Who cares about people 7000 miles away?

“Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

President Donald Trump, Oct. 14, 2019

trumpandstatedepartment

Is President Trump arguing that far away countries are not worth America’s attention?

  • Should the U.S. ignore the freedom seekers in Hong Kong?

Distance from Washington, D.C. to Hong Kong: 8,140 miles

DCtoHongKong

  • Should the U.S. have avoided confronting Hitler?

Distance from Washington to Berlin: 4,167 miles

DCtoBerlin

  • Should the U.S. ignore the threat posed by Russia?

Distance from Washington to Moscow: 4,857 miles

DCtoMoscow

  • Should the U.S. have allowed North Korea and the People’s Republic of China to take over South Korea?

Distance from Washington to Seoul: 6,933 miles

DCtoSeoul

  • Should the U.S. have skipped the North African campaign in WWII

Distance from Washington to Tobruk, Libya: 5,386 miles

DCtoTobruk

  • Should the U.S. abandon Israel?

Distance from Washington to Jerusalem: 5,897 miles

DCtoJurusalem

  • Should the U.S. ignore the threats posed by the People’s Republic of China? (the only one actually about 7,000 miles away)

Distance from Washington, D.C.to Beijing: 6,928.42 miles

DCtoBeijing

Remind you of anything?

America_First_Rally_flyer_April_4_1941?

 

 

America First: of course.

When Donald Trump laid out his foreign policy agenda on Wednesday, April 27, many of the critical commentators latched on to his statement, “America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. ePhoto/Evan Vucci

“Trump’s New Slogan Has Old Baggage From Nazi Era” was the headline of a Bloomberg column. “America first” and the idea it represented — American neutrality towards the Nazis — has been largely banished from respectable discourse, the column said, in an attempt to discredit Trump.

Critics suggested that Trump was advocating a discredited policy that had been soundly rejected by Americans before WWII. It’s not that simple.

The fact is that until Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans were genuinely divided between interventionism and isolationism. Millions of patriotic Americans believed that it was not in the nation’s interest to get involved again in European turmoil. Some polls showed that in June 1940, American opinion was split two-to-one in favor of staying out of the war, even if it meant Britain losing.

Started on September 4, 1940, the America First Committee, which favored nonintervention in Europe’s war, had 450 chapters across the country at its peak.

America First’s most outspoken leader was Charles Lindbergh, famous for having been the first to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927.

lindberghamericafirst.banner.AP

Lindbergh speaks at an America First Committee rally in Oct. 1941

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, Lindbergh became active in the war effort.

As for America First, it was dissolved on December 10, 1941, three days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

I’m not a big fan of Trump, but attempts to discredit him by his reference to America First are off-base. The hard-headed philosophy of putting America first in foreign policy decisions is not obsolete and Trump’s foreign police prescription is not isolationist.

“No country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. Our friends and enemies put their interests above ours, and we must start doing the same,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the same thing, though in a different way.  “In a democracy as pluralistic as ours, the absence of an articulated ‘national interest’ either produces a fertile ground for those wishing to withdraw from the world or creates a vacuum to be filled by parochial groups and transitory pressures,”she said.

Ensuring a nation’s survival is a critical obligation of a leader in foreign policy. You will not be a successful leader of America if you recoil from the urgency of protecting the national interest, of making America first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correcting history: no more good guys (or girls)

In the face of student protests, Princeton University has decided that while it will retain Woodrow Wilson’s name on the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, it will be transparent about Wilson’s “failings and shortcomings”. A special Woodrow Wilson legacy committee of the Princeton Board of Trustees called for the University “to acknowledge that Wilson held and acted on racist views”.

Some students, under the banner of a Black Justice League, had demanded that Princeton remove Wilson’s name from the school because of his clear racism during his academic and political careers.

So now that we’re on the path of publicly highlighting not just the achievements, but also the warts-and-all failings, of Americans in the context of current thinking, I offer the following new text to accompany all monuments, displays, etc. intended to honor some prominent people.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson

woodrowWilson

Wilson (1856-1924) served honorably as President of Princeton University and as the 28th President of the United States (1913-1921) After WWI, he tried to build an enduring peace through creation of the League of Nations. He was also a leader of the Progressive Movement. In 1918 he endorsed the 19th Amendment whose ratification provided all women the right to vote by its ratification in 1920.

P.S. Arguing that segregation lessened “friction” between the races, Wilson permitted it throughout the government during his presidency. Though Wilson had initially been friendly to the Russian Revolution, his attitude changed once labor strikes, race riots, and anarchist attacks broke out across the United States in 1919. In response, Wilson’s attorney general deported left-wing activists, raided political groups, and arrested thousands. In the words of one historian, Wilson’s “legacy of repression lasted for decades”; his administration’s violation of civil liberties served as a precedent for McCarthyism in the 1950s.

In short, Wilson was a sleazeball.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh

charles-lindbergh-E

Lindbergh (1902-1974), an American aviator, made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927.

P.S. Because of his initial opposition to U.S. entry into WWII, some accused him of being a fascist sympathizer. Also, after his and his wife’s death, it was learned that Lindbergh had maintained three secret families in Europe that included seven out-of-wedlock children borne by three different mothers. So much for the greatness of The Lone Eagle. What a sleazeball.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt-H

Roosevelt, who assumed the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression as 32nd President (1933-1945), guided America through one of its greatest domestic crises and helped lead the Allies to victory over Germany and Japan in WWII.

