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“Billionaires and War Mongers: Donald Trump’s Emerging Middle East Foreign Policy: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Boulder. “Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues” November 29, 2016. Part One

December 6, 2016
Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Yemen Wedding with US Weapons, Killing 131 Civilians

Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Yemen Wedding with US Weapons, Killing 131 Civilians

KGNU – November 29, 2016. Transcript. Part One

This is a partial transcript from an in-depth interview with Kazerooni and Prince looking at some of the main lines of what can be expected of President Elect, Donald Trump’s Middle East foreign policy. Part Two will follow in a few days. Jim Nelson is the program host. 

Do you think you’ve hit bottom?
Do you think you’ve hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There’s a bottom below.

There’s a low below the low you know.
You can’t imagine how far you can go down

Malvina Reynolds “There’s  A Bottom Below

Jim Nelson: We’re going to move on to the topic of this evening: what Trump’s Middle East policy might look like. We’re about three weeks into this transition; on January 20, 2016, Donald Trump will be inaugurated. As is the tradition, President-elect Trump is naming different people to fill his cabinet posts and named a number of his main advisors. This evening we’ll be looking at some of these appointments and how these individuals might influence U.S. Middle East policy.

Trump has announced Michael Flynn to be his national security advisor and Nikki Haley to be UN Ambassador. Michael Flynn was fired from his position as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by Barack Obama. Nikki Haley really has no foreign policy experience. ..but it could be worse as she seems to be one of the more reasonable of Trump’s appointments.

The Secretary of State has not been chosen yet but there are a number of candidates for the job, among them, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, former C.I.A. head and U.S. military commander, General David Petraeus.

So the question is: Where to begin?

Rob Prince: Let me briefly outline what we hope to cover tonight. I’m going to begin by looking at what is shaping up to be the Trump foreign policy in general and then what it is could look life for the Middle East with Ibrahim (Kazerooni) joining in and commenting. Then Ibrahim will address some of the specifics we see emerging in the region, how some of the different regional personalities have responded to Trump’s election and what might be in store for the region in the period ahead. Read more…

If Not Now…When?: Colorado Jews Draw The Line: National Jewish Day of Resistance

December 1, 2016
IfNotNowWhen Protest in front of the Jewish Community Center in Denver, November 29, 2016

IfNotNowWhen Protest in front of the Jewish Community Center in Denver, November 29, 2016

If Not Now, When? – Background

The saying originated from the Babylonian Jewish philosopher and leader, Hillel The Elder (110 BC-10 AD). It comes from a longer quote: “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” Part of the quote, the “If not now when?” portion became the title of  one of Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi‘s semi-autobiographical novel that details his circuitous journey from Auschwitz concentration camp through East Europe back to Italy at the end of the war. The expression, shortened a bit to IfNotNow, was picked up in a timely manner as the name of a relatively new Jewish organization in the United States whose stated mission is:

During the violence of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, young Jews angered by the overwhelmingly hawkish response of American Jewish institutions came together under the banner of IfNotNow to demonstrate their resistance through the beauty of Jewish ritual. Moved to act by moral anguish and inspired by Hillel’s three questions, they organized Mourner’s Kaddish actions in nearly a dozen cities across the country and lamented the loss of both Israeli and Palestinian life. They had three demands: Stop the War on Gaza, End the Occupation, and Freedom and Dignity for All.

The demand for American Jewish institutions to end their support for the occupation has only grown more urgent and clear since that summer. While the out-of-touch establishment claims to speak for our community, we know that American Jewry is eager for change.

We are building a vibrant and inclusive movement within the American Jewish community, across generations and organizational affiliations. This movement is open to any who seek to shift the American Jewish public away from the status quo that upholds the occupation.

Read more…

Trump Transition Begins With Bannon

November 17, 2016

Wallwritings

by James M. Wall

dreew-angerer-for-getthOne week after Donald Trump won the presidency, he is running his transition the way he ran his campaign, like a neophyte circus ringmaster who walks into the center ring with absolutely no idea of what to do next.

The clowns are bolting from their small crowded car, the acrobats are swinging high from their wires. The elephants are standing by quietly, perhaps recalling the plains of Africa.

Lurking over in the far edge of that circus ring is a mysterious figure, maybe a lion, or maybe another being, hungry for power. It is not a presence we expected to see at this circus. The audience pays him no attention. 

What about that audience? It is now living with the consequences of the second presidential election in 16 years in which voters gave the popular vote victory to the loser of the Electoral College race, the one that counts?

