Tag Archives: Iran deal

201. Current Issues, Briefly #7

20 Jan

This is the 7th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets (@RichardLeeWB), unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are valuable and worth emphasizing.

I just listened to Alan Dershowitz, stating that “abuse of power” is not a high crime. His extensive research trying to understand the thoughts of early leaders is really pointless, and not a justification for this confusion of issues. His problem is that he does not recognize different levels of abuse. Trump’s abuse was very serious, involving elections, delayed military support, and making Ukraine more vulnerable to Russia. Ukraine is like a buffer zone for us, limiting Russian expansion. It is frightening to think that Trump aids in Russian efforts to dominate.

.   Dershowitz Fails to Recognize Different Levels of Abuse-of-power

Famous attorney Alan Dershowitz says that Trump is King, in fact, even more powerful. Well, if Trump is King, then Dershowitz is the court jester. Trumpism is like a disease that infects everyone near him. Star Ken Starr is also participating.

The NY Times just endorsed Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. For many years I favored Warren, but recently her arguments with Bernie were a little discouraging. For the last year or so, I have been impressed by Klobuchar, who has high intelligence and good judgement.  I also think that Tom Steyer could make a good candidate and president, if elected. Note, any of the Democratic candidates would be a great improvement.  In the end, whoever gets the most public support is probably going to be our best choice for beating Trump. Another four years of him would be a catastrophe for all Americans.

Rachel Kleinfeld in a 2019 TED talk looks at the relation between politicians, gangs, and police; in an effort to understand high murder rates in certain surprising locals. She writes that several major US cities have very high murder rates. For example, in “New Orleans, more people per capita are dying than in war-torn Somalia.” Throughout the world, there are many small areas that have very high murder rates, surpassing those in wars. The ultimate cause for this, is various patterns of corruption. This TED talk is well constructed and fascinating, and the analysis is impressive.

It seems that every human system in existence for some years becomes corrupted. I just read that drug companies are manipulating patents to limit competition and raise prices.  See this December 2019 TED talk by Priti Krishtel.

Don’t be fooled by the RISING stock market. The market rises when investors believe that major corporations will be profitable. Increased corporate profits generally have little or no effect on middle-class wages. Most important: does a full-time salary cover reasonable expenses?  Also, under President Obama, the market was rising at a steady rate and when Trump took office the market simply continued this rise. Obama had major financial problems when he took office, while Trump had the benefit of Obama’s policies.

Imagine a president that encourages and supports scientific methods for improving our lives; rather than growing military, insulting our allies, withdrawing from worthy treaties, and using government for private enrichment. We need a President that works well with scientists and innovators.

Trump is desperate to win in 2020 because when he leaves office, he is very vulnerable. Briefly, the problem is that investigations of criminality will be easier and likely, tax returns will be revealed. Desperation led to the Ukraine extortion, aberrant  military actions, and other mistakes.

A sure sign of a dictator is that he uses government systems to attack his political opponents. Trump and Republicans have had numerous investigations of Hillary Clinton. The latest three-year investigation found nothing. Six Republican Benghazi investigations found nothing. These unethical investigations are not consistent with our traditional American values.

Major World problems are: climate-change and food-supply. Both can be solved with improved laws and methods for ocean fishing and policies. See TED Talks by Johnson & Davis: “Underwater farms vs climate change“.  And, see Savitz: “Save the oceans, feed the world.” National leaders must understand and use science to solve many of our problems, like depletion of fish and acidification of oceans. The same methods for increasing ocean food-supply, also help with global warming.

To Adam Schiff: Dedicated people like you should be proud to receive Trump insults. I would like to see a website that provides a medal for the most vicious Trump abuse. Adam, you are so effective and patriotic that he must attack. Keep up the great work.

Candidate Tom Steyer is becoming a top contender for US President. It is true that he has 1.6 billion and is spending much on his campaign. But that isn’t a negative because he has spent the last 9yrs on worthy causes, like climate-change and health care. Tom Steyer is a good choice.

