Trump and the Poor: How will Trump’s Budget Affect the Poor?

 

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Here is a list of cuts that will affect the poor:

1. Trump would eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which helps almost 2 million people a year. The agency helps poor people find lawyers to resolve housing cases and navigate bankruptcy, and helps victims of domestic violence get protective court orders. (Source: CNN/Money)
2. The Corporation for National and Community Service, best known for Americorps, the organization that sends Americans to help communities out in all sorts of ways, would be wiped out. It has a larger budget than some other agencies, asking for just over $1 billion for 2017, but it is broadly popular. (Source: VICE News)
3. The budget could cut funding for Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meals for older, poor Americans. Meals on Wheels says about 3% of its funding comes from government grants. (Source: CNN/Money)
4. The administration’s changes include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974. The program provides cities with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. (Source: The Washington Post)
5. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness coordinates efforts on homelessness, of course, and costs the government just $3.5 million. That’s too much money for the Trump administration. (Source: VICE News)
6. Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money runs out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike. (Source: The Washington Post)
7. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, also known as Neighborworks America, uses its budget of around $140 million to fund a variety of community-based programs, like affordable housing and assisting homeless veterans. Trump would end all that. (Source: VICE News)

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Trump’s Budget Priorities

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Donald Trump’s Budget is out and it is quite revealing. Here is a snapshot of the cuts and increases:

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Source: NBC

What does this budget reveal about Trump’s priorities?

Persecution of Gay Men in Chechnya

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Disturbing details are surfacing about the treatment of gay men in Chechnya. As many as 100 men have been rounded up and imprisoned according to some reports. The men are being subjected to beatings and electrocution and three men were killed. Government officials were asked about these detentions and they gave a chilling response according to The Telegraph:

When originally confronted with the allegations. Alvi Karimov, the spokesman for the Chechen leader, told Interfax that: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.

If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

President Ramzan Kadyrov labeled the allegations as “absolute lies and disinformation” according to the New York Times. Some news outlets are suggesting that Kadyrov has a history of human rights abuses. FOX News writes:

Chechen’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a key ally of Vladimir Putin, accused of ordering the clampdown, denied the allegations claiming “it’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic”.

The Chechen government suggested there are no gay people in their country.

The Kremlin-backed Kadyrov is widely accused of extensive human rights violations. He has brought Islam to the fore of Chechnya’s daily life, including opening what is called Europe’s biggest mosque.

Human rights groups have accused security forces controlled by Kadyrov of resorting to disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions, and the collective punishment of suspects’ extended families in their fight with Islamist insurgents.

I’m not sure about the veracity of these allegations, but they are troubling if true.

Building Corruption?

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Troubling details of Donald Trump’s business dealings continue to emerge. A recent piece in the New Yorker by Adam Davidson provides the latest details of allegations involving the Transportation Minister of Azerbaijan, Ziya Mammadov.

Mammadov is a deeply corrupt politician who the US suspects was involved with money laundering. Trump’s business partner was Ziya Mammadov’s son. Bloomberg News reports:

A central issue in Azerbaijan was Trump’s partners. Trump’s initial deal there, signed in 2012 and announced in 2014, was with Anar Mammadov, the 35-year-old founder of Garant Holding, with more than 30 companies in construction, transportation and telecommunications. Mammadov is the son of Azerbaijan’s transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, a close ally of President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled since he took over from his father in 2003. Trump’s recent fees came from a company set up by Ziya’s brother, Elton Mammadov, a member of parliament until last year.

The two men partnered to build the Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku. The Trumps joined the $35 million project in 2012. We know Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, visited Baku in October 2014. Ivanka posted a video of her visit on Facebook.

To be clear, Trump and his business partners in Azerbaijan had a licensing agreement to use his name on the building. The agreement was with the Mammadovs. Trump canceled the deal when he was elected in November. Trump received at least $3 million from this deal.

Legal Concerns

According to Newsweek,

…Mammadov in 2008 approved contracts to Iranian construction company Azarpassillo, headed by Keyumars Darvishi. The link is significant as Darvishi was once the chairman of Raman, the Iranian construction firm that acted as a direct arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The report alleges that the Azarpassillo company essentially acts as a front for the Iranian force.

