Clinton versus Trump: How It Might Matter for the Middle East

3 Sep

 

[Prefatory Note: An earlier version was published on September 1, 2016 in Middle East Eye. This version is modified, and its title slightly changed.]

When it comes to foreign policy, it seems at first glance to be a no brainer. Hilary Clinton is experienced, knowledgeable, intelligent, an internationalist, known and respected around the world. In contrast, Donald Trump repeatedly shoots himself in the foot and others elsewhere, seems clueless on the complexities of the world, makes such reckless hyper-nationalist boasts about how he will crush enemies and make allies squirm. Such posturing makes people everywhere fearful, hostile and even wondering whether the American citizenry as a whole is collectively experiencing a psychotic episode by taking seriously such an outlandish candidate.

 

Choosing Between Militarism or Isolationism

Yet a closer look makes the choice between these two candidates less obvious, and more interesting, although not more encouraging, especially if the focus is what the election might mean for the Middle East. One of the few consistent positions taken by Trump is to voice his deep skepticism about regime-changing interventions in the region, especially Iraq and Libya, and the accompanying expensive delusions of former presidents, as well as Clinton, about policies aimed at producing democracies. As expected, Trump has some awkward inconsistencies in his earlier pronouncements on these issues if you bother to check out what he had to say a few years ago. Still, his present opposition to military interventions in the Middle East has been consistently expressed throughout the presidential campaign. His essential position is summarized by his own words: “After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before.” What follows, then, is the likelihood that Trump will oppose intervention in the Middle East unless there is a clear connection present with a terrorist threat directed at the United States posed by ISIS, and maybe al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

 

Clinton has a consistently hawkish record in foreign policy, which she tried her best to put out of sight during the primary competition with Bernie Sanders, whose progressive views were surprisingly similar to Trump on this central question of military intervention in the Middle East. During her time as Secretary of State (2009-2012), including shaping policy toward Russia, China, Afghanistan, and in the Middle East, Clinton over and over again pushed President Obama hard to adopt more militarist and confrontational positions, most visibly in the region with respect to American military involvement in Libya and Syria. When visiting Libya shortly after Qaddafi was brutally executed in 2011 by rebels when captured in a Libyan town, Clinton chillingly observed, “We came, we saw, he died.” It was a revealing comment, a kind of cold-hearted gallows geopolitical quip.

 

 

Stability First or America First?

 

It is also relevant that Clinton’s regional grand strategy was premised on keeping friendly dictators in power even in the face of overwhelmingly popular uprisings, disclosed rather starkly in her lobbying efforts to stand by Mubarak in his hour of troubles with the Egyptian people back in 2011. Although she now downplays her support for the 2003 aggressive war in Iraq launched against the regime of Saddam Hussein, she clearly supported at its outset the most disastrous American foreign policy decision since the United States committed itself in the mid-1960s so heavily to the losing side in the Vietnam War. Not only did the attack on Iraq bring many deaths, much devastation, massive displacement, and lasting chaos to Iraq and its people, but the long American-led occupation spread disorder beyond Iraqi borders, and was an important contributing cause to the origins and rise of ISIS.

 

Yet, despite these Clinton policy misjudgments in the Middle East, isn’t the world still better off with the steady hand of Clinton than the wildly impulsive Trump. Her morbid quip struck hard at what this distinction could mean: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” Such anxiety is intensified as soon as we realize that there are no political checks limiting the capacity of an American president to use nuclear weapons. This makes us aware of how people everywhere despite their huge stake in prudent American leadership, play no role in determining the outcome of a presidential election in the United States. It may be time to consider a plan to enfranchise the whole world to have a vote of some kind in American national elections if the ideal of global democracy and the rule of law are ever to achieve political traction.

 

Trump has made a number of assertions about nuclear weapons that not only challenge decades of Western conventional wisdom, but also strike fear in the hearts of people wherever they are, including the Middle East. In his preoccupation with conserving American financial resources Trump has suggested that it might not be a bad thing for Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons, and then take over responsibility for their own security. Supposedly he asked a friend, “Why can’t we use nukes?” True, such assertions are not necessarily indicative of what Trump would do as president in the Middle East but neither should they be ignored. Trump seems neo-isolationist in overall outlook, which means fewer international commitments and a desperate search for ways to cut overseas expenditures. It is possible that his unwillingness to give unquestioned support to the nonproliferation regime that has frozen the nuclear status quo for decades might generate a renewed push for phased, total nuclear disarmament, the only decent and reliable long-term solution.

