Trump’s Biggest Lie?

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

INTRODUCTION

(NOTE: Remarks from U.S. President Donald Trump that will be considered as representing possibly his biggest lie will here be boldfaced, so that they will stand out from the context in which he stated them.)

Trump escalated Bush’s and Obama’s invasions and military occupations of the sovereign nations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. But on January 7th, he  promised, in one of his thousands of lying tweets, that, “Endless Wars, especially those which are fought out of judgement mistakes that were made many years ago, & those where we are getting little financial or military help from the rich countries that so greatly benefit from what we are doing, will eventually come to a glorious end!”

Then, on Sunday, January 13th, he tweeted that if Turkey won’t do in Syria what he, the U.S. President, wants it to do there, then the United States will be in the first official stage of war against Turkey, the economic-sanctions phase, which nowadays is the prelude to an invasion, as has been the case since 1990 regarding Iraq. On January 13th, he tweeted, “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….” Minutes later, he tweeted: “….Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey. Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria – natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!”

First, here, will be discussed his January 7th string of lies, in order to isolate which one of those was the biggest:

He might be truthful about his intent, to reverse his own (previously escalatory) policies against those named nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria — his Administration’s efforts to overthrow or to keep in power the given nation’s leader and government). However, he ignores his own having contributed to those “judgement mistakes that were made” (such as his having increased American troop-levels in those countries — his having escalated, instead of eliminated, those military occupations).

And, then, on January 12th, The Hill  bannered, “US calls for ‘new government’ in Venezuela”. So, Trump obviously still believes that a U.S. President has the right to overthrow or install a government in any country he wishes — the right to perpetrate coups and military invasions anywhere in the world. This is a craving for global empire.

He still continues to believe, like his predecessors did, that the U.S. President is the policeman, judge, jury, and executioner, of any government, anywhere in the world, just like the international tyrants George W. Bush and Barack Obama did. Their imperialistic lies were accompanied in some cases by coups but in other cases by outright invasions and military occupations, and destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and Honduras and Libya and Syria and Ukraine. They destroyed those countries, none of which had ever perpetrated aggression against the United States. This was therefore pure aggression. (Trump as President never condemns them, for the lie-based international aggressions that they had perpetrated.)

Trump’s words have always been untrustworthy, some of them promises to the left, but mostly promises to the right. But only his actions have really mattered, and they’ve been consistently to the far right, including neo-conservatism. That means imposition of the American empire. He has been trying to do that — impose the American empire. He does it not only by expanding America’s existing bloated ‘defense’ budget (half of the world’s total), but by expanding the numbers of U.S. military bases and troops in invaded and occupied countries such as Syria. None of those countries had ever invaded nor threatened to invade the United States (although Al Qaeda in Afghanistan did in 2001, with lots of American Government and Saudi help — but then the U.S. President, Bush, invaded and occupied Afghanistan, instead of  took out Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — and he and his 911 Commission hid the guilt of George W. Bush and his buddy “Bandar Bush”; so, this was like “The Emperor can do no wrong,” and Trump is following in their imperial footsteps).

Invasions and coups, like those, are (and were, before Trump became President) pure aggressions. Despite Trump’s lies, America is the global aggressor, in fact (even recognized globally as being such). Trump does nothing to stop and reverse that horrendous bipartisan (Democratic and Republican) American aggressive reality. Trump’s actions have instead been like that of his recent predecessors: neo-conservative, neo-imperialist, aggressive, foreign policies. They’ve made mockeries of his repeated promises not to do that sort of thing. He has even stocked his Administration with loads of G.W. Bush infamous neocons like John Bolton, some of whom he had condemned when he was running for President.

This is why everyone distrusts Trump now, except his base-voters, who ignore his incessant record of having lied — they trust everything he says, even his self-contradictions. To be intelligent now and yet continue to trust Donald Trump, is extremely difficult, if not logically impossible, to do, especially after his enormous record of self-contradictions.

TRUMP’S BIGGEST LIE

But his biggest big lie has certainly been the one that he stated in his January 7th tweet, about whom the beneficiaries  of those military invasions and occupations are. Those beneficiaries are not as he said, “rich countries that so greatly benefit from what we are doing.” To the exact contrary.

