Tag Archives: economic sanctions

Could Congress reverse Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria?

U.S. forces are still in Syria, but their role has changed substantially in recent weeks. AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad

Sarah Burns, Rochester Institute of Technology

The political and humanitarian outcry condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria came soon after he made the announcement.

Trump’s actions paved the way for Turkish troops to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces that had been fighting the Islamic State group. In reaction, on Oct. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution opposing his move, with strong bipartisan support. Continue reading

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Kurds Strike Deal With Syrian Government to Battle Turkey’s Offensive After Trump Orders Evacuation of Remaining US Troops

“About 130,000 people have been displaced in Syria… with at least 60 civilian casualties in Syria and 18 dead in Turkey.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-13-2019

A protest in support of the Kurds in front of the Turkish Embassy in Seattle. Photo: Amy Moreno/Twitter

Kurdish forces in northern Syria announced Sunday that the Syrian government has agreed to deploy troops to battle an ongoing Turkish offensive against the Kurds after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 American troops in the region.

Following a call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last weekend, Trump withdrew about 50 U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border. Critics accused Trump of betraying Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey on Wednesday launched airstrikes and ground incursions targeting Kurdish-held areas. Continue reading

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Activists Who Confronted Mnuchin During UCLA Protest Now Facing Years in Jail

“Mnuchin was bragging about killing sanctions and their politics of cruelty, but we’re charged with ‘disturbing the peace’ for speaking loudly during his event!”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-1-2019

The UCLA 5, a group of protesters who demonstrated at an appearance Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave at UCLA in 2018, are facing potential jail time for their non-violent action. (Photo: @MichelleXai/Twitter)

Four non-violent campaigners said Tuesday that their First Amendment rights were violated last year by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who attempted to suppress video of the group’s peaceful demonstration against the Trump administration at an event at UCLA in 2018.

Opening arguments in the trial began Friday and continued Tuesday morning at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Continue reading

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Iraqi President: US Has No Right to Use Iraq as ‘Staging Post’ for Attack on Iran

“There is no military solution to this problem.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-26-19

raqi President Barham Salih speaking in an interview that aired Tuesday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. (Screengrab/CNN)

Iraqi President Barham Salih said Tuesday that the United States has no right to use his country as a launchpad for a strike against Iran.

Salih, in his interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour, also talked about the adverse impacts his own country has felt as a result of U.S. imposed sanctions, stressed the need to prevent another war, and warned that tearing up the nuclear deal entirely “could be disastrous for the entire neighborhood as a whole.” Continue reading

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Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Will Use Sanctions, Military Threats to Force Palestinian Acceptance

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By Whitney Webb. Published 5-8-2019 by MintPress News

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: White House

The Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, owned by top Trump donor Sheldon Adelson, has published in Hebrew a leaked draft of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for the Israel-Palestine conflict. The draft was given to the newspaper by an official from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which is currently headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan, which has been drafted by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, is expected to be released this June after the conclusion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to Mondoweiss.

The draft plan published by Israel Hayom, while in keeping with many of the details that have been leaked to the press in past weeks and months, contains several new and troubling claims, including the Trump administration’s plan to force Palestinian leadership to accept the plan through threats of economic strangulation and military force. Continue reading

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Demands That Trump End Economic War and Attempts at Regime Change at #HandsOffVenezuela March on Capitol Hill

“There is nobody in that White House or in this administration that cares at all for the Venezuelan people.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-16-2019

Americans warned against economic sanctions and a potential military intervention in Venezuela in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. (Photo: @ChuckModi1/Twitter)

Denouncing the “strangling” of the Venezuelan economy via sanctions and demanding the Trump administration allow the South American country to determine its own fate, pro-democracy protesters marched through Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand, “Hands Off Venezuela!”

