Archive for the ‘Foreign policy’ Category

Trump’s Gambit   3 comments

Okay, I could choose to be embarrassed that the President of the United States responded in kind to threats from North Korea’s petulant child of a tinpot dictator. Promising “fire and fury” really does sound like a schoolyard threat.

And, maybe if I’d voted for Hillary Clinton, I’d surmise on how much better she would handle it … choosing to ignore that the Obama administration expanded two wars and got involved in at least four others while she was Secretary of State. For the record, in case you are unfamiliar with the cabinet secretary functions, the role of the Secretary of State is to, as far as possible, keep us out of war. Negotiation is a key part of the job. Since the US war footing expanded greatly during her tenure as Secretary of State, we can rightfully say she was a failure as Secretary of State.

Image result for image of north korea threatening guamYes, she would have issued a statement along the same lines as Barack Obama’s lukewarm admonitions to Kim Jong-Un, something like:

“You shouldn’t threaten other countries. We’re going to get tough and refuse to trade with you so your people can be even more starved than they are now, but you can continue getting more portly. Be a good little dictator now and run along. Go back to playing with your nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and leave the adults alone.”

You get my point? Past presidents at least since as far back as Bush 1 have treated Pyongyang like wayward children and the paternalism is probably one reason why Kim acts up. The other BIG reason is that he is the leader of a starving nation with a lot of enemies and he feels threatened, so he threatens loudly and talks big about what little he can do against us.

He can’t hit the US with a nuclear payload. His missiles can’t carry a payload … at all … yet. He could hit Alaska with an unarmed missile, but nobody would notice the difference in the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. It’s already been devastated by volcanoes, so there’s no risk to a national treasure. So why are we acting like the 4-pound cat is a danger to us? They aren’t even really a danger to Guam (which the Guam governor acknowledges”, although an unarmed missile would do some damage, assuming that THAAD battery in Guam didn’t take it down before it hit.

I’ve said before, the best thing we could do is get off North Korea’s back and let the organic movement toward reunification with South Korea slowly work itself out. The more the US interferes in the internal workings of Pyongyang, the more likely we are to cause a reaction with negative consequences. Puffing himself up and threatening something he hasn’t got the means to do is not an actual reaction that we should arm up for.

Frankly, when I hear US Presidents deliver their worn-out, “don’t threat us, we might starve your people some more” speech, I’m frankly embarrassed by the ineffectiveness of a powerful nation like the US tut-tutting an insignificant little country. It’s kind of like how I feel about our military getting our asses handed to us in Afganistan and Iraq … or for that matter, Vietnam. Are we stupid? Clearly it’s not that we can’t win these conflicts … it’s that we don’t try to win them … so why do we even get into them?

I’m also embarrassed that the government of the United States has used its sanction power to starve the people of North Korea. Really, you don’t think that works in Kim’s favor? Of course it does.

So President Trump threatened “fury and fire”. He gave Kim the same basketball trashtalk that the North Korean dictator has been spouting for years. It’s a little embarrassing that our President isn’t more grown up than that, but again … what is the real difference between that and the ineffectual pronouncements of Barack Obama and his predecessors? If we’re talking about outcome, there isn’t any. Pyongyang will continue to bristle and threaten until we back off and give them some breathing space and maybe allow some food shipments into the country. If Kim’s subjects weren’t starving, maybe they’d have the energy to plot a coup and take care of their own problem.

Just a thought. And, for all you Trump supporters out there who are so excited that your President is finally talking tough with the child-man of Pyongyang … President Trump appears to be making threats that he’d have to be a crazy man to actually do, so … yeah, not really very effective … anymore than Hillary Clinton would have been. So, there you have it … balanced analysis.

Why I’m Not Afraid of North Korea   Leave a comment

Image result for map of north korea china south koreaI live in Alaska, which is the closest of the 50 states to North Korea, so I’m told North Korea is a threat to me that I should very concerned about.

North Korea is:

  • 8000 miles to Seattle
  • 7500 miles to Hawaii
  • 5700 miles to Alaska
  • 1050 miles to Japan
  • 121 miles to Seoul

This concern that I’m told to have has US aircraft carriers, carrying fighter jets, and accompanied by warships, currently steaming toward the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, the US military is bulking up deployment numbers in South Korea and Japan is considering deploying troops there in preparation for Kim to finally lose his mind.