The US believes the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) sponsors terrorism around the world. The IRGC is also accused of drug trafficking.

If these allegations are true, Trump would be in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Legal expert and assistant dean of George Washington University Law School, Jessica Tillipman said, “The entire Baku deal is a giant red flag — the direct involvement of foreign government officials and their relatives in Azerbaijan with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Corruption warning signs are rarely more obvious.” Here is how the New Yorker describes the legal violation:

No evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump, or any of his employees involved in the Baku deal, actively participated in bribery, money laundering, or other illegal behavior. But the Trump Organization may have broken the law in its work with the Mammadov family. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1977, forbade American companies from participating in a scheme to reward a foreign government official in exchange for material benefit or preferential treatment. The law even made it a crime for an American company to unknowingly benefit from a partner’s corruption if it could have discovered illicit activity but avoided doing so. This closed what was known as the “head in the sand” loophole.

This is yet another story in the face-paced drama of the Trump presidency.

Trump’s Syrian Strike: My Initial Reaction

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Image from The Telegraph

Donald Trump was steadfast in his opposition to military action in Syria:

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Why Now?

Why did the recent chemical attack change Donald Trump’s mind about military action in Syria? After all, Trump sent these tweets after Assad launched a chemical attack.

Let’s look back in time.

Barack Obama said in August 2012, “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. … There would be enormous consequences.”

Remember, it was clear in August of 2013 that Bashar Al-Assad carried out a chemical attack. The White House posted a public statement affirming the attack. The statement reads in part, “[a] preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children….” What makes this attack any different? The latest fatality count for this attack is between 85 to 100 people total, including 20 children. More people were killed in the attack that violated Obama’s red line, yet Trump advised against military action. What changed?

Was this military action partially an attempt to divert attention away from the Russian collusion investigations?

What is the administration’s goal?

Russia

How will Vladimir Putin respond? It looks like our relationship with Russia may be rapidly deteriorating. According to new reporting by The Guardian:

The Russian military says it will help Syria strengthen its air defences after the US strike on a Syrian air base, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said that a “complex of measures” to strengthen Syrian air defences will be done shortly to help “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities.”

Konashenkov said “the combat efficiency of the U.S. strike was very low,” adding that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles reached the Shayrat air base in the province of Homs.

He said it destroyed six MiG-23 fighter jets of the Syrian air force which were under repairs, but didn’t damage other Syrian warplanes at the base.

Konashenkov added that the base’s runway also has been left undamaged.

There are more unanswered questions: What will the administration do to cool relations with Russia? Did Trump get Congressional approval to launch this attack? What will be Assad’s next move? How will China respond?

Caveat: This launch could be a better strategy than Obama’s drone strikes if Trump is able to: 1.  Limit military operations to this strike 2. Score no causalities 3. Reach a diplomatic solution to the Syrian Crisis with no other military action.

Update: Prime Minister Medvedev

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This post is an update of my blog series titled, “The Questionable Vladimir Putin.”

Alexei Navalny is running for President of Russia. Navalny has turned his attention to the “Dimon,” Dmitry Medvedev.

Prime Minister Medvedev is considered the lapdog of Vladimir Putin. When Putin is President, Medvedev is Prime Minister and when Medvedev is President, Putin is Prime Minister. The two men perform this political dance in order to keep Putin in power.

Navalny is a lawyer and an anti-corruption activist. A documentary has surfaced that tries to expose Medvedev’s corruption and his ill-gotten material gains. With public documents and minute inferences, Navalny exposes what he thinks is deep corruption and high-level bribery. The video shows lavish estates and close ties between Russian oligarchs and Medvedev. Aerial views of the estates provided by drones and photos of yachts support Navalny’s case against Medvedev.

