Saturday, July 16, 2016

Something to Know 16 July

Jeff Danziger

There has been a succession of major events that dig deep into dismay and horror; Baron Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas, Nice, Turkey.  What we should all know is that this is no time for an unqualified and unstable person at the head of our national table.  Throughout all the events, Obama stood tall and masterful as our griever-in-chief and a voice of reason and stability.  Trying to imagine the presumptive guy from the GeeOpie doing this; does not work in my mind.   I would like someone to ask Trump, as he rolls out his VP nominee, to ask his opinion of Recep Tayyip Ergodan, and see how that pin head under that swarm of hair responds.  Now is not the time, for an ill-prepared amateur.  We should have learned that from the days of "W'.   Are we really to seriously consider water-boarding in the vetting process for immigrants - is this his definition of "extreme vetting"?:

Trump Wants War Declared on ISIS and 'Extreme Vetting' of Immigrants

Within four hours of the attack on the French Riviera, Donald J. Trump pledged to seek a rare declaration of war from Congress against Islamic terrorists and called for "extreme vetting" of immigrants and a complete ban on those from "terrorist nations."

Minutes later, two finalists to be Mr. Trump's running mate began weighing in. Newt Gingrich proposed a loyalty test for American citizens who are Muslim and deporting those who believe in Shariah law, while Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, referring to terrorism, called for America to "defeat this enemy of civilization at its source."

Yet for all the bellicose proclamations, Mr. Trump and his allies would be sharply constrained — by lawmakers, foreign allies, treaties and the Constitution — in achieving these goals, and Mr. Trump is not much closer to providing specific proposals on national security than he was 13 months ago when he began running for president.

On Friday, as he announced Mr. Pence as his choice and prepared to claim the Republican nomination at the party's convention next week, Mr. Trump still lacked a detailed foreign policy agenda and a deep bench of advisers, appearing instead like a man who had taken his cues about war from Fox News commentators and Twitter users.

These latest statements strike the same chords of hostility and suspicion toward Muslims and immigrants that are at the heart of Mr. Trump's appeal to many voters who feel insecure amid terrorist attacks abroad and mass shootings at home. His ideas may be unworkable, according to some foreign policy experts in both parties, but his message has unquestionable political power.

"I'm not sure what a declaration of war would add," said Elliott Abrams, a veteran foreign policy adviser in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations who is neutral in the presidential race. "But Trump is right in thinking we need a new basis to go after ISIS, and also right in thinking we should go after them harder."

Mr. Trump's remarks after the carnage in Nice, France — such as agreeing with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News that "we are in a world war scenario" — are the latest in a startling pattern in which he has projected an image of a country willing to throw out international laws and treaties and use any means to protect Americans at home and abroad.

He has said he would approve the use of waterboarding "in a heartbeat" because "only a stupid person would say it doesn't work." He has suggested that he would not be as concerned as President Obama about the Islamic State's use of civilians as human shields. He has advocated killing the family members of terrorists. And on Thursday night, during one of two appearances on Fox News, he endorsed Mr. O'Reilly's suggestion to declare war on terrorists — even though such a move would bog down a Trump administration in a lengthy congressional debate.

The George W. Bush and Obama administrations have used the post-Sept. 11 authorization of military force to wage battle against terrorists, but Mr. Abrams and many national security experts in both parties favor a new authorization that specifically names the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as the focus of military action.

"From Trump's point of view, a declaration of war probably sounds strong and bold and makes his opponents look weak, but it's really just symbolic," said David A. Martin, a professor of international law at the University of Virginia who was a deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.

"A good idea is updating the use of military force to make it very clear who we are targeting, so we can fight propaganda from the Islamic State that we are targeting all Muslims."

In interviews with media organizations, Mr. Trump has been largely unwilling to grapple with the complexities of his national security aims, such as balancing his go-it-alone pronouncements with America's obligations to alliances and international laws. He has called NATO "obsolete" and even proposed leaving it, but on Thursday night he concurred with Mr. O'Reilly's view that NATO countries should "commit forces both ground and air to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth."

But he did not offer any detailed proposals to execute such a plan, instead arguing that the destruction of ISIS would be "a good thing for NATO to be involved in."

At the Pentagon, interviews with more than a dozen top generals revealed alarm over many of Mr. Trump's proposals for the use of American power, even among officers who said privately that they lean Republican. While no serving officer interviewed was willing to speak publicly about Mr. Trump — reasons ranged from wanting to maintain a distance between the military and politics to not wanting to criticize a potential commander in chief — a number of top-ranking admirals and generals said the military is governed by laws and rules of engagement that are far stricter than politicians may realize.

And justifications that troops would be "following orders" are unlikely to sway war-crimes courts, they said.

"We remember the Nuremberg trials," said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, now retired, who was in charge of training the Iraqi Army in 2003. "Just following orders is not going to cut it."

Hillary Clinton, who reacted to the attack more cautiously, saying "we will never allow terrorists to undermine" American values, has been caustic in rebuking Mr. Trump's comments on national security and war, arguing that he would put the United States in danger and wreck its traditional alliances.

Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia last week. She has responded to the attack in France more cautiously than Mr. Trump has. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times
She has called for accelerating the current military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq while working with NATO and putting new pressure on Arab allies to combat terrorists. She has also emphasized working with Muslim communities in the United States and abroad to counter terrorism, and argues that Mr. Trump is alienating both Muslim citizens and Muslim leaders overseas who are needed to defeat the Islamic State.

Still, Mrs. Clinton's ringing defense of alliances like NATO does not have the same emotional resonance for some Americans as Mr. Trump's America-first language. Mr. Trump has drawn passionate crowds to his political rallies with his promises to wipe out the Islamic State and, initially, to bar Muslim noncitizens from entering the United States.

He has changed that proposed ban to focus on countries with links to terrorism while, domestically, calling for greater surveillance of mosques and possibly shutting some down. He has not echoed Mr. Gingrich's call for a test for Muslim citizens about loyalty and Shariah law — a proposal that is almost surely unconstitutional.

And many voters, exhausted by a state of war over the last 15 years, may ultimately resist an effort by Mr. Trump to get the country and Congress to make a new declaration of war.

"He would be asking Americans to agree to put our service members into a blood bath, where there would be carnage up to our necks," said Gunnery Sgt. Emir Hadzic, a Marine who came to the United States as a Bosnian-Muslim refugee from Sarajevo in 1995.

Sergeant Hadzic, a Republican who plans to write in a candidate for president in November, said he believed that references to war declarations and religious tests were "all about scoring political points." Asked what he thought about posing a Shariah test to American soldiers who were Muslims, he was silent for several seconds.

"That's what I think," he said. "Speechless"


Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association  aid and abet violence.

- An American Story

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