The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly opened the 72nd Session declaring that priorities for the body was to come up with a global framework to address immigration, a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and further implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Miroslav Lajčák, a career diplomat from Slovakia, in his first address as President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, said his tenure would be a “year of firsts” – the negotiation of the first intergovernmental compact on migration and the signing of the first agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons – and called upon Member States to come together to help people striving for peace and a decent life.
Apart from being a year of “firsts”, he said, it would also a year of follow-up on maintaining the momentum in implementing and financing the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring continued work on the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Commitments from yesterday must become actions now,” he told the assembly. He added that the United Nations must be allowed to work “in a way as never before. The UN today is very different from [when it was established] in 1945 – reforming, evolving.
The work of the United Nations could often be complex, he said, but emphasized that the organization was created, first and foremost, for the people.
“The UN was created for people,” Lajčák told the assembled diplomats. “The people who need the UN the most are not sitting in this hall today. They are not involved in the negotiation of resolutions. They do not take the floor at high-level events. It is one of the tasks of the General Assembly to make sure that their voices can still be heard.”
Priorities for UN action, he said, are different “region by region, person to person. If you live where there are rising sea levels, climate change is your priority; if you are in fear of terrorism, counterterrorism is your priority, if you are suffering because of your beliefs, then human rights are your priority. I want to work to represent all of these viewpoints,” he said, saying he would seek “balance.”
In his opening remarks in which he welcomed the President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the serious threats facing the world, “from the nuclear peril to global terrorism, from inequality to cybercrime. Hurricanes and floods around the world remind us that extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe, due to climate change,” as well as the challenges posed by “irregular migration.”
“No country can meet these tests alone. But, if we work together, we can chart a safer, more stable course. And that is why the General Assembly meeting is so important,” he stated.
“People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver,” he said. “We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver. That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.”
He added that one key change within and beyond the UN must be the empowerment of women and girls around the world, and highlighted his own roadmap for achieving gender parity.
He called for more female candidates to fill vacancies within the Organization, because gender parity would improve outcomes at the United Nations.
At a press availability immediately following the official opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly, Lajčák answered a skeptical reporter’s question about immigration assertively: “It is not true there is no global framework,” he said. “We are in reactive mode. We need to respond globally – global governance….because in reality, immigration is here to stay.”
And in an earlier interview with UN News, Lajčák said, “The most important thing for me is to understand that what we do here is meant to improve the lives of people on this plane. We are not here because of ourselves and we are not here because of fighting over the text of resolutions. But these resolutions serve concrete purposes. So, let us not forget for a minute that we have to focus on people, on their lives and on their concerns. Second, to be representative, as we are or wish to be, we have to be open, we have to communicate with our partners, with the young generations, with media, with civic activists, and NGOs, and with the business community, so that we are really reflecting the hopes, needs and expectations of the world’s public.”
Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Despite a campaign to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons such as were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki going back to the very beginning of the United Nations the General Assembly, the UN this year for the first time is taking up an agreement to prohibit the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.
On July 7, 2017, 122 nations agreed (one voted against) – notably, the nine nations including the United States that already have nuclear weapons boycotted the proceedings. On September 20, a formal treaty will be presented for signature by the nations. . Fifty countries must sign and ratify the treaty for it to enter into force.
“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the total repudiation of nuclear deterrence by most of the states that don’t possess or rely on nuclear weapons,” United for Peace and Justice, UFPJ, stated. “But the US and the eight other nuclear-armed states boycotted the negotiations, along with Japan, Australia, South Korea and all but one of the 28 NATO member states (The Netherlands) – all countries under the US nuclear umbrella. In a joint statement following the vote, the US, France and the United Kingdom declared: “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to [the Treaty].” Meanwhile, nuclear tensions have risen to levels not seen for decades.
“While the Ban Treaty negotiations were taking place in the United Nations, two floors up in the same building, in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the United States was threatening military action against North Korea, in response to its July 4 missile test.
“We must keep both realities – the promise of the Ban Treaty and growing dangers of nuclear war – fully in mind as we develop strategies to accomplish the urgent goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”
International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has once against declared September 26 an International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
“Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. After general and complete disarmament first came onto the General Assembly’s agenda in 1959, nuclear disarmament has remained the most important and urgent objective of the United Nations in this field. Since 1975, it has been a prominent theme of the review conferences of States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1978, the General Assembly’s first Special Session on disarmament reaffirmed that effective measures for nuclear disarmament have the highest priority. And it has been supported by every United Nations Secretary-General,” the UN stated.
“Yet today, some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. As of 2016, while there have been major reductions in deployed nuclear weapons since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear warhead has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty, bilateral or multilateral, and no nuclear disarmament negotiations are underway. Meanwhile, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence persists as an element in the security policies of all possessor states and their nuclear allies. This is so—despite growing concerns worldwide over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.
“These facts provide the foundation for the General Assembly’s designation of 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It also provides an opportunity to educate the public—and their leaders—about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them. Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. It is the right place to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges, achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Here’s a radical idea for dealing with North Korea: ban all nuclear weapons.
This notion has taken on new urgency in just a matter of days, Indeed, seemingly oblivious to the calendar and history marking the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which obliterated 200,000 civilians, Trump, presiding over an opioid conference during his vacation at his Bedminster NJ golf club, raised the stakes on saber-rattling:
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Never seen before?
What Trump was reacting to was Kim Jong-un’s threat to launch “thousands-fold” revenge against the United States, after the United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs.
“We are ready to retaliate with far bigger actions to make the U.S. pay a price for its crime against our country and people,” the official Korean Central News Agency stated, promising that North Korea would take a “stern action of justice.”
Trump’s “fire and fury” (evoking George W. Bush’s “shock and awe” threat to Saddam Hussein before launching the preemptive invasion of Iraq) response prompted Kim Jong-un to threaten to obliterate Guam.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, seeming on his own track, told Americans not to worry. I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.”
That is despite Senator Lindsay Graham telling Americans not to worry because a war would be fought “over there” and others in Trump’s Administration going beyond Bush’s “preemptive war” doctrine to a “preventive war” doctrine.
The situation heated just a couple of days after the annual Hiroshima commemoration, organized by SANE Peace Action based in Great Neck, a 60-year old organization, and Long Island Peace Alternatives, formed 32 years ago, which for many years now has taken place at the Universalist Unitarian Church at Shelter Rock, Long Island, never fails to inspire a range of emotions – horror, regret, guilt, anger, activism, and hope. Hope that after 72 years, the world will come to its senses as to this existential threat.
This year’s gathering, on August 2, started off surprisingly upbeat: 122 United Nations members had just adopted a treaty calling for a ban on nuclear weapons. But the hopefulness of that was shattered by the next sentence: Not one of the nine countries that actually possess nuclear weapons — United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supports it, in fact boycotted the deliberations. It’s as if the wimps and wusses of the world signed a petition to stop bullies from bullying
And while during the eight years of President Obama’s administration, the US was making strong headway to reducing nuclear threats (that is the heart of the Ukraine issue, where the collapse of the “Soviet Union resulted in an enormous cache of “loose nukes” which is why the United States and west promised to protect Ukraine against incursion), he was already being thwarted by Senate Republicans who actually balked at signing the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, indeed some are rattling sabers to undo the treaty which requires Russia and the United States to reduce their deployed nuclear warheads to 1,500 from 2,200 each by next year (New York Times, A Threat to Nuclear Arms Control, July 29, 2017).
Instead, the Republican Congress is considering whether the US should develop a new ground-launched cruise missile and withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banning missiles with a range of up to about 3,000 miles.
What success Obama had to reduce the threat of a nuclear holocaust – most dramatically, the historic Iran Nuclear Agreement – and on so many other things, Obama was under-appreciated and his efforts kind of matter-of-factly taken for granted, even dismissed, and Trump has vowed to pull out, just as he has said the US would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.
Trump’s entire focus – his federal budget, his foreign policy, domestic policy – is actually to dismantle the mechanisms of diplomacy and global cooperation (The State Department announced it is removing “promoting Democracy” from its mission statement, has already dismissed human rights as a priority in favor of deals making, is shutting down the Global Engagement Center aimed at countering propaganda which would destabilize democracy, and is generally cutting the State Department’s budget by one-third, and Trump is really, really unhappy with the campaign in Afghanistan because China is capitalizing on its mineral wealth and US companies are not), in favor of militancy, including seeking $1 TRILLION to spend on a new generation of nuclear weapons which will only reignite a nuclear arms race, on top of over $600 billion in new military spending (how interesting that Republicans believe there is no benefit to “throw money” at education or health care, but perfectly okay to throw money that isn’t even requested at the already bloated defense budget). The Trump Doctrine boils down to “To the victor belongs the spoils.”