The audience mourns or…

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Trump and the Road Ahead: Running Into Former Colleagues on the Auraria Campus; Undocumented Students at University of Colorado – Denver – Organize Student Walkout

November 16, 2016

p1000065There was a banner “Sanctuary,” and many posters. “Who Pays Your Salary?” “I.C.E In Our Raspados; Not In Our Barrios!” “Fuck Your Wall; Liberation, Not Deportation!” “AHEC: Protect Our Students!” (AHEC = Auraria Higher Education Complex) “Undocumented, Unafraid, Unapologetic! Here To Stay! Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo!”

Revisiting the Auraria Campus After Fifteen Years Where I Used To Teach

Yesterday at the rally and demonstration on the University of Denver campus in support of the Water Protectors (and in protest of a conference of national pipeline executives) I was handed a leaflet about “an action” today on the Auraria Campus organized by undocumented students calling for a student walk out at the University of Colorado – Denver. The leaflet announced that a student walkout would take place to protest President-Elect Donald Trump’s jingoist and racist comments about immigrants, both documented and non; it also called for “Sanctuary” for undocumented students on the Auraria Campus.

Immigrants, foreigners of all stripes, people of color, Jews – we all find ourselves thrown into a racist cauldron which shows signs of only just beginning as bigots of all types, emboldened by Donald Trumps harsh campaign rhetoric, take their white sheets out of the closet. The increase of bigotry nationwide includes Colorado where, as elsewhere, the incidents continue to pile up. One of the main targets of Trump’s campaign, as is well known, are undocumented immigrants. Being state institutions with low tuition costs, the Auraria colleges have attracted many undocumented youth. And now their situation, and those of their families and friends have been thrown into fear and chaos. Not surprisingly, once again, it is undocumented youth, whose future is on the line, that have begun to stand up for their rights, for their future.

Being retired and curious as to see what it was all about, I went down to the campus to watch and participate. Although I rarely step foot there, it’s a place I know well having taught at what was then called Metropolitan State College of Denver (today Metropolitan State University) for about a decade. I decided to go a little early to see who was left of the vibrant world that was the Anthro-Soc-Social Work Department I taught in for most of the 1990s.

The Auraria campus hosts three higher education institutions: the Denver branch of the University of Colorado (called UCD), Metropolitan State University and Community College of Denver. The last time I looked the combined student population of “Auraria” was near 40,000. It is easily, without a doubt the most culturally, class, age, urban-rural diverse place in the state of Colorado and probably so for 600 miles in any direction. I was an adjunct teacher in Metro’s Anthropology (Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work Dept at the time) and thorough enjoyed the teaching and the students there, the diversity of the place. It was only on the Auraria Campus I had the feeling of being “back home” in New York City. Nowhere else in Colorado did I feel so comfortable and at home. But the pay was pitiful (still is for adjuncts) and when the University of Denver offered me a considerably better deal, Metro and I parted ways. It was as simple as that. Read more…

For People Interested in World Peace: Hear Great Analyst Stephen Cohen on US Russian Relations! — WiPoKuLi

November 16, 2016

In these heated times it´s wonderful to hear a clear mind speak out. Hear Professor Stephen_F._Cohen talk in an Interview about the relations between the US and Russia: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45847.htm But he speaks in favour of peace and general human interest. Those powers in the US that (shouldn´t) be have only their own nightmares in mind. And […]

via For People Interested in World Peace: Hear Great Analyst Stephen Cohen on US Russian Relations! — WiPoKuLi

Trump and the Road Ahead: Spearheaded by the Native Student Alliance, University of Denver Students, Faculty and Community Protest Meeting of National Pipeline Executives

November 15, 2016
some of the 1000 or so students, faculty and community members that protested the meeting of national pipeline executives that took place on the University of Denver Campus. Main theme of the demonstration - No to the Dakota Access Pipeline...although there were signs and banners about everything that matters.

Some of the  upto 1000 or so students, faculty and community members that protested the meeting of national pipeline executives that took place on the University of Denver Campus. Main theme of the demonstration – No to the Dakota Access Pipeline…although there were signs and banners about everything that matters.

Coloradans gearing up against Trump.

Yesterday in Denver there were 1000 or so protesters downtown at the Civic Center, many young people among the crowd.  Good speeches, good spirit to stand up to the post Trump victory right-wing onslaught. Today there were (by my unofficial estimate) another thousand, maybe more, at the University of Denver (D.U) protesting a meeting of national pipeline executives taking place on the campus. Tomorrow the students at Metropolitan State University in downtown Denver are organizing a walk out

Dickens’ quote about the worst of times, the best of times comes to mind here in Colorado and across the nation.

