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October 16, 2017


Arshad M. Khan


A uniquely wayward president, Donald Trump, has managed to isolate the United
States equally uniquely, and contrary to the stated position of his Secretaries of State
and Defense and the National Security Adviser (respectively Rex Tillersen, John
Mattis and H.R. McMaster) by scuttling the 2015 Iran nuclear deal citing issues
outside its scope.  His charges have been dismissed categorically by the European
Union foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini.  Again uniquely, the Pentagon and the
State Department agree with her (and not their president) that Iran has not violated
the agreement.

Britain, France and Germany in the persons of their leaders took the unusual course
of issuing a joint statement reaffirming their support for the deal.  Germany's foreign
minister, Sigmar Gabriel, accused the U.S. of "replacing the rule of law with the law of
the strongest," adding the "issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with
Russia and China against the U.S.A."  Trump's only support on the issue rests with
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump has also joined Israel in withdrawing the US from UNESCO membership,
claiming it has an anti-Israel bias.  This when the newly-elected Director General
awaiting confirmation is Audrey Azoulay a Frenchwoman who is of Moroccan Jewish

Soiling newsprint and public life has been the disgusting tale of Harvey Weinstein the
movie Mogul.  Three or more women have accused him of rape and countless of
indecent assault; others have their own singular stories of escape.  So Weinstein joins
a celebrity list including Fox News chief Roger Ailes, comedian Bill Cosby and even
can 'Grab-'em-by-the-p**sy.'  Donald Trump ... not forgetting the inimitable
cigar-wielding 'I-feel-your-pain' Bill Clinton -- he of the 500,000 dead Iraqi children
from his sanctions.

The consequences of a gun culture reliant on a naive and obdurate interpretation of
the Second Amendment became headline news over several days in the aftermath of
the Las Vegas mass shooting.  The toll of 58 killed and 546 injured set a new record
-- for how long?  No one knows what went on in the mind of Stephen Paddock -- also
a victim -- except that he had amassed an arsenal in his 32nd floor Mandalay Bay
hotel room:  a total of 23 machine guns, rifles with scopes and hand guns, all carried
up without question or detection.  Another arsenal including 1000 rounds of
ammunition, explosives and weapons were found in his car parked in the hotel garage
and his house.

The 58 deaths could have skewed the statistics but not by much.  It so happens there
are 93 firearm deaths per day and an average of one mass murder (defined as the
killing of four or more persons) a day.  With statistics like this can the US seriously
claim to be a cultured and civilized society; or are there pockets of civilization in a
desert of barbarism.

Ignorance is the handmaiden of prejudice.  So we find in the wanton 2012 attack on a
Sikh Gurdawara (temple) in quiet Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  The gunman killed himself
after a responding officer shot him in the stomach.  The Sikhs have a wonderful
custom of langar a community kitchen run by the temple offering a free meal to
anyone who comes.  The temple members were busy preparing just such a meal, to
be served in the evening, when the incident occurred.

The Sikhs also have had a history of conflict with Muslim rule in India, so it is ironic
some have on occasion (because they are required to wear a turban) been mistaken
for Afghan Muslims -- the latter themselves misjudged because Osama bin Laden and
his crew were Arabs treated as guests by the Taliban for their help in the fight to expel
the Soviets.  The Afghans, of course, had no involvement in 9/11 which is why the
invasion to deny shelter to Osama bin Laden's small group became a costly
continuing error making new enemies.  Some would argue what the situation required
was patience, careful intelligence gathering and a small strike force.

For sheer scale, Las Vegas is but a drop in the ocean compared to military action.  
Wholesale destruction in Iraq, Libya and Syria.  Afghanistan in agony for more than
two decades.  A million-plus dead and millions displaced leading to EU tensions and
Britain's exit.  Absent Libya's heavy hand, fundamentalist groups are operating even
as far away as Nigeria.  Then there is also Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine and now Niger ...

So it goes on.   A nation in distress causes the same abroad.