Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

The curious safety net of non-extradition

"Paradise" (collage by Stephen Horenstein)
"Paradise" (collage by Stephen Horenstein)

Recently Donald Trump said the following: If I lose the election “maybe I’ll have to leave the country”. Was this simply a slip of tongue? Was he trying to stir pity or anger from his base?  Or was it a carefully orchestrated signal to his fixers around the world to set out the clean linens and the red carpet for what might be a very long visit? Though this strange phrase can be dismissed as a mere slip of tongue, I begin to find it pregnant with possibilities. Some may think there is a screw loose in my brain, but I ask that the reader indulge me in a few minutes of playful fantasy.

Here are my thoughts: Given the amount of legal evidence*  piling up day by day, there may be only one way Trump can escape years in jail and the dark pall of conviction hanging over his head.  With nothing more to do on a recent Motzei Shabbat, I recently searched the list of countries that do not have an extradition agreement with the United States.  There are a slew of these, many of them probably unlivable for someone accustomed to “creature comforts” (unless one was lucky enough to have access to a geodesic dome made out of impervious steel and outfitted with climate control).

The list is as follows:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Mainland China, Comoros, Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo,  Kuwait, Kygryzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, São Tomé & Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria (suspended relations), Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Vietnam and Yemen.

After perusing the list and eliminating certain countries I started to construct an illuminating list (in bold, above).  I passed over countries like Burkino Faso (though I have heard that the people are nice) and the Maldives (perhaps too isolated for long-term residency, but nice for a visit or two), and of course outrageous ones like Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia  and other “rogue states”, and then arrived at the most livable, even exotic.  For even Donald Trump the following countries would continue to provide him with the quality of life he cherishes: lavish and ultra-luxurious.

The United Arab Emirates,  Bahrain,  Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Morocco all sound more than “livable”.  Add Russia to those six, and one has quite an attractive safety net tailor-made for a rich fugitive accused of a wealth of crimes.  For exotic vacations perhaps one could add other havens like Cambodia, Vietnam, Maldives, and Montenegro, depending on the season and of course one’s tastes. (One would naturally have to of course rule out the Vatican).  With all the above options, there could be a splendid retirement designed for a king!

I praise the current move toward peace with our neighbors. And yet, I begin to wonder how all this came about in such a short time, as well as the Jared Kushner’s possible motives for his skillful weaving of new relational possibilities.  Suddenly that weave of a comfortable safety net for his father-in-law, and possibly other members of the family, emerges.  In recent press items other writers have questioned the speed of the recent peace process, also claiming it is first and foremost a business deal powered by economic needs.  Perhaps that is true, and perhaps it is only the way that peace can be achieved.   Such a process may be our only practical alternative.

At the same time, however, the catering and nurturing of certain relationships in a timely fashion may only be the practical alternative for a former president on the run, with family members who may also be implicated in tax evasion schemes, dealings with foreign entities, and other more serious crimes.  Of late Trump has been elated at these new-found friends of Israel, as well as his own status as chief “broker”.

We have collectively experienced four years of the unpredictable and the absurd. Anything is possible. It simply seems too much of a coincidence that a potential safety net has elegantly been weaved for potential use, all with what seems the tacit support of Israel and Trump’s friends.  If Trump is found guilty I personally want him to pay as any American citizen would.  However, in these crazy times the sky’s the limit: when the inconceivable becomes all too vivid reality.  Of course only time will tell!

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*According to a number of news outlets, the following are Donald Trump’s pending investigations: 

CRIMINAL

  • Trump Organization (bank, insurance and tax fraud)
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Campaign finance (“Individual-1”)

CIVIL

  • Defamation (E. Jean Carroll, Summer Zervos)
  • Civil tax liability
  • Estate fraud (Mary Trump)

 

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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