I don’t actually believe that the United States, Japan and South Korea is needed to deal with Kim Jong-un, but that seems to be what we’re being told. Do look at a map before you argue. North Korea is smack between the territory of two global superpowers … South Korea is a US-occupied territory and China is … well, China.

Now, I do think Kim is probably not the most stable person on the planet. He kind of reminds me of a petulant adolescent. But let’s think for a moment. Is he completely delusional? If he has even a basic connection with reality, he has to know that attacking South Korea or Japan is not going to work out well for him. More importantly, his generals have no doubt applied some common sense to the situation and aren’t going to allow him to do anything stupid. North Korea is not a threat to the US. They can’t even hit Japan with one of their missiles. Yes, they have a capability to harm South Korea, but they’ve had that capability for decades and not used it.

Why ten the military buildup in South Korea? Why has China reportedly deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea? They say they’re preparing, but for what?

War with North Korea doesn’t make sense. It’s a tiny strip of land that acts as a buffer between the United States and China. That’s a recipe for World War III ala Syria and kicking dirt in Russia’s face. Kim Jong-un isn’t responsible for that. We have to stop making boogeymen out of various tinpot dictators and start questioning if it might be our behavior that leads to these crises.


Obama Turns his Back on Cuban Asylum Seekers | David J. Bier   Leave a comment

President Obama is abandoning America’s five decade-old policy on asylum seekers that guarantees Cubans asylum in the United States. The change comes at a time when more Cubans will have arrived at U.S. borders than at any time since 1980, and it is a major win for the Cuban regime and opponents of immigration, both of which oppose Cuban immigration to the United States. But the sudden reversal is bad policy that will harm efforts to secure the border and aid the regime most hostile to human rights in the Western Hemisphere.

America—and specifically Miami—has benefited enormously both economically and culturally from the presence of Cuban immigrants.

In 1966, Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), which grants lawful permanent residency to any Cuban national who has resided in the United States for at least two years (later lowered to one). Each of the last eight administrations has interpreted the law to allow almost all Cubans who arrive at U.S. borders to apply for “parole”—a discretionary legal status that permits them to enter and wait a year to receive a green card to stay permanently.

This system has served the United States extraordinarily well. Because Cubans who enter illegally cannot apply for a green card, border security is enhanced as they never try to sneak past Border Patrol. Instead, they just line up and turn themselves in at a port of entry. They show their Cuban passports, receive background checks, and then are admitted. The United States has very few unauthorized immigrants from Cuba precisely because all Cuban immigrants who make it into the country are paroled and adjusted to legal permanent residency.

Cuban Immigrants are a Success Story

America—and specifically Miami—has benefited enormously both economically and culturally from the presence of Cuban immigrants. After the Mariel boatlift that initially brought about 125,000 refugees to Florida, Miami’s population has grown much faster than other cities. Despite often arriving destitute, U.S. Cubans today have achieved the same median income as all Hispanics and actually have the highest rate of home ownership. The Kauffman foundation ranked Miami in the top two cities in the entire country for entrepreneurship in 2016, driven in part by its large immigrant population. Miami also has the best ranking in the state for upward mobility.

Most importantly, U.S. immigration policy has allowed 10 percent of all Cubans to escape the most tyrannical regime in the hemisphere. This policy is a direct assault on a regime that preys on its own people, and for this reason, the regime has repeatedlycondemned it. President Obama said that the United States will now treat “Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.” But Cuba is not like all other countries. It is the only dictatorship on America’s side of the world. As I wrote in the Miami Herald last year:

The basic principle that people should not be treated differently based on national origin is valid, but Cubans receive special treatment not due to where they are from, but due to how they are treated where they are from. Cubans aren’t treated uniquely because they are Cubans, but because, according to Freedom House, Cuba is the only “unfree” country in the Western Hemisphere.

