Bull in the China Shop | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Bull in the China Shop 

Taking a Gander: Biden goes to work cleaning up Trump's wreckage.

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Since Biden's inauguration, there are far fewer chanting, "The sky is falling." Considering just how much of that sky had, in fact, crashed and burned during the Trump disaster, we can only hope anew that the wrongs will soon be righted and that it will be a new day for America and the world.

When the presidential transfer of power took place, most Americans breathed a bit easier. And it wasn't just us; an entire world found new promise of relief from the reign of America's own madman.

During his presidency, Trump broke the bonds of old treaties, essentially removed us from the U.N., exited NATO and WHO, withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, told the International Criminal Court to go f—ck themselves, and took the side of dangerous world despots. The way I see it, world oversight is an essential. But U.S. policy under Trump was one of sovereign anarchy, bucking all the rules of world order and making sure that Americans were not subject to the up-close scrutiny of international organizations.

During the first month of Biden's presidency, he's shown his commitment to restoring the wreckage Trump left behind. Already, he's withdrawn U.S. support of the shameful war in Yemen—responsible for the deaths of almost a quarter-million souls and the displacement of many more, curtailed arms sales to the Saudis, and he's re-engaged with the U.N. Human Rights Council, WHO, and NATO. Those moves won't cure all the problems, but they are steps forward. If you were one of us, holding our breaths in anticipation of Trump's next aberration, it's time, now, to breathe in, breathe out and repeat; Biden has reassured the world that chaos isn't his style.

If Trump ever actually believed in the principles of law and order—something he so loudly proclaimed but so flagrantly abused—he would have understood that America needed to be held to the same standards as the rest of the world. With the supposed world leader claiming our country wouldn't be subject to international oversight, how could he have ever maintained the illusion that America believes in justice, equity and certain inalienable rights? Trump trashed our reputation in the world; Biden is making a valiant stab at restoring U.S. greatness.

While Trump's actions hurt many, we should be particularly concerned with his endorsement of Israel's hideous treatment of the Palestinians, who live at the whim of Israel, confined to a walled complex, where they must endure draconian security measures in order to work. While lavishing moral support for the thugocracy of Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu that ignores human rights, Trump took every opportunity to grind salt into the wounds of the Palestinian population.

Despite the mandates of world law, Trump had the nerve to condone the building of Israeli settlements in those areas grabbed during the 1967 war. (He actually hoped that one would be named "Trumpville" in his honor.) It didn't matter to him that these settlements were in violation of international law, which precludes a state from moving its people into conquered territory. Instead of outrage, Trump sent his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to give Netanyahu a sweet pat on the back.

I'm not the only person who understands how wrong this is. Jewish orthodoxy, even as early as Israel's 1947 creation, has always condemned the trampling of its Arabs. But the clerics have mostly been muted. Despite the continuing outcry from the "real Jews," the systematic war on Israel's Arab population continues. The settlements are wrong, but, in the interest of political expediency, many of Israel's past prime ministers have turned a blind eye.

Since 1967, Israel has afforded its settlers access to the disputed lands. Not only have they allowed the creation of settlements; they've displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, whose forebears had been there for centuries. West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements have proliferated, and there are now 70,000 Israelis living on land which is not, and never was, theirs. The International Criminal Court has condemned the settlements, appropriately, as "criminal."

Jerusalem was to be a multinational, multicultural and multireligious center, but the Trump administration, once again, ran rough-shod over the rules. Consistent with Trump's anti-Muslim, "stir the hornets' nest" mentality, he named Jerusalem as the site of our new embassy.

The way I see it: If we are to be peacemakers, in this troubled world, America must have respect for the time-honored doctrine of a shared Jerusalem.

Virtually all the world humanitarian organizations support a two-state solution for that region, but that was something Trump, his pimple-faced son-in-law and Pompeo were all against. Trump—bull-in-the-china-shop that he was—had no respect for Israel's history, nor any reverence for the humanitarian commitments that were made by previous U.S. leaders. Instead, Trump's actions further alienated the Arab world, supported some of the worst human-rights violations on the planet and helped create an endless supply of radicalized Muslims.

With any—even one, single—iota of humanity and decency, that tragic situation could be cured. What it will take is a new commitment to the human rights of the Arab population and a reduction in U.S. military support to Israel. Such a move would help balance the situation and encourage the populations of the Middle East to work things out among themselves.

That dream can never be realized as long as the Israeli government holds the Palestinian population in, what can only be described as, a de facto prison camp. Biden has a unique opportunity to help bring peace to the Middle East. The two-state solution is the only way to accomplish that elusive goal.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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