While diplomacy is hard, complicated, nuanced and requires mental acuity, sending soldiers into war is easy.
Trump loves shiny new things and pumping up the military, focusing on militancy which is under his total control as the nominal Commander-in-Chief, is what his narcissism needs. And increasingly, as we see him throwing out red-meat “policy” to shore up his base, it is very likely that he will ultimately fall back to the Bush/Cheney/Rove tactic to secure his power and his presidency: war, preceded by a Pearl-Harbor rallying incident, 9/11. North Korea mounting a nuclear strike against Seattle, that would do the trick.
Which brings us to North Korea. No one with any brain or conscience believes that there is any military solution that would not be catastrophic. Trying to strong-arm Kim Jong-un into giving up his nuclear weapons is fantastical, especially when Kim believes (with good reason) that the only reason his country hasn’t been invaded and his regime toppled is because of his nuclear power.
Even with the Trump Administration’s “success” at getting the United Nations Security Council to vote unanimously (that means China and Russia which are bolstering North Korea) to impose new sanctions on North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is like a robot mouthing a policy that demands North Korea stop its weapons testing before the US will agree to any talks.
What does that mean, exactly? Stop for a week, a month, a year? What would qualify?
Talks are key – after all, what would the alternative be? Sanctions tend not to work with despots with total control over life and death of their subjects.
But what would the talks be about? More threats? What would be the incentive?
And what is patently clear is that any demand that begins and ends with “give up nuclear weapons program” will be a nonstarter. Kim Jong-un has seen what has happened to other tyrants who do not command such weapons or who give up their weapons, like Libya’s Omar Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. And he sees how despite Iran giving up its nuclear weapons program in order to have economic sanctions lifted, the Trump Administration is working to re-impose economic sanctions, despite the administration’s report acknowledging that Iran has been in compliance with the agreement. What lesson should Kim Jong-on draw?
Instead of laying the groundwork for a diplomatic solution (the State Department has barely any personnel: no Ambassador to South Korea, no under-Secretary for Asian Affairs), Trump seems to want to provoke ever more aggressive actions which would then justify a military response which he thinks will rally mindless adherence and give an excuse to permanently silence any opposition.
Trump is a guy who flippantly said during the 2016 presidential campaign he might use nuclear weapons and questioned why we would make them if we wouldn’t use them, who suggested that other countries like Saudi Arabia and South Korea and Japan get their own nuclear weapons because they should fund their own defense without the United States incurring the expense, who had no clue what the “nuclear triad” was and apparently, no idea whatsoever of the terrifying consequence of using nuclear bombs. (See” 9 terrifying things Donald Trump has publicly said about nuclear weapons).
(The question I would have is whether the American military establishment would refuse to obey Trump’s order.)
So here’s a radical idea: moving toward eliminating nuclear weapons altogether is the solution. If the nine nations that have nuclear weapons agree to dispose of them, that could be the solution.
Otherwise, we are likely headed toward a nuclear confrontation in which there will be no winners, only losers.
At the end of the evening, there was a call to action: Call or visit your Congressmembers to urge them to support The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and call on the President to take nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert and to pursue nuclear disarmament.
“It pains me to see racism, bigotry, hatred, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism tearing people apart not just in our country but the whole world,” said Seemi Ahmed, of the Islamic Center of Long Island, at the “Hiroshima Remembrance”:. We must get rid of nuclear weapons, stop illegal wars, illegal occupation and sincerely work for peaceful coexistence by promoting dialogue among communities, ending poverty and racism and holding governments responsible.”
The concept behind the nuclear arsenals is the fear of mutually assured destruction will cause any rational leader to pull back from using them. But as Ira Helfand of Leeds MA wrote the New York Times, “Yet we know of more than a dozen instances when nuclear-armed countries began the process of launching their nuclear weapons, usually in the mistaken belief that their adversaries had already done so — more than a dozen times when deterrence failed. And we are told that North Korea must not obtain a nuclear capability because it cannot reliably be deterred. It is time to abandon this failed policy and to pursue the real security of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
In fact, one instance of how close the world came to nuclear holocaust was documented in an amazing, frightening and inspiring film, “The Man Who Saved the World,” about Stanislov Petrov, a Soviet soldier commanding a nuclear bunker who single-handedly averted a nuclear world war in September 1983 by refusing to launch missiles when all his radar and computer systems showed an attack underway by the United States. Petrov defied his orders and protocol and refused to launch knowing that even if the US strike was real and would kill 100 million Russians in an instant, the strike he would order would kill 100 million Americans in the next instant and a billion more people around the planet subsequently.
Indeed, the threats to the continued habitability of the planet and its 7 billion resident souls are not just from a lunatic renegade like Kim Jong-un.
At the end of the evening, Margaret Melkonian, LI Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives. issued a call to action: urge your Congressmembers to support The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and call on the President to take nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert and to pursue nuclear disarmament.
“It is ironic and so disheartening with the outcome of 122 countries signing on and moving forward to making progress toward eliminating nuclear weapons, was the statement by the US, UK and France: ’While we share your vision of getting rid of nuclear weapons, the time isn’t right. This treaty not the best tactic – we will never sign this treaty, never eliminate nuclear weapons.’ But we say the time is right, the time is now,” she said.
The White House just issued this statement on the American Embassy in Israel:
“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance. President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
This weekend we properly honor the millions who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation since the Revolutionary War, which established us as a free and independent nation founded upon “We the People” as its governing principle.
But where are the parades for the peacemakers who just as equally keep us free, independent, who are the shield to our values and our way of life? Where are the parades for the diplomats, the professors and teachers, the scientists and researchers, the doctors and nurses and social workers?
Donald Trump, on his first overseas trip, has expressly shown his values, as epitomized in the $110 billion military deal he signed with Saudi Arabia, embracing Saudi Arabia as an ally in the fight against ISIS but ignoring Saudis’ role in 9/11 and in funding the schools that breed anti-Israel and jihadist ideology and terrorism. And it is clear in how in both Saudi Arabia and Israel, he fomented hostility against Iran even as the Iranians overwhelmingly reelected President Rouhani, a moderate who has shifted even further away from the hard-liners in pursuing better alliances with the West.
Trump doesn’t care because he needs an enemy to march against, to battle against. That is his unifying principle, he thinks, to gain position for Israel among the Sunni-majority nations, and resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict – not with diplomacy but with militancy.
(How fitting that Trump was welcomed to Saudi Arabia with a traditional dance of the Najd region, that is typically performed to celebrate victory in war. Trump was in the middle of the melee, along with his top aides Gary Cohn and Steve Bannon and photographers and videographers captured him swaying to the drumbeat-fueled chanting.)
Trump’s budget just released by henchman, OMB Director Mike Mulvaney, shows his priorities and his values: 10% increase ($54 billion) to the military (to $603 billion), slashing an equal amount from domestic programs (to $462 billion) – accomplished by slashing health care spending and defunding Planned Parenthood, slashing Food Stamps and Meals on Wheels and Public Broadcasting, student loans, Social Security disability program, environmental programs altogether, and significantly rebalancing the budget already bloated in favor of the defense industry. (The United States already spend more on Defense than the next 7 countries combined, a list that includes Russia and China.)
It is not just the domestic programs that go toward everyday Americans that are cut, it is also dramatically slashing diplomacy in favor of war.
Trump’s budget calls for nearly 30% cut in allocations for the State Department (from $38.8 billion to $27.7 billion), which was already so pressed for funding, it had trouble paying for the level of security that might have prevented the Benghazi tragedy. And, oh yes, dramatically cutting foreign aid, including cruelly expanding the Global Gag Rule from denying aid not just to family planning services that don’t explicitly censure abortion, but ALL global health assistance programs including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria and global health security.
Trump (and the Republicans because this is really Paul Ryan’s budget) would cut programs for health, climate change and environment that counter famine, drought and flooding, foreign aid and diplomacy. This would do nothing to address the underlying issues that lead to violent conflict, but rather add gasoline to the fire of seething discontent, both abroad and at home.
And that’s because Trump craves to be a War President. He sees that War Presidents can enact martial law, erase personal liberties, suspend habeus corpus, promote torture as an instrument of national security, suspend a free press. He can be the unquestioned, unchallenged, adored autocrat.
Why didn’t he condemn Turkey President Erdogan’s goons for beating up American protesters in Washington DC? Because he is smacking to do the same thing, to have an excuse to crack down on free speech, free press, free assembly.
For Trump, military power is the path to unfettered domestic control. After all, the hot-war in Iraq (as opposed to the less flashy missions to route out the Taliban who were shielding Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan) worked so well for Bush/Cheney to get their tax cuts. Indeed, Trump is close to reigniting that war, by sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan.
