Tuesday, January 19, 2021

America’s Place


Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and upcoming Black History Month...

And now a candid look at the world fifty years on from King's assassination...

America’s Place in the World’s Playground

 by Coast Watcher

“With Donald Trump desperately trying to cling to power, President-elect Joe Biden is, for all intents and purposes, the effective leader of the free world.” ~ Brent Budowsky, The Hill November 25, 2020

“President-elect Biden, by dramatic contrast, is already viewed by our alliances as the authentic and trusted leader of the free world, which is not a title in government service but a truth bestowed on individuals who have earned it by action, example and leadership - as Biden has.” ~ Brent Budowsky, opinion piece on MSN.

I don’t know who Brent Budowsky is, but he seems quite keen on Biden. He applauds Biden’s credentials in foreign relations but ignores the substance of the issue: What do the other nations of the “Free World” think of America’s claim to their leadership?

Trump’s transactionalism abroad and racism at home have robbed the US of a higher moral purpose in its global role.” ~ Sanjaya Baru, Indian Express.

There’s no denying that the soon-to-be-ex president, Trump, did incalculable damage to America’s reputation aboard. Professional State Department officials had to work double overtime to undo the harm their boss inflicted upon international relations with his sulky, petulant, arrogant attitude. Their stock response to post-summit outrage from their foreign counterparts devolved into “Look, we know, all right? Just leave it to us, we’ll fix it and he’ll (Trump) be none the wiser.”

Trump’s attitude proved especially dangerous when it came to the 71-year-old NATO military alliance. He doesn’t seem to know exactly what an alliance is. His sudden decision to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany created strong tensions between the United States and its allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is particularly disparaging of Trump’s qualities as an international statesman. 

In the four terrible years of the Trump presidency, it looks like the international stage has decided it’s better off without American leadership. Being berated, belittled, threatened and denigrated can be wearying even for diplomats and heads of state.

But then came the events of January 6 in Washington DC. The world watched with amazement as armed Trump supporters invaded the nation’s Capitol Building. For a few hours the prospect of an armed coup or insurrection in the United States seemed a real possibility. Subsequent investigation uncovered a plot to take hostage and/or kill elected representatives.

Such a coup—had it succeeded—would’ve altered the dynamic of international relations with America. There’s little doubt that China would’ve used the opportunity afforded by the US military’s distraction to invade Taiwan, that perpetual burr under Beijing’s saddle.

Even Biden tacitly admits the situation has changed since Trump took office—and promptly drove it into a golf bunker. In a recent speech Biden stated “We're going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us.” 

He speaks of building a coalition of like-minded partners and allies, which is a little different from assuming leadership, and is of a piece with Biden’s known preference for creating consensus rather than taking unilateral action. His main area of concern is China, with its powerful hegemonic government and expanding interests in SE Asia which bring it into conflict with its neighbors. Biden has also spoken of his desire to coordinate world efforts to combat climate change, something which Trump blatantly ignored and—it might be argued—did his level best to accelerate.

There is a perception in other countries, particularly Europe, that America is an overgrown hormonal teenager, throwing his weight about the world’s playground with little thought or care for the consequences. Perhaps Biden’s more mature approach is what’s needed to repair America’s image abroad, although I doubt he’ll last long enough to see out his first term. The man looks deathly ill, and his VP Kamala Harris is an unknown quantity when it comes to foreign relations. 

When Biden is sworn into office on January 20, there’s no doubt that most of the world will breathe a sigh of relief. Whether that relief will last, or whether Biden will build his desired consensus, remains to be seen. 


BIO: Coast Watcher remembers how the media and others set us up when Obama took office--awarding him a Nobel Peace Prize before he'd even proven himself as a lover of peace. Thousands of drone bombings  and the nickname of "Obomber" later, you'd think we'd learn not to assume the military-industrial complex and its financial backers aren't really in charge. Stay awake and keep your eyes open, folks! We're not out of the woods yet.

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Tell 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stop taking campaign contributions from weapons companies!  

If elected representatives want to be known as “progressive” then prioritizing the needs of working people over the bottom line of companies like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman should be a no-brainer. Which is why we need members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to live up to their progressive values and refuse to be bought off by weapons companies.  

📣 Tell 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to STOP taking campaign contributions from weapons companies!

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are supposed to be “fighting to rein in bloated Pentagon spending”. Then why, according to a study by the Security Policy Reform Institute, did 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus take thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from weapons companies and consistently vote to increase the Pentagon budget during the Trump administration? Weapons companies like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin rely heavily on defense spending that is approved by Congress for their enormous profits. That’s a serious conflict of interest!   Sign on to tell 27 members of the Progressive Caucus to take this conflict of interest seriously and end campaign contributions from weapons manufacturers!

We’re gearing up to make 2021 the year that Defunding the Pentagon becomes a reality by making sure members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus refuse to be bought off by weapons companies. We’re also ringing in the new year with three creative actions to take on the war machine. Sign up here to join the CODEPINK-style Inauguration Day social media presence on January 20th, the celebration of the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law on January 22nd, and the Global Day of Action to Stop the War on Yemen on January 25th. 

It’s a new year and it’s more important than ever to Defund the Pentagon.  Contact 27 members of the Progressive Caucus now and demand they stop taking campaign contributions from weapons companies and join CODEPINK creative actions on January 20, 22nd, and 25th to take on the war machine. 

Towards peace,
Carley, Cody, Nancy, and the entire CODEPINK team  


From Public Citizen:

On January 6, 2021, a horde of Donald Trump adherents numbering in the thousands — incited by the president himself — mounted an armed takeover of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It was the most deliberate attempt to overthrow the government of the United States since the Civil War.

As more and more details emerge about the planning and execution of the insurrection, it is clear that the seditionists were animated by their resentment — stoked by Donald Trump and other politicians, amplified by Fox News and social media — toward changing demographics in America.

Many of us recognize the ongoing reality of white supremacism for the very real threat it is — as a kind of defect in our national DNA (and going all the way back to 1492) that we still have not invested anywhere near enough in curing.

So — on a day when we honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. — I wanted to share a few of Dr. King’s insightful and inspiring words:

From King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963):

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”
From King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech at Riverside Church (April 4, 1967):
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. ... We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
From King’s speech announcing the Poor People’s March on Washington (December 4, 1967):
America is at a crossroads of history, and it is critically important for us, as a nation and a society, to choose a new path and move upon it with resolution and courage. ... Consider, for example, the spectacle of ... a nation gorged on money while millions of its citizens are denied a good education, adequate health services, decent housing, meaningful employment, and even respect, and are then told to be responsible.
For justice,

- Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen

P.S. For half a century, Public Citizen has been advancing policies that put the needs of everyday Americans before the greed of billionaires and Big Business. That legacy of progress and that ongoing work could not matter more right now, as our nation transitions to a Joe Biden presidency that will be as progressive as we — you and Public Citizen, together — make it.

Of course, we’re also busy undoing damage the Trump administration has already done and watching out for whatever shenanigans a lame-duck Donald Trump tries to get away with. And — like so many nonprofits and small businesses — we continue to experience financial strain related to the coronavirus pandemic.


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