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More ‘modest proposals’ to resolve Donald Trump’s border problem

“This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” These beautiful words penned by President Donald Trump’s speechwriter brought tears to my eyes. “Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States – a dramatic increase” – the heartfelt emotion, the truth, the elegance, the…

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More ‘modest proposals’ to resolve Donald Trump’s border problem

“This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” These beautiful words penned by President Donald Trump’s speechwriter brought tears to my eyes. “Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States – a dramatic increase” – the heartfelt emotion, the truth, the elegance, the care and deeply humanitarian consideration of the man who wrote them, Stephen Miller, were so beautifully evident.

“These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.” Both Trump and Miller, along with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, should all be nominated for the next Nobel Peace Prize, to stand shoulder to shoulder with other political luminaries, such as Aung San Suu Kyi and Henry Kissinger.

While watching President Trump’s historic message to the American people from his august seat at the Oval Office, I was reminded of Jonathan Swift’s classic, a masterpiece of English literature – “A modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burthen on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick” (1729). The recommendations of this landmark essay by the towering English literary giant have never been so timely.

In his “proposal”, Swift makes a number of modest suggestions regarding the increasing number of poor Irish children in public sight, which leader of the Free World President Donald J Trump could certainly benefit from reading. 

First, Swift explains how the cost of providing a livelihood for these poor children is an unbearable burden on the taxpayers’ generosities. “I am assured by our merchants that a boy or a girl before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value,” he observes.

Then he makes a much simpler and less expensive proposition – and you, oh gentle reader, need to keep your liberal bourgeois sentiments at bay when reading the following: “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie [fricassee], or a ragoust [ragout].” 

Swift then assures his readers such a delicatessen would be of immediate interest to “the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom” – and, I daresay, across the ocean.

Time to update Mr Swift

I, the hitherto little known distant Oriental cousin of Mr Swift, would like to make a few similar (but not identical to be sure) suggestions regarding another flock of children menacing the southern borders of the kingdom of these United States of America which we are told to make great again.

The first is informed by a compelling statistic released by charity organisation Save the Children: “In 2016, 23.5 percent of America’s children in rural areas were impoverished as compared with 18.8 percent in urban areas. On the county level, between 2012 and 2016, 41 counties in the United States had child poverty rates of 50 percent or higher, 93 percent of which (38 out of 41) were rural.”

In other words, depending on where bona fide US children are located (mind you, we are talking about blue-blooded, American born and raised children, living on this side of Trump’s yet fictitious wall), they have a 20 to 50 percent chance of starving.  

Hence, the simplest solution seems to be just letting these children from the southern borders join their American counterparts with the reliable assurance that they will soon starve away without the slightest burden on the honest Christian evangelical taxpayers who voted to make America great again. And if we put them up in schools, there is also a high chance they would fall victim to a school shooting (we’ve already counted 200 of those since Sandy Hook in 2012).

Alternatively, these children running away from violence and poverty, which the US is at least partially responsible, could be used as the seed for reviving the practice of slavery. We know for a fact currently “more than 400,000 people could be living in ‘modern slavery’ in the US, a condition of servitude broadly defined in a new study as forced and state-imposed labor, sexual servitude and forced marriage”. 

These children from Latin America could be easily added to these numbers without much consequence for the rich and powerful Americans running the country. Surely, Ms Kirstjen Nielsen, our loving caring and competent US Secretary of Homeland Security, would agree.

If we decide not to go for that option, a good substitute solution could be to add these children to the already sizeable child labour force, which includes “approximately 500,000 child farm workers in the US. Many of these children start working as young as age 8, and 72-hour work weeks (more than 10 hours a day) are not uncommon.” 

So before we come to the rather dire proposal that these poor kids from Latin America be “stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled”, as our Mr Swift would say, they could be put to good use to make America great again by doing 10-15 hours backbreaking shifts for nothing. Why waste such a precious source of cheap labour?

A wide range of global options

In the age of globalisation, I can, of course, imagine a number of international solutions to the border children crisis. One is to put them on a boat and send over to Europe. The latter would surely let them sink close to its coast to preserve the racial purity of its Aryan people and culture and to give the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei an opportunity do another artwork about refugee kids and become even more famous. If any of them miraculously survive, another Anders Breivik might come around and shoot them. 

