Tuesday, November 3, 2020

After letting COVID-19 spread, Trump tries to use it to suppress votes. It's time for a real, equal democracy that ends state murder and mass preventable death.

The Republicans are working harder to stop votes from being cast and counted than they are to stop the spread of the deadly virus Covid-19.

They assess that the threat to them of Covid-19 is low enough that they can ignore it, even use it, but that the thing that truly endangers them is to let the wrong Americans vote.

While they are working with great vigor to mobilize their own supporters, they are striving still more fiercely to disenfranchise the other side.

While Republican lawyers work overtime to have counts stopped and legal, filled-out ballots destroyed, President Donald Trump, working the street side, tries to scare opposing voters away.   

Building on his party’s surgical, race-centered efforts to shut polling places and make voting a trial, Trump has called on his armed tough guys to show up outside the hostile voting venues that—despite best efforts—still remain.

And in a cynical but shrewd bank-shot, Trump is trying to leverage his stack of Covid-19 dead and to turn it into an advantage with the help of judges and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

While dilettanteishly fighting Covid-19 and then languidly opting to let it run wild, Trump was taking careful note of the fact that, contrary to his own reassurances, the Democrats were telling their base that coronavirus-infused particles could indeed kill you.

In his opponents' decision to tell their public this medical truth, Trump appeared to sense naive, contemptible, electorally exploitable vulnerability.

Trump anticipated that his followers, taking him at his repeated word, would be ready to storm the polling booths in person, but that due to this instance of loser honesty by his foe, the Democrats, Trump opponents would end up preferring, on the whole, to vote by mail.

The response was audacious and brilliant: impede the mail where the bad guys live, while at the same time getting his judges to toss legal ballots that were—thanks to his intervention—delayed.

Through his oligarchic henchman—the big party donor DeJoy—Trump commandeered the U.S. Postal Service, gleefully endeavoring to flip this great institution (where many African-Americans work) from a constitutionally mandated public service into a Republican dirty tricks op.

Clearly alluding to this gambit when he spoke November 1 on ABC, Trump aide Jason Miller predicted Trump would win in part because of what he called "media and Democratic suppression for their voters on election day"—ie. media and Democratic Party candor on the pandemic that led their voters to, like suckers, trust the U.S. Postal Service.

If this vast, brazen scheme succeeds it will be a nightstick blow to the head of democracy, but if it doesn't—or perhaps even if it does—it may, and must, inspire deep change.

It's long past time for the US to stop pretending to be some pompous version of a managed democracy, and to give everyone the unimpeded right to cast a cleanly counted, equally-weighted vote.

But beyond the oft-discussed legal and political changes needed to ensure one-person-one-vote, we must also alter and abolish the economic system that imposes the rule of one-dollar-one-vote.

If the Democrats win it will be in no small part because they out-monied the Republican money-men, enabling them to sell Biden with the cash of Bloomberg and the college-plus suburbanites whom they proudly tout as their grass-roots replacement for the alienated working class and poor, that vast, multi-ethnic cadre that has fled the party or elected not to vote.

But beyond the political clout of sums like the extra trillion dollars US oligarchs gained during Trump and Covid-19 , lie the material harms of this skewed system that include mass preventable death.  Domestically, that includes the fallout of our failure to treat food, shelter, and healthcare as among one's rights, but internationally it includes the routine US practice—starting long before Trump was born—of being willing to cause the mass death of foreign civilians, on whim, for interest, or for fleeting gain.

Perhaps due to Trump and the mortal consequences of the rightist revolution he dragged to power, the notion is finally starting to broadly dawn that certain things—like flirting with extinction, and brutality, are unacceptable, and if you allow them there's a chance that they'll come home to hit you too.

Covid-19 is somewhat like that, but so are many deep parts of the US and world system.  Let Trump be the occasion to start rooting them all out, once and for all.  


A version of this piece appeared at Common Dreams 


NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fundraising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Breaking News: Rapat strategis Prabowo merencanakan penangkapan massal lawan-lawan politik dan kaum Islamis; upaya di balik layar untuk menyenangkan AS, termasuk perintah Prabowo untuk menggagalkan gugatan melawan Freeport-McMoRan dan janji untuk “menghancurkan” FPI, HTI, PKS; Partai Demokrat juga ditarget; rencana mengembalikan Angkatan Darat ke perannya seperti zaman “Orde Baru”

April 15, 2019

Oleh Allan Nairn
Jakarta


Prabowo Subianto, seorang pensiunan jenderal yang sekarang sedang mengincar jabatan presiden Indonesia telah menyusun rencana untuk melakukan penangkapan massal baik terhadap lawan-lawan politik maupun para sekutunya hari ini.

Menurut notulensi rapat strategis yang digelar Prabowo bersama rekan-rekan jenderal lingkaran dalamnya dan sejumlah orang lainnya yang tergabung dalam tim inti pada akhir Desember 2018, Prabowo--seorang 'anak didik' Amerika Serikat yang telah lama terlibat dalam kasus pembunuhan massal, penculikan, dan penyiksaan, juga berencana mengembalikan Angkatan Darat Indonesia ke posisinya seperti di era kediktatoran Suharto.

[For full scrollable text of Notulensi Rapat see link, and bottom of this piece]

Menurut notulensi rapat tersebut, Prabowo--yang pernah berbicara ngalor-ngidul di hadapan saya tentang upaya merebut kekuasaan dan soal "[dijuluki] diktator fasis"--rupanya telah mempersiapkan "Malam Belati Panjang" (Night of the Long Knives) versinya sendiri, untuk mengonsolidasikan kekuasaan di tangannya sekaligus menjilat Washington.

Dalam pertemuan yang diadakan pada 21 Desember 2018 di kediaman Prabowo di Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Prabowo dan dan tim membuat penugasan-penugasan khusus tak hanya untuk "mengadili sebanyak-banyaknya lawan politik," tapi juga "melumpuhkan" kelompok-kelompok Islamis yang kini menyokong kampanyenya. Rencana ini akan dilaksanakan setelah Prabowo menjabat presiden.

Selama ini Prabowo berkampanye melawan apa yang dikecamnya sebagai "antek asing". Namun notulensi rapat menyebutkan ia diam-diam berjanji untuk "bekerja sama dengan Amerika Serikat" dengan cara "menangkap ulama-ulama radikal" dan "serdadu-serdadu [Islamis]" yang membantunya berkampanye saat ini.

Meski ihwal besar yang diserang dalam kampanye Prabowo adalah perampasan kekayaan nasional oleh asing, di belakang layar Prabowo telah campur tangan--seperti yang dikatakan wakil ketua partainya kepada saya--untuk menyokong aktor utama perampas kekayaan itu, yakni Freeport-McMoRan, perusahaan tambang raksasa asal AS.

