Salman Rushdie is Stabbed

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The distinguished writer was stabbed in public yesterday, in Chautauqua, N.Y., as he prepared to speak to an audience on the subject of America as a place for freedom of expression.
He had just taken his seat when the assailant went up on stage and started stabbing him.
Early reports speak of serious injuries to the liver, arm and the loss of an eye.
A religious edict to kill Mr Rushdie was issued in 1989, a year after the publication of his ‘Satanic Verses’ which was seen by Muslim authorities as blasphemous.
Iran’s current leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said that the edict to kill the writer remained valid.
And now the assault has happened.
While living in Britain the author had police protection for 9 years. He’s lived in the US for the last 20 years both writing and teaching.
We’re told by the Chautauqua Institution, the host for the event, that state troopers were in attendance, for security purposes. I wonder why they weren’t near the stage, to bar a potential assailant. Or did they think the assailant would come down the hall draped in an Iranian flag as he shouted ‘death to Rushdie!’
Someone was not doing their job.
Recently, our Justice department charged an Iranian national with plotting to murder former security adviser Michael Bolton. Luckily, that action was intercepted.
But who will be next?
And so I ask, what’s the point of proceeding with a nuclear deal with Iran?
They can’t be trusted, no matter what they say or sign.
As those negotiations proceed, they’re starting to send drones to Russians so more Ukrainians will get killed.
Iranians are not hiding anything from us. They are being very clear. It is us that need to wipe clean our eyes and see them for what they are.
They’ll try anything. It wasn’t long ago that they were insisting that, as part of the negotiations, their Revolutionary Guards no longer be labelled terrorists. But that is what the Guards do.
As I understand it, if the nuclear deal is reenacted, we will be paying Iran billions of dollars in compensation for having broken the treaty during the Trump administration.
So, we give Iran money so they can build drones for Russians to kill Ukrainians and then also order operatives to come into our country to kill our former government officials?
It’s time to part company and stop trying to make a deal.
We should trust that, eventually, the forces of reason in Iran, will topple their oppressive theocracy. It is those people, now suffering under the weight of repression, who need our support. Not the Iranian governing class.
As for Mr Rushdie, I’m deeply saddened that this happened because it was preventable.
Ayatollah Khamenei should be charged with inciting the assault on Mr Rushdie and tried in the International Criminal Court.
And we must prepare for whatever has to be done.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts.

An Unnecessary War

Trump is on the verge of ordering an attack on Iran.

If he had not pulled out of the agreement with that nation, calling for it to halt their development of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, an agreement arduously negotiated by Obama and including European nations and Japan, we would not have this crisis.

The deal was to last 10 years, during which there would have been time for changes to occur in Iran, but Trump was seduced by Netanyahu into breaking the pact and here we are on the brink of war.

If we go to war this will be Trump’s war, timed perfectly with Netanyahu’s bid for another term as prime minister of Israel in tomorrow’s election.

Here’s a leader, Israeli voters can confidently say as they head to the polls, who can whisper things in Trump’s ear and make things happen,

Woe to us for tolerating this.

Iran and the Shooting Down of a US Drone

Escalation, yes. A country with its back against the wall from the US imposed sanctions, could do a lot worse than shooting down a drone whose position in flight may or may not have been in Iranian airspace. And Trump could easily have retaliated with a strike against their military installations but did not.

Surely the hawks in his inner circle, Pompeo and Bolton, would very much have liked that choice. But the president, looking ahead to his political survival, made the decision that best suited his agenda: winning his reelection.

Trump weighed the pros and cons. An attack on Iranian installations, even if no lives were lost, an unlikely event, would have led to another Iranian response, and a chain reaction easily set in motion.

Does Trump want a protracted war on his hands as he tries to rally support for his reelection?

No.

Additionally, on June 18-19 when the G-20 meeting takes place in Osaka, Japan, all eyes will be on Trump and Xi Jinping regarding a possible resolution to the ongoing trade war between the two countries.

A war in the background likely weakens Trump’s position, so he chose to be sensible and hold his hand.

Apparently cyber attacks were ordered and further economic sanctions imposed as a result of the drone attack, but no lives will be lost.