P.S. Roosevelt cheated on his wife, Eleanor, all over the place, most notably with Lucy Mercer (later Rutherfurd), endorsed the internment of thousands of Japanese, Italian and German aliens and U.S. citizens in American internment camps during WWII, tried to “pack” the U.S. Supreme Court to impose his will, and failed to protect millions of Jews from being slaughtered by Hitler’s armies. In short, he was a cheating, power-hungry, civil rights ignoring sleazeball.

Martin Luther King Jr.

martinlutherKing

Dr. Martin Luther King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

During the years of his leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, African Americans achieved major, genuine progress toward racial equality in America. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speechNobel Peace Prize lecture and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are among the most revered orations and writings in the English language.

P.S. King’s critics accused him of an overblown need for adulation and a complex personal life that included a myriad of affairs during his marriage to Loretta Scott King. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, a close associate of King, said in his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that King had a “weakness for women.”Clayborne Carson—who was engaged by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to compile a collection of her husband’s writings—said extensive portions of the dissertation King prepared for his Ph.D. in theology from Boston University, “A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” was plagiarized. In summary, King was actually a sleazeball.

Suzie Baldwin

SuzieQ

Baldwin, a senior at Princeton University, comes from Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Eastview Prep School as an AP Scholar with distinction. She was captain of the debate team and earned several awards in regional competitions. She also participated in the National Honor Society and student government. At Princeton, she is pursuing a major in Political Science with a minor in Religion. She is a member of the Varsity Equestrian Team and volunteers at the Eastside Homeless Shelter. After graduation, Baldwin intends to travel in Europe, enter Harvard Law School and then work for the ACLU.

P.S. Baldwin, born in 1996, was raised an only child on a massive estate with a thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky where she was a spoiled brat. She frequently threw temper tantrums, both in public and at home, hated to hear the word “no”, refused to clean up and put her toys away, expected to be listened to at all times, and frequently interrupted adult conversations. In high school, Baldwin exuded an air of condescension and was widely disliked by teachers for her unwillingness to listen to opposing points of view. At Princeton, she’s a royal pain-in-the-ass in class, where she constantly insists that “the revolution is coming”.  Baldwin is, in essence, a sleazeball.

John Q. Smith

johnQpublic

Smith, born Feb. 4, 1960, has, to all appearances, lived a fairly ordinary and honorable life. Raised in Hillsboro, OR, during his early summers he sold lemonade in front of his home and sent the proceeds to a local homeless shelter. In high school he played quarterback on the football team and participated in the robotics program. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in accounting, after which he went to work for Precision Castparts in Portland. He is married to the former Jamie Lynn Wilkinson and has two children.

P.S. Smith presents a public picture of himself as a normal, stand-up guy.However, as a child he had a habit of shoplifting items at major retailers, in college he bought liquor for underage fraternity brothers and he hid a brief cheat sheet in his shoe when taking his CPA exam. He repeatedly overvalued his old clothes contributions to Goodwill on his tax returns and fudged on his resume.In addition, at an accounting convention in New Orleans in his 30s, he smoked some marijuana and engaged a prostitute (though he thought, at first, that she was just an attractive woman at the hotel bar). In short, beneath his thin veneer of respectability, Smith is a sleazeball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning – miscreant ahead: the Bill Cosby imbroglio

In a variation of the au courant “trigger warnings” spreading on college campuses, the National Museum of African Art, is warning people about Bill Cosby. The Museum, which is displaying art from the collection of Camille and Bill Cosby, said recently it would remove a sign crediting the Cosbys for the exhibit. Instead, the sign will be be replaced with one saying, “Warning- some of the art you are about to see was loaned by Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.”

In this photo taken Nov. 6, 2014, entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during an interview about the upcoming exhibit, Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington. The Smithsonian Institution is mounting a major showcase of African-American art and African art together in a new exhibit featuring the extensive art collection of Bill and Camille Cosby. More than 60 rarely seen African-American artworks from the Cosby collection will join 100 pieces of African art at the National Museum of African Art. The exhibit “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue,” opens Sunday and will be on view through early 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Not really. The new sign will actually say the exhibition is “fundamentally about the artworks and the artists who created them, not Mr. Cosby.” But the intent is the same.

Are we entering a period when it is obligatory to warn audiences about moral transgressions committed by famous people?

Should the display of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum include a sign saying, “Mr. Lindbergh, while a great aviator, was a serial adulterer who had multiple wives and children”?

Should showings of Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist be preceded by a warning, “Roman Polanski, the director of this film, raped a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and is currently a fugitive from justice”?

Should any event or show involving Mike Tyson include a warning, “Mike Tyson was convicted in Indiana of raping an 18-year-old college student and beauty pageant contestant.”

How about Woody Allen?

woody-allen-Soon-yi

Should all his movies, including his newest, “Irrational Man”, begin with a bold statement, “In 1992, it was learned that Mr. Allen was in a relationship with 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, his girlfriend of over 10 years. Ms. Farrow discovered the relationship when she found nude photos of Previn taken in Allen’s Manhattan duplex. Mr. Allen married Soon-yi in 1997 (ewww!)”

For that matter, should a sign go up everywhere former President Bill Clinton appears in public saying, “Mr. Clinton has been credibly accused of both rape and repeated sexual assaults, paid a former Arkansas state worker, Paula Jones, $850,000 in connection with an assault that occurred when he was governor of Arkansas, and had a sexual relationship with an intern while he was President?”

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Well, maybe the last one is worth considering.