—-

Freeport--beserta tambang emas dan tembaganya yang telah menduduki Papua secara de facto--telah berulang kali kepergok menyuap pejabat dan satuan-satuan militer serupa Kopassus-nya Prabowo. Freeport juga telah menyebabkan kerusakan lingkungan. Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan Indonesia melaporkan kerusakan ini diperkirakan mencapai Papua Barat, sebuah wilayah pendudukan secara de-facto. Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan Indonesia pada 2017 memperkirakan kerusakan akibat kerusakan lingkungan ini mencapai $13 miliar.

Beberapa tahun belakangan, perusahan yang beroperasi secara global itu dikendalikan oleh kawan Presiden Donald Trump, Carl Icahn.

Lawan Prabowo yang berasal dari kalangan sipil, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), belakangan sebagian menasionalisasikan Freeport--sebuah langkah yang disikapi dengan keberatan oleh AS. 

Namun, dalam sebuah wawancara on-the-record, wakil ketua Gerindra memberi tahu saya bahwa Prabowo--secara diam-diam--telah ikut campur atas nama Freeport.

"Artinya dia tidak anti-asing itu," kata Waketum Gerindra Arief Poyuono menekankan sikap Prabowo kepada saya. Ia menyatakan Prabowo "marah" dan ikut campur dalam kapasitas pribadi untuk menggagalkan gugatan para pekerja Freeport melawan Freeport. Gugatan ini diajukan ke pengadilan oleh Poyuono.

Menurut pengakuan Poyuono, setelah terjadi sebuah kecelakaan kerja di Freeport, Poyuono bertindak dalam kapasitasnya sebagai pimpinan sebuah serikat buruh untuk mengajukan gugatan hukum tanpa berkonsultasi dengan Prabowo. Tapi setelah Prabowo mengetahui hal itu, Poyuono menarik gugatan tersebut. "Saya cabut," katanya.

"Prabowo marah sama saya," kata Poyuono. "'Eh, Jangan,' katanya, 'itu nggak boleh,' kata Poyuono menirukan Prabowo. 'Jangan begitu, mereka [Freeport] sudah investasi banyak!'"

Poyuono menambahkan pandangan Prabowo terhadap Freeport "sangat positif" dan mengatakan bahwa Prabowo menganggap nasionalisasi parsial Freeport oleh Jokowi sebagai langkah yang "terlalu kasar".

Poyuono adalah satu dari tiga orang sipil yang disebut-sebut hadir dalam rapat strategis di rumah Prabowo pada 21 Desember.

Selain Prabowo, ada enam purnawirawan jenderal dan tiga purnawirawan laksamana yang hadir dalam rapat tersebut.

Di antara perwira yang datang, ada Glenny Kairupan dan Yunus Yosfiah yang masing-masing terlibat dalam teror bumihangus dan pembantaian massal pasca-referendum Timor Timur yang diadakan PBB dan pembunuhan lima jurnalis Australia dan Selandia Baru (peristiwa Balibo).

Pernyataan-pernyataan Poyuono kepada saya saya tentang Prabowo dan Freeport--juga tentang Prabowo dan Trump, (Poyuono mengaku Prabowo telah mencoba bertemu Trump dan memujinya "bagus", serta menggunakan taktik kampanye Trump)--konsisten dengan pokok-pokok berulang (repeated allusions) dalam catatan rapat yang mengacu pada hasrat Prabowo untuk menyenangkan Washington--sebuah niat yang berada di urutan kedua setelah keinginan Prabowo menyingkirkan lawan-lawannya.

Meskipun Prabowo baru-baru ini bersumpah di muka publik tidak akan menggunakan kekuatan koersif negara untuk kepentingan politiknya sendiri, catatan rapat strategis tertutup justru menggambarkan rencana-rencana detail Prabowo untuk memanfaatkan negara demi kepentingan politik pribadi. 

Mandat untuk "mengadili sebanyak-banyaknya lawan politik" akan diserahkan kepada Jaksa Agung baru Prabowo (partai-partai yang disasar adalah yang anti-Prabowo dan pro-Jokowi: PDIP, Nasdem, Golkar, PKB, dan PPP) dan nampaknya juga kepada Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) yang kelihatannya independen. Dalam catatan rapat tersebut, tiga pimpinan KPK saat ini ditulis akan "diserang" dan "dijatuhkan" sebagai" target utama dalam operasi pengendalian KPK."

Secara terselubung, ada "agenda penyerangan terhadap lawan politik" yang akan dilancarkan oleh BIN (Badan Intelijen Negara)--mitra CIA di Indonesia yang mungkin dikenal karena telah meracuni dan membunuh pahlawan HAM sekaligus teman saya, Munir, pada 2004. (Pembunuhan ini diperintahkan oleh seorang jenderal, Hendropriyono, yang kini menjadi penasihat Jokowi).

Begitu Prabowo mengambil alih kekuasaan, cara-cara ekstra-legal BIN akan digunakan untuk menghadapi koalisi partai-partai yang sekarang berkampanye untuk Prabowo, tentu dengan Gerindra (partai politik Prabowo) sebagai pengecualian. 

Salah satu dari sekian target adalah pimpinan Partai Demokrat Jenderal Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), seorang mantan presiden yang turut memecat Prabowo dari Angkatan Darat setelah kejatuhan Suharto. Selama kampanye tahun ini, SBY terlihat hangat-hangat kuku mendukung Prabowo. Dalam sebuah surat pribadi yang bocor, SBY mengkritik rencana kampanye besar-besaran Prabowo sebagai tindakan yang memecah belah.

Seperti yang telah terjadi, rapat strategis Desember 2018--menurut notulensi rapat--dimulai begitu Prabowo pulang dari acara pertemuan dengan SBY di Jakarta. 

Notulensi rapat menyatakan: "Tugas lain dari BIN nanti adalah melemahkan partai koalisi untuk meningkatkan dominasi Gerindra dalam pemerintahan: PKS dan Partai Demokrat akan digembosi habis-habisan melalui berbgai kasus Korupsi lama dan yang baru. Para petinggi partai akan dipenjara karena korupsi. Dengan begitu, Prabowo tampak sebagai presiden yang kuat dan tegas dalam menegakkan hukum."

Pemenjaraan politik ini akan diperintahkan jauh-jauh hari sebelum ada fakta, sebelum bukti-bukti dikumpulkan, sebelum pengadilan digelar. Penugasan ini hanya dilakukan untuk kasus korupsi baik sungguhan maupun baru dugaan, bukan untuk kasus pembunuhan massal, penyiksaan, atau pelanggaran HAM berat lainnya.