Iran has been funding terrorist actions in the region and that has been going on for years. Empowering the people who are targeted by those actions will be the best way to counter them.

And so, too, inside Iran itself, for eventually it will be up to Iranians to confront their leaders and demand a regime change.

Current events show us that this is possible and likely more fundamental in its effects than the intervention of a foreign power in a nation’s affairs.

Today, in Turkey, the city of Istanbul got a new mayor who is a member of the opposition to Erdogan’s ruling party and was bitterly resisted by him. It is a great moment for Turkish democracy.

Last weekend, the people of Hong Kong came out in great numbers to oppose a rule that would have allowed the extradition of a resident of the city to the mainland. The rule was clearly a move to undermine Hong Kong’s democratic institutions. And the people responded with an enormous display of courage. What an inspiration for the rest of China and for the world.

The Strait of Hormuz. The Bombed Tankers and the World’s Supreme Power Broker.

Now and then power politics needs a crisis. It helps the ‘leaders’ better play to their respective constituencies. And so the tankers that cross the Strait of Hormuz, with the price of oil low and the pressure on Iran high, offer a wonderful opportunity. So why not rattle the world’s nerves and remind them of all their distinguished heads of state do for them?

On June 13th two tankers were bombed, and we were shown videos of people in a boat, likely Iranian, casually taking down limpet mines (so we are told) from the side of a tanker, and then leisurely sailing off. Were the mines the culprits? Japanese sources, who own one of the ships, say their vessel was hit from the air.

American officials were quick to talk about how there would be hell to pay, and troops have been mobilized, with Trump saying he didn’t want war but, well, the US can only take so much.

Iran is denying any involvement. The European Union has warned to go slow, ‘don’t forget the rush to war with Iraq in 2003 and the price paid’.

Meanwhile, ‘exhaustive’ investigations continue with the promise to get to the bottom of it.

Lots of news coverage and people running around. As if we didn’t have better things to do. Like feeding the hungry of the world, educating them, inspiring them to better themselves, so they can learn to think and not let others deceive them.

But power is too seductive to pause for such paltry considerations.

The next day, June 14th, Rouhani, Iran’s president, met with Putin and Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. Both dictators vowed to continue their support of Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal that the US has pulled out from and to stand by Iran in the tanker dispute.

But who started it?

Iran could well have said, ‘We’re suffering with the American sanctions and the oil prices being low. Let’s get a band of men to hit the tankers, oil prices will go up, then we go to Putin and ask for his help. He saved Assad in Syria from extinction and surely the great man will do us a good turn, too.’

Netanyahu, in Israel, who’s also good friends with Putin (he plays both cards) and in need of help too, could well have said, ‘I need to get reelected in September and Trump is on my side, so why not get some folks to go in and plant some explosives, then blame it on Iran. A lot of threats will get made and surely my numbers will go up. We know Iran is not crazy, not yet anyway, so they won’t escalate.’

Then there’s Trump who, in need of boosting his own numbers, and given that he has accomplished little during his term and is under the constant threat of impeachment and, on top of that, has a phalanx of democratic contenders uniformly decrying his performance, could well have said, ‘why not go along with Netanyahu and bang the war drums? Brinkmanship. Talk tough, push people to the edge, then let up for a while and crank it up again. Why, the press loves my tweets. Anyway, the Iranians wouldn’t dare start a fight with me, unless they want to commit suicide and I don’t think they do, which gives me the advantage.’

And he sits back and reflects. ‘Ah, the perks of power. To be able to manipulate public opinion. All the resources at my disposal… the CIA, the military, Fox News… how can I lose?’

Just days before, Trump had announced, braggingly, that he did not mind getting dirt on his American political opponents from another nation. Having got flak for it, he quickly reversed himself saying he would let the FBI know instead but, would you believe him?

Upon learning of Trump’s statements, I could see Putin smiling and thinking to himself, ‘Ah, I knew he would give me the green light to help in the next elections, not that I needed his approval.’

And so, Donald Trump, the 45th American president, will go down in history as the one who, by his actions and inactions, elevated Russia’s dictator to the position of World Power Broker.

