The well-known journalist, Seymour Hersh, has published an
article in the German newspaper Die Welt refuting President Trump's
assertions blaming the Syrians for the chemical incident at Khan Shaykhun on
April 4th. Worse, it accuses him of ignoring the intelligence that supported
the Syrian and Russian version of events. Mr. Hersh says his source is senior U.S.
The subsequent bombing of Syria (after informing them and the Russians of the target) was mostly theatrical although lauded at home. In the eyes of many, it made Trump president -- political gain trumps truth.
The episode reprises his cynicism and an ability to ride a wave, as in the notorious 'birther movement' contesting President Barack Obama's birthplace. And the same character flaw was apparent in the election as Mr. Trump shamelessly exploited a fear of the other to secure victory. The result has been a climate of hate and an exponential increase in hate crimes.
Perhaps it was the missiles to Syria with dessert for the Chinese leader; perhaps it was Mr. Trump's one-upmanship in keeping Mr. Xi Jinping and his wife waiting. Of course, the arms sales to India and the obvious partnering against China could not have helped. Whatever the reason, Mr. Modi returned home to a Chinese military attack in India's Sikkim province. Two border posts were destroyed by the Chinese.
Meanwhile, the epidemic of lynching and beatings of minorities and lower caste Hindus like Dalits continues to expand faster after the cattle slaughter restrictions imposed by the Modi government. The cow considered holy is not eaten by observant upper caste Hindus and the rules are part of an effort to impose these cultural values on Christian, Muslim and Sikh minorities also known as the Hindutva movement.
Mr. Modi finally decided to deliver a speech (last Wednesday) against the violence and the cow vigilantes but the genie is already out of the bottle. Barely 12 hours later on Thursday, paying no heed to Mr. Modi, cow vigilantes lynched a man in the village of Bajratar in Jharkhand. Alimuddin Ansari was a meat trader. He was attacked by a mob, dragged out of his van and killed, and his van torched. Worth noting that on Tuesday two days earlier a dairy farmer accused of killing a cow was also lynched in Jharkhand.
Needless to say, the new rules are jeopardizing the $10 billion meat industry, rendering more people jobless and worsening poverty. These cattle sale restrictions are also hurting farmers, already suffering through globalization and climate conditions, because when necessary they could sell old draft animals for slaughter through middlemen, a practice now prohibited. Their situation is so dire that more than 300,000, or over 12,000 each year, have committed suicide since agrarian 'reforms' in 1991.
Images of poverty, dirt and hatred broadcast across the world have dulled the gloss on Mr. Modi's carefully crafted picture. That and Mr. Trump's habitual falsehoods keep reminding us of how democracies falter when the demos fails to participate with careful deliberation.