Sunday, November 20, 2016

Impact of Trump's Top Appointments on US Domestic & Foreign Policy

Who are President-Elect Donald Trump's top picks for his Cabinet and White House staff positions? What are their views on US domestic and foreign policies? How will they shape US policies on national security, immigration, minority rights and foreign relations?

Are critics right about their reservations regarding Trump's top choices of Steve Bannon (Chief White House Strategist), Gen Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor), Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Michael Pompeo (CIA Director) and Chris Kobach (Immigration)?

What should Muslims do in response to appointments of known Islamophobes like Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Chris Kobach and others? Should they support civil rights groups like Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to challenge any anti-Muslim policies and actions? Should they make common cause with other ethnic and religious minorities to defend their civil rights? Should they put more efforts into inter-faith harmony?

What will Team Trump's policy be toward India and Pakistan? Will they favor India over Pakistan? Will they pressure Pakistan to comply with US demands in the region, particularly with respect to Afghanistan? Will they collaborate with India to isolate Pakistan? How will Pakistan respond to such pressure? Is there a risk that Pakistan might go rogue?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://youtu.be/Otsw3atq5W4




https://vimeo.com/192410033


Impact of Trump's Top Appointments on US Domestic & Foreign Policy from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump & Modi

Is Husain Haqqani Advising Trump?

US Elections 2016

Trump Phenomenon

Trump's Muslim Ban

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


7 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamophobic US Rep Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, being considered for job in #Trump admin. #BJP #Modi @alternet

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/curious-islamophobic-politics-dem-congressmember-tulsi-gabbard

To Gabbard, the fact that Syria and Iraq have been through years of brutal civil war, wrecked economies and massive displacement is irrelevant; the only reason they have an extremism problem is because of Islamic theology.

But the case of Tulsi Gabbard becomes less curious and more expected once you look at her links to a different set of ethnic and religious hardliners: the Hindu nationalist Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since her election to Congress, Gabbard has tied herself closely to this party, which has a history of condoning hatred and violence against India's Muslim minority. Many of her stateside donors and supporters are also big supporters of this movement, which disdains secularism and promotes religious sectarianism.

Meet the Islamophobic BJP

In May 2014, the BJP swept the Indian election, and the man it made prime minister was then-governor of the state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. To say Modi is a controversial figure would be a considerable understatement. In 2002, huge riots broke out in his state, with primarily Hindu mobs attacking Muslim residents. Over 2,000 men, women, and children were killed, with many more injured; mass rape was also documented. Almost all of the victims were Muslim.

Investigations raised a single prominent question: why didn't Gujarat police intervene sooner to prevent the rapes and killings? Although Modi was never indicted, many including a senior police officer who testified before India's Supreme Court said Modi believed his region's Hindus should be allowed to “vent their anger,” and deliberately allowed the rioting to happen for some time before intervening.

Indeed, Modi's original response was unapologetic. “We have 18,600 villages," he told the New York Times. "Ninety-eight percent of Gujarat was peaceful. Is it not a credit for the administration, the government?" India's National Human Rights Commission listed several BJP figures who were accused of spurring on the violence, and noted they had yet to be arrested.

While he escaped repercussions at home, Modi faced them abroad. In 2005, the Bush administration issued a decision to deny Modi a visa to travel to Madison Square Garden to address a rally of supporters, citing a 1998 law that bars foreign officials guilty of “severe violations of religious freedom” from possessing visas. Modi was the first and only person ever denied a visa under this law.

Yet with all of this in the background, Modi was able to rally enough voters to sweep India's national elections. During his electoral campaign, he played down the events in Gujarat and embarked on outreach to the country's Muslim minority. Yet he failed to distance himself from his party's roots in Hindu nationalism and its opposition to measures such as quotas that are designed to combat India's rampant discrimination against Muslims. A recent New York Times article looks at how the party's ideological wing, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has made conversions of Indian Muslims and others to Hinduism a top priority. “We will bring back those who have lost their way,” said Mohan Bhagway, its leader. “They did not go on their own.” Many who have been part of these mass conversion ceremonies have reported being tricked by BJP offers of economic benefits.