Here is a blow-by-blow summary of the video provided by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an entity started by Navalny in 2011:

CHAPTER 1 – DACHA

The Anti-Corruption Foundation has already presented the investigation about the old Milovka estate in Ples, which is used by Dmitry Medvedev. The estate territory houses a reconstructed 18th century mansion, a modern house with a pool, and some household buildings. There are three helicopter pads, a ski slope and a yacht pier at Milovka. The land and the buildings were originally registered to the Dar Foundation, which is headed by Medvedev’s former university classmate, friend and confidante Ilya Yeliseev. The media has written quite a lot about Dar Foundation’s connections to prime minister’s family, and Medvedev himself has been spotted at Ples quite a few times.

In 2014, the Dar Foundation transferred the ownership of Milovka to a different foundation — Gradislava Foundation for Preservation of Cultural and Historic Heritage. This foundation doesn’t do any actual preservation of heritage, it’s necessary to provide a better cover for the fact that prime minister Medvedev has a dacha worth over 20 billion rubles ($343 mln). Director of the Gradislava Foundation also works at the Dar Foundation, and the estate wasn’t sold, it was simply gifted.

CHAPTER 2 – A BRIBE FROM AN OLIGARCH

The founder of the Gradislava Foundation and Ilya Yeliseev turned out to be connected with another charitable foundation called Sotsgosproekt (Foundation for Socially Important Government Projects), which is headed by another former classmate of Medvedev. This foundation is not engaged in any noticeable charity, but it owns a giant house and 4.3 hectares of land in Russia’s most prestigious and expensive district. Such real estate at Rublevka Highway costs about 5 billion rubles ($85 million). The workers who maintain the estate regularly publish the pictures of the swanky interiors in their social media accounts and call this place «Medvedev’s residence.»

After closely studying the real estate documents, the Anti-Corruption Foundation learned that the charitable foundation received this very expensive estate as a gift from one of Russia’s richest businessmen, Alisher Usmanov. And such present from the oligarch to the government official can only be called a bribe.

CHAPTER 3 – ANCESTRAL HOME

Medvedev’s family hails from the Kursk Region, which is why soon after Medvedev became the president, an «ancestral home» was built there, and he visits it regularly. In the middle of the field, behind a very high fence, hides an estate with the main house and several guest houses, two helicopter pads and an athletic ground. A chapel has been built in place of the house that used to belong to Medvedev’s grandfather.

But ancestral home wasn’t enough, and so a large agricultural complex Mansurovo was organized there as well, and received significant preferences from the local authorities. The preferences aren’t helping much, and the agricultural company has posted losses since the moment of its establishment. The Mansurovo agricultural complex and other agricultural enterprises in the Kursk Region are managed by the already familiary Medvedev classmate Ilya Yeliseev, and the prime minister’s cousin.

CHAPTER 4 – VINEYARDS A-LA TUSCANY

In addition to the Rublevka estate, the Sotsgosproekt foundation owns a share in Skalisty Bereg company, which owns 100 hectares of Anapa vineyards. According to one well-known Russian sommelier, «the views there are such… that you can imagine yourself in Tuscany.»

One of Skalisty Bereg’s directors was a person who later became the director of the Gradislava Foundation, the nominal owner of the estate in Ples. The board of directors of Skalisty Bereg is also headed by the same Ilya Yeliseev.

The current director of Skalisty Bereg is Andrei Skok, one of the key asset managers of Alexander Tkachev, current minister of agriculture and former governor of the Krasnodar Region. Since the moment of vineyards’ acquisition, Medvedev and Tkachev began lobbying the government for preferences for the winemaking business, in which they both have a financial interest.

CHAPTER 5 – TRAINERS

The agriculture complex in the Kursk Region and the vineyards in the Krasnodar Region are partially owned by a certain company called Tekhinpro. The name of this company’s director Vladimir Dyachenko is found in Medvedev’s personal correspondence that was hacked and dumped online in 2014. Dmitry Medvedev makes all of his online purchases in the name of this man. The Anti-Corruption Foundation found numerous examples where athletic trainers and shirts ordered for delivery to the address of this confidant were later worn by the prime minister as confirmed by official photographs.

Vladimir Dyachenko is the key manager and the link between the various assets whose de facto owner is Medvedev. Dyachenko’s companies hold controlling stakes in the Mansurovo Agriculture Complex and Skalisty Bereg vineyards at Anapa. Dyachenko also oversees the day-to-day management of Rublevka estate gifted by Alisher Usmanov.

