I do like to feel that I got it right
By Herbert Rothschild
It’s possible — even inevitable — that those of us who venture into the public forum will sometimes be wrong. So it’s always comforting to get corroboration of my opinions. Here are four.
The January 6 Committee
I criticized New York Times columnist David Brooks, who presumed in advance that the committee would “simply regurgitate what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.” In its public hearings to date, the committee has offered us one stunning revelation after another. None has been more stunning than the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, senior aide to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. She was privy to what went on in the West Wing on January 6 and the days leading up to it. I highlight three revelations we received Tuesday.
On that morning, she and Anthony Ornato, deputy chief of staff in charge of presidential security operations, tried to bring to Meadows’ attention, and through Meadows to Trump, that the Secret Service had spotted firearms in the crowd assembling for Trump’s speech and the march on the Capitol. Meadows wouldn’t look up from his phone, and finally said that Trump didn’t want to be disturbed.
Later, Hutchinson was with Trump in the tent behind the makeshift stage at the Ellipse just before the President’s speech. Trump was complaining that the space in front of the stage wasn’t filled with his followers. He was told that people were refusing to go through the magnetometers because their weapons would be confiscated. Trump wanted the devices removed, saying that “they aren’t here to do me harm.”
After the assault began, Trump tweeted that Pence had betrayed them. Then, when he was told that the attackers were chanting, “Hang Pence,” rather than acceding to pleas that he call off the attack, he said “He deserves it.”
The committee has already laid out evidence sufficient to warrant a criminal indictment. We want to know, however, what happened in the “war room” that Rudy Giuliani and other conspirators set up in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel on Jan. 5. Hutchinson said that, against her advice, Meadows went there that evening. It may be hard to find out what occurred because some (e.g. Meadows) have defied committee subpoenas and others (e.g. John Eastman) have pled the Fifth. We’ll see.
Our complicity in Saudi war crimes in Yemen
This year alone, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out more than 150 airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen, including homes and hospitals, acts Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited when he charged Russia with war crimes in Ukraine. Analysis by The Washington Post and Security Force Monitor at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute revealed that a substantial portion of the air raids were carried out by jets developed, maintained and sold by U.S. companies, and by pilots who were trained by the U.S. military.
Biden should have ended U.S. support of the bombing campaign; he promised to do so during his campaign. I wrote in my May 20 column about the way our arms makers influence foreign policy. One specific example I provided was that Blinken was a founder in 2017 of a strategic consultancy firm named Westexec Advisors, and that one of Westexec’s clients is an unnamed major defense contractor—almost certainly Raytheon, which supplies weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in its war in Yemen.
After giving Biden a year and a half to do the right thing, on May 31 Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and three of his House colleagues introduced a War Powers Resolution to end America’s role in Saudi Arabia’s devastating war. They said in their accompanying statement, “we will not sit by as the Constitution is ignored and the Yemeni people suffer seven years into this unauthorized war. If the administration refuses to act, Congress will force them to.”
Bernie Sanders will soon introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. It would be helpful if our two senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, would sign on as co-sponsors.
Putin and the expansion of NATO
On April 11, the New York Times published an interview by Robert Draper with Fiona Hill, who was a star witness at the House hearings leading to Trump’s first impeachment. In the interview, she recalled the first time she stepped into the Oval Office. In February 2008, Hill, then the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia for the National Intelligence Council, was summoned for a strategy session on the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania. Among matters up for discussion was allowing Ukraine and Georgia to begin the process of obtaining NATO membership.
Hill told President Bush and Vice President Cheney that offering the two former Soviet republics a membership path could be “problematic.” She said that Vladimir Putin was vehemently opposed to neighboring countries joining NATO. He would regard it as a provocation, which was one reason our key NATO allies opposed the idea. Cheney was angered by Hill’s assessment. He said, “So, you’re telling me you’re opposed to freedom and democracy.” Then he abruptly gathered his materials and walked out of the Oval Office.
The nexus between U.S. violence abroad and gun violence at home
I wrote of this in my June 9 column titled “Of course the war came home.” Subsequently I came across a talk by Kathleen Belew, author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America” (Harvard UP, 2018). In it, Belew said, “The best predictor for surging in rightwing violent activity and militant activity is the aftermath of war.” And more generally, “All measures of violence are higher in the aftermath of warfare.”
Herbert Rothschild is an unpaid Ashland.news board member. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.