DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.





When does a criminal and immoral act against the body politic become the right thing to do, a “righteous crime”, a “just misdemeanor”?

Had you assassinated Adolf Hitler on August 31, 1939, the eve of World War II, you would have been guilty of murder, a crime in violation of §211 or §212 of the Strafgetzbuch, the German Criminal Code, and a clear violation of God’s Sixth Commandment. In hindsight, because of what Hitler did prior to August 31, and what he would do after, it would have been the right thing to do - to assassinate in cold blood - and that, my friend, would have been a “righteous crime”.

War often defines the difference between crimes and righteous violations of law. The military defeat of the Third French Republic and by the legitimate vote of the French National Assembly on July 10, 1940 Marshal Pétain was granted all the powers of government and established Vichy France. A year of occupation, subjugation and humiliation followed – many laws and regulations including the Statut des Juifs [Statute on Jews] enslaved and brutalized French citizens. On August 21, 1941 a German officer was assassinated in the Paris Metro. The Germans executed three innocent civilians, with the promise that for every German killed thereafter ten Frenchmen would be executed. The killings, assaults and murders that followed were “righteous crimes”, notwithstanding Napoleon’s Code Pénal.

If need arises, duly constituted governments can be toppled by “righteous crimes”. In 1941 the Yugoslav coup d’état replaced the pro Axis Regency and installed King Peter II, a minor to the throne. The coup committed crimes, violated laws and international agreements. But at the time, in the minds of many including the United States and Great Britain it was the right thing to do.

Crimes against property, in times of war it’s called “sabotage”, can likewise be deemed “righteous”. After Germany invaded Poland the Polish Home Army “damaged 6,930 locomotives, set 443 rail transports on fire, damaged 19,000 rail cars “wagony” and blew up 38 rail bridges.”

Righteous crimes do not occur only in times of war. December, 1989 was a time of peace, yet a time of terror in Communist Romania. The dictator Nicolae Ceauseşcu and Elena, his wife were “tried by a drumhead military tribunal on charges of genocide … and abuse of power”. “They were convicted … sentenced to death, and immediately executed on Christmas Day…”

Crimes of violence are felonies. Crimes in the nature of protest are by their very nature mild misdemeanors. During the Vietnam War hundreds of young men “knowingly destroyed, knowingly mutilated” their draft-cards. These acts of civil disobedience were rarely prosecuted. This exercise of free speech, notwithstanding a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, was a “symbol of protest performed by thousands of young men in the US and Canada” which changed the course of history and ended the war. 

While engaged in that war the United States was in state of crisis in 1971. Successive administration had lied, bamboozled and flimflammed the world as to the nature and extent of the conflict. It took one man, Daniel Ellsberg, a mid-level Rand Corporation military analyst willing to violate the Espionage Act of 1917 and face charges of theft and conspiracy carrying a possible sentence of 115 years to bring truth to light. Yet even that was not enough – it took Ben Bradlee, Katharine Graham and The Washington Post and Punch Sulzberger and A. M. Rosenthal of The New York Times committing “righteous crimes”, publishing stolen top secret classified information, to finally bring truth to light for the world to see.

The world today is in crisis due to the erratic behavior of Donald Trump who occupies the White House and because of America’s size and influence has a “unique capability to influence global affairs”. It is the world and not just the United States that is at risk. He has brought on this crisis by disregarding accepted norms of behavior with the usual checks and balances being unmanned by a compliant-do-nothing Congress, including Republicans and Democrats alike, and a “deep state” unwilling to commit “righteous crimes” and “just misdemeanors”.

Donald Trump’s income tax returns, sources of income and source of funding was a critical issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. The norm of tax disclosure was rejected by Donald Trump – the rejection continues to date. A candidate’s suitability for office and his potential for undue and conflict of interest must be fully disclosed to the electorate. It was not. Yet access to the returns at the Internal Revenue Service could be had by any number of individuals. Why did no one, as a matter of civic duty, commit a “just misdemeanor” and make them public? It would have been the right thing to do.

