Trumpwatch: Muslims, mandates, and moral courage
Trump revealed his extraordinary Executive Order on 28 January. With the flourish of a pen, he banned refugees and demanded travellers from seven predominantly muslim nations be subjected to “extreme vetting” (whatever that is). Seven countries were singled out;
Of those seven two (Iraq and Somalia) have been invaded by the American Empire; one has been the target of sanctions for supposedly working toward developing an atom bomb (Iran, not Israel); and two others are currently experiencing vicious civil wars (Syria and Yemen).
Interestingly, as others have pointed out, several countries are noticeable by their absence – chiefly Saudi Arabia.
This is ironic in the extreme as, the entire world is aware, the worst terrorist atrocity on US soil was committed by fifteen Saudi nationals, on 11 September, 2001. The late-leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was also a Saudi citizen – a so-called “prince”. The remainder were from the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt (1) and Lebanon (1).
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon do not appear on Trump’s “Sinful Seven”.
Also omitted from the above list: Israel – 34 Americans killed on 8 June 1967, when Israeli motor-torpedo boats and a warplane attacked the USS Liberty, whilst it lay in international waters.
Making matters worse, on a Christian TV channel, Trump threw petrol onto the bonfire he had lit by stating that there would be an exemption to the ban of refugees from Syria;
Worsening the damage, he also signalled, in an interview with a Christian television channel, that the ban would not apply to Christians. Syrian Christians, claimed Mr Trump, were “horribly treated” by his predecessor. “If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible,” he said. “I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.” This was not merely incendiary but untrue: last year America accepted 37,521 Christian refugees and 38,901 Muslims.
It is peculiar that the worst offender, Saudi Arabia, is not on the list. Especially since Trump made specific mention of the September 11 attack in the second opening paragraph of his Executive Order;
Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.
So having referenced (albeit indirectly) the fifteen Saudi terrorists – Trump studiously ignored them.
Yet, Saudi Arabia is home to “Wahabism” – an extreme form of Islam. Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk described Saudi Arabia as;
“…a Wahhabist state whose 18th-century puritan morality defined the Taliban – which received moral and financial support from Saudis – and whose misogyny and grotesque public beheadings after unfair trials parallel the cruelty of Isis punishments.”
Fisk wrote of the relationship between the American Empire and the Saudi regime;
Under Obama, Saudi Arabia will continue to be treated as a friendly “moderate” in the Arab world, even though its royal family is founded upon the Wahhabist convictions of the Sunni Islamists in Syria and Iraq – and even though millions of its dollars are arming those same fighters. Thus does Saudi power both feed the monster in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and cosy up to the Western powers that protect it.
Bloomberg business news revealed recently that Trump has personal business dealings in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt;
According to Bloomberg’s research, Trumps business interests are;
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in Egypt: Trump Marks Egypt and Trump Marks Egypt LLC.Saudi Arabia
Trump lists companies on his FEC filing possibly related to a development project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest city, located outside Mecca: DT Jeddah Technical Services Manager LLC, DT Jeddah Technical Services Manager Member Corp., THC Jeddah Hotel Manager LLC and THC Jeddah Hotel Manager Member Corp.
United Arab Emirates
The Trump Organization has a licensing and management deal in Dubai with Damac Properties Dubai Co. for a golf course and luxury villas currently under construction. Another Trump-branded golf course, designed by Tiger Woods, is under development with Damac nearby.
According to the same report, Trump also has interests in Israel – which may explain his closeness to that country’s rulers;
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in Israel : Trump Drinks Israel LLC, Trump Drinks Israel Member Corp.
Trump also has ‘had’ (he claims to have sold his share holdings) US$3,900,010 in oil, gas, and coal companies:
Chevron, Total Capital, Occidental Petroleum, Phillips 66, Halliburton, Exxon Mobil, EOG Resources, Schlumberger, Energy Transfer Partners
On top of Trump’s personal business interests in Saudi Arabia – the United States maintains close economic and military ties with the Saudi kingdom. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the US sold billions of dollars worth of sophisticated, lethal weaponry to the Saudis;
Saudi Arabia was the top destination for U.S. arms in 2011–2015, purchasing 9.7 percent of U.S. exports. Recent sales approved by the U.S. State Department include Black Hawk helicopters worth a total of $495 million and Patriot Missiles worth $5.4 billion, as well as a $1.3 billion sale of air-to-ground munitions meant to replenish stocks used in Yemen. That has drawn criticism from human rights groups and a couple of U.S. lawmakers, who have cited the high civilian toll of the Saudi-led air campaign. Saudi Arabia’s total arms imports increased by 275 percent over 2006–2010, according to the research organization SIPRI (PDF). The United States also helps Saudi Arabia secure its oil assets by providing training and advisers to Saudi security forces.
