Separating Children From Their Families Is Nothing New, US Has Been Doing It For Decades

Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi, op-ed via,

Outrage over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy appears to have little to do with genuine concerns over human-rights abuses committed by the US government on a routine basis.

The Trump administration’s Stephen Miller-inspired immigration policy of coercively tearing children from their parents is rightly receiving a hefty load of criticism, even from some of the more traditional Republicans. Some 2,000 children have already been separated from their parents and placed in makeshift government shelters in less than a month and a half, with estimates that this number will continue to rise (and has probably already risen).

The outrage over this policy – while blame is still being deflected elsewhere by Donald Trump himself – is understandable and far-reaching indeed, right across the political spectrum.

“Because of the Administration’s policy of breaking up families at the border, these detention facilities are overflowing with children,” Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) wrote on Twitter. “Many don’t know where their parents are. Let’s be clear: this is a human rights abuse being committed by our government.”

Wow. Do you mean the United States government is actually committing human-rights abuses? Imagine my surprise, that the country which I believe to be a beacon of human rights, democracy and freedom has suddenly begun committing a human-rights abuse for what I am supposed to believe is the very first time.

This is the part that makes little sense when you consider the actions of the US ever since it was founded, right up until the present day, in terms of its ever-expanding list of human-rights abuses. Are these people genuinely upset and furious by the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents, or are they using this egregious policy as an excuse to advance their own agenda?

The United States has had a longstanding foreign policy of separating thousands of children from their parents on a daily basis. Arguably, this decades-long policy that has continued through both Democrat and Republican administrations is even worse than the current “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, given that the US has been separating thousands of children from their families using explosive devices, not detention centers.

On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump vowed that he would “take out” the families of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters and no one seemed to bat an eyelid at the time. While no one was looking, he began doing just that – and more. Soon after ascending to office, he relaxed the so-called Obama-era restrictions on airstrikes in multiple warzones, meaning that commanders on the field could call in airstrikes with almost all but zero oversight. The result was mass murder and chaos, as the commander-in-chief dropped 20,650 bombs in a mere six-month window.

One such airstrike in Mosul, Iraq killed between 200 and 300 civilians in a single strike. An investigation carried out by the Associated Press in relation to the total civilian death toll in the campaign to retake Mosul suggests that over 9,000 civilians lost their lives due to the barrage of strikes that the US-led coalition exacted in the area.

In Syria’s Raqqa, a territory which the US had no legal authority to bomb in the first place, its forces destroyed 80 percent of the entire city, rendering it uninhabitable. Through its violent policy, the US was wiping out entire families, one by one, with no regard at all for civilian life. One such airstrike in Raqqa killed a mother and her three children. Another such airstrike killed 30 members of a single family.

Barely two weeks ago, Amnesty International released an explosive report which called the US-led operation in Raqqa a “war of annihilation.” The report details four further cases of civilian families who lost 90 relatives and neighbors. One family lost 39 members in total, all of them by coalition airstrikes. Just to get an overall picture of this grotesque display of violence, at the time Reuters described the plight of one resident in Raqqa who came outside to find several of his neighbors lying dead on the street, with cats eating the corpses.

It later transpired that the US was doing all of this while allowingthousands of ISIS fighters to escape safely from Raqqa in order to head to Deir Ez-Zor, Syria’s most oil-rich region. In other words, the US was still somehow managing to drop a bomb every eight minutesin Raqqa, yet they allowed their prime enemy to escape safely under their cover, knowing full well they were wrecking civilian life in the process.

In Yemen, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition destroyed a family’s home, leaving a four-year-old Yemeni girl as the sole survivor. She wasn’t taken from her parents and put in a center – her parents were violently taken away from her for eternity. The United States, together with the United Kingdom, are 100-percent responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen. In addition to supplying billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi kingdom, US and UK personnel provide overwhelming assistance to the Saudi-led coalition to wreak this devastation on Yemen by sitting in the Saudi’s command and control center, refueling Saudi warplanes, providing intelligence and having access to lists of targets.

The media won’t tell you this, but if the US pulled its support for Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s suffering could stop as soon as tomorrow. Instead, what the US is doing is prolonging this war. Even as I type, the coalition is bombarding the Hodeidah port in Yemen, which actually provides the majority of humanitarian aid to an already devastated population.

This is not a violent policy that pertains only to the Trump administration. Altogether, the United States has killed some four million Muslims since it began its overt wars in the Middle East in the early 1990s. That’s over four million Muslims who will never see their loved ones again. I hate to break it to you, but unseating Donald Trump and replacing him with someone else is not going to save the United States government from committing human-rights abuses.

“Just wondering. Do you think Hillary Clinton would have kidnapped children and used them as leverage for political gain?” so-called ‘Twitter Personality’ Brian Krassenstein recently asked on the social network, receiving over 4,637 likes and 1,231 retweets. “You know, that woman who should have won the election, who got 3 million more votes…”

I don’t know Brian. But what I do know, is that this same Hillary Clinton was responsible for putting two million Libyan children out of school when she lobbied instrumentally for the overthrow of the Gaddafi leadership in Libya in 2011. If I remember correctly, she laughed hysterically after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in the streets of Sirte (some reports state he was raped by a bayonet).

