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08/18/2019 - 08/24/2019

" US Abandonment of INF Treaty Planned Long Before Announced "

REPORT BY STEPHEN LENDMAN
INVESTIGATIVE NEWS REPORTER
GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA

US pullout of the JCPOA nuclear deal and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was planned by Trump hardliners long before announced.


In June 2002, the Bush/Cheney regime withdrew from the landmark 1972 ABM Treaty, the move announced six months earlier.


Agreed to by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev, the treaty prohibited both countries “from deploying national defenses against long-range ballistic missiles and from building the foundation for such a defense,” the Arms Control Association explained, adding:

“The treaty was based on the premise that if either superpower constructed a strategic defense, the other would build up its offensive nuclear forces to offset the defense.”


“The superpowers would therefore quickly be put on a path toward a never-ending offensive-defensive arms race as each tried to balance its counterpart’s action.”


New START is next on Trump chopping block for elimination when expires in February 2021 if DJT is still in power.


Agreed to by the US and Russia in April 2010, it succeeded START I (1991) and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).


New START limits deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, a major reduction from earlier levels, a verification agreed on to assure both sides comply with their obligations.


In June, Bolton said extending New Start on expiration is unlikely. Despite knowing nothing about its important provisions, Trump called it a “bad deal.”


Putin said Trump official “is willing to talk about (extending New START) with us.” By letter in June to Trump, eight House and Senate Dems urged him to extend the treaty, saying:

Failure to continue “the benefits of New START by (not) extend(ing) the agreement would be a serious mistake for strategic stability and US security.”


Failure to extend it by Trump will abandon the last pillar of arms control in favor of unrestrained weapons of mass destruction development and deployment.


Time and again, the US falsely accused Russia and other countries of breaching their obligations to unjustifiably justify abandoning its own mandated commitments.


A hugely dangerous arms race began, including likely deployment of short-and-intermediate/nuclear-capable cruise and ballistic missiles close to the borders of US adversaries — notably Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.


Putin said Russia won’t breach INF Treaty provisions except in response to US violations, adding:

“Russia has all the military technical premises for that, its reaction (to) be rapid. I know what I am talking about, but this is classified information so far. I am sure the Americans are fully aware of that as well,” adding:


Russia will start full-scale development and deployment of INF Treaty-banned missiles in response to the US taking this step.


“Before such weapons enter the arsenal of the Russian army, real threats to Russia in connection with the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty will be reliably counteracted by our existing means.”


If the US abandons arms control treaties, “there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race,” Putin stressed — a hugely dangerous development with bipartisan neocon extremists running things in the US, hellbent for endless wars of aggression and other hostile actions.


Putin lamented that during the Cold War, “there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow.”


“Now, it seems that there are no rules at all. (T)he world has become more fragmented and less predictable, which is…most important and” recklessly dangerous.


His long ago attempt to save the ABM Treaty fell on deaf ears in Washington — what he called “the cornerstone of the entire international security system” now gone.


The US bears full responsibility for “cross(ing) out many years of efforts aimed at reducing the prospect of a major military conflict, including the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.


Sergey Lavrov explained that Trump intended to abandon the INF Treaty long before announced last February.


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said months before the Trump regime’s announced withdrawal, the US “budget…included funds for the development of” INF Treaty-banned missiles.


Lavrov said the decision was taken without dialogue with Russia. 


US war department spokesman Robert Carver falsely claimed the move is “purely defensive.”


US military actions are hostile and aggressive at a time when its only enemies are invented. No real ones exist — not Russia, China, Iran or any other nations.


US tests of INF Treaty-banned missiles began in mid-August on San Nicolas Island, California, the Trump Administration war department announced, more surely coming unrestrained.


In early August, US war secretary Mark Esper said “we would like to deploy (INF Treaty-banned missiles) sooner rather than later” in the Indo/Pacific region near China and North Korea.


Days before the Trump Administration formal INF Treaty pullout, Pompeo falsely said the US “will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia” — a bald-faced Big Lie, while concealing US violations since the end of the Clinton co-presidency, according to Lavrov.


On Tuesday, US army secretary Ryan McCarthy said the war department intends developing nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles.