Consider what the actual impacts of America’s neo-conservative, neo-imperialist, Government, have  been, upon those “rich countries” (by which Trump is referring to the EU):

The January 14th issue of the liberal New Yorker magazine states at least this matter accurately, when Elisabeth Zerofsky’s article, which is titled in the print edition as “The Illiberal State: Viktor Orban’s vision for Europe”, asserts that: “Until 2015, Hungary received around three thousand asylum requests per year. That year, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, travelled from Turkey through Bulgaria to Serbia and Croatia, where they attempted to cross the Hungarian border into the E.U. Many wanted to reach Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel, declaring, ‘We can do this,’ was welcoming a million refugees. Hungary, a smaller and poorer state than Germany, was ill equipped to deal with the chaotic crowds in the border area headed toward trains and buses that would take them onward.

In other words: U.S. President Trump, who is famous for exaggerating the harms that huge numbers of undocumented immigrants cause, must certainly be at least conscious of the fact that those floods of millions of Muslim refugees into what he calls here “the rich countries that so greatly benefit from what we are doing,” are “mostly from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan,” and that those refugees have been fleeing countries that the U.S. Government had invaded, and that the U.S. Government still does occupy, by thousands of American troops and constant supplies of weapons. America’s invasions created this crisis for EU nations. Trump demands that those European countries be grateful for those millions of refugees, from countries that he bans or discourages from sending any refugees into the United States. Hypocrisy worse than that, can’t be imagined.

He thinks that those European countries ought to be grateful for America’s having caused in Europe this refugee crisis, which is tearing the EU apart.

If that’s not his biggest lie, then what is?

But maybe his biggest lie isn’t that “the rich countries … so greatly benefit from what we are doing”; maybe, instead, it’s that all of those “judgment mistakes” were “judgement mistakes that were made many years ago,” and that he didn’t make any of them, but only his predecessors did.

However, maybe his biggest lie is instead his hiding whom the actual beneficiaries of his, and the rest of the American Government’s, permanent-warfare state have actually been, and always are.

Consider, for example, this passage from the 200-page, 5 November 2018, study by the Project on Government Oversight, “Defense Contractors’ Capture of Pentagon Officials”:

BRASS PARACHUTES: Defense Contractors’ Capture of Pentagon Officials Through the Revolving Door

The revolving door is just one of several forms of undue influence on the operations of the Department of Defense. While beyond the scope of this report, the reverse-revolving door (when defense industry officials join the government, raising concerns they will then give preferential treatment to their former employers) is also a matter of significant concern. Top contractors have been over-represented in Department leadership. At the beginning of his Administration, President Obama issued an ethics executive order banning lobbyists form [from] working in agencies they lobbied during the previous two years, only to issue the first waiver shortly thereafter to his first Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, who was previously a Raytheon lobbyist.25 The last Deputy Secretary for that Administration, Bob Work, joined Raytheon’s board shortly after he retired from the government.26 President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, was a former board member of General Dynamics. His Deputy Secretary, Patrick Shanahan, came from Boeing, the Pentagon’s second largest contractor. Campaign contributions, lobbyists, earmarks, industry-sponsored trips, and contracts structured to garner political support for specific contractors’ programs, also undermine the fairness and effectiveness of the procurement system. The government and the public have significantly more — though still inadequate — information about those other forms of influence-peddling. For example, campaign contributions must be periodically disclosed, registered lobbyists must report their expenditures and generic lobbying activities, and incoming executive branch officials have to disclose their positions held outside of government. But the public has significantly less information when it comes to the activities of former government officials. President Trump has spoken out against that conflict of interest. “I think anybody that gives out these big contracts should never ever, during their lifetime, be allowed to work for a defense company, for a company that makes that product,” then-President-elect Trump said.27

Just two months before this POGO study, there was a Code Pink study, “War Profiteers: The U.S. War Machine”, about the major role that foreign buyers of U.S. weapons, such as the Saud family, play in this American corruption. (America’s efforts ever since the late 1940s, to overthrow Syria’s determinedly secular non-sectarian Government, and to replace it with one that would be controlled by the rabidly fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, are excellent examples of that corrupt “U.S. War Machine” in action. See this and this and this and this and this, for documentation of this.)

It’s people like them, and the billionaires who control the major U.S. ‘defense’ contractors such as Lockheed Martin, and who control America’s international extraction corporations such as ExxonMobil, who benefit from America’s rabid militarism. It’s not “the rich countries” of the EU. And Trump’s denial, of this barbaric historical fact, is actually his biggest of all of his big lies.

Without being honest to the public, no government can be a democracy; it can only be a corrupt dictatorship. And that’s what America now actually is.