BIN di bawah kekuasaan Prabowo juga akan ditugaskan untuk "melumpuhkan kelompok HTI [yang telah dilarang oleh pemerintah karena dianggap sebagai ancaman negara dan keselamatan publik], FPI [organisasi yang awalnya dicetuskan oleh tentara dan polisi sebagai "preman" untuk menyerang aktivis pro-demokrasi], JAD, dan [kelompok-kelompok] yang setara dengan itu." Kerja-kerja ini akan mengiringi tugas POLRI untuk "melemahkan gerakan HTI dan FPI; menangkap ulama-ulama radikal untuk menunjukkan pada Amerika dan sekutu bahwa Prabowo-Sandi tegas mengatasi radikalisme dan terorisme di Asia Tenggara.

Mungkin inilah aspek yang paling kontroversial secara politis dari rencana tersebut, karena HTI, FPI, PKS, kelompok-kelompok serupa, dan "ulama-ulama radikal" adalah motor di balik kampanye akar rumput Prabowo.

Dan Prabowo--yang mengampanyekan dirinya sebagai musuh bebuyutan "antek-antek asing"--secara eksplisit menarget organisasi Islamis dan "ulama radikal" demi Amerika Serikat:

Dalam pertemuan itu, "Dikabarkan juga, pada pertengahan Desember 2018, Prabowo Subianto sempat diundang oleh Dubes Amerika untuk Indonesia bertemu di kediaman Dubes Joseph R. Donovan, Jr. Selain membicarakan perang dagang Cina-AS, keduanya membahas komitmen Indonesia melawan terorisme ke depan. Prabowo berjanji akan mendukung penuh AS dalam memerangi kelompok radikal dan teroris di Indonesia.”

Tentang upaya Prabowo mendekati AS, notulensi itu memaparkan: "jika terpilih sebagai presiden, langkah awal yang dilakukannya [Prabowo] adalah menghancurkan radikalisme di Indonesia"--sebuah komitmen penting bagi seorang kandidat yang dalam pawai terbesarnya berkampanye bersama pimpinan FPI (melalui streaming video dari Arab Saudi); seorang kandidat yang dalam salah satu video viraalnya terlihat memberi hormat di hadapan khalayak dari atap limusin yang disediakan oleh seseorang yang mengaku sebagai "Presiden ISIS Indonesia" dan mengirim kombatan-kombatan Indonesia ke Irak dan Suriah.

Salah satu alasan kenapa rapat strategis itu diadakan adalah (selain merencanakan "balas dendam politik") "untuk menentukan langkah konkrit menghadapi sejumlah isu strategis seperti tuduhan Prabowo-Sandi mendukung Khilafah... Seperti diketahui, Prabowo, sampai saat ini, belum menyatakan sikap tegas apakah mendukung atau menentang Kelompok HTI, FPI, dan kelompok lain yang mendukung berdirinya Khilafah di Indonesia. Prabowo sengaja diam karena ia ingin menjadikan mereka serdadu [untuk] memenangkan pertempuran politik 2019."

Tetapi Prabowo dan "orang-orang inti dari lingkaran dalam"--notulensi menyebutkan nama enam jenderal yang hadir, tiga laksamana, tiga agen (operative) sipil, namun tidak ada tokoh Islamis--mengambil keputusan yang jelas untuk mengorbankan 'serdadu-serdadunya' begitu pertempuran berakhir.

Tentang apa yang terlihat seperti imbalan politik yang dilebih-lebihkan untuk untuk pengkhianatan ini, notulensi rapat menyatakan Prabowo "berjanji bekerjasama dengan Amerika Serikat, Singapura, dan Australia yang konon saat ini sudah memberikan sinyal dukungan terhadap pasangan Prabowo-Sandi."

Mungkin ini berlaku pada Singapura, namun nampaknya tak demikian bagi AS. Kedutaan Besar AS di Jakarta belum menanggapi permintaan saya untuk memberikan komentar.

Catatan rapat strategis yang berjudul "NOTULENSI RAPAT TERTUTUP PRABOWO SUBIANTO DAN TIM," ini telah beredar secara terbatas di lingkaran aparat keamanan termasuk BIN, dan telah sampai baik ke tangan para pejabat yang loyal kepada Presiden Jokowi maupun pejabat-pejabat lain yang mendukung Prabowo.

Karena telah diidentifikasi sebagai informasi yang diterima "dari 'orang dalam' Prabowo-Sandi", informasi ini tampaknya tidak digunakan secara politis, karena dipandang bermasalah bagi kedua kubu pendukung.

Akan memalukan bagi kubu pendukung Jokowi untuk mengakui bahwa mereka memata-matai Prabowo, sebagaimana yang pernah dituduhkan oleh Prabowo sendiri. Notulensi ini juga melemahkan narasi sejumlah pihak di kubu Jokowi bahwa Prabowo adalah seorang Islamis ekstremis,  berkebalikan dengan yang telah ditunjukkan oleh karirnya--dan oleh dokumen ini--sebagai orangnya Suharto, Angkatan Darat, Washington, dan seorang pendukung kediktatoran yang masih berambisi mengejar kekuasaan mutlak.

Bagi kubu pendukung Prabowo, notulensi ini melemahkan klaim Prabowo sendiri karena di situ disebutkan bahwa Prabowo bekerja--bukan melawan--pihak asing, dan pada akhirnya secara eksplisit berencana menjadikan dirinya satu-satunya pemimpin yang berdiri tegak dengan cara merepresi orang Indonesia dari semua kubu.

Berangkat dari sana, rapat strategis tersebut membahas kediktatoran Orde Baru yang dipimpin oleh bekas mertua Prabowo, Soeharto.

Sesuai saran AS, Suharto menggunakan tentara untuk mengkudeta bapak pendiri bangsa Indonesia, Sukarno, dan mengkonsolidasikan kekuasaan melalui pembantaian 1965 yang menewaskan 400.000 hingga satu juta warga sipil. Pembantaian ini didukung oleh AS.

Disokong oleh uang, senjata, dan pelatihan dari AS--banyak dari pelatihan Angkata Darat yang difasilitasi Prabowo--Suharto berhasil menjaga rezim yang membuatnya berkuasa selama lebih dari tiga dekade hingga ia dilengser dalam pergolakan pro-demokrasi yang juga menyebabkan kejatuhan Prabowo. Kejatuhan Prabowo sendiri bermula setelah AS mencampakkannya begitu ia kalah dalam perebutan kekuasaan dengan saingannya, Jenderal Wiranto. (Sebelumnya Prabowo mengatakan kepada saya bahwa dirinya adalah "anak kesayangan Amerika.")

