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All the presidents mendicants: in the USA and in the United Nations
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Faculty in Humanities, Austin College
Dec 27, 2017
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The recent TV rerun of All the President’s Men raises many issues about parallels with today’s investigation into Russian complicity in our 2016 elections. Some have said that today’s crisis is “worse than Watergate.” Certainly this is a rush to judgement without knowing the results of Robert Muller’s FBI probe. 

Nevertheless, it is disturbing to watch dozens of government staffers leaving in unusual numbers, and more disturbing to watch those who stay increase their servile flattery of President Trump. Are these obsequious sycophants fearful of also becoming jobless mendicants if they resist bullying at the highest levels? The new tax bill is said to favor financially those who favor the president and punish those who disagree. Should public taxes be used politically to assist friend or punish foe? 

Even before Mr. Trump’s election, President Duterte of the Philippines was upset with the USA and the EU when they said they would withdraw aid because of his “bloody anti-drug war.” (Aljazeera, 6 October, 2016) Duterte asked if they regarded the Filipinos as “mendicants. We will survive…but we will never compromise our dignity,” he proclaimed. 

On December 21, the General Assembly at the UN held a vote on the US resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With the USA having no veto power in the General Assembly, 128 nations voted to nullify it, 35 abstained, and 9 voted with the USA/Israel:  Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Guatemala and Honduras—all under economic pressures before  and after our UN ambassador to the UN suggested strongly that US aid would be withdrawn from those nations voting no! ‘The USA is keeping a list!’ she said publically from the UN podium. 

What startled me the most were some of the bravest of the abstentions: Croatia, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Haiti, Lesotho, Latvia, Mexico, Ruanda, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and more, including Duterte’s Philippines. 

The 128 who voted against the USA/Israel were some of our closest allies. Even Saudi Arabia joined the 128 while planning with Jared Kushner what “no other US administration had accomplished”—a real Israel/Palestine peace. 

So is this economic bullying new in US diplomacy? John Perkins, a Republican New Englander, was initially proud and excited about working with the US Government, but soon described his job as an “economic hit man.” One example was to be sure that the USA loaned Ecuador more than it could afford to pay back. When reckoning came, the US accepted as “payment” a new US base, a promise that Ecuador would vote with the US in the UN, and so forth. Ecuador was among the 128 voting against the USA/Israel vote in the UN.

 John Perkins has written nine books which have been on the New York Times’ list of bestsellers. His works are translated into thirty languages: in Spanish he is contrite about being  a “bandito economico.” How different was his international banditry from our own national “subprime mortgage crisis” (2007-2010) when so many lost their homes by borrowing more than they could repay? The banks and loan agencies gained, and a severe recession followed? 

John Perkins is hardly the first patriot who has put conscience above career.