Awkward timing for Russia probe indictments
Sunday, July 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — Awkward timing.
The Justice Department announced new indictments in the Russia probe Friday just as President Donald Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
Most cable news networks broke away from coverage of the royal pageantry to carry Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s announcement of indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the U.S. election.
The indictments come just days before the president is scheduled to hold a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Rosenstein said: “The timing is a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence, the law and a determination that it was sufficient to present the indictment at this time.”
He said he briefed the president earlier this week about the indictments, but declined to describe Trump’s reaction.
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
by Wim Laven
As an educator of politics and conflict resolution I’ve spent decades examining deals as they relate to conflict and peace. Negotiation is a key skill of statecraft because successful diplomacy can save millions of lives and avoid trillion-dollar military engagements that may cause years of suffering and still not be anywhere close to a resolution, like in Afghanistan. The study and assessments cannot make guarantees for predictions of future performance or outcomes, but there are many truths in the field.
One great frustration I’ve had is that Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as President, continues to get my field wrong. I have written about the damage caused by Trump blowing up deals, and what Trump has gotten wrong about the Iran Deal (among others). He does a tremendous disservice to those working for the causes of peace and justice around the world, and I would like to push back against these misconceptions and resist the normalization of his dangerous practices. They can perhaps work in his ruthless business deals but in statecraft the same game is potentially lethal to millions of human beings.
In his ghostwritten book, Art of the Deal, Trump outlines strategies he credits with delivering great contracts, the book’s author calls Trump “deeply disturbed” and “utterly untrustworthy.”
For the average contract the cost of litigation may be prohibitive to redressing damages. Indeed, Trump put small businesses out of business when he refused to pay in full, and the cases were not isolated. One of the strategies mentioned is to get your adversary back harder than they got you. It is a “teach them a lesson” behavior, and the functionality and failure of this strategy can be laid out clearly.
In my field we call the zero-sum-game distributive bargaining. In short this posits that there are winners and losers. The more you get, the more you win, and the less you get, the more you lose. Contracts are fixed events, and can be judged in this way. Real estate or used car sales work this way when a buyer and seller are unlikely to have future relationships with one another. It is normal for parties to “bargain” over costs and values. It is abnormal for parties to be dishonest or break agreements, but Trump also promotes the renegotiation of debt. Trump says ‘I’m smart’ for not paying taxes, and he doesn’t recognize an obligation to living up to his end of agreements. For him, the simple math is “the more I win, the more you lose.” There is only so much and every bit you get is a bit I lose. This is not true at all in the world of nation-state wellness.
Where “winning” and “losing” are part of normal competition, and it should be noted that competition is normal and healthy in the marketplace, is should also be noted that Trump’s behavior better models coercion—the practice of persuasion using force or threats. When the practitioner is free from moral inhibition, this is the practice of deception, hostage taking, and terrorism. Terrorists, just like Trump, achieve great success in distributive bargaining by maximizing leverage with pressure points. Boko Haram kidnaps girls because it sees “Western education as sin;” Donald Trump enacts policies separating children from their parents in order to try to achieve political ends and funding for a border wall. Coercive persuasion is frequently effective because of a moral component that is leveraged against one party. It is why parents rarely try to bargain over the cost of the life-threatening treatment required by a child when they can afford to pay it.
Sometimes “winning” is not about saving money, sometimes “winning” involves other interests like saving lives. This is called interest-based, or integrative, bargaining. This is particularly fruitful in its promise of collaborative—win-win—solutions. You may think of the doctor being interested in seeing the health of her patients and not just a healthy bank account, or of building a long-term business relationship on the basis of fair pricing and dependable trustworthiness. Profit can be a motive, but there is value to business relationships. Maybe instead of renegotiating the debt after the job Trump should have tried to get a better price by promising future work instead of relying on the ability of his attorneys to drive up the costs of litigation.
