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13 May

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

 

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal marks the temporary suspension of the trans-Atlantic alliance. What now?

© DER SPIEGEL

A DER SPIEGEL Editorial by

Iranian protesters burning U.S. flags after Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

APbIranian protesters burning U.S. flags after Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump’s alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn’t curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that’s what he does.

He backed out of the Paris climate agreement while promising a “better deal for America.” But nothing came of the promise, neither a plan nor meaningful talks. In Trump’s Washington, the only thing that matters is dismantling the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump also promised to improve Obama’s health care plan, but the details are complex and bothersome. So Trump destroyed Obamacare and has done nothing to replace it.

Now, he is playing the same game on the world stage with the Iran nuclear deal. Trump refers to it as “the worst deal ever,” which is why he has now pulled the U.S. out of it. The negotiations that resulted in the deal in 2015 were a masterpiece of international diplomacy, but there are no plans in place to launch new talks.

Trump wants to bring the Iran regime to its knees with sanctions, but domestic political considerations in Tehran make it unlikely that the country will buckle. Leaders who demonstrate weakness in Iran are discarded. It seems more likely that they will close ranks. Iran-supported groups like Hezbollah are likely to pour fuel on the fire of conflicts in Yemen or Lebanon – as close as possible to Israel’s border. Iran presumably won’t pursue the path of extreme escalation, since such a path wouldn’t be beneficial, but it will likely cease allowing observers into the country, stop providing information on its uranium enrichment activities. It will seek to conceal what the West would like to know.

And what are the benefits of Washington’s radical move? There are none. Just chaos where there was once order. Just American capriciousness after decades of stability.

The most shocking realization, however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No. It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side. And what will happen in the remaining two-and-a-half years (or six-and-a-half years) of Trump’s leadership? There is plenty of time left for further escalation.

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Today Venezuela

Venezuelan Opposition Calls for Abstaining From Voting in Presidential Election

The Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition bloc has issued a statement calling on the country’s residents to refrain from participation in the forthcoming snap presidential election.

“Refraining from the participation in this fraudulent vote and leaving the streets empty, leaving [the supporters of the government] alone is a way to show our rejection of Nicolas Maduro’s regime and the May 20 electoral fraud,” the statement read.

According to the opposition organization, the legal vote should take place in December, however, it was rescheduled by the National Constituent Assembly, the legislative body initiated by Maduro.

The opposition also called on Falcon, who had decided to participate in the vote in spite of the joint decision of the opposition, to withdraw its candidacy.

On May 20, the Venezuelans will elect the next president of the nation. There are five candidates for the post: incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, opposition leader Henri Falcon, Reinaldo Quijada, Luis Ratti and Javier Bertucci. Along with the presidential vote, local elections will also take place.

Venezuela, mired in a deep economic crisis, has been facing mass protests since last spring. The rallies were sparked by the country’s top court’s decision to restrict the legislative powers of the parliament as well as the election to the National Constituent Assembly initiated by Maduro with the intention of rewriting the constitution. The National Constituent Assembly has not been recognized by the country’s opposition, the European Union or the United States.

  • Ex-New York mayor: democracy at risk from ‘endless barrage of lies’

  • Bloomberg does not name Trump in Houston university speech

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg: ‘How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?’ Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

Americans are facing an “epidemic of dishonesty” in Washington that is more dangerous than terrorism or communism, according to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In a commencement speech on Saturday at Rice University in Houston, the billionaire said “an endless barrage of lies” and a trend toward “alternate realities” in national politics pose a dire threat to US democracy.

The 76-year-old, who flirted with an independent presidential run in 2016, did not call out any politicians by name. Although he derided Donald Trump as “a con” and a “dangerous demagogue” before his election, in an interview before the speech at Rice Bloomberg refused to comment specifically on the president. Fact checkers have determined that Trump has made hundreds of false and misleading statements since entering the Oval Office.

“This is bigger than any one person,” Bloomberg said. “It’s bigger than any one party.”

In his speech, Bloomberg evoked the legend of the nation’s first president, George Washington, who as a boy supposedly said he could not tell a lie when asked if he cut down a cherry tree.

“How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?” Bloomberg asked. He blamed “extreme partisanship” for an unprecedented tolerance of dishonesty in US politics and said people were now committed more to their political tribes than the truth, suggesting that the nation is more divided than any time since the civil war.

“There is now more tolerance for dishonesty in politics than I have seen in my lifetime,” Bloomberg said. “The only thing more dangerous than dishonest politicians who have no respect for the law is a chorus of enablers who defend their every lie.”

For example, he noted that Democrats spent much of the 1990s defending President Bill Clinton against charges of lying and personal immorality, just as Republicans attacked the lack of ethics and honesty in the White House. The reverse is happening today, he said.

