Who’s The Real Troublemaker In The Middle East?

Except for maybe the Affordable Care Act, nothing gets Republican politicians fired up like Iran.

In the first GOP debate alone, Scott Walker promised that he’d tear up the Iran nuclear deal on day one of his presidency. Carly Fiorina blamed the country for “most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East.” Mike Huckabee vowed to topple the “terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”

Oddly, when the candidates complain about the “evil forces of radical Islam” or trouble in the Middle East, they never seem to mention Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s no democratic paradise. But on many counts, Washington’s Saudi allies are even worse. The Saudi royals crush dissent with an iron fist, spread extremist ideology, and invade their neighbors with impunity.

Domestically, the Saudi regime oppresses women, religious minorities, and millions of foreign workers. And it brutally represses criticism from human rights activists, prompting condemnation from both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, for example, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes just for writing a blog the government considered critical of its rule. Hundreds of political prisoners languish in prison — including Badawi’s lawyer, who was sentenced to 15 years for his role as a human rights attorney. New legislation effectively equates criticism of the government and other peaceful activities with terrorism.

Saudi women aren’t permitted to appear in public without adhering to a strict dress code. They need the approval of a male guardian to marry, travel, enroll in a university, or obtain a passport; and they’re prohibited from driving.

The penalties for defiance are steep.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, killing scores of people each year for a range of offenses including adultery, apostasy, drug use, and sorcery. It’s conducted over 100 public beheadings this year alone.

Meanwhile, the Saudi monarchy has used its military and financial might to impose its will throughout the Middle East.

In 2011, Saudi tanks invaded neighboring Bahrain and brutally crushed that nation’s budding pro-democracy movement. Two years later, the Saudis backed a coup in Egypt that killed over 1,000 people and saw over 40,000 political dissidents thrown into squalid prisons.

In their latest military intervention, the Saudis have used American-made cluster bombs and F-15 fighter jets in a bombing campaign over Yemen that’s killed and injured thousands of civilians and created a severe humanitarian crisis.

All the while, they’ve helped export an extremist interpretation of Islam around the globe. Let’s not forget that 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, as well as Osama bin Laden himself.

Despite all these abuses, Saudi Arabia has been a key U.S. ally for decades. Why?

One reason is oil: Saudi Arabia is the world’s second largest producer, trailing only the United States itself.

Another is the arms trade: The country is the largest purchaser of American-made weapons. In 2010, the U.S. government concluded a $60.5 billion arms deal with the Saudis — the largest in history. This means that for years to come, U.S. weapons will be used by the Saudis to maintain their repressive rule and impose their will on neighboring countries.

A third reason, ironically, is Iran. Since 1979, Washington’s pursued a policy of building up the Saudi military as a counterweight to Iran’s revolutionary government.

For Republican presidential candidates, this primary season is all about vilifying Iran. While they beat up on the White House for making peace with America’s enemies, maybe voters should ask them more questions about America’s friends.

 

Medea Benjamin, the founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Originally distributed by OtherWords.org. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

What Trump’s Campaign Just Did In This State Could Set The Stage For A HUGE Record-Breaker

The media have certainly been quick to cover the massive crowds that socialist Bernie Sanders has been drawing in his quest for the Democrat nomination for president. And indeed, the far-left senator from Vermont who’s giving Hillary Clinton a real run for her money has been packing in the enthusiastic audiences said to have numbered on occasion into the tens of thousands.

But now, it appears that the GOP front-runner whom so many pundits and politicians dismissed only a few weeks ago as a flash in the political pan may be about to grab the lead in the Democrat vs. Republican turnout competition. While Sanders is said to have pulled in cheering crowds of some 28,000 in Portland, Ore., and 27,500 at a recent rally in Los Angeles, Trump could be on his way to an even bigger, more impressive event in Alabama.

A Trump for President rally planned for Mobile on Friday night has generated so much interest that campaign organizers have had to move the intended location several times — it’s now set for a big football stadium where the annual Senior Bowl is played. Ladd-Peebles Stadium — one of the largest venues in south Alabama — has just been booked for the event at which “The Donald” will say, well, who knows what?