How many Republican voting citizens have essentially said that domestic factors are great under Trump and the international policies don’t matter much. Well, Trumps disastrous dealing with Iran, which started with withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, brings us close to a major war.

If you like people that really tell it like it is, then Steve Schmidt is your man. Earlier, he was a major Republican strategist. Starting June 2018, he has forcefully denounced the Republican party and Trump, in graphic terms. I also like the honesty in Morning Joe, and others.

Considering all aspects of the Iranian military leader assassination, it seems the dangers somewhat exceed the benefits. First, killing one official does not change government goals or policies. Second, Trump acted alone, ignoring Congress and allies. Third, major retaliation is likely. 
The Iran Nuclear Deal according to those involved, was working properly. But Trump, who is obsessed with winning and proving his superiority, decided to abandon it and impose more powerful sanctions. As a result, military actions are increasing and we are closer to war. Trump should have worked with allies on improving the treaty, rather than abandoning it. One reason for this serious mistake is that Trump’s unethical history requires him to find loyalists rather than competence.  Note that money given to Iran was mostly frozen assets that belonged to them. Some money was interest on a debt.

 

 

 

200. Iran and Trump: Explained

9 Jan

00TrumpTweet-on-Iran5

There are many interpretations regarding our crisis with Iran. This essay outlines the facts and my interpretations.

The original “Iran Nuclear Deal” of 2015 involved the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany, and the E. Union. Its only purpose was to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal, a very important goal. Neutral observers all agreed that it was effective. Money given to Iran was simply the release of their frozen funds.

Trump withdrew the US from this deal, alleging that it was very defective. He complained that the deal was generally bad, and did not cover many non-nuclear factors. My view is that Trumps main goal was to negate an Obama accomplishment. Clearly, if Trump wanted to cover other areas, he could have tried to add something to this effective deal. Sad to say, but Trump mostly relies on dramatic threats and sanctions, while reasonable negotiations are rare.

.    .       Trump Rivalry with Obama Makes for Bad Policies.

Trumps plan was to develop a whole new deal that included everything negative that Iran was involved in, and to increase sanctions. The effect of his withdrawal and increased sanctions was to insult the other members of the deal and to cause distrust by Iran and many other nations. This withdrawal and his withdrawal from climate-change agreements has caused general distrust in the US. I want to add that “sanctions” most often are not effective with leaders, but do cause serious harm to the people. Trumps withdrawal and plans have actually caused Iran to break the original deal in several ways and to be more dangerous.

The Trump impeachment and his concern over the 2020 election caused him to do something radical and possibly illegal. He needed a distraction, and a boost from his base, so he decided to assassinate a number-two official of Iran, Major General Soleimani. He probably was advised not to do this, but he wanted something dramatic. Also consider that removing one official will immediately result in a replacement, who will usually do whatever was planned. Killing an official of a nation is much different from killing a leader of a terrorist group, and may violate international law.

Perhaps the effect was more dramatic than he expected. He did what many consider to be an act of war, without any Congressional (for example: gang of 8) discussion or approval. This act of Trump was considered by most to be extreme and ill-advised. Trump and his staff were evasive when asked for details of this decision. They also lied when describing its effects on various populations. Iraqis were also angry, perhaps because some of their people were killed in the raid.

Iran promised serious consequences for this killing of its top general, and Trump promised 52 ways Iran would regret its aggression. So far, both sides have limited their military actions.

Iran attacked two US military units, but cleverly in a safe way, causing no casualties and little damage. This was to satisfy his people and to cool down the conflict. All parties described what happened in a self-serving way.

My conclusion is that Trump decisions have caused considerable distrust in him and in the USA. Internationally, he has failed in his dealing with Iran, climate change, N. Korea, and his relationships with our traditional allies; while aiding Russia. His plans to withdraw troops and promote peace have not worked.