Collaboration is not for all disputes; one cannot partner with a Nazi, but it is great for addressing problems where relationships matter. The focus on mutually beneficial agreements will increase trust between parties and make those agreements more durable. Think of your neighbor. If you asked to borrow a hammer and promise to bring it back tomorrow, are they more likely to let you borrow it again if you bring it back as promised—or a month late? We build trust when we make and keep agreements.
Now think of Canada, or NATO, or any other trade partner. Canada is the U.S.’s neighbor, and they’ve been slapped in the face with steel tariffs and had lies told about trade deficits, are Trump’s efforts at “winning” strengthening relationships or building trust? If I were Canada I don’t think I’d let Trump borrow a hammer, he’d probably use it to brag about how he’d made a great deal on it. He tries to use distributive bargaining in an integrated world, and he misses three basic truths.
1. There are significant opportunity costs involved in treating international relations and diplomacy as zero-sum. Great losses are experienced when opportunities for mutual benefit are missed. We can think of Canada offering to pool resources with the U.S. in addressing a common threat. Take Russian involvement in elections among western nations as an example. Distributive bargaining might suggest the U.S. wins when they contribute the least possible in combating Russian intervention. Trump might refuse to cost share stating that other NATO nations are not paying enough. The end result: The U.S. gets no help from Canada or Europe and they get no help from us; we are divided and conquered. Integrated bargaining, however, looks at mutual gain. The larger the alliance, the greater the benefit…
2. Distributive bargaining focuses on getting your share of the pie, but there is no pie in international relations. When Trump complains that countries are not paying their fair share to NATO, for example, he acts like they owe the U.S. or have gotten the U.S.’s share of the pie, but they haven’t. The strength of the alliance is that all members in the alliance get all of the benefit, period. No country is stealing value or benefit from the U.S. There is a clear solution to the free rider problem (though Trump himself brags that non-payment is smart when he talks about his taxes) and that is getting rid of free riders. The real question is whether or not NATO is meeting the U.S.’s need or not? If it is then the U.S.’s 22 percent share of cost is a pretty good return on investment. And indeed, the common defense clause—the core value of NATO—has only been invoked once since its 1949 founding, to assist one nation attacked—the US, on 9.11.01.
3. There are a finite number of states and allies. Trump’s strategy of abusing those who did contract work for him in real-estate only worked because there were more contractors at his disposal. When he put one out of business, simply put, he could find another. The same is not true at the state level. The U.S. has two neighbors, Canada and Mexico, and they cannot take an infinite amount of abuse and bullying. If Trump doesn’t like this Mexico, he can’t just find a new Mexico.
Trump needs to understand that value to citizens is delivered in terms of quality of life and not shareholder profit; it is a country not a corporation. He also needs to understand the exceptional potential costs for his failures. Relationships are not disposable, and should not be treated as conveniences or luxuries. But also that the costs of war are high. His distributive approach to North Korea—where Kim mopped the floor with him—was a complete failure, and we’re lucky there has not been more significant fallout, and his alienation of U.S. allies only creates new obstacles to the development of peace. Most fundamentally Trump needs to understand that real leadership is about making the world a better place and his myopic MAGA focus on Making America Great Again continues to fail both U.S. and global interests.
Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.
Trump blames Obama for Russian hacking of Democratic email server
Scotland national newspaper slams Trump as an ‘appalling human being’ as he visits UK
Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?
Human Rights Trumped
by Mel Gurtov
Who cares about human rights? Not Trump, not his team. Here’s some of what we see.
Discussion in the Trump administration of sensitive human-rights cases often gets relegated to the annual state department report on conditions around the world, a report required by Congress. Even here the Trump administration has downplayed human rights. When the 2016 report was prepared, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson rejected the usual practice of presenting it to the press, evidently to discount its importance. The 2017 report, which came out this April, “sugarcoated” several controversial issues, as one human rights NGO leader put it.