Trump certainly isn’t the truth-teller who stands against, and tries to rectify, that ugly reality. An excellent current example of the insidious nature of this constantly attempted international dictatorship that Trump refuses to expose, was provided on January 8th, by Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal, at the GrayZone Project, and headlined “New Documents Reveal a Covert British Military-Intelligence Smear Machine Meddling In American Politics”. Their reporting about this would probably win a Pulitzer, if America were a democracy and if the Pulitzers were honest.

Then, regarding Trump’s tweet on January 13th, Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….,” he’s clearly threatening economic sanctions against Turkey. He says that he wants to end “endless wars” and, now, in order to attain that, he uses against Turkey the threat of beginning a new war, this one against them. His followup that same day, “Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria” is a compound lie, because the U.S. had avoided targeting ISIS in Syria until Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, and the U.S. had even been secretly arming ISIS there so as to help ISIS and Al Qaeda to overthrow Syria’s secular and non-sectarian Government. Thus, whereas Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, America (having become embarrassed) started bombing ISIS in Syria on 16 November 2015. Trump wants to steal from Assad, and from Putin, and from Rouhani, the credit for the success that they have thus far achieved at defeating ISIS in Syria. America — ISIS’s (otherwise called “ISIL’s”) secret supplier — thus tries to present itself as ISIL’s conqueror. (Table 26 of the July 2015 Orb International poll of Syrians asked Syrians for “the reason that explains the presence of ISIL [in their country]?” And 82% of Syrians said “ISIL is US foreign manufacture.” So, they’re aware of that fact.)

So, which is Trump’s biggest lie? Make your own choice, and it’ll be reasonable, because they’re all huge. 

CLOSING NOTE

On January 14th, the generally reliable analyst Alex Christoforou headlined at The Duran, “Mike Pompeo tours Middle East to challenge John Bolton as U.S. foreign policy TSAR”, and concluded that “it appears President Trump’s promised US troop ‘full’ and ‘immediate’ withdrawal from Syria appears to finally be in motion.” If that turns out actually and finally to be the case, then the U.S. under Trump is finally withdrawing from Syria, like the U.S. under Nixon withdrew from Vietnam on 29 March 1973. Interestingly, in both cases, that would be a Republican President finally ending a U.S. invasion that had been started by a Democratic President, and the Republican President lying constantly and never condemning the Democratic President for having invaded that country. Unless American Presidents publicly acknowledge that the U.S. Government has been controlled by a deeply evil militaristic and military Deep State that has served only America’s billionaires, and that all of these had been U.S. invasions of countries that never had invaded the U.S. and that actually never even threatened to do so, the U.S. will continue to be that type of country — a global invader, which aspires to control the entire world. In that case, the U.S. would turn out to be the successor to Nazi Germany, but a nuclear superpower.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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As Germany and France Come Apart, So Too Will the EU

When is a nation-state no longer a functional state? It’s an interesting question to ask of the European nation-states trapped in the devolving European Union. Longtime correspondent Mark G. recently posed seven indicators of dissolving national sovereignty; here’s his commentary:

“RE: The Ghosts of 1968 (February 14, 2018):

In France the “Ghosts of 1968” have become the Poltergeists of 2018. This looks like another real watershed in European and world history. Once again Parisian mobs have appeared and have collectively realized they now hold the real power. And their issues are all anti-EU (European Union) and anti-NWO. (New World Order)

I’m honing my German Collapse Scenario as more data flows in, as it is in ever-faster and larger quantities. ‘Germany’ will implode in parallel with the EU.

So-called ‘states’ with:

1. no effective military forces
2. no control of their own borders
3. no control of their currency and banks
4. a government with a ‘diverse’ population in which the majority either has no loyalty to Berlin (recent ‘refugee’ immigrants) or has dropped its loyalty (large parts of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg), and which is also losing the allegiance of the many eastern European immigrants in Germany. These people are among the most energized opponents of the ‘refugee’ influx.
5. Fast rising anarchy and lawlessness by the recent ‘refugee’ immigrants, and which is well known to the population, as are the official orders to the police to minimize crime statistics reporting by not opening official cases.

and

6. A mass media believed by no one due to the bald lies it broadcasts 24/7 daily about numbers 1-5.

…will soon cease to exist. This is confirmed by:

7. The continuing spiral of the ruling post WWII political parties into their own political black holes. CDU/CSU on the right and SDP on the left have all lost their hold on the modern German population.

The biggest joke of all is that Theresa May is negotiating the terms of “Brexit” from the EU with a political corpse and not a viable polity.

Another round or lap is coming soon. Personally I think the only thing staving off another eurozone banking crisis is the absolute certainty that no imaginable German government can currently agree to the slightest external concession without risking an internal political collapse.