 

 

177. Foreign Policy Failures by USA Government

22 Jun
Here is my latest tweet (@RichardLeeWB) regarding the Iranian attack on US drone  (with some clarifications):
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According to most sources, Iran did order the drone attack. That this was an accident, unintended, is not likely. As a response, approved by his staff, Trump ordered an attack on missile-launch sites in Iran. He then changed his mind, based on an estimate of casualties. Note that a real military planner would have had that info, early in the discussions. One source said he actually was informed on calualties early in the discussion.
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I suspect that Trump’s raid approval and cancelling was a preplanned strategy.  He wanted to make a point without risking further conflict escalation. He intended to show what could be done (air attack on Iran) and then cancelling to show great humanity — a “saber-rattling” as the answer to downed drone. This could be the only good thing he did regarding Iran.  On the other hand, if this was not a pre-planned strategy, then it is a miserable display incompetence. 
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The first and most serious mistake was Trump’s withdrawal from The Iran Nuclear DealAccording to every expert in this situation, Iran was conforming to rules that would prevent them from developing nuclear weapon’s.  All of the several countries involved in this deal still support this effective deal, but with Trump’s withdrawal, Iran is threatening to resume construction of nuclear weapons. The deal was limited to nuclear development and nothing else, because after many years of negotiation with several major powers, this was all that could be achieved. It is true that Iran causes trouble elsewhere, but what would have been better, would have been to add additional  agreements, without cancelling the valuable nuclear part. 
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Now, the disaster of Trump is becoming more apparent. He has put the USA in an untenable position where he cannot start a war, cannot respond to Iranian attacks, and cannot control Iran nuclear development. He also has lost the trust of other nations involved in the deal.
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Trump has performed poorly in other areas of foreign policy. His trade policies have alienated some good allies, have caused losses of jobs, have increased costs for our  manufacturers, and have cause increased prices for our citizens. He has been “in love” with the North Korean president, Kim, who has achieved his goals of nuclear weapon development while Trump got nothing in return. Another mistake was not recognizing that short range missile development would be threatening to South Korea and Japan. Kim manipulated Nobel-Prize dreamer Trump with flattery.
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He got into a destructive trade war with China, that holds much USA debt. Because of trade agreement changes, China has gained in international leadership, while the USA is diminished. Perhaps even worse, Trump’s numerous mind changes and lies have lost the trust of many nations.

175. Current Issues, Briefly, #5

14 Jun

This is the 5th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are worth repeating and emphasizing.

Just out: the list of 20 presidential candidates for the first debate. All things considered, I think Elizabeth Warren is the top choice. Almost all the candidates would do a good job and would be a thousand times better than the current POTUS. Some other great people have disadvantages such as being too old. I must remark that being old is not just a number; it is well known that when all people reach about 70 or 80 they begin a progressive reduction in mental ability and in memory. Most also acquire physical maladies that can be very distracting. (Trump is 73.)

Dems need all votes possible, and some great candidates will automatically lose the votes of racist and other jaded voters; sad to say. If candidate leader Joe Biden, 76, (age 80 during first term) were nominated, I would certainly support him, and he could do well for four years by gathering a group of great consultants. But Warren, age 69, has every feature needed for great leadership. I must add that it is gratifying to me that all of the candidates support climate change actions.

Poetic justice: Sarah Sanders (proven liar) is leaving office and Kellyanne Conway is the subject of a Federal watchdog agency inquiry. This is justice for two pathetic sycophants. Trump’s staff is mostly criminals, scofflaws, and blatant liars.

THOUGHTS ON IMPEACHMENT.            Impeachment has been discussed in a variety of ways. But the main effect (given a Republican Senate) is a very important statement: that Trump does NOT represent the goals or ethics of a majority of USA people. Foreign leaders must wait for a decent, responsible USA President.

Tom Steyer has the right idea, impeach the President now. As the process moves forward, the evidence will increase and become clear to the US public. Support will increase. It is the right thing to do. The Trump tyranny and destruction must end ASAP.

The process of impeachment must begin ASAP. Trump is constantly causing serious trouble for the US. Clear evidence regarding OBSTRUCTION is in the Mueller Report, and has been confirmed by a 1000 former prosecutors. Currently, there is a shift towards more public support.

Impeachment is “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” according to Trump. This proves to me that, contrary to some opinions, he definitely does not want impeachment. Also, I don’t think impeachment will lose Democrat  votes. It makes the “right” statement here and abroad.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. He is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!   —————————————–

Our narcissistic President is controlled by flattery. Kim Jong Un has beaten Trump by continuing his weapon development. Trump ignores the safety of us, Japan, and S. Korea. He “loves” Kim. Pathetic and dangerous!

Elizabeth Warren has a long and consistent support for the USA “non-rich” class. For many years she was my top Presidential  choice. Now she is surging. She has strength, enthusiasm, high intelligence, humanity, relevant experience, etc. What a great choice.

Read the whole Mueller Report? Nonsense. Democrat leaders should publish one or two page summaries with important quotes (with page references). When the M. Report was published, I skimmed it, picked out important quotes, and made a blog about it. Finding relevant facts is easy, just an hour or two.

Like a child with a new toy, Trump imposes (or threatens) tariffs, even on our most loyal allies (such as Mexico) to solve world problems. He and staff lie about who pays;  actually the USA consumer, through higher prices. Importers pay the tariffs and pass on costs to sellers and manufacturers.  Ignored are the negative US economic and employment tariff effects. Trump likes tariffs because this money (effectively a tax) helps support his self-serving agenda.

For years, the only person that really troubled me was the President. Now I feel that same way about our Attorney General Barr and Senate Majority Leader McConnell — three men that have no shame.  Maybe I should add most Republicans. Barr totally distorts the role of A. G., which should be an independent office. McConnell blocks all legitimate legislation (much of it passed by the House) that is not strictly supported by Trump. An irony is the “transparency” of their bad deeds. They openly do unethical things, except that Trump does have secret meetings and communications, mostly with authoritarians.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. So far, he is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!

Michael Cohen (former Trump lawyer) stated to House Intelligence  Committee that Jay Sekulow (Trump attorney) instructed him to lie about Trump Tower, Moscow. Sekulow emphasized that Cohen is a liar. But it is significant that Cohen lied as a Trump loyalist, supporting a USA President. All facts considered, I think Sekulow and Trump are the genuine liars, who have no excuses.

Trump’s simplistic strategy with Iran is just another example of how his major method, US coercion, is not effective. Iranian people are being devastated by sanctions, but the leaders are not yielding. He should have kept the Nuclear Deal and built on that, using allies & talks.

Article1 Section8 of US Constitution states: “Powers of Congress, to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Why is Trump setting tariffs and making trade rules when Congress is explicitly required to do so? Here and in other areas, he claims that his actions are required because of emergencies, a mis-characterization.  Why isn’t this aberration subject to Federal Court action?

A private prison at North Lake, Michigan is opening again, after major political contributions to Trump and others. Private prisons make big profits for the owner and often reduce funds for decent inmate care. North Lake is for immigrants, and the remote area makes finding legal counsel difficult.

Trump criticized Obama for the Iran nuclear deal, and he cancelled it. This deal had the support of most major nations and was proven to be stopping Iran’s nuclear development. It is true that the deal did not prevent all illicit actions by Iran, but it addressed the most critical area and was of great value. If Trump wanted an improvement he could have left this important feature intact and tried to add further rules But he did not, and has achieved nothing with his nationalistic plan that ignores allies and stokes military actions. This is just another area where arrogant Trump acted alone, without appropriate consultation, and did not seek the support of allies. Often Trump’s goal is just to nullify everything Obama achieved.

