Editorials: Summit of the Americas; and Trump’s war thugs

Lima is fitting capital for an Americas summit, but events have conspired to make this an inconvenient time. Photo by the Peruvian Comptroller General’s office.

Postpone the Summit of the Americas

A sleazy Peruvian criminal, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has been forced to resign as his country’s president for vote buying and bribe taking. PPK, as the disgraced former politician is popularly known in Peru, in the meantime had been scheduled to host the Summit of the Americas next month in Lima. In order to boost his standing with scandal-tainted greater powers, including US President Trump, Brazilian President Temer, Mexican President Peña Nieto and Colombian President Santos, PPK announced that embattled and also scandal-tainted Venezuelan President Maduro would not be allowed to attend. The region’s leftist heads of state all protested, leading to the very real possibility of a boycott.

This is a bad time for democracy in the Americas, with caudillos and crooks on different parts of the political spectrum tainting the politics of many of the countries in the region. Meanwhile, there is a transition underway in Cuba and in the next year or so there will be elections in Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay and Panama. Scandals, stolen elections or dubious mandates may force presidents in Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala and the United States to step down in short order.

Perhaps Peru’s new president, now in the process of finding a new cabinet, may be capable of organizing a Summit of the Americas worthy of the name, rather than the right-wing rump affair that PPK had contemplated. There is a need to for an all-inclusive summit of all those actually in charge of the various countries, as reprehensible and some of them may be.

There are too many uncertainties, including who is invited to attend and who is not, to hold the Summit of the Americas that PPK had planned. There are good arguments in favor of Lima – it’s their turn – but the last-minute changes implicit in a new administration taking charge make the contemplated time and place difficult. Better to postpone the summit, maybe for a year or more, and to see if the new government in Lima is up to revising PPK’s plans and hosting it in a proper fashion



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It may be a terrible and unlit night before the dawn’s early light.

America moving toward a war – and antiwar – footing

The Poles, egged on by the Jews, attacked a German radio station, they said. And for that reason, said the German government, notwithstanding the the “living space” argument that Hitler had been making for years, Germany HAD to invade Poland.

Hitler killed himself before being brought to trial for that. But for his part in that transaction the Nazi foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was tried convicted, sentenced and hanged.

At the Tokyo war crimes trials after World War II, at least eight Japanese military officers were convicted of a variety of crimes, one of which was that each was found guilty of toture by waterboarding. Some of the convictions were based not on having personally tortured anybody but on having commanded prison camps where prisoners of war were tortured. Several of these captured officers were sentenced to death and executed.

Does Donald Trump make Americans nostalgic for the good old days of George W. Bush? Bush, with his Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton playing a leading role in concocting a story about Saddam Hussein having and hiding weapons of mass destruction, led America to war for a lie. That war for a lie destabilized the entire region, spreading and morphing into new conflicts. Now, 15 years later, the flames of war are still not extinguished. Hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been driven from their homes. As part of Bush’s no-borders, no war aim, no contemplated end “War on Terror,” Gina Haspel ran a clandestine prison in which people were routinely subjected to waterboard torture, and later supervised the destruction of information about torture there and at a string of other CIA, military and “civilian contractor” facilities.

Now Donald Trump would have John Bolton as the National Security Advisor and Gina Haspel as CIA director. As the evidence against the president’s, his campaign committee’s and his family’s criminal activities mounts, he apparently intends to lead America to war as a distraction. Bolton and Haspel are intended to be key players in a war cabinet.

Will there be Democratic support when Trump makes his move? Neocons who were in the Bush administration migrated to the Hillary campaign in 2016 and are putative Democrats now. Those folks never saw a foreign war that they didn’t like.

Will there be Republican opposition when Trump makes his move? There will be, and it won’t just be Rand Paul. True conservatives, of whom there are few left in Congress, are against doing reckless and expensive things. Reflexive backers of the US military who know the subject rightfully worry about asking the troops to go to war under the command of somebody who by all appearances got to where he is with the assistance of a rival foreign power.

A war president? This time it may be a matter of US national survival to mobilize the American antiwar movement. The starting point ought to be opposition to the appointments of war criminals John Bolton and Gina Haspel to positions in the government.

Correction: an earlier version if this erroneously stated that Bolton was proposed for Secretary of State. That appointment goes to Mike Pompeo. Thanks to a reader who played the role of proofreader / fact checker in this community effort that is The Panama News.


Bear in mind…

I hate war as only a soldier can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
Dwight D. Eisenhower


I am not anti-gun. I am pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We’d turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don’t ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.
Molly Ivins


Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
Barbara Tuchman


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