Thus all the various Eurozone elites involved are refraining from provoking such a crisis for calculated narrow reasons. This leaves it to a European mob in some capital to initiate it by confronting a national government with either internal political collapse or re-entering EU-wide monetary and fiscal conflict with the ECB/EU gang.

And yes, I’m sure you spotted the next part. Poland and Hungary acting on behalf of the Phoenix Rising Ersatz Austro-Hungarian Empire will twist the EU’s tail at that time as hard as they can for maximum regional advantage.”

The fracturing of Germany is conventionally viewed as somewhere between implausible and impossible, and the same can be said of France and Germany drifting apart and the EU dissolving: the mainstream is committed to presenting Germany, the German-French alliance, the euro and the EU as rock-solid.

Yet if we follow the logic and evidence presented in these seven points, we are forced to conclude that the fractures in France, Germany and the EU are widening by the day, and that the ceaseless propaganda spewed by the ruling elites isn’t mending the fractures or restoring the illusion of stability.

(Regarding the French yellow vest dissenters: the 80,000 mobilized security forces are intentionally seeking to incite violence to justify crushing the yellow vest dissenters with massive paramilitary force: French Democracy Dead or Alive?)

In the long run of history, the apparent solidity of 20 or 30 years can shatter very rapidly as populations under increasing financial and political stress default to much more enduring divisions and loyalties.

 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

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Talk Nation Radio: Rob Kajiwara on U.S. Bases on Okinawa

Rob Kajiwara is an Okinawan-Hawaian singer-songwriter and visual artist. In 2017, he was made a cultural ambassador for his ancestral village of Nakagusuku, Okinawa. In 2018 he was also made a cultural ambassador / special envoy for Ke Aupuni o Hawaii (the Hawaiian Kingdom) in order to share Hawaiian history, culture, and issues in Ryukyu. Rob Kijiwara recently organized a petition to the White House about Okinawa that many of us joined him in delivering there on January 7th.

Stand With Okinawa.

HOME

The Tyranny of Contamination: The US Military is poisoning Okinawa.

The Tyranny of Contamination: The US Military is poisoning Okinawa.

U.S. Bases in Okinawa Are a Threat to Freedom

U.S. Bases in Okinawa Are a Threat to Freedom

The petition
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-landfill-henoko-oura-bay-until-referendum-can-be-held-okinawa

Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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The World Will End in Fire

Proclaiming that the end is nigh has now become the labor of the very opposite of a deluded religious devotee. And the question framed by Robert Frost of whether the world will end in fire or ice is no longer in dispute. The world will soon end in fire, possibly the fire of the Pentagon’s “usable” nuclear weapons, certainly the fire of anthropogenic climate collapse. Not only will the world not end in ice, but the vanishing of ice from the earth is helping to rapidly render this planet uninhabitable for humans and many other species.

As we observe up-close in Dahr Jamail’s new book The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, great masses of ice are melting away. Glacier National Park will soon lack any glaciers. Greenland, that ice-covered land falsely labeled green and distorted by northern prejudice to appear larger than Africa on most western maps, is being transformed into something you can spray through a hose . . . or drown in. Ice that most of us have never seen, but upon which our lives depend, is disappearing, not just quickly, but at a rate that is constantly becoming quicker, and even quicker, and quicker still.

The permafrost in the Arctic, Jamail tells us, is thawing and releasing methane, and could at any moment release methane equivalent to several times the total carbon dioxide released by humans ever. Barring that catastrophe, the feedback loops or vicious cycles are real and underestimated. When the glaciers melt, the streams warm up or dry up, ecosystems collapse, forests burn, and the glaciers melt more. By 2015, forests in California had become climate polluters rather than CO2 reducers. Jamail finds that every single worst case scenario predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regarding temperature, sea level, severe weather, and CO2 in the atmosphere has fallen short. In fact, Jamail explains why the IPCC is generally not just excessively conservative but 10 years out of date. That figure places the IPCC’s late-2018 report claiming that humanity had 12 years left in which to change its ways and avert disaster in a harsh light.

While that IPCC report came out after Jamail wrote The End of Ice, it can add little perspective to a book that looks at our state of affairs far more clearly. Yet the fact that I am writing this review months before the book and this review will be published strikes me as somewhat obscene. What’s a quarter of a year, anyway, to wait to publish a silly book review? Well it’s an eighth of the 2 years one might conclude we have left to work with. But that would be clinging to fantasy. There is no preventing utter disaster. Yet there is urgency. The need is to work to slow the collapse and to mitigate its impacts and provide aid to each other as it washes over us.