Di bawah Orde Barunya Suharto, para penyintas dan keturunan mereka dipenjara, dilarang beraktivitas politik, dan digambarkan bak iblis. Sementara Angkatan Darat--yang terus melakukan pembunuhan, seperti yang masih terjadi sampai sekarang khususnya di Papua--menjadi sangat kaya dan berkuasa atas kehidupan politik hingga tingkat desa.

Dalam rapat Desember tersebut, Prabowo dan tim mengusulkan--dalam artian tertentu--untuk kembali menghidupkan Orde Baru.

Mereka memutuskan: "Peran Angkatan Darat akan diperkuat seperti pada jaman Orde Baru"), sebuah usulan luar biasa mengingat kekuasaan--dan impunitas--yang telah dimiliki Angkatan Darat hari ini.

Jika dibandingkan dengan para perwira manapun, mungkin Prabowo terlibat dalam lebih banyak tindaak kekerasan termasuk penyiksaan langsung di Timor Timur, teror anti-Cina di Jakarta 1998, penculikan dan eksekusi para aktivis di Jakarta, operasi pembunuhan massal di Aceh, pembantaian "beberapa ratus" warga sipil di Kraras 1983 pembantaian, dan sebuah operasi di Papua di mana orang-orang Prabowo menyamar sebagai Palang Merah Internasional untuk menembaki warga sipil dengan senapan mesin dari sebuah helikopter.

Namun, terlepas dari tuntutan para penyintas yang gigih dan berani, Prabowo, sebagai seorang jenderal, belum juga tersentuh hukum.

Dia cukup merasa aman ketika berbicara kepada saya (yang notabene lawannya) pada 2001 tentang sebuah pembantaian (pada 12 November 1991, di pemakaman Santa Cruz, Dili, Timor Timur--saya selamat dari pembantaian ini) sampai-sampai ia mengkritik teknik rekan-rekannya: “Anda tidak semestinya membunuh warga sipil di depan pers internasional,” katanya. “Komandan-komandan itu bisa saja membantai di desa-desa terpencil sehingga tak diketahui siapapun, tapi bukan di ibukota provinsi!”. Sekali lagi, yang dikritik oleh Prabowo adalah teknik rekan-rekannya, bukan pembantaian terbuka atas 271 warga sipil di Santa Cruz. 

Jokowi, seorang petahana sipil, sangat takut pada Angkatan Darat sampai-sampai ia tak menepati janji untuk memprosekusi para pelaku pelanggaran HAM dan membiarkan tentara memegang posisi penting di dalam timnya. Ia membiarkan orang-orang ini--beserta kolega-kolega TNI-nya, intel, dan polisi--untuk perlahan-lahan meraih kembali privilese yang mereka miliki selama era Orde Baru.

Fakta tersebut sangat mengecewakan banyak penyintas dan aktivis sehingga dalam pemilu ini mereka bersumpah untuk golput. 

Tak diragukan lagi, hal ini disambut Prabowo dan orang-orangnya.  Ia telah membunuh orang-orang dicintai dan dihormati oleh para penyintas dan aktivis.  Tapi dengan golput, mereka mungkin memusulkan Prabowo untuk menang.

——

Menurut notulensi rapat, orang yang ditugaskan mengawali proses pengembalian tentara ke kedudukannya seperti di zaman Orde Baru adalah Jenderal Gatot Nurmantyo, mantan panglima TNI--setelah berbulan-bulan jabatannya ditinjau ulang oleh presiden--yang akhirnya diberhentikan oleh Jokowi.

Jenderal Gatot secara terbuka mendukung teori "Proxy Wars" yang menempatkan aktivis, pembangkang, gerakan sosial di Indonesia--dan kaum LGBT--sebagai agen asing.


Setelah meninggalkan jabatannya di TNI, Gatot menyatakan netral secara politik. Namun, minggu lalu ia secara terbuka menyatakan dukungan untuk Prabowo.

---




Link ke versi Bahasa Inggris




NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fund raising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me

Monday, April 15, 2019

Breaking News: Prabowo strategy session planned mass arrests of political opponents, Islamist allies; behind-the-scenes effort to please US includes Prabowo order to kill lawsuit v Freeport-McMoRan, pledge to "crush" FPI, HTI, PKS; SBY's Demokrats also targeted; plan to return Army to "New Order" role

April 15, 2019

By Allan Nairn
Jakarta

[Link ke versi Bahasa Indonesia]

Prabowo Subianto, a retired general now seeking the presidency of Indonesia, has made plans to stage mass arrests of political opponents and his current allies.

According to minutes of a strategy session he held with fellow generals and others last December, Prabowo — a longtime US protege who has been implicated in mass killing, abduction, and torture, has also made plans to restore Indonesia’s army to the role it played in the Suharto dictatorship.

 [For full scrollable text of Minutes see link, and bottom of this piece]

At the meeting, held last December 21 at a Prabowo home in Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, he and his team made specific assignments for "putting on trial as many political opponents as possible," but also for "crippling" the Islamist groups that now propel his campaign, after he assumes the presidency.

Prabowo, who once mused to me about seizing power and "be[ing] called a fascist dictator," is apparently, according to the Minutes, preparing his own political night of the long knives, in part to consolidate power in his own hands but also to curry favor with Washington.

The general has publicly campaigned against what he calls "foreign lackeys" ("antek asing"), but the Minutes indicate that privately he has pledged to "collaborate with the United States" by "arrest(ing) the radical clerics" and other "foot soldiers" of his current campaign.

Likewise, though a major attack point of his campaign has been the extraction of national wealth by foreigners, behind-the-scenes Prabowo has intervened -- his party's vice chair tells me -- in favor of the main extractor of that wealth, the US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan.

---

Freeport, which strip-mines gold and copper in de-facto-occupied West Papua, has repeatedly been caught paying-off officials and army units like Prabowo's Kopassus, and has inflicted environmental damage of an estimated thirteen billion US dollars, according to Indonesia's national audit agency (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan).

A global operation, it has in recent years been controlled by Trump friend, Carl Icahn.

Prabowo's opponent, the civilian incumbent, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has recently -- over US objections -- partially nationalized Freeport Indonesia.

But Prabowo has nonetheless attacked Jokowi for being soft on foreigners, and has repeatedly told his cheering crowds "The Motherland is being raped" ("Ibu Pertiwi sedang diperkosa").

In an on-the-record interview, however, Prabowo's party vice-chair told me that Prabowo has -- outside public view -- stepped in on behalf of Freeport.

Apparently trying to make the point to me that Prabowo "is not anti-foreigner"
("Artinya, dia tidak anti asing, itu"), his party vice chair, Arief Poyuono revealed
that an "angry" ("marah") Prabowo personally intervened to kill a large workers'-rights lawsuit against Freeport that he, Poyouono, had filed.