CHAPTER 6 – ANOTHER FOUNDATION AND RESIDENCE

We have already discovered three charitable foundations that are supposed to start projects in the Russian regions, preserve the cultural heritage and support socially important projects, but instead are building estates and buying vineyards. Judging by its name, the fourth foundation is supposed to support winter Olympic sports, but instead it «supports» Dmitry Medvedev’s winter residence in Sochi.

The residence with an area of 1,000 sq.m is located next to a ski resort, and in addition to luxurious residential quarters it has steam rooms, saunas, a salt grotto, and something quite mysterious, called a «shower of impressions.»

The owners and managers are the same: classmate Ilya Yeliseev and employee of the Dar Foundation Vitaly Golovachev. Dmitry Medvedev regularly visits this residence, as proved by the photos in his Instagram. In his personal correspondence we see that he personally doles out instructions on the management, personnel hiring and purchases for this estate. He’s been violating the laws for at least three years by failing to declare this property on his tax returns.

CHAPTER — ABUSE OF OFFICE

We discovered the next felony with the help of the Prosecutor’s Office for Moscow Region. In 2014, it tried to contest the transaction for the sale of government land for a knock-down price. But when the prosecutors learned that the land was bought by Medvedev’s empire, they quickly let the matter slide.

During Medvedev’s presidential term, the Department of Presidential Affairs sold for a dime a giant land lot to a company headed by Medvedev’s classmate. Twenty hectares of land and a huge house at Rublevka were sold for a price 200 times smaller than its market value. In the course of several months, the land was re-registered to the subsidiary of Dar Foundation, which continues to own this lot. As usual, the buyer’s founder and director is yet another classmate of Dmitry Medvedev.

CHAPTER 8 — FUTURE SEASIDE DACHAS

If the land at Rublevskoye Highway was acquired through abuse of office, then two valuable lots in the Krasnodar Region were acquired by Medvedev’s people with the help of another criminal scheme — phantom bidding by subsidiary companies.

Using this method, Medvedev’s companies purchased a land lot in Utrish and an old resort at Olginka. Both venues are located on the Black Sea shore and can become excellent new residences.

The similarity of these stories, their conenction to the administration of the Krasnodar Region, the Department of Presidential Affairs and the charity foundation of Medvedev’s wife allow us to make a claim that Medvedev himself was the real beneficiary of these deals.

CHAPTER 9 — CHARITY ACTS AS A REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER

In 2009, Certum Invest company, headed by the former director of the Dar Foundation and Ilya Yeliseev’s student Philipp Polyansky, acquired a historic mansion in St. Petersburg. Three months later the mansion was transferred into the ownership of Dar Foundation.

The mansion was reconstructed and became an elite clubhouse with 29 apartments. Some of the apartments have elevators for the cars. The apartments and non-residential quarters were divided between the companies of Medvedev’s empire. Six of the apartments worth one billion rubles are owned by the Dar Foundation, while 23 are owned by Certum Invest. Commercial properties on the mansion’s first floor are occupied by FKK company, which is owned by the Foundation for Support of Winter Olympic Sports and which earlier provided the Mansurovo agricultural complex with some mortgaged land.

CHAPTER 10 — STARTUP INVESTOR

Another proof that the group of companies, discovered by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, is acting in the interests of Dmitry Medvedev was found quite surprisingly. We found a small article that reported that Certum Invest company, which bought the Kushelev-Bezborodko mansion in St. Petersburg and later handed it over to the Dar Foundation, invested some money in an unknown IT startup.

By some curious coincidence that was the same startup that Dmitry Medvedev liked earlier, when he visited the Open Innovations exhibition.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation believes that this is yet another proof of the fact that the intricate system of charity foundations, managing companies, classmates and relatives that we described has just one goal, to serve Medvedev’s interest. And his interests, just like for any person, are very diverse — from country houses to gadgets and trainers.

CHAPTER 11 — YACHTS

Information from the Russian Register of Legal Entities on one of the described companies led our investigators to Cyprus. There, we found an offshore company owned by Dmitry Medvedev’s most trusted confidant, Ilya Yeliseev. This offhosre owns two yachts worth $16 million.

These yachts can be seen at the pier of Medvedev’s estate at Ples. Medvedev was on one of the yachts when he made and posted photos of celebration fireworks in St. Petersburg to his Instagram. Both yachts are named Fotiniya, that’s the church version of the name Svetlana. And Svetlana is the name of Medvedev’s wife. The newer and the more expensive yacht is used rarely, but all instances of its use are connected to Medvedev.

If we suppose that the yacht actually belongs to Medvedev’s friend Ilya Yeliseev, then we’ll have to allow that Yeliseev is constantly shadowing the prime minister, living at his dacha, and going with him on all the river cruises.

CHAPTER 12 — A REAL TUSCAN VINEYARD

In March 2012, Svetlana Medvedeva vacationed in Italy, in Tuscany. Several months later, the same offshore company that owns Dmitry Medvedev’s yacht, purchased a winery there.

For the price of $10 million the «Russian investors» got 100 hectares of vineyards and olive groves, a winery and an old villa. After the sale, the winery’s management was passed on to Sergei Stupnitsky, who previously was the director of another winery connected with the prime minister, the Skalisty Bereg at Anapa.

CHAPTER 13 — FINANCING AND MANAGEMENT

Using open sources, we’ve been able to confirm the following sources of Dmitry Medvedev’s wealth.

First, it comes in the form of «donations» or simply bribes from the oligarchs. Leonid Mikhelson, Leonid Simanovsky and Alisher Usmanov invested 38 billion rubles ($652 million) in Medvedev’s empire.

Second, Medvedev’s empire receives credits from large companies. In 2007, the state-controlled Gazprombank, whose board is chaired by Ilya Yeliseev, gave Medvedev’s Dar Foundation a credit for 11 billion rubles ($463 million). Bashneft and its subsidiaries provided almost 3 billion rubles worth of credits. It’s notable, that the oil company’s financial records state that these loans were nonrecoverable.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation analyzed the job openings posted online, as well as the information on domain registrations, employees and addresses of the companies, real estate records and the employees’ social media pages. We can confidently state that the dacha at Ples, the estate at Rublevka, the secret highland dacha at Psekhako, the lands at Utrish, Olginka and vilalge of Maslovo, the vineyards at Anapa, the count’s palace remade into apartments with car elevators, the agriculture business and yachts are all serviced from the single center and the only element that unites this whole system is Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev.

CONCLUSIONS

The conclusion of our investigation is rather sad. The former president, acting prime minister and Russia’s second in command has created a corrupt network of charity foundations that he uses to get bribes from the oligarchs and to maniacally build himself palaces and dachas all around the country. He also buys yachts and vineyards abroad.

People, who have seized power in Russia, have long ago stopped being simple bribetakers. The corrupt officials usually try to hide their activities, but these people are acting almost in the open. Hundreds of people are engaged in servicing Medvedev and his properties. And they all see, know and understand, who owns these dachas protected by the state special services.

What will happen after this investigation is published? Will somebody be arrested? Will a criminal case be opened? A start of investigation? Nothing, we’ve been through all of this before. The officials will keep mum at first and will forbid all media from reporting on our investigation. Then they’ll try to block the video. Then they’ll say that it’s a provocation of the foreign intelligence agencies. And if any criminal case is opened, it will be against Alexei Navalny or his colleagues.

The protagonists of this investigation have been in power for 17 years, and they are not going to change for the better. They will not be reformed. We have to fight them, we have to pressure them, so that they remember that they are not monarchs or czars, that they are regular government officials who have to answer to the people.

15 Ways You Might Be a Partisan

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American society has come to prefer empty sound bites over substantive political discourse. Voters are persuaded by puerile rhetoric wrapped in thin, unconsidered speech. Everyone seems to be wrapped in vain trappings. Politicians get a pass because they have learned to shield themselves from hard-hitting questions and news outlets seem more concerned with recording the latest slight.

