Weekly roundup of threat issues, through the lens of US values
It's been a volatile week with some real highs and some devastating lows,
First the good news:
Trump is arraigned.
Tuesday of this week, one of the most foundational US values was on full display and moving in the right direction. After a lifetime of criminal activity and without an unethical AG (Bill Barr) to protect him, Trump made history as the only former US president to be arrested. It is the first of many losing encounters with the law for Trump and this is likely the least serious.
Honest Americans and the entire world stood by for a disastrous few years and watched America break with law, policies, norms, traditions and yes, our true values. Elitism and favoritism defined the last administration. This significantly undermined the image of the US around the world and opened an endless array of openings that were soon exploited by our adversaries.
Laws regarding national security such as the protracted efforts by Trump to obstruct justice regarding classified documents. In all likelihood, some of those documents have already been compromised by foreign adversaries.
The worst of his crimes revolve around his attempts to subvert the constitution via the “big lie.” Obstruction of Justice in Georgia and the multitude of investigations into his coup attempt on January 6th are at the heart of my hopes for real justice for Americans that still honor our real patriotic values. The GOP these days are addicted to fake patriotic values like guns, Christo-nationalism and support for Putin.
Yes, watching the law support our true values is a worthy, top of the “good list” today.
Next on the good list is Finland joining NATO.
Finland ascension to the block of NATO nations, more than doubles the NATO border with Russia. Russia has been paranoid of the West for centuries and this will only exacerbate Russia’s paranoia. Still, with a genocidal Putin next door, Finland is far safer as part of NATO. Besides, Russia is still smarting from being beaten by Finland in 1944, near the end of WWII.
NATO nations, in most forms are very compatible with US values. The US NSS, National Security Strategy is largely focused on enhancing collective security agreements like NATO, as a foundational element of US national security. Finland fits this profile very well. Welcome to our friends and now allies in Finland.
Finland also borders Sweden, who is likely to be also added to NATO. This will give NATO a powerful deterrent to Russian aggression via the north, especially the NSR, Northern Sea Route. This also impacts Chinese aggression due her operations and collaboration with Putin. This is a very long story for another day.
At the moment, it is Turkey and Hungary stopping Sweden’s ascension to NATO, for selfish and mostly pro-Russian reasons. Viktor Orban’ in Hungary is a Putin sycophant and also the darling of the US GOP extremist/ MAGA wing.
During a couple of my Afghan deployments, I had the high honor of serving in proximity with Nordic/ Scandanavian militaries and I assure you, they are a welcome and capable addition to NATO.
Ukraine, along with NATO and other support, is devastating the Russian military and economy.
although this is mostly good news, the subtext is that Putin is a genocidal monster doing all possible, to erase Ukraine and her culture from history. Try and picture that your nation is in shambles, tens of thousands of your fellow citizens dead, your history erased and the infrastructure lying useless. This is Ukraine. What is holding, is Ukraine’s spirit of independence and liberty. The cost for Ukraine is so large that it’s difficult to quantify. The cost for Putin may be worse in the long run.
That Ukraine’s morale and resilience is still the most powerful factor of their success, and speaks to just how a strong, unified national identity is to military success. Russia has long attempted to erase the cultural identities of nations within Imperial and Soviet Russia. They have failed miserably, despite brutal, war-crime ridden attempts over the past few hundred years.
Americans, in the Trump era would do well to remember our common identity traits, rather than the fake patriotism of the MAGA movement. Those values will not sustain America. Our real values… will and long have.
A little bad news… so sorry
First, uncovering the ethical vacancy of SCOTUS AJ, Clarence Thomas
This week, ProPublica, an organisation with remarkable credibility published a story that was so opposite of what American values demand of our SCOTUS Justice’s that it is hard to comprehend.
Judge Thomas who barely survived his Senate approval hearing due to sexual harassment charges and married to a very active Seditionist who was an active supporter of January 6th, and the “big lie” continues his slide from respectability.
Thomas is part of a clique of Republican SCOTUS AJs that by respected legal analysts have brought their own personal religious views into the law. This is a disturbing trend to me, as a believer in the bulk of historical opinions that make the Establishment Clause mostly, untouchable.