Trump has installed generals in traditionally civilian roles in charge of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, while installing the most inept, inexperienced, corrupt to head agencies most directly involved in domestic programs (housing, environment, interior, health and human services, education, commerce).
Recently, when he was in a well-publicized video chat with NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, in response to a statement of the importance of international cooperation to achieve such milestones as a Mars mission, Trump, without missing a beat, remarked on the “military applications of space.” Who does that?
He showed his predilection when, on Day 1, he told the CIA “we may have a second chance at getting at Iraq’s oil” because, you know, he learned when he was a boy that “to the victor belongs the spoils.” He also complained that the US doesn’t win wars anymore.
His intense interest in spending on costly military hardware is telling because, barring Trump instigating a new hot war, the next war will be fought in cyberspace, and the battlefield will be the electric grid, the financial networks and the utility plant. Our main enemy now consists of some tens of thousands of militant terrorists, including lone wolves recruited over the internet and under the spell of radical ideology, who could pop up anywhere with a home-made bomb in a backpack, a machete, or a truck to ram into a crowd of pedestrians, but won’t be defeated by sending in bombers or brigades.
Nonetheless, Trump wants to explode the domestic budget – cutting billions from programs which benefit everyday Americans – to pay for military hardware.
Why? Because for Trump, the $ is Almighty. Spending money on clean energy and sustainability is an investment toward a better future; spending money on bombs has to be constantly replenished. I wonder how much that spending will come back to him as profit – he already profited on the stocks he owned when he spent $80 million on the 59 Tomahawk missiles exploded in the staged attack on a Syrian air base which actually did not harm the base or the planes. It will definitely profit him, though, as a payoff to his donors.
In theater when you show a gun in the first act, it will absolutely be used by the third act. But let’s examine why: this gives Trump the big shiny, flashy, muscular objects that feed his narcissism. But also, it expands his virtually unlimited power as Commander-in-Chief (a function he has already proved completely inept at), while domestic programs are much more controlled by Congress. But by expanding the military in the way he intends, he continues to show that his “vision” is based on the world of the 1950s and 1960s. Hence his renewed interest in expanding, not reducing nuclear weapons.
Trump is upping US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where is the outrage over the service members and civilians and allies (like the Russian soldiers) who have been lost in flawed, failed missions orchestrated by the most inept Commander-in-Chief this country has ever had, who casually gives a “go” for a raid over dinner, without consultation or consideration of the ramifications? Imagine if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were in office, there would be mobs with pitchforks flooding the streets, demanding resignation or impeachment.
The real worry is that he will use North Korea as his means to become a War President, just as Bush/Cheney used fictional WMD, conflated with 9/11, to invade Iraq. Unfortunately for Trump, South Korea has just elected a “sunshine” president who favors engagement with North Korea, which may result in Kim Jong-un tamping down his own saber-rattling.
But Trump’s saber-rattling against Iran will only bolster North Korea’s resolve to pursue nuclear weapons because they see what happens when an autocrat gives them up or doesn’t have them: Libya. Ukraine. Iraq. Iran. If he were truly interested in diplomacy, he would realize that.
He’s not interested in diplomacy or human rights or for that matter, American values.
Asked about his failure to extract human rights reforms as a condition for the $110 billion sale of armaments ($350 billion over 10 years), Trump said, “We have to defeat these forces of evil [Islamic radical terrorism]. Only then can you create the conditions to really allow human rights to flourish.”
“The glaring absence of human rights from Trump’s agenda will only embolden further violations in a region where governments flout the rights of their own people in the name of the fight against terror, and violate international humanitarian law in conflicts fueled on large part by US arms transfers,” said Amnesty International.
Trump’s reaction to the Saudi deal? “That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs”
And in remarks with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Trump said , “One of the things that we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States. And for us that means jobs and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”
Trump is the Arms-Dealer-In-Chief.
Trump also is content to brush aside human rights in negotiating new trade deals.
“Mr. Trump has dispensed with what he considers pointless moralizing and preachy naïveté. He has taken foreign policy to its most realpolitik moment in generations, playing down issues of human rights or democracy that animated his predecessors, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. His ‘America First’ approach focuses not on how other nations treat their people but on what they can do for the United States,” Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times (April 4, 2017).
Trump’s only value is that The $ is Almighty, greenbacked by military might.
Donald Trump plays victim card at US Coast Guard Academy graduation. In his commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut, May 17, he says, “Look at the way I’ve been treated lately — (laughter) — especially by the media. No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
Here are highlights from the 30-minute speech (the transcript provided by the White House):
You’ve done amazing work. And in the true Coast Guard fashion, you had fewer people and fewer resources, but you accomplished the objectives, and you did it with skill and with pride — and, I’d like to say, under budget and ahead of schedule. We’re doing a lot of that now in the United States government. (Applause.) We’re doing a lot of that.
I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won’t even talk about it. Or how much we’re about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier. That had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that. Still going to have an overrun problem. We came in when it was finished. But we’re going to save some good money. And when we build the new aircraft carriers they’re going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that. (Applause.) That will allow us to build more.
Now, of course, there are always a few slip-ups from time to time — you know that… I hereby absolve every cadet serving restrictions for minor offenses….
I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President. Jobs pouring back in to our country. A brand-new Supreme Court justice — who’s going to be fantastic for 45 years — (applause) — a historic investment in our military. Border crossings — thank you to our General — are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time — a total record, by the way, by a lot. (Applause.) We’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans — we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before. (Applause.)
I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything — that jobs were going down. We were losing business. We’re loosening it up. We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going along very, very well. We’re working on major tax cuts for all. We are going to give you the largest tax cut in the history of our country if we get it the way we want it, and we’re going to give you major tax reform. (Applause.) And we’re also getting closer and closer, day by day, to great healthcare for our citizens. (Applause.)
And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come. And the people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing. I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests. I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing. (Applause.) I will never stop fighting for you, and I will never stop fighting for the American people.
As you leave this academy to embark on your exciting new voyage, I am heading on a very crucial journey as well. In a few days, I will make my first trip abroad as President. With the safety, security, and interests of the American people as my priority, I will strengthen old friendships and will seek new partners — but partners who also help us. Not partners who take and take and take, partners who help, and partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all of the good we’re doing for them — which is something that a lot of people have not gotten used to and they just can’t get used to it. I say, get used to it, folks. (Applause.) I’ll ask them to unite for a future of peace and opposition opportunity for our peoples and the peoples of the world.
First, in Saudi Arabia, where I’ll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith. And they’re looking very much forward to hearing what we — as your representative — we have to say. We have to stop radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.)
Then in Israel, I’ll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state. In Rome, I will talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world. Finally, I’ll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily — to promote security, prosperity and peace all over the world.
I’ll meet scores of leader, and honor the holiest sites of these three great religions. And everywhere I go, I will carry the inspiration I take from you each day, from your courage and determination to do whatever is required save and protect American lives. Save and protect American lives. We want security. You’re going to give us security. (Applause.) …
…As your Commander-in-Chief, I thank you. I salute you. And I, once again, congratulate the Coast Guard Class of 2017. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the Coast Guard. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Great honor. Good luck. Enjoy your life. (Applause.)
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, US Senator and the first woman to run for President on a major party ticket, in her first sit down interview since the bruising election, nonetheless encouraged others to pursue political office, but warned to be prepared for the personal attacks, bullying. “Take criticism seriously but not personally.” She said that the Comey letter, the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign were factors in her defeat, but so was there an element of misogynism. As always, she spoke out intelligently and substantively, saying that the US should take action against Assad in Syria for the war crime of gassing civilians (later that night, Trump launched a bombing raid on the Syrian airfield where the gas attacks were launched from).
She also spoke out against the actions this administration, now in full control of right-wing Republicans, has already taken against women. “The targeting of women is absolutely beyond any political agenda’,” Clinton said. Referring to that photo of white men sitting around a table with Trump talking about removing maternity care from mandated health coverage and defunding Planned Parenthood, she said incredulously, “maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception?” And on the Trump administration’s punitive global gag order that goes beyond anything that Reagan or Bush did to defund international agencies by losing all funding if an agency helps a woman who will die if she bares another child.
“This is just not the right and moral position for the United States to take this is in our national security interest. The more we support women the more we support democracy, the more we backhand terrorism and fundamentalism that can creep into countries. So women’s issues are national security issues.”