Most of the Republican/Trump tax bill did not live up to its promises (for first year), according to Heather Long of the Washington Post (4-15-19, see Tax day 2019:).  Further, as time goes on there will be less middle-class and USA benefit. Corporations spent much of the extra money on stock buybacks instead of higher wages. Meanwhile, the tax cuts have greatly increased our US national debt.

 

 

 

 

 

96. One Month of Trump

24 Feb

It has been a month since Trump was inaugurated. This blog is concerned with various troubling statements, staff appointments, and other actions. It covers what I see as most significant at this time.

Information Leaks. If a government is doing its job ethically and effectively it has no great fear of leaks. It is leaders that employ tricky or unethical methods that obsess and rant about leaks, and also about the “lying” press. A good government only needs to keep secret certain operations such as diplomatic, intelligence, and military. Sometimes leaks are emphasized to avoid more important issues like a presidential involvement with a foreign country.

Fine-Tuned Government. I don’t think any government is a “fine-tuned” machine given the necessary variety of it’s officials, each with his own ideas and ideals. If everyone agrees and there is fine-tuning, it is likely an authoritarian group of yes-men. A good government needs a variety of opinions from knowledgeable advisors, and reaches a decision based on a consensus or on the best arguments.

Trump Inherited a Mess. Our brave President says that he “inherited a mess.” Hmmm, when he took office, the stock market was way up, the highest it’s ever been. So investors are dancing in the (Wall) streets. The unemployment rate is way down at about 4.8%. The outgoing President Obama has a very high rating, a good indication that there is no mess. There are messes in other parts of the world, but nothing serious here. Since 911, the number of terrorist attacks here have been small compared to other major countries. Perhaps the worst mess is our high prison population. Pres.Obama worked on this but had little cooperation from Republicans. Trump needs to invent messes so that he can heroically clean them up and win the adoration of his poorly educated throng.

A Confused Trump? I only say this in a constructive way, but he appears to be confused and inappropriate. A simple possibility is that he is sleep-deprived and may have a mild early Alzheimer’s disease. Another factor is that most of his life, he has been catered to because of his and his father’s wealth. In the world of business, making money is primary — ideas, ideals, and strict ethics are mostly ignored. Many types of coercion and manipulation are successful and practiced; but are not appropriate or effective for a USA President. His early training emphasized winning, and when confronted and confused, he often reverts back to a description of a winning event. He almost always tries to destroy critics, because he was able to do this in business and limit their effectiveness.

Environmental Protections. If you ask a majority of the people, whether environmental protections are needed for their health and reasonable comfort, most would say yes. Yet we now have an EPA director, Scott Pruitt, that has worked for years against the agency. Very rich folks can find ways to avoid environmental toxins, but millions of American citizens are vulnerable. The wealthy can live far away from industrial polluters where the air is clean, buy expensive water purifiers, have their houses inspected for asbestos, mold, lead, and other toxins. One would have to be very ruthless to allow such dangers.

Loyal Appointees. Having Trump appointees or Republican friends investigate his administration for questionable associations with Russia is like the fox guarding the henhouse.  A primary concern for him is loyal appointees, such as Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, because he needs protection from Congressional investigations.  That protection for Trump and staff was more important than Sessions’ character and bad reputation.

Admiration for Tyrants. Why would a president, who is working for the people, admire the control that certain tyrants (like Putin and Kim Jong-un) have over their citizens. He says they are bad, but praises the way they dominate. There is no value to freedom of expression, criticism, and argument in his mind. He wonders why the press is against him. What intelligent citizen would tolerate his lies/mistakes, his promotion of violence (during the campaign), his impossible promises, his ridiculous bragging, and his pathetic and obsessive attacks on critics.