Poyuono said that following an industrial accident at Freeport, acting in his capacity as a union leader, he had filed the suit without consulting Prabowo but "I pulled it" ("Saya cabut") after Prabowo got wind of it.

"Prabowo got mad at me," ("Prabowo marah sama saya") Poyuono said, and ordered him: "'Arief, don't. You're not allowed to do this'" because "'Freeport has made a big investment'" ("'Eh, Jangan,' katanya, 'itu nggak boleh,' katanya. 'Jangan begitu, mereka sudah investasi banyak!'").

Poyuono added that Prabowo's view of Freeport is "extremely positive" ("sangat positif") and said that he viewed Jokowi's partial nationalization as "too harsh" ('terlalu kasar").

Poyuono was one of only three civilians named in the Minutes as participating in Prabowo's December 21 strategy session.  

The other named attendees, besides Prabowo, were six retired generals and three retired admirals.  

These officers included the generals Glenny Kairupan and Yunus Yosfiah, who have been implicated in -- respectively -- the 1999 UN referendum East Timor arson/massacre terror, and the Timor Balibo murders of five Australian and New Zealand journalists.

Poyuono's statements to me regarding Prabowo and Freeport -- and also Prabowo and Trump (he said Prabowo has been trying to meet Trump, and that he and Prabowo regard Trump as "excellent" ["bagus"] and they have been using Trump's campaign tactics) -- are consistent with the repeated allusions in the Minutes to Prabowo's desire to please Washington, a motive that comes across as second only to his desire to eliminate competitors.

---

Although Prabowo recently swore at a rally to not use state coercive forces for his own political interests, the Minutes of his closed strategy session lay out detailed plans to do precisely that. 

The mandate for "putting on trial as many political opponents as possible" was to be handed to Prabowo's new Attorney General (with the party targets being the anti-Prabowo pro-Jokowi PDI Perjuangan, Nasdem, Golkar, PKB, and PPP) and also, apparently, the ostensibly independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), three of whose current leaders were named to be "attacked," "toppled" and "removed" as "principal targets of the operation to get control of the KPK."

On the covert side, there is "the agenda of attacks on political opponents" to be carried out by BIN (Badan Intelijen Negara), the State Intelligence Body -- a liaison partner of the CIA, perhaps best known for its 2004 arsenic assassination of my friend, the human rights hero Munir (an assassination commanded by a general, Hendropriyono, who currently advises Jokowi).

Once Prabowo takes power, BIN's extra-legal means are also to be unleashed against the coalition of parties now campaigning for him, with a crucial exemption for his personal political vehicle, Gerindra.

One of the designated targets for Prabowo's BIN is the leadership of the Demokrat Party of General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (known as SBY), a former president who helped cashier Prabowo from the army after the fall of Suharto.  In this year's campaign, SBY seemed to endorse Prabowo somewhat reluctantly.  In a leaked private letter he criticized plans for Prabowo's biggest rally as being divisive.

As it happens, the December strategy session only started, according to the Minutes, at 9:00 pm, as soon as Prabowo returned from a Jakarta sit-down with SBY.

The Minutes state: "Another future task of the BIN is to debilitate the coalition parties in order to increase Gerindra's dominance inside government: PKS [Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, the influential Islamist party] and the Demokrat Party will be completely defeated through various cases of Corruption, old and new.  Party leaders are going to be jailed for corruption.  With that, Prabowo will appear to be a strong and firm president in enforcing the law."

These political jailings are mandated before the fact, before evidence is gathered or trials held.  And they are mandated only for real or claimed corruption, not for mass murder, torture or similar state crimes.

Prabowo's BIN is also to get the assignment of "crippling of the HTI [the Indonesian chapter of Hizb ut-tahrir, banned by the government as a threat to the state and public safety], FPI [originally launched by the army and police as "preman" (street thugs) to attack pro-democracy activists] JAD and equivalent groups," which complements the order to POLRI (the national police) to "debilitate the HTI and FPI movements and arrest the radical clerics to show America and its allies that Prabowo-Sandi are resolute in subduing radicalism and terrorism in Southeast Asia."

This is politically perhaps the most explosive aspect since HTI, FPI, the political Party PKS, similar groups and "the radical clerics" are the driving force of Prabowo's grassroots campaign.

And Prabowo -- the supposed arch enemy of the "foreign lackeys" is explicitly doing this for the US:

At the meeting, "It was also made known that in mid-December 2018 Prabowo was invited by the American Ambassador to meet in the residence of Ambassador Joseph R. Donovan, Jr. Apart from discussing the China-US trade war, the two discussed Indonesia's commitment to oppose terrorism going forward.  Prabowo promised he will fully support the American effort to wage war on the [Islamist] radical forces and terrorists of Indonesia."

Explicating his pitch to the US, the Minutes state: "if chosen as president the first step he [Prabowo] will take will be to crush [Islamist] radicalism in Indonesia,"(emphasis in original), a notable commitment for Prabowo who, in his biggest rally, campaigned alongside the FPI leader, Habib Rizieq Shihab (who beamed-in by video from Saudi Arabia), and who in one of his iconic videos is seen saluting the crowds from the sunroof of a limo provided by the self-proclaimed "president of ISIS Indonesia," who sent Indonesian fighters to Iraq and Syria.

One of the reasons for convening the strategy session (apart from planning "political revenge") was, according to the Minutes, "to decide on concrete steps regarding several strategic issues like the charge that Prabowo-Sandi [Sandiaga Uno, a private equity man, is Prabowo's running mate] support the establishment of The Caliphate [i.e. Indonesia becoming a caliphate]... As is known, Prabowo, up until this moment, has not yet publicly expressed a strong position on whether or not he supports or opposes HTI, FPI, and other forces supporting the creation of a Caliphate in Indonesia. Prabowo has been intentionally silent because he wishes to use them as foot soldiers to win the 2019 political battle."

But Prabowo and his "core people from the inner circle"  -- six named generals, three named admirals, three named civilian operatives, but no Islamist leaders -- took the clear decision to sacrifice the foot soldiers once the battle was done.

In what appears to be an overestimate of the political payoff to be had for this, the Minutes say Prabowo "has promised to collaborate with the United States, Singapore, and Australia who are now said to have given a signal of support for the Prabowo-Sandi ticket."

While that may be the case with Singapore, with the US it does not appear to be so.  The US Embassy in Jakarta has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The Minutes of this strategy session, entitled “MINUTES OF CLOSED MEETING, PRABOWO SUBIANTO AND TEAM,” have circulated, in limited fashion, inside security forces including BIN, and have been handled by officials loyal to President Jokowi as well as by others who back Prabowo.