In February, 2017 during advice and consent hearings on the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren started reading the 1986 statement of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s widow, in opposition to his earlier judicial appointment. She was stopped by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with “The senator has impugned the motives and colleague from Alabama”. Sadly, Warren backed down and rather than standing her ground. She stopped reading and was censured, silenced. Her response should have been “Fuck you Mitch”. At best she would have violated a Senate rule, a “just misdemeanor”. Had she been removed from the Senate floor and arrested she would have committed a “righteous crime”.    

On May 24 Republican members of Congress had a classified meeting with Department of Justice and FBI officials with Democrats excluded while the White House Chief of Staff Kelly and Emmet Flood, the president’s lawyer, attended. Democrats should have crashed and stormed the meeting, a violation of some Congressional rules but they would have been doing the right thing.

I have a list of proposed “righteous crimes” that I would like to see committed in getting rid of Donald Trump, the buffoon now occupying the White House, and his cabinet of toadies and ass kissers. I am loath to do so lest I be accused of aiding and abetting, but do not forget to send me your email address, lest I forget.



Ladies with a past are making news this week. Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, a “pornographic actress and director”, is roiling the waters of presidential politics putting Donald Trump’s Administration at risk. Another woman, Meghan Markle, a divorced biracial American movie star, is catapulting the House of Windsor into the 21st Century. I wonder what changes a professional courtesan would make, if only given the chance.  

In the late 1970’s I was chaperoning Richard, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and his chief financial officer Arnold, on a trip to West Africa. They had negotiated contracts to provide oral contraceptives to two West African countries and were going there to sign documents with the Ministries of Health, the Administration for International Development and the World Health Organization. By then I was an old Africa hand but this was their first venture into Sub Saharan Africa.

Liberia our first port of call was still peaceful. This was just before Sergeant Doe’s bloody coup that plunged the country into decades of civil war. We checked in at the hilltop Ducur Intercontinental Hotel overlooking downtown Monrovia. Notwithstanding the name, the Ducur was a glorified Holiday Inn, in stark contrast to the down at heels open market urban sprawl below. To celebrate his liberation from stateside morals Richard negotiated an intimate short-term lease with the comely hostess of the rooftop Le Chandelier Restaurant – any port in a storm. Arnold and I looked on with disapproval.  

Our next stop was Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s capital – we checked into the Hôtel Ivoire, a hotel complex that was everything the Ducur was not. In Sub Sahara Africa it was the and only place to go ice skating at, would you believe, an indoor ice rink or go to the movies to see current Broadway releases. The Ivoire had every luxury imaginable including a casino that attracted the Africa’s wealthy and well connected but excluded the locals.

That afternoon while taking the elevator to the casino a stunning young lady in a black sheath of an evening dress joined us. Her gown was a bit out of place for a Sunday afternoon but she was certainly stunning and impeccably turned out. In the time it took to travel eight floors Richard had introduced himself and had secured her presence for dinner that evening.

Marie-Chantal - Chantal for short - was her name. In my mind’s eye she reminds me of today’s Meghan Markle, a refined, sophisticated presence, fluent in French and English, a recent graduate of Abidjan’s Institut National Supérieur des Arts, who could hold her own in any conversation. Her knowledge of local politicians including the Ministers of Health and Finance was encyclopedic and helpful. She captivated the three of us at dinner and became Richard’s companion for the duration of our stay.

A year later I found myself some 5,000 miles away in Asuncion, Paraguay with a gaggle of Argentine clients negotiating for the return of real estate seized by friends of General Stroessner, the local dictator, an endeavor that was bound to fail. The only place to while away the hours while waiting for failure was the local casino on the banks of the Paraguay River, the only game in town. The casino was a floating barge reached by a rickety swaying gangway that led to a bilious green Astroturf deck lined with one armed bandits and littered with gaming tables. The bar overlooked a lagoon that was coated in algae of a like hue. The local talent - ladies overflowing from their sateen pastel prom dresses – were there waiting for action that would never materialize.