Human rights advocates, including some in the United States, remain concerned about the BJP's governing role in India. Many believe the BJP will discontinue what few programs India has to protect its religious minorities while undermining its secular laws to promote Hindu nationalism. Yet at the same time, there has been a vigorous push-back from BJP allies in the U.S. who want to see such oversight gutted.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Muslim assaults in #US reach 9/11-era levels in 2015, #FBI data show. #Trump #Islamophobia

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/21/anti-muslim-assaults-reach-911-era-levels-fbi-data-show/

The number of physical assaults against Muslims in the United States reached 9/11-era levels last year, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new hate crimes statistics from the FBI. There were 91 reported aggravated or simple assaults motivated by anti-Muslim bias in 2015, just two shy of the 93 reported in 2001.

Separately, the number of anti-Muslim intimidation crimes – defined as threatening bodily harm — also rose in 2015, with 120 reported to the FBI. Again, this was the most anti-Muslim intimidation crimes reported in any year since 2001, when there were 296.

Overall, the FBI reported 257 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015, a 67% increase from the previous year. These incidents included 301 individual crimes, 71% of which were crimes against people, as opposed to property. (Incidents can encompass more than one crime.) By contrast, crimes perpetrated against other religious groups more often involved property offenses, such as vandalism or theft. For example, 64% of anti-Jewish and 51% of anti-Catholic offenses in 2015 involved vandalism, compared with just 23% of anti-Muslim offenses.

Most Americans say there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims in the United States today – roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults (59%) said this in a January 2016 Pew Research Center survey. About three-quarters of Americans (76%) also said discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. was increasing.

The same survey found that almost half of American adults (49%) think at least “some” Muslims in the U.S. are anti-American, including 11% who think “most” or “almost all” are anti-American. Another survey from about the same time (December 2015) found that 46% of Americans thought Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence.

FBI data for 2016 will not be released until next year, but there have been anecdotal reports of a continued rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes this year. While not all incidents can be confirmed, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group that tracks hate crimes, reported more than 30 cases of anti-Muslim incidents in the five days following the presidential election alone.

The FBI collects hate crime data from about 15,000 law enforcement agencies that voluntarily participate, which means the annual statistics likely undercount the number of hate crimes in a given year. Still, the report is a useful tool for comparing hate crimes over time and tracking the minimum number of these crimes that occurred in a given year.

Riaz Haq said...

No evidence of #Pakistan's role in fomenting trouble in #Afghanistan, says Gen Petraeus. #Taliban #terrorism https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/166065-No-Pak-role-in-fomenting-trouble-in-Afghanistan-says-Petraeus …

Former US military commander Gen (R) David Petraeus has said that during his long association with his Pakistani counterparts and interaction with ISI as head of CIA, he could never find a convincing piece of evidence which supported the alleged double game by ISI or its explicit support to elements associated with terrorism.

This statement was given by the general while answering a question during an interactive discussion session that was held at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in the last month during which the commander talked about wide range of issues and challenges likely to be faced by the next US administration.

During the discussion, an Afghan female student from Buckingham University asked the general about the alleged complicity of Pakistan in fomenting trouble in Afghanistan, double role played by ISI and why US was not using its influence to reign in Pakistan. The general gave an elaborate reply and talked for about 7-8 minutes. He said that during his long association with his Pakistani counterparts and interaction with ISI as head of CIA, he could never find a convincing piece of evidence which supported the allegation of double game by ISI or its explicit support to elements associated with terrorism. He said like any other intelligence agency, ISI might have had some sort of communication channels to engage with them and there may have been some degree of accommodation but the talk about explicit support or double game is more of a journalistic conclusion with no concrete evidence. He said that Pakistan Army’s campaign against the Taliban in Swat in 2009 and its subsequent progress in most of the Tribal belt under General Kayani and his successor, General Raheel Sharif, was impressive.

