Category Archives: International news

Peace deal is worthy, however …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s talk briefly about a peace agreement between Israel and two neighboring Arab nations: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Donald Trump is hailing the agreements his administration brokered as a sea change event. Israel will open embassies in the UAE and Bahrain for the first time in the history of Israel’s existence.

Hey, it is a big deal.

However, let’s put this in a bit of context. Israel has not been at war with either country. It has gone to war with others in the region, to be sure. Jordan, Egypt and Syria come to mind immediately.

To be clear, Israel also has peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. They were brokered years ago by preceding presidential administrations. Indeed, the Israel-Egypt peace agreement ended up costing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat his life when he was murdered by Islamic extremists while watching a military parade.

I had the privilege of spending more than a month in Israel in May-June 2009. I had a chance during that time to speak with many learned Israelis. We spoke of tensions in the region between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and the Gaza Strip. No one I talked to 11 years ago ever mentioned the UAE or Bahrain as nations that Israel simply needed to forge a peace agreement.

I do not intend to denigrate the peace agreements forged between Israel and its two Arab neighboring states.

I do intend, though, to add a bit of context to the settlements. They’re important, but I don’t believe in the grand scheme they matter to nearly the extent that the Trump administration suggests.

Now, if the Trump team hammers out a peace treaty with, say, Syria and Iran … well, then we’ll have reason to celebrate.

Nobel Peace Prize for Trump? Eek!

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here we go!

Donald Trump has been nominated officially for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination comes from a right-wing Norwegian politician who thinks the U.S.-brokered peace deal with Israel and the United Arab Emirates is just, well, the greatest thing to happen this year on Earth.

As you can imagine, U.S. conservatives are excited about it; U.S. liberals are, shall we say, aghast. And you no doubt can guess that the Twitter-verse went bonkers over the nomination. Trump went nuts, too, according to The Hill: Trump shared the news of the nomination in at least 15 different tweets and retweets with his nearly 87 million followers on social media.

Count me as one of those who is horrified at the prospect of Trump getting this award.

You see, here is what I project happening. Trump’s political campaign is going to use the nomination as grist to pitch for his re-election. Then we’ll have to hear from Trump himself bragging about it.

Take this to the bank, too: He’ll just have to mention the Peace Prize that President Obama received at the beginning of his two terms in office. Obama himself has noted that the award at the time seemed a good bit, um, premature. The Nobel Committee, though, sought to honor the new president on the hope that he would bring worldwide peace. I am willing and able to acknowledge that President Obama didn’t leave us a more peaceful world when he exited his office in January 2017.

I just want this election to arrive on time. I want Donald Trump to be gone. I no longer want to hear his voice. Nor do I want to see his puss on my TV screen.

And I certainly do not want to hear him yammering and yapping about a Peace Prize nomination. Hey, maybe he’ll talk the Nobel committee out of awarding it to him just because of his incessant blathering.

What about the ‘water’s edge,’ Mr. Secretary?

The late great Republican U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg coined the maxim that “politics stops at the water’s edge.”

That was his way of saying that in the pursuit of foreign policy, we shouldn’t quibble over partisan matters, that we’re all Americans regardless of political affiliation.

I want to extend that notion a bit farther. Secretaries of state shouldn’t engage in partisan politicking while they are representing U.S. interests abroad, either.

Listen up, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, I’m talking about you!

Pompeo is going to speak to the Republican National Convention tonight while he is in Jerusalem, ostensibly talking to Israeli leaders about this and that … such as crafting a comprehensive Middle East peace.

What the hell is he doing talking to the RNC about a partisan political matter, such as re-electing Donald J. Trump?

I know there’s nothing illegal about what Pompeo will do. Legality, though, doesn’t make it right. Thus, the secretary of state speaking to a partisan convention about a political matter just doesn’t pass the proverbial smell test.

This, I submit, is just one more time-honored tradition that Donald Trump has managed to destroy.

Peace Prize? Hah!

Donald Trump’s fans and friends in the right-wing media wasted no time in suggesting that Trump should be a “frontrunner” for the Nobel Peace Prize.

How come? Because the United Arab Emirates and Israel have announced plans to establish diplomatic relations. The UAE becomes the third Arab nation to exchange ambassadors with Israel, joining Jordan and Egypt.

Is this a big deal? Well, yes. It is. Is it Nobel Peace Prize material? Not even close.

I should point out that the UAE does not border Israel, unlike Jordan and Egypt. Nor does the UAE pose a serious military threat to Israel.

