• How Can She Say That?

    February 23, 2012 // Comments Off on How Can She Say That?

    So Yemen just had an “election,” the money shot of their Arab Spring.

    Now of course there was only one candidate running for president, Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, who has been acting president since November, has been vice president of Yemen since 1994. He is the hand-picked successor to his boss, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years. Saleh remains in the US on a State Department issued “medical visa,” though his treatment has apparently forced him to move from an apartment at the Ritz-Carlton in New York to California. The State Department also made sure that Saleh has diplomatic immunity for his many years of crimes against his own people. It is unclear how many mileage points you need for diplomatic immunity, but Saleh has ’em while Syria’s Assad clearly does not.

    Despite the Yemeni election being just one guy, who is the hand-picked successor to an evil thug autocrat, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland had a near-death level orgasmic reaction to the presidential election in Yemen– “The United States congratulates the Yemeni people on carrying out this successful presidential election and taking the next step in their democratic transition. Our understanding is that turnout was very high — and particularly high among women; among young people, voters under 30. And it just shows quite a bit of enthusiasm and ownership by the Yemeni people for this transition going forward.”

    Other popular rulers elected as the sole candidate in their “elections” include Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.

    No doubt such a statement of pleasure by the State Department over the Yemeni race has dramatically increased US credibility throughout the Middle East.

    Right… I’ll have whatever she is having.



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    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State

    Tale of Two Dictators

    February 15, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    If you’re Syria’s evil dictator, Assad, the Secretary of State and her running dog UN Ambassador call you bad names. The say “your days are numbered” and that “you have lost all legitimacy.” Some Foggy Bottom lickspittal says that you are a “dead man walking,” and in a somewhat weird mix of things, refers to your country as “Pyongyang in the Levant.”

    However, if you are the dictator of Yemen, the nice one who turned a blind eye to US drone attacks in his own country and even covered up drone strikes by claiming the bombs were his own, the State Department rolls out the red carpet.

    Your dictator-in-residence status package begins with a medical visa, the travel document of choice for pro-US dictators such as the former Shah of Iran. Yemen’s thug Saleh is apparently staying at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City while he gets his “medical treatment.” Subtlety is not a dictator trait.

    Better yet, the State Department treatment does not end with your visa. State will in fact cover your dictator ass even as you relax in the Ritz’ spa.

    Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in the United States with full diplomatic immunity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s legal advisor has written the Pentagon, and should not be compelled to provide sworn testimony for the Guantánamo war court. State Department Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh (photo above in his crazy ’70’s ‘do) wrote the letter to the Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, opposing a request for a subpoena.

    Koh’s letter makes no mention of Saleh’s medical treatment. Rather, Koh invoked “the particular importance attached by the United States to avoiding compulsion of an oral deposition of President Saleh in view of international norms and the implications of the litigation for the Nation’s foreign relations.” He did not describe those implications in the letter.

    So, to sum up: Middle East dictators we don’t like get outed. Middle East dictators we do like live at the Ritz and are given immunity. Arab Spring cheerleaders, please make a note of this.



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    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State

    Choosing Expediency over Morality, Again

    January 23, 2012 // Comments Off on Choosing Expediency over Morality, Again

    In late December I ran a blog post wondering if US foreign policy had been taken over by the cast of Jersey Shore, Snooki, et al, as the US seemed on the verge of granting the current dictator of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, permission to enter the US for “medical treatment.”

    Now we know Snooki must be in charge, as the US has apparently once again chosen expediency as the cornerstone of its Middle East policy. Saleh is enroute to the US as you read this.

    Iran once was America’s 51st state in the Middle East. The CIA helped overthrow one government there in 1953 and installed a monarch who bought American weapons, sold America oil and sucked up to the US. That was regime change old-school style.