 

There are other worries. Trump opposes the Iran nuclear deal, probably the most constructive diplomatic initiative taken during the eight years of the Obama presidency. Trump thinks it was a terrible deal since it “gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing.” Scrapping the agreement, or even failing to live up to its commitments, endangers an unraveling of the whole normalizing relationship of Iran within the Middle East, and could tempt Israel to launch some kind of preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities or even give rise to an extremely dangerous nuclear arms race in the region. It should be noted, in passing, that both Trump and Clinton have tied themselves so firmly to the mast of pro-Israeli alignment as to be blind to the desirability of promoting a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone, a proposal that enjoys the support of every Middle Eastern government except Israel, and would probably do more to stabilize the region than any other single initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

Regressive Ideology

 

Thinking that Clinton is more reliable than Trump may be more a matter of style than substance. Supposedly she did not oppose giving Israel a green light to attack Iran during her period as Secretary of State. Also worrisome is her long undisguised admiration for the warped wisdom of Henry Kissinger, and even Robert Kagen, considered the most militarist member of the neoconservative inner circle, and despite being closely identified in the past with Republicans, has endorsed Clinton, and reportedly acts as the most prominent advisor in her foreign policy braintrust. It is hardly a surprise that 50 self-proclaimed Republican national security specialists publicly endorsed Clinton over Trump, but it is a marker of how unusual this contest for the American presidency has become. As has been often observed, Clinton is of the foreign policy/national security establishment that has brought to where we are now, while Trump is seen as a potential spoiler who might pursue policies that would cause structural disintegration and with it, the collapse of the neoliberal economic order, that is, ‘the Washington consensus.’

 

Trump, too, boasts of his meetings with Kissinger, as some kind of certification of his worthiness that overcomes his amateurish qualifications for high political office. Yet his opinions adopt lines of thought that are probably an anathema to this aged master of real politik. Clinton, of course, has reflected more and longer on such matters, and in an effort to please all sides opts for what she is calling ‘smart power,’ a customized blend of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power that is supposed to be responsive to the complexities of shaping foreign policy in the early 21st century. The Clinton formula, not unlike that of other recent mainstream candidates in the U.S., is designed to please as much as possible the warlords of the Pentagon, the wizards of Wall Street, and the champions of Israel, or at least not distress any of these three nodes of American geopolitical primacy.

 

With these profiles as a background, can we predict the foreign policy of a Clinton or Trump presidency in the Middle East? It is possible to make more reliable guesses about Clinton because she has made some of her positions already clear: an escalation of support for anti-Assad Syrian forces (except ISIS), a hardening of diplomatic bargaining with Iran in carrying out the nuclear agreement, a further upgrading of the ‘special relationship’ with Israel, and no change of course with respect to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the other Western-leaning autocracies in the region. In addition, a possible recommitment of American military forces in Iraq, and especially robust military action against political extremism throughout the region,

 

Trump can be expected to indulge his neo-isolationist inclinations, likely moving policy in an opposite direction, withdrawing American combat forces and downgrading military bases in the region, in effect, a pivot away from the Middle East. The exception would seem to be his extravagant pledge to crush ISIS, whatever that might mean in practice, especially as it already seems almost crushed. The related idea of imposing an absolute ban on Muslim immigration to the US, if enacted, is likely to have disastrous blowback effects, fanning the flames of Muslim civilizational discontent.

 

If voting for an American president was only about the Middle East, I would rate the candidates as a tossup, but it isn’t. When the American domestic scene is taken into account, as well the rest of the world, Clinton holds the clear edge unless one feels so disgusted her candidacy as to write in Bernie Sanders on the ballot or cast a vote of conscience for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. I remain uncertain as to which of these choices to make.

 

My liberal friends become angry when even such a possibility is mentioned. They still blame the Ralph Nader candidacy in the 2000 election for depriving Al Gore from a victory in Florida, and thus a national victory over George W. Bush. I remain puzzled by and opposed to such a logic. Why allow third party candidates to seek public office if the pundits view it as irresponsible, or worse, to vote for them if the best candidate? Or maybe, it is okay to vote for them if your state is not ‘a swing state,’ but that again means that it is more important to vote for the lesser of evils to avoid the greater of evils rather than to vote for the best candidate. I take a more nuanced position. It depends on how evil is the greater of evils compared to the lesser evil, and whether this seems to matter. At present, if I were in a swing state I would vote for Clinton, although reluctantly (domestic issues and nuclear weapons policy), but since I live in California I will probably vote for Jill Stein. Somehow I wish Bernie Sanders had wrestled with this dilemma rather than uncritically adopting the liberal consensus, which given Clinton’s slide to the right since the Democratic Party convention should keep him awake some nights.