Image Credit: American Football Wiki

Image Credit: American Football Wiki

A report by WKRG-TV notes that the campaign had initially arranged for the Trump rally to be held at a room that would accommodate around 2,000 people.

“When ticket demand exceeded that figure, the arena at Mobile Civic Center — which seats ten-thousand people — was considered,” says the News 5 report. But the scramble for free tickets was so great that the campaign pulled out all the stops:

News 5 is told Trump’s campaign has gone the extra mile to make the event as accommodating as possible. Parking will be free, shuttles to the stadium will be provided, and there will be concession stands for food and drinks.

“It’s due to an overwhelming response,” said Kayla Farnon, spokeswoman for the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. “More than 30,000 people have been confirmed to attend.“

Capacity of the stadium where the Friday night lights will be shining on Donald Trump is 40,000. The candidate himself predicted at his New Hampshire town hall on Wednesday that number could be met as the complimentary tickets are still being claimed online.

So how does the overflow enthusiasm for Donald Trump compare with Barack Obama’s ability to draw huge audiences for his first presidential run? At this point prior to the 2008 election — this far in advance of the first Obama victory — the candidate was attracting what were then considered to be phenomenal, “jaw-dropping” audiences. The New York Times reported that “No one has seen these kinds of crowds so long before Election Day” — crowds of 20,000 or so.

It wasn’t until the November general election of 2008 drew much closer that Obama began enjoying the turnout that Donald Trump is expected to see on Friday in a state whose primary is scheduled for March 1, 2016.

“In April 2008, as Mr. Obama struggled to vanquish Mrs. Clinton, 35,000 people crammed into Philadelphia’s historic Independence Park — the biggest crowd up to that time and surpassing the 30,000 that greeted him and Oprah Winfrey months earlier in South Carolina,” the Times reported in an August 2009 article.

What about you? Would you attend a Donald Trump campaign rally near you? Let us know in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Watch: This Controversial Trump Plan Has Mark Levin Calling Donald’s Critics ‘Dead Wrong’

When GOP front-runner and outspoken firebrand Donald Trump issued his immigration reform plan several days ago, one element of the 5-page proposal that stirred a lot of emotional controversy was Trump’s call to stop conferring birthright citizenship on so-called “anchor babies.” Many advocates and defenders of the practice argue that granting automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S. — even when their parents are here illegally — has always been a constitutional right.

However, a legal analyst for generally left-leaning CNN concedes that the longstanding assumption about anchor babies and their birthright is not so clear-cut — the constitutional questions surrounding the practice of conferring automatic citizenship are layered and complex. When promoters of the practice point to the 14th Amendment as the foundation for their support, the CNN analyst, Danny Cevallos, cautions that the meaning of the “jurisdiction clause” is fuzzy, given that the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868.

On the Fox News show Hannity Wednesday night, radio host, author, lawyer, and constitutional scholar Mark Levin weighed in on the issue that’s now a hot topic in the GOP presidential race.

Fox New reported Levin “said that those claiming that the 14th Amendment allows birthright citizenship are dead wrong, pointing to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, which grants absolute power to Congress to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”

“If you want a policy of open borders, that anybody born here should become a United States citizen, you amend the Constitution. We don’t have to amend the Constitution. It says what we say it says,” Levin forcefully argued. “The Supreme Court has never ruled that the children of illegal aliens are American citizens.”

By clicking on the video above, you can hear the entire interview with Mark Levin, who declared, “Of course Trump is right,” regarding the issue of anchor babies born in America to parents who are not U.S. citizens.