We were drinking the local Pilsen Cerveza Blanca – a nod to the Nazis who had emigrated there after the war - when across that swaying gangplank came Chantal, once again dressed in a chic evening dress though it was barely noon. She was accompanied by a swarthy gentleman bedecked in gold chains and bejeweled amulets. They were not alone, bodyguards flanked them left and right. A common sight in those days - a narco-mafioso, his retinue and his gun moll.

Chantal walked straight to our table and addressing me as “Mon Chèr Maître” kissed me ceremoniously on both cheeks. The health of my friends Richard and Arnold was inquired of, as was the health of my daughters and was everything well with me? That said and with a pleasant “À bientôt” she was off to a private room in the back.

I refused to answer my Argentine friends’ questions as to who the exquisite Chantal was. I kept her confidence and gave myself an unearned man-of-the-world patina. Later, as Chantal and her entourage were leaving, she stopped yet again and with a smile suggested that we get out of Paraguay as soon as possible. I followed her advice. One of my clients did not, much to his chagrin.

Years later in New York I was walking by the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel when I spied a familiar figure – Chantal now in a fitted suit being helped into a waiting limousine. She caught sight of me, stopped in mid-stride and with a smile curtsied in my direction. The car door closed, the body guard got in and the two-car motorcade turned into Park Avenue traffic heading North.

I wonder what Chantal would have made of Donald or Prince Harry had she had the chance.  



                                                    A hijab wearing visitor at Schevingen Jail's gate


Your blood is red whether you are red, white, brown, yellow or something in between – as the Brits would put it - “not quite white”. All of us, except for the unfortunate few, have eyes, noses, mouths, ears and five functioning senses. Grey cells control our actions, some premeditated, some involuntary. We all act and react predictably, rationally if you will, most of the time. We all feel pain, hunger and thirst. The urge to stay alive is universal, notwithstanding the fact that death is inevitable. Simply said, we all put on our pants one leg at a time.    

It’s our brains, those grey cells that are the center of man’s nervous system, nature’s flawed computer, that malfunction, makes us act irrationally, have us abandon reason and just fuck us up with disastrous results. But by and large nature dictates our actions, making us put on our pants one leg at a time.

These musings were brought on by last Sunday’s Travel Section article on Schevingen, the Dutch seaside resort with “a long, sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier and a lighthouse” dominated by the Kurhaus, a grand hotel and casino. Summer holidays may be Schevingen’s happy face but it has a dark side, a dour castle of a jail on Pompstationsweg within spiting distance of the beach, the dunes, the hiking trails of that vacation spa. That jail housed the United Nations Detention Unit for persons that had been accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, sitting in judgment in The Hague, the town next door.

I had the occasion to visit that bleak facility many times. I was in close contact with the Accused - the inmates, the detainees - men who during the years of the Bosnian Wars and the destruction of Yugoslavia had visited death and destruction upon their fellow countrymen. They were from the three warring factions – the Serbs, the Croats and the Muslims. They worshiped different Gods, yet in that Schevingen jail they were all alike, they all put on their pants one leg at a time.

I do not have to remind you of Srebrenica or Zepa, of Slobodan Praljak, Naser Oric and Ratko Mladic, or speak of Mostar, Stupni Do and Sarajevo. There was enough blame and sorrow for all to share and share they did, one leg at a time in that Schevingen jail.

Awaiting trial, the United Nations Accused were housed in a separate unit, subject to an enlightened and humane regime. They wore workaday civilian clothes and were ethnically and politically indistinguishable to the naked eye. The guards addressed them as “Mr.” and sometimes “General” or “Colonel”. Conjugal visits were allowed and encouraged, even with unmarried significant others. They were different and were treated as such, not like the common criminals on the other side of the wall. Yet every morning all of them, the UN Accused and common criminals put on their pants on, one leg at a time.  

