Forgettable speeches and the drumbeats of war

Illiberalism

Gilead

Donald Trump
Finances


Fig. 1. Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas, undated image credited to https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/ [bad link], via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

There’s no jury, so Donald Trump was giving his diatribe pretty much to the judge and everyone else in court.[1] This is the penalty phase in a fraud trial where the judge has already issued a summary judgment[2] and a gag order[3] against Trump, so we’re pretty clear that the judge will have been unmoved, particularly after having his house ‘swatted’ that very morning.[4] You’re entitled to ask what the hell good this did. I can merely shrug: I doubt any at all and his performance will reinforce that he is unrepentant, you know, as if this was a surprise to anyone.

Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, “Donald Trump defies judge, gives courtroom speech on tense final day of New York civil fraud trial,” Associated Press, January 11, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/trump-fraud-lawsuit-new-york-closing-arguments-b36abe2fd695d0172e71f8ef9c5ee7f3


Imperialism


Fig. 2. “Map of the Roman Empire during 69AD, the Year of the Four Emperors. Coloured areas indicate provinces loyal to one of four warring generals.” Original: User:Steerpike and en:User:Andrei nacu, August 11, 2009, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

CNN, “READ: President Joe Biden’s statement on strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen,” January 11, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/11/politics/read-biden-statement-airstrikes-houthis-yemen

Gabriel Gavin, Antonia Zimmermann, and Jamie Dettmer, “Middle East braces for chaos as Iran and West square up,” Politico, January 12, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/middle-east-chaos-iran-west-houthi-israel-hamas-war/

Israel

Palestine

07_09:10:47-2
Fig. 3. The ruins of a terminal at the Gaza airport. Image by Said Khatib (Agence France-Presse) on September 9, 2018, via the Times of Israel,[5] fair use.

It sounds[6] like South Africa has made the case I would have wanted them to make. And Israel is indeed citing self-defense in response to a horrific attack by Hamas.[7]

To me, Israel’s argument is insufficient. First, the scale of that response dwarfs that ‘horrific’ attack as the Palestinian death toll approaches twenty times that inflicted by Hamas.[8] The huge question here is about proportionality, but it’s accompanied by questions about strikes on hospitals,[9] the bombs used,[10] and an apparent effort to ethnically cleanse Gaza (and maybe even the West Bank).[11]

Second, even as Israel complains about “decontextualization,”[12] South Africa points out that this is the continuation of Nakba, which began in 1948.[13]

I don’t understand why this is supposed to take years.

David Cohen, “Israel’s president says expelling Palestinians not the plan,” Politico, January 7, 2024, https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/07/israel-palestinians-expel-gaza-00134187

Wafaa Shurafa, Jack Jeffery, Bassem Mroue, “Israeli strike kills an elite Hezbollah commander in the latest escalation linked to the war in Gaza,” Associated Press, January 8, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-news-01-08-2024-18fbc9af50000c94fed59017fe82481e

Julia Ioffe, “‘Blood Libel?’: On the Question of Genocide in Gaza,” Puck, January 9, 2024, https://puck.news/blood-libel-on-the-question-of-genocide-in-gaza/

Nahal Toosi, “The US Is Dealing With an Israeli Leader Who’s Losing Control,” Politico, January 9, 2024, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/01/08/netanyahu-israeli-leader-losing-control-00134146

Mark Leon Goldberg, “Why Israel Can’t Just Wave Away International Justice Charges,” New Republic, January 10, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/article/177983/israel-gaza-international-justice-charges

Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, “ADL Officially Admits It Counts Pro-Palestine Activism as Antisemitic,” New Republic, January 10, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/177993/adl-abandons-pretense-tracking-antisemitism-honestly-palestine-rallies

Jess Bravin, “South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide in U.N. Court,” Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2024, https://www.wsj.com/world/south-africa-accuses-israel-of-genocide-in-u-n-court-3af69eb7

Ryan Grim, “South Africa Just Made Its Case at The Hague. What’s Next?” Intercept, January 11, 2024, https://theintercept.com/2024/01/11/south-africa-israel-genocide-charges/

Barbara Moens, Jacopo Barigazzi, and Eddy Wax, “South Africa’s genocide case against Israel lays bare Europe’s feeble power,” Politico, January 11, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/south-africas-genocide-case-against-israel-lays-bare-europes-feeble-power/

Claire Parker and Emily Rauhala to Today’s Worldview list, “What to know about the genocide case against Israel at the ICJ,” Washington Post, January 11, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/newsletters/todays-worldview/

Yves Smith, “Israel Capitulates at the Start of International Court of Justice Genocide Hearing,” Naked Capitalism, January 11, 2024, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2024/01/israel-capitulates-at-the-start-of-international-court-of-justice-genocide-hearing.html

James Shotter, “Israel calls South Africa’s allegations of genocide in Gaza ‘profoundly distorted,’” Financial Times, January 12, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/9cddf8bb-feb0-4722-9e9a-ff90acd6a328

China

Taiwan

Ishaan Tharoor, “China looms over Taiwan’s fateful election,” Washington Post, January 12, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/12/china-taiwan-election-xi-jinping-united-states/

United States


Fig. 4. “American Progress,” painting by John Gast, 1872, digital version 2006, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

CNN, “READ: President Joe Biden’s statement on strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen,” January 11, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/11/politics/read-biden-statement-airstrikes-houthis-yemen

Gabriel Gavin, Antonia Zimmermann, and Jamie Dettmer, “Middle East braces for chaos as Iran and West square up,” Politico, January 12, 2024, https://www.politico.eu/article/middle-east-chaos-iran-west-houthi-israel-hamas-war/


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh


Fig. 5. The confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, with the “Golden Triangle” and downtown Pittsburgh. Photograph by author, October 15, 2023.

