Sanity Once More

It’s getting to be a habit, a very welcome habit to my tired eyes and ears. The announcement that the US is not only talking to Iran but has actually joined an international partnership to reach a deal which limits the proliferation of nuclear weapons, is a joy to all who value peace, tact, and diplomacy. The announcement follows on the heels of an opening dialogue with Cuba leading to a partial normalization of relations there, too. The trifecta is complete with the announcement from the Hillary Clinton campaign that all Americans should be automatically registered to vote on attaining the age of eighteen and that she will push for such registration. Other progressive actions seem to be surfacing to the benefit of the citizenry and to the relief of minorities. Although there is a long way to go, such moves are so welcome that sanity is seen to emerge.

Elected representatives quickly forget that all of the accusations levelled at Iran can and should equally be levelled at the US. They say Iran can’t be trusted but the Iranians remember how the US was instrumental in usurping Iran’s democratically elected government and installing the Shah, a terrorist puppet regime, in its place. They say Iran is a sponsor of international terrorism by supplying arms and support to some of Israel’s neighbours. Is the US conscience clear in every Central and South American nation on the same topic? The US considers it appropriate to tap into the communications of nations on every continent. The latest known victims are Brazil and Germany. Republican and Democrat spokemen alike castigate Iran for actions that the US has repeatedly modelled. The good news is that Iran has risen above the US paranoia and their people rejoice in the outcome.

When Israel acts as the aggressor, creates apartheid conditions and destroys homes and infrastructure in Gaza, they are praised in the US as freedom fighters. They receive funding and armaments from the parent source and do not discriminate in how those arms are used. On several occasions the UN security council has condemned Israel as war criminals and for crimes against humanity. Yet those resolutions do not see the light of day because the US exercises its veto. Despite three years of negotiations (culminating in the day old agreement to limit Iranian nukes) there is not a peep about putting the same screws to the Israeli stockpile. The hypocrisy continues. When will Russia, China and the US trust each other enough to really show leadership in nuclear disarmament?

The thawing of relations with Cuba has been dealt with elsewhere but the third item regarding voter registration requires an airing. The governor of Wisconsin recently announced his running for president in the 2016 election. Part of his platform was a boast that his state now requires government issued photo ID in order to vote. By so doing he has effectively cut the voter rolls for those who can’t obtain a government issued photo ID. A Student card is not good enough. Neither is utility bills, shopping cards, and any of the other myriad ways usually accepted as proof of identity. He is not alone in imposing such restrictions. It is a measure of insanity to make voter registration and ID difficult in a democracy. That is why Hillary Clinton’s announcement was so welcome. If enacted it would cut across the voter registration and ID fiasco and bring a standard requirement to all states for every election.


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Despite Netanyahu’s pre-emptive strike

It was with some surprise and a smidgen of disbelief that I listened to the local news and learned that not only was a nuclear deal with Iran in the offing, but the military was not involved. There were no boots on the ground, no aerial bombardment, no collateral damage, no killing of innocents, and no damage to schools, hospitals, churches, and civilian infrastructure. No f****** semper fi! Those tactics that the US and NATO had used mercilessly and with impunity since world war two were mysteriously absent. Hoo-bloody-ray!

So many pundits were against any sort of deal with Iran that such an event entered the realm of impossible. Those pundits showed their brass necks by noting at some length that Iran was not to be trusted. A short course in recent Iranian history would have taught them that any animosity on Iran’s part would have shown that Iran had multiple reasons for mistrust of US and NATO and their clients. Have the Israelis always treated Iran fairly? Did Iraq have US backing for its military adventures in Iran? Did the US shoot down an Iranian civilian aircraft over Iranian waters? Did agents of the US usurp the democratically elected government of Iran and install the Shah as their puppet?

US and NATO spokesmen have a terrible habit of rewriting history boasting that they are the good guys. War crimes do not apply to them and international criminal courts are only recognised when it’s to their advantage. Even the present incumbent in the White House regards the US as the shining city on the hill and its systems and players as exceptional. The naive might ask, ‘exceptional in what way?’ Surely not exceptionally violent, exceptionally aggressive, exceptionally greedy, exceptionally hypocritical, and the list of negative character traits goes on? How about exceptionally paranoid on a daily diet of media inspired fear?

It’s the Iranians who have reason to be paranoid. They had been caught between a theocratic rock and the hard threat of nuclear annihilation. Their choices were hell or hell!

Has the US and NATO actually listened to the oceans of criticism arising from their decades of misadventures and decided to seek a better solution for foreign policies? There are 47 so-called republican traitors who adamantly adhere to the previous bullying tactics and would disrupt the administration’s attempts at joining the human race and the side of good hearted folks world wide. Freedom of speech is good. Freedom of speech with accuracy and responsibility is better. Hopefully those brain addled clowns will always be in a distinct minority whether they are charged as traitors or not.

While today’s news is uplifting, it is not yet cast in stone having a 3 month respite to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. It does however, auger extremely well for the future of diplomacy. The reasoned talk, debate, tact and courtesy, as shown to a world wide audience, has exemplified that there is hope yet for the future of the human race. Mr. Netanyahu’s pre-emptive strike in his dubiously illegal, certainly discourteous, speech to the US Congress, may have earned him a few votes on the extreme right of Israeli politics but it earned him little, if any, brownie points with the larger audience. Just imagine the furore if Mr. Obama had been invited to address the Knessett behind Netanyahu’s back!