Here are highlights from her interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, in which she discusses frankly the election, her loss, her future, Putin and Russia’s unprecedented interference in the US election, and Syria (See the full interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0iLIwfa2w) – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
I’m hopeful that the Congress will pull together and realize that because of the success the Kremlin feels it’s had they’re not going to go away. So whatever party you are whatever business you run whatever concerns you have, if we don’t take action together to hold whoever was involved accountable they will be back time and time again. Look from my prospective, I know Putin. I’ve sat with him. This is somebody who plays the long game. He plays 3-dimensional chess, he’s always trying to figure out how to advantage himself, his oligarchy companions, and his country in that order. He is very much focused on He wants to destabilizing EU , NATO, the US, real democracies. People have asked me, why did he do that you? I don’t think it’s too complicated. I think he had his desire to destabilize us and others. He’s not exactly fond of strong women so you add that together and that’s pretty much where it leads. Although he did shake hands with me (laughs and applause)
HRC on white men sitting around the table with Trump discussing removing maternity care from mandated health coverage, defunding Planned Parenthood: “The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths..” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9QbpXjr02Y)
The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths like why do we have to cover maternity care? Oh I don’t know, maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception? (laughs and applause)
Well I’m currently writing a book (APPLAUSE) where I spend a lot of time wrestling with this. As you might guess I’ve thought about it more than once. I don’t know that there is one answer. Let’s be clear in any campaign there’s many different crosscurrents and events and some have greater impact than others. But it is fair to say that certainly misogyny played a role and certainly that has to be admitted. Why and what the reasons were I’m trying to parse out myself.
I would just say this: there is a constant struggle, and not just women, women & men, in a time of rapid change like the one we are living through between something that is different, that may hold out even possible positive consequences and something that is familiar and something that is really first and foremost about security of what you have right now.
I think in this election there was a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change which is worrisome and threatening to so many others. Layer on the first woman president over that and I think some people, women included, had real problems. It’s fair to say that President Obama, my husband, they also really struggled for white votes as many as they could get. So we have to do a better job in speaking to and with people who are on the downside of the change equation and wondering what do we have to offer and why should they vote for us as opposed to well I don’t agree with him, not sure I really approve of him but he looks like somebody that has been a president before so why do I want to add more change or more potential anxiety to my life. We’re just going to go and hope he does a little bit of what he says and I think that’s where a lot of people are.
00:15 I am really focused on just doing some things that I think I can help make a difference with. Like the supporting of young people and getting more women into politics. I very much want to help Democrats take back the congress (applause).
00:40 I have no plans. I have no plans at all other than trying to find some interesting things to do, trying to support other people to pursue their interest, spend time with my grandchildren which is a great joy. I’m not making plans to do anything.
01:10 I am looking at doing interesting things I don’t think that will ever include running for office again as interesting as I find that to be because I think you can have a big influence. I think that there are lots of ways to make difference to work in all sectors in of our society, the for-profits, the not-for-profits. I am looking for ways to help people live their own lives better, tell their own stories better.
01:38 I’ve always been really focused on kids and find some good ways to help organizations that are helping particularly kids that faced difficulties in their lives. I am passionate about the unfinished business of the 21st century, the rights and the opportunities for women and girls so I think I have a lot to do.
START: First let me say that, I don’t take any pleasure in seeing the kind of chaotic functioning … I thought I was going to win and I had a really good transition operation going. Because I understood. Remember the debates, remember that one point in the debate when my opponent was ridiculing me yet again for having prepared for the debate? And I said yes I didprepare for the debate and I’ll tell you something else I prepared for and that’s being president.
00:48 It’s the hardest job you can imagine. I thought we would’ve been prepared we would’ve been ready to move on arrange events we worked so hard on policies and already lining up personal and the likes. So clearly that wasn’t well prepared for the incoming administration and I think they’re going through some very public growing pains.
01:18 But here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand the commitment to hurt so many people that this administration this White House seems to be pursuing. There’s so many examples in just the first 100 days: the ban on people coming into our country. Yes it was originally aimed at 7 not 6 countries but it really set a chilling effect across the world. Not just to Muslims but all kinds of people that are saying well wait a minute don’t you still have Lady Liberty in the New York harbor aren’t we still the land of opportunity and freedom. It had a terrible impact.
02:11 And then of course what they did or tried to do with the health care bill. Which I will confess l..having listened to them discuss repeal and replace for 8 or 7 years now, they had no clue what that meant. I don’t know if any of them read the bill, read the law, understand how it worked. It was so obvious. Healthcare is complicated. They don’t know what to do. I do admit that was somewhat gratifying (cheers applause).
03:03 The targeting of women which is what’s going on is absolutely beyond any political agenda. There is something else happening here. The global gag rule bounces back between Republicans and Democrats, but the way they wrote it this time is not like Bush, and not like what Reagan did. This time, [the gag rule] would remove all aid if there is some kind of alleged breach because you provide family planning services but somebody says to a woman desperate to get an abortion because she’s told she’ll die if she tried to bare another child, if you try to help her then you lose everything.
04:00 You follow up that with [defunding] UN population fund. Which I’ve seen… the impact that those dollars have in saving women and children’s lives, in helping women having a better shot at a future because maybe she can get contraception and not have her first child at 14 and now has had 6 or 7 and is now 27 and she’s desperately trying to prevent another pregnancy and she needs it.
04:35 This is just not the right and moral position for the United States to take this is in our national security interest. The more we support women the more we support democracy, the more we backhand terrorism and fundamentalism that can creep into countries. So women’s issues are national security issues.
I’m doing pretty well all things considered. Aftermath of the election was so devastating and everything that is come to light in the days and weeks since have been also troubling. So I just have had to make up my mind that was I was going to get out of bed and yes I was going to go for long walks in the woods. I was going to see my grandchildren a lot and spend time with my family and my friends that have rally around me in an amazing way. We’ve had lots of fun, adventures, long nights talking and laughing. So I’m ok I will put it this way. As a person I’m ok. As an American I’m pretty worried. So I will take off my person hat and put on my citizen hat and there’s a lot to be concerned about.
00:56 I was Secretary of State I teamed up with Dave Petreaeus then director of CIA, Leon Panetta Secretary of Defense to present a plan for us to move more aggressively to support protestors to try to provide some back up in what was I thought likely to turn out to be a very one-sided battle. This was before ISIS came to public awareness for a caliphate and they’re setting up headquarters in Rocca. I believed that and I’ve said this repeatedly that we should’ve done more at that point.
01:49 Now, I’m the first to say these are not easy decisions. That’s why you want to get the best information you can from the best advisers you can and really drill down into this whatever the situation is.
02:03 I left the government. I then did promote a no fly zone. I still believe we should’ve done a no fly zone. I think we should’ve been more willing to confront Assad. Because remember the Russians didn’t get in at first. Iranian help was pretty much on the ground with the so called revolutionary guard force. They were enlisting Hezbollah units to fight on the ground because there was a really fight going on. But Assad had an air force, that’s the cause of most civilian deaths. As we have seen over the years and as we saw over the last few days. I really believe that we should’ve and still should take out his air field and prevent him from using them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.
03:20 I wish the international community at large had been able to reign this in. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Russians, the Arab states, the Gulf states, and I actually had worked out an agreement for a transition in June of 2012 in Geneva. We hammered it out all day long, the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov actually agreed to it and it was calling for a technocratic government and in the easing out of Assad. I know that he had, he left our meeting. I know he went to his embassy, I know he asked for guidance and he came back and agreed. So it lasted for about 24 hours because basically Assad said I’m not going anywhere.
04:15 Part of the reason Assad has been so dug in is because some of you who follow Syria follow history, his father destroyed a city that was a hot bed of opposition to his rule. Literally massacred more than 10,000 people and almost ceded the ground so that nothing would ever grow there again. That was the impact that it was meant to have. So the people around Assad that was never the person that the people expected to succeed his father thought it would be older brother so you know was viewed as a much tougher character. His brother gets killed in a car wreck he gets summoned home and given the responsibility of being the dictator of Syria.
05:22 Why do I tell you all of this. Because it mattes if you know a little bit more about that’s going on in the minds that are your adversaries.He is absolutely a prisoner of his families expectations his dead fathers looming presence and his delusion that I believe he now can pass lied detector about that everybody that opposes him is a terrorist. That’s how Putin thinks. Putin has basically weighted in particularly with air power to support this fight to the death policy that Assad has.
06:11 I think that we have to try change the dynamic and all through the campaign I would say I’m for a no fly zone and immediately whether it was in the primary or the general election people would ask aren’t you afraid of Russians? It’s time the Russians were afraid of us because we were going to stand up for the human rights, the dignity and the future of Syrian people and I actually had a lot of confidence that I could say to Putin and his team look whether you’re with us or against us with this no fly zone and here’s what we’re going to do. We don’t want any confrontation with you. We cannot let this massacre continue and the consequences that are effecting the entire region so I feel pretty strongly where we are now and what happened in these last days with a neurotoxin sarin gas is just …
07:15 Let me just say this. There will be people who say its not your fight, we don’t care, what difference does it make, we’re not involved. First of all we are an interconnected interdependent world unlike any we’ve been in history before because of mobility because of communications so what happens in other place can very have an impact on you.