And US-Saudi business interests are closely intertwined;
Saudi government officials and businessmen, both royals and commoners, have deep ties to the United States. Saudi finance, economy, and petroleum ministers all have degrees from U.S. universities. Fahad al-Mubarak, the central bank governor who controls over $700 billion in reserves, mostly in U.S. Treasuries, was previously chairman of Morgan Stanley’s unit in Saudi Arabia. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the kingdom’s most famous billionaire investor, owns stakes in Citigroup and Twitter.
As the kingdom’s economy expanded over the past decade and its stock market opened up to investors in 2015, many U.S. and European banks are expanding operations in Saudi Arabia. Bank of America has been preparing for the Saudi market opening for years, and Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse have shifted staff from Dubai to Riyadh. U.S. investment funds such as Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Global Management are also seeking to acquire stakes in Saudi companies.
Saudi Arabia’s influence within the US economy has recently taken a sinister turn;
There’s growing bipartisan support for a Senate bill, sponsored by Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican John Cornyn, to allow victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks to sue the Saudi government for recompense for any involvement it may have had in the event. The bill has been motivated by the suspicion that Saudi officials or prominent citizens helped fund the attack, which was perpetrated mostly by terrorists from Saudi Arabia.
This bill is giving Saudi officials serious pause, leading the Saudi finance minister Adel al-Jubeir to warn members of Congress and Administration officials that, if the bill passes, it would be forced to sell off $750 billion worth of U.S. Treasury debt and other American assets, a move that the New York Times said could trigger “economic fallout.”
No wonder that Yemen and Somalia make it on to Trump’s List – but Saudi Arabia does not.
On 7 December 2015, on the election-trail, Trump issued his now-infamous state calling for a ban of muslims entering the United States;
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our countries representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Trump’s Executive Order on 28 January seemingly fulfills that so-called “election promise”. Trump’s supporters have justified the issuing of that Order on the premise that Trump was simply meeting his promises.
On this issue, we should refer to the lessons of history. Specifically, the rise of nazism in Germany in the 1930s, where Adolf Hitler made certain promises to the electorate;
Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews.
On election day September 14, 1930, the Nazis received 6,371,000 votes – over eighteen percent of the total – and were thus entitled to 107 seats in the German Reichstag.
Hitler Made many promises to the country of Germany in order to come to power. Most of the promises he made, he did not keep. After WWII Germany signed the Treaty of versailles which was the main cause of Germany’s economic problems at the time. The U.S. made loans to Germany to help with its failing economy. But when the market crashed in 1929, the U.S. could not continue to help out Germany. This helped set up Hitler perfectly. The people of Germany wee looking for someone who could help fix all of the ongoing problems they were facing in Germany. At the time they had lost faith in their governments ability to take care of its citizens. Hitler believed he could help the people in Germany and he promised them all relief. He also promised jobs for the unemployed and a market for the farmers goods. Hitler began to appeal to peoples emotions instead of their reason. The people of Germany heard what they wanted to hear and ignored the violence of the Nazi party. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the “corrupt” politicians, communists, and Jews. He told Germany that if they got rid of them, all of Germany’s problems would vanish and the whole country would improve. Many people in Germany protested Hitler’s ideas and reasoning.
If a candidate vilifies a minority and is subsequently elected to office by a majority, does that confer the right to attack that minority from a position of power conferred by that office? Is an abuse of political power permissable under the guise of “carrying out an election promise”? Do we confer a cloak of respectability to bigotry and racism if it is elected to office?
If the answer is ‘yes’, this must constitute a subversion of democracy and universal human rights by allowing a “tyranny of the majority” to oppress a minority.
It means no minority is safe. It means that mob rule trumps Constitutional safeguards and Declarations of Human Rights built up over the centuries.
1930s Germany offers a clear, chilling lesson where that leads.