Yesterday in Denver (Sunday, November 13, 2016) there were 1000 or so protesters downtown at the Civic Center, many young people among the crowd. Good speeches, good spirit to stand up to the post Trump victory right-wing onslaught. Today, only two days later, (by my unofficial estimate) another thousand, maybe more, gathered at the University of Denver (D.U) protesting a two day meeting of national pipeline executives taking place on the campus and the ongoing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline project passing through Native sacred ground in North Dakota.

The University of Denver protest meeting was organized by a Native American student group, the Native Student Alliance, less than a week ago. Given the brief time allotted to organize the protest, the turn out at the traditionally “sleepy” University of Denver was surprising and a reflection of the national mobilization taking place across the nation and the world against the proposed policies of president-elect Donald Trump. Both people associated with the university – students, some (not many) faculty – and the broader community participated.  Again good speeches, good spirit as the crowd continued to swell in the late afternoon. After the speeches a spirited and peaceful march started circling the building (the Hotel Management building) where the pipeline execs were holding court.

Later, at night,  in an act of civil disobedience,  protesters shut down the intersection of Evans and University Ave. chanting “Water is sacred, water is life.”

The Native Student Alliance protests will continue tomorrow(Wed, November 16, 2016). The protest program will include remarks by Iliff School of Theology Native professor, Tink Tinker and remarks by other faculty at both the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology.

I include here the comments of my former colleague Alan Gilbert, who also attended the rally and march.

The business school at the University of Denver held a pipeline conference with oil executives.  No critical voice or conversation allowed.  Police stood in the doorways.  Students from outside the hospitality school could not go in, even to pee.  In some places, money talks…

I and Paula Bard attended a protest gathering that grew to a thousand over several hours, snaked around the building and up again beyond Anderson Academic Commons, marched in the street.  Even in the building, the determined dollar signs could not avoid hearing us.  Water is sacred.  Global warming is destroying the planet and all life.

An activist from Standing Rock gave a large number of us instruction on nonviolent protest, including two lines imitating demonstrators and the hostile.  This is an old and admirable training procedure from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (you can find it in the segment of Eyes on the Prize on one organized by James Foreman for Mississippi Freedom Summer).

We are part of the many actions here and around the world.  Bernie Sanders spoke eloquently in front of the White House, and Obama should wake up, remember himself, join in.  Masters of the Pipeline and Trumpi0la, you will not succeed.  The whole world is watching.  And everyone, including businesses who are alive (not including those who organized this conference) know that the only future- humanity’s future – is with solar and wind…

Pipeline Politics

The pipeline execs probably had one strategy for dealing with a Hillary presidential victory and are, in their two days on the D.U. campus developing another, more aggressive one now that Donald Trump has won the presidency. Indicative of this is the title of the forum the oil and gas people have organized on the second day, “countering opposition through community engagement” – a direct reference to the opposition of pipeline construction projects of both the present Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota and the Keystone Xcel Pipeline project which was sidelined as a result of local opposition along the pipeline route.

Among Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to resurrection Keystone Xcel and push through with the Dakota Access project. There are currently several thousand – as many as seven thousand at last I heard – people at the Standing Rock site opposing the Dakota Access project spearheaded by a unified effort of some 280 indigenous nations here in the increasingly disunited United States.

As they scare rather easily, I am pretty certain, having taught there for many years, that the university administration was nervous by the demonstrators, as the latter unsparingly exposed what D.U. is all about in some detail. In any event it was a peaceful , well organized protest with a clear message: insuring the fate of the earth by opposing climate change at a time when the president to be is committed to increasing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels – just the opposite of what is needed. I appreciated the fact that several former colleagues had the courage to participate as speakers.

Elsewhere in Denver, tomorrow (Wednesday, November 16) there is a planned student walkout at the Metro State University on the Auraria Campus downtown from 3-6 in the late afternoon. Let’s see if they can match D.U. in numbers and spirit. Expect I’ll be there too. Like many social movements in the past in this country, much of the political energy is coming from the country’s youth,  student population, spearheaded by non-white communities.

2016-11-15-dapl-protest-10

another one of the same event; the photo does not do justice to the size of the demonstration. ..

Trump and the Road Ahead: The Shock Doctrine

November 15, 2016
Denver's Civic Park on Sunday, November 14, 2016; 1000 people gather to oppose Trump's policies

Denver’s Civic Park on Sunday, November 14, 2016; 1000+ people gather to oppose Trump’s policies (Chiara Piovani photo)

(note: part of a series – I intend to make these blog entries rather short, dealing with different aspects of what lies ahead in a Trump presidency. Today’s entry concerns the immediate program of the incoming Trump administration)

At times like these, I find myself going to the conservative parts of town and just sitting down and listening n to what people are talking about to get a sense of what is on their minds. Today I had coffee in a café in Wheatridge for a half hour or so. The café talk a week after Trump’s victory – and it was quite detailed – was about the last-minute victory of the Denver Broncos two days ago over the New Orleans Saints. That was it.