What do you think? Should anchor babies be granted automatic U.S. citizenship, even though their parents are illegal immigrants? Join the conversation by commenting below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

What Donald Trump Just Announced About Gay Marriage Will Create SERIOUS Buzz

People who wonder about Donald Trump’s clarity of principle and consistency of position on any number of important issues might find fresh concerns with what the Republican front-runner just said in a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

The article opens with an eye-catching paragraph: “In his first magazine cover interview and photo shoot as the leading Republican, the reality TV presidential candidate lets loose on Hillary’s email scandal (‘Watergate on steroids’), Bill Cosby (‘Was he drunk?’), whether he’ll go on Megyn Kelly’s show, why he won’t accept vice president, Melania as first lady, and if he even needs Fox News and the haters.”

But it’s Trump’s take on same-sex marriage that may cause the biggest buzz among both supporters and detractors — specifically, his assessment of whether the recent Supreme Court decision declaring gay marriage a legal right in all 50 states is settled law.

After telling the interviewer that he has attended a gay wedding — the marriage of a Broadway theater owner — the billionaire businessman was asked, “So this is a dead issue for the GOP at this point?”

Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.

Now while it sounds as though Trump is saying that a legislative response to the Supreme Court’s controversial gay marriage ruling is out of the question, he may be trying to steer clear of the big, hot-button social/cultural issue that concerns so many conservatives. In the past, however — in fact, in the very recent past — “The Donald” has publicly declared his opposition to same-sex marriage.

As Breitbart News reports, Trump reiterated his personal feelings about gay marriage just a few days ago in an interview with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd. That was the latest in a string of anti-gay marriage stands by the real estate mogul who wants to move his home address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Breitbart notes: “In an on-air interview two years ago Howard Stern pushed Trump on gay marriage. ‘Donald, go on the record. You’re for gay marriage.’ Trump replied, ‘Well, I’m not.’

“Two years before that, in an interview with the New York Times, Trump voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage….”

Curiously, it was just on Tuesday of this week that an article on the MSNBC website contended that Trump could be “the most LGBT-friendly Republican running for president.” The left-leaning cable news operation offered that assessment because of the GOP candidate’s stated belief that sexual orientation should not be a valid reason for an employer to let someone go.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Wow: Ben Carson Just Scored A Huge Win Over Trump In A Way No One Expected

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson topped rival Donald Trump Tuesday as his appearance before a Phoenix, AZ, crowd was more than double the size of the crowd Trump drew in the area last month. Carson’s event, initially scheduled for a venue seating 2,300 people, drew about 12,000 people.

Carson, second in the most recent poll to Trump after being a virtual unknown a few weeks ago, joked with the Phoenix crowd about how earlier in the year, the political class had all but dismissed him.

“We’ve been able to put together a magnificent national organization but I found it amusing a few months ago the Washington Post says ‘Carson’s organization is falling apart, and all his people are quitting,’” he said.

“They said you’ll never be able to raise money, but they forgot about one very important thing: The People… I personally am never going to go out and kiss the boots of billionaires and special interests. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one special interest group and that is the American people.”

Carson said faith overcame his own doubts about his candidacy.

“It wasn’t something that I really wanted to do to be honest with you but I kept getting pushed in that direction—and it was wonderful to be pushed in that direction—and I finally just said ‘Lord, you know I don’t particularly want to do this, but all the pundits say it’s impossible and you can’t put together an organization, you can’t raise money, you’re not connected with all the big money so it’s impossible so you really shouldn’t even be thinking about it.’ However, I just said, ‘Lord, if you want me to do it, you just open the doors. And if you open the doors, I’ll walk right through.’”

On Wednesday, Carson was touring the Mexico-Arizona border. He made his view on immigration clear to the crowd Tuesday night.

“The fact of the matter is we do have an illegal immigration problem in this country,” he said. “We have laws and we need to be able to pay attention to our laws and what I have said consistently is we need to seal our borders—but not just the southern border, the northern border, the Pacific border, the Atlantic border, every border.”

Achieving security takes not just tools, Carson said, but will.

We have the ability to do it, we just don’t have the will to do it. That will change when we have the right administration in place. The reason that is so important—a lot of people think there are just people coming from the south of the border—there are radical global jihadists who want to destroy us and our way of life and we have to keep them out. We have to make it not easy for them to get in here. This is a matter of our own security.

h/t: The Right Scoop

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth