces the message to governments, rights activists and at-risk minorities that the State Department might also be silent on repression, abuse and exploitation."
To complement that episode of passive-aggressive silence, Tillerson also aims to do away with State's Office of Global Criminal Justice, whose business is vocally "deploring" or "condemning" the war crimes of others while ignoring American atrocities - and while supplying the Deplorables with billions of dollars' worth of weapons every single year. The former Exxon CEO has already reassigned Stephen Rapp and his entire war crimes staff to other duties.

From the New York Times article about Tillerson's "reorganization" plans:
The war crimes office has modest resources. It has a staff of about a dozen and an annual budget of about $3 million, and it has generally been run by an envoy appointed by the president.

Mr. Rapp came to the office with considerable experience: He served on an international tribunal on the atrocities in Rwanda and prosecuted war crimes in Sierra Leone before President Barack Obama appointed him to lead the office in 2009, making him the ambassador at large for war crimes.
Mr. Rapp also played a major role in arranging for one of Syria’s most important defectors to provide thousands of photographs to the F.B.I. of detainees who had perished in President Bashar al-Assad’s prisons.
In the two decades that it has existed, the office has played an important role in bringing perpetrators to justice. Mr. Rapp worked behind the scenes to press Kosovo to accept its new human rights tribunal. The office also pushed Senegal to try Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad.
The key phrase here is "behind the scenes." The United States not only refused during the Clinton administration to become part of the International Court of Justice, it aggressively worked behind the scenes to weaken it, before it eventually denounced it, during a five-week conference in Rome.

As international human rights barrister and activist Geoffrey Robertson recounts in his excellent history, Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle For Global Justice,
Although the Clinton administration had previously advocated a world criminal court and Clinton himself called for it in his 1998 visit to Rwanda, his personal authority was eroded at the crucial time by the domestic fallout from his affair with Monica Lewinsky. After her blue dress was taken by the FBI for DNA analysis, he capitulated to the Pentagon, which had for some months been briefing the military attaches of its allies that the Court was a danger to soldiers of the Western alliance. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that the Rome Treaty would be 'dead on arrival' in Congress if there was any prospect of the indictment of a single American soldier....

The US delegation rejected the principle of universal jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity (other than genocide) so vehemently that the US Defense Secretary William Cohen threatened Germany and South Korea with a US troop pull-out if they persisted in their support for the Statute.
Trump is really not much of an anomaly after all, is he?

So, rather than hound his administration for the ongoing horrendous war crime of 40,000 Iraqis crushed to death in their homes by American bombs or shot to death in the streets of Mosul by American-made guns, the media-political complex is instead hounding him for canoodling with a slimy bunch of Russian oligarchs. These are some of the same characters who were originally aided and abetted in the plunder of their nation by the "Harvard Boys" of the Clinton era.

Since these things are too horrific to report, and since such journalism would be against the best interests of the global ruling class, it behooves them to change the narrative and divert the attention. They've concluded that it's better to hound Trump for RussiaGate and for his slaughter of the English language than it is to howl in outrage about his administration's slaughter of human beings.


Pearl said...

(Sorry about the above mistake, I tried to erase it.) But my comment is to Zee after Karen's last column, reminding him that the continuing opposition to the Republican health care bills should not be underestimated. Remember how the Vietnam war finally ended with strong marching in the streets? (although it didn't work with Iraq.)
Also, we have a fairly civil health care system in Canada because Tommy Douglas leader of the New Democratic Party led strong public support for universal care despite attacks by the medical establishment and conservatives in Parliament.
Jay can tell you more about it.
It doesn't hurt to keep putting energy into opposition efforts when a possibility to create needed change might exist.We have a chance of destroying the Republican Party now by supporting better Congressional changes for next year. And there ARE democrats and Independents who are working for this change possibility and not given public media credit. I get many well written informative articles from them on the progressive network.

emocrats fighting for the right causes to use the failings of the Trump establishment to accomplish this many of whom are not given credit for their efforts.

Karen Garcia said...


I deleted it for you. Not sure what it meant, but I published it anyway thinking it might be an ironic curse word in a foreign language. But nyet, just a typo.

jamie said...

I am a little skeptical of State's War Crimes Division. Considering a hundred of their top employees sent a letter to Obama last fall begging him to bomb Syrian Airfields and directly fight Assad. This, along with the fact that state organized the Nazi coup in the Ukraine, gives them no moral authority to have this division. I am sure the group was only concerned about accusing supposed enemies of the United States.

Zee said...


I have tremendous admiration and respect for your dedication to the fight against authoritarian governments, and a HUGE amount of sympathy/empathy—if those are the proper words—for what you and your late husband suffered at the hands of McCarthyism in the ‘50s and years following.

But at the mere age of 66—I’m an admitted youngster compared to you, if I have understood past communiqués accurately—I am remarkably weary of the political “fight.”

I am not interested any longer in working towards the mere destruction of the Republican Party—of which I was once a member—but also want to see the destruction of the Democratic Party as well.

I think that I have reached the same conclusion as others in this forum, that the Democratic and Republican Parties are—how did Karen put it, quoting Chistopher Hitchens?— "two cosily fused buttocks of the same giant derriere.”

And, in fact, both parties seem to be doing a fine job of destroying themselves without any help from us whatsoever.

What I DON’T want, however, is to work towards some sort of catastrophic collapse of the “system”—think The Great Depression on Steroids —even if that’s what I am seeing as being necessarily inevitable in order to facilitate real “change.”

Does that sound paradoxical? Well, I suppose it is.

I want a peaceful transformation, not Revolutionary France during The Reign of Terror. And yet I fear that such a peaceful transformation is just not possible.

“Marches” are, I suppose, useful. Yet the marches that I recall from the Viet Nam era—some of which I participated in—were very clearly focused on the single issue at hand: ending the War in Viet Nam.

But today’s “anti-Trump” or “Resistance” marches—such as one cares to describe them, from “Occupy” to “The Womens’ March”—seem to me to be perfect archetypes for Kurt Vonnegut’s granfalloon.

That is “a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is meaningless.”

Take “The Womens’ March” for example: that “march” was nothing—IMHO—but a collection of many smaller “identity” sub-groups, each with its own agenda and each really not much caring about the agendas of its “sisters:” just a collection of women seeking an overarching excuse to “march” and carry a banner for ones’ own cause.

Does that make any sense?

Yesterday’s struggles seemed to have a real focus.

Today’s “struggles” seem to me to be mired down in a hopeless collage of “identity politics,” about which I have almost no understanding and even less interest.

Consider, for example, “The Womens’ March,” in which “biologically-genuine” women were excluded from the March because they were, alas, “pro-life,” and trans-gendered women who were also excluded because—despite their “gender-identity”—they might have remained “biologically male.”

Who knew that political/biological correctness mattered so much just to march against woman-groping Donald Trump?

Pearl, you will doubtless find me railing against certain sociopolitical injustices in this forum—some of which you may agree with and others with which you will strenuously disagree—and I will probably continue to write Letters-to-the-Editor and to my [so-called] political representatives just because I can’t help myself, but I guess that I’m just not planning on it helping anything at all, any more.

And I certainly will not do any marching in the hot New Mexico sun, especially when the march appears to be nothing more than a granfalloon of identity politicians.

In short, I guess I haven’t totally given up the fight; I just have a more realistic perspective on what it will actually will accomplish, and it won’t hurt so much any more when I am completely ignored by The Powers That Be.

Pearl said...

Don't miss this bombshell report from the New Republic, July 13, 2017

Trump's Russian Laundromat

I think this information in Mueller's hands can end the Trump dynasty.