Identified as having been received "from Prabowo-Sandi 'inside people,'" they were never used politically, apparently because they were seen as problematic for both partisan sides.

For the Jokowi forces it was embarrassing to admit they were spying on Prabowo, as he had charged.  And the Minutes undercut the narrative of some in the Jokowi camp that Prabowo is himself an Islamist extremist, as opposed to being, as his career -- and now this document -- indicates, a Suharto, army, Washington, and dictatorship man who still aspires to sole power.

For the Prabowo forces, the Minutes undercut his basic claim by portraying him as working for --not fighting -- the foreigners, and as explicitly planning to, in effect, make himself the only leader left standing by repressing Indonesians on all sides.

Pursuant to that, the strategy session discussed the New Order dictatorship of Prabowo's father-in-law, Suharto.

Suharto used the US-advised army to stage a coup against the Indonesian founding father, Sukarno, and, subsequently, to consolidate power with a US-backed massacre that, starting in 1965, killed 400,000 to a million civilians.

Sustained by US finance, weapons, and training -- much of the
latter facilitated by Prabowo -- Suharto succeeded in imposing a regime that kept him in power for more than three decades, until he fell in a democratic uprising that also led to Prabowo's downfall, after the US dumped him (he told me he had been "their fair-haired boy") when he lost a power struggle to a rival general, Wiranto.

Under Suharto's New Order, massacre survivors and their descendants were jailed, banned and demonized, and the army -- which kept on murdering, as it still does today, mainly in West Papua --was elevated to great wealth and to be the arbiter of even neighborhood and village-level politics.

In their December meeting, Prabowo and team proposed to, in a sense, revive that.

They decided: “the role of the Army will be strengthened to be as it was in the New Order era” (“Peran Angkatan Darat akan diperkuat seperti pada jaman Orde Baru”), a remarkable proposition considering the strength -- and impunity -- that army has now.

Prabowo himself has been implicated in more atrocities than perhaps any officer, including hands-on torture in East Timor, the '98 Jakarta terror against ethnic Chinese, the Jakarta kidnapping and execution of activists, mass killing operations in Aceh, the '83 Kraras mountainside massacre of "several hundred" civilians, and an operation in West Papua in which Prabowo's men posed as the International Red Cross to machine-gun civilians from a helicopter.

Yet, despite the brave, persistent demands of survivors, he, as a general, is still untouchable.

He feels secure enough that when talking to me -- an adversary -- in 2001 about a massacre I survived (on November 12, 1991, at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor) he was critical not of the open slaughter of at least 271 civilians but, rather, of his colleagues' technique: "You don't massacre civilians in front of the world press," he said. "Maybe commanders do it in villages where no one will ever know, but not in the provincial capital!"

Jokowi, the civilian incumbent, is so afraid of the army that he has retreated from promises of prosecution, and has let the army hold key posts inside his team and let them and their TNI colleagues, and intel, and the Police, slowly start to claw-back several of their New Order privileges.

This fact has so disappointed many survivors and activists that in this election they vow to Golput -- in effect, abstain.

This is no doubt delightful for Prabowo and his men: he has killed the ones they cherish, but, by abstaining, they may help him win.

---

The official assigned to start the process of restoring the army to its New Order status is, according to the Minutes, General Gatot Nurmantyo, a former TNI commander who -- after months of presidential waffling -- was eventually removed by Jokowi.

General Gatot openly espouses a strategic theory called "Proxy Wars" that defines Indonesian activists, dissidents, social movements -- and LGBT people -- as foreign agents.

After leaving his armed forces post, Gatot stated he was politically neutral.  But last week he came out and openly endorsed General Prabowo.

---

Full scrollable text of Minutes,  Bahasa Indonesia original:














NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fund raising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Link to my piece now out on The Intercept: "Trump's Indonesian Allies in Bed With ISIS-Backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President"

Trump's Indonesian Allies in Bed With ISIS-Backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President

NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fund raising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me

Friday, January 20, 2017

The US Upheaval Begins

The US is in the early days of a long social upheaval. The working class collapse has reached politics and some of the rules have been suspended.

The system almost snapped left but Sanders fell short and now it has snapped right with Trump.

The oligarchic Republicans of the radical right could not have won an election on their own but now the collapse and Trump have given them their break and they come into office prepared.

They want to eliminate programs that serve the poor and expand subsidies for the rich.  They want to place public assets in private hands and give corporations state-like powers.

They want to further skew an already skewed system and make voting them out all but impossible.  They want to lift regulations on business excess and impose them on public resistance.  

They want to kill off the US public school and cripple the labor union. They want the corporation to inhabit the state and the state to break and tame the public.

But at the same time they need a public base. They can’t impose their program alone.  

Trump offers that with his simultaneous appeals to fear, hatred, pride and material justice.  

He rallies people against the other - whoever the convenient other may be - and most importantly he rallies them against the rich elites he defends and in so doing in effect rallies them against themselves since he calls on people to save their jobs by further empowering the rich elites who’ve destroyed them.

Its a complex but classic ploy for elites: attack yourself to expand your powers. 

Mao’s communists pulled it off with the Cultural Revolution, Wall Street’s capitalists did it with the Tea Party.

It’s effective when done right but also destabilizing.  Mobilization can get dangerous.

Trump is not what the oligarchs had in mind.  He dragged them to power kicking and screaming.

He self-exposed himself and them for the racists they are.  He pulled the riggers and murderers into the White House but at the price of confiding to the public that the system was rigged and murderous.  This telling of uncomfortable truths in the service of the big lie was not the oligarchs’ cup of tea, but it got them inside the palace.

The result is dramatic.  The consequence is that many extra thousands will die and that institutions will be altered to make dislodging these new rulers difficult.

Yet its now at their moment of triumph that they are also most vulnerable.

They’ve seized power but have not yet consolidated it and with full power they stand exposed, in the spotlight.

The same country and system that elevated them could just as well have gone for Clinton or Sanders, and could just as well, with organizing and persistence, go for something deeper still.

The fight is ancient and recurring, developing. 

This new phase has just begun.



NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fund raising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me

Monday, November 7, 2016

The US Presidential Election: a Referendum on Rightist Revolution

The November 8 election has become a referendum on right revolution.

The referendum on left revolution was held, and did surprisingly well, but the system stopped Sanders.

Now we must help the system stop Trump.

Its a complex moment, full of paradox.

The US/world system is criminal. It kills civilians, most overseas, directly with bombs, drones and bullets, and indirectly —but still more lethally — by withholding available wealth, food, resources.

That system deserves to be dismantled.

But Trump and co. will make it far worse. 

He and his teams represent revolution.

But its revolution in the wrong direction.

Some compare him to Mussolini, even Hitler.
One of his principal teams is indeed the modern neofascists (the alt right).

In lieu of going back in epochs to observe  and compare him to dead tyrants, one can instead travel overseas, to the US/world system outposts, where repressive violence — along with much production and pollution — has been largely outsourced.

Having spent decades fighting US-backed mass killers overseas I have had
countless occasions to combat and meet fascistic figures.

On the one hand, systematic comparison to Trump is near-impossible given differing contexts.

For decades, stateside Americans have largely lived in a bubble regarding political violence.

Labor and other forms of violent repression are still involved in creating US wealth and production but most of the violence no longer
occurs in US south and midwest factories.

It happens in distant countries, and most Americans neither hear nor suspect.

It helps give rise to foreign political systems that are more hands-on and dangerous than our own and on occasion (with US help) gives rise to leaders who kill often, directly.

In a sense it is perversely unfair (to them) to compare these blood-soaked men to the pipsqueak Trump, but I have to say that when I think of them, and then see Trump, I feel a certain subjective resonance.

Had Trump been born in Guatemala, the rich-kid rite of passage there involved, in the 80s, going out and killing any troublesome workers from daddy’s plantations and factories.

There was also the droit de seigneur, peasant/worker women — and dissidents —were theirs for the taking.  

Their partner, Colonel Chupina, the Police chief, cruised the city  in a van, snatching Guatemalan “10s” for rape and burial, and, he hoped, oblivion.

Across the border in El Salvador there was a catchy tune that rich boys sang that — with one edit; delete “communists,” insert “immigrants” —could have been played in the background when Donald Trump came down the escalator. 

"Tremble, tremble," the hymn began.  It was a warning to adversaries, people who were, the lyrics went, "criminals, with the souls of animals." 

"They have killed.  They have raped," it continued.  You heard it all the time on the radio.

"They have ruined our fatherland," but the country would become a "tomb" for them, "Saving in this way America [the continents], our immortal America."

That was the song of Roberto D'Aubuison's civilian death squad party, ARENA.  

They were the ones who killed Archbishop Romero.  They featured telegenic, crazed oligarchs. 

With CIA data, they broadcast death lists.  But in the death squad system, they were secondary.

The bulk of the assassinations were done by the state, with secret army/police death squads run by bureaucrats.

Their founder was an army general, Jose Alberto "Chele" Medrano, Washington's principal asset in El Salvador.

In comparison to D'Aubuisson, who, in person, vibrated with a sick charisma, Medrano was matter-of-fact, a technocrat, a death technician.

But as I sat with him for hours I realized he was also lunatic, a crackpot consumed by conspiracy theories and by his own and Washington's propaganda.  When not telling tales of his work with the Green Berets or his private visit to the Oval Office he would draw elaborate diagrams with which he purported to explain to me how most every last nun and campesino was controlled from Moscow by the KGB.

Years later, in a Jakarta office tower, General Prabowo, "the Americans' fair-haired-boy," by his own description, spent hours ranting to me about the proper way to do a massacre, musing on whether he "ha[d] the guts" to seize power and "be called a fascist dictator," and insulting Indonesia's then-president, the popularly-beloved Muslim cleric Gus Dur because he was civilian, legally blind, and not as "young [and] handsome" as W. Bush, Blair, or Putin: "The military even obeys a blind president!," the General said, "Look at him!  He's embarrassing!"

The whole thing was surprising.  We were meeting in private, as adversaries. I had long publicly called for his arrest -- and that of his US sponsors -- for war crimes (He was the country's most notorious killer, famous for torturing and executing abductees personally), and had helped to start a grassroots lobby that had contributed to his (and his father-in-law Suharto's) downfall, yet here he was venting at length about the other generals who years ago had mocked him (he said they called him "The American") and expressing his palpable hurt about being dumped by Washington as soon as he lost power.

In 2014, having never seized power, Prabowo declared as a candidate for president.

He launched his campaign in a stadium, on horseback, dressed up like Mussolini. One of his backers, a bad-boy rich-kid rock star, did an endorsement music video in Nazi SS garb.

Prabowo had told me he had "fifteen servants" and had kept "slaves" in occupied East Timor.  He was a rich man with a billionaire brother, so he decided to run as a man of the mass.  

He said that only he could uplift Indonesia.  He said his opponent, a not-rich civilian, was weak. 

And he positioned himself against the foreigners (In 1998, while still a powerful general, as the country rose in rebellion against the regime, Prabowo had been accused of organizing riots, mass rapes and arson against Jakarta's ethnic Chinese). Without mentioning his US "fair-haired boy" past, he said only he would stand up to the Americans.

His had his opponents labeled as ”foreign stooges" ("antek asing"). 

At first, few took Prabowo seriously.  

But as he rose precipitously in the polls, I decided to publish our old off-the-record discussions. A campaign-long confrontation ensued.

He demanded that the army capture me, and said he would have me charged for speech crimes (including “inciting hatred against the army”) but when I said yes, please arrest me, I look forward to facing you in court, he backed down and was ridiculed.  On the last campaign day he filed the charges.

At one point in our running televised battle, an agitated Prabowo (the press described him as speaking "in a high tone") gave a speech in which he assailed the rakyat (the masses/ the volk/ the people) for listening to me instead of him.  "What's with you?  One foreigner speaks and you get all worked up?  One white-skinned guy and we have to get agitated?" ("Kenapa sih kamu, kalau satu orang asing bicara, kok kamu ribut sih?  Satu orang kulit putih kita harus ribut."

"We are 240 million people.  Just stay calm.  Ask the rakyat, don't ask foreigners." ("Kita ini 240 juta orang, tenang saja.  Tanya rakyatmuh lah, jangan tanya orang asing.")

I responded by saying that if he loved the rakyat, why did he kill so many of them, and if the issue was foreigners why had he worked for decades for US intelligence?

Prabowo's Gus Dur insult made waves among the poor, especially religious Muslims.  In East and West Java street banners went up quoting what Prabowo had told me, and were quickly torn down by plain-clothes teams from the Kopassus special forces, the kidnap/murder-specialist US-trained red berets that Prabowo had once commanded (Many of the banners were then put back up, and the tear-down cycle repeated).

With days do go before the election I met with the Gus Dur family and they issued a statement calling on Prabowo to explain himself.

The family had made a point of staying neutral in the election.  Their statement was surprisingly forceful.  

But as the hours ticked by without a Prabowo response, I became increasingly nervous, fearing that I might have inadvertently handed him a breakthrough opportunity.

If Prabowo had gone to Gus Dur’s widow, prostrated himself and begged forgiveness, it could have electrified the electorate.  It would have been a TV sensation. 

But as it turned out, those fears were groundless. Apology was apparently not an option.  