33 Responses to “Clinton versus Trump: How It Might Matter for the Middle East”

  1. Gene Schulman September 3, 2016 at 5:08 am #

    I think this is a rather naive attitude. There is not an iota of difference between Clinton and Trump. From policies to hair-dos. Both are beholden to and submissive to the “Deep State” and will do as told. The same holds true of Sanders and Stein. The elections are only a diversion from who really runs the world. Gore won the election in 2000, but Bush was appointed president, nevertheless. Voting is meaningless. Until the American public wakes up and decides to revolt, ’twill ever be thus.

    • Richard Falk September 3, 2016 at 8:11 am #

      At least, Gene, you have cleared yourself of the accusation of being my ‘admirer,’
      which was only said in the past to denigrate both of us.

      Actually, I think you carry structuralism too far. There are people who suffer more or less
      depending on who is elected, and it is irresponsible for those us that are insulated mostly
      from such behavior to ignore what impacts heavily on the daily lives of the most vulnerable
      among us.

      Richard

      • Gene Schulman September 3, 2016 at 9:43 am #

        Yes, I should have prefaced my harsh remark with “all due respects, Richard.” 😉

        As for structuralism, my point was that elections are meaningless, and who gets elected/appointed is also meaningless. Elections, as far as I can see, don’t make daily lives any less vulnerable.

        Re Ray’s idea (below) of enfranchising the world to vote in US elections only widens lack of meaning.

      • Richard Falk September 3, 2016 at 9:54 am #

        Gene: ‘Meaningless’ is a big word. I strongly suspect that many intelligent vulnerable people would
        not agree, even if they deeply wished that elections were more meaningful.

        And on global enfranchisement: the effort itself would be mobilizing, and raising consciousness. If the
        species lies down in despair it will disappear, which as I think you may have pointed out, is far from a tragedy
        for other forms of life on the planet.

      • Gene Schulman September 3, 2016 at 11:17 am #

        Richard, I think this think piece is relevant to our discussion:

        I know, allegations, allegations, only allegations. Well, like conspiracy theories, some of them are true. Most of these are so obviously true that one has to be an ostrich not to see them. Most everyone loves the political philosopher George Carlin (RIP), and laugh at his routines. But how many of us listened or believed what he said (no man is a profit in his own land). Now, it just may be too late.

        G

        http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45402.htm

      • Richard Falk September 3, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

        Gene:

        The article is interesting but hardly conclusive. I am reacting to what seem to me to be exaggerations, which make
        any effort seem futile. This may turn out to be the case, but history shows that we are not smart enough to KNOW that.
        It is still worth struggling for the world we believe in..

  2. ray032 September 3, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    Greetings, Richard! Observing this Election from CanaDa, it often appears to me the choice is BAD or WORSE this year?

    “It may be time to consider a plan to enfranchise the whole world to have a vote of some kind in American national elections if the ideal of global democracy and the rule of law are ever to achieve political traction”.

    This strikes a chord in me. I’ve often thought how un-Democratic the exercise of American Power is in this world. I’ve often resented the fact Americans behave as though the world is their private oyster, and they can rule this world according to their exclusive National interests, disregarding or diminishing all others.

    If that be the case, as a Canadian in this larger world America wants to conform to it’s image, I should have a vote in who should lead, and your comment reinforces a belief I have long held, if this world is going to turn back from the Road To Destruction I see it is currently on.

    • Richard Falk September 3, 2016 at 8:13 am #

      Thanks, Ray. Your supportive comment on this issue of global enfranchisement means a lot to me. I wonder
      if we should write something jointly that develops this theme with a more detailed argument. Richard

      • ray032 September 4, 2016 at 3:16 am #

        Richard, I am honoured you would suggest such a collaboration with me. You are a Writer. I may be able to turn a phrase or two into something meaningful occasionally.

        Just the other day I posted this on my Public Face Book News Feed:
        Reading this Today, apart from the substance in the article itself, tells me I still have a long way to go before I can consider myself a ‘Writer’ even if I do have 79 articles posted to my personal Blog.
        Inspiration that helps you to reach goals, even if only baby steps toward realizing them, is always good!

        http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/210838/the-problem-is-the-occupation

  3. Carlos September 3, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    Looking from Australia, and knowing that we
    too would become part of the ‘destruction’
    of the species, I think that both you Richard
    and Ray of Canada, are wishfully thinking for
    a global vote. Let’s face it democracy is dead,
    distorted beyond recognition or repair.
    The challenges that face us are huge: especially climate change. I think we have to dispense with nations, that have caused so much competition, and think Planet.
    Like in Hobbes Leviathan, we need a strong leader, but a benevolent figure, to make
    decisions for us, someone like Mandela
    or Desmond Tutu. A leader. Someone with
    authority but compassion. Too fanciful? Maybe
    but we are desperately in need of a leader.

    • Richard Falk September 3, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

      Maybe dying, but not yet dead. It is a time for ‘wishful thinking’ as alternative to despair.

      I agree about leadership and adopting a planetary perspective, but how? A step in that direction is
      to make the case for globalizing ‘democracy.’ It is not going to happen, but given the way the world
      is organized, it should happen. The US operates as a ‘global state’ and non-Americans have a large stake
      in the public policies it adopts. Being ‘fanciful’ is as valuable as ‘wishful thinking,’ given the perilous times!

      • ray032 September 4, 2016 at 5:56 am #

        I’m with you in thinking positively, Richard, having hope when despair abounds that humans can change the course of the human race, even when it appears that race is to the bottom.

        I take hope from the short Jonah in the Whale Bible story I read as allegory, except it did become real for this world when ISIS destroyed Jonah’s tomb in Nineveh in 2014.

        God told Jonah the people of that world City Nineveh are on a course of self-destruction and I want you to go tell them if they don’t change, they will destroy themselves.

        Jonah tried to escape doing that. Who wants to be a buzz kill? Like Jonah, most people Today wilfully remain blind, trying to escape facing the unfolding reality. It’s so easy to think it’s someone else’s problem.

        We have come full circle, and the situation facing that ancient world City Nineveh is now facing this modern material world.

        When I came alive to the Spirit of God in me February 1st, 1975, it was so Great, I was thinking the kingdom of Heaven was going to reveal itself to the whole world within 3 years. That would have been in 1978. Boy! Was I wrong in the Timing!

        How can a Finite mind reason with the Eternal as we are all called to do? Obviously, with Patience and Reverence.

        Getting back to the Hope in the 2900 year old Jonah story. Jonah in the whale in the allegorical sense, means Jonah finally came to his senses with no other choice but to do what must be done. Someone has to do it.

        Jonah wanted to see Nineveh destroyed even though the people responded positively to his message.

        There is a dynamic at play with this insight, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”

        Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you.
        But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

        For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

        Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
        And now abides Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.

  4. Laurie Knightly September 3, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

    Nothing ‘naive’ about this evaluation of depressing candidate selection due in November. The Supreme Court is just one factor to consider. There are church/state issues also – very important to the public. Trump has promised to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment which would free churches to become political action committees. Pence has stated that the GOP will remain focused on opposing legal abortion and marriage equality. Of course, we know that what candidates say and what they do differs considerably. Judging them is speculative at best but they vary markedly in political ambitions. I think Clinton wants to rule the world and Trump would prefer isolation. They are both control freaks.

    Yes! Magazine lists 5 reasons to vote when you hate everything on the ballot. 1. People who vote the least have the most to lose. [Immigration primarily.] 2. There is always a third party. 3 Voting in high, or low numbers can have serious consequences. 4. Let them know you exist and that you’re not satisfied – write in a name. 5. Consider all the people who have an important opinion but can’t vote.

    Now as to the reference – ‘admirers’. Oxford English 1. A woman’s suitor. 2. a person who admires, esp a devotee of an able or famous person.
    Devotee 1. A zealous enthusiast or supporter. 2. a zealously pious or fanatical person.
    [Very demeaning description as was intended.]

    With me, it’s about trust. When I differ, and I do, there’s never a question about the motives of one Prof Richard Falk. The objective is consistent with the blog title, Global Justice, and I have never had the slightest reason to think otherwise. In these days fraught with extremely disappointing public figures, it matters considerably……….

    • Gene Schulman September 4, 2016 at 7:16 am #

      Taking your paragraphs one at a time:

      I think it is naive to believe that much would change given the sayings and records of the two candidates. Even the Supreme Court. I can’t imagine either would change its direction with new appointments. I stand by my belief that Clinton has already been appointed and will be the next president.

