The Trump/Bannon Plan: Create more terrorists

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In a recent Associated Press interview, President Trump said he was 10-0 in predicting terror attacks.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump campaigned to become a war criminal. He protested the Geneva Conventions, vowed to “bomb the shit” out of the Middle East, and insisted the US had to kill the family members of terrorists. Though he’s reneged on plenty of promises so far, he has stuck to these frighteningly well. But this is far from a legitimate strategy to fight terrorism. In fact, Trump’s presidency is sure to create more of it. Continue reading

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Steve Bannon, our shadow president, wants to watch the world burn

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Steve Bannon is Donald Trump’s Josef Goebbels, Dick Cheney, and Emperor Palpatine all rolled into one.

As chaos consumed American airports and headlines over the weekend, the Trump Administration quietly made a major reshuffle behind the scenes. The central figure in both stories was Steve Bannon, the former editor of the proto-fascist Breitbart News and President Trump’s chief advisor. Bannon told the Department of Homeland Security to ignore court orders, causing further confusion; then he assumed a top position on the National Security Council. Continue reading

Words versus deeds: Foreign policy in the 2016 election

The likely 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the most disliked major party candidates in American history. But of all the faults these candidates have, their darkest aspects are most visible in foreign policy. And for as much as Americans don’t like the two of them, imagine what the rest of the world must think as the most powerful nation on earth prepares to hold an election between an accomplished war criminal and a maniac who pledges to become one. Continue reading

How religion determines if a mass shooter is a terrorist

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A vigil in Thailand shows solidarity with the victims in Orlando.

In the wee hours of June 12, during a period of festivity and camaraderie, 49 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured by bullets fired from a military-grade assault weapon legally purchased by a man who had been a suspected terrorist. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, perpetrated by a US-born Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS. But if the killer had been anything other than Muslim, the national conversation in the tragedy’s wake might be much different.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump took the tragedy as an opportunity to pat himself on the back for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” Since that widely criticized tweet, most pundits and politicians have characterized shooter Omar Mateen as a terrorist. They did the same for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and San Bernardino killers Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook. But not all mass shooters are called terrorists. Those with names like James Holmes, Adam Lanza and Jared Loughner, for instance, usually aren’t. Continue reading

Bundy separatists: How America tolerates right-wing protest and stomps the left

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Ammon Bundy, left, and Ryan Bundy, sons of infamous rancher Cliven Bundy, are leaders in the occupation.

A group of heavily armed right-wing ranchers and self-described militiamen have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Their stated purpose is to protest the jail sentence of father and son ranchers convicted of arson charges, Dwight and Steven Hammond. More importantly, they are protesting perceived overreach from the federal government.

Leading the occupation is Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, the rancher who made headlines in April 2014 for his armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. No shots have been fired and the group has no hostages, but they insist they are ready to defend themselves against law enforcement and claim they have enough resources to occupy the refuge for years. Continue reading

Stop ‘trump’ing up the threat of Islamic terror

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ISIS soldiers march in Raqqa, Syria, the terrorist organization’s de facto capital.

Radicalized Islamic terrorists have become the focal point of national security concerns and much of the 2016 presidential election. Not without good reason – groups like ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and others are among the most barbaric gangs of cold-blooded killers, kidnappers, torturers, rapists, sex traffickers and drug dealers ever. But treating them as an existential threat superseding the Nazis, as some have done, is granting them way too much legitimacy. Continue reading

How the gun debate and the War on Terror are connected

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San Bernardino shooting suspects, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.

Right-wing extremism received heavy scrutiny for a few days following the Planned Parenthood attacks. Commentators and left-wing politicians criticized the venomous rhetoric the right uses to denounce its opponents, one of which – the red herring cry of “baby parts” – was used by the Planned Parenthood shooter himself. Since the San Bernardino shooting, committed by Muslims a few days later, white terror has largely fallen off the radar. It shouldn’t.

What hasn’t fallen off the radar is the gun debate. It’s being waged as aggressively now as it’s been in years, with President Obama calling for restricted access to assault weapons and other mild reforms. Conservatives, as expected, reacted with total apoplexy. There has been a strange development, though, as the gun debate has become part of the discussion on Islamic terror. Continue reading

In America, white terrorists are the deadliest kind

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Robert Lewis Dear is accused of opening fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, killing three.

Around the globe, Muslims carrying out jihad are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. Americans are occupied with what to do about the problem. Terrorism is a permanent fixture of the media cycle and our politics, but the deadliest terror threat to Americans is neither foreign nor Muslim: It’s the terror from a homegrown insurgency of angry white men.

Two atrocities, both bearing the grim stamp of white terror, bookended Thanksgiving week. In Minneapolis on November 23, four white men opened fire on a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators, injuring five. And in Colorado Springs on November 27, Robert Lewis Dear opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing two civilians and a police officer. Continue reading

ISIL thrives on mayhem – don’t give it to them

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The Brandenburg Gate is lit in solidarity with Paris on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Berlin, Germany. ignacionimo/Instagram

On Friday, November 13, the city of Paris was laid siege by a small band of terrorists from the Islamic State who raided a theater, a concert hall, a soccer stadium and other venues using AK-47s and suicide bombs to. No final tally has been released and many victims remain hospitalized, but at least 129 are known to have died. In terms of death toll, it’s the worst attack in France since World War II.

In addition to the French massacre, ISIL is responsible for downing a Russian airplane carrying 224 tourists to Egypt. The day before the Paris attack ISIL detonated bombs in Beirut, Lebanon, claiming dozens more lives. These attacks are in addition to many smaller ones, the group’s destruction of culture, and the atrocities committed against women, hostages and apostates in ISIL-controlled territory.

After the attacks, French President Francoise Hollande called for the eradication of the Islamic State and declared France at war. France has since launched several air strikes against the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, which has served as a capital since roughly 2013. Among the targets were an Islamic State “command post, jihadist recruitment center and weapons and ammunition depot,” as well as a “terrorist training camp.” Continue reading

Washington hypocrisy and warmongering jeopardizes breakthrough nuclear deal with Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

As diplomats from the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany move closer to reaching a historic deal with Iran that would temporarily block it from pursuing certain nuclear ambitions in exchange for relaxation of sanctions, Republicans are vowing to do all they can to scuttle the deal. It’s remarkable that, at a time when the first modern meaningful international agreement between the US and Iran is about to go through, Republicans are rattling sabers as aggressively as ever.

Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker called the deal “one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” “Instead of making the world safer,” Walker alleges, “this deal will likely lead to a nuclear arms race in the world’s most dangerous region.” In keeping with the lockstep obstructionism that has defined the GOP throughout Obama’s presidency, other Republicans have protested the deal, citing Iran’s untrustworthiness and existential threat to world peace.

For years, Washington and the news media have portrayed Iran as the most dangerous national power on the planet. That opinion is not widely shared by the global community, however, which by a significant margin places the United States at the top of a list of the biggest threats to world peace. Despite the abundance of negative public opinion on Iran in the US, the question of what exactly makes the country such a threat is rarely meaningfully explored.

A brief history of US/Iranian relations reveals everything about who should be distrustful of who. Continue reading