Closing Thought–04Jan19

The Trump foreign policy has shown me just how disgusting and juvenile it actually has become.

We know that there is no love lost by Trump for the UN or education or culture or science (most of all)…….and now Israel making like the spoiled teenager they are have decided to quit UNESCO……

The US and Israel officially quit the UN’s educational, scientific, and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias, the AP reports. The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the US after World War II to foster peace. The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit. The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites, and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

The US has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom. The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the US stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the US—which accounted for around 22% of the total budget—has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

Why would the US want to promote education, culture and science?  (This a rhetorical question) ….we know why Trump does not……stupid is as stupid does……(a famous quote)….

Typical of Israel….they call anything that will not kiss their ass as antisemitic…..and the US did what it always does….what Israel tells it to do….like the good lap dog we are.

FYI……educational….not something Trump would promote…but I will…..the dislike of Israeli policies does NOT mean I hate Jews….to the contrary……

Rasputin….Rasputin…..Let Down Your Hair

Or was that Rapunzel?

This post is not a nursery rhyme instead about the history of Russia early 20th century…..and one of my favorite figures in Russian history.

Grigory Rasputin…..a Russian monk that became the center of Russian foreign policy……the story goes that he was so hated that a few Russian military officers invited Rasputin to a party knowing he would not resist because of his love of drink and fast women…….Rasputin got drunk and the officers poisoned him, stabbed him, shot him and eventually drowned him…..any way his influence over the tsarina was eliminated……

But his life until his death was fascinating……

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (1872-1916) was the infamous ‘holy man’ whose ability to heal the Tsar and Tsarina’s son Alexis led to his being adopted as a supreme mystic at court.  Growing in influence to the point where he effectively dictated policy he was eventually assassinated by a group of court conspirators in December 1916.

Born in 1872 at Pokrovskoye in Siberia to a peasant family, Rasputin’s limited education left him without the ability to either read or write. Even at a young age he earned himself such a reputation for devoted debauchery that his actual name of Grigory Yefimovich Novykh was replaced with the surname ‘Rasputin’ – Russian for ‘debauched one’.

https://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/rasputin.htm

His life is interesting but the circumstances around is death and damn well fascinating……

The mysterious Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, a peasant who claimed powers of healing and prediction, had the ear of Russian Czarina Alexandra. The aristocracy held negative views about a peasant in such a high position, and peasants disliked the rumors that the czarina was sleeping with such a scoundrel. Rasputin was seen as “the dark force” who was ruining Mother Russia.To save the monarchy, several members of the aristocracy attempted to murder Rasputin. On the night of Dec. 16, 1916, they tried. The plan was simple. Yet on that fateful night, the conspirators found that killing Rasputin would be very difficult indeed.

The next time you play Triaval Pursuit and the hstory question is….who in history was strangled, stabbed, shot, poisoned and finally drowned?  You will know the answer.
History is just great stuff…..plus it is always good to learn stuff…..
A New Year and more history to delight some and dismay others……
Class Dismissed!

Repatriation Of The Dollar

When Trump was running as a GOP candidate he made a few promises that I thought I could get behind (that does not mean that I would have voted for him just that I thought they were good policies)……most of these policies were in the field of diplomacy and international relations….but there was one that I thought was excellent but did not think he could accomplish…..the promise of the return of funds held by American corporations in offshore accounts…..

But I was mistaken….there seems to be a bunch of cash returning to our shores……

U.S. companies have sent home over half a trillion dollars of cash they held overseas in 2018 to take advantage of tax changes, but data suggest the pace is slowing, potentially removing a key source of support for Wall Street.

Dollar repatriation in the July-September period fell to $93 billion, around half of second-quarter volumes and less than a third of the $300 billion or so sent home from January to March, U.S. current account data shows.

The repatriation bonanza followed new regulations that allowed the U.S. government to tax profits accumulated overseas, regardless of where the money was held. Prior rules allowed companies to “defer” U.S. tax on worldwide profits unless they repatriated the money.

The change offered a powerful incentive to bring home some of the $3 trillion U.S. firms were believed to hold in jurisdictions ranging from Ireland to Switzerland, either in cash or in securities such as U.S. Treasuries.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-us-repatriation-companies-idUSKCN1OU0ME

A good start but I still do not see all that offshore cash coming home……do you?  Plus I have not heard a plan to stop this practice, have you?

Iran: Chilling Presidential Words

I have listened to the many speeches and pressers from this president…..at best his words are not much more than babble from a buffoon…..if you had something to say then he would not have to ad lib his way through a presser……90 minutes of lies and half truths…..

But let’s go to Syria.

Trump has sent the pro war media and the Neocons into a tizzy fit when he announced that the US would withdraw from Syria and a draw down of troops in Afghanistan.

The warmongers stroked out and then set about belittling everything the president has said and the MSM is their tool of choice.

I am waiting to see how the statements by the president will play with the Neocons and the warmongers…..which words?

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, President Trump acknowledged that while Iran is also pulling people out of Syria, they “can frankly do whatever they want there.” He added that the he doesn’t want to be in Syria forever.

While this is likely intended more as a statement of fact than policy, it’s gaining a lot of attention, particularly in the international press. This is likely because the existing Pentagon narrative, before Trump ordered the pullout, was that Iran was a primary reason for the US to keep troops in Syria forever.