Deployment of nuclear-capable INF Treaty-banned missiles in Europe may follow their installation in East Asia.


Endless US wars of aggression and by other means on targeted nations, abandonment of arms control treaties and other hostile actions, heightened the risk of nuclear war.


What’s unthinkable is possible because of recklessly dangerous extremists in charge of US foreign policy.

" What Globalism Did Was To Transfer The US Economy To China "

REPORT BY PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
ECONOMICS & GEO - POLITICAL ANALYST
INVESTIGATIVE NEWS REPORTER
GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA

The main problem with the US economy is that globalism has been deconstructing it. The offshoring of US jobs has reduced US manufacturing and industrial capability and associated innovation, research, development, supply chains, consumer purchasing power, and tax base of state and local governments. Corporations have increased short-term profits at the expense of these long-term costs. In effect, the US economy is being moved out of the First World into the Third World.


Tariffs are not a solution. The Trump administration says that the tariffs are paid by China, but unless Apple, Nike, Levi, and all of the offshoring companies got an exemption from the tariffs, the tariffs fall on the offshored production of US firms that are sold to US consumers. The tariffs will either reduce the profits of the US firms or be paid by US purchasers of the products in higher prices. The tariffs will hurt China only by reducing Chinese employment in the production of US goods for US markets.


The financial media is full of dire predictions of the consequences of a US/China “trade war.” There is no trade war. A trade war is when countries try to protect their industries by placing tariff barriers on the import of cheaper products from foreign countries. But half or more of the imports from China are imports from US companies. Trump’s tariffs, or a large part of them, fall on US corporations or US consumers.


One has to wonder that there is not a single economist anywhere in the Trump administration, the Federal Reserve, or anywhere else in Washington capable of comprehending the situation and conveying an understanding to President Trump.


One consequence of Washington’s universal economic ignorance is that the financial media has concocted the story that “Trump’s tariffs” are not only driving Americans into recession but also the entire world. Somehow tariffs on Apple computers and iPhones, Nike footwear, and Levi jeans are sending the world into recession or worse. This is an extraordinary economic conclusion, but the capacity for thought has pretty much disappeared in the United States.


In the financial media the question is: Will the Trump tariffs cause a US/world recession that costs Trump his reelection? This is a very stupid question. The US has been in a recession for two or more decades as its manufacturing/industrial/engineering capability has been transferred abroad. The US recession has been very good for the Asian part of the world. Indeed, China owes its faster than expected rise as a world power to the transfer of American jobs, capital, technology, and business know-how to China simply in order that US shareholders could receive capital gains and US executives could receive bonus pay for producing them by lowering labor costs.

Apparently, neoliberal economists, an oxymoron, cannot comprehend that if US corporations produce the goods and services that they market to Americans offshore, it is the offshore locations that benefit from the economic activity.


Offshore production started in earnest with the Soviet collapse as India and China opened their economies to the West. Globalism means that US corporations can make more money by abandoning their American work force. But what is true for the individual company is not true for the aggregate. Why? The answer is that when many corporations move their production for US markets offshore, Americans, unemployed or employed in lower paying jobs, lose the power to purchase the offshored goods.

I have reported for years that US jobs are no longer middle class jobs. The jobs have been declining for years in terms of value-added and pay. With this decline, aggregate demand declines. We have proof of this in the fact that for years US corporations have been using their profits not for investment in new plant and equipment, but to buy back their own shares. Any economist worthy of the name should instantly recognize that when corporations repurchase their shares rather than invest, they see no demand for increased output. Therefore, they loot their corporations for bonuses, decapitalizing the companies in the process. There is perfect knowledge that this is what is going on, and it is totally inconsistent with a growing economy.


As is the labor force participation rate. Normally, economic growth results in a rising labor force participation rate as people enter the work force to take advantage of the jobs. But throughout the alleged economic boom, the participation rate has been falling, because there are no jobs to be had.


In the 21st century the US has been decapitalized and living standards have declined. For a while the process was kept going by the expansion of debt, but consumer income has not kept pace and consumer debt expansion has reached its limits.

The Fed/Treasury “plunge protection team” can keep the stock market up by purchasing S&P futures. The Fed can pump out more money to drive up financial asset prices. But the money doesn’t drive up production, because the jobs and the economic activity that jobs represent have been sent abroad. What globalism did was to transfer the US economy to China.


Real statistical analysis, as contrasted with the official propaganda, shows that the happy picture of a booming economy is an illusion created by statistical deception. Inflation is undermeasured, so when nominal GDP is deflated, the result is to count higher prices as an increase in real output, that is, inflation becomes real economic growth. Unemployment is not counted. If you have not searched for a job in the past 4 weeks, you are officially not a part of the work force and your unemployment is not counted. The way the government counts unemployment is so extraordinary that I am surprised the US does not have a zero rate of unemployment.


How does a country recover when it has given its economy away to a foreign country that it now demonizes as an enemy? What better example is there of a ruling class that is totally incompetent than one that gives its economy bound and gagged to an enemy so that its corporate friends can pocket short-term riches?


We can’t blame this on Trump. He inherited the problem, and he has no advisers who can help him understand the problem and find a solution. No such advisers exist among neoliberal economists. I can only think of four economists who could help Trump, and one of them is a Russian.


The conclusion is that the United States is locked on a path that leads directly to the Third World of 60 years ago. President Trump is helpless to do anything about it.

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of 
our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.
 

NOTICIAS DE LATINO AMERICA

 

( image courtesy of gefraud.com )

GE Fraud? Bigger Than Enron?

BY STEPHEN LENDMAN
CONTRIBUTOR
INVESTIGATIVE NEWS REPORTER
GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA

Enron Online became the first Internet-based commodities transaction system.


It rescinded regulations in place since 1922. Derivative scams went wild.


Enron fleeced investors and energy purchasers with impunity until its house of cards collapsed.


Then-Fed chairman/maestro of misery Alan Greenspan endorsed derivatives — falsely calling them a way to share risks, ignoring unprecedented speculation with these instruments.


They turned the 2008-early 2009 economic downturn into a Great Depression for most households, exacerbated by neoliberal harshness.

Economic hard times continue for most US households. Maybe another sharp leg down is coming — turning America more into a nation of paupers than already, while privileged interests get richer at their expense.


In November 2005, whistleblower/financial analyst/accounting expert Harry Markopolos exposed Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund as a colossal fraud.


Explaining numerous red flags about his shady operation, he called Bernie Madoff Securities “the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.”

He was later convicted of securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, false statements, perjury, making false filings with the SEC, and theft from an employee benefit plan — sentenced to 150 years imprisonment for all of the above grand theft, swindling thousands of investors.


Markopolos is at it again, along with John McPherson, this time targeting once-bellwether Dow stock General Electric (GE).

Their website gefraud.com said after nearly a year of analyzing the company’s financials and accounting practices, they discovered what they called “an Enronesque business approach that has left GE on the verge of insolvency,” adding:

“GE has been running a decades long accounting fraud by only providing top line revenue and bottom line profits for its business units, and getting away with leaving out cost of goods sold, SG&A, R&D and corporate overhead allocations.”


“To make it impossible to compare GE’s numbers across multi-year time periods, GE changes its Financial Statement reporting formats every few years. This is only detectable by reading at least 10 years of 10-K’s back to back. We read 17 years from 2002-2018.”


Last Thursday, GE stock plunged 10% on the news, recovering much of the loss the next day. What’s ahead remains to unfold.

Markopolos called the analysis of GE’s financials his Fraud Investigators Team’s “ninth insurance fraud case in the past nine years and it’s the biggest, bigger than Enron and WorldCom combined,” adding:

“GE’s $38 Billion in accounting fraud amounts to over 40% of (the company’s) market capitalization, making it far more serious than either the Enron or WorldCom accounting frauds.”


The team alleges that GE committed accounting fraud by concealing $29 billion in longterm care insurance losses, another $9.1 billion in loses from a 2017 investment in oilfield services company Baker Hughes.


It claims GE buys businesses at high prices, selling them later at huge losses, “baking its ledgers and cooking its books” to conceal them.