The communist system has no electoral process, political dissent is a criminal offense, corruption is rampant, independent media is banned, and all forms of everyday activities are regulated, including internal movement. Cuba is the 12th most unfree country in the world. It is less free than Iran and South Sudan. Even communist China received a higher score. No other country in the Americas comes close. In 2015, the pretend socialists in Venezuela were still 50th and ranked “partly free.” Haiti and Honduras came in at 57th and 62nd respectively. This is why Cubans are singled out.

Congress stated in 1996 that the law would end when “a democratically elected government in Cuba is in power.” As long as Cuba remains unfree, America will continue to welcome Cubans. Rather than repeal this principle, Congress should expand it to any country in our part of the world that is unfree.

The fact remains, however, that President Obama cannot end the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) itself, which guarantees permanent residency after one year to any Cuban who legally entered the United States. Because the normal asylum system is so backlogged, this change could result in Cubans filing asylum claims under the normal system, as Central Americans do, and waiting in line for a year before applying for a green card under the CAA as they always have. Ultimately, this could dilute the impact of the policy shift.

Nearly 10,000 people were arbitrarily arrested in Cuba in 2016 alone.

Nonetheless, the current asylum system, which is already massively backlogged, will only grow more so as a result. At a time when a record number of asylum seekers from Central America are coming to the border, the United States is going to throw the Cuban refugees in with the rest, making a dysfunctional system that much more broken. It will also increase illegal immigration as Cubans will know that they can no longer be guaranteed admission, and those who believe that they will have their asylum claims quickly dismissed will seek illicit means of entry.

Some people claim that the only reason that so many immigrants are coming right now is that they fear that the administration would do exactly what it has just done by changing the law. But the fact is that the rise in Cuban arrivals in recent years started before President Obama announced any changes in Cuban policy. Its true causes are 1) the Cuban regime’s relentless assault on human rights, and 2) its decision to end restrictions on travelling abroad, which has led many oppressed Cubans to seize the chance to leave.

Despite President Obama’s hopeful message after the death of Fidel Castro, the Cuban government continues its oppressive policies. Nearly 10,000 people were arbitrarily arrested in 2016 alone, and there was a particularly large surge of arrests after Castro’s death, demonstrating that his death means little.

Donald Trump, whose statement condemning the Cuban dictator after his death had more moral clarity than any single statement that the president-elect has ever made, should immediately reverse this policy upon assuming office. The United States should honor its commitment to remain open for as long as the electoral process in Cuba remains closed to the Cuban people.

Republished from the Cato Institute.

Source: Obama Turns his Back on Cuban Asylum Seekers | David J. Bier

Posted January 19, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Foreign policy

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Dump NATO? Maybe …   Leave a comment

In his farewell address, George Washington warned against entangling alliances. For most of US history, the government mostly followed that advice. We were friendly trading partners with a lot of countries, but official allies with few. Thus, we chose to stay out of World War 1 until after Woodrow Wilson had been elected to a second term by extolling how he had kept America out of the war. We similarly stayed out of World War 2 until Roosevelt worked events around to make the American public think it was their idea. Following that world-wide conflagration, we seem to have forgotten Washington’s advice and gone whole-hog into the folly of military alliances … apparently thinking we’re somehow special and we won’t get any of human nature’s smelly muck on our hardly clean hands.

Do I sound jaundiced? I mean to. Just so you are not mistaken … I think the world would be a better place without manipulative interfering agencies like the UN and Nato.

Image result for image of NATO

Last summer, Donald Trump made a splash when he mused that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was obsolete. He hinted that it might no longer be worth the huge American investment. As always, he hit a nerve and then moved on without offering many details. That’s back in discussion during the transition. European allies are concerned.

Interestingly, the British press admits that the United States pays an inordinate percentage of the funding for these alliances. The US pays 72% of NATO’s funding and more than one-fifth of the UN’s budget. That’s not including our actual military commitment across Europe.

