April 23, 2017

Trump has no credibility to pledge "Never again"

It has been reported that President Trump will address Tuesday's "Yom Hashoah" Holocaust commemoration at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to Holocaust exhibits and documentation, the Museum very consciously houses the Committee on Conscience and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

Today, addressing the World Jewish Congress via video, he pledged, "We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found." And finally, months after his White House denied the need to mention Jews in connection with the Holocaust, he did mention Hitler's six million Jewish targeted victims. But his rhetoric is very thin on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and ignores his administration's consistent refusal to act in support of contemporary victims of mass killings and of racial and religious persecution, even while he and his aides routinely appeal to Islamophobia and other forms of xenophobia here in the United States.

Unless he announces that he's abandoning the border wall, dropping the arbitrary ban on refugees and certain Muslim states, and firing the "Alt-Right" white supremacists and the second-generation card-carrying Nazi working inside his own West Wing, anything he says there can be nothing more than a desecration and betrayal of the memory and lessons of the Holocaust. Singling out Jews for special recognition and protection, while actively sowing fear and hostility toward so many other minorities, does us no favors.

April 8, 2017

Trump attacks Syria - Context & consequences

I was writing up a new post with some thoughts about this past week's U.S. retaliation against Syrian forces, and decided to record it as a podcast for The Bottom Line. Please listen to the nine minutes and let me know what you think!

April 5, 2017

What Trump could do NOW on Syria

Following this week's massacre of civilians by Syrian government forces, using specialized chemical weapons, a friend asked me what President Trump should do at this stage. To recall, President Obama averted military intervention by securing Syrian President Assad's agreement to remove all chemical weapons. While Obama should never have thrown down a red line over Syria's potential use of chemical weapons, it could have been catastrophic for the region and the United States had he backed that up when Assad indeed deployed such weapons. 

To be sure, with Russia and Iran's active support Assad has been committing mass murder and devastation against his own citizens. But until last week's indication by Trump's Secretary of State that the UnitedStates is ready for Assad to remain in office, Assad had avoided using more than off-brand chemicals such as dropping barrels of chlorine.

A friend has challenged me to suggest what Trump should do at this point, beyond empty statements. 

So here are a few ideas:

1. A statement condemning would be a good start. 

2. Countermanding Tillerson's explicit approval of Assad's legitimacy would be even better. 

3. Demand that the Russians cooperate in holding Assad accountable and removing these new stockpiles (which Russia may have itself supplied. 

4. Get ahead of the courts and formally rescind the U.S. ban on refugees from Syria who have already been exhaustively vetted -- and call on European nations to redouble their own programs.

Obama came in on the heels of George W. Bush's obliteration of Saddam's orderly dictatorship, which unleashed the cynical and destructive forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. That same obliteration freed Iran to pursue its goals in Syria largely unchecked. Obama made some missteps, but he did better than average with what he'd been dealt -- and at least he tried. 

Trump may still have a narrow opportunity to minimize the damage from the current situation, but by accepting Russia's dominance and legitimizing Assad, he's already taken a bad situation and made it so much worse.