Trump Fails To Honor Veterans 100 Years After WWI
Today’s stories you might’ve missed:
1. President Trump was mostly a no-show at celebrations commemorating both the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I this weekend, as well as Veterans Day commemorations on Monday. Trump traveled to Paris for the ceremony and was present during a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron that decried the modern surge of nationalism which was responsible for millions of deaths a century ago (Trump recently proudly identified himself as a nationalist.) Trump did not stay for the ensuing peace conference, nor for a procession down the Champs-Elysee by dignitaries from all other countries involved in WWI. He also missed a visit to a US cemetery outside of Paris. Rain and a greater deference for Parisian traffic than fallen soldiers were given as an excuse, which drew widespread criticism.
On Monday, the Trump administration again let rain hinder the President’s ability to venerate veterans. Despite a professed love of generals, these actions are indicative of the way Trumps really feels about America’s military service members. Between mocking war heroes, insulting gold star families, and calls for a vanity-fueled military parade, Trump has consistently shown a callous indifference to those who serve in the country’s armed forces. America’s veterans deserve better.
2. A covert attack in the Gaza Strip by Israeli security forces has killed seven Palestinians, including a Hamas commander, as well as one Israeli officer. While Israel has not revealed the purpose of the operation, it appears likely it was a botched intelligence gathering exercise against Hamas, the faction ruling Gaza which Israel considers a terrorist group. Israel has blockaded Gaza since Hamas took power in 2006, and has killed more than 200 people there this year alone, mostly due to disproportionately lethal responses to protests at the border. Rockets were launched into Israel in response to the attack this weekend, a common occurrence when violence flares up. The two sides have gone to war three times; a fourth iteration seems all too likely.
3. North Korea has been keeping as many as 20 ballistic missile bases operational, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. One of the sites is just 135 km from the South Korean capital of Seoul. There is no immediate threat of launches from these sites at the moment. However, the revelations diminish hopes of progress on denuclearization after a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June. This was also probably the reason for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel meetings with North Korean officials last week. Trump’s declaration in June that he neutralized the North Korean threat now seem horribly premature.
4. The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing its worst-ever Ebola outbreak, which has been going on since August. Over 200 people have died from the disease so far in the eastern part of the country, and more than 300 cases have been reported. Health workers have been able to vaccinate about 27,000 people over the last few months, but are facing numerous difficulties, notably from threats from warring militias in the region. Internal fighting over mineral-rich lands has left 1 million people internally displaced in this part of the country; these people are particularly vulnerable to exposure.
5. A summit over a potential resolution to the Libyan conflict began today in the Italian city of Palermo. Libya has been in disarray since the ouster and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with militias fighting to carve up swathes of the country. The government recognized by the UN is in control of Tripoli, the capital, but not much else, while militia commander General Khalifa Haftar controls much of the eastern part of the country, which has also had a notable presence of Islamic State fighters. The instability has made Libya a haven for a host of criminal activity, including arms trafficking and modern-day slavery. Libya has also been the main point of departure for many migrants trying to gain asylum in the EU, hence the interest for a resolution.
The UN-backed government and Haftar agreed for elections to be held next month, however, this seems far from likely. The standoff between the two sides will be juxtaposed with the jockeying between France and Italy, as both vie for influence over the process, not least because of the country’s huge oil and gas deposits. Don’t expect the summit to yield many breakthroughs.