GE CEO Lawrence Culp denied the Markopolos team’s claims, a company statement, saying:

Accusations “by Mr. Markopolos are meritless. The company has never met, spoken to or had contact with Mr. Markopolos, and we are extremely disappointed that an individual with no direct knowledge of GE would choose to make such serious and unsubstantiated claims,” adding:

“Mr. Markopolos openly acknowledges that he is compensated by unnamed hedge funds. Such funds are financially motivated to attempt to generate short selling in a company’s stock to create unnecessary volatility.”


True or false, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and US Justice Department are investigating the company’s accounting practices.


Markopolos said his team paid the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and AM Best Databases to access official GE financial statements filed with state insurance commissions.


“(T)hey revealed (that) GE was hiding massive loss ratios, the highest ever seen in the LTC (Long-Term Care) insurance industry, along with exponentially increasing dollar losses being absorbed by GE, said Markopolos in his team’s report, adding:

“(A)pproximately 86% of GE’s LTC claims are ahead of them and the accompanying losses are growing at an exponential and un-survivable rate.”

“(I)mpending losses will destroy GE’s balance sheet (and) debt ratios…(The company) has almost no cash…”

“My team has spent the past 7 months analyzing GE’s accounting and we believe the $38 Billion in fraud we’ve come across is merely the tip of the iceberg.”


If SEC and/or Justice Department probes into GE’s accounting practices uncover anything similar to what Markopolos’ team claimed and don’t conceal it, the corporate giant could fall like Enron and WorldCom years earlier.

“Chief investment officers, portfolio managers, analysts, and directors of research would all comment on how they believed GE’s earnings numbers couldn’t be true because they always met or beat consensus earnings estimates every quarter, year after year, no matter what the economy was doing,” the team’s report said — an obvious red flag.


Based on his team’s findings, Markopolos believes once-bellwether GE is heading for bankruptcy, claiming accounting fraud by the firm dates at least from the mid-1990s when Jack Welch was chairman and CEO.


The company uses “many of the same accounting tricks as Enron did, so much so that we’ve taken to calling this the GEnron case,” said Markopolos.


Is it heading for the same fate? The company was co-founded by Thomas Edison, JP Morgan and others.


Its numerous businesses include financial services, medical technology and biopharmaceuticals, nuclear power plant technology, aircraft engines, oil and gas, among others.


Its 2018 revenue was $121.6 billion. Its debt load last year was double its market cap, its credit rating cut to BBB+.


After losing 25% of its market value in Q I and II last year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) removed the company from its 30-stock index.

For the year, it lost 57% of its market value, one of the worst DJIA performers. From 2000 through last year, its market value fell from around $600 billion to about $65 billion.


In mid-December 2018, the Wall Street Journal headlined “GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out,” adding:

“(T)he company that was once America’s biggest…became a shadow of its former self.”

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of 
our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient. He has been a contributor and freelance journalist and writer of Global News Aruba since 2009.

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.

“ No Deal Chaos: The Brexit Cliff Face and Operation Yellowhammer

By Binoy Kampmark
Geo Political Analyst
Global News Aruba

Britain’s Boris Johnson is driving his country to the cliff face, along the way mouthing and spouting all manner of populist reassurances.  Still fresh in the job, he declared that UK preparations for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, when Britain would leave the European Union, would receive a boost – a “turbocharge”, no less.  Michael Gove, now chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, has been charged with the task of handling the haphazard effort, having chaired some dozen meetings of the Brexit war cabinet dubbed XO to date.

While this hubris bubbles, the Sunday Times article relying on a leaked cross-government paper showing preparations for a no-deal Brexit did its panic-inducing trick, though it has not swayed the Tory-Brexiteer zombies.  The BBC was told by a “Downing Street source” that the leaked document “is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available.”

Codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier is resoundingly pessimistic, an Anglo version of Götterdämmerung delivered in a civil servant’s tone.  The former head of the British civil service, Lord Bob Kerslake, had little reason to doubt its veracity or sincerity, warning listeners on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House that the document “lays bare the scale of the risks we are facing with no-deal Brexit in almost every area.”

A few blotches of generous bleakness are noted in the Yellowhammer report, not least the theme of uncertainty (read total lack of transparency) that has hindered efforts to “provide for a concrete situation for third parties to prepare for”.  The UK risks lapsing into “third country” status, with the European Union “unsympathetic” in engaging bilaterally or implementing protections unilaterally.  (Individual member states might take a different view.)  The public, and British businesses, remained unprepared in the face of “EU exit fatigue” – at least those of the small and medium-size types. “Business readiness will be compounded by seasonable effects and factors such as warehouse availability.”

The lack of preparedness on the part of businesses is a point reiterated by the interim director-general of the Institute of Directors, Edwin Morgan.

“Until recently the level of planning has been fairly low.  Our surveys show that businesses had been waiting to see what happened.  The message from the government is getting clearer, but is still not clear enough.” 

The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, is even gloomier.

“The ongoing political uncertainty has meant it’s impossible for them to invest, expand and hire when we don’t know what the future holds.”

The big no-no of a hard border in Ireland is also floated in the dossier; current arrangements to avoid widespread checks are deemed “unsustainable” in the long-run.  The risk of “direct” protest action and road blockages is considered a more than realistic prospect.  Protests in the UK would also be possible, requiring “significant amounts of police resource[s]”.

Strangulation and suffocation are the heavy themes that run through the report like clarions of doom.  Fuel distribution could be disrupted in London and the southeast of England, caused by the closure of oil refineries leading to a loss of 2,000 jobs and strike action; up to 85 percent of lorries using the main Channel crossing were unprepared for French customs, a point that could lead to delays of two-and-a-half days.  Shortages in fresh food, precipitating a rise in prices; this would hit “vulnerable groups”.  Medical supplies would “be vulnerable to severe extended delays”, given that the UK receives three-quarters of its medicine through the main Channel crossings.

Then there is the sheer blithe indifference of it all, the Whitehall smugness and government secrecy of the optimists who bungle in the name of Queen and country.  In the reported words of a Cabinet Office source,

“Successive UK governments have a long history of failing to prepare their citizens to be resilient for their own emergencies.”

The Britannia-rules-the-waves set barely broke a sweat at Sunday’s less than startling revelations.  The consensus among them was that the Yellowhammer dossier was merely part of a sensible planning strategy, not a portrait of calamity; in any case, claimed Gove, this was “a worst case scenario” and hardly worth a murmur of concern.  Contingencies always had to be planned for; there would be “bumps in the road” and “some element of disruption”.  The last three weeks had been very “significant steps” taken to “accelerate Brexit planning”.  Nothing, however, was done to allay uncertainty.

Other efforts were made to suggest that the Yellowhammer Report was outdated and inaccurate on various points.  A press release from the Gibraltar authorities, for instance, claimed that references to the territory on whether preparations for “worse case scenarios” had been made were “out of date”.  (The Yellowhammer dossier suggests delays of up to four hours at the border with Spain, a state of affairs that will last for “at least a few months”.) 

Stay calm, suggest the governing authorities in Gibraltar; they had “already dealt with” such matters.

“We have already commissioned all necessary works at the port of Gibraltar in order to have even further contingency capacity in maritime traffic.  We do not anticipate this will be needed, but as a responsible government we want to make sure it will be available.”

While the denial syndrome continues to exert its force, the fears within the bureaucracy on imminent, and absurd catastrophe, abound.  A sickened, black humour prevails.  Last Wednesday, a civil servant working in what might be designated the National Centre For No-Deal Planning told comedian Stewart Lee of a clandestine scheme to purchase Kinder eggs and tubs of Vaseline using “thousands of press-ganged school children and cross-Channel swimmers”.  The comic mused: Why keep it clandestine?  “I don’t know, but we don’t want to set off a Kinder egg and Vaseline buying panic.”  More than just a comic affair.


GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.
 
 

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, Global News Aruba and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio.

Army soldiers watch as helicopters circle above during a dust storm at Forward Operating Base Kushamond, in Afghanistan, on July 17, 2009.THE U.S. ARMY, VIA FLICKR

" Candidates Must Commit to Immediate US Withdrawal From Afghanistan "

By Marjorie Cohn
Contributor
International Human Rights Attorney & Law Professor
Global News Aruba

On July 30, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that the Afghan government and international military forces, primarily the United States, caused most of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first six months of 2019. That’s more killings than those perpetrated in the same time period by the Taliban and ISIS combined


Aerial operations were responsible for 519 civilian casualties (356 deaths and 156 injuries), including 150 children (89 deaths and 61 injuries). That constitutes a 39 percent increase in overall civilian casualties from aerial attacks. Eighty-three percent of civilian casualties from aerial operations were carried out by the international forces.


The targeting of civilians amounts to war crimes under the Rome Statuteof the International Criminal Court (ICC).

These war crimes promise to continue unless the U.S. military completely withdraws from Afghanistan. While the United States and the Taliban have had discussions aimed at ending the 18-year war, the eighth round of those talks concluded on August 12 without reaching a peace deal. The two threshold issues are the schedule for the withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops and how to prevent “terrorist attacks” against the U.S. and allies in Afghanistan. The Taliban want the U.S. forces to withdraw before a ceasefire. But U.S. officials seek to maintain 7,000 troops, including Special Operations forces, in Kabul for several years.


Team Trump’s deadly actions are a continuation of the Bush and Obama administrations’ commission of the most heinous crimes in Afghanistan. On April 12, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber found a “reasonable basis” to believe that the parties to the Afghan conflict, including the U.S. military and the CIA, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, most of them occurring between 2005 and 2015. They include “the war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by the U.S. authorities.”

The chamber, however, refused to open a formal investigation into those crimes, as recommended by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In concluding that “an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice,” the chamber questioned the feasibility of such a probe. An investigation would be “very wide in scope and encompasses a high number of alleged incidents having occurred over a long time period,” the chamber wrote. It noted the extreme difficulty in gauging “the prospects of securing meaningful cooperation from relevant authorities for the future” and found “the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited.”


In her appeal petition, Bensouda noted that the chamber’s decision was unprecedented. “This is the first time that any Pre-Trial Chamber has held that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the ‘most serious crimes’ within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, and that potential cases concerning those crimes would be admissible, but not proceeded to authorise the opening of an investigation,” she wrote.

What caused such an unprecedented refusal by the chamber to open an investigation?


Seven days before the chamber declined to initiate an investigation, the Trump administration revoked the visa of ICC prosecutor Bensouda because of her advocacy for an investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the I.C.C. does not change its course.”


Apparently, the U.S. refusal to cooperate with an investigation and its thinly veiled efforts at blackmail of the ICC are having the desired effect – impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Meanwhile, regional Afghan forces commandeered by the CIA have “operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity,” according to The New York Times.

In a July 23 meeting with the prime minister of Pakistan, Donald Trump in effect threatened to commit genocide in Afghanistan. He said he could cause Afghanistan to be “wiped off the face of the earth” but he didn’t “want to kill 10 million people.”

In the meantime, the violence in Afghanistan is growing deadlier. In July, 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded, in the most lethal month for the past couple of years.


Of the Democratic presidential candidates, only Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg have committed to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan during their first year in office.


When the candidates were asked if there would be U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of their first term, Elizabeth Warren said, “No”; Bernie Sanders replied, “I suspect not”; Beto O’Rourke responded, “We have to begin to bring these wars to a close”; Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I believe that we need to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria”; Cory Booker noted, “We cannot have forever wars in this nation”; Julian Castro replied, “We need to withdraw in a way that is orderly, that respects our allies”; Amy Klobuchar responded, “We have been there longer than some of our young people have been on this earth”; Andrew Yang opined, “It’s impossible to know that for sure, given that reality on the ground might lead us to have more people there”; Marianne Williamson said, “I would make no move in Afghanistan until first I spoke to Afghan women”; and Kamala Harris answered, “We need to have a presence there in terms of supporting what the leaders of Afghanistan want to do.”


Sanders tweeted, “The American people do not want endless war. Congress must reassert its Constitutional authority over the use of force and responsibly end these interventions [in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria].” Joe Biden promised to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.”


As the carnage continues with no end in sight, all of the Democratic candidates should be making immediate and complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and indeed, all countries in which the United States is fighting, a central pillar of their platforms. They must also renounce impunity and commit to cooperate with any future ICC investigations.


Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.

