Category Archives: International news

Invasion, incursion: Where’s the difference?

I am going to start referring to Turkey’s assault on neighboring Syria in more realistic terms.

It is an “invasion,” not a mere “incursion.”

Donald Trump pulled U.S. forces out of Syria, effectively abandoning our Kurdish allies who have joined us in the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkey responded by launching an assault in Syria, aiming specifically at the Kurds, whom the Turks hate with a passion. America media have been referring to the assault as an “incursion.” I looked the word up in the dictionary. It calls “incursion” a raid, like an “invasion.” I then looked up “invasion” in my tattered American Heritage Dictionary. It refers to an “invasion” as an “entry by force” of one nation into another.

So, have the Turks used “force” to enter Syrian territory? Yep. They have done precisely that very thing.

By my way of thinking, it’s no “incursion.” It’s a full blown “invasion.”

A notable misuse of the definition of such a military action occurred in 1970, when U.S. forces conducted an “incursion” into Cambodia during the Vietnam War. It was supposed to be hush-hush. It wasn’t anything of the sort. Our fighting men invaded Cambodia to root out Viet Cong fighters.

The invasion didn’t turn out so well. Students protested that action in the United States and at Kent State University in Ohio, four students died when National Guard troops opened fire on them while they were demonstrating against the war.

So, you are welcome to call it an incursion if you wish. Me? I’ll refer to the Turks’ action what I believe it is: an invasion, which fits that description far more than what Donald Trump has called the flow of refugees from Latin America into the United States.

An invasion by any other name doesn’t make it any more justifiable. Thus, what the Turks are doing to our allies in the fight against ISIS is as shameful as any invasion by one nation against another.

‘You are leaving us to be slaughtered’

I am baffled, confused and at some level heartbroken over what Donald Trump has done to one of this nation’s more faithful military allies.

We are pulling our forces out of northern Syria, leaving the Kurds — many of whom have died fighting the Islamic State terrorists in the region — at the mercy of Turkey, which has launched sustained air and artillery bombardments against Kurdish positions.

The Turks hate the Kurds. The Kurds have told U.S. military officials that they have left the Kurds “to be slaughtered” by the Turks.

Indeed, I’ve seen some video of Turkish soldiers executing Kurds captured in the field.

What in the world is going on here?

Trump made the decision to pull out after talking by phone with Turkish President Recep Erdogan. He apparently got no assurance from Erdogan that the Kurds would be protected. He also surprised his national security team with the decision he made with reportedly no consultation with the experts who know what’s happening on the field of battle.

I am so very torn by this development. I endorse Trump’s view that we shouldn’t be involved in “endless wars.” However, the manner in which this decision has come about and the seeming resurgence of ISIS fighters in the region means that all of our sacrifice and effort in ridding the area of the terrorist monsters has gone for naught.

And it is likely to cost the Kurds thousands more lives as they are left to fight a superior military force invading their territory from Turkey.

What in the world have we done to our allies? And can we be trusted in the short or medium term to stand by other allies’ sides as they fight the terrorists networks intent on doing us harm?

Here is how dangerous POTUS can be

So, just how much danger can the president of the United States put this country?

Consider how he concluded that it is time for the country to pull out of Syria and effectively abandon the Kurds, with whom our troops have been battling the Islamic State.

Donald Trump says otherwise, but he announced his decision to leave Syria without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the CIA, the director of national intelligence. He acted on a phone call with Turkish strongman/tyrant President Recep Erdogan (pictured), who hates the Kurds and who well might move to obliterate our allies in the region.

Trump’s impulse was to pull out. It was to abandon our allies. He says he is keeping a “campaign promise” he made during the 2016 campaign. That is pure crap! He is not more interested in keeping that promise than he is in forcing Mexico to build The Wall, or to cutting the budget deficit.

At one level, I don’t necessarily oppose the decision to pull our troops out of harm’s way. Except that our nation already has committed to assisting the Kurds, who have done the bulk of the fighting — and suffered the bulk of the deaths — against ISIS.

How does the president plan to execute this strategy? Will he change his mind once again?

Our foreign policy lacks coherence. It is fueled by chaos and confusion, all of which comes from the Twitter account run by the president of the United States.

Do you feel safer now? Neither do I.

Just think … they impeached Bill Clinton for lying about sex!

If there is a hint of reflection among congressional Republicans who are resisting calls to impeach Donald J. Trump on allegations that he is endangering national security, they need to ponder what their political forebears did 20 years ago.

President Bill Clinton in 1998 became the subject of a special prosecutor’s probe into a real estate deal in Arkansas, where Clinton served as governor before he was elected president in 1992. The investigation broadened way beyond its initial mandate.

Prosecutor Kenneth Starr then started sniffing out reports of a relationship Clinton had with a White House intern. He summoned the president to testify before a federal grand jury about that relationship. Clinton took an oath to “tell nothing but the truth.” He didn’t uphold that oath. He committed an act of perjury because, apparently, he was too embarrassed to reveal what went on with him and the intern.

Congressional Republicans decided to launch an “impeachment inquiry” into that matter. They then impeached the president ostensibly for committing a felony: that would be perjury.

However, the complete impeachment context has to include sex. The House impeached Clinton because he had a sexual relationship with a young woman working in the White House.

The Senate acquitted Clinton in the trial it held.

Here we are, two decades later.

Donald Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry of his own. The allegations are no longer really allegations. Trump has said it out loud, that he has sought help from Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. He doubled down after that by saying China should do the same thing.

What’s more, Trump withheld arms shipments to Ukraine until it agreed to aid in his re-election effort. Those shipments include weapons Ukraine wants to deploy against Russian troops who have invaded Ukraine.

Ukraine is an ally. Russia is an adversary. Hmm. Can you say, “national security threat”?

Republicans in the House and Senate so far have been far too reluctant to climb aboard the impeachment hay wagon. These folks, I need to remind everyone, belong to the same political party of those who were so very quick to impeach an earlier president for lying to a grand jury.

What in the name of constitutional defense is more critical: a president’s personal misbehavior or a president who violates his oath to adhere to the nation’s governing framework?

Ukraine story taking on more lives

This is how controversies evolve into full-blown scandals.

Something happens that raises eyebrows. Then we hear about more matters related — perhaps only tangentially — to the original event. Then more matters are heaped on all of that. Our attention gets stretched far beyond the original “sin.”

So it is happening now with the Ukrainian matter, the July 25 phone call that Donald Trump had the Ukrainian president and who else might have heard the two men talked about in that fateful conversation.

Trump is now known to have asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy for help in his re-election effort, including getting dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign opponent.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he didn’t know anything about the phone call; then we hear from a State Department official, talking to the Wall Street Journal, that Pompeo listened to the phone call in real time.

Then the president decides to throw Vice President Mike Pence’s name out there, suggesting that the VP might be involved in some manner.

Oh, and now comes news that Trump sought help from Australia’s prime minister for help in undermining former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing.

What in the name of scandalous behavior is happening here?

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the formerly highly esteemed New York City mayor, has become unhinged. He rambles incoherently on national TV, accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of crimes that other prosecutors say are unfounded.

The House is force-marching its way toward impeaching the president on charges that he violated his oath of office by soliciting a foreign government for political assistance. Whether it results in conviction in the Senate, of course, remains a highly open question.

However, what could have been blown off as a mere “controversy” is becoming rapidly a full-blown “scandal” that will result in an impeached president running for re-election.

We are racing down heretofore untraveled roads.

Wow!

Whistleblower acted ‘in good faith’ and is ‘credible’?

There you have it … from the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.

The acting DNI told the U.S. House Intelligence Committee today that a whistleblower acted in “good faith” and has filed a “credible” complaint against Donald J. Trump, the White House and the Justice Department.

At issue is whether the president sought foreign government assistance in bringing down a political opponent. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy had this phone chat. Zellenskiy thanked Trump for helping the Ukrainians fight the Russian aggressors, but then Trump said he needed a favor “though” in exchange for continuing the assistance.

This is mighty serious stuff, folks. Congressional Democrats are enraged enough to launch a full impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The whistleblower’s complaint has been made public. In it he or she says that Trump sought foreign government assistance in undermining Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. Moreover, the whistleblower has alleged, the White House sought to cover it up.

This individual bases the allegation on conversations with people close to the Oval Office. The whistleblower, naturally, has been attacked. Trump calls the individual a “political hack,” even though the president does not know the identity of who has leaked these allegations.

What’s more, Joseph Maguire, a career Navy SEAL and a decades-long public servant, has said the whistleblower acted appropriately, in good faith. He told Intelligence Committee members he finds the complaint to be “credible.”

The plot is thickening before our eyes.

One little word becomes focus of Trump-Zelenskiy chat

The attention of the political chattering class in Washington has drawn a bead on a single word contained in those notes released from Donald Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine.

It’s the word “though.”

Trump chatted by phone with Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The presidents were talking about U.S. military assistance to Ukraine in its fight with Russian aggressors. Zelenskiy thanked Trump for all he has done and what I suppose Trump was planned to do in the future.

Then Trump, according to the notes of that conversation, said the following:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it, if that’s possible.

There it is, the word “though.” 

Trump is offering to have Attorney General William Barr “get to the bottom” of Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine. He was soliciting Zelenskiy’s help in digging up dirt that could harm Joe Biden’s potential nomination as a candidate for president in 2020.

Zelenskiy had just said the following prior to the Trump’s “though” moment: We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Do you get it? Zelenskiy is anticipating the purchase of anti-tank missiles to use against Russia. However, Trump appears to put a caveat on delivery of those Javelins to the Ukrainians. The caveat deals with Joe Biden and whether there can be dirt to be flung at the former vice president in advance of his possible campaign against Donald Trump.

That looks to me like an impeachable offense.

Don’t take my word exclusively for it. Read the White House document here.

You be the judge.

Correcting small part of ‘the record’

I have been called out.

The release of a document chronicling a phone call between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskiy is not a “transcript.” It is a memo, the contents of which are taken from a transcript of the phone call.

A social media friend mentioned it to me in response to a blog item I published in which I referred to the document as a “transcript.”

That’s my bad.

The recognition does lend credence to the view that the memo requires release of the full unredacted transcript and the whistleblower’s report that blew this case wide open.

At issue is whether Trump asked the Ukrainian president, Zelenskiy, for information regarding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump appears to be seeking this information to use as a weapon against Joe Biden, who is a potential political opponent.

There you have it. The president allegedly used the immense power of his office to obtain ammunition to use against a political foe. He allegedly withheld military aid money for Ukraine if or until Zelenskiy produced the information requested.

The two men’s phone chat has been reported extensively throughout the day. However, we didn’t get the “transcript.” We got a memo describing the phone call, complete with ellipses that keep perhaps important segments of that phone call from full public view.

The impeachment saga continues to gather steam.

 

It’s in the transcript: POTUS asked for help to sink Joe Biden

I have just read the transcript of a phone call that Donald Trump had with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine.

I have two takeaways: One is the presence of ellipses in the released transcript of a 30-minute conversation; ellipses mean that some of the exchange between the two leaders has been kept out of public view. What’s in those deleted portions?

The second takeaway concerns that obvious moment when Trump asks Zelenskiy for help in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, the leading Democrat running for the chance to replace Trump as president of the United States.

I believe I have read evidence of an impeachable offense.

He asked for help. The call was made just days after Trump suspended the shipment of a multimillion-dollar aid package to Ukraine, which is in a state of open hostility with, um, Russia.

So, what does this mean? I believe it means that the president well might have compromised national security by keeping assistance from an ally that is fighting a hostile power in exchange for information that could benefit him politically.

Where I come from, that looks for all the world like a direct violation of the oath Trump took to defend the nation against its adversaries. He put his hand on the Bible when he swore that oath, yes?

Read the transcript right here.

It’s a beaut, man, and just think … we don’t even know everything these men said to each other!

Going for two in a row, yes, Mr. President?

Donald Trump accepted help from Russian goons in 2016 who decided to hack into our nation’s electoral system to help him win that presidential election.

Now the president appears to be looking toward a Russian neighbor, Ukraine, in digging up dirt on the son of a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2020.

The target this time is Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden. The allegation is that Hunter Biden is doing business with a Ukrainian oligarch who also happens to own an energy company.

Trump is pushing back on reporting that he is looking for dirt on Hunter Biden. He denies it … of course! Naturally, he is totally believable in his denial, right? Well, no. He isn’t.

He is blaming the “Democrat Party” and the “Fake News Media” for concocting the story.

Actually, I happen to believe there’s a gun under all that smoke. It’s just me, perhaps. Then again, the president already has proven to be a pathological liar who cannot tell the truth under any circumstance.

Let’s all remember that former special counsel Robert Mueller determined that Russians interfered in our election in 2016. He joined other intelligence experts in making that determination. Trump, as his style, denigrated Mueller and all the other trained spooks who work for this country.

How does anyone believe anything the president ever says?

I cannot.