The UN Accused mingled peacefully in large communal areas shared by all. By force of circumstance these men, once bent on each other’s destruction, who had murdered, tortured, raped civilians for ethnic causus belli spent their days peacefully but only after waking up in the morning and putting on their pants one leg at a time.

While waiting for my guy to come and visit with me and in the hours, I spent with him I had a bird eyes’ view of the common room goings on. Ante, a Croat, was cooking beans and sausages for Goran and Stefan, diehard Serbs, to be shared with the Bosniak contingent including Mehmed and Enver. The games of chess and cards had a continuously rotating cast of ethnic characters gambling away cigarettes and commissary chits. A Serb’s patron saint’s day [Slava] was celebrated with contraband booze by one and all. 

Favors were exchanged – use my visiting hours to spend more time with your wife, the one sporting a colorful hijab, and oblige me likewise when my miniskirt lover visits next week. Here’s a pack of cigarettes, pay me back when you can. Use my prepaid phone card to make that important telephone call.  

The homicidal urges that had brought them to the Schevingen jail were forgotten, set aside. They became the lowest human common denominator, just men living their lives, flawed as they may be, trying to survive, all of them putting on their pants, one leg at a time. I think of them in the morning as I struggle into my jeans, one leg at a time, and wonder what happened to them.





Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States and First Lady Melania Trump will attend the official opening of the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum on July 4, 2018 Independence Day in anticipation of his completing two successful terms of “making America Great Again” by January 21, 2021. Also, in attendance will all the “very best” and “high quality” people who have made and will make this possible – Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus, Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, James Comey, Sean Spitzer, H. R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Rob Porter, Tom Price, Anthony Scaramucci, Sally Yates, Carl Icahn, Sebastian Gorka, Omerosa Manigault Newman, John Dowd, Marc Kasowitz, Ty Cobb and others yet to be named and fired.

Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and putative heart throb, will launch the festivities with a traditional smashing of a bottle of brother Eric’s Trump Winery Blanc de Blanc 2012 against the Library steps. Attendance records, projected to be far greater than those of the 2017 Inauguration, will be certified and verified by Sean Spitzer followed by dubious play-by-play radio and television coverage – not fake news - hosted by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  

The Presidential Library and Museum near Palm Beach, Florida is equidistant from Mar-A-Lago, President Trump’s Southern White House and the Trump International Golf Club, his weekend recreation spot of choice both with easy access to the Everglades, the Florida swamp that substitutes for the yet-to-be drained Washington swamp close by the White House that is close and dear to the hearts and minds of this Administration.

The Library and Museum is being financed solely by private contributions voluntarily and freely made without any implied benefit of promises or favor or the support of the National Archives and the United States Government. It is operated by an independent foundation chaired by Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump without oversight of any sort - federal, state, local - or even a modicum of morals restraint. Of the many contributors and benefactors of the Library most notable are Goldman Sachs, the National Rifle Association, Robert Mercer [Renaissance Technologies], Sheldon Adelson [Las Vegas Sands], Linda McMahon [World Wrestling], Peter Thiel [Palantir], Walt Disney Company and a number of Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakh oligarchs and their companies - Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft and KazakhOil.   

Constructed with rare imported Carrara and Sienna Marbles at a cost of nearly $1 billion Dollars the overall architecture of the Library is in the style of classical Greek architecture borrowing many ideas from the “Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus”. The Library’s roof is supported by many carved pillars on the longer front logia and façade with additional columns shoring the shorter sides – proving yet again that much more is better. The Library features two pediments: The Eastern pediment depicts Donald Trump’s historic “huge”, “tremendous”, “terrific” victory in the Republican Primary Debate against sixteen [sixteen, count them, yes sixteen] “weak”, “stupid”, “losers” and “morons” while the Western pediment features a richly detailed centauromachy, the monumental battle between a righteous centaur [Trump] and a failed human [Hillary “Lock Her Up” Clinton] with the centaur triumphant.  

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Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who spied for MI 6, Britain’s Secret Service Agency, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a rare nerve agent – Novichok - while sitting on a park bench in Salisbury, England. Depending on your point of view, the two were either doves of peace or stool pigeons, but indubitably members of the Columbidae avian pigeon family.  