In one jab at Trump, he noted that the vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is real. Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly called climate change a hoax promoted by America’s adversaries.

“If 99% of scientists whose research has been peer-reviewed reach the same general conclusion about a theory, then we ought to accept it as the best available information – even if it’s not a 100% certainty,” Bloomberg said. He added, in a direct reference to Trump’s past remarks: “That, graduates, is not a Chinese hoax.”

He warned that such deep levels of dishonesty could enable what he called “criminality”. Asked what specifically he meant, Bloomberg noted “lots of investigations” going on, but he declined to be more specific.

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Donald Trump’s torpedoing of the Iran nuclear deal on highly specious and misleading grounds is an act of wanton diplomatic vandalism fraught with dangers. While the 2015 agreement may not yet be wholly sunk, it is holed below the waterline. Many in Tehran will see the sweeping reimposition of US sanctions as a declaration of war. As for Trump, he has once again proved himself the master of chaos.

This aggressive bid to further isolate Iran appears designed to ultimately enforce regime change. In the short-term it will destroy remaining mutual goodwill, undermine pro-western Iranian opinion, empower hardliners, trigger an oil price crisis, and increase the risk of conflict centred on Syria and Israel. It raises the spectre of a regional nuclear arms race, and damages the western alliance to the advantage, among others, of Russia. It is a Crimea-sized blow to the primacy of international law.

Yet Trump’s short-sighted folly, far from being unprecedented, is entirely consistent with a long history of similarly disastrous Middle East policy missteps by previous US presidents. The region is littered with the corpses of momentously misconceived and wrong-headed US policies, spawned by the same noxious mix of ignorance and arrogance now permeating the White House. In this respect, Trump is no different from many of his modern predecessors.

Iran, as ever, is a case in point. The 1979-81 Tehran hostage crisis is usually referenced by those seeking to explain enduring, official US enmity. It’s true America’s national humiliation was considerable, and Jimmy Carter paid the political price. But the Iranian people’s real offence was not the embassy siege. It was their presumptuous overthrow of the shah’s autocratic, pro-American regime in the 1979 revolution.

The US and the UK, after all, had gone to considerable trouble in 1953 to keep Iran in line, covertly ousting its democratically elected government of prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their loss of influence, consequent on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s assertion of absolutist clerical rule, was the product of their own machinations. Here was the genesis of lethal US backing for Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The fight to repel Saddam’s invasion took 300,000 Iranian lives. Its cost, and causes, are not forgotten. Close by the Khomeini mausoleum south of Tehran, I once walked among the well-tended, shaded graves of hundreds of “martyrs” interred in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. The war was a national trauma. Yet there has been no US apology, nor any thought of one. Although the US finally turned on Saddam in 1990, although Iran helped track al-Qaida following the 2001 attacks, and even though the nuclear deal elicited significant concessions, venomously irrational, unmitigated US hostility persists.

Among the many US-fomented catastrophes in the Middle East, George W Bush’s 2003 decision to invade Iraq without a plan was a standout moment, unrivalled in its strategic incoherence and staggering incompetence. It destabilised Iraq territorially and economically. Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric and “global war on terror” fuelled sectarian violence and jihadism, playing midwife to Islamic State. And the ensuing, lengthy occupation failed to entrench inclusive democratic governance, as this weekend’s Iraq elections may again demonstrate.

Ronald Reagan used covert Middle East arms sales to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Likewise, the US armed the Afghan mujahideen, then blanched as they morphed into the Taliban. George HW Bush liberated Kuwait in 1991 only to betray Iraq’s Kurds and Shias when they demanded liberation, too.

Bill Clinton tried to end the Palestine-Israeli conflict, inspiring great optimism. I recall standing on the White House’s south lawn in 1993 as Clinton physically pulled Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin together for a reluctant handshake that had taken decades in coming. “Enough of blood and tears, enough … The time for peace has come,” Rabin solemnly declared.

But the time had not come. Blood continued to flow. Clinton’s efforts to play honest broker failed, like those of other American presidents, because, ultimately, the just claims of the Palestinians always proved unequal to Israel’s political, emotional, and financial clout in Washington. Far from endowing peace in Palestine, US policy has underwritten a deepening divide, the expansion of illegal settlements, and now the provocative recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Arafat and Rabin are both dead. So too, almost, is the two-state solution.

In the decades after the Suez Crisis in 1956, when Britain and France were shoved aside, successive US administrations war-gamed the Middle East as part of a bigger strategic contest with the Soviet Union. If that meant propping up pro-western dictators such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the Saudi and Gulf monarchs, then so be it. Yet as Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, conceded in Cairo in 2005, it was a self-defeating policy. “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither,” she said.

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