Fascism in America is here NOW, in the Republican Party

A principal characteristic of fascist parties, such as the Nazi party in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s, is the use of violence in the streets and elsewhere against opponents. Today, in the United States, legislators, governors, and electoral officials operate under the threat of imminent bodily harm to themselves or their families.

The highest priority facing the government of Joe Biden is the urgent need to repress this threat of violence, so that votes and decisions and actions of legislators, governors, and government officials are not taken under the influence of fear of bodily harm to themselves or their families.

What can the Biden administration do?

A lot.

For example, they could establish a “zero tolerance”policy for such threats, which constitute serious federal crimes, and prosecute each and every individual who makes such a threat.


Israel and Gaza: The world without international law

Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip in violation of international law. Specifically, it has been violating the prohibition of the use of force contained in article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter. This prohibition is contained in a norm of jus cogens or peremptory law, from which there can be no derogation by agreement.

Israel has the right of self-defense against an armed attack in accordance with Article 51 if the U.N. Charter and general international law.

However, the exercise of this right is subject to two conditions:

First, the use of force in self-defense must be necessary to stop the armed attack to which the country is being subjected. Here, that means the force used must be aimed at stopping the armed attack, and rationally related to that objective.

Second, the use of force by Israel must be proportional to the threat posed by the armed attack by Hamas.

Regardless of whether or not Israel can sustain its argument under international law, as interpreted by impartial experts, that its use of force against Gaza is a necessary and proportionate response to Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, Israel is legally obligated to comply with international humanitarian law (the laws of war).

International humanitarian Law prohibits the targeting of civilians, including news agencies. The Israeli military gave residents of a residential building in which the Associated Press and Al Jazeera had their offices one hour to evacuate the building before it was bombed.

This warning constituted undeniable evidence that this residential building, filled with civilian residents and workers, was deliberately targeted.

Consequently, the bombing of this building would appear to constitute an egregious war crime by Israel. Bombings of other civilian targets also represent presumptive war crimes.

The United States should not veto any Security Council resolutions necessary to take these steps.

The steps suggested above would lead back to the path of international law and a cessation of hostilities.

The alternative is a continuation of the the illegal actions we have witnessed in recent days, and a progression toward a wider war.


Liz Cheney and the Republican “Gleichschaltung”

There is a movement afoot in the House of Representatives to strip Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from her post in the House Republican Leadership. Her opponents are furiously trying to remove her because she has refused to endorse the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the November election, and that it was stolen from him by massive fraud. Cheney survived a similar challenge a few weeks ago, but she has apparently lost the support of House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and is being challenged by a proponent of the Big Lie and everything Trump. Cheney says she will not tell lies to keep her position. The whole development reminds one of what took place in Germany in the 1930’s.


When will Trump be indicted?

Putting all of these actions together, it appears that Donald Trump led a vast conspiracy, in which he enlisted the support and cooperation of Republican federal, state, and local legislators and officials, to overthrow the results of the November 3 presidential election and, consequently,  the Constitution of the United States.

Why have we heard virtually nothing about federal or state grand juries investigating these alleged crimes?

There have been only a few exceptions, such as the grand jury in Atlanta where a courageous prosecutor is investigating a blatant case of apparent election interference for which there is recorded and public evidence.

Why indeed has former President Donald Trump not yet been indicted for the many crimes he has apparently committed?

When will he be indicted?

Moreover, when will his many Republican co-conspirators and accomplices in these apparent crimes be investigated and themselves indicted?

What is going on?

We are all tired of thinking about Trump and his crimes. However, democracy is a very fragile flower, and we have just seen how close we can come to losing it.  If America’s first fascist president, and the many members of the Republican Party who engaged in a vast conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution, are not held accountable before the courts for the very numerous crimes which they committed, the lesson of political impunity will not be lost on others.

Americans who are too cowardly to defend American democracy by prosecuting, and insisting on the prosecution of, those who have committed criminal acts in furtherance of the Republican conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution, will have only themselves and their own passivity to blame if it is lost.





