A uniquely wayward president, Donald Trump, has managed to isolate the United States equally uniquely, and contrary to the stated position of his Secretaries of State and Defense and the National Security Adviser (respectively Rex Tillersen, John Mattis and H.R. McMaster) by scuttling the 2015 Iran nuclear deal citing issues outside its scope. His charges have been dismissed categorically by the European Union foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini. Again uniquely, the Pentagon and the State Department agree with her (and not their president) that Iran has not violated the agreement.
Britain, France and Germany in the persons of their leaders took the unusual course of issuing a joint statement reaffirming their support for the deal. Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, accused the U.S. of “replacing the rule of law with the law of the strongest,” adding the “issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the U.S.A.” Trump’s only support on the issue rests with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump has also joined Israel in withdrawing the US from UNESCO membership, claiming it has an anti-Israel bias. This when the newly-elected Director General awaiting confirmation is Audrey Azoulay a Frenchwoman who is of Moroccan Jewish heritage.
Soiling newsprint and public life has been the disgusting tale of Harvey Weinstein the movie Mogul. Three or more women have accused him of rape and countless of indecent assault; others have their own singular stories of escape. So Weinstein joins a list including Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby and even can ‘Grab-’em-by-the-p**sy’ Donald Trump … not forgetting the inimitable cigar-wielding ‘I-feel-your-pain’ Bill Clinton — he of the 500,000 dead Iraqi children from his sanctions.
The consequences of a gun culture reliant on a naive and obdurate interpretation of the Second Amendment became headline news over several days in the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting. The toll of 58 killed and 546 injured set a new record — for how long? No one knows what went on in the mind of Stephen Paddock — also a victim — except that he had amassed an arsenal in his 32nd floor Mandalay Bay hotel room: a total of 23 machine guns, rifles with scopes and hand guns, all carried up without question or detection. Another arsenal including 1000 rounds of ammunition, explosives and weapons were found in his car parked in the hotel garage and his house.
The 58 deaths could have skewed the statistics but not by much. It so happens there are 93 firearm deaths per day in the US and an average of one mass murder (defined as the killing of four or more persons) a day. With statistics like this can this country seriously claim to be a cultured and civilized society; or are there pockets of civilization in a desert of barbarism.
Ignorance is the handmaiden of prejudice. So we finding in the wanton attack on a Sikh Gurdawana (temple) in quiet Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012. The gunman killed himself after a responding officer shot him in the stomach. The Sikhs have a wonderful custom of langar a community kitchen run by the temple offering a free meal to anyone who comes. The temple members were busy preparing just such a meal, to be served in the evening, when the incident occurred.
The Sikhs also had a history of conflict with Muslim rule in India, so it is ironic some have on occasion (because they are required to wear a turban) been mistaken for Afghan Muslims — the latter themselves misjudged because Osama bin Laden and his crew were Arabs treated as guests by the Taliban because of their help in the fight to expel the Soviets. The Afghans, of course, had no involvement in 9/11 which is why the invasion to deny shelter to Osama bin Laden’s small group became a costly continuing error making new enemies. Some would argue what the situation required was careful intelligence gathering and a small strike force.
For sheer scale, Las Vegas is but a drop in the ocean compared to military action. Wholesale destruction in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Afghanistan in agony for more than two decades. A million-plus dead and millions displaced leading to EU tensions and Britain’s exit. Absent Libya’s heavy hand, fundamentalist groups are operating even as far away as Nigeria. Then there is also Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine and now Niger …
So it goes on. A nation in distress causes the same abroad.
Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.