This is also the same Hillary Clinton who refused to put Nigeria’s notorious jihadist group Boko Haram on the designated terrorist list. Remember Boko Haram, the group of terrorists that kidnapped 219 schoolgirls in 2014 to use as hostages? Remember how Hillary Clinton tweeted“#BringBackOurGirls” as if she had nothing to do with the policy which enabled this series of events? Furthermore, it was actually Hillary’s prized destruction of Libya in 2011 that allowed Boko Haram in Nigeria to grow from strength to strength, as the lawlessness that followed created a heavy arms market for jihadists to thrive all over the African continent.

Would Hillary “have kidnapped children and used them as leverage for political gain?” It seems like she, and every other prominent US politician before and after her, has done something brilliantly similar right across the world, on which vocal Twitter activists are all but completely silent.

Hillary’s husband, Bill, also oversaw the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, to which his secretary of state intimated that it was “worth it”as the price Iraq needed to pay.  

In 2011, the Obama administration famously killed a 16-year-old American citizen, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen during a drone strike of which he was the target. He had not been charged with any crime. Two weeks prior, a separate CIA drone strike killed his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, who also had not been charged or convicted of any crime. Not long after Donald Trump was elected last year, a January raid in Yemen saw the United States kill Abdulrahman’s eight-year-old sister. 30 people were killed in total during this botched raid, including 10 women and children.

To make matters worse, when asked about the death of Abdulrahman by independent media organization We Are Change in 2012, Obama campaign senior advisor Robert Gibbs said“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the wellbeing of their children.”

Compare the latter statement to the people who say that parents who don’t want their children to be torn away from them should just “follow the law” and not come to the US illegally, and it should be clear that this type of policy of separating children from their parents is not “un-American” at all. It is almost as American as apple pie; you just never knew you had been embracing it for so long, as no one felt the need to talk about it.

Sure, the location of the child-parent separation may be a little bit closer to home, but that’s more or less the only difference – the distance. If you are outraged at one type of child-parent separation but completely and blissfully ignorant towards the other, perhaps you don’t actually care as much about human rights as you pretend to do.

What happens when ordinary people learn economics? | Aditya Chakrabortty

In Manchester, groundbreaking economics courses are giving locals the means to challenge some of society’s received wisdom – for free.
• Listen to Aditya Chakrabortty talking about game-changing economic models on The Alternatives podcast

In a makeshift classroom, nine lay people are battling some of the greatest economists of all time – and they appear to be winning. Just watch what happens to David Ricardo, the 18th-century father of our free-trade system. In best BBC voice, one of the group reads out Ricardo’s words: “Economics studies how the produce of the Earth is distributed.”

Not good enough, says another, Brigitte Lechner. Shouldn’t economists study how to meet basic needs? “We all need a roof over our heads, we all need to survive.” Nor does the Earth belong solely to humans. Her judgment is brisk. “Ricardo was talking tosh.”

Related: The town that refused to let austerity kill its buses | Aditya Chakrabortty

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Russia Warns: “Militarization Of Space Is Way To Disaster”

President Trump’s order for the Pentagon  to create a “Space Force” as a separate branch of the armed services has already elicited sharp criticism, but one Russian senator went as far as to warn that “the militarization of space is a way to disaster.”

They also warned that Washington could risk violating key international agreements regulating the demilitarization of space, potentially destabilizing the international order.


“There’s a major risk that the Americans would commit grave violations in this field…if one takes into account what they do in other spheres,” said Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee.

While Trump wasn’t exactly clear about what he meant, he said he hoped to achieve “dominance” in space, ignoring the fact that the US is a signatory of the 1967 “Outer Space agreement,” which bans the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. However, the US has seemingly made a habit of withdrawing from major international agreements. For example, George W Bush backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and Russia has threatened to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the outer space agreement by sending weapons of mass destruction into orbit. The treaty also prohibits states from building military bases on the moon, according to RT.

Still, violating the “Outer Space agreement” could potentially create problems because, during his speech, Trump mentioned something about establishing a “permanent presence” on the moon – though he didn’t explicitly say that it would be a “military” presence. Trump said during his speech that a “separate but equal” (from the other branches of the military) Space Force would be needed for America to maintain a tactical advantage over its geopolitical adversaries (adversaries like China and Russia).

Speaking with CNN after Trump’s speech, an analyst pointed out exactly why “dominance” of space will be so important for national defense in the future: “I hate the term ‘the final frontier’ but (space) is the ultimate high ground. Space doesn’t dominate one small geographic area – it dominates continents, oceans,” said US Lt. Col. Rick Francona

“Most military thinkers know this is the battle space of the future.”

One US Congressman warned that the US is already behind, and that “Russia and China” are dominating the space race.

“Russia and China are surpassing us in space capabilities and we need to dedicate a separate force solely with a space mission,” Mike Rogers said.

The Chinese have also spoken out against the US’s planned “dominance” of space.

Responding to a question from CNN regarding Trump’s announcement Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said that “Outer space is an asset shared by all mankind. China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, and opposes the weaponization of outer space and space arms races.”

But of course, more than anything, Trump’s declaration reminds us all of that famous “Chapelle Show” sketch.