That’s Treason!

Benidiict Arnold

Benedict Arnold

The word treason has been bandied about a lot lately. Both by Donald Trump describing his political enemies and his political enemies describing him. There are many who say they don’t know what they are talking about. No less a political pundit that Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s, The Last Word, says it’s impossible to at this time to commit treason, as there is no war declared by congress currently being waged. The last person who was convicted of treason was convicted for offences during WWII.

Words matter and it is important to know what they mean. There is more than one definition of treason. There is the technical legal definition as stated in the US Constitution and there is the more generic definition which can be found in any good dictionary.

The legal definition of treason is as follows: The crime of betraying one’s country, defined in Article III, section 3 of the US Constitution: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

The dictionary or more generic definition of treason is as follows: The crime of betraying one’s country, especially attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the country the government. Synonyms: treachery, disloyalty.

Another simpler definition: The act of betraying someone or something.

So, you see, everyone is right, and no one is wrong. Or are they?

Pretty sure Trump is conflating the two meanings. If he is talking about the legal term of treason then people like James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and FBI agent Peter Strzok would all be subject to the death penalty. A pretty serious charge and one that could only emanate from a deranged mind.

On the other hand, Trump has recently said, while he was on foreign soil, that he agreed with North Korea’s murderous dictator, Kim Jong Un, that Joe Biden was a low IQ fool. Pretty disloyal. And what about the fact that Trump sides with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies? This could certainly be grounds for disloyalty.

So, who is the treasonous party?

 

 

Assad Gasses His People Again

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According to news accounts (Reuters, April 4, 2017), a suspected Syrian government chemical attack killed scores of people, including children, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun located in the northwestern province of Idlib. The U.S. government believes the chemical agent sarin was used in the attack.

This incident would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since August 21, 2013, when a sarin gas attack killed more than 1000 people in Ghouta near Damascus, many of them again, were children.

The use of chemical weapons is a particularly odious form of warfare, banned for good reason by the Chemical Weapons Convention, signed and agreed to by 165 of 189 countries in 1993, and administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons (OPCW) in the Hague.

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I roundly condemn this reprehensible act of unspeakable cruelty, as all civilized men would do. Trump has condemned it as well, which is to his credit, but he makes a mistake when he blames Obama. Yes, Obama drew a line in the sand.  He said he would act, but he put his resolution for action up for a vote before congress and congress would not approve of his action. In my view, congress is at least partly at fault for failure to take action against the Assad regime.

What did happen was there was a negotiated weapons deal brokered by the United States and Russia. OPCW inspectors, working with the United Nations, were in Syria in 2013 when the attack occurred. They returned in October as part of the deal.  They located and destroyed 1000 tons of chemical weapons. Not a shot was fired and a significant result was achieved. Fast forward four years until today. Where did Assad get his chemical weapons? The options are that either he held back some of the weapons he was supposed to surrender, or he acquired new weapons, or he produced new weapons. In any case, the Russians bear some responsibility for not doing a better job controlling the chemical weapons. The ultimate responsibility, however, lies with Assad and his use of these weapons and he must be held to account.

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What is to be done? According the New York Times and other news sources, the Pentagon is preparing military options for a strike against Assad inside Syria. In the final analysis, in my view, Assad must be removed from power and tried as a war criminal.

All war is evil, but sometimes it is necessary to choose the lesser of two evils. For the United States not to act in the face of such evil perpetrated against the civilian population by the Syrian government would be, in my view, both unethical and immoral. If we do nothing, we are sending a signal to Assad and others who would violate international norms that it is OK to use these weapons with impunity. That is a danger to our national security interests. This does nothing but encourage their use and nothing to discourage their use. A price must be paid and Assad must be held accountable.

 

 

To My Russian Friends

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In Defense of Intelligence, based on the writings of Albert Camus

What always stands in the way of friendship is falsehood and hatred. We shall not accomplish anything for friendship if we cannot get rid of falsehood and hatred. For months now, we in America have been subjected to an unparalleled outbreak of hatred. Our poisoned hearts must be cured. The most difficult battle must be fought within ourselves. With exceptional effort we must transform our appetite for hatred into a desire for justice. Not giving in to hatred. Not making concessions to violence, not allowing our passions to become blind. There are things we can do for friendship and against Trump. It is essential that we never let criticism descend to insult. We must save intelligence. Years ago when the Nazis seized power in Germany, Goering declared, “When anyone talks to me of intelligence, I take out my revolver.” That philosophy was not limited to Nazi Germany. We see it on the rise today. Donald Trump, during his campaign, declared, “I like the uneducated.” He also said, “I could pull a gun out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and no one would care.”

The only way to defeat Donald Trump, and defeat him we must, is through intelligence. When intelligence is snuffed out, the dark night of dictatorship begins. Friendship is a knowledge acquired by free men. There is no freedom without intelligence or without mutual understanding. Resist the idea that intelligence is unwelcome or that it is permissible to lie to succeed. Do not give in to guile or violence or inertia. Then perhaps friendship may be possible.