      The magazine lists its reasons on the assumption that voting counts. It doesn’t. The voting machines are rigged, and no one bothers to count the other votes. The Supreme Court just throws then away.

      My admiration is more in the sense of respect and approval, there is no piety or fanaticism in it.

      I would never impugn Prof. Falk’s motives I have full trust in his sincerity and sense of justice. Hence, my admiration. But that doesn’t prevent me from differing with him on the Omega point!

      • Laurie Knightly September 4, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

        Gene: So you think Obama’s election was a fraud and the impressive voter turnout had no effect? McCain and Palin – what’s the difference? Yes, there’s voter tampering but maybe it was against Lieberman and Palin. Who know? Or Gore’s environmental advocacy is just for us little people – check the mansions’ energy use.
        Lieberman said the Catholic Church is a whore and God worked with Hitler to get the Jews back in Israel. How does that compare with Trump?

        The primaries and delegate system are egregious problems. The money involved is a disgrace. Who could spend years getting elected – which is a full time job? And my point about the word ‘naive’ is that we’ve been trying to get commenters to state their differences without personal insult to another. Your opinions/points are valid here and I’m only suggesting that they should/could stand alone……..

      • Gene Schulman September 4, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

        Laurie: I’m afraid I do believe Obama’s election was a fraud. The powers that be, and there are powers that be, had decided it was time to install a Democrat in office to make us forget Bush. It was to be either the black man or the woman, so the progressives would be silenced. A coin was flipped and the black man won. Hillary could await her turn. After eight years of hypocritical, lying, Obama, it is now her turn. She is the ‘chosen’. No matter how much we can see through this charade, she WILL be the next president.

        Surely you’re joking about Palin, Gore, Lieberman, et al. Never had a chance.

        A thumbs up for Ceylan’s essay (below). Not only does she get it right on voting, but she has a fellow admirer of Saramago.

      • Laurie Knightly September 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

        Gene: Very much agree regarding the primaries being a sham – which I did convey – including Obama/Hillary deal making. Ditto for the Bernie Sanders shafting. Obama’s win in election, however, depended on voters.

        Palin and Lieberman were very poor VP candidates and affected the outcomes in those contests. The upcoming election is unusually fraught with cynicism/despair. They should offer free drinks at the polls – or strong whiskey coupons.

  5. Kata Fisher September 3, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    Professor Falk:

    You noted: ” since I live in California I will probably vote for Jill Stein..”
    You may be stating so because your conscience is not telling you otherwise right now, and I hope that will continue so.

    This is what I understand:
    You really understand what this means – your conscience is telling you: “You must vote your conscience.”

    I see no despair, at all. There is the choice to “vote your conscience or not vote at all.”

    I do understand that is not grave harm to legitimately direct anyone’s conscience. I also believe that besides politicians and Church – lawyer and diplomats can take spiritual authority over human conscience – be it individually or corporately. I do understand that individual and corporate conscience is just overmanipulated and folks can not make rational ways out of all this chaos.

    This is what I understand:

    This election has Jill Stein on the ballot – where she is on the ballot – she will get votes of conscience. I have no doubt about that. It will happen.

    This is what I understand: Not to vote for Ms Stein where she is on the ballot – due to the fear “not voting for Ms Clinton will make Democrats in the shortfall – allowing for a win of Republicans” is and would be a huge error of understanding and of skewing one’s own conscience. I am not suggesting that anyone should be doing this doubt-hunting to themselves – but there are so many folks that are doing just so to themeless … are out there are confused nowadays that they do not know what to do about this election. I believe that Republicans and Independent folks may feel the same way.

    The fact is that politicians have huge spiritual authority over one’s conscience is not helping a lot and more grief to that is that busy day and all happenings do not really allow folks to reflect what is going on around them. Or they have a good idea and understanding what is going on – but do not think or believe that they have – or could have effective choices.

    There are effective choices – voting one’s conscience or not voting at all is what it should be.

    I would not be surprised to see Jill Stein elected – just because few more folks decided to vote their conscience – or not to vote at all. This can happen, and I believe that she can come out strong and win in November.

    There is a lot going on – and most of the folks do not pay attention to the ways that can flip things over into a revolution that is birthing all around.

    I am personally stressed out in my conscience about Nuclear warming – I just do understand it how fast it can be out of human control – ending entire ages. It has to be restrained.

    Also, I do not like that coastland are being swept off – according to the scientist a few years ago this was just in a theory – but now coastlands are being swept off. Some things are just pre-curser and foreshadowing grave dangers and threats. It has to be restrained.

    When comes to the environment – human race does not even understand all threats to itself and how fast those threats are shaped, sining out of control.

    Hopefully, we and all other species on this earth could have more than 100 years of existence – this is in my most rational estimate in my conscience.

    Things that are bad for the environment will and can wipe some/all areas/species rationally would have to be in grip right now – there are no rational short and long term resolutions on issues such as Nuclear warming/Global Warming.

  6. Ceylan September 4, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    Dearest Richard,

    Once again, I believe, you are an incurable optimist in par with Stephen Hawking who warns that,

    “The human race faces one its most dangerous centuries yet as progress in science and technology becomes an ever greater threat to our existence”.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jan/19/stephen-hawking-warns-threats-to-humans-science-technology-bbc-reith-lecture

    And adds,
    “It’s important to ensure that these changes are heading in the right directions. In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future.
    “So communicate plainly what you are trying to do in science, and who knows, you might even end up understanding it yourself.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35344664

    As an optimist democrat, as you try to communicate the meaningless or meaningful “basic understanding of science of world politics to make informed decisions about the future”, simple logic could conclude that USA is the biggest threat to humanity & the planet hence agree with you that “global citizens” should have a say/right on the US elections.

    But, . . .as said, voting does not help solve the problem or the cause; there should be a more effective way to make those handful so called, democratically elected leaders to see where they are leading the planet & humanity.

    As I am writing this I reach out to my pack of Rothmans on which there is a warning sign that says: “Smoking kills”.
    As I always argue, why ban smoking instead of its production?

    Production of cars, computers, fridges, etc., kill the environment thus people;
    Production of arms, nukes, chemicals, biochemistry, and on etc., kills;
    As Hawking says, technology kills;
    I add, greed, power, hatred, religion, voting kills, in short those who kill are people, people kill!
    How can we reverse this “kill culture” to have “global justice in the 21st century, and peace”?

    Trump, Hillary, Stein what difference would they make on the lives of millions of refugees, homeless, jobless, replaced, arrested?
    Do they sincerely care, give a damn?

    No, I believe there should be a more effective way to make a point rather than voting. Maybe, globally boycotting by not buying/using cars, computers, something that will hurt them economically since their GOD is money and the power attached to it.

    Or, as global citizens of the world we could all boycott elections all over the world and choose not to vote.
    For this I recommend anyone to read my hero writer late Saramago’s “Seeing”.
    Here is an old review on “Seeing” before Saramago passed away:
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/apr/15/featuresreviews.guardianreview16

    May GODDESS save us from politicians,
    Ceylan

    • Richard Falk September 5, 2016 at 9:03 am #

      Dearest Ceylan: From great height en route Istanbul-LA. We also share a deep affection for Saramago; a hero worth sharing.

      I will write more later, but I am a curable optimist, if ever I made such a slip. For decades I was telling my students that
      none of us is smart enough to be either optimist or pessimist, and thus if we are awake we should struggle for what we believe
      is right. Of course, a minority position. Hawking’s warnings helpful. That American selection of president would not make a difference
      on all issues, but would for SOME issues, and that is why I find my friend Gene to be overly dismissive of the American electoral process.
      It is fine to be highly critical but not retreat into the domain of absolutes.

      And yes, may the goddess descend in time!!!!

      love, Richard

  7. Beau Oolayforos September 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    I hope you are mistaken, to imply that Kagan is part of Hillary’s “brain”trust. That would be truly disappointing.

  8. Laurie Knightly September 8, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    Gene: Yes, there was a documentary a few years ago showing the voting machine being rigged. This is one reason why it’s important to vote in large numbers. They can’t rig large numbers – so far… But there’s ample evidence to distrust this type of voting – agreed.

    Also, I stated that Trump favors isolation and that was my impression from one of his statements. We were not to intervene militarily around the world. It’s folly to be certain regarding his wordings. Now he’s ready to bomb ISIS but can’t reveal his secret plan at this time. Maybe one of them is worse than the other – or does one just sound worse?

