The election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte constitutes the lowest point for the struggling Filipino democratic system. Duterte has used profanities against President Obama, the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Pope Frances, the United Nations and others who have questioned his blood-soaked reign as president. Recently, he even compared himself to Hitler in not only refusing to stop his extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals but saying that he was prepared like Hitler to murder millions. This budding tyrant has declared that the very concept of human rights is the “anti-thesis of government.” Finally, Duterte has pledged to end military training exercises with the United States, break away from the close alliance with the United States, and rely more on China and Russia. He has even been taunting the CIA to try to oust him. For those already familiar with our checkered history of supporting dictators and even enemies of the United States, it will come as no surprise that (just as Duterte is pledging to support Russia and China and fighting the United States), our government just approved another $180 million in aid to someone widely viewed as blood-soaked, anti-American lunatic.
If you were still wondering what the thousands of dead and wounded U.S. soldiers (and billions in funds) lost in Afghanistan accomplished, your confusion is about to be exponentially increased. This week, our Afghan allies in the government pardoned one of the most ruthless terrorists in the world — a man who murdered Americans, supported throwing acid in the faces of girls and women, and stood out among the most blood-soaked terrorists in the world. He is now effectively the ally of the Afghan government and by extension the United States. The man is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the hated leader of the militant group, Hezb-i-Islami. He is better known by his popular and well-earned nickname: “The Butcher of Kabul.”
Like many Muslim countries, Turkey has a long and troubling history of child brides and arranged marriages. Some Islamic clerics have maintained that there can be no age limitation on child brides. They often note that Muhammad married Aisha when she was seven and consummated the marriage at nine years old.Just as Pakistan recently struck down its protection for girls from such abuse, the Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled annulled a provision that punishes all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as “sexual abuse.” It is a major set back for girls and women in Turkey and another example of how the Islamic fundamentalists have taken over this once secular country under the authoritarian rule of our ally Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Below is my column in USA Today on Donald Trump’s statement that he thinks that American citizens should be tried at Guantanamo Bay with other “terrible people” accused of terrorism. I have previously criticized Hillary Clinton for her views on free speech and executive power. However, the suggestion that U.S. citizens could be sent for faux trials at Gitmo is truly chilling. Here is the column.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Having seen recent events culminating with the failed coup to oust Turkish leader Erdogan and the onset of his Orwellian crackdown against the judiciary, academics and any others perceived to be a threat to his increasingly autocratic rule, the time has come for the United States and subsequently the NATO alliance to reconsider whether Turkey is stable enough to host a nuclear stockpile.
New Yorker Magazine, quoting Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Incirlik Airbase holds about fifty B-61 thermonuclear bombs–more than twenty-five percent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The dial-a-yield of these bombs can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as one hundred seventy kilotons. For comparison, the yield of the Little Boy device that destroyed Hiroshima is estimated at fifteen kilotons.
During the coup attempt, the Turkish government closed Incirlik to all travel and cut off its power, forcing operations command to rely on back-up generators. The base’s commander was temporarily detained. The coup only hastened and to a much greater extent expanded the suppression of civil liberties and dissent.
The Erdogan government accuses dissident Fethullah Gulen, currently living in exile within the United States, of organizing the coup and warned the United States that it would be making a “great mistake” if extradition was not granted.
The dictatorial becoming of Mr. Ergodan should come as a strong worry especially when met with the inevitable backlash against his rule could pose a risk of proliferation if these weapons are not secured.
We previously discussed how the government has kept 28 pages classified in the 9-11 Report to protect Saudi Arabia from a public backlash of its alleged involvement (or at least the involvement of Saudi officials) in the attacks. Now, a report on the treatment of U.S. sailors by Iran in seizure of Navy boats earlier this year will reportedly remain classified for some time. That is rather curious since Iran already knows how it treated the sailors. Again, there is a suspicion that the Administration simply does not want the public to know the full details of the mistreatment, which Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says are far worse than has been made public. Recently, the Navy fired the commander in the incident.
We have another abusive crackdown in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Egypt has seen a dramatic rollback on civil liberties under al-Sisi. In Egypt, a teenager was jailed for cartoons of Muhammad and a leading businessman was attacked for a cartoon of Micky Mouse with a beard. Then there was the three-year sentence given Amr Nohan, a 22-year-old law graduate for posting a Facebook image of el-Sisi with Mickey Mouse-style cartoon ears. A leading cartoonist Islam Gawish, 26, was arrested in Egypt by the hyper sensitive al-Sisi government. Now Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadeq ordered an investigation into a TV presenter, Azza Al-Henawy, who simply criticized al-Sisi for not delivering on promise.