The demonstration came seven weeks after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, rebuking President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election last May. Continue reading

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Reinforcing US Status as ‘Bully and Hegemon,’ Bolton to Threaten ICC Over Probes into America’s War Crimes

Human rights advocates decried the Trump administration’s attack on the International Criminal Court as “another low point” in its effort to skirt accountability for war crimes

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-10-2018

Afghans have been waiting decades for justice for war crimes, including some allegedly committed by U.S. forces. The ⁦ICC⁩ is the only hope they have for justice at the moment,” wrote Heather Barr, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Reinforcing the worldwide perception of the U.S. as “a bully and a hegemon” that will not tolerate attempts by the global community to hold it accountable for its deadly actions overseas, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton is set to deliver a speech on Monday that will reportedly threaten International Criminal Court (ICC) officials with sanctions if they dare to move ahead with probes into U.S. or Israeli war crimes.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say at an event hosted by the right-wing Federalist Society, according to a speech draft viewed by Reuters. “If the court comes after us, Israel, or other allies, we will not sit quietly.” Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Iraq War Redux’ as Bolton and Pompeo Are Reportedly Leading Push to ‘Foment Unrest’ in Iran

“Although the Trump administration claims it only seeks ‘behavior change’ in Iran, its pressure campaign clearly aims at regime change.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-22-2018

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. Photo: Alles Schell und Rauch

In writings and speeches over just the past several months, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have made no secret of their desire to overthrow the Iranian government.

According to a Reuterreport published on Saturday, their desire may finally be converting into concrete action, now that the two ultra-hawks have a firm grip on America’s foreign policy apparatus.

“The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups,” Reuters reported, citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the effort. “More than half a dozen current and former officials said the campaign, supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, is meant to work in concert with U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions.” Continue reading

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Trump, Congress and the case for Treason

What happens when a sitting president kicks the legs of Democracy’s stool?

Written by Carol Benedict

President Donald Trump delivered his 2018 State of the Union address on January 20, 2018. Since that time, the consequences and ramifications put forth in that speech are still being discussed after having set new precedents to the tone, nature and policies spelled out to the American people.

Congress has always held the tradition that when the sitting president delivers these speeches, the opposing party withholds applause and ovations for most the speech, and only the most basic and inarguable points receive unanimous approval. Like all traditions in Washington since Trump’s inauguration, this too has now changed.

Agreeing with a critic who called the actions of the democrats “treasonous” and “un-American” for not applauding policies they disagree with, Trump has taken a step into an entirely new territory that should have caused alarm bells to go for all.

“You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy, wild—they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news—really positive news, like that—they were like death and un-American. Un-American,” the president said. “Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

The White House quickly defended Trump’s words, saying it was meant as a joke. When the President of the United States makes a JOKE of calling for the DEATHS of the opposing party’s members of Congress, we have entered a perception and introduction to authoritarian rule and dictatorship. Opposing the president is not punishable by death in the US, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates total ignorance or self-absorption. In fact, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution provides for the right of every American to not only disagree with the government or even the President, but to also assemble together to make their grievances known. Most people know this concept as “protest” or “dissent.”

In service to our country, we have put together a short refresher course about the history of Treason charges in the US since World War II. Let’s begin with what the law states as the punishment for Treason.

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

One person convicted of treason was Tomoya Kawakita, a Japanese-American sentenced to death in 1952 for tormenting American prisoners of war during World War II. Even such a clear-cut case created qualms; Kawakita was commuted to a life sentence and was eventually deported to Japan and barred from ever entering the United States again.

On June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed after being convicted of committing espionage for the Soviet Union. They were accused of transmitting nuclear weapon designs to the Soviet Union; at that time the United States was the only country with nuclear weapons. They were also accused of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the USSR. Espionage is considered a treasonable act.

Treason is a serious, non-jokable charge with very unfunny consequences. But don’t overlook this as just another benign statement from an overly-vociferous president. What he is actually demanding here is a One Party System that does not allow dissent or protest, that prevents a press from publishing negative articles and results in job losses of federal employees who oppose his authority.

His latest claim is that if he does not get his way on immigration, he will shut down the government. This holds the American people hostage and in economic jeopardy and is questionably illegal.

