One of the most troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s administration, among so many troubling aspects, is that the president, his staff, and his advisors so often seem to break rules that they are unaware even exist. Whether it’s Donald Trump, Jr. digging for dirt on Hillary Clinton with Russian interlocutors or his father apparently making libelous accusations against James Comey over Twitter, people trying to find rational planning behind the deeds of Trump and his team must simply recognize that it comes down to just the arrogance and ignorance of this administration.

Although the two incidents mentioned made big headlines, another one took place on Monday, which largely escaped notice but could be considered just as egregious. During her press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was explaining how “the president successfully achieved his objectives on behalf of the American people at the G20” last week.

One of those achievements, Sanders said was that “In his discussions with more than a dozen foreign leaders, he underscored the need for nations to join together to strip terrorists of their funding, territory and ideological support—and to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran.” Read more at LobeLog


Israel and the United States have once again turned their fire on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At issue this time is the decision by UNESCO’s

Entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

World Heritage Committee to recognize the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian site and to add it as a World Heritage in Danger site.

According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the UNESCO resolution is “delusional” because it allegedly denies the Jewish connection to Hebron. Indeed, denying such a connection to a city that contains the Tomb of the Patriarchs would be highly offensive to Jews all over the world. The only problem is, UNESCO did no such thing. Read more at LobeLog


The effects of Donald Trump’s trip last month to the Middle East continue to multiply. The focus, quite correctly has been on the breach between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But the effects of the Saudis’ wooing of Trump are felt throughout the region.

Flattering the president of the United States is a sensible thing for most world leaders to do, but this president, basking in all-encompassing flattery, becomes immediately susceptible to the views of his supplicants. Trump came away from his Middle East trip having bought whole cloth into the Saudi narrative of regional politics, and his criticism of Qatar clearly spurred on what has transpired since. But it was not only the Saudi royal family that captured Trump’s attention. Read more at LobeLog


For the past year, peace groups all over the world have been working on ways to mark the 50thanniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But now that the 50-year point

The Hawara Checkpoint

has been reached, we are greeted with some big news that few are talking about: There is no occupation.

No one has made such a declaration, of course, but the conclusion is inescapable. In all the relevant international law stemming from the 1907 Hague Conventions and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which govern belligerent military occupation, are based on the presumption that the condition is temporary.

A recent paper issued by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) concludes “An unlawfully prolonged occupation arises when an occupying state seeks to permanently transform the international status, government or demographic character of a foreign territory, including through de jure or de facto annexation.” Their legal arguments are well worth reading and quite conclusive. Trying to summarize the details here would do them an injustice. Read more at LobeLog


Fifty years have passed since Israel’s stunning military victory over the countries surrounding it in 1967. War transforms countries, regions, the entire planet as no other event can. And perhaps no war ever transformed a country and the entire region surrounding it as suddenly and as dramatically as the 1967 war did to Israel, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the entire Middle East.

Consider where the region was on June 4, 1967. The Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union was in full swing in the region, with the US enjoying an advantage, but still concerned with Soviet influence. Egypt, under Gamal Abdel Nasser, was a leader in both the global Non-Aligned Movement—which purported to resist the influence of either of the superpowers—and the rapidly declining Pan-Arab movement. Syria was already fighting with Israel. Its government in a state of flux that would not resolve itself until several years later, Syria was already the Soviet Union’s strongest ally in the region. Disunity among Arab governments in general was rampant, with uneasy relationships thwarting several attempts at alliances among different sets of countries. Read more at LobeLog


Donald Trump’s first trip abroad seems to have been a successful one for him. Although controversies continue to rage at home, he seems to be accomplishing what he set out to do, at least in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The mainstream media has had a good time with some Trump gaffes on this trip (including his wife slapping his hand away and, more importantly, Trump’s foolish confirmation that he divulged classified intelligence given to the US by Israel). But it has generally applauded his speeches and statements. Trump has set the bar so low that all he has to do is let the soberer minds around him write his speeches and no one will pay much attention to the policy implications of words and deeds. Read more at LobeLog


I spoke with Eugene Puryear on his show “By Any means Necessary” for about 20 minutes on Trump’s trip, as well as a bit on Turkey. Check it out at this link 

My segment starts at about 17:00 in.

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