A Nobel Peace Prize ought to come in this context if, for instance, a U.S. president would broker a deal that stops Hamas from lobbing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Or perhaps he could negotiate a deal that disarms Hezbollah, the terrorists who occupy Lebanon and launch attacks on Israel along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Hey, I am willing to give props to Trump for whatever role his administration played in bringing about this deal between Israel and the UAE. A Nobel Peace Prize, though, isn’t in the cards.

U.S.-China relations get even stickier

As if relations between the United States and China needed to get even more prickly … we have this bit of news.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is visiting Taiwan, the country that the PRC considers to be a “renegade province.” Taiwan has no official diplomatic relationship with virtually the entire world, which essentially recognizes a “one-China” policy.

Well, let me stipulate one point.

I have visited Taiwan five times dating back to 1989. I have seen the country up close. It is a vibrant, successful and energetic democracy. It is far from being the “renegade province” the PRC says it is.

It did break away from the PRC after a bloody civil war in 1949, when the communists seized power from the ruling nationalist party. It operated under martial law for decades in the years since then. It lifted the martial law a few years back.

Taiwan operates as an independent nation. It just has declined to declare its independence, concerned about a possible military reaction from Beijing were it to do so.

Over time, Taiwan’s population has become more native to the island nation, with far fewer citizens with roots in the PRC.

It’s an independent nation. Still, Secretary Azar needs to take care that he doesn’t say something that will rile the commies on the mainland even more than they no doubt already have become.

This, I submit, China-Taiwan is one of the world’s most complicated relationships. Tread carefully, Mr. Secretary.

Russians are at it again … imagine that!

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Russia has its favorite American political candidate. His name is Donald J. Trump. Russia is doing precisely what Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, said it would do: attack our electoral system just as it did in 2016.

Is Donald Trump going to express any outrage over it? Is he going to meet with Republicans and Democrats in Congress seeking to find meaningful sanctions to levy against Russia?

No and no.

What in the name of electoral sanctity does it take for the Trumpkin Corps to wake up to the reality that their guy poses an existential threat to our democratic way of life?

He invited the Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign; the Russians obliged. Trump stood with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and openly denigrated U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in 2016; he sided with Putin.┬áRobert Mueller got the task of investigating all of that and determined that Russia had attacked our election and said it would do so again. He was right. Trump’s response has been to disparage Mueller’s findings.

Trump hasn’t yet said a single critical word about Putin’s chicanery. He spoke on the phone with the Russian strongman, but didn’t bring up the issue of Russian electoral interference … or the issue of Russian goons placing bounties on the lives of American service personnel killed in battle against the Taliban.

Where I come from that is called “dereliction of duty.”

And yet, the Trump faithful continues to give him a pass. Whatever they might feel privately they keep strictly to themselves. The public outrage is nowhere to be seen or heard.

Donald Trump has become the most dangerous existential threat to the nation he was elected to govern. The Russians know it and, in my view, that is precisely the reason they are seeking to work on behalf of his re-election.

Still nothing about bounties? Really?

What in the name of national security gives with Donald J. Trump?

The U.S. president gets on the phone with Russian dictator/hitman Vladimir Putin and doesn’t bring up the allegation that Russian intelligence goons put bounties on U.S. service personnel?

Then we hear that Trump wants to remove 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, which would do nothing but tickle Putin’s fancy, given that those troops have been stationed there as part of the front line against potential Russian aggression.

The bounty allegation has legs. Of that I have no doubt. Nor do any serious watchers of U.S.-Russia relations. It is utterly amazing to many of us that Trump has yet to condemn the allegation, pledging to find out whether it’s true or seeking answers from Vladimir Putin.

Trump told Axios that he and Putin talked about “other things.” Are you kidding me? Why in the world didn’t he mention the allegation? Why doesn’t he demand Putin to demonstrate he hasn’t done what many of us believe he has allowed?

This information reportedly found its way to Trump’s desk, but Trump continues to deny knowing about it in the moment. He said the intelligence reportedly placed in his daily briefing didn’t add up. What a crock of dookey!

I believe in my gut that Trump has been derelict in his duty as commander in chief. For the president to refuse to confront Vladimir Putin directly on it confirms my belief.

As for the troop withdrawal from Germany, let’s just say that Putin must be dancing one of those Russian jigs in the Kremlin. Trump is reducing the U.S. force commitment by one-third. He chides Germany for failing to pay it’s share of defense and suggests the United States won’t be “suckered” any longer.

The drawdown will cost billions of dollars. The troops will need to be relocated. For what reason? Because the president is angry with Germany over whether it’s paying enough for its own defense? It looks to me as though there is a larger national security issue in play, which involves whether the United States — as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — is doing its part to assure the defense of Europe against possible aggression.