In the face of overwhelming evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Trump could not bring himself to be honest with all Americans and say to us, ‘There was interference and given my slim margin of victory (he lost the popular vote), it is quite possible that Russia’s actions got me the presidency. But now I am in and I vow to be president to all Americans and defend our interests’. But he could not do it. Sadly, it is not in the man.

Iran’s Rouhani and Khamenei, knowing this, and aware of the dire consequences of an escalation of the tanker incident, would have had planned, all along, to turn to Putin for help, knowing that the world’s greatest power broker would be ready to do his best.

Let us listen in on the possible conversation between Trump and Putin.

Sitting in the Oval Office, feeling pretty smug and relaxed, the 45th president is suddenly interrupted by a staffer. ‘Mr President!’ the person exclaims anxiously as he steps in.

‘Yes?’

‘Mr Putin is on the line, should I transfer the call?’

‘Sure,’ says Trump.

The staffer exits and a moment later the phone rings on Trump’s desk.

He picks up.

‘Donald!,’ says Putin.

‘Vladi!’ replies Trump.

‘How’s your golf game?’

‘Better by the day,’ replies the 45th president.

‘Good to hear that. Listen, Iran is worried that you’re serious about war.’

‘Well… I am and I’m not… it all depends on the evidence… then there’s the polls… my base…’

‘Of course,’ says Putin. ‘But here’s my point… you don’t have to worry about getting reelected.’

‘I don’t?’

‘Of course not.’

‘How come?’

‘I have dirt on the democratic candidates. Real dirt. You’d be surprised.’

‘On whom?’

‘The leading ones… so don’t worry… I’ve got you covered. All you have to do is keep the contest close… and you’ll get in.’

Our president mulls this over.

‘Warren too?’

‘Of course.’

‘I think she’s going to get the democratic nomination,’ says Trump.

‘She’s looking good. Donald, you don’t record your calls, do you?’ asks Putin.

‘I don’t record anything. Learned from Nixon. Do you?’

‘Never,’ replies Putin.

Trump is relieved.

‘About the tankers,’ resumes Putin, ‘why not ease up on the war talk, just a little, and I’ll tell the Iranians to back off… what do you think?’

‘I don’t want any more ships being hit,’ says Trump.

‘Of course. I don’t know why they didn’t come to me first,’ says Putin.

‘I know I’m squeezing them but I have an election to win… and then there’s Netanyahu to think about. Iran needs to get over it. Say, did you hear that the Israelis are naming a section on the border with Syria, “Trump Heights?”’

‘I did. Congratulations. Very nice.’

‘Thanks. We’re tight, Bibi and me.”

‘I’m envious,’ says Putin.

‘We’re good too, Vladi, you know that.’

‘Thanks. But listen… it occurred to me, why don’t you let the Iranians sell some of their oil to Kim Jong Un, he’s hurting badly. I’m sure Xi will pick up the tab.’

‘That’s a thought.’

‘For a while at least… and that would give both Iran and Kim a breather.’

‘Hmm.”

‘Think of it this way… we’re all trying to stay in power.”

Trump laughs.

Putin laughs too. ‘We should all get together more often. Xi too. Need to bond.’

‘Say, what did Xi tell you when you last saw him?’ asks Trump.

‘He knows he has to play ball with the tariffs but doesn’t want to be humiliated. He’s got to save face. And now there’s the protests in Hong Kong to worry about.”

‘I understand. I’ll think of something.’

‘Believe me, he’ll appreciate it.’

‘Sure he will.’

‘You know, Americans are lucky to have you, Donald… they just don’t know it yet.’

‘That’s what I say.’

‘Which is why I’m glad to help. Give them some time. Americans have always done the right thing. Well… I know you’re busy, so I’ll let you go. My best to Melania, Ivanka and Jared.’

‘Thanks.’

They hang up.

In his office in the Kremlin, Putin picks up another phone and says, ‘Did you get all of it?’

‘Yes,’ replies the voice at the other end.

Putin sits back and smiles, ‘He’s no longer the apprentice. Once he gets reelected, he’ll be on his way. But really, who would’ve thought of it… America, the great democracy… on its way to becoming America, the great monarchy.’

Putin laughs loudly.

Oscar valdes. Oscarvaldes.net   Author of ‘Helsinki,’ a play on the fallout after Trump and Putin’s meeting in the Finnish capital.