Biden’s disastrous decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistam–with links to best opinion pieces

The decision to surrender to the Taliban and abandon our Afghan allies and supporters is among the most craven and dastardly decisions in U.S. military and foreign policy history. One searches in history for a decision of such dishonorable magnitude.

The comparison that comes to mind is the agreement by Neville Chamberlain of England and Ėdouard Daladier of France with Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria in October, 1938. The agreement, known as the Munich Pact, has become synonymous with betrayal and appeasement

That will be Joe Biden’s legacy, unless he changes course, which seems unlikely.


Afghanistan: Biden’s Achilles Heel

More fundamentally, his failure to replace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as head of the peace negotiations reveals he is inclined to continue Donald Trump’s “cut and run” policy, embodied in the February 29, 2020 surrender and withdrawal agreement in Doha, Qatar with the Taliban.

The Agreement does not provide even the slightest fig leaf to conceal the abject nature of the surrender to the Taliban.

By proceeding with the May 1, 2021 withdrawal date established in the Doha Agreement, or even postponing it by months, Biden would fail to recognize that the Taliban have not seriously engaged in “intra-Afghan” negotiations aimed at a peace settlement, and establishing a viable cease-fire, as called for in the Doha Agreement.

Biden is the prisoner of his 2009 thinking. He doesn’t recognize that conditions have changed. He doesn’t recognize that the current U.S. force posture and mission is essentially what he was arguing for in Barack Obama’s 2009 Afghanistan policy review.

If Biden continues on Trump’s “cut and run” course, he will be responsible for Afghanistan becoming another Iran, with the people–including those we have nurtured as advocates of democracy and the rule of law for the last 20 years–living under the harsh dictatorial rule of Islamic religious extremists, as in Iran.

Moreover, surrender in Afghanistan is not likely to enhance his negotiating position with Iran.

Biden must replace Khalilzad immediately, and conduct a fresh and new review of U.S. military and policy options in the region. He should listen to his democratic allies and, above all, to the people of Afghanistan as represented by their elected leaders.

He needs to develop a policy based on the facts on the ground today, and set aside the idea that the U.S. goal should be just to get out of Afghanistan.


China and Russia form common front against the West

One such mistake has been to grant unscripted interviews on television. In his interview with George Stephanoupoulis, on ABC-TV, Stephanapoulis asked him if he thought Vladimir Putin was “a killer”. Biden, unaccompanied by his handlers and off-script, naively answered, “Yes.”

The answer enraged Putin, who at a press conference, said,

“What would I answer him? I would tell him: be healthy,” Putin said. “I wish him good health. I say this without irony, no jokes. This is first of all.”
CNN

So, Biden’s first big mistakes vis-à-vis Russia and China were to publicly call Putin a “killer” and to adopt a confrontational attitude at the first bi-lateral meeting between foreign ministers with China.

In both cases, Buden and Blinken were playing primarily to their domestic audience. The point is not that Biden and Blinken should not have spelled out in detail their criticisms of China. The point is this was the wrong time and the wrong place.

The common front against the West should come as no surprise. Its timing has at least symbolic significance.


Biden’s looming foreign policy catastrophe in Afghanistan

The agreement is an abomination. It reflects a policy of Donald Trump which was aimed primarily at giving him an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.

It pursues the wrong goal, and was negotiated by the wrong people. It is strongly opposed by the Afghan Government of Ashraf Ghani, leading experts, and many allies whose forces (primarily from the NATO countries, in addition to the U.K and Canada ) have fought and died alongside American and Afghan soldiers, all in pursuit of what the U.S. held out to be the goal of establishing a democratic state governed by law.

Now, the United States has joined with Russia in convening a conference in Moscow attended by Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Notoriously uninvited and absent were the Europeans and the NATO members who helped make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2001-2014, and its follow-on successor, “Operation Resolute Support”, which in principle has been focused on training.

The reason the Europeans were not invited is blazingly clear: They would never go along with a settlement which sells out the democratic government of Afghanistan, established pursuant to elections in 2018 (legislative) and 2019 (presidential), and made up of the two leading presidential candidates in 2019 and their forces. Nor would the Europeans be likely to go along with a settlement that surrenders the future of Afghan women to the Taliban.