Being Nice to Dictators

From a Google Image Search – BBC

Being Nice to Dictators

This is what American foreign policy has come to. We give dictators whatever they want in order to keep the peace and to keep migrants from flooding Europe and by extension, eventually, America (and for oil). Today Trump announced that he will end the sanctions against Turkey in exchange for a cease fire in the land grab against the Kurds in Syria and to end the presence of a minority group despised by Turks for reasons that are rooted in ancient animosities. Ending sanctions may not be a done deal yet, but it most likely will be. Next the Russian sanctions will end by executive decree because Trump likes to imagine that he is a strong man, despite the fact that he is just a corrupt bombastic pawn.

Once again the president exerts his executive power as if Congress does not exist. He does not see this as breaking an oath to uphold the Constitution because he sees the executive branch as all-powerful and he finally has a Chief Justice who agrees with this self-serving interpretation of our founding documents. Once again the president of America chooses to please Putin in Russia and Erdogan in Turkey, both “strong men.” 

We have been wary of backing these men because their goals in Europe (and now in the world) are imperialistic as well as political, and because the spread of authoritarianism was something we have opposed for decades as democracy offered the world more freedoms. Now that capitalism has spread everywhere, perhaps we see that greed was our true goal, and now that we achieved our economic goals our humanistic goals of encouraging nations towards democracy have become expendable. 

So we remain silent as the citizens of Hong Kong demonstrate to preserve freedoms they already own from being taken away. China’s business is China’s business, until one day in the not-so-distant future it becomes our business. We don’t want a war with China, but we should take a principled stand in support of human freedoms and telegraph that we mean what we say. We do not usually knuckle under to dictators until now when the economy of the entire world is so tied to the new capitalist China that stock portfolios trump humanitarianism. 

China has also become a bit scary. It is so big and it is a giant machine run by one man. There is no way to be disloyal to the leader in China except from jail or from exile. Capitalism run by one leader is intimidating enough; the thought of a military with unlimited human resources run by one leader who demands absolute loyalty is terrifying. If we are afraid to stand up to China on the small things, I think we can one day expect to have to face this giant on some fairly big things, or perhaps we will just capitulate and keep our thoughts to ourselves. Isn’t love of freedom the reason we are usually not nice to dictators?

Of course we can’t have this conversation without a few words about North Korea and the mythic-dispenser-of-cruelty-to-his-own people, and dictator supposedly in a “love affair with our President. Sometimes people are so convinced of their own deity that no amount of “tough love” will change the way they behave. North Korea is a bit quieter but it could be a silence that is covering up a plan to treat the world to some future dastardly deeds with killer results. 

It is difficult to believe that someone as egomaniacal as Kim Jung Un plans to go peacefully into the sunset. Exactly what his plans are it is difficult to discern but if he ever teams up with Russia, China, and Turkey he will have access to some pretty enormous pieces of world real estate and whatever assets and weapons the leaders of these nations choose to grant him. Perhaps this is the reason that Trump thinks cozying up to all of these nations is a necessity right now. Sadly what seems to be the case is that he would like to become a member of this “strong man” group. 

Goodbye freedom. Goodbye Republic. Goodbye democracy and free speech, including freedom of the press. Learn to follow orders blindly and just do the tasks assigned to you by the Big Brothers and you will be fine. Life will be a grim business and mercifully short. This could be our future if we don’t figure this out now. This is what being nice to dictators wins us.

Atomic Bombs, Russia, Putin, Trump and America

Once we used an atomic bomb for the first time, the US, perhaps on an epic guilt trip, became hyper-vigilant because we knew that “nukes” would be a new target of every nation.

As children left their classrooms to line the hallways and lean on the back of another child they had never met with an arm over their eyes, or to do the “duck and cover”, our fear of nukes was born. We weren’t worried about a bomb from Germany. Germany was defeated. We weren’t worried about a bomb from Japan. Japan was defeated

Our parents were feeling quite ebullient with our soldiers home and the economy booming. Who was the enemy now? Why were kids doing bomb drills if the US was the only nation with an atomic bomb?

That ended up only being the case for about five minutes (at least it seemed to happen very fast) and then the USSR had figured out how to make nukes. They had very good spies. From being a rather reluctant ally in WWII, because everyone who saw the threat of Hitler had to be on the other side, the USSR became our national nightmare, our “fear factor”. They were Communists; we were Capitalists. Antagonism between our two nations escalated as the nuclear stockpiles grew. Communism and Democracy fought to divide up the world the way the English and Spanish once vied for gold with such imperialistic fervor.

When the USSR “won” in Cuba and established a Communist country right on our doorstep America was in shock. The Bay of Pigs crisis is described in great detail by historians and was covered at the time by the media, although much was secret. JFK had a lot of plans that seemed ridiculous and laughable when they were revealed. But when, without any actual fighting, it was all over, the two countries sort of stood down from the worst of the hostilities and agreed to lead separate lives. It was still the Cold War, but it did not get colder, and the dreaded “nuclear winter” seemed less imminent once again

Then the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain parted to reveal a USSR in need of economic assistance. It seemed as if we might get to a peaceful coexistence but under Vladimir Putin that was not to be. That old Cold War feeling is back and seems unaffected by whatever global warming is going on. Nukes are in the news again with even smaller, saber-rattling nations getting involved (Iran, North Korea).

Just as we begin to wonder if the world will dissolve into chaos unless we pitch in to deal with climate change, or if it will be turned into a radioactive wasteland by madmen with power, the President of America turns out to be a guy who seems to love Russia and wants to use our nukes in a possible first strike against North Korea. In addition, this guy in our White House does not believe in climate change and wants to use up every fossil fuel resource everywhere on the planet to bring back the Industrial Age and those dramatic old polluted sunsets.

Just at this moment, and in spite of the decades of antagonism and fear the American people have learned to feel about Russia and about nukes, we get a President who spends almost two hours meeting with Vladimir Putin at a G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany without any American media present because he doesn’t trust the American press and he doesn’t really realize that he is not America; he only represents America. This meeting was an outrage and also exactly what we expected to happen. There is no outlet for our anxieties except to use our words..

As to the media, I wonder how many years it will take to make us distrustful of all of our news sources. Some of us like to think that this cannot happen to us but there are no guarantees. Given enough reasons to question the veracity of every possible source of information, given a really intensive campaign against the media, we may all knuckle under and lose our ability to trust our own senses.

So are we really expected to do a 180 degree turn on Putin because 45 likes him and thinks we should be friends? Should we prosecute his team for conspiring with a foreign nation which has been our sworn enemy since almost immediately after WWII and for getting the Russians involved in messing with an American election? Or should we form a cyber security coalition with a nation who has built an entire apparatus to hack into America’s computers and is so good at it that we are beginning to think we should go back to the old days of paper records? Will the Russians kill the internet? What does Putin have to offer us? We don’t need oil but Donald might need more money. Although freedom does not always make life easy (and is never absolute), I cannot come to love a country that uses fear to control its citizens, although that may be where America is headed.

DT is the President of America and now he is trying to make us love a nation that we were taught to be wary of for our entire lives. Let’s get on with these investigations into Russia and America and the Trumps and the 2016 election. Even talking about this for too long is toxic and puts Putin too squarely in the limelight on the world stage. Those children in those bomb drills are still inside of us and they are not at all happy about this strange turn of events in America

This is a view from the cheap seats.