12.09.2019 Author: Deena Stryker

Of Paradise Lost and Last Straws

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Although the Bahamas are ruled by a governor-general appointed by Queen Elizabeth, given that many wealthy Americans spend their winters there (served by a year-round population of Afro-Caribbean and mixed descent), one would expect the neighboring United States to fill in for the British Commonwealth when catastrophe hits.

Apparently, however responsibilities were never spelled out: reports on Dorian’s tragic aftermath, including dozens of deaths, leave unanswered the question of which nation was expected to send rescue ships and planes. Not until a week had past did the state of Florida finally begin to deliver supplies by ship and plane, assisted by volunteers as well as the American military and US AID, the media merely noting that ‘conditions’ had made rescue operations ‘difficult’. There was apparently no advance planning for what was widely anticipated to be a massive disaster. Seen on television, the aftermath evoked World War II carpet bombing.

When thousands of the Bahamas’ permanent residents – those of Afro-Caribbean descent, whose homes had been reduced to match-sticks, requested permission for what is known as ‘temporary protection’, the president went on television to declare it would be denied, insinuating that among them were drug dealers and other criminals “who shouldn’t have been on the islands”. It has not yet been signaled that Dorian is merely a foretaste of what awaits the Caucasian world as climate change intensifies, victimizing millions in the global south. In an illustration of trivia winning out over serious policy analysis, the media honed in on a semi-circle drawn by the President on an official weather map to show that Alabama might be one of the American states to be hit. Seizing upon the fact that it is a federal crime to tamper with official maps, it is still holding up new evidence for impeachment, while Trump orders the weather department’s whistle-blower to be fired.

In the end, however, it is the fact that Donald Trump has been systematically enriching himself thanks to the presidency that will force Congress to take meaningful steps toward ‘holding him accountable’, as the saying goes. When Vice President Pence tried to make it seem logical for him to take a 180 mile detour in order to spend the night, with his large ‘footprint’ (i.e., his mandatory security detail) in one of the President’s foreign golf resorts after reassuring Irish officials that the US would have their backs when Brexit happens, an enterprising journalist dug up evidence showing that, since Trump took office, large numbers of Republican legislators have frequented his hotel in Washington, adding to its bottom line.

Coming on the heels of the President’s announcement that he not only would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the 2020 G7, which he will host on a rotational basis, but that he proposed to hold the event at one of his own golf resorts, the press literally sputtered with indignation. The Doral, he emphasized, has the advantage of being ‘really close to the Miami Airport’, and we can imagine heads of state desperately trying to get a good night’s sleep after a day of arduous meetings. (Maybe he plans to close the airport by presidential fiat once the delegates have arrived — making them feel like prisoners).

Never mind. As one advertisement famously shouted: “Wait! There’s More!” Just in time for the Sunday morning talk shows, the President tweeted that he had planned to invite the Afghan Taliban — infamous for sheltering Bin Laden after 9/11! — to meet with him at Camp David, a presidential retreat sanctified by President Clinton’s 2000 meeting with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, at a time when the US really wanted to broker peace in the Middle East. Trump announced that he had cancelled the plan after the Taliban, who control half of Afghanistan, took responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul. While Trump ‘wondered’ white kind of people would do such a thing, analysts pointed out indignantly that the meeting would have officialized American’s defeat in the seventeen year long war, an intolerable outcome.

Voters, however, continue to appear indifferent to the fact that the US maintains more than eight hundred military bases across the globe, ignoring the rare candidate who condemns our foreign policy, such as Tulsi Gabbard. Even when the Pentagon moves US troops and tanks right up to the border of the other major nuclear power, Bernie Sanders, who declares himself to be a democratic socialist (and thus anti-war), dares not denounce America’s official policy of doing whatever is necessary to remain top dog.

Meanwhile, China nibbles at the US economy, and Russia continues to gather support across the world.

Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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