07:38 But the world took a position after the first World War who’s 100th anniversary of starting we will be commemorating and we took a stand against the use of chemical weapons. We have a whole unit attached to the United Nations that is devoted to preventing chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands to be used.
08:11 It is important we take a strong stance against chemical weapons and we thought with the deal that the Obama administration negotiated that we got rid of their stocks but who knows whether they hid some or bought more we don’t know. We just know the impact. It’s in our interest, we have to start recognizing norms of behavior in our own country and globally are just as important to keeping peace and preventing atrocities as any law that is written down. People have to know that they will be held accountable as war criminals as committing crimes against humanity if they engage in these kinds of aggressive violent acts (applause).
Secretary Clinton was introduced by Samantha Bee of Full Frontal:
There are those who will regard the US decision to abstain from the United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlement building as a betrayal. There have been many such resolutions in the UN Security Council and the US had consistently used its veto power to cause them to fail, including every single one during Obama’s eight years in office.
But this was different. And the rage being pointed at Obama is misplaced.
In essence, if you believe in a two-state solution as the only way toward Israel-Palestinian peace which preserves Israel as both democratic and a Jewish state, you would understand why the US took this course. If you believe, as Obama and 99.9% of the international community believes, that the two-state solution is the only viable path to peace for Israel with Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, you would understand why Obama took this extraordinary step.
The way I understand the resolution, it addresses future settlements and does not impose a final status or set borders – which the US would have vetoed. That means that the hysteria (not unlike the hysteria fomented with misinformation over the Iran nuclear agreement), that Jerusalem is “occupied territory” that would be returned, that the land the Hebrew University sits on would have to be returned, is unjustified. And if the resolution went this far, the US would have vetoed it.
But first consider the context:
One may wonder why, with the atrocities being committed by the Syrian Government, Russia and Iran, the United Nations takes up action against Israel, which happens to be a country that is helping to heal Syrian victims in its hospitals, instead of hold a war crimes tribunal of Assad and Putin.
Why now? I believe there were two provocations: the US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers had just delivered a scathing attack on the United Nations for failing to intervene in Syria and stop the vicious assault on civilians, on hospitals, on schools. (I believe Assad and Putin should be charged with war crimes for the atrocities they have committed.)
Second: Donald Trump stated that he would the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a clear provocation – and named as his nominee for Ambassador to Israel , David Friedman, a man who is encouraging settlement building, who opposes the two-state solution, and who has likened liberal American Jews to “kapos” in the Nazi concentration camps.
Recall also that during his reelection campaign, Netanyahu made derogatory statements about Israeli Arabs and said (briefly, until he had to walk it back), that he was no longer interested in pursuing a two-state solution.
Netanyahu actually got on the phone with Donald Trump to get him to push the US to veto the resolution– which along with his extraordinary appearance in front of a joint session of Congress to lobby for the defeat of the Iran nuclear agreement, was an enormous snub to Obama and the US. Trump, delighted to be in the limelight, tweeted his foreign policy: “Things will change after Jan. 20th.”
Consider this context: Israel was actually making headway in tamping down the aggressive stance from its Arab neighbors. Israel , has an important role to play in the counter offensive to radical Islamic fundamentalists generally and ISIS in particular which is a threat to Israel’s Arab “neighborhood.” On a recent “60 Minutes,” Netanyahu was boasting about its biotech industry, its commercial deals with Arab countries.
Now, Netanyahu’s rage – lashing out at Obama and promising retribution against the nations that voted for the resolution – will undo the progress in tamping down hostility to Israel as the Arab world focused more on countering radical jihadism. Because for awhile, Israel was not solely seen in context of Israel-Palestinian conflict, but as a key player on the right side of a global conflict.
The White House got on the phone with journalists to give a fuller explanation beyond the headlines.
“This is consistent with longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy as it relates to settlements, as it relates to our opposition to Israeli settlements, as it relates to our opposition to, and condemnation of, incitement and violence and terrorism, and, above all, about our affirmative support for a two-state solution,” stated Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.
“And one of our grave concerns is that the continued pace of settlement activity — which has accelerated in recent years, which has accelerated significantly since 2011, when we vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns settlements — puts at risk the two-state solution, as does any continued incitement to violence. And we’ve been very concerned that these accelerating trends are putting the very viability of a two-state solution at risk. And in that context, we therefore thought that we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that expressed concerns about the very trends that are eroding the foundation for a two-state solution.
“We exhausted every effort to pursue a two-state solution through negotiations, through direct discussions, through proximity discussions, through confidence-building measures, through a lengthy and exhaustive effort undertaken by Secretary Kerry earlier in the President’s second term. We gave every effort that we could to supporting the parties coming to the table.”
Rhodes noted, however, that this resolution – versus countless ones before which the US vetoed – is more “balanced” in that it also condemns incitement, violence and terrorism against Israel, and does not impose final status, which the US would have vetoed.
As for the propaganda that Obama is anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic, these are the facts:
“President Obama has done more for Israel and its security than any previous U.S. President. We just recently signed with Israel the single largest U.S. military assistance package in history — $38 billion over the coming decade. That comes after an administration in which we provided lifesaving assistance for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System. We’ve achieved what Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has described as unprecedented security cooperation between our military and intelligence officials. We have repeatedly stood up for Israel in international fora in a variety of different ways, whether it was opposing efforts to address final status issues through the United Nations, or supporting greater Israeli integration into international fora.
“So I believe that despite what has at times been very strident Israeli government criticism of U.S. policies that President Obama has always made Israel and its security sacrosanct in his approach to these issues. In fact, we’ve always said that our pursuit of a two-state solution is guided in part by our belief that that is the only way to preserve and strengthen Israel’s security in the long run, and to achieve the goal that we share with the Israeli people of having a state of Israel that is both Jewish and democratic in nature.
“All of that said, with this criticism it seems like the Israeli government wants the conversation to be about anything other than the settlement activity. And the fact of the matter is, as you heard Samantha say, since 2009, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has increased by more than 100,000 to nearly 400,000…
“So this is not simply a matter of construction within the so-called blocks, within what has long been considered the likely borders of a future — within a future peace agreement. We have acknowledged publicly that there will have to be an acknowledgement of the growth since the 1967 lines were established as a part of any future peace agreement. But in fact, what we’ve seen is much more accelerated settlement construction. And now the total settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem exceeds 590,000.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu recently described his own government as ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history.’ Those are his words. And we’re concerned about these trends. We were concerned after our election, when one of his leading coalition partners, Naftali Bennett, declared that ‘the era of the two-state solution is over.’
“So, for us, the question here has always been about what is the best way to pursue the security that the Israeli people deserve. And we cannot simply have a two-state solution be a slogan while the trend lines on the ground are such that a two-state solution is becoming less and less viable.
“I would add that we’ve repeatedly condemned incitement to violence by Palestinians. We’ve repeatedly condemned Palestinian terrorism. We have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza, even when we were one of the only countries in the world that was taking that position. So we’ve been willing time and again to support Israel in international fora, just as we’ve supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, and just as we’ve ensured through our assistance that Israel will maintain its qualitative military edge for the enduring future.
“So, again, President Obama’s track record on Israel’s security is clear. Anybody can review it. But, in fact, I’d take umbrage at language that suggests that this was our preferred course of action and that we initiated it. The fact of the matter is, we’d been warning — President Obama and Secretary Kerry publicly and privately for years — that the trend line of settlement construction and settlement activity was just increasing Israel’s international isolation. This is not a new position for us; we’ve been saying that for many, many, many years. Secretary Kerry, as Frank can attest to, has had hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We’ve made precisely this point.”
Rhodes also explained why the US abstained, versus voted in favor:
“..the United Nations, we continue to believe, is a flawed venue for this issue in that it has frequently been used to single out Israel, often through completely over-the-top exercises, that — again, when it comes to final status issues, we believe that those should be negotiated between the parties.
“We would have vetoed any resolution that we thought sought to impose a solution that sought to impose a view on the final status issue…
“On the narrow question of the resolution that was put in front of us, we saw a resolution that in large part was consistent with U.S. policy…
“We also abstained because while there was balance, as I discussed, in that the resolution addressed and condemned violence and incitement of violence, we thought that that could have been more prominent in the resolution…it was not sufficiently elevating at length the issues that we care very deeply about. We’re pleased that that was included, but again, when you see horrifying knife attacks, when you see continued incitement to violence, you see continued anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic slogans and calls for violence from with the Palestinian Territories, that gravely concerns us. And that’s an enormous obstacle to peace, of course.
