Donald Trump vs. international law: Overturning the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt

Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that no one is investigating the people investigating him, and that no one is trying to jail his political enemies. On Sept. 10, national security adviser John Bolton did his boss one better. Rather than whining, he threatened. In a speech to the Federalist Society attacking the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, Bolton said:

We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.

There’s nothing new in Bolton’s hostility to the ICC. He’s mentioned it many times before. He previously waged war against it as a top official in the George W. Bush administration, and was rewarded with appointment as Bush’s UN ambassador. But there is something new in the scope of havoc his hostility could bring. As a New York Times headline put it, “U.S. Attack on I.C.C. Is Seen as Bolstering World’s Despots.”

Read more at:

https://www.salon.com/2018/09/16/donald-trump-vs-international-law-overturning-the-legacy-of-eleanor-roosevelt/

 

Socialism and the Liberal Imagination

What is “democratic socialism” in contemporary America? In November 2015, with the Iowa caucuses on the horizon, Bernie Sanders finally tackled the question head-on in a much-publicized speech at Georgetown University. Democratic socialism, he told his audience, is what Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal did. FDR’s unfinished vision of a second bill of rights, an “economic bill of rights,” “is my vision today,” Sanders remarked.

Now, two and a half years later, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has vaulted onto the national political scene on a platform that sounds unmistakably familiar to students of American liberalism: Medicare for all, a job guarantee, housing programs, a new Glass-Steagall Act, and a green . . . New Deal. Democratic socialism, apparently, is less Eugene V. Debs than it is a more successful Harry Truman.

 

Read more at:

Socialism and the Liberal Imagination

Henry Morgenthau III, producer who helped shape public television, dies at 101

Henry Morgenthau III, a TV producer and documentarian who helped shape public television in its early days and provided a forum for the nation’s civil rights conversation in the 1960s, died July 11 at a retirement community in Washington. He was 101.

The cause was complications from aortic stenosis, his daughter Sarah Morgenthau said.

A scion of a prominent German-Jewish family, Mr. Morgenthau was a son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s treasury secretary, a grandson of the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under President Woodrow Wilson, the older brother of former Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, and a cousin of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara W. Tuchman.

Read more at:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/henry-morgenthau-iii-producer-who-helped-shape-public-television-dies-at-101/2018/07/14/6af48dcc-86bc-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.afe2cc7e7d2c

Face facts. The west that won the cold war no longer exists

We recommend this op-ed by Rafael Behr at “The Guardian.” We also recommend that more public figures in the West speak of liberal democracy openly and regularly.

“The US president makes a parody of the idea of the west as a beacon of moral authority. It is true that his despotic urges are hemmed by law in a way that lesser countries might not manage. But it is some downgrade of the system to boast that it might withstand assault by a venal, nepotistic maniac. America used to aim higher than constitutional kleptocracy.

“In such times it is easy to forget that the “western” model is still the best way to organise people into peaceful, prosperous societies. The benefits of liberal democracy are routinely taken for granted by people who live in one, but not by those who don’t. Millions vote with their feet, migrating across continents in search of a better life. That movement flatters the achievements of democratic societies, although our politics rarely casts it in those terms.”

Read Behr’s whole op-ed at “The Guardian”:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/10/west-cold-war-capitalism-eastern-bloc-populism

Why Is Finland Able to Fend Off Putin’s Information War?

Helsinki has emerged as a resilient front against Kremlin spin. But can its successes be translated to the rest of Europe?

With elections coming up this year in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and perhaps Italy, European intelligence services across the Continent have been sounding the alarm about Russian attempts to influence the outcome though targeted disinformation and propaganda, as they appeared to do in the U.S. presidential election.

That brand of information war can range from pushing fake news stories and conspiracy theories to fanning the flames of existing problems — all serving to undermine public confidence in governments and institutions. Elsewhere in the Baltics and former Soviet Union, Russian-linked disinformation has worked to stoke panic and force local governments into knee-jerk, counterproductive responses that have boosted Kremlin goals across the region.

But in the face of this mounting pressure, one of Russia’s neighbors has emerged unusually resistant to the wider information war waged by Moscow across Europe: Finland.

Like other countries along the Baltic Sea or in Eastern Europe, Finland has seen a notable increase in fake news stories and propaganda targeted against it that can be linked back to Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. These attacks have sought to undermine the government and often coincided with military shows of force along the Russian border.

But unlike its neighbors, Helsinki reckons it has the tools to effectively resist any information attack from its eastern neighbor. Finnish officials believe their country’s strong public education system, long history of balancing Russia, and a comprehensive government strategy allow it to deflect coordinated propaganda and disinformation.

“The best way to respond is less by correcting the information, and more about having your own positive narrative and sticking to it,” Jed Willard, director of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Center for Global Engagement at Harvard, told Foreign Policy. Willard, who is currently working for the Swedish government, was hired by Finnish officials to help them develop a public diplomacy program to understand and identify why false information goes viral and how to counter propaganda.

That initiative started at the top. In October 2015, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto took the first step, when he acknowledged that information warfare is real for Finland, and said that it was the duty of every citizen to combat it. In January 2016, the prime minister’s office enrolled 100 officials in a program across several levels of the Finnish government to identify and understand the spread of disinformation based on Willard’s advice….

Read the rest of the article at Foreign Policy!

His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt

– – Tuesday, September 6, 2016

 

Readers are right to flinch whenever a book under review is called, “magisterial.”

Yet there is a certain majesty in the way author Joseph Lelyveld combines his long-honed reporting experience with a historian’s eye firmly fixed on this important story. In this case it is an exploration of the labyrinthine mind of Franklin D. Roosevelt as he enters the decline leading to his death on April 12, 1945 at his hideaway in Warm Springs, Ga.

Mr. Lelyveld’s story is important on several counts. With an impressive array of new archival evidence he challenges the long-lived slander that FDR gave away Eastern Europe to the tyrant Josef Stalin either because (as many old Cold Warriors swear) Roosevelt was a Communist dupe or, more plausibly, because he was unaware of his deteriorating health and could not focus on the critical Big Three negotiations that he, Winston Churchill and Stalin waged at Tehran in December 1943 and again in Yalta in February 1945.

Read more at the Washington Times