Relation to Intelligence Units. Can a USA President really function without the support and aid of a fully functional and capable intelligence system? With very few exceptions, these agencies have served Presidents for decades with devotion, honesty and effectiveness. It is only a president that has something to hide, must be in total control, and hires radicals, that cannot work with the established intelligence agencies. (Note, very recently he is doing better with the intelligence units.)

Iran Nuclear Deal. The President would like to abolish the Iran Nuclear Deal, ignoring the fact that many major nations, including China, Russia, France, Germany, and the EU participated in the agreement. Without this deal, Iran would be free to build the bombs — what then? And would our allies still respect us? And who says that Trump could make a better deal. Does he have a long successful record (or any record) of making treaties with other countries? He can only brag and hope.

Climate Change Hoax? The president says man-made climate change is a hoax and he promotes the use of fossil fuels that increase CO2 in the air. He ruthlessly supports industry with the excuse of promoting jobs. A better plan with long-term benefits is to promote alternate forms of energy, more research, and retraining workers that have lost their jobs. The cost is less than flooded cities, rapid changes in drought and rainy areas, and dealing with resulting massive migrations. We will also benefit from cleaner air with more use of electrical energy.

Insidious Corruption. A lot can be said about the past corruption of our government and institutions by Republicans; and Trump may be continuing this process. His cabinet now has several billionaires and major investment firm executives. He is trying to diminish government regulations that keep people safe. He is unlikely to promote the removal of tax loopholes and low tax rates for the very wealthy, which will be costly for the non-rich financially or in reduced benefits from social programs. These are just a few areas of corruption. I detail many other types in my past blogs, and these are also detailed in major newspapers.

Two Messages. When a different message is sent by Trump and one of his staff, who should we believe? One possibility is that Trump really wants to send two messages, one to his loyal supporters and one to world leaders and more intelligent U.S. citizens.  Depending on the current situation, he can refer back to either one: what he said or what, for example, what Mike Pence said. He knows that his original, poorly educated fans, only listen to him.  And I suspect that the best indicator of policy comes from his more reasonable staff. Currently, several of his appointees are knowledgeable and sensible so there is a slight hope for us.

26. Approve the Iran Nuclear Agreement

2 Sep

It is very important for Congress to approve the Iran-Nuclear deal created by an international coalition of major countries.  An article in the Boston Globe (August 6, 2015) authored by U.S. Senator George Mitchell is an excellent discussion of all the factors that are involved.  You can find the article by doing an internet search on:    George Mitchell on Iran Agreement, Boston Globe.

The following is a summary of my views on this issue and some of  Senator Mitchell’s main points in the Boston Globe.

1.  The United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany formed a coalition to establish this agreement.  It is approved by the United Nations Security Council, and although some Israel leaders disapprove, many others in Israel do approve.

2.  If this deal is not approved, and Iran moves towards a nuclear weapon, to get international support for military action or further sanctions would be difficult.  If approved, and Iran violates the agreement, we would have good international support for any necessary actions.  Trying to create sanctions or military actions by the U.S. alone would be hopeless.

3.  The deal does have numerous provisions providing for inspection of facilities.

4.  The deal has corrective provisions that would greatly slow any move towards the making of nuclear weapons.

5.  Some money belonging to Iran has been frozen as a part of the sanctions.  This money would be returned to them as a part of the deal.  Iran is in serious financial trouble so we would anticipate that most if not all of this money would go towards domestic projects.  If we speculate that the money would be used to promote terrorism, we could also speculate that the enmity created by not following through on this international deal would lead other hostile sources to contribute more.

6.  Of course the deal is not perfect, but after many years in the making, it is the best we can currently do.  It is certainly better than no deal, because it has world-wide acceptance, and we cannot act effectively, alone.

7.  Failure to follow through on a deal like this would dishonor the U.S. and make us appear untrustworthy.

8.  Israel has been assured that if the deal is approved and then violated, the U.S. would provide necessary military support or other relevant action.  No matter what, the danger is always there, but this at least gives  us some hope for a peaceful solution.