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”. Petraeus added that he looked hard to establish any linkage between Pakistan Army, FC and ISI with any of the terrorist elements and did not find any supporting evidence. What Pakistani military has not been able to achieve has more to do with its capacity rather than it being complicit. He again said that the popular narrative about ISI double game etc was a journalistic thing. He said that some people refer to Pakistan as FRENEMY but again exact pinning down the blame on Pakistan for attacks on US soldiers in Afghanistan remains ‘very very difficult’.

As regards the leverage, there is a limit to what US can achieve. US did cut of all aid, stopped F-16s but it did not help and the two countries only came together after 9/11. He said that managing its relationship with Pakistan would be among the top two or three challenges for the next administration”. Considering his background as one of the top US military leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq and former head of CIA, comments of General Petraeus against the popular Afghani, Indian and Western propaganda maligning Pakistan Army/ISI is considered very helpful in setting the record straight especially considering the significant attendance of the event by people from various backgrounds. The session was moderated by Sir Peter Ricketts, Senior Association fellow of RUSI.


Watch the last 7 minutes of this video of Gen Petraeus at RUSI in London: https://youtu.be/XcqJt6hHXQc

https://rusi.org/event/security-challenges-facing-next-us-president-conversation-general-ret-david-h-petraeus

Riaz Haq said...

Gen (R) David H. Petraeus' remarks on security challenges facing the new US administration at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank in London:

"There's no question there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service.....there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces.... I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions".

Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue There was a period when we cut off all assistance (to Pakistan) and ties and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

https://youtu.be/XcqJt6hHXQc

Riaz Haq said...

#NawazSharif is a terrific guy, #Pakistan is an amazing country with tremendous opportunities: Donald #Trump https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/pm-nawaz-felicitates-donald-trump-over-his-victory/ ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif telephoned US President-elect Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory.

During the telephonic conversation, Donald Trump said he is ready to play any role that Pakistan wants him to do to find solutions to the problems. He said it will be an honour and he will personally do it.

Donald Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a very good reputation, and he is doing amazing work, which is visible in every way. He is looking forward to meet the Prime Minister soon.

He said Pakistan is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people.

On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, the US president-elect said he would love to visit the fantastic country, a fantastic place of fantastic people.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump to #Pakistan PM: "You're a terrific guy" "#Pakistanis are amazing, most intelligent and exceptional people” http://time.com/4586503/donald-trump-pakistan-prime-minister-readout-nawaz-sharif/

The full readout of the call, according to the Pakistani government, is below. Trump’s transition team has not released a readout.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir: Can #Trump solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts? VP-Elect Pence says YES. http://qz.com/852853 via @qzindia

On NBC News’ Meet The Press on Dec. 04, Pence was pressed by journalist Chuck Todd on the incoming Trump administration’s stance on Pakistan. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Chuck Todd: So let me jump to Pakistan. The Pakistan prime minister on Thursday, here is the headline in the front page of the international news in Karachi, “Trump says ready to play role in resolution of issues.” So let me ask you, is he offering to mediate border disputes? The pri– I guess Pakistan wanted to imply that, that he was offering to mediate border disputes between Pakistan and India. Is that what he was trying to say?
Mike Pence: Well, clearly there’s been great tension between India and Pakistan in recent days. It’s resulted in violence along the Kashmir region. And I think what the president-elect expressed in conversations with leaders on both countries was a desire for continued US engagement on building the relationship with both of those countries. These are two nuclear powers–
Todd: Right.
Pence: –the president-elect recognises that. And making sure that, that they know that when this administration takes office, that we intend to be fully engaged in the region and fully engaged with both nations to advance peace and security.
Todd: To be a mediator in deciding Kashmir?
Pence: Well, I think, I think, I think in president-elect Donald Trump you’ve got someone who, who is prepared to advance America’s interests here at home, to rebuild this economy, to fight for American jobs. But I think you’re also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.

http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-12-04-16-n691726