The Soviet army is no longer a threat to Western Europe, which was what NATO was created to guard against. The alliance has been unwisely expanded from its original 12-nation membership to include 28 countries, absorbing many of the old communist Warsaw Pact nations and some former Soviet republics. NATO may have meant well to offer security to these vulnerable new alliance members, but it’s unlikely Greeks and Italians will volunteer to die to keep Russia out of Estonia. Today’s NATO pledges to many of its newer participants are about as believable as British and French ridiculous 1939 guarantees to protect Poland from its Nazi and Soviet neighbors. No NATO member during the 40-year Cold War invoked Article Four of the treaty, requiring consultation of the entire alliance by a supposedly threatened member. Turkey has called for it four times since 2003. The idea that Western Europe, beset with radical Islamic terrorism and unchecked migrations from the war-torn Middle East, would pledge its military support to the agendas and feuds of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly Islamist and non-democratic regime is pure fantasy. Few NATO members meet the alliance’s goal of investing 2 percent of gross domestic product in defense spending. Instead, socialist Europe expects the United States to carry most of NATO’s fiscal and military burdens. RELATED: The Counter Putin, More

NATO may have meant well to offer security to these vulnerable new alliance members, but it’s unlikely Greeks and Italians will volunteer to die to keep Russia out of Estonia. Today’s NATO pledges to many of its newer participants are about as believable as British and French ridiculous 1939 guarantees to protect Poland from its Nazi and Soviet neighbors. During the 40-year Cold War, no NATO member invoked Article Four, requiring consultation of the entire alliance by a supposedly threatened member. Turkey has called for it four times since 2003. The idea that Western Europe, beset with radical Islamic terrorism and unchecked migrations from the war-torn Middle East, would pledge its military support to the agendas and feuds of Turkish president Erdogan’s increasingly Islamist and non-democratic regime is foolish insanity, but that is what the NATO agreement could lead to, so it would likely be American troops fighting and dying for Turkey.

Few NATO members meet the alliance’s goal of investing 2 percent of gross domestic product in defense spending. Instead, socialist Europe expects the United States to carry most of NATO’s fiscal and military burdens. Europe is increasingly seen as defenseless against Islamic terrorism, and unable to stop the immigration of legions of young male Muslim migrants from the war-torn Middle East. It is also viewed as a fat target for unstable (and increasingly nuclear) regimes. Many European nations count on U.S. subsidies to trim their defense costs so they can fund socialist entitlements. The European press than caricatures America as an over-militarized superpower bully for becoming what they have demanded we become for their benefit.

Meanwhile, NATO forces have not proven their utility in most instances. They were next to useless in Afghanistan and completely disastrous in Libya.

So is Trump right and we should let NATO die on the vine? Is a future without the alliance preferrable to the present costly and flawed NATO?

The past is prelude. Lord Ismay, NATO’s first secretary general, said that the alliance was formed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” I personally think the United States would be better off without it, but Europe probably wouldn’t be. The Soviet Union no longer exists, but Russia is still nuclear and aggressively expands wherever it senses weakness. They will always have to be watched. Germany is now in the European Union, and which has a larger population and economy than the United States. Germany still earns suspicion in Europe, whether because of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s destructive immigration policies or the equally unwise practice of rich German banks recklessly lending to bankrupt Mediterranean nations. A headstrong robust Germany will always have to be intergrated into any military alliance. The European Union never managed to unite its disparate nations into something cohesive and similar to the individual states of America. There are those who point out that the United States will always have a natural self-interest in preemptively keeping kindred Europeans from killing each other.

The West is increasingly under assault, the target of radical Islamic terrorists, gradually losing its superior position against Russia and China, and considered weak by rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea. The issue is not whether NATO is still useful, but whether the alliance can reform itself before it implodes.

First, NATO must stop growing. It’s senseless imperialism to offer guarantees to nations that it would not protect in the real world. Yeah, the Baltic States are vulnerable to Russian aggression, but NATO troops in the Baltic nations threatens Russia’s sovereignty and ramps tensions up to the point of war. If Europe has a right to protect itself from Russian territorial aggression, should not Russia have a right to protect itself from European territorial? Turkey is, at best, a buffer state between Europe and the Middle East but autocracy and Islamicization are contrary to NATO principles and should be grounds for expulsion.

NATO should be wary of using its forces outside of Europe. Peacekeeping could be outsourced to individual members acting on their own.

Greater European military buy-in in the form of expenditures, equipment and troops should be required if the U.S in the alliance.