“So again, that explains that abstention, those two issues — the U.N. as a future venue for final status issues, given its history, and the emphasis in this resolution being more focused on Israeli activity than some of the concerning activities that are addressed in the resolution with respect to the Palestinians but I think could have been addressed at greater length…..
“Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today. Absent this acceleration of settlement activity, absent the type of rhetoric we’ve seen out of the current Israeli government, I think the United States likely would have taken a different view, because our preference is for there to be a credible peace process underway.
“So, again, it’s very important that this — the fact that this is happening towards the end of our eight years indicates that this is not our preferred course of action and that we’ve given years and years and years of opportunities to address issues related to the settlements or to address issues related to the peace process that, frankly, we believe could have been more productive. And, frankly, President Obama, if you look at speech after speech that he gave, kept warning that the trends in the conflict were going to lead to greater international efforts to apply pressure in Israel; that the settlement activity was going to lead to greater national efforts to apply pressure to Israel.
“There’s a huge record on this, and I think it’s very unfair and inaccurate to suggest that somehow this was an outcome that we sought. If it was an outcome that we sought, we would have done this long ago. But the fact is, we were compelled to because of the choices that have been made over years by the Israeli government in building settlements and not taking different opportunities that were presented for a credible peace process.
“I should add that the Palestinians also failed to take opportunities. As Frank and Rob know well, Secretary Kerry’s effort did not move forward because of the decisions by both Israelis and Palestinians. So I just want to be very clear here that the Palestinians have missed plenty of opportunities under this administration as well….
“We’ve tried everything. We’ve tried proximity talks, we’ve tried direct talks, we’ve tried the Secretary of State who dove into this and made it an enormous priority for a long period of time. We’ve tried to step back. And the one consistent outcome was that it didn’t work. We can go back and look at what we did differently, but at the end of the day, precisely because we believe this can only be resolved in negotiations, it’s up to the parties to show that they’re serious about those negotiations and that talking about a peace process isn’t just a phrase — it’s an actual, meaningful, diplomatic effort to try to achieve a resolution.
“….We hear the words about a two-state solution, and then we see the actions that are making a two-state solution far less likely, if not out of reach. And at a certain point, the words and the actions become irreconcilable. And that’s what we’re concerned about. And we believe that that would be not in the best interest of Israel. And precisely because President Obama cares so deeply about Israel and its security, he would like to see a return to a meaningful effort to pursue peace.”
Of all the US presidents, Obama has shown the greatest empathy and respect for Israel and American Jews.
During one of the Hanukkah celebrations at the White House (which he has conducted every year), Obama said, “We recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation. It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have. The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.”
The catastrophe in Syria is often leveled at President Obama as a horrible scar on his legacy. But what is ignored is the context, and also how Libya, which was an important achievement, was used as a weapon to attack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
So it is rather remarkable that none of the news outlets are reporting a significant victory in Libya, routing out the last ISIS stronghold, in Sirte.
But to begin:
What is happening in Syria today is where Libya would have easily been, the scale of carnage that Syria turned into, if Obama had not intervened with a coalition of countries including Arab States. At the time, Republicans including Donald Trump, cheered. During the election, the action was demonized, and used in the incessant conspiracy harangue about Benghazi.
So it is really hypocritical that Obama is criticized for not intervening more strenuously in Syria, when in fact, he did all that he could do given the convoluted circumstances and inconvenient alliances and oppositions. Take Turkey, for instance, which opposed the Kurds and worked against the US support of Kurds against ISIS, but US needed access to Turkey’s bases from which to strike at ISIS and needed Turkey’s support of Syrian refugees. (These nuances go beyond Donald Trump’s comprehension.)
The red line that was crossed when Assad used chemical weapons? Recall that Obama was poised to strike, the military was on alert, but the cowardly Congress refused to give its Authorization of Military Force (progressives are still upset that Obama uses the Bush-era 9/11 authorization to go after ISIS). But still, Obama was able to get Assad to give up chemical weapons without the US firing a shot or a single troop sacrificed. How? Putin.
But what could not be anticipated was Russia assisting Assad in the massacre of the Syrian people. Putin, after all, claimed to be joining the coalition against ISIS. Instead, it was a rout of the moderate rebels fighting Assad. Would Americans have endorsed a war with Russia? Would Americans have supported sending 180,000 ground troops into Syria?
As for not providing enough aid to moderate rebels? There weren’t very many to be found – millions of dollars of supplies and only 50 “moderate rebels” identified. What would have happened if it was discovered the US thought it was supplying “moderate” rebels but actually the armaments went to ISIS fighters? Can you imagine?
“For years, we’ve worked to stop the civil war in Syria and alleviate human suffering,” President Obama said in his final press conference of 2017. “It has been one of the hardest issues that I’ve faced as president. The world as we speak is united in horror at the savage assault by the Syrian regime and its Russia and Iranian allies on the city of Aleppo. We have seen a deliberate strategy of surrounding and the seigeing and starving innocent civilians. We’ve seen relentless targeting of humanitarian workers and medical personnel, entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and dust…
“We all know what needs to happen. There needs to be an impartial international observer force in Aleppo that can help coordinate an orderly evacuation through safe corridors. There has to be full access for humanitarian aid, even as the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian to the Syrian people and beyond that, there needs to be a broader ceasefire that can serve as the basis for a political, rather than a military solution. That’s what the United States is going to continue to push for, both with our partners and through multilateral institutions like the UN.
“Regretfully but unsurprisingly, Russia has repeatedly blocked the security council from taking action on these issues so we’re going to keep pressing the security council to help improve the delivery of humanitarian to those who are in such desperate need and to ensure accountability, including continuing to monitor any potential use of chemical weapons in Syria. And we’re going work in the U.N. General assembly as well, both on accountability and to advance a political settlement because it should be clear that although you may achieve tactical victories over the long term, the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to legitimacy. That’s why we’ll continue to press for a transition to a more representative government. And that’s why the world must not avert our eyes to the terrible events that are unfolding.
“The Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are trying to confiscate the truth. The world should not be fooled and the world will not forget.”
Meanwhile, the US was not exactly not doing anything in Syria. The US operated tens of thousands of air strikes against ISIS, and has been the largest donor of aid to Syrian refugees.
And the US has not stood idly by in Libya, either, but assisted in the liberation of Sirte from ISIL. The Administration issued this statement:
Statement by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. Monaco on the Successful Operation to Liberate Sirte from ISIL
The United States congratulates the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan people on their successful operation to liberate Sirte from ISIL. The United States is proud to have supported the advance of the GNA-aligned forces into Sirte with precision airstrikes to eject ISIL from the only city that it controlled outside of Iraq and Syria.
We applaud the courage of the Libyan people, including the residents of Sirte, al-Bunyan al-Marsous forces, and others, who carried out this operation. We commend Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj for his leadership and dedication to the Libyan people. We also extend our sincerest and heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives fighting for this important cause.
The U.S. military conducted a carefully tailored counterterrorism operation, at the request of the GNA, to target ISIL while taking great care to minimize harm to civilians. This partnered operation has substantially reduced ISIL’s manpower in Libya, ended its brutal reign over Sirte’s population, and removed its primary base in Libya, dealing a blow to its ability to plot attacks in Libya and abroad. This progress comes as Libyans mark one year since the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement.
We know that ISIL will continue its attempts to terrorize the Libyan people and sow instability in North Africa, and that Libyan efforts against terrorism continue in other parts of Libya. We stand ready to help the GNA as it secures and rebuilds Sirte. The United States also remains committed to working with the GNA, Libyans throughout the country, and regional partners to counter ISIL and other violent extremist organizations.
In her foreign policy speech, Hillary Clinton didn’t have to stretch or paraphrase to demonstrate her key point of how reckless, ignorant, and unhinged Donald Trump would be leading US foreign policy, making the crucial decisions, and having not just a twitter account to use when his thin skin was pierced but an entire arsenal. She just used his own quotes to make her case.
And yet, Donald Trump – when faced with the stupidity of his statements – likes to pretend he never said them – like when he lied that he never said he wanted Japan and South Korea to get nuclear weapons.
His Trumpites (Luddites) – who also cannot believe what he is saying – either excuse him by saying “he doesn’t really mean it,” or say he will “pivot” his rhetoric in the general election, so all those people he has terrified or insulted or attacked – like Hispanics, Muslims, the British – will simply forget and be swayed by the idea of a “tough guy”, a “wiseguy” (he identifies with in New Jersey), a strongman like the tyrants he so admires, making America Great Again. But as Clinton pointed out, he is making many of the same statements he made – about how weak America is, how the world is “laughing at us” – even during Ronald Reagan’s term (much as he uses the same statements today to attack Obama).