Dare we imagine that as Iran foregoes being a holder of nuclear weaponry, that all other nations will follow their lead? Will Israel and the US, to mention but two such candidates, also follow UN resolutions on nuclear proliferation? If the world is safer when Iran toes the line, doesn’t it follow that further safety is ensured when all nations do the right thing?

But why stop with nukes? The UN has resolutions on its books relating to the proliferation of all arms. Where is the leadership to take up those challenges? Surely there is a strong desire in China, Russia, and the US to make all nations safer? If those nations led the way, the other nations such as Israel, France, Britain, Italy and Germany would be obliged to follow suite. What a gift that would be to the peacemakers; to see the supply of arms dry up. Police forces would begin to sleep soundly once more and smiles would come back into fashion.

Today’s news was huge. It was not only welcome in our household, it removed a large cloud of cynicism from my shoulders and restored a large unit of trust in my fellow humans. Thank you.


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Is Paris Burning? And Who’s Holding the Match?


The situation in Paris came as no surprise and fell into the category of ” here come the chickens home to roost.” European nations have 500+ years history of crusades of one form or another having learned zilch from those mistakes. The US, its clients and NATO continue to apply violence in many Muslim countries. The perpetrators then have the nerve to ask, “Why do they hate us?”

After all, we are the good guys. We want to further the cause of democracy, but not in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, etc. We want all nations to enjoy the fruits of capitalism don’t we? Not so, the critics sing out. The US has to be in charge. The conditions which they impose on their trading partners would not see the light of day in Washington DC. So we have the enrichment of US banks via “odious debts” which are ruinous in the third world.

Hundreds have been killed, wounded or orphaned in the Yemen, thousands have suffered similar inhumane treatments in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. When the sunshine is too much for the US media to stomach, the US calls on client states, such as Israel and Honduras, and US armed dictators to fill the breach with violent aggression, eg. the Contras, with the usual ruinous results.

Each one of those who have suffered under US led aggression, has a family of relatives all of whom grew up in a culture where revenge is a legitimate remedy. They also live in oil rich areas where access to funding is possible. Some attend Wahabbi schools and learn more than quotes from the Koran. Some learn to read in English and pick up armed forces literature on the art of war.

So with the means, motives and opportunities, are we really surprised that the chickens are coming home to roost? Just as the European colonialists were on the wrong side of history for centuries, the US and NATO have joined that losing side.

So what can be done? How about diplomacy? How about listening to moderate Muslims? How about closing US and NATO bases in Muslim nations? How about treating Palestinians exactly as Israelis are treated and funded? How about doing unto others as we would have them do kindly unto us? How about getting mental health treatment for the national paranoia?

Obviously having nuclear weapons, superior instruments of war, EITs, and a spectrum of legislative and educational tools are ineffective against 7th century warriors who see death as a good thing. Yet we see armed forces personnel being sent as advisors, legislators, and educators; a task for which they are neither qualified nor adequately trained. As the US and NATO media and news releases are far right wing extremists, the general public is continuously misinformed, pinning its hopes on government sound bites. And so the carnage will continue till Obama or his advisors join the human race.


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Welcome Back, Cuba. You were never far from our thoughts…or shores…

Todays news, that US – Cuba relations are set to ease, is such a welcome notion that some faith in the goodness of humanity could be restored. Recognition that sanctions do not work, unless all players are in the game and abide by the rules, has finally dawned on an American president.

The people of Cuba have valiantly struggled against the wishes of the US and its trade impositions for over five decades. Yet their leadership, which brought about the reasons for sanctions, has not suffered. Against the wishes of the master race, the blanket of sanctions has been torn to shreds by many nations (except America’s client states such as Israel and Honduras.)

As in other zones of influence, the US had invaded, controlled and governed Cuba against the wishes of the people of Cuba. A sort of divine right of kings minus the royal blood. It mattered nothing that the Cubans were then subjected to years of violence under dictatorships supported by the US. Just as the former colonial Europeans had ground the population into subsistence farming and dire poverty, the US turned a blind eye to a suffering people.

By forbidding relations with Cuba among nations over which the US has sway, the US caused Cuba to seek solace elsewhere. So it built up relations with Eastern Europeans countries, including Russia and Central and South American states. In typical hypocritical fashion, those helping states were labelled rogue states, terrorists and outlaws. The Godawful spectre of Socialism and even worse, Communism was trundled out with much hair pulling and wringing of hands. Yet Socialism has given Cuba an enviable education system and a superior health system that puts others to shame.

The Cuban people are friendly, peace loving and welcoming to strangers. They have threatened no one. They have invaded no one. The US can not honestly make similar claims. The Cubans do not have a national dose of paranoia or cater to the latest bogie man. They seem sensible and mature.

The sunny climate seems to pass reflections to their national character. Cuba has many more assets than cigars and rum. Whenever there is an emergency situation anywhere on the planet, the Cubans are among the first to offer aid, medicine, and manpower to alleviate the situation. Even in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the Cubans jumped in with offers of aid, in New Orleans. Moreso than American EMO folk. The offers were turned down by the US. The Cubans are on the front lines fighting AIDS, Ebola, Earthquakes, floods and mudslides. American media offer no kudos for their good works. Cuba offers educators and health professionals in many areas of Africa.

If Mr. Obama’s initiative is taken up and supported by the US legislature, only good can come of it. Already the rumblings of dissent are being voiced by those who see no good in anything Mr. Obama proposes. Like the tree that falls in the forest and is not reported by Fox News, Obama gets the blame for the fall. The richest and most powerful nation in the world has a responsibility to raise diplomacy to new levels of good sense and maturity. I would like to hold my breath.