These deceptions include Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Territories (no longer labeled as such), high civilian casualties from Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombing in Yemen (referred to as “disproportionate collateral damage”), and women’s reproductive rights (no longer mentioned). Little wonder that so many senior diplomats have quit over Trump’s disdain for human rights, including John Feeley as US ambassador to Panama, Elizabeth Shackelford as chief political officer in the US embassy in Somalia, and Jim Melville as ambassador to Estonia.
A Declining Example
The United States has always professed to be an exemplar of respect for human rights—for liberty, democracy, and the rule of law—and has deplored (and occasionally sanctioned) outrageous human conditions in some other countries. That stance was the foundation of Roosevelt’s argument for US entry into World War II—and as well of Eleanor Roosevelt’s role in crafting the UN Universal Declaration.
Every postwar US administration since has had a very inconsistent record in that regard, but Trump’s is the worst of the lot by half: He rarely even makes reference to human rights, much less takes action on its behalf. But then again, any action he might take would lack credibility, because as FDR observed, improving human rights at home is central to protecting it abroad.
Trump does not make that connection. He is riveted on two things, money and power, the core concerns of a big businessman who never has enough. The lure of money hardly needs explanation. First come the receipts: Trump and his family see gold in foreign officials’ visits to his US and overseas properties, in potential hotel and golf sites for his brand, and in (secret) transfers of funds from the Russians and others to support his election and help pay his debts. Then there are the costs: Trump has declared that certain military exercises, alliances (read: NATO, Japan, South Korea), and overseas bases are too expensive. Human rights concerns do not figure in such a bottom-line calculus.
Trump’s aim to expand his personal power may be seen in his affection for certain autocrats. Democracy, the rule of law, and transparency are among his least interests. Trump looks for inspiration to dictators because they display the kind of raw, unchallenged political power he would like to have—the power, that is, to defy behavioral and policy norms, behave brutally with those who are disloyal or disagree, and go it alone without consequences. Granted, talking with dictators is sometimes necessary and useful, with the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un a prime example. But admiring them is another matter entirely: It betrays a disturbing personal characteristic of Trump’s.
We see the dictator’s playbook at work in Trump’s stance on immigration—a direct appeal to popular fears and long-denied racist impulses. Paul Krugman contends that Trump must stir up unreasoning hatred of “the other.” Krugman writes: “the atrocities our nation is now committing at the border don’t represent an overreaction or poorly implemented response to some actual problem that needs solving. There is no immigration crisis; there is no crisis of immigrant crime. No, the real crisis is an upsurge in hatred — unreasoning hatred that bears no relationship to anything the victims have done. And anyone making excuses for that hatred — who tries, for example, to turn it into a ‘both sides’ story — is, in effect, an apologist for crimes against humanity.”
And now the US Supreme Court, far from helping stem this tide, has endorsed a president’s power to claim a national security threat that will keep Muslims out of America. The founders of this country, who looked for it to be a “shining example” to the world, must be turning over in their graves. So, surely, is FDR.
Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.
Royalty, the pope, and now Trump _ Putin makes everyone wait
Monday, July 16
HELSINKI (AP) — Famous for his tardiness at official talks, President Vladimir Putin did it again Monday — to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Putin long has sought to meet with Trump, but the Russian leader was 35 minutes late to arrive at their closely watched summit in the Finnish capital.
The delay followed a long tradition set since Putin’s first election in 2000.
Famous victims of his lack of punctuality included Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis among many others.
In 2014, he was hours late for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after his previous stop in Serbia lasted longer than usual, involving a protracted military parade.
Some Kremlin watchers saw Putin’s lack of punctuality as a deliberate tactic of trying to throw his vis-a-vis off balance, but others pointed out that it appears to be more of a personal trait than a well-calculated strategy.
Putin is also chronically late for official events in Moscow, often because he lets preceding meetings run longer than expected.
He often holds meetings in late evenings and starts his days relatively late.
Trump’s remarks about changing European culture draw ire
By JESSE J. HOLLAND and RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Sunday, July 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s lament this week that immigration is “changing the culture” of Europe echoed rising anti-immigrant feelings on both sides of the Atlantic, where Europe and the United States are going through a demographic transformation that makes some of the white majority uncomfortable.