Alternatively, these children can be shipped over to Yemen. Part of them can join Yemeni children dying from starvation under Saudi and Emirati siege and from Saudi-led, US-backed coalition bombs; another part can join the Darfurian children currently being sent by Khartoum and Riyadh to fight the war in Yemen or their sworn enemies, the child recruits of the Houthis.

If Yemen is too difficult to ship to, the children can surely be sent to Palestine to accompany their Palestinian peers in facing mass imprisonment and torture in Israeli jails and mass death by Israeli bombs in Gaza. 

Let us not forget that Iran is also an option. There, they can be part of the mass recruitment campaign preying on poor Afghan and Pakistani refugee children. They can also be indoctrinated and swiftly dispatched to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq to fight for the obscure causes of the ruling Iranian clergy. After all, it was they who during the Iran-Iraq war perfected the art of child soldiering; even Ayatollah Khomeini praised the 13-year-old Hossein Fahmideh who strapped grenades to his own body and threw himself under an Iraqi tank in 1980. 

Our Good Honourable Gentleman Mr Swift writes towards the end of his learned essay, that he is “not so violently bent upon [his] own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual”.

All of my above suggestions are offered in that spirit of collegiality and common purpose. But in my humble opinion, before we make “stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” food out of these children, as Mr Swift suggested, there is much use to which they can be put – to the delight of Mr Trump and other world leaders concerned about the wellbeing of children crowding up at their borders.  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 

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UK spy chief warns China, Russia racing to master AI

MI6 chief Richard Moore says Beijing and Moscow ‘pouring money’ into technological advances that will reshape espionage and geopolitics.The chief of the United Kingdom’s foreign spy service is to warn that China and Russia are racing to master artificial intelligence in a way that could revolutionise geopolitics over the next 10 years. Richard Moore, who…

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UK spy chief warns China, Russia racing to master AI

MI6 chief Richard Moore says Beijing and Moscow ‘pouring money’
into technological advances that will reshape espionage and geopolitics.The chief of the United Kingdom’s foreign spy service is to warn that China and Russia are racing to master artificial intelligence in a way that could revolutionise geopolitics over the next 10 years.
Richard Moore, who heads the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, is due to make his first public speech since becoming chief of the organisation on Tuesday.
In extracts of the speech released in advance by the British government he will say quantum engineering, engineered biology, vast troves of data and advances in computer power pose a threat that needs to be addressed by democratic powers.
“Our adversaries are pouring money and ambition into mastering artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology, because they know that mastering these technologies will give them leverage,” Moore, who rarely makes public speeches, will say when he sets out his view of current threats.
The world’s spies are trying to grapple with seismic advances in technology that are challenging traditional human-led spying operations, which have dominated espionage for thousands of years.
Moore, a former diplomat, became MI6 chief in October 2020.
Speaking at the Institute for International and Strategic Studies think tank, he will stress that technological progress over the next decade could outstrip all the tech advances made over the past century.
“As a society, we have yet to internalise this stark fact and its potential impact on global geopolitics. But it is a white-hot focus for MI6,” he will say.
Of particular concern to the spies in the world’s liberal democracies are Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, which have rushed to harness the power of a range of sophisticated technologies, sometimes at a faster pace than in the West.
Western intelligence agencies fear Beijing could dominate all key emerging technologies within decades, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics.
China’s economic and military rise over the past 40 years is considered one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, which ended the Cold War.
MI6, depicted by novelists as the employer of some of the most memorable fictional spies from John le Carré’s George Smiley to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, operates overseas and is tasked with defending the UK and its interests.
Moore says the service will have to give up some of its deep-rooted secrecy and work with technology firms to combat the rapidly developing threats.
MI6 and western intelligence agencies will have to “become more open to stay secret” in a world of destabilising technological change, he will say.
“We cannot hope to replicate the global tech industry, so we must tap into it.”
The agency has become more open in recent years, even allowing publication of an authorised history although it only covers the period up until 1949.
MI6 began publicly naming its chief, who uses the code name C and is the only publicly identifiable member of the organisation, in the 1990s.