While US troops were sent to Syria to fight ISIS, as the defeat of ISIS grew near a lot of officials started shifting the narrative to one of forcing Iran out, which itself was defined broadly as expelling Shi’ite militias deemed friendly to Iran.

That broadening of the definition of Iran, which allowed Israel to at times claim preposterous numbers of “Iranian forces” in Syria, would also make Trump’s acknowledgement of an Iranian drawdown unusual.  Though true, any number of actual Iranian advisers leaving Syria would be a trivially small percentage of the “Iranian forces” when one factors in vast militias from Iraq and Pakistan.

(antiwar.com)

Not something the war hawks want to hear when mentioning Iran….the only country that will “freak” over Iran in Syria is Israel…..they have needed an actual enemy over the years and after 1979 Iran fits the bill perfectly.

But really…..what is this obsession over Iran in Syria?

Ambassador James Jeffrey, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement, disclosed to Russian reporters last week that U.S. and Russian mercenaries have clashed in Syria multiple times in the last several months. While he did not offer any specifics, he said “U.S. forces are legitimately in Syria, supporting local forces [in the fight against the Islamic State] … they exercise the right of self-defense when they feel threatened.”

But the U.S. has admitted that ISIS has largely been defeated, and the Trump administration has ordered troops to stay put indefinitely in Syria to counter against Iranian influence, the administration’s current comprehensive foreign policy bogeyman. As national security adviser John Bolton told the UN General Assembly in September, “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/americas-latest-unnecessary-obsession-iran-in-syria

But let’s say that we can say the Russia and Iran have won the Syrian conflict….what will it matter in the grand scheme?

President Trump has decided to pull all U.S. troops from Syria despite Pentagon objections. If these reports turn out to be accurate, the academic, public, and political debate over who ‘lost’ Syria will rage for days or weeks. Opponents of this decision will claim that a U.S. withdrawal hands both Russia and Iran a significant ‘victory’ in the contest for regional influence in the Middle East. However, these criticisms are overblown.  Russia and Iran were positioned from the beginning to be the dominant influencers in the course of Syria’s civil war.  Moreover, what passes for a short-term win for Moscow and Tehran will likely prove to be a rather hollow and Pyrrhic victory.

https://www.fpri.org/article/2018/12/russian-and-iranian-victory-in-syria-does-it-matter/

How will the War Hawks change the mind of this president?

Use a time tested technique……let the alt-Right media start in on him and he will cave.

Until then we are getting out of Syria (for now)…….

Yemen Of A New Year

Another year and still more from the Saudi war on Yemen.

The Saudis are killing civilians with impunity….help cause a humanitarian crisis in the first degree and help cause a pandemic among the surviving children of Yemen….and the famine that seems to have no solution.

But with all that out of the way….what else could possibly be a news story about this conflict?

The famine story has gotten worse as the donated food has been stolen…..

Day after day Nabil al-Hakimi, a humanitarian official in Taiz, one of Yemen’s largest cities, went to work feeling he had a “mountain” on his shoulders. Billions of dollars in food and other foreign aid was coming into his war-ravaged homeland, but millions of Yemenis were still living a step away from famine.

Reports of organizational disarray and out-and-out thievery streamed in to him this spring and summer from around Taiz — 5,000 sacks of rice doled out without record of where they’d gone . . . 705 food baskets looted from a welfare agency’s warehouses . . . 110 sacks of grain pillaged from trucks trying to make their way through the craggy northern highlands overlooking the city.

Food donations, it was clear, were being snatched from the starving.

https://apnews.com/bcf4e7595b554029bcd372cb129c49ab

This story does not necessarily mean the the Saudis are behind these thefts….but we could say that without their war on Yemen and the food would not have been needed thus not stolen……

One of the disgusting things about modern warfare….is the use of child soldiers…..speaking of them….the Saudis are recruiting child soldiers in Sudan……

While Saudi Arabia is already awash in allegations of war crimes against children in Yemen, there are always more reports emerging. Over the weekend, the focus is on the large number of child soldiers fighting for the Saudi-led coalition, and the Saudi kingdom’s efforts to recruit such children.

The offensive against the vital aid port of Hodeidah rested heavily on a large influx of Sudanese troops fighting for the Saudi-led coalition. Sudanese soldiers say that a lot of the fighters sent were children, however, with estimates of at least 20 percent under the age of 18, and as many as 40% in some units.

This was possible because Saudi Arabia put a lot of money into recruitment in the desperately impoverished Darfur region, offering as much as $10,000 to families who agreed to enlist their children to go fight in Yemen. By all indications, many did.

While Sudanese troops confirmed that this was common in Yemen, Saudi Arabia issued a statement of blanket denial, saying that they’d never recruited Sudanese children nor paid Sudan at all, and that Sudan was only in the war “in the interest of regional peace.”

(antiwar.com)

There is NO excuse for the use of child soldiers……others have faced war crimes charges because of the use of child soldiers…..it is time for the Saudis to face the charges as well.

The world has protected these barbaric slugs long enough….time for the world to step up and make Saudi Arabia accountable for the crimes they are embracing.