The irony in all of this is that for all intents and purposes, this president has walked up to the line of committing Treason himself, and is so close in reality that only legal experts can parse out if or why he has not actually committed that crime. In psychology, this is called “Projectionalism;” to accuse others of what you are carry inside yourself.

Since taking office, Trump has assembled quite a laundry list of things he has done for the benefit of the Russian government.

* Shortly after his inauguration, Russian officials were invited to an Oval Office meeting, in which Trump revealed to Foreign Minister Lavrov secrets that compromised the coordination of intelligence gathering with Israeli operatives, jeopardizing Israeli and the U.S. ability to track down terrorists and proliferates.
* Following the events in the Ukraine in 2014 and Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Congress imposed sanctions against Russia and individual operatives of the Russian government. Since taking office, Trump has refused to take actions to impose these sanctions, despite the fact the law requires him to do so.
* The recent meeting in the United States dealing with cybersecurity and counterterrorism between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the heads of Russia’s intelligence agencies, one of which is included in the above mentioned sanctions and not allowed travel to the US.
* The Gasleys, a tanker carrying Russian LPG, docked in Boston and unloaded its cargo recently. Russia’s gas and oil industry is currently under sanctions, or is supposed to be at any rate.
* The Nunes memo and the Republican efforts to discredit the FBI and other intelligence services as a way to slow or stop Robert Mueller’s investigation has weakened the trust between Congress and the intelligence community, and has shown sources that their identities may not be protected.
* On April 7, 2017, the Trump administration launched a cruise missile strike against Shayrat airbase in Syria. The US launched 58 cruise missiles at the base, yet the base was operational within two days of the attack. Why? Because Trump had warned the Russians about the attack, so most of the planes, etc. had been moved before the missiles were even launched.

Moreover, words in the State of the Union address called for extending presidential powers and other non-restrictive measures which, in effect, abolish the Rule of Law for the President and his Administration’s activities.

America is now teetering on the balance between being ruled, not governed; in complete spineless fear, the GOP clenches their power at the cost of democracy and nation, shredding the ideals of the Constitution as fast as this administration has shed regulations protecting the American people, environment, public lands and diverse society.

At the fulcrum, we wait for something – anything – to prevent further decay of the country once known as a shining example of democracy.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Sanctions? What Sanctions?

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Donald Trump in the Oval Office the day after James Comey’s firing. Photo: YouTube,

In July of last year, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill that put new sanctions on Russia. The support was as close to unanimous as you see in Congress these days; only three dissenting votes in the House and two in the Senate.

Facing sure backlash and a veto override if he either vetoed the bill or refused to sign (a pocket veto), President Donald Trump held off until the final day until signing the sanctions bill. Signed without the usual spectacle of a ceremony that the Toddler in Chief seems to thrive on, he called parts of the bill “clearly unconstitutional,” and went on to say they “displace the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments” while others exceed Congress’ authority by imposing time limits on the executive branch.

The Trump administration then raised the ire of Congress by missing the deadline for the first part of the sanctions to be put in effect. Which brings us to today’s deadline.

Today was to be the day that the Treasury Department was to begin imposing economic sanctions against people and businesses doing business with Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors. They were also supposed to provide a list of oligarchs maintaining close ties to Putin.

So what did the administration do? They said that they wouldn’t be imposing sanctions. “Sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” said a State Department official.

When Donald Trump became President, he took the oath of office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Overriding Congress and unilaterally deciding not to enforce a sanctions bill that you yourself signed is not faithfully executing the office. It is not preserving, protecting or defending the Constitution. It’s the type of stunt you see in a third rate banana republic, and not in the United States – until now.

So, what happens next? Will Congress grow a spine and demand that he put sanctions in place? Will they finally admit to themselves that this overgrown toddler has no business being where he is? That every day he stays in office means further degradation of us as a nation? Will they finally figure that their Faustian compact isn’t worth the damage it does to the country? Or will they keep on making excuses for this wretched imitation of a human being?

 

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