    Then there was an Islamic Revolution that swept through Iran, flawed in its own right, but appealing to a people who had long been kept in line by the Shah’s security apparatus. The Shah was reviled by many of his country people and, to avoid facing their justice for his actions, fled to the US for “medical care.” (“Medical care” is what dictators say when they need to blow town; for domestic US politicians, the correct phrase is “spend more time with my family.”) Saleh had previously sought medical care in Saudi Arabia, but must have not had insurance because he left to go right back to Yemen. Apparently there are no other doctors available anywhere in the entire world now but in America.

    The Shah came to the US, Iran went wild and stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, taking US diplomats hostage. That crisis lasted 444 days, brought down the Carter Administration and messed relations in the Middle East up for pretty much forever. Memories are long in the desert, and people have a tendency to hang around in new roles. What you do today affects a lot of tomorrows, even if memories in the United States are sitcom-short.

    “It’s not over for Saleh,” said Hussein Mansoor, a protester in Sanaa. “We want him to come back to Yemen so that he is tried for his crimes.” On Saturday, lawmakers in Yemen approved a controversial law giving Saleh immunity from prosecution.

    Remember the Arab Spring Break? By accepting another non-democratic dictator formerly pals with the US for “medical care,” the US denies the events of 2011. The US has the chance to stand up for its long-term goals of supporting people who wish to throw off a dictator. Instead, it looks like we’ll let him into the US for safe haven, once again choosing expediency over morality. The image of the US among Yemenis will be nothing more than the country that gave shelter to their former dictator. US policy in the Middle East will again be clearly little more than oil and back slapping dictators who feed our counterterrorism fetish.



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    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State

    Jersey Shore: Snooki Takes Over US Foreign Policy

    December 28, 2011 // 6 Comments »

    For those too young to remember when Iran was America’s 51st state in the Middle East, it once was. The CIA helped overthrow one government there in 1953 and installed a monarch, The Shah (not his real name but it’s like on Jersey Shore) who bought American weapons, sold America oil and sucked up to the US like a tipsy Snooki with lips pursed from eating pickled lemons. That, kids, was regime change old-school style.

    Then there was an Islamic Revolution that swept through Iran, flawed in its own right, but appealing to a people who had long been kept in line by the Shah’s security apparatus and tired of playing Snooki to the US’ Vinnie or whoever, I’m bored with the guido satire. The Shah was reviled by many of his country people and, to avoid facing their justice for his actions, fled to the US for “medical care.” “Medical care” is what dictators say when they need to blow town; for domestic US politicians, the correct phrase is “spend more time with my family.”

    The Shah came to the US, Iran went spunky wild and stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, taking US diplomats hostage. That crisis lasted 444 days, brought down the Carter Administration and messed relations in the Middle East up for pretty much forever.

    So…

    The current dictator of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, aka “The Predicament,” (last Jersey reference, this is where the article turns serious) is unpopular and needs to blow town before his own people shred him in the village square. So he now needs “medical treatment” and it appears the Obama administration may issue him a visa to enter the US. Saleh had previously sought medical care in Saudi Arabia, but must have not had insurance because he left to go right back to Yemen. Apparently there are no other doctors available anywhere in the entire world, must be some sort of strike or big convention or something.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Hey, Obama, did you sleep through 2011? Remember the Arab Spring Break? By accepting another non-democratic dictator formerly pals with the US for “medical care,” the US denies the events of 2011 and essentially blows party chunks in the face of the ideals it publicly supported during the Spring. Hillary, this is not about Twitter or social media saving democracy– the US has the chance to stand up, for once, for its long-term goals of supporting people who wish to throw off a dictator. Instead, it looks like we’ll let him into the US for safe haven, once again choosing expediency over morality. The image of the US among Yemenis will be nothing more than the country that gave shelter to their former dictator. US policy in the Middle East will again be clearly little more than oil and back slapping dictators who feed our counterterrorism fetish.

    Welcome to 1979, President Obama Carter.

    (No gratuitous Jersey Shoe concluding reference. This is like serious!)



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State