Historians and advocates immediately denounced Trump’s comments, saying such talk would encourage white nationalists.
“The way he put this argument about changing our culture … about Europe becoming less nice than it is, in other words, these people are here and they are making the culture crappy and making the place lesser, that’s straight out of the white supremacist/white nationalist playbook,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.
Trump, in an interview with the British newspaper The Sun, blamed immigration for a changing culture in Europe: “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”
Trump, the grandson of a German immigrant and the son of a Scottish immigrant to the United States, repeated his contention at a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May:
“I just think it’s changing the culture. I think it’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative,” he said. “I think it’s very much hurt other parts of Europe. And I know it’s politically not necessarily correct to say that, but I’ll say it and I’ll say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves because you are changing culture, you are changing a lot of things.”
Beirich called those comments “racist.”
Claire M. Massey, a scholar at the Institute for British and North American Studies at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität in Greifswald, Germany, said Trump’s comments were “awfully painful,” especially for the United Kingdom, where immigration has played a key role in rebuilding the country after World War II. “England and the United Kingdom wouldn’t be what it is today without immigrants,” she said.
Massey said Trump’s comments remind her of the rhetoric coming from neo-Nazis in Germany and Poland. The comments will embolden the far-right in Europe at a time when many European nations are already very diverse.
Lisbon, Portugal, for example, is now home to sizable and visible Brazilian, Cape Verdean, and Angolan populations. The immigrant groups and their Portuguese-born children have helped revitalize areas of the cities once in disrepair and have a presence in everything from professional soccer teams to popular culture.
Portuguese Mozambique-born fado singer Mariza is among the nation’s most beloved performers.
In France, immigrants from the Middle East and Africa have settled throughout Paris and have drawn the ire of the far-right and even some moderates over the city’s changing makeup. Then-French Prime Minister François Fillon decreed in 2011 that women were banned from wearing face veils outside of the home except in mosques or as car passengers. A European court later upheld the ban, saying the intent was to unify the country, but not before an outcry by human rights activists.
Throughout England, from London to Liverpool, immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the former British colonies in the Caribbean have reshaped various neighborhoods, drawing scorn from members of the far-right and some rural residents who blamed the European Union and immigrants for the economic struggles of once-prosperous mining regions.
The United States is also going through a demographic shift. The Census Bureau estimates that the country’s population will have more minorities than whites for the first time in 2043, a change due in part to higher birth rates among Hispanics and a stagnating or declining birth rate among blacks, whites and Asians.
Trump’s public life has been filled with controversial statements about immigrants.
In the first moments of his presidential campaign in June 2015, he called for the construction of a border wall with Mexico and accused the country of sending migrants who were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He continually used dark imagery to depict immigrants as dangerous invaders. Then, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that December in San Bernardino, California, that was carried out by a U.S.-born Muslim and his Pakistani wife, who was a legal U.S. resident, Trump called for barring all Muslims from entering the country. The Supreme Court eventually upheld his executive order banning travel from several mostly Muslim countries, rejecting challenges that it discriminated against Muslims or exceeded his authority.
In January, Trump questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “(expletive) countries” in Africa as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to one participant and people briefed on the conversation.
In recent weeks, Trump bowed to tremendous political pressure and issued an executive order ending his administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents when families cross the border with Mexico illegally.
Paul A. Kramer, a Vanderbilt University historian who specializes in the politics of inequality in the United States, said Trump’s most recent comments were an intentional attempt to ally himself and his base in the United States with the far-right nationalist movements in Europe.
“The rising tide of white nationalism is something that he embraces, that he sees himself as participating in and that he wants to encourage,” Kramer said.
Contreras contributed to this report from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jesse J. Holland and Russell Contreras cover race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. Contact Jesse at jhollandap.org and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jessejholland . Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras .