5 February 2018   Leave a comment

US President Trump accused Democrats of “treason” and being “un-American” for not clapping during his recent State of the Union address.  Aides insisted that Mr. Trump was “joking”, but after watching the video of his comments in Cincinnati I really cannot tell.  Treason, however, is not a joking matter–the penalty for the crime is death–and un-American has the odious stench of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.  There actually was a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) from 1938 to 1975 in Congress (renamed the Internal Security Committee in 1969).   The description of the Committee is ugly:

“Individuals who refused to answer the committee’s questions or to provide names could be indicted for contempt of Congress and sent to prison. Subjects of HUAC investigations had the option of invoking their right to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, but “pleading the Fifth” created the impression that they were guilty of a crime. In addition, those who refused to cooperate were often blacklisted by their employers. They lost their jobs and were effectively prevented from working in their chosen industry.”

But perhaps the most chilling aspect of Mr. Trump’s charge was the parallel to his current bête noire, Kim Jong-unIn December on 2013Kim had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, the second most powerful person in the North Korean regime at the time, executed for “clapping half-heartedly” during one of his speeches.   As Nietzsche pointed out: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

 

The Winter Olympics has provided an opportunity for a pause in the contretemps over the North Korean nuclear program, but it appears as if both sides are testing the lull as much as possible.  North Korea has just finished a military parade and apparently intends to hold another displaying its missiles.  US Vice-President Pence is going to attend the opening ceremony with the father of Otto Warmbier who died after brutal treatment in a North Korean prison.  South Korea is rightfully concerned that Pence may complicate the tenuous relationship that South Korea is trying to nurture with the North.

 

The Turkish invasion of Syrian territory to prevent Syrian Kurds from holding land that they regard as a possible autonomous region of Syria or perhaps even as the basis for an independent Kurdish state does no seem to be going well.  The invasion pits two American allies–Turkey and the Kurds–against each other and places the US in an impossible position.  For the moment, Russia is supporting the Turkish move, but ultimately Russia will support Syrian control over the region no matter who holds it.  Iran, another member of the alliance to support Assad in Syria, also demanded that Turkey halt its offensive, placing Iran and the US in support of the same position.  There is, however, a more overarching issue in the current Syrian offensive against the Kurds and that is that Kurds control great swathes of Syrian territory other than the northwestern areas currently being battled over.  The Kurds are calling this huge area in eastern Syria “Rojava” and are intent on holding it for the Kurdish people in Syria.  Right now, that control is not being contested actively by any of the interested parties, including the Syrian government.

Posted February 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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