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The Butcher of Ankara’s Visit to the House of Lies

Our friends, on the other hand, are bewildered as to why the US would accord a formal visit to the White House to a brutal leader such as Erdogan

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Inviting Erdogan to Washington, when Kurdish blood is still fresh on his hands, only confirms that Trump has no scruples and that under his leadership, today’s friends may well become the enemies of tomorrow. Wikimedia Commons

BY DR. ALON BEN-MEIR

Trump’s inviting of Turkey’s President Erdogan to Washington comes at a peculiar time when the House of Representatives is pursuing the impeachment inquiry against Trump and when Erdogan is preoccupied with his invasion of Syria and the growing frustration of the Turkish public with his ruthless domestic and adventurous foreign policy. The question is, what message will Erdogan’s visit send to both the US’ friends and foes? Butcher.

Our adversaries will bask in the notion that the US is no longer guided by any moral principles. Inviting Erdogan to Washington, when Kurdish blood is still fresh on his hands, only confirms that Trump has no scruples and that under his leadership, today’s friends may well become the enemies of tomorrow. Our friends, on the other hand, are bewildered as to why the US would accord a formal visit to the White House to a brutal leader such as Erdogan, who has committed gross human rights violations against his own people and in particular against both Turkish and Syrian Kurds.

Speculation about what might come out of Trump and Erdogan’s meeting abounds, but mine is that nothing of substance will emerge from their face-to-face encounter other than each trying to reap some personal gains. Indeed, Trump is solely for Trump, and Erdogan’s narcissism is surpassed only by Trump’s inflated ego and pathetic self-indulgence.

Erdogan’s eagerness to visit the White House is motivated by a number of “sober” considerations: for Erdogan, the visit demonstrates to his own public that he enjoys the support of the US while showing off that he is a world leader upon whom even the US would accord the status and respect that other prominent head of states deserve, such Germany’s Merkel and France’s Macron.

Butcher, Ankara, Lies
Our adversaries will bask in the notion that the US is no longer guided by any moral principles. Wikimedia commons

Moreover, the visit will embolden Erdogan to continue his rampage against his own Kurds and displays a lack of concern by the US about his gross human rights violations. The visit will further demonstrate that the US is conceding to Erdogan’s growing friendly relations with Russia and forgetting altogether Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, even though it severely compromises NATO’s sensitive technology and intelligence.

Sadly and most troubling is that the visit clearly suggests that Trump is careless about Erdogan’s sinister design to decimate the Syrian Kurdish opposition, the YPG, and their comrades in arms, the SFA, and maintain a permanent foothold in Syria, which will only intensify regional conflicts and instability.

For Trump, Erdogan’s visit offers another stunt to distract the American public’s attention from his compounding daily troubles for at least a short period of time. Given the outrage by both Republicans and Democrats following his precipitous decision to withdraw our forces from Syria, Trump wanted to demonstrate that his decision was the right one. After all, there is a ceasefire in place and US forces are protecting Syria’s oil fields, which he cynically views as an advantage, regardless of the fact that hundreds of our closest allies—the Syrian Kurds—have already been killed by Turkish forces and tens of thousands are internally displaced.

Moreover, given that Trump is mostly a facade with no substance, he is desperately eager to demonstrate that he, in fact, is actively engaged in foreign affairs in the search for a solution to various conflicts in the Middle East, including the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. And while he is at it, he wanted to prove to his base that he is the most powerful man and leaders will come from every corner of the world to rub shoulders with him, which also satisfies his ego.

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However inconsequential Erdogan’s visit to the White House may be, it is worrisome in that Erdogan has succeeded in effectively sidelining the US from having much of a say about Syria’s future. Syria’s fate is now in the hands of Russia’s Putin, Iran’s Rouhani, and Erdogan himself. For all intents and purposes, Trump dumped Syria on the lap of these three leaders, whose main objective is to push the US out of the Middle East as each wants to pursue his own agenda in the region without American intervention.

To be sure, the Turkish butcher Erdogan and the notorious liar Trump found their match, and they have no shame and no remorse about the extent they use each other to advance their interest.

The visit will end the same way it started. Nothing of any substance will come of their unceremonious meeting, as neither has anything to offer the other and would pretty much maintain their mutual disdain toward one another for as long as they remain in office.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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Mark Zuckerberg Admits Facebook Publishes ads Containing Lies

The revelation led the Menlo Park, California-based firm to launch an investigation into how apps use the data of Facebook users, and this led to the suspension of thousands of apps that did not adhere to the firm's use rules

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FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a Facebook developer conference in San Jose, California, May 1, 2018. VOA

Facebook  founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the social network’s policy of publishing campaign ads that contain false statements or lies and claimed that people will just have to live with it and decide for themselves what is true and what is not true.

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington on Thursday, Zuckerberg admitted that he is concerned about the “erosion of truth” in society and online, but he rejected the idea that his firm and other tech companies should be the ones to decide whether info placed on the social networks is accurate or not, Efe news reported.

“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true,” he said, adding that he does not believe that a “private company (should) censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

It is the public who “should decide what is credible, not tech companies,” the Facebook CEO said.

He said that there were exceptions to that general rule, asserting that Facebook was not going to allow content to be posted that incites violence or poses an imminent risk of harm.

He said that people place ads on Facebook about many more things than elections, and that poses a challenge on where to draw the line at what is allowed.

“I believe that when it’s not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression,” he said, going on to say that prohibiting election ads would favor incumbents or candidates seeking re-election.

“Do we ban ads about health care or immigration or women’s empowerment? And if you’re not going to ban those, does it really make sense to give everyone a voice in the political debates except for the candidates themselves?” asked Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Facebook CEO’s remarks come after Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted ads on the social network in which she incorrectly declared that Zuckerberg supports President Donald Trump’s re-election.

Warren, who admits that the claim made in the ads is not correct, has harshly criticized the monopoly held on the social networks by the big tech companies and called for their breakup.

In his speech, Zuckerberg said that if the government and online platforms jointly addressed issues like data privacy, data portability, content and elections critics would be less likely to try and break up big tech firms.

“If that at happens, I don’t think people will end up concluding that breaking up the companies is the right thing to do,” he said.

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The biggest controversy Facebook has faced in recent years came in March 2018 when it became known that British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used an application to gather data on millions of Facebook users without their consent and then used that data for political ends.

The firm used the data to prepare psychological profiles of voters that it allegedly sold to the then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign before the 2016 election, among other things.

The revelation led the Menlo Park, California-based firm to launch an investigation into how apps use the data of Facebook users, and this led to the suspension of thousands of apps that did not adhere to the firm’s use rules. (IANS)