I am not alone in this belief and the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that SCOTUS’s religious beliefs belong as far from Judge’s chambers as possible. Our founders were very clear in this opinion as well.
In the bad and good news department.
Israel is a mess!
First the good. In the past week or so, the people of Israel, intent on maintaining the values the state was founded on in 1948, stood up to Trump wannabe, Bibi, Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, the most far-right in the nation’s history. Nearly 3 months of daily, large, debilitating protests. Like Trump here, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Modi in India and so many more, he attempted to change the nation’s laws to protect his government from domestic challenges.
Also, like Trump, Bibi is indicted on corruption charges and has behaved like the rest of the globe’s populist thugs, these past several years. The majority of Israelis, right, left and every other belief system, stood in unity to protect their values. This is a valuable paradigm for other nations experiencing thugism, as a type of government. As painful as the past three months have been for Israel, the result is a very positive indicator of stemming Bibi’s racist coalition from further damaging the nation’s values.
On the bad side of things, Jewish/ Palestinian violence, along with Lebanese and Syrian incidents is again rocking the state. Bibi’s extremist government is precisely the wrong choice to make things better. His cabinet includes extremists that call for booting indigenous Arabs from the state, bulldozing Arab homes and far worse.
I have a nearly half-century love affair with Israel, and it pains me to see her hurtle downhill as fast and dangerously, as we did in the US under the Trump administration. I talk with one of our daughters a few times of week, who lives in Israel. The energy there is intense, mostly in opposition to Bibi but that emotion spills over into protecting themselves from terrorist threats.
It’s safe to say that both HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH, both supported by Iran are using Bibi’s troubles to instigate further violence against the state. Simultaneously, the far-right followers of Bibi are doing their best as well to provoke violence in order to justify their racist agenda.
The layers of issues behind the violence are too many to count. Millennia of wars, empires, transition, different religions are still fresh in the minds, hearts and identities of all inhabitants, not just Jewish residents. I have long tracked the large peace movements of both Jews and Muslim Arabs. Often, they protest for peace in unison. Like everywhere else, it’s the worst actors, like HAMAS and Bibi’s government that get the attention.
To make matters worse, Israel, like most Middle Eastern nations, is at the center of competition between China, India, Russia and the West. The push/pull of strategic machinations, puts a strain on all caught in the Middle.
The answer, at least for the US, is to maintain and lead with our values regarding relationships within the region. Israel is a natural partner, so long as they continue to push back on the hate and extremism of Bibi and his government.
I was getting ready to close this out but spotted one more bad news story that needs some oxygen. My comments will be brief, but cold, well-deserved condemnation of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in Tennessee.
Tennessee statehouse expels Democrats for gun control protest - BBC News
What the hell were these Republican extremists thinking? Their behavior could hardly be more un-American. The separate votes to expel politicians disagreeing on policy included 69 Republicans in one vote and 72 on another. Both expelled were black Americans. The one while representative voted on was a white woman who managed to stay in the House by one vote.
America, the details I just quoted are all from the credible news sites, but I selected the link about from the BBC. I merely wanted to make the point that these 69/72 anti-patriots have humiliated American values in the eyes of the world. They were not satisfied to just humiliate Tennessee.
Although the trend has been building since Newt Gingrich began his scorched earth politics decades ago, the Trump era has brought us a GOP controlled by fake patriots like the Tennessee crowd. If nothing else, a Republic such as the US is dedicated to passionate debate about issues. The GOP in Tennessee, like the same here in Texas under Greg Abbott’s thugs and even the national party, are saturated by fake patriotic ideology. Guns, God (Christo-Nationalism) and Trump are their un-American beliefs.
The only sustainable answer to the GOP’s controlling ideology is to do what Israel’s population did, unite to put an end to cowardly, un-American assaults on American values. Israel’s example also includes a very important element often lost on Americans. In Israel’s response to Bibi’s fake ideology of right-wing extremism, citizens with ethics, regardless of party affiliation showed up. Regardless of different belief systems, a nation’s true values are the foundation of national resilience. It’s never party over country.
True national values are the lifeblood of a moral nation. Transfusing that blood with fake values, eventually kills the patient.
Happy weekend and wishing everyone, regardless of faith, to experience the holidays to their fullest.