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Est. April 5, 2002
September 13, 2018 - Issue 755

As Trump's National Security Chief,
Bolton Warns the World


"This is the time for reckoning, domestically and
in the rest of the world where the U.S. has held
sway for generations, for the rising up against the
impunity and cruelty of Trump and Bolton and those
who think and act as they do.  Despite the trainloads
of lies that rise from this White House,
the reckoning may already have started."

The Trump Administration is doing its best to destroy the International Criminal Court because it threatens the sovereignty of the U.S., according to John Bolton, the president's national security advisor.

Speaking before the Federalist Society this week, Bolton told the gathering the the ICC is not only ineffective at prosecuting war crimes, but it goes after America's allies, such as Israel. Also, he declared, it is illegitimate. One of his proudest moments, he said, was convincing the George W. Bush White House not to join the ICC or support it in any way, a stance that continues today, in particular, in the Trump White House, which constantly threatens other countries and anyone who is perceived to oppose the president or his administration.

In this case, Trump and Bolton are in lock step in oppostion to the request by the chief prosecutor of the ICC that charges of crimes against humanity by the U.S. military and its intelligence services in Afghanistan be investigated. Also, in one of the most sensitive areas of world conflict, the request by a Palestinian diplomat that the ICC investigate Israeli crimes against Palestinians. The Palestinians have declared that the U.S. can no longer act as an honest broker in peace talks because of their unlimited support for Israel, no matter what it does in the region and, in particular, to the Palestinians.

For them, it is all for Americans and, as one former vice president declared, “the American way of life is non-negotiable.” That means the aim of the American Empire has not changed, even with the two-term presidency of Barack Obama: The U.S. will continue to take resources, human and natural, from any country in the world, to ensure that the American standard of living is not diminished for a moment. Even so, Americans at the margins of national life have not realized the benefits of such depredations by their government in so many countries. It should always be kept in mind that the U.S. has about 5 percent of the world's population, yet uses 25-35 percent of the world's natural resources.

How is that possible? For starters, the U.S. has some 800 military bases and other installations scattered over the face of the globe and the influence of that mighty military and the economic power behind it cannot be ignored by the “host” countries. The U.S. gets its way...every time.

When American diplomats and others, including those in the “intelligence” services are sent out to increase and monitor the nation's hegemony over the rest of the world, the countries in the cross-hairs know that they are doomed to comply. Most often, the government has sent out its representatives to the weaker countries at the behest of Corporate America, which has great influence (and often) control of American representative government. It also sends its own representatives, but, unlike colonial empires of old (among them, Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Sweden), the American Empire can rule through its power of the purse strings and, when necessary, through its military, the largest and most powerful in the world.

Bolton, the war lover, is similar to so many in the Trump Administration who have not put themselves in harm's way in war, but is more than willing to put the sons and daughters of others in harm's way. Like Trump himself (he has been spoken of derisively as Cadet Bone Spurs), Bolton was not required to serve in Vietnam because he enlisted in the Maryland National Guard before he graduated from Yale in 1970 and served 18 weeks of training at Fort Polk, La. Service in the Guard (those of us who served in the Regular Army usually referred to reservists as “weekend warriors.”) Trump, of course, never served, because he received deferments because of his bone spurs.

The two of them are now in their element. They have one another to back them up in their forays into the rest of the world. Bolton, realizing that an International Criminal Court could curb or curtail the government's actions around the world, fought successfully in the Bush II administration to keep the U.S. out and fight against its continued existence. The requests to investigate the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Israel's treatment of the occupied Palestinians by the ICC are reason enough for Bolton and Trump to want to destroy the court. Just one example of factors to investigate would be the use of spent uranium in U.S. munitions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Although it's called “spent,” it remains toxic and deadly if inhaled or contacted. There is also the matter of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, right up to the recent execution of unarmed individuals by Israeli Defense Force snipers at the fence dividing Israel from the Gaza Strip. The killings were planned by higher-up Israeli officials, to act as a warning to Palestinians to remain quietly in their enclave, which is described as the world's largest open-air prison.

The influence of the U.S. on the functioning of the ICC and the support of the court has fluctuated, according to the administration in office at the time. However, to ensure that Americans would not come under the jurisdiction of the court, there was an effort to “convince” many nations to enter into what are called bilateral immunity agreements (BIAs), in which those countries would not extradite Americans to the ICC. Some 50 countries refused to sign BIAs, while more than 100 countries were convinced to sign in the last decade. The power to convince other nations to come to heel has not been diminished in recent years and, with the appointment of Bolton as national security advisor, the power of the American Empire will grow unabated, as long as the Trump Administration exists. To accomplish its goals, Trump and Bolton threaten to withhold funds and other benefits to the nations that are targeted. Bolton even said this week that if the investigations above noted move forward, the Trump Administration would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S., sanction any funds they have in the U.S. financial system and even consider criminal investigations against them.

For a nation that intends to control much of the planet for its own purposes, it certainly says out loud that it does not want to be a party to any entity that would call it to account in its various activities in just about any country it wants to enter, no matter what the purpose. Worldwide impunity is what Trump and Bolton (and a vast array of officials before them) are after. The same could be applied to what is happening in the U.S., itself: extra-judicial killings by police (expecially of minorities), curbing of First Amendment rights, despoiling of the environment, reversal of health and safety regulations for people and planet, draining of the pocketbooks of working Americans to benefit the already wealthy and the corporations, making a college education the privilege of the rich, social control by way of the judiciary and legislative bodies, bolstering institutional racism and making white supremacy safe for the masses, a continuing attack on workers and their unions, and much more.

Impunity or not, for all bullies there is a reckoning. The current administration thinks it can get away with the reckless way in which it is dealing with other countries, including allies of many decades. A time comes when they all say, “Enough is enough.” This is the time for reckoning, domestically and in the rest of the world where the U.S. has held sway for generations, for the rising up against the impunity and cruelty of Trump and Bolton and those who think and act as they do. Despite the trainloads of lies that rise from this White House, the reckoning may already have started. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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