20 November 2018   Leave a comment

The New York Times has an article on the situation in the former Yugoslavia whose break-up in 1991 led to bloody conflicts between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians.  Those conflicts were a harbinger of the nationalist sentiments that seem to be sweeping other states in the world.  The bloodletting has fortunately subsided to a certain degree, but the tensions among the three ethnic groups–who are virtually indistinguishable by most markers of identity–remain.  The article focuses on the situation in Bosnia where the divisions resonate with other areas of the world:

“The problem now, he said, is not just that Bosnia is still so divided but that Europe and the United States are themselves so polarized and have diminishing interest in Bosnia’s troubles. The emerging vacuum is being filled by Russia and Turkey, each keen to reassert itself in the Balkans — Russia as a protector of the Serbs and Turkey on behalf of Muslims.

“’These times remind me of the 1930s. Everything is falling apart. The center cannot hold,’ Mr. Ashdown added.”

One should not forget that divisions in this region led to World War I.  These memories do not die easily.


Before he had received the CIA’s full report on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US President Trump issued the following statement:

“America First!

“The world is a very dangerous place!
“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’
“On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.
“After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!
“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.
“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!
“I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels — so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!”
The sophistry of this statement defies belief.  Apparently cold-blooded assassinations matter little when weighed in the balance of defense contracts.  When assessing the value of Saudi Arabia as an ally, one should always keep in mind that Saudi Arabia has funded schools (madrassas) throughout the world that teach hatred against liberal values; that most of the attackers in the 11 September 2001 horror were Saudi Arabian; that Saudi Arabia continues to wage a brutal war in Yemen that violates virtually every law of warfare; and that Saudi Arabia has led a boycott against Qatar, the host of one of the largest US military bases in the world.
The idea that the President believes the Crown Prince’s denials and not the assessment of the US CIA would be incomprehensible except that the President also believed Vladimir Putin rather than the unanimous conclusion of all the US intelligence agencies on the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 US national election.  “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” is hardly the brilliant analysis of an informed policy-maker–what does that phrase actually mean?

Posted November 20, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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