Although its population has changed some over the decades, Wheatridge and nearby Arvada are the home of the Faith Bible Chapel, one of the most right-wing, Christian fundamentalist outfits in the state. It is also the base of the longtime reactionary Coors family, whose political influence in Colorado and nationwide remains considerable. A hundred years ago these western suburbs of Denver were among the bastions of Colorado’s KKK; even today Wheatridge is still, for good reason, often referred to as “White Ridge” by some.

Meanwhile, today, for the second time in less than a year, the city of Denver, getting into the spirit of the coming Trump administration, is engaged in “lower economic cleansing” – as KGNU talk show host Shareef Aleem calls it: “sweeping” the downtown areas of homeless people forcing them once again into the suburbs and down by the Platte River and along Cherry Creek.

Trump has his shock doctrine and we have ours (which is stopping his)

Something to think about: What Obama and a number of voices here in Denver are suggesting is to “give Trump a chance”. True he was elected (although we can debate in more detail what that means and doesn’t mean). But something else for people to consider…essentially what Trump and co. are going to do is the U.S. version of the “Shock Doctrine.” (If you haven’t read the book by Naomi Klein, you might as well now). The essence of the doctrine is the following: taking advantage of political or natural crisis, while a population remains stunned and reeling, be it from the military coup that Pinochet engineered in Chile or what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, it is at precisely at such a moment that what I can only describe as “forces of the extreme right” – or as it is more technically known “neo-lberalism” swing into action and try to implement in a hurry as much of their program as possible. It is the political version of a “blitzkrieg,” the purpose of which is to ram through as much of the right wing Republican program through Congress as quickly as possible:

That is what is happening now in the aftermath of the Trump victory.

Although mostly what the news is reporting today is what are referred to as trial balloons, much of it will be implemented. What does that mean for the American people?

  • the dismantling of what is referred as the American social net (social security, health care, what is left of the welfare state)
  • the deregulation of as much of the economy as possible
  • the further pummeling of the federal taxation system so as to benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else
  • a roll back on civil rights, women’s’ rights, and the modest (very modest) advances the country has made in terms of climate control

But something else for people to consider…essentially what Trump and co. are going to do is the U.S. version of the “Shock Doctrine.” (If you haven’t read the book by Naomi Klein, you might as well now). The essence of the doctrine is the following: taking advantage of political or natural crisis, while a population remains stunned and reeling, be it from the military coup that Pinochet engineered in Chile or what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans

More specifically this all out offensive will target the following:

– An administration that not only opposes climate change but will do everything possible to make the world more dependent of fossil fuels with the consequences that entails
– an attack on Social Security, perhaps its dismantling
– nothing short of a horrific attack on foreign immigrants in this country
– Obamacare, which despite its obvious problems, as extended medical care to millions is on the line
– Expect an all out attack on the Environmental Protection Agency – with the possibility that it will be dismantled
– Roe vs. Wade, one of the most significant advances in women’s rights, is threatened with reversal
– a major attack on government workers at all levels – with dramatic cuts in federal employees from all sectors
– the putting together of one of the most virulently right-wing administrations in this country’s history with names like Rudi Guiliani, Stephen Bannon, John Bolton, Sarah Palin and the rest of that cast of over-the-edge Tea Party-types all in the running
– a $25 billion cut in food stamps that will starve many, many Americans

Of course there is more and for the time being I’ll wait a few days to discuss the international aspects of the situation, which are also fast developing.

From where I’m sitting “giving Trump a chance” is precisely the wrong strategy to deal with the political blitzkrieg we are now facing as his administration will do everything in its power to ram through as much of their program as possible as quickly as possible, undoing as much of nearly a century of what is left of the American social contract. Whatever organizing, opposition to this program that can be done now, between now and the end of the first hundred days of the Trump Administration, will be critical.

As one friend put it: Trump has his shock doctrine and we have ours (which is stopping his).

So…get ready, get involved, don’t sit by the sidelines on this one. Don’t kvetch, organize (or if you have to kvetch a little, but try to get over it because there is too much to do,..and help those who can’t seem to get out of their depression).

In the next few days we (we = Nancy and I) intend to make practical suggestions. Frankly some folks don’t need them, they are already in motion and then some, but there are many others, who want to do something but have time restrictions (otherwise known as work) or are physically not able to get around much. Still there is much that can be done.