Paula Reed Ward, “Sidewalk squabble leads homeowner to sue Mt. Lebanon,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 10, 2024, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/sidewalk-squabble-leads-homeowner-to-sue-mt-lebanon/


  1. [1]Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, “Donald Trump defies judge, gives courtroom speech on tense final day of New York civil fraud trial,” Associated Press, January 11, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/trump-fraud-lawsuit-new-york-closing-arguments-b36abe2fd695d0172e71f8ef9c5ee7f3
  2. [2]Michael R. Sisak, “Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks and insurers while building real estate empire,” Associated Press, September 26, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-letitia-james-fraud-lawsuit-1569245a9284427117b8d3ba5da74249
  3. [3]Shayna Jacobs and Devlin Barrett, “Judge fines Trump $10,000 for second violation of New York gag order,” Washington Post, October 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/10/25/trump-fined-gag-order/; Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, “Judge issues gag order in fraud case after Trump assails staffer on social media,” Washington Post, October 3, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/10/03/trump-civil-fraud-trial-ny/; Jennifer Peltz, “Appeals court reinstates gag order that barred Trump from maligning court staff in NY fraud trial,” Associated Press, November 30, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/trump-fraud-lawsuit-trial-gag-order-15304270ea3f61284a414f938155ae62; Kara Scannell, “Judge in Trump fraud trial expands gag order to Trump’s attorneys,” Cable News Network, November 3, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/03/politics/trump-gag-order-engoron-clerk/index.html; Kara Scannell and Sabrina Souza, “Donald Trump fined $5,000 for violating gag order in New York fraud trial and warned twice about imprisonment,” Cable News Network, October 20, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/20/politics/trump-social-media-fraud-trial-warning/index.html
  4. [4]Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, “Donald Trump defies judge, gives courtroom speech on tense final day of New York civil fraud trial,” Associated Press, January 11, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/trump-fraud-lawsuit-new-york-closing-arguments-b36abe2fd695d0172e71f8ef9c5ee7f3
  5. [5]Agence France-Presse and Times of Israel, “20 years after its opening, destroyed Gaza airport embodies grounded peace hopes,” Times of Israel, September 12, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/20-years-after-its-opening-destroyed-gaza-airport-embodies-grounded-peace-hopes/
  6. [6]Jess Bravin, “South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide in U.N. Court,” Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2024, https://www.wsj.com/world/south-africa-accuses-israel-of-genocide-in-u-n-court-3af69eb7
  7. [7]Julia Ioffe, “‘Blood Libel?’: On the Question of Genocide in Gaza,” Puck, January 9, 2024, https://puck.news/blood-libel-on-the-question-of-genocide-in-gaza/; James Shotter, “Israel calls South Africa’s allegations of genocide in Gaza ‘profoundly distorted,’” Financial Times, January 12, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/9cddf8bb-feb0-4722-9e9a-ff90acd6a328
  8. [8]Adam Taylor, “More than 20,000 dead in Gaza, a historic human toll,” Washington Post, December 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/22/gaza-israel-war-20000-dead/; Neri Zilber, “Benjamin Netanyahu vows to fight on despite mounting Gaza death toll,” Financial Times, December 24, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e7a8788-6a30-4686-abd4-0b7496e86bff
  9. [9]Louisa Loveluck et al., “The case of al-Shifa: Investigating the assault on Gaza’s largest hospital,” Washington Post, December 21, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/21/al-shifa-hospital-gaza-hamas-israel/
  10. [10]Jacob Magid, “Biden: ‘Indiscriminate’ bombing costing Israel support, Netanyahu ‘has to change,’” Times of Israel, December 13, 2023, https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-indiscriminate-bombing-costs-israel-support-netanyahu-has-to-change/; Robin Stein et al., “A Times Investigation Tracked Israel’s Use of One of Its Most Destructive Bombs in South Gaza,” New York Times, December 22, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/21/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-bomb-investigation.html
  11. [11]Ryan Grim, “Netanyahu’s Goal for Gaza: ‘Thin’ Population ‘to a Minimum,’” Intercept, December 3, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/12/03/netanyahu-thin-gaza-population/; Steve Hendrix, Hajar Harb, and Claire Parker, “As Gazans return to destroyed homes, Israeli ministers push resettlement,” Washington Post, January 4, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/04/gaza-displaced-civilians-resettlement-israel/; Ron Kampeas, “Biden administration, Reform Jewish leader slam Smotrich and Ben Gvir for calling for Palestinians’ removal from Gaza,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 2, 2024, https://www.jta.org/2024/01/02/politics/biden-administration-reform-jewish-leader-slam-smotrich-and-ben-gvir-for-calling-for-palestinians-removal-from-gaza; Tori Otten, “Report: Israel in Talks With Third Country to Expel Palestinians Entirely,” New Republic, January 3, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/177837/report-israel-expel-palestinians-gaza-third-country-congo; Ishaan Tharoor, “Israeli calls for Gaza’s ethnic cleansing are only getting louder,” Washington Post, January 5, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/05/wv-israel-hamas/
  12. [12]James Shotter, “Israel calls South Africa’s allegations of genocide in Gaza ‘profoundly distorted,’” Financial Times, January 12, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/9cddf8bb-feb0-4722-9e9a-ff90acd6a328
  13. [13]Jess Bravin, “South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide in U.N. Court,” Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2024, https://www.wsj.com/world/south-africa-accuses-israel-of-genocide-in-u-n-court-3af69eb7

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