Who is the beneficiary? None other than Vladimir Putin.

COVID response turns U.S. into pariah nation

The world’s most powerful nation, the one that sees itself as “indispensable,” has become a pariah state.

How do I know this? Well, a story in the Sunday Dallas Morning News caught my attention. It says that with Major League Baseball about to start, the Toronto Blue Jays — the only MLB team headquartered in a foreign land — will not be allowed to play games at their home ballpark.

And why is that?

The Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not want the Blue Jays players infecting anyone with the COVID-19 virus they might have acquired while playing hardball in the United States.

Roll that around for a just a moment.

The European Union has banned travel between the United States and all 27 countries that comprise the EU. The EU says travel also is banned from Russia and Brazil along with the United States because none of those nations has controlled the COVID virus sufficiently.

Now this from Canada.

Major League Baseball prides itself as being an international attraction. Indeed, many of its top players hail from places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Mexico and, yes, Canada. The Blue Jays are a premier MLB franchise.

And yet, the nation with the world’s greatest scientific researchers, the world’s pre-eminent medical establishments, the strongest military (by far!) in the history of the world cannot control a virus sufficiently for a neighboring country to allow its lone baseball franchise to play home games.

To think, therefore, that Donald John Trump calls his disastrous non-response to the pandemic a success. That he’s doing a fabulous job of controlling the virus. That the numbers of infection and death are the product of “fake news.”

My astute wife of nearly 49 years puts it in perspective. “I don’t care what the numbers say,” she told me. “I know that hospital workers are exhausted from the work they are doing to keep these patients alive.”

So, now we hear that a Major League Baseball team will be denied the chance to play baseball on its home field because its athletes will have traveled to the United States.

Is this how you “make America great again”?

Still waiting for something from Trump on this bounty matter

Donald Trump has remained silent on what might be the most heinous act of treachery perpetrated during this individual’s tenure as president of the United States.

Intelligence reports are piling up that say the same thing: Russian agents paid bounties of as much as $100,000 to Taliban fighters who kill U.S. service personnel.

Trump has taken aim at the reporting of this story. He calls it “fake news.” He reportedly is looking for the White House staffer who leaked the information to the media.

Has he said a word publicly about Vladimir Putin’s role in this astonishing act? No. He hasn’t. He won’t, either. Why? Because I happen to believe Putin has some goods to deliver on Trump that the U.S. president doesn’t want known.

It could be damn near anything. It’s as much a mystery to me as the tax returns that Trump refuses to release, even though he once promised to release them.

What we have here is an act of treachery on the part of a hostile power toward our fighting men and women. We well might have a much more egregious act by the president who took an oath to protect our servicemen and women. He has failed in his duty as commander in chief.

Looking for the leaker, but no answers on bounty

Well now, it appears Donald John Trump is really angry … at the individual who leaked the item about the Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

He is going after the person who spilled the beans to the media about what might shake out as arguably the most damning scandal we’ve seen during Trump’s scandal-ridden tenure as president of the United States.

He vows to root out the leaker and punish him or her to the extent that he can. Although it’s unclear to me what precisely he could do other than fire the individual.

But … what about the bounty? When is Trump going to speak directly to the issue of Russian intelligence officials reportedly paying $100,000 to Taliban terrorists who kill our men and women on the battlefield? He’s been stone-cold silent on that matter.

I happen to have a personal stake in this issue. Two members of my family have seen combat in Afghanistan since we went to war against the Taliban after 9/11. One family member is now retired from the Army and is living in Colorado. The other family member, though, is on active duty and well could be sent back to Afghanistan. Obviously, I do not want him harmed. Therefore, I am imploring Congress, the intelligence community, the executive branch of the government to get straight to the depths of what has transpired.

Trump’s initial reaction to the bounty story was to denigrate the reporting of it. He called it “fake news.” He said he never was briefed by his national security team when it first collected intelligence about the bounties.

Reporting on the matter, though, suggests something quite different. Normal National Security Council procedure compels officials to brief the president when it obtains information of this magnitude.

Did they tell Donald Trump when he should have been told? If they did and he ignored it, then I believe we have an act of treason on our hands. If they withheld that information because they feared how he might react to negative news about his pal Vladimir Putin, we have something quite different but also seriously egregious.

Trump keeps saying how much he cares about the troops under his command. He has yet to demonstrate that love and caring in a tangible manner as it regards this hideous story.

Now he’s going after the leaker? That is a shameful dereliction of duty and a disgraceful violation of the oath he took when he became our commander in chief.