Even with state power on the line, the General wasn't admitting error. 

Prabowo sent out a spokesman who told the cameras that the Gus Dur family wouldn't be getting an apology and that Prabowo didn't owe any explanation to anyone.

Soon after, Prabowo lost the election.  Behind the scenes, he put out coup feelers, but failed.  

It took weeks, but Prabowo eventually conceded that he had lost.

Last September, after his “Mexican rapists” launch, with his campaign in a bit of trouble, Trump arranged a press conference at Trump Towers.  His staff had found him some foreigners.   

Standing behind Trump as he spoke was Prabowo’s right-hand-man Fadli Zon.  Prabowo and Fadli Zon were forever denouncing opponents for not being true Muslims.  Some of their campaign rallies had featured army/police-backed thugs waving ISIS flags. 

After the Trump Tower press conference Fadli Zon posted a series of grinning Trump selfies, and brought forth real fury from Indonesians at home and abroad.

The Grand Imam of the Indonesian mosque in New York City issued a statement pointing out that Trump was famous in US politics primarily for being a racist, and that his particular targets included immigrants and the Muslim faith.


After Trump proclaimed the Muslim ban, Gen Prabowo’s man spoke out.  The press headline read: “Fadli Zon is sure that a US president Trump will not be anti Muslim.” 

-----

Although this vote is a referendum on right revolution, many don't see it that way.  Some vote for him for jobs, to fight corruption, to stay out of stupid wars, and this scam becomes easy for him because his opponent, Clinton, is a corporate Democrat.

Trump could not have gotten away with this nonsense if his opponent were Bernie Sanders because Sanders could outflank him on all of these issues and offer real, constructive solutions

The debate on money in politics  is perhaps the most painful to watch.   Both Sanders and Trump -- alone among the candidates, say the system is rotten.  But Clinton, as she feels she must, denies that money influences her, and, by way of defense, says, hey, Obama takes more Wall Street money than I do!

Trump's reply is devastating.  It's one reason he often beats her in polls on "honesty."  He says, hey I'm a crook!  I've been buying politicians all my life!  But now I'll be a crook for you, the American people.  Screw this system!

On trade deals he crushes her even though his solutions make no sense and she must squirm to defend a pillar of her and her husband's life's work.

In fact, a close reading of Trump, and those around him strongly suggests that should he win, he'll end up in roughly the same spot on TPP as Clinton. 

Unlike Sanders, Trump doesn't attack the trade deal corporate tribunals that allow the rich to go around the world repealing national laws and regulations that cramp their style.   He instead accepts the corporate frame that views trade deal clashes as nation v nation, as opposed to the fact that they're mainly big transnational firms v most everyone else.  

With the help of Paul Ryan and the Chamber of Commerce , Trump's and Clinton's real stances will converge: face-saving minor modifications that he (or she) can tout as basic change.

On the issues in which Trump seems left of Clinton, on close examination it's illusion and mist.  The factors that make him radical are all radicalism of the right.  

When one votes for US president one is voting not just for a person but for teams.  Evan McMullin, the ex Congressional staffer, points out that when Trump sat down with Paul Ryan, he pledged to follow the program and cut Social Security (a bipartisan DC favorite long pushed, under Obama by Gene Sperling, now at Clinton's right hand as one of her economic chiefs.  Clinton, nonetheless, was compelled by Sanders forces to make a clear statement in debate that she will not cut Medicare of Social Security.  We'll see how long that lasts.) 

 Trump's 28-point policy plan, which had Newt Gingrich in ecstasy, puts the oil companies in charge of the environment and promises to slash safety/labor/health regulation more precipitously than positions that Ryan and the Kochs have tacitly accepted in legislation.

The presidential election of any Republican now would be a quasi revolution because the party has become so radical as the servant of the thug fringe of the rich.  

But Trump adds in additional teams, like the open racists and trigger-happy police that his own unique persona bids to drag across the political finish line.

But Trump is more than a vehicle for the vilest elements of the right.   

He has his own unique capacity to unleash the beast on countless fronts.  

On killing policy, its the murder adventurers like Cheney, Rusmfeld, Boykin and Flynn who support him, as opposed to the murder bureaucrats, who line up firmly for Clinton.  He talks about nuclear weapons like a modern Gen. Curtis LeMay (its forgotten that Trump once-amateur studied nukes, and, while still a playboy, gave interviews on nuke policy.)

And perhaps more ominous is this one's man's singular drive and capacity to unleash the beast in White America.  

Its one of the elements that resonates most when I think of Trump alongside the killers I've known.

Recent Trump-like movements around the world have a certain variety in their targets, (In the Philippines and Europe they claim to be for working people; in Egypt and Thailand they despise the masses).  

What they have in common includes a middle class base, led by sometimes-fringe rich elites, and a feeling -- a semi or not-semi violent atmosphere of rage and hate that transcends continents.

In Thailand, the royalist elite helped the army topple two elected presidents with relentless mass middle-class sit-ins that paralyzed airports, downtown streets, state offices.  

At one point they rode under the banner of The People's Alliance for Democracy, and their main demand was oppsition to democratic elections on the grounds that poor farmers were too corrupt and stupid to be trusted with the vote.   

Now and then, when working on their second elected president, Yingluck Shinawatra, upper crust figures would mount the rally stages and demand that Mrs. Yingluck be impeached, arrested, jailed, and then - for good measure - gang raped.

When the Phlilppine Donald Trump -- as he's known, though he doesn't like Trump because Trump called the Phillippines "terrorist" -- Rodrigo Duterte got elected president on an open death squad platform, he immediately loosed cops and vigilantes and they murdered 3000 "drug dealers," at least two of them mayors; one of whom was just executed in his prison cell.  

When Senator Lila de Lima herocially stood up and exposed Duterte in death squad hearings, he got her fired from her Senate Chairmanship, threatened with death by smearing her as a drug dealer, had her home address and phone number published, and was subjected to open taunts from Duterte officials about a purported "sex tape."  

It could have been ripped from the headlines of the Trump campaign, except that under current Phillipine conditions, the brave Senator's life is clearly in danger.

Thats a difference, at least for now.



NOTE TO READERS: News and Comment is looking for assistance with translating blog postings into other languages, and also with fund raising and distributing the blog content more widely. Those interested please get in touch via the e-mail link below. NOTE TO READERS RE. TRANSLATION: Portions of News and Comment are now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Russian and Spanish translation (click preceding links or Profile link above) but translation help is still needed -- particularly with older postings, in these and all other languages. NOTE TO READERS RE. POTENTIAL EVIDENCE: News and Comment is looking for public and private documents and first-hand information that could develop into evidence regarding war crimes or crimes against humanity by officials. Please forward material via the email link below. Email Me