Immediately after Donald Trump spoke those words at the Republican national convention Thursday night, the massive crowd erupted into chants of “USA…USA…USA!”
Whenever I hear crowds yelling “USA” like that it always gives me a queasy feeling, for what it suggests is blind patriotism. Trump’s speech came three days after 20 civilians died in US airstrikes on the Syrian city of Manbij; two days after the French airstrikes that killed 120 more civilians in the village of Toukhan al-Kubra, just to the north of Manbij; and also two days after the emergence of a horrendously graphic video showing US-backed “moderate rebels” of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki movement beheading a young boy from Aleppo.
While plenty of people have expressed shock over the video and made note of the fact that the boy’s murderers were backed by the US, few have bothered to report the youngster’s name. According to Al Manar, his name was Abdullah Issa. He was 12 years old. The report also mentions that he suffered from Thalassemia, a blood disorder, and was abducted from a hospital after a brother of Omar Salkho, Nour al-Din al-Zenki’s Aleppo commander, was killed. Apparently this was sufficient cause for beheading a child.
A heartbreaking exchange is said to have taken place when Salkho reportedly asked the terrified young boy if he had a last wish.
“I wish to be shot dead,” Abdullah reportedly replied.
“You will not be shot dead,” the terrorist leader is said to have answered. “We are worse than ISIL.”
In the video below, Salkho is presumably the man in the green cap.
I hope that these killers are brought to justice–though not through random shelling upon the battlefield. I hope instead that they are captured alive and placed on trial, and during their trial, I would hope they would be questioned not only about beheadings and other crimes committed, but also as to what contacts they may have had with US or possibly Israeli officials. Did they, for instance, undergo training at a US training camp in Jordan or Turkey? According to Wikipedia, Nour al-Din al-Zenki has received BGM-71 Tow anti-tank missiles from the US, and quite possibly they have received other assistance as well.
Perhaps the most unseemly performance of all was not so much the shouts of “USA” at the Republican convention but a comment given at the State Department by spokesperson Mark Toner, who, when told about Abdullah Issa’s beheading, remarked offhandedly, “If we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved… it would give us pause about any assistance or, frankly, any further involvement with this group.”
The words “it would give us pause” raise serious questions about what value Toner places upon the lives of children living in countries torn and ripped apart by US regime change operations. Had the victim in this case been a 12-year-old Israeli boy, rather than Syrian, can we for a moment imagine Toner responding “it would give us pause” when told that such a child had been decapitated?
“But here at our convention, there will be no lies,” Trump orated in his speech. “We will honor the American people with the truth and nothing else.”
So did Trump honor the American people with the truth about the beheading of Abdulla Issa or US support for terrorists who carry out war crime atrocities? No, he didn’t, sad to say. Well what exactly is the truth, according to Donald Trump? What “truths” came from the presidential contender’s lips during his acceptance speech?
Some of his truths are self-evident on their face. For instance:
- that 4 in 10 African-American children live in poverty while 58% of African-American youth are unemployed
- that the national debt has almost doubled under Obama, now standing at more than $19 trillion
- that Hillary Clinton pushed a “failed policy of nation building and regime change”–in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria–that should now be abandoned;
Other of his “truths” are a bit more subjective:
- the Iran deal will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated
- the Chinese are the greatest currency manipulators ever
- law enforcement (as it pertains to street crime) has been too lax under the Obama administration
And some are blatantly false:
- businesses are overregulated, particularly in the energy sector (presumably an endorsement for fracking, given the candidate’s reported choice for Energy Secretary)
- our military is “depleted” and needs to be rebuilt
- Israel is our “greatest ally” in the Middle East
So yes, Trump spoke a few truths, mixed in with some partial truths, along with some outright untruths. Isn’t that what we have come to expect from the US political system? But the greatest truths, the truths most direly in need of being spoken–about the influence of the Israeli lobby, the control of virtually the entire mainstream media by just six corporations, the need to totally rearrange the system to eliminate the influence of money–these and other truths that direly need to be expressed were missing from the speech.
Some might take a little bit of heart from Trump’s criticism of Clinton for her regime change efforts in the Middle East, but it should be noted that in the very same speech the New York billionaire chastised Obama apparently over his refusal to launch an all-out war against the Syrian government in the wake of the Ghouta chemical attacks in 2013:
“Another humiliation came when president Obama drew a red line in Syria – and the whole world knew it meant absolutely nothing,” the candidate asserted.
Trump obviously believes that the Syrian Army carried out the chemical attack–a claim that has been thoroughly discredited but which the mainstream media continue to propagate nonetheless.
Controlled as it is by money, the US political system is a snake pit. The chances of a person of genuine integrity rising from such a system to become president are probably something like a million to one. Of course many people are naturally hopeful, and there is always a tendency to believe that this or that candidate is the one in a million exception to the rule. This is human nature. But the reality is that the snake pit is what produced the government we have now, a government that pursues a policy of arming terrorist head choppers, as well as State Department spokespeople capable of uttering, without barely a blink of an eye, that the beheading of a 12-year-old child might “give us pause.”
Trump or Hillary? Would Trump end up becoming the new “worst president ever”? Would Hillary be just as bad–maybe worse (maybe a hundred times worse)? Should you vote for the Green Party or the Libertarian candidate? Maybe write in the name of your favorite poet, clown, or mathematician? It’s hard to say, and I’m not here to tell anybody how to vote, or whether to even vote at all or simply boycott the snake pit and stay home on election day. The decision is yours.
I’m only here to say that the choices aren’t good–but then you already knew that.
Richard Edmondson is an author, novelist, poet, and journalist whose writings often focus on Middle East issues, the Zionist lobby, and religion. His latest novel is The Memoirs of Saint John: When the Sandstone Crumbles, a story about an archaeological team doing a dig in Syria and set amidst the current conflict in the country.
In 2014 Richard attended an International Conference on Combating Terrorism and Religious Extremism, held in Damascus. The book is part two in the Memoirs of Saint John series.
Two other books by Richard are Rising Up: Class Warfare in America from the Streets to the Airwaves, relating his experiences founding and operating an unlicensed or “pirate” FM radio station in San Francisco in the 1990s, as well as a volume of poetry entitled American Bus Stop: Essay and Poems on Hope and Homelessness.
Richard is cognizant of the words of the early Christian writer Tertullian, who in the second century-basically prognosticating the fall of the Roman Empire-wrote: “We have made merry amid the ludicrous cruelties of the noonday exhibition.”