Sometimes, the minority voice is the morally righteous one;
Questions also arise regarding political agendas here in New Zealand. National and John Key campaigned in 2014 on concluding a successful TPPA. National won the election.
If Trump has carte blanche to promote his muslim-ban; unimpeded, because it was an election promise – does that imply that New Zealanders were wrong to protest against the TPPA because National had a mandate?
The growing resistance to Trump’s increasingly fragile administration took a dramatic turn today (31 January). In a move straight out of The West Wing, Madame Secretary, or any other political drama, Attorney General, Sally Yates took a step of moral courage that is a rarity these days;
Why was Ms Yates’ refusal to carry out Trump’s Executive Order an act of heroism?
Because sometimes, the only way to stand up to an unjust law is to say, “No”.
To participate in unjust law – and taken to extremes – leads humanity down dark paths of evil, whether fascism, stalinism, apartheid, etc.
Ms Yates could have followed Trump’s orders – but would that have been the morally right thing to do? Can a human being justify injustice by asserting they were “only following orders”?
It was impossible for Eichmann to deny his role in the killing of Europe’s Jews. Servatius adopted the defense strategy that had been used at Nuremberg. Since he could not disavow the crime, he disavowed the responsibility for them. “He was just following orders” Eichmann’s defense was designed to let the SS Officer fade from the stand and replace him with the benevolent bureaucrat, a man whose actions had been misrepresented by the prosecution. He even went so far as to claim that his early actions during the period of forced emigration had been for the benefit of the Jews.
Humanity made a conscious decision in 1945-49 that “following orders” could not be a justification for perpetrating injustice.
Ms Yates believed Trump’s Executive Order to be unjust and possibly illegal, and she took the only possible step. She said “No”. Ironically, Trump’s Executive Order makes provision for just this scenario;
This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
Ms Yates was following Trump’s Executive Order – perhaps the only part of it that made sense.
History may judge Attorney General Yates, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, etc; as people who chose to follow their conscience rather than orders.
Recent events within the American Empire has moved the world closer to Doomsday, according to the planet’s leading scientists – the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BPA). The Doomsday Clock – made famous in popular culture in the 1986 Watchmen graphic novel and 2009 movie – has moved from three minutes to midnight, to two and a half minutes to midnight;
Scientists have moved the minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight for the first time.
Leading scientists, who are the clock’s keepers, say the world has edged closer to apocalypse in the past year amid a darkening security landscape and comments by US President Donald Trump.
The clock now says the world is 2.5 minutes from apocalypse.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BPA) chief Rachel Bronson urged world leaders to “calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war”.
In a report, the BPA said Mr Trump’s statements on climate change, expanding the US nuclear arsenal and the questioning of intelligence agencies had contributed to the heightened global risk.
It is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1953, when the minute hand was moved to two minutes away following hydrogen bomb tests by the US and Russia.
The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock is a metaphor for how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe.
The Trump Administration has led humanity into uncharted waters. Looming on the dark horizon may be the inevitable;
Given the sheer danger to the Republic as well as to the Republicans, Trump’s impeachment will happen. The only question is how grave a catastrophe America faces first. – Robert Kuttner, Huffington Post, 29 January 2017
Wikipedia: Hijackers in the September 11 attacks
Wikipedia: September 11 attacks
Wikipedia: USS Liberty incident
Belfast Telegraph: War with Isis – If Saudi Arabia isn’t fuelling the militant inferno, who is?
The Independent: Iraq crisis: Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia
The Economist: Donald Trump gets tough on refugees
Bloomberg: Tracking Trump’s Web of Conflicts
New York Times: Trump Speaks With Netanyahu, Seeking to Thaw U.S. Relations
Council for Foreign Relations: U.S.-Saudi Relations
Fortune.com: Could Saudi Arabia Trigger an American Debt Crisis?
Fortune.com: Donald Trump Wants to Stop All Muslim Immigration
The History Place: The Rise of Adolf Hitler – Germans elect Nazis
The Rise of Hitler & Nazism: Hitler’s Promises to Germany
Interest.co.nz: Election 2014 – Party Policies – Trade
Holocaust Research: The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Radio NZ: Doomsday Clock moved closer to midnight
Huffington Post: The Inevitability Of Impeachment
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2017.
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