Detention Centers, US-Iran Tensions, & Impeaching Trump
By Adizes Insights on
Concentration Camps Versus Detention Centers:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently compared the detention centers on the southern US border to concentration camps. As one who was in a Nazi concentration camp at the age of five, I have something to contribute to the debate.
Based on a technical definition, AOC is right. Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka were not concentration camps, but labor and or extermination camps.
Concentration camps were camps where the Jews were gathered from their homes and scattered communities and “warehoused” before being efficiently delivered to the labor or extermination camp.
It was Nazi supply chain management at its best.
So, from a dictionary-based definition, AOC was correct. But we are not comparing concentration camps in the dictionary here. We are equating Nazi concentration camps to US detention centers.
In a Nazi concentration camp, I lost my left eye because a fascist soldier hit my face, that of a five-year-old child, with the butt of his rifle. I was trying to catch a goldfish from the pond of the owner of the tobacco company that had been converted into the concentration camp. I was hungry. We were served one meal a day. A bean soup that was mostly water.
Showers? You have a cruel sense of humor. Thousands of prisoners being prepared for the ovens shared three toilets.
Being beaten regularly if you moved even two steps out of the line for food. Being spit on and called derogatory names.
Is that what is even remotely happening in US detention centers?
The detention centers are awful. Badly managed. Badly served. The children are suffering. But to equate them to Nazi concentration camps is a statement a demagogue will make.
Increasing Iran-US Tensions
I believe President Trump is deciding what to do using business logic, as the businessman that he is. He takes calculated risks. Sometimes the calculations are wrong. He went bankrupt more than once. He lost money. Other times he made money. The calculations were right. Bottom line: he did well.
Using this thinking process in international relations, however, can backfire, and the cost is not money but innocent human lives. In the case of Iran, the cost of Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan might pale in comparison.
He prides himself as a tough negotiator. Interpret “tough” to mean “be a bully.” He is trying to force Iran to the negotiating table with economic sanctions. To come to the table on their knees from a point of weakness. A business strategy that some businessman use. But leading a country is not a business.
He is ignoring the Muslim culture of the Middle East. Pride, not losing face, is far more important than money. Businesspeople care less about pride if a heavy check is put in front of them. Not so for Muslims. They would die first.
Iran will fight if there is a chance of losing their national pride.
A miracle happened when Trump did not strike Iran as he initially considered to do. No street, railway station, or airport in America would be safe for years to come. Terrorism would be ubiquitous, and its prevention enormously costly. So much so that it could paralyze our country.
In leading a country never ignore the culture of your adversaries. As Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Assume, absolutely assume that all of President Trump’s decisions are perfect. Just assume that everything from the trade war with China to the expensive, ineffective border wall and the withdrawing from NAFTA and the Iran nuclear deal, and using acting secretaries to avoid congressional approval assume they are all prudent decisions. Assume that increasing expenses while cutting taxes to the rich was a prudent decision too, although it increased the national debt tremendously, and in the future, it might lead the country toward a serious economic meltdown. Still, imagine all were perfect decisions.
I would still impeach him. Formally impeach him for whatever reasons are legitimate for impeachment. But my reasons are different.
I would impeach him because of how he decides, and I am not referring to his Mussolini-like facial and body language, nor his choice of words. It is his tendency toward a confrontation that is destroying America’s standing among the nations, destroying relations with long-standing allies.
I would impeach him because of his style of confrontation that is sowing conflict inside the country too, and in doing so, undermining the biggest assets this country has: fair play, tolerance to diversity, mutual trust and respect, civilized discourse, respect for law and order, and long-standing presidential adherence to tradition like disclosing his tax returns. By reversing his decisions on a whim and blatantly claiming he never made them, although there is video documentation of such conflicting decisions, Trump assumes the American people are stupid and will eat whatever he feeds them. And by denying he made promises he appears to be a chronic liar. And he does not even blink when he reverses decisions and claims he never made them. Is that a leader a free democratic society needs?
He is destroying America’s most important assets, its culture and setting precedents that might be difficult to reverse in years to come.
So yes, I would impeach him.
But the Democrats are not sure whether to impeach him due to politics. They worry it will not cause him to be removed. The Republican-dominated Senate will not do it. They fear that the impeachment will mobilize his voting supporters and increase his chances of being reelected. Thus, the value of a righteous impeachment is lower than the cost of the potentially increased chance of reelection. Politics.
But what is at stake is not who stays in power, but sending a message to America at large that ruining our culture and blatantly lying is not acceptable. Obstruction of justice must be punished. No one is above the law.
He should be considered for impeachment but how? Congress might not do it. I would impeach him in the court of public opinion. The streetwise expression is: ”the fish stinks from the head—but you clean it from the tail.”
I would promote the show where the Mueller report is discussed publicly. Everywhere. I will encourage public debates in every university, in every public hall, in newspapers, on social media to answer the question of impeachment.
Our culture is not a subject just for our representatives. It is far too important; all responsible citizens should be involved in preserving it.