Lend Lease 4 – Four Years of Medicare For All Discourse – June 30, 2019

This week Bill, Nate, and Greg discuss the evolution of Medicare For All discourse from the 2015 Democratic debates to the 2019 Democratic debates as well as the political evolution of Delaware since Joe Biden was first a Senator.

Original music by Stunt Bird.

Lend Lease 2 – Hyde Amendment and No Climate Debates – June 16, 2019

This week Bill, Rachel, and Nate talk about Biden’s flip-flops on the Hyde Amendment and the DNC’s decision to refuse to hold a climate policy debate or allow candidates to participate in one by anyone else.

Links and notes summer episode 2: PDF.

While defending Israel, Biden accuses them of a war crime

Fourth Geneva Convention, August 12, 1949, Article 33 on “Individual responsibility, collective penalties, pillage, reprisals” prohibits collective punishment as a war crime:

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

 
Typically, United States officials are very cautious about throwing around technical terms, including those mentioned above, that could trigger legal consequences. Vice President Joe Biden tends not to be so careful:

Vice President Joe Biden called on Israel to stop the demolition of homes of terrorists’ families, which he described as “collective punishment.” Biden also criticized expansion of Jewish settlements “in the West Bank and East Jerusalem” and called on the government to do more to stop “vigilante justice” attacks against Palestinians.

Biden was speaking at a noon plenary on Saturday at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum being held at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC. His speech ignored the upcoming elections, focusing instead on America’s bedrock support for Israel and the “tactical disagreements” that “should be honestly discussed between friends.”

 
I wonder how fast he will be forced to apologize for making an accurate remark about an ally once again.

Joe Biden made to apologize for publicly saying fact about Turkey

Folks, let’s talk about how Joe Biden was just forced to apologize for saying a true thing out loud because it was inconvenient for the Turkish government.

Here’s what he reportedly said:

Speaking at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Mr. Biden said allies including Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had extended unconditional financial and logistical support to Sunni fighters trying to oust the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“President Erdogan told me,” he said, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, “ ‘You were right. We let too many people through. Now we are trying to seal the border.’

“Our allies poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against al-Assad,” he said, including jihadists planning to join the Nusra Front and Al Qaeda.

 
And here was the angry response from the Turkish leadership:

“If Mr. Biden has said such a thing at Harvard, he needs to apologize to us,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters here.

Mr. Erdogan, despite widespread evidence to the contrary, denied that Turkey’s long, porous border had enabled thousands of militants to cross onto the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. “Foreign fighters never crossed into Syria from our country,” Mr. Erdogan said. “They would cross into Syria from Turkey on tourist passports, but nobody can claim that they have crossed with arms.”

 
Oh, ok, that’s super convincing. Just like Russia trying to claim that all its active duty troops fighting in eastern Ukraine are merely on holiday — like a separatist sabbatical — and can’t possibly be stopped or controlled.

Look, I’m probably way more understanding and favorable toward Turkey and the ruling AKP than most people in the US “commentary industry” — who tend to cherry-pick complaints or instinctively bash Turkey’s civilian leaders and non-secular population without mentioning any historical or modern context for certain actions — but I have my limits.

Along with the infamous “Article 301” of the Turkish Penal Code — banning insults to the nation or national symbols — and denial of the Armenian genocide, this is just part of a pattern of Turkish leaders demanding that the entire rest of the world (including elected US officials) bend around their weird alternate reality where only pro-Turkish things can be said unless you want to be an enemy of the state.

For years, Turkey manipulated its status as a key NATO military power and a friend of Israel to block Washington from doing or saying anything critical of Turkey. That’s deteriorated a bit as Turkey has grown apart from Israel and the protective embrace of the Israel lobby on Capitol Hill, but this episode and the speed of Biden’s apology at the insistence of the senior Turkish leadership prove they’re still somewhat untouchable. Vice President Biden maybe said something impolitic, but it wasn’t false, the issue he cited has been a real problem.

And lest you think this is some kind of “Biden problem” or punishment for “Biden being Biden,” let’s just note that President Obama himself is now more than five and a half years into trying to get out of a promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

I have a great respect for Turkey, the Turkish people, and its history — and I have consistently defended Turkey from unfair and offensive (racist or anti-Muslim) critiques — but the loud efforts at blindly shielding the country from criticism and mentions of past or present abuses or other policy failings are a serious problem that undermine and constantly form a negative backdrop to anything positive Turkey tries to do as it approaches its 100th anniversary since independence.

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Update, Oct 5, 2014: On Sunday, Vice President Biden called the leadership in the United Arab Emirates to make a similar apology to the UAE for including them, alongside Turkey and Qatar, in the blanket list of supporters of extremists in Syria. While Turkey was a bit fast and loose with border and arms controls, they did not intentionally support terrorist groups specifically, unlike Qatar. In contrast with both, the United Arab Emirates has been especially active militarily in fighting Islamist fighters in Syria and in Libya, and they claim to have a strong position against terrorist financing (although many private citizens seem to ignore that). Saudi Arabia — which I’m not sure was explicitly mentioned — has not publicly commented on Biden’s remarks. Qatar, which is openly financing and arming Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria, did not respond.