A deeper disposition lurks in all of this folly, partisanship. Here is a list that may help identify a partisan.

You are not necessarily a partisan if you agree with one of these positions. Your chances of being a partisan increase with every question that applies to you.

1. You agree with all positions taken by your preferred political party
2. You only watch news and reference sources that support your position
3. You only have friends who believe just as you do
4. You always disagree with moderates
5. You don’t have arguments for your positions
6. Your political position changes with your political party
7. You do not know the other side’s position well
8. You prize ideology over evidence on political issues
9. You see the other side as completely irrational
10. You prefer a politician who appeals to emotion over one who proposes strong and nuanced policies
11. You hate consensus building
12. You prefer the success of your party over the well-being of the country
13. You naturally default to sharp hyperbolic language in political discourse
14. You almost always commit the straw man fallacy when presenting the other side’s position
15. You cannot have a civil conversation with a political opponent

Henry Kissinger: Setting the Record Straight (Part 4)

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Undermining a US President

Zach Dorfman, senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, exposed another grotesque instance of Kissinger’s immoral dealings.

In 1976 Ausgusto Pinochet was still president of Chile. Pinochet managed to garner strong opposition from many people and Orlando Letelier was one of the most outspoken of them. Letelier was a defense and foreign minister under President Salvador Allende. Letelier was also Chile’s ambassador to the United States. He was tortured and jailed when Pinochet came to power.

Pinochet’s hatred for Letelier was so pronounced he hatched a plan to kill him. On September 21, 1976 Pinochet ordered the assassination of Letelier. Letelier was working at a think tank in Washington D.C. at the time. A group of Cuban extremist placed a bomb on the underside of Letelier’s car. They waited until he got to the Sheridan Circle and detonated the bomb.

The bomb blast was so powerful that an eyewitness said they saw the car as it was coming down from the air. One of police officers who arrived on scene remembered seeing a human foot in the street. The body of man was on the pavement with part of his legs missing. FBI agent Carter Cornick was assigned to this case and he noted that this “was the first case of international terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism in Washington.”

US federal prosecutors indicted three Chilean intelligence agents for masterminding the murder. President Jimmy Carter’s administration requested that the men be extradited to the US for trial. On October 1, 1979 the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request.

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Where does Kissinger fit into this story?

Kissinger decided to have Chilean Foreign Minister Hernan Cubillos for breakfast. The breakfast lasted for 70 minutes. Kissinger told Cubillos he thought the Chileans were right in rejecting the Carter administration’s extradition request. Kissinger went further by advising the Pinochet government on how “to get what he wanted from Carter.” He told them to be tough, even brutal with the Carter administration.

Henry Kissinger approved of, and gave advice to a regime that committed the first state-sponsored terrorist attack in Washington!

This man should not be lavished with praise. It may be appropriate to place him in jail for war crimes. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump hold him in high esteem. This is just one more reason to think the political parties are deeply corrupt.

Henry Kissinger: Setting the Record Straight (Part 3)

 

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Madman Strategy

Why would anyone think Kissinger was capable of committing such heinous crimes? Perhaps one reason for this belief has to do with the Madman Theory.

William Burr is Senior Analyst at the National Security Archive and Jeffrey Kimball is professor emeritus, Miami University, and author of Nixon’s Vietnam War and The Vietnam War Files. They wrote:

President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger believed they could compel “the other side” to back down during crises in the Middle East and Vietnam by “push[ing] so many chips into the pot” that Nixon would seem ‘crazy’ enough to “go much further….

The purpose of the strategy was to “make “the other side … thinks we might be ‘crazy’ and might really go much further” – Nixon’s Madman Theory notion of intimidating adversaries such as North Vietnam and the Soviet Union to bend them to Washington’s will in diplomatic negotiations.”

Burr and Kimball continue:

With Madman diplomacy, Nixon and Kissinger strove to end the Vietnam War on the most favorable terms possible in the shortest period of time practicable, an effort that culminated in a secret global nuclear alert in October of that year [1969]. Nixon’s Nuclear Specter provides the most comprehensive account to date of the origins, inception, policy context, and execution of “JCS Readiness Test” – the equivalent of a worldwide nuclear alert that was intended to signal Washington’s anger at Moscow’s support of North Vietnam and to jar the Soviet leadership into using their leverage to induce Hanoi to make diplomatic concessions. Carried out between 13 and 30 October 1969, it involved military operations around the world, the continental United States, Western Europe, the Middle East, the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Sea of Japan. The operations included strategic bombers, tactical air, and a variety of naval operations, from movements of aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines to the shadowing of Soviet merchant ships heading toward Haiphong.

Nixon and Kissinger’s strategy involved stoking fear in Soviet leadership by being perceived as mad. They wanted to appear unrestricted in their use of force in order to get their enemies to the bargaining table.

We have a number of declassified documents that reveal the truth around Kissinger’s actions. Nixon wrote a memorandum to Kissinger in March of 1969 saying, “we must worry the Soviets about the possibility that we are losing our patience and may get out of control.”

How can the madman strategy follow along ethical lines? If bombings were surgical and ethical they wouldn’t seem mad or strike fear in anyone, right?

Needless to say, this strategy was a failure.

Henry Kissinger: Setting the Record Straight (Part 2)

 

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Summary of Kissinger’s Misdeeds

Some, like New York University history professor Greg Grandin, would say Kissinger’s actions were far from praiseworthy. Here are some of Kissinger’s misdeeds as seen by the Grandin:

1. Prolonged the Vietnam War for five pointless years
2. Illegally bombed Cambodia and Laos
3. Bore responsibility for three genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh
4. Pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan
5. Accelerated needless civil wars in southern Africa that, in the name of supporting white supremacy, left millions dead
6. Supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America

Grandin believes Kissinger’s actions led to the deaths of 3 to 4 million people. Let’s explore two of those bombing campaigns.

Bombing of Cambodia

On March 18, 1969 B-52 bombers began carpet bombing eastern Cambodia. The name of the operation was “Operation Breakfast.” This bombing campaign was the catalyst for Cambodia’s entrance into the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration hid these bombings from Congress.

The Historical Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense estimates 50,000 civilians were killed in Cambodia.

To be clear, we drew Cambodia into the Vietnam War and secretly invaded their country. The bombings were tactically unnecessary. Even worse, Sydney Schanberg, a former New York Times correspondent, argued the bombings helped the Khmer Rouge grow.

Khmer Rouge

The Khmer Rouge was a guerrilla group that came to prominence after a successful coup deposed Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970. The prince relied on the Khmer Rouge for support, thereby elevating their standing. The Khmer Rouge initially gained support because they presented themselves as a peaceful group committed to pacifism.

Pol Pot became a leader in the Khmer Rouge. Pot implemented a cruel form of communism. He went about “emptying the cities, abolishing money, private property and religion, and setting up rural collectives.” Pot created communal farms and exposed the populace to fatal work conditions. Almost 2 million people were killed by execution, disease, starvation and overwork under the Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule from 1975 to 1979.

Justification

Kissinger has tried to defend his actions in Cambodia by saying they bombed areas that were largely uninhabited. This is simply not true. The Washington Post puts it this way:

U.S. bombs landed on populated areas of Cambodia, too. As Kissinger himself reports in an endnote in his 2003 book, “The worst error occurred at Neak Luong, when more than a hundred civilians were killed” by a B-52 strike on the banks of the Mekong River on Aug. 6, 1973. Furthermore, an overlay of U.S. bombing coordinates onto historical maps of Cambodia clearly shows that U.S. planes targeted populated areas, again and again and again, as reported by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan in an October 2006 article in The Walrus.

Bombing of Laos

North Vietnam created an intricate logistical system through mountainous and jungle terrain in order to man and resupply the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. The purpose of the National Front was to fight against South Vietnam and the US. The logistical route was called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The US carried out 580,000 bombing missions in Laos over nine years in order to destroy the Trail. The bombing campaign was a failure. Another 50,000 people were killed as a result of these bombing campaigns. Even worse, the bombings left 80 million unexploded bombs in the ground of Laos.