This is no longer the post-War era when the United States had a healthy robust economy while Europe was rebuilding from the ravishes of war. The US is $21 trillion in debt. We can’t afford to remain Europe’s military defense nanny. Things have to change. Europe’s economy is larger than ours. It’s time for them to step up to the plate and start acting like grownup nations defending their own borders.

Ultimately, I see NATO as one of several ways for World War 3 to come about. All it takes is a misunderstanding between Russia and NATO, or for Turkey to be invaded by ISIS, and the alliance becomes galvanized, requiring the United States to come to the rescue of our allies and drag the whole world into a conflagration there is no easy escape from. Have we learned nothing from the wars in the Middle East? Consider World War 2 or World War 1 when European entangling alliances dragged all of Europe and North Africa into war. The United States was able to stay out of those wars until later because we weren’t allied with Europe. Today, that is no longer the case. What happens if the inevitable happens and Europe comes under attack? Do we really think that at $21 trillion in debt, we can afford to fight another World War? NATO was never a very smart idea for the US anyway, but under current conditions we’re just asking to see what fighting a war you can’t afford on someone else’s behalf looks like.

Uh, wait … wasn’t that called Iraq? Syria? Libya?

Posted December 27, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Foreign policy

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U.S. vs. Islamic Fundamentalist States and an Islamic Caliphate   Leave a comment

U.S. vs. Islamic Fundamentalist States and an Islamic Caliphate.

Posted February 11, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Foreign policy

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Russia Accuses US Mercenaries Of Inciting Civil War In Ukraine   Leave a comment

Russia Accuses US Mercenaries Of Inciting Civil War In Ukraine.

I suspect this is the pot calling the kettle black, but the kettle is plenty black.

May I suggest that Russia has been fomenting civil war and so have we? Why would we be shocked that this would be the case? Where else have we done this?

How about the entire Arab Spring?

Exceptionalism Is Not Imperialism   4 comments

                I think America was and has the potential to be “exceptional”, but I’m uncomfortable with the sort of exceptionalism that our leaders put forth. That smacks more of imperialism than a recognition of worth and I think America works best when we’re not imperialist, but I admit that we have become imperialist.

                President Obama recently spoke before the UN and said America is exceptional because we “sacrifice blood and treasure to stand up for … the interests of all” (referring to our interference with the internal workings of nations around the globe). Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized that conceit in a New Times op-ed, saying it is “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional”. This odd advocacy for humility prompted Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint to fire back that “all humans are created equal, but not all nations are created equal” and John McCain to argue that “the world is better” for active US leadership. Given that McCain and Obama ran against each other in 2008, I’m going to concentrate more on their statements.

                Is being “exceptional” based on an imperialist stance? I don’t think the latter necessarily flows from the former. Exceptionalism is about recognizing that what we have (or, increasingly, had) is (or was) something great. Imperialism is about imposing that something great on others.

Looking back in American history, it appears our forebears always recognized the unique feature that is America. We started with a bold statement “all men are created equal” by men who considered it perfect acceptable to seize the reins of government away from their “god-ordained” king. The Founding generation had little interest in interfering with other nations. They verbalized support for some revolutions that were moving toward self-governance, but they gave no money or troops to most. We fought the Barbary pirates because they were interfering with American trade, but we didn’t invade their country and try to turn them into an American-type republic. In George Washington’s 1794 farewell address, he wrote:

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it … The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.


                Washington advocated restraint because he was devoted to the peace and permanency of the Union, with the goal of preserving domestic peace at all costs. He recognized that the US enjoyed a peculiarly “detached and distance situation” from other nations, a position that “invites and enables us to pursue a different course.”

               The Founding era idea of American exceptionalism was more about what America doesn’t do than what it does. Early American policy at home and abroad was about national self-restrain more than national self-assertion. Our political connections and involvement now extend far beyond European friendships and enmities. Our global interference around the globe is now routine.

               Yale sociologist William Graham Sumner criticized nascent American imperialism in 1899, noting that by claiming it had a unique civilizing mission to perform, America sounded just like every other major power at the end of the 19th century.

“There is not a civilized nation which does not talk about its civilizing mission just as grandly as we do,” he said, referring to the French, Germans, Russians, Ottoman Turks, and Spanish.

               Washington would strongly reject the “exceptionalism