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Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East

Photo Source xiquinhosilva | CC BY 2.0

There is little that is reported in what passes for ‘news’ today that astounds this writer. Having lived through several presidential administrations, countless U.S. wars, and who knows how many political campaigns, he had thought, for some time, that he’d seen it all. But no, Stephen Collinson, writing for CNN, has caused him to realize that there is still much to astound.

On Wednesday, October 17, CNN published an editorial with this amazing heading: “Saudi affair exposes Trumpism’s moral apathy.”  As if one doubted Trump’s ‘moral apathy’.

But wait! It get’s even more astonishing. The second sentence in the article is one that nearly sent this writer over the edge: “The President’s reaction to the apparent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggiat the Saudi consulate in Istanbul offers the clearest evidence yet of his turn away from a foreign policy rooted in universal human values”.

Let’s consider the concept of the U.S. “foreign policy rooted in universal human values”, especially as currently manifested in the Middle East, with an emphasis on Palestine. To assure we are all on the same page, this writer will refer to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, enshrined and adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. In the interest of time, only a few of the countless U.S. violations of universal human values, committed over generations since the thirteen colonies declared independence, will be discussed. Also due to time constraints, only recent violations are mentioned. In the following paragraphs, we will summarize a few outstanding examples of the U.S.’s great concern for ‘universal human values’.

Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

U.S Violation: in Palestine, children arrested and incarcerated by Israel without charge and held without access to families or legal assistance have reported being physical and sexually abused by their Israeli jailers. all with the approval of the U.S..

Additionally, during the war in Iraq, prisoners at Abu Gharib were tortured by U.S. soldiers. During that same war, then President George W. Bush and his infamous Attorney General Alberto Gonzales determined that waterboarding, condemned as torture around the world, was simply an ‘enhanced interrogation technique’.

Article 9: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”.

U.S. Violation: In Palestine, men, women and children are arbitrarily arrested and detained indefinitely on a regular basis by their country’s cruel occupier, Israel. Yet the U.S. bestows upon Israel $4 billion annually, despite U.S. laws that state nations who receive U.S. foreign aid must adhere to certain human-rights standards, which Israel does not.

Article 12: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.

U.S. Violation: In Palestine, illegal Israeli settlers and IDF soldiers raid Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, ransacking them, stealing from them and often arresting without charge any males over the age of 12. Israel also ‘confiscates’ (read: steals) Palestinian homes to demolish them to make room to build Israeli-only, illegal settlements.

Article 13, section 1: “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state”.

U.S. Violation: Israel, with complete U.S. support and financing, has established numerous, arbitrarily-opened ‘checkpoints’ in the West Bank. There, Palestinians attempting to go from home to school, work or shops, are sometimes delayed for hours in what should be only a 10 – 15 minute trip.

Article 13, section 2: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”.

U.S. Violation: Palestinians are seldom allowed to leave their country, whether for school, sporting events, leisure travel or employment, all due to U.S.-financed Israeli restrictions.

Article 15, section 1: “Everyone has the right to a nationality”.

U.S. Violation: Palestinians are considered second class citizens in Israel, and even, due to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, within their own country. Additionally, until the age of Trump, the U.S. only played lip service to the idea of a two-state solution. Trump barely conceals his contempt for it.

Article 17, section 2: ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”.

U.S. Violation: Illegal settlements in the West Bank, endorsed by Trump, are constructed on land taken from Palestinians with no recompense. Trump’s son-in-law, the racist and incompetent Jared Kushner, has had significant investments in illegal settlements.

Although focusing on the U.S.’s victimization of Palestine, we must not forget Trump’s love affair with Saudi Arabia, which has purchased record amounts of armaments from the U.S.  That nation’s violations of human rights include shocking and murderous discrimination against women, suppression of the press and oppression of dissidents.

We will return for a few painful moments to some of the more nauseating statements in Collinson’s CNN article.

+ “But for 70 years, the United States has been a beacon for dissidents in totalitarian nations, acting as a guarantor of democracy and peace in Europe and Northeast Asia.” Really? The number of nations whose brutal governments the U.S. supported when dissidents agitated for reform is nearly countless. Many Latin American and South American nations saw hundreds of thousands of dedicated patriots, fighting totalitarian regimes, crushed with assistance from the United States.

In Vietnam, as early as the late 1950s, the U.S. opposed free elections, realizing that Ho Chi Minh would be elected. This resulted in a war that killed at least 2,000,000 people, with the outcome being exactly what the U.S. fought against.

+ “It (the U.S.) waged a Cold War to defeat Communism, enhancing its claims of benevolent foreign policy leadership.” Again, this writer is greatly puzzled. Was the Cold War ‘waged’ to defeat Communism? Or was it competition for worldwide hegemony between the then Soviet Union and the U.S?

+ “Pompeo’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the secretary of state had thanked the King for ordering ‘a thorough, transparent and timely investigation’ into Khashoggi’s disappearance.”  This is reminiscent of Israel’s constant proclamation that the U.N. need not investigate any possible war crimes it is accused of committing; Israel itself will do a ‘thorough, transparent and timely investigation’ into any such accusations. Why ask the farmer to investigate who invaded the henhouse? Let the foxes do the investigation instead.

I can only imagine what anyone living outside of U.S. borders must think if they are unfortunate enough to stumble across, and read, Collinson’s article. The U.S. government has perfected the fine art of propaganda, and the corporate-owned press is all too happy to be the medium by which it is dispersed. Collinson’s article on CNN is an excellent example of this.

There are many problems in the world today, and few of them can’t be traced back to the United States. Seeing reality for what it is, rather than through the skewed lens of U.S. propaganda, is a first step toward resolving them.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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