"Trump Gives Up Citizenship Question But Doubles Down on Terrorizing Immigrants"

President Trump looks on as the U.S. attorney general delivers remarks on citizenship and the census in the Rose Garden at the White House, in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

By Marjorie Cohn
Contributor
Global Human Rights Law & Journalism
Global News Aruba
Reprinted with permission Truthout.org

On July 11, President Trump gave up his fight to ask people about their citizenship on the 2020 census.

The question, which the administration has been trying to add to the census since 2017, would have resulted in a significant undercount by dissuading people in households with undocumented residents from responding to the census. An estimated 6.5 million people could be uncounted if the question were included, according to the Census Bureau.


The census is used to calculate how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives, the number of Electoral College votes each state will get in the presidential elections beginning in 2024, and how $900 billion in federal funds will be distributed to the states annually for hospitals, schools, health care and infrastructure for the next 10 years.

There is no doubt the administration knew that a question asking about citizenship would result in an undercount of Latinos and benefit Republicans. GOP strategist Thomas Hofeller had urged that the question be included in the census as it would “be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.


In finally throwing in the towel, Trump tried to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, stating, “We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.”


Trump then declared he was ordering federal agencies to immediately provide citizenship information from their “vast” databases, belatedly embracing a suggestion made by the Census Department last year in a memo suggesting that the government could collect citizenship data more efficiently from federal agency records that already exist.


“Trump’s attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper,” according to Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project. Ho, who argued the case in the Supreme Court, said in a statement that, “Now he’s backing down and taking the option that he rejected more than a year ago. Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total, humiliating defeat for him and his administration.”

Playing to his base, Trump blamed “far-left Democrats” who, he claimed, “are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst,” adding, “This is part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the right of the American citizen and is very unfair to our country.”

The Supreme Court Called Trump’s Reason for Adding the Question “Contrived”

It was the Supreme Court that found the Trump administration’s stated rationale for adding the citizenship question deficient.

On June 27, in a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts had joined the four liberals on the Supreme Court to halt the administration from adding the question to the census. The Court characterized the administration’s stated reason for wanting to include the question — to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — as “contrived.” Indeed, that reason doesn’t pass the straight-face test given the Trump administration’s attempts at voter suppression.

Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total, humiliating defeat for him and his administration.

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The high court sent the case back to the federal district court to determine whether the administration could come up with an acceptable rationale for adding the question. The administration had urged the district courts and the Supreme Court on numerous occasions to expedite the case because the deadline for completing the census materials was June 30. After the Supreme Court decision, it appeared the administration had capitulated. Lawyers from the Department of Justice told the judge that the government would print the census forms without the citizenship question.

But the following day, Trump tweeted, “we are absolutely moving forward, as we must.” The Justice Department lawyers then informed the judge that they were trying to find a way to add the question to the census. The lawyers who had been handling the citizenship question litigation for the administration sought to withdraw from the case. Two district judges refused to allow their withdrawal.


The administration finally saw the writing on the wall, realizing that the deadline to print the census materials foreclosed a protracted legal battle. After Trump spoke on July 11, Attorney General William Barr said, “The Supreme Court closed all paths to adding the question. We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census.”


Trump’s announcement that his administration will instead use information from federal databases to gather citizenship information raises its own civil rights concerns. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is developing the largest database of biographic and biometric data on both citizens and non-citizens in the United States. DHS plans to share the data with federal, state and local agencies.


The database that DHS currently uses has produced false positives in identifying people violating the immigration laws 42 percent of the time. Moreover, the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are utilizing driver’s license databases for facial recognition in investigations, without consent. Inaccuracies in this system lead to misidentification and false arrests.


Trump’s intent in pursuing the citizenship question was never about enforcing the Voting Rights Act. “It is clear he simply wanted to sow fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities,” Ho said.

The confusing machinations in the case may still deter immigrants from answering the census even though they will not be asked about their citizenship. Moreover, Trump’s retreat on the citizenship question came three days before his administration plans to conduct mass raids on immigrants around the country. In chilling fashion, the Trump administration is reminding us that adding a citizenship question to the census is not its only tool for instilling fear and terror in immigrant communities.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, Global News Aruba and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio.
GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA and its Editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong, has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor, news reporter, or affiliated news agency.  Contact the source and author and journalist for any further question on any article. or contact [email protected] Read our disclaimer policy for more information.