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Pentagon to review deadly 2019 US bombings in Syria

US will look into whether procedures were followed after NY Times reported dozens of civilians were killed in bombings.United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered a review into US military bombings in Syria in March 2019 that the New York Times recently reported killed dozens of civilians during the battle for the final…

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Pentagon to review deadly 2019 US bombings in Syria

US will look into whether procedures were followed after NY Times reported dozens of civilians were killed in bombings.United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered a review into US military bombings in Syria in March 2019 that the New York Times recently reported killed dozens of civilians during the battle for the final stronghold of ISIL (ISIS).
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced the probe on Monday, saying it would be led by General Michael Garrett, the head of US Army Forces Command.
Earlier this month, the US military acknowledged that civilians may have been killed in the bombings in Baghouz, near the Iraqi border in 2019. At the time, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were leading the fight on the ground with American air support.
“Likely a majority of those killed were also combatants at the time of the strike. However, it is also highly likely that there were additional civilian casualties,” Bill Urban, a US military spokesman, said in a statement on November 14.
He added that “investigations were unable to conclusively characterize the status of more than 60 other casualties that resulted from these strikes”.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the review into the 2019 US military bombings, the Pentagon spokesman announced [File: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]Urban’s statement came a day after the New York Times, citing anonymous sources and classified documents,  published a report that accused the US military of concealing the bombings.
The newspaper reported that the bombing struck a “crowd of women and children”, killing 64 people.
“Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors,” the Times wrote.
On Monday, Kirby said the review would look into “record keeping and reporting procedures” and “whether mitigation measures identified in previous investigations into the incident were in fact implemented effectively”.
The probe, which is due in 90 days, will also assess whether “accountability measures” will be appropriate, Kirby added.
The US-led coalition started a bombing campaign against the ISIL (ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq in 2014, and the American military maintains troops in both countries with the stated goal of preventing the group’s resurgence.

Former US President Donald Trump touted the territorial defeat of ISIL (ISIS) as a major policy achievement in his failed 2020 re-election bid.
Rights groups previously accused the US-led coalition of killing civilians during their bombing campaign. A 2019 investigation by Amnesty International, for instance, found that the coalition had killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa, the ISIL (ISIS) group’s former de-facto capital.
The Associated Press news agency reported on Monday that after the New York Times story was published, Austin received a briefing on the Syria bombings from General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command.
AP reported that McKenzie’s command said “an initial investigation concluded that the strike constituted legitimate self-defence in support of Syrian partner forces under fire from ISIL”.
The probe into the Syria bombings comes after the Pentagon admitted in September that a US drone attack previously described as “righteous” by a top general had killed 10 civilians, including children, in Kabul during the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But a subsequent internal review by the Pentagon concluded that the bombing did not violate the laws of war or amount to criminal conduct or negligence, prompting outrage.

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Arab Coalition carries out 15 strikes against Houthi militants in Marib

JEDDAH: An influential watchdog body of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine as the only way to stop ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinians. The OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission made its appeal on Monday to coincide with the UN-run International Day of Solidarity with…

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Arab Coalition carries out 15 strikes against Houthi militants in Marib

JEDDAH: An influential watchdog body of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine as the only way to stop ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission made its appeal on Monday to coincide with the UN-run International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2021.

In a statement, the IPHRC pointed out that the solidarity day highlighted the urgent need for the global community to recognize the inalienable right to self-determination of Palestinian people.

“Today is not only an opportunity for the international community to remember that the question of Palestine remains unresolved, but it is also an opportunity to focus attention on the increasing suffering of the Palestinian people, under the Israeli occupation, and to unify all efforts for assisting them to attain their fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination and the right to return for Palestinian refugees to their homes and property, from which they have been displaced,” the commission said.

It also expressed grave concerns over the increasing, “range of violations committed by Israel … particularly the recent draconian measures against Palestinian prisoners and detainees as well as the harassment of Sheikh Jarrah (neighborhood of East Jerusalem) families who remain under the threat of eviction from their houses under baseless and illegal arguments.”

The IPHRC statement urged all human rights groups to raise awareness of what it described as “egregious human rights violations” aimed at “separating Al-Quds (Jerusalem) from its original inhabitants, which is yet another vicious attack on the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.”

In addition, commission members condemned the recent Israeli designation of six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as terrorist organizations, a move the IPHRC claimed represented Israel’s misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation to silence opponents and innocent Palestinians.

Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes and forced evictions of residents in Jerusalem and other areas was also slammed by the commission.

It added that there was a “need to investigate these abuses by relevant international mechanisms with a view to holding Israel, the occupying power, accountable for violating international human rights and humanitarian laws.”

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