    • Richard Falk September 9, 2016 at 8:11 am #

      Laurie: Your question at the end is really the crux of the challenge for what one might call ‘the
      dilemma of the conscientious voter’; they both seem below the threshold of minimal decency for different
      reasons, and so the the Green option currently is my choice. Greetings, Richard

      • Gene Schulman September 9, 2016 at 8:52 am #

        Richard,

        If only Green were an option. Those votes won’t be counted either.

        Apologies for constant cynicism.

        Laurie,

        It’s not even a matter of rigging. If the trend is not in their favor, they’ll just hand it on to the Supreme Court, like in Bush/Gore, 2000!

      • Richard Falk September 9, 2016 at 10:27 am #

        Gene, Laurie:

        I too am skeptical, but I think we must live with a greater degree of uncertainty than cynicism implies.
        Without uncertainty, there is little incentive to participate in struggle for a better future, large and
        small.

        Richard

  9. Schlüter September 9, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    additional to the general despair over the two main candidates I´m befallen by a frightening “Vision” hitting my mind a couple of days ago. I´d like to share this fear here (sorry):
    One and a half decade after Nine Eleven: another False Flag?
    The real US Power Elite might count just 100 People. It is made up of the super rich, the „Military Industrial Complex“ (of which already Eisenhower warned) and the most influential heads of the „Intelligence“ community and the military. Since Kennedy´s assassination no US President ever dared to go massively against the will of that Power Elite. But still there might be too much of Democracy in the US according to the taste of those 100 people.
    Now we see the elections coming up in the US. We see a female warmonger, who´s got the support of the Neocon Power Elite, shown by Kagan, Kissinger, Wolfowitz. But she also seems to have serious problems. Her health seems shaking. More and more „casualitues“ around her and her husband surface. Alternative media talk about the „Clinton Body Count“. Adding to this are scandalous email cases regarded by many as treason. Leaving alone the financial scandals.
    It appears strange for the US Power Elite to “bet” on a “lame horse”, though even Presidents with health problems could be domesticated.
    A while ago I made a prediction: if Trump´s chances to win the race increase, something nasty could happen to him. The „lone weird gunman“ might already be waiting. Could I´ve been wrong and things might go the other way round?
    A New „Business Plot“ under way?
    In 1933 part of the US Power Elite planned the aborted „Business Plot”, showing the readiness of the super rich to do away with US Democracy. Those days power wasn´t as concentrated as today. What if another Business Plot, another „False Flag“ is on the way? The US Power Elite has „qualified“ for such a thing already with „Nine Eleven“, preparing the way for the War of Terror against the World and civil rights.
    Let me present a possible setup: those media controled by the Power Elite have already tried to tie Russia to the Wikileaks publications. They´ve tried hard to present Trump almost as Putin´s agent and accuse Russia of planing to electonically rigg the US Elections.
    Could the „Deep State“ of the US be planing to liquidate the weird sick woman Clinton and present it as a Russian Secret Service operation?! The „answer“ could be the „State of Emergency“. It could be declared “in order” not to let the US fall into the hands of „Putin´s Agent“ Trump. And quite a number of people might be happy to have the „Freak“ prevented. Democracy might be suspended for „the better of the US“. That might cause an uprising but strange things are already reported about FEMA camps. US Society would go full swing into militarization, even much more than already done. The „allies“, maybe better called vassals, might hardly say something out of fear, the „terror might come“.
    Apocalypse Now?!
    Andreas Schlüter
    Sociologist

    My articles on the USA: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/list-of-my-articles-on-the-usa/

  10. Kata Fisher September 10, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    A Note:

    This video-link explains why voting machines may be manipulated – why folks are purposely and actually illegally given some voting ballots that are kicked out from counting-votes.

    It seems to me that this may be worth full reflection and explanation, as well. It seems to me that there is little understanding what manipulated/edited/altered voting system actually means.

    I am still mulling around and I do not know if I should ever pursue American citizenship since it just never has or could happen for me – but just in case ever do – which I totally doubt that ever will just because of the “culture of death” – I may think about voting, too – and in that case … I should really appreciate understanding what happens to the votes of conscience (some/all), in actual/real terms – in advance.

    • Helen Marshall September 27, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      Thank you for pointing this out. Voting in GOP-controlled Texas, for example, which has virtually no paper records other than the absentee ballot, I would wager there is zero chance that Trump and the down-ballot Republican candidates will “win.” Making it at least possible to contemplate not voting for the “alternative evil.”

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  1. Clinton contro Trump: quanto potrebbe contare per il Medio Oriente - September 4, 2016

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