And his criticism of Clinton’s speech? She used a teleprompter and didn’t sound sufficiently presidential– not to mention that he also used a teleprompter when he delivered his so-called “foreign policy” speech, and at AIPAC, when he recited it as if a schoolboy giving his report.
The Clinton campaign provided an annotated list of Trump’s actual quotes:
Trump Literally Said All Those Things
Hillary Clinton just delivered a major national security address in which, among other things, she took aim at a wide-ranging catalogue of dangerous comments that Donald Trump has made. Some of the comments she referenced are so ignorant, incoherent or outrageous, it could be hard to believe they actually came out of the mouth of the GOP’s presidential nominee.
But they literally did. All of them. See for yourself — check out the lines from Clinton’s speech, and the Trump quotes behind them:
This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.
This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before the strike us at home.
TRUMP: “We don’t really need NATO in its current form. NATO is obsolete… if we have to walk, we walk.”
He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.
TRUMP: “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts… I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”
He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture…
TRUMP: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works… Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough, ok?”
and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists…
TRUMP: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families”
even though those are war crimes.
TRUMP: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me, If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”
He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors, because he has – quote – “a very good brain.”
TRUMP: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things…my primary consultant is myself”
He also said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals, believe me.”
TRUMP: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
You know what? I don’t believe him.
TRUMP: “We don’t even really know who the leader [of ISIS] is.”
He believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese…
TRUMP: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
and has the gall to say prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.
TRUMP: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, ok? I hate to tell you.”
He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin…
TRUMP: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister…
TRUMP: “It looks like we are not going to have a very good relationship. Who knows?”
the mayor of London…
TRUMP: “Let’s take an I.Q. test… I think they’re very rude statements and frankly, tell him, I will remember those statements.”
the German chancellor…
TRUMP: “What Merkel has done is incredible, it’s actually mind boggling. Everyone thought she was a really great leader and now she’s turned out to be this catastrophic leader. And she’ll be out if they don’t have a revolution.”
the president of Mexico…
TRUMP: “I don’t know about the Hitler comparison [President Nieto made]. I hadn’t heard that, but it’s a terrible comparison. I’m not happy about that certainly. I don’t want that comparison, but we have to be strong and we have to be vigilant”
and the Pope.
TRUMP: “I don’t think [the Pope] understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico. I think Mexico got him to [criticize the wall] it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.”
He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.
TRUMP: “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event.”
And to top it off, he believes America is weak. An embarrassment.
TRUMP: “I think we’ve become very weak and ineffective.
It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
TRUMP: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons…
TRUMP: “And frankly, the case could be made, that let them protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick.”
and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.”
TRUMP: “And if they fight, you know what, that would be a terrible thing, terrible. Good luck folks, enjoy yourself…if they do, they do”
Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It’ll become clear very quickly.
TRUMP: “When those restrictions expire, Iran will have an industrial-size military nuclear capability ready to go.” (Politifact: False.)
There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal. But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin is not the same as actually dealing with Putin.
TRUMP: “I got to know him very well, because we were both on 60 minutes, we were stablemates and we did very well that night. You know that.”
He wants to start a trade war with China.
TRUMP: “These dummies say, ‘Oh, that’s a trade war. Trade war? We’re losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?”
And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.
TRUMP: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.
He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie.
TRUMP: “And you’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals…. It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”
And he said that, if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.
TRUMP: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’
What’s Trump’s [ISIS plan]? He won’t say. He is literally keeping it a secret. The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.
TRUMP: “I do know what to do and I would know how to bring ISIS to the table or beyond that, defeat ISIS very quickly and I’m not going to tell you what is… All I can tell you it is a foolproof way of winning.”
Just look at the few things he actually has said on the subject. He actually said – quote – “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.” That’s right – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.
TRUMP: It’s really rather amazing, maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.
Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.
TRUMP: “We really have no choice. We have to knock out ISIS. We have to knock the hell out of them… I would listen to the generals but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast.”
He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.
TRUMP: “I’m never going to rule anything out—I wouldn’t want to say [if I’d use nuclear weapons against ISIS.]”
Trump says over and over again, “The world is laughing at us.” He’s been saying this for decades.
TRUMP (1999): “[Saudi Arabians] take such advantage of us with the oil… and they laugh at this country.
TRUMP (2010): “I know many of the people in China, I know many of the big business people, and they’re laughing at us.”
TRUMP (2011): “We have become a laughingstock, the world’s whipping boy”
TRUMP (2013): “After Syria, our enemies are laughing!”
TRUMP (2014): “Mexican leadership has been laughing at us for many years”
TRUMP (2015): “The Persians are great negotiators. They are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making”
TRUMP (2016): “We can’t afford to be so nice and so foolish anymore. Our country is in trouble. ISIS is laughing at us.”
He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us.
TRUMP (1987): “The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won’t help… “Let’s not let our great country be laughed at anymore.”
And it matters when he makes fun of disabled people…
TRUMP: “Now the poor guy — you oughta see this guy [imitating disabled reporter] ‘aaah, I don’t know what I said, aaah, I don’t remember.’”
calls women pigs…
TRUMP: “Does everybody know that pig named Rosie O’Donnell? She’s a disgusting pig, right?”
proposes banning an entire religion from our country…
TRUMP: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
or plays coy with white supremacists.
TRUMP: “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”
In a major speech on Thursday, Hillary Clinton painted a clear picture for the American people of the choice they will face this November — a choice between steady, principled American leadership, and a dangerously uncertain future governed by an unprepared, misguided and temperamentally unfit commander-in-chief. Here are highlights from her remarks:
On Monday, we observed Memorial Day – a day that means a great deal to San Diego, home of so many active-duty and former military and their families. We honor the sacrifice of those who died for our country in many ways – by living our values, by making this a stronger and fairer nation, and by carrying out a smart and principled foreign policy.
That’s what I want to speak about today – the challenges we face in protecting our country, and the choice at stake in this election.
It’s a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged with the world, and a strong, confident America that leads to keep our country safe and our economy growing.
As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, I had the honor of representing America abroad and helping shape our foreign policy at home. As a candidate for President, there’s nothing I take more seriously than our national security. I’ve offered clear strategies for how to defeat ISIS, strengthen our alliances, and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. And I’m going to keep America’s security at the heart of my campaign.
Because as you know so well, Americans aren’t just electing a President in November. We’re choosing our next commander-in-chief – the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.
And like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job.
Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.
He is not just unprepared – he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.
This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.
We cannot put the security of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands. We cannot let him roll the dice with America.
This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.
This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before they strike us at home.
He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.
He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists – even though those are war crimes.
He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or our admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has – quote –’a very good brain.’
He also said,
‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.’
You know what? I don’t believe him.
He says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, and he has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.
He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.
He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.
And to top it off, he believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are – and I quote – a ‘third-world country.’
And he’s been saying things like that for decades.
Those are the words my friends of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.
And they’re the words of someone who would lead us in the wrong direction. Because if you really believe America is weak – with our military, our values, our capabilities that no other country comes close to matching – then you don’t know America.
And you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.
That’s why – even if I weren’t in this race – I’d be doing everything I could to make sure Donald Trump never becomes President – because I believe he will take our country down a truly dangerous path.
Unlike him, I have some experience with the tough calls and the hard work of statecraft. I wrestled with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen, brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiated the reduction of nuclear weapons with Russia, twisted arms to bring the world together in global sanctions against Iran, and stood up for the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people around the world.
And I have, I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the President on some of the toughest choices he faced.
So I’m not new to this work. And I’m proud to run on my record, because I think the choice before the American people in this election is clear.
I believe in strong alliances; clarity in dealing with our rivals; and a rock-solid commitment to the values that have always made America great. And I believe with all my heart that America is an exceptional country – that we’re still, in Lincoln’s words, the last, best hope of earth. We are not a country that cowers behind walls. We lead with purpose, and we prevail.
And if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum – and that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush in to fill the void. Then they’ll be the ones making the decisions about your lives and jobs and safety – and trust me, the choices they make will not be to our benefit.
That is not an outcome we can live with.
As I see it, there are some important things our next President must do to secure American leadership and keep us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead. These are all areas in which Donald Trump and I profoundly disagree. And they are all critical to our future.
First, we need to be strong at home.
That means investing in our infrastructure, education and innovation – the fundamentals of a strong economy. We need to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families. And we need to break down the barriers that hold Americans back, including barriers of bigotry and discrimination.
Compare that with what Trump wants to do. His economic plans would add more than $30 trillion – that’s trillion with a ‘t’ – $30 trillion to our national debt over the next 20 years. He has no ideas on education. No ideas on innovation. He has a lot of ideas about who to blame, but no clue about what to do.