Russia’s poisoning of human pigeons in a bucolic English park sparked world-wide outrage with Prime Minister Theresa May declaring it “highly likely” and “conclusively” that Russia and Vladimir Putin were responsible. The outrage continues with the press and media urging politicians to address these assassination, this criminal violation of United Kingdom sovereignty.    

In response Britain expelled a number of Russian diplomats, a move followed by twenty-five European and NATO countries joined by the United States. Even tiny Iceland, an island that carrier pigeons avoid and seldom visit, followed suit. This brought to mind the lyrics of Tom Lehrer’s ditty that tells of poisoning pigeons in the park which “gain[s in] notoriety and cause much anxiety … [that some would] call impiety and [a] lack of propriety, and quite a variety of unpleasant names”. Concluding that “it’s not against any religion to want to dispose of a pigeon”.

In other words, the world really doesn’t give a damn, as long as proper respect for outrage is expressed. Sanctions that would cripple Russia are avoided, the rest of the “civilized” world is given a pass to ignore the crime, business as usual goes on.

You ask “Why is the expulsion of 23 diplomats from the Britain, 60 from the United States and other countries for a total of 147 deemed inadequate?” Let me answer that by asking the question, you have answered it. The expulsion of diplomatic personnel is an empty gesture, it has no long-term effect. Russia’s economic, military or international engagement with the rest of the world continues unabated.

As I have said, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” - Russia will continue to export and sell gas, oil and minerals. Russia will continue to be engaged in the world’s financial markets – Russia’s banks will have access to financial exchanges and currency markets. Russia will access the internet and the airwaves – Russian TV will air propaganda, Russians will use Facebook for nefarious and benign purposes. Aeroflot still flies to London and New York.

That does not answer another question “Why have other countries abstained and ignored the issue?” The answer to that question is more nuanced.

Size and population are not necessarily a factor. Two small Balkan nations, Serbia and Montenegro, have opted not expel Russian diplomats – Serbia because of prior political international support and Montenegro for yet to be ascertained reasons. Yet others of like size in the region, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania, have done so for reasons that are suspect.

Proximity and history may play a role. Ukraine, still smarting from the loss of the Crimea and an on-going undeclared war, expelled 13 diplomats but stopped short of imposing more telling sanctions being dependent on Russia for energy and survival. Latvia and Lithuania remembering their world war annexation expelled 4 as did Poland, remembering the Katyn Forest Massacre and regretting being home to the Warsaw Pact.

Great Britain, the European Union, NATO and the United States, the leaders of the current pro-expulsion push, have agreed that Europe and North America to be assassination free – a “you don’t shit where you eat” zone. As for the rest of the world, anything and everything goes. The “coalition of the willing” executed Saddam Hussein and his sons Huday and Qusay calling it “regime change” in the Middle East. Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi is another example of assassination masquerading as regime change gambit. The coalition has assassinated opposition leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan in Central Asia. The United States killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born Yemeni cleric in the Arabian Peninsula. Syria, Iraq and Lebanon have been fertile killing fields in the Middle East.  

Russia’s assassination weapon of choice is the umbrella and nerve gas. For us, the “good guys”, “targeted killing” defined as “assassination -premeditated killing - of an individual by a state organization or institution outside a judicial procedure or a battlefield” is by drone and cruise missile. However, the collateral damage that these inflict is far greater than the “clinical” “precise” umbrella strikes. The Council on Foreign Relations reports that attempts to kill 41 targets resulted in at least 1,147 deaths which includes 142 children. We do not regret just and necessary collateral damage.

Most nation states have little if any constraints in dealing with foreign or domestic opposition. Assassination is an accepted way of dealing with individuals who may prove troublesome - the poisoning of a potential threat or the dispatch of a perceived traitor is an approved diplomatic gambit.  

The rest of the world shrugs at the reciprocal exodus of diplomatic personnel and carries on with life as usual, much as you and I do.