The End of Ice takes us on a tour of magnificent and critically wounded areas of the earth, beginning in Alaska on Denali, which is changing — melting — dramatically. In many of the locations that Jamail takes us to, people have observed the warming for decades. Many people in the “developed” world, Jamail suggests, have not been connected enough to a place to notice — at least until now, when it is too late.

As Jamail travels the planet, he meets with top scientists, local officials, and other observers of what’s happening. One makes the point about Alaska being out-of-sight and out-of mind: “If this was happening in California, every one of these changes would be front-page news. That is why you’ve had no idea that Alaska’s glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year.”

Of course, that’s a very partial explanation of denialism, which has, by definition, consisted of denying something, not of being unaware of it. The news has been unwanted, especially by those paid not to want it. While Sarah Palin could see Russia from Alaska, there was no evidence that she saw Alaska from Alaska. In South Florida, which is doomed to go underwater, insurance rates are skyrocketing, the lengths of mortgages are shrinking, and construction — including of nuclear reactors — is booming. A grave for humanity might bear the word “Ignorance” or it might, just as appropriately, display an image of Ronald Reagan ripping solar panels off the White House roof.

Those living in some fortunate untouched inland suburb will not have the benefit of a lengthy warning in the form of direct impact. They can only warn themselves by caring what’s happening in other places ravaged by drought and flooding and storms and heat. Rather than sitting in the mythical warming pot alongside the poor slandered frog who actually knows better, people are on the comfortable stovetop next to the pot, about to be engulfed as the pot boils over.

Jamail finds his visits to natural wonders bittersweet and takes extra pleasure in spending time with doomed places. But I don’t think he intends to encourage morbid tourism. When he visits the Matanuska Glacier, he finds privatized profiteering from visits to the glacier’s receding edge. As the glacier melts, chainsaws take down trees, construction noise echoes, and ATVs buzz about — knowingly turning up the heat that such last-chance tourism industries fully feel.

Millions of humans depend on glaciers for drinking water. The countries where over half of humanity lives are over-pumping their aquifers. The rising sea levels accelerated by the melting ice will render a significant portion of humanity homeless. I fear that, beyond the physical feedback loops that scientists tell Jamail about, human feedback loops could worsen the coming crises. If people respond with greed, fear, bigotry, corruption, and violence, they will make matters far worse immediately, and by further fueling the climate collapse. Building walls to keep out refugees, and promoting the idea that climate disaster produces war (all by itself, without any human involvement, it would seem from many such predictions) is a recipe for catastrophe, possibly of the nuclear sort.

What to do is not the focus of The End of Ice, but some ideas come through, beyond that of enjoying what time we have. First, I think, we must cease adding to the methane and CO2. As war is the biggest producer of C02 around, making plans to use war as a response to climate collapse is one of the dumber moves available. As the meat industry is one of the greatest producers of methane around, enjoying some delicious end-of-times cooked flesh is not the solution. We need a radical reworking of our culture into the sort of society that could have survived had it reformed itself 30 years sooner.

Then we need to mitigate the damage, by helping those in need. We need to relocate people and other species out of areas that are going underwater, and not just people but the worst of their physical creations as measured by the degree to which they will poison the oceans if left behind. As long as there is some hope of reducing the speed or enormity of the damage, I will find an exclusive focus on mitigation to be an outrage. But even more outrageous is the fact that right now our society isn’t even trying to mitigate the damage.

I’ve never shared the widespread interest in hope or despair. We have a moral responsibility to do what needs doing. What more has to be said? But the work of the doctor / narrator in Albert Camus’ The Plague, which I’ve referred people to as a model is not quite right — or at least could be misleading. The importance of preparing for the plague at the first signs of it must be increased dramatically. And one cannot simply plod along, working long hours, until the plague has run its course. This plague ends us before it runs its course. We have to dedicate ourselves to ending with dignity and kindness, with the closest thing we can manage to the grace and wisdom that could have saved us. And then we have to rededicate ourselves to redoubling our efforts, again and again, with ever greater effort as we continue. The alternative of giving up is guaranteed not to be more enjoyable than working well together on a crisis that could bring out the best in us. The alternative of pretending everything is normal, scorning radical activism, and contenting ourselves with voting in yet another “most important election of our lifetime” every two years is guaranteed to create a crisis of faith and a crisis of guilt. Let’s not go there. Or rather, let’s not stay there.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO

The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia. According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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