None of what Donald Trump is offering will make America stronger at home. And that would make us weaker in the world.
Second, we need to stick with our allies.
America’s network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional. And our allies deliver for us every day.
Our armed forces fight terrorists together; our diplomats work side by side. Allies provide staging areas for our military, so we can respond quickly to events on the other side of the world. And they share intelligence that helps us identify and defuse potential threats.
Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States.
When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it.
That’s the power of allies.
And it’s the legacy of American troops who fought and died to secure those bonds, because they knew we were safer with friends and partners.
Now Moscow and Beijing are deeply envious of our alliances around the world, because they have nothing to match them. They’d love for us to elect a President who would jeopardize that source of strength. If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.
That’s why it is no small thing when he talks about leaving NATO, or says he’ll stay neutral on Israel’s security.
It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We’re lucky to have two friendly neighbors on our land borders. Why would he want to make one of them an enemy?
And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote –
‘If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.’
I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.
Yes, our friends need to contribute their fair share. I made that point long before Donald Trump came onto the scene – and a number of them have increased their defense spending. The real debate here is whether we keep these alliances strong or cut them off. What he says would weaken our country.
Third, we need to embrace all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to be on the frontlines solving problems before they threaten us at home.
Diplomacy is often the only way to avoid a conflict that could end up exacting a much greater cost. It takes patience, persistence and an eye on the long game – but it’s worth it.
Take the nuclear agreement with Iran. When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action. But that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict.
President Obama chose a different path. And I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling global sanctions. We brought Iran to the table. We began talks. And eventually, we reached an agreement that should block every path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be ‘distrust and verify.’
The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. In particular, Israel’s security is non-negotiable. They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.
But there is no question that the world and the United States, we are safer now than we were before this agreement. And we accomplished it without firing a single shot, dropping a single bomb or putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.
Donald Trump says we shouldn’t have done the deal. We should have walked away. But that would have meant no more global sanctions, and Iran resuming their nuclear program and the world blaming us. So then what? War? Telling the world, good luck, you deal with Iran?
Of course Trump doesn’t have answers to those questions. Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It’ll become very clear, very quickly.
There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.
But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin was, is not the same thing as actually dealing with Putin.
So the stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels. We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table – bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets – I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.
But those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.
He has no sense of what it takes to deal with multiple countries with competing interests and reaching a solution that everyone can get behind. In fact, he is downright contemptuous of that work. And that means he’s much more likely to end up leading us into conflict.
Fourth, we need to be firm but wise with our rivals.
Countries like Russia and China often work against us. Beijing dumps cheap steel in our markets. That hurts American workers. Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s doorstep. Now I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Russia and China, and many other different leaders around the world. So I know we have to be able to both stand our ground when we must, and find common ground when we can.
That’s how I could work with Russia to conclude the New START treaty to reduce nuclear stockpiles, and with China to increase pressure on North Korea. It’s how our diplomats negotiated the landmark agreement on climate change, which Trump now wants to rip up.
The key was never forgetting who we were dealing with – not friends or allies, but countries that share some common interests with us amid many disagreements.
Donald doesn’t see the complexity. He wants to start a trade war with China. And Iunderstand a lot of Americans have concerns about our trade agreements – I do too. But a trade war is something very different. We went down that road in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression longer and more painful. Combine that with his comments about defaulting on our debt, and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.
And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.
He said, ‘You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit’ for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.
Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.
I just wonder how anyone could be so wrong about who America’s real friends are. Because it matters. If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.
Fifth, we need a real plan for confronting terrorists.
As we saw six months ago in San Bernardino, the threat is real and urgent. Over the past year, I’ve laid out my plans for defeating ISIS.
We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria’s civil war and close Iraq’s sectarian divide, because those conflicts are keeping ISIS alive. We need to lash up with our allies, and ensure our intelligence services are working hand-in-hand to dismantle the global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists. We need to win the battle in cyberspace.
And of course we need to strengthen our defenses here at home.
That – in a nutshell – is my plan for defeating ISIS.
What’s Trump’s? Well he won’t say. He is literally keeping it a secret. The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.
Just look at the few things he’s actually said on the subject.
He’s actually said – and I quote –’maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.’
Oh, okay – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.
Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.
He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.
It’s clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. So we can’t be certain which of these things he would do. But we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them. Letting ISIS run wild. Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.
And through all his loose talk, there’s one constant theme: demonizing Muslims and playing right into the hands of ISIS’. His proposal to ban 1.5 billion Muslims from even coming to our country doesn’t just violate the religious freedom our country was founded on. It’s also a huge propaganda victory for ISIS. And it alienates the very countries we need to actually help us in this fight.
A Trump Presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk.
This isn’t reality television – this is actual reality.
And defeating global terrorist networks and protecting the homeland takes more than empty talk and a handful of slogans. It takes a real plan, real experience and real leadership. Donald Trump lacks all three.
And one more thing. A President has a sacred responsibility to send our troops into battle only if we absolutely must, and only with a clear and well-thought-out strategy. Our troops give their all. They deserve a commander-in-chief who knows that.
I’ve worked side-by-side with admirals and generals, and visited our troops in theaters of war. I’ve fought for better health care for our National Guard, better services for our veterans, and more support for our Gold Star families. We cannot put the lives of our young men and women in uniform in Donald Trump’s hands.
Sixth, we need to stay true to our values.
Trump says over and over again,
‘The world is laughing at us.’
He’s been saying this for decades, he didn’t just start this year. He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now – and you’ve got to wonder why somebody who fundamentally has so little confidence in America, and has felt that way for at least 30 years, wants to be our President.
The truth is, there’s not a country in the world that can rival us. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger, more durable, more entrepreneurial than any in the world. It’s also that Americans work harder, dream bigger – and we never, ever stop trying to make our country and world a better place.
So it really matters that Donald Trump says things that go against our deepest-held values. It matters when he says he’ll order our military to murder the families of suspected terrorists. During the raid to kill bin Laden, when every second counted, our SEALs took the time to move the women and children in the compound to safety. Donald Trump may not get it, but that’s what honor looks like.
And it also matters when he makes fun of disabled people, calls women pigs,
proposes banning an entire religion from our country, or plays coy with white supremacists. America stands up to countries that treat women like animals, or people of different races, religions or ethnicities as less human.
What happens to the moral example we set – for the world and for our own children – if our President engages in bigotry?
And by the way, Mr. Trump – every time you insult American Muslims or Mexican immigrants, remember that plenty of Muslims and immigrants serve and fight in our armed forces.
Donald Trump, Donald Trump could learn something from them.
That brings me to the final point I want to make today – the temperament it takes
to be Commander-in-Chief.
Every President faces hard choices every day, with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives. That’s the job.
A revolution threatens to topple a government in a key region, an adversary reaches out for the first time in years – what do you do?
Making the right call takes a cool head and respect for the facts. It takes a willingness to listen to other people’s points of view with a truly open mind. It also takes humility – knowing you don’t know everything – because if you’re convinced you’re always right, you’ll never ask yourself the hard questions.
I remember being in the Situation Room with President Obama, debating the potential Bin Laden operation. The President’s advisors were divided. The intelligence was compelling but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting. The stakes were significant for our battle against al Qaeda and our relationship with Pakistan. Most of all, the lives of those brave SEALs and helicopter pilots hung in the balance.
It was a decision only the President could make. And when he did, it was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.
Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.
Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?
I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision. This is a country with a deep reservoir of common sense and national pride. We’re all counting on that.
Because making Donald Trump our commander-in-chief would be a historic mistake. It would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure. It would set back our standing in the world more than anything in recent memory. And it would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are – that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.
That’s not the America I know and love.
So yes, we have a lot of work to do to keep our country secure. And we need to do better by American families and American workers – and we will. But don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great. Donald Trump’s got America all wrong. We are a big-hearted, fair-minded country.
There is no challenge we can’t meet, no goal we can’t achieve when we each do our part and come together as one nation.
Every lesson from our history teaches us that we are stronger together. We remember that every Memorial Day.
This election is a choice between two very different visions of America.
One that’s angry, afraid, and based on the idea that America is fundamentally weak and in decline.
The other is hopeful, generous, and confident in the knowledge that America is great – just like we always have been.
Let’s resolve that we can be greater still. That is what I believe in my heart.
I went to 112 countries as your Secretary of State. And I never lost my sense of pride at seeing our blue-and-white plane lit up on some far-off runway, with ‘The United States of America’ emblazoned on the side. That plane – those words – our country represents something special, not just to us, to the world. It represents freedom and hope and opportunity.
I love this country and I know you do too. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve America and I’m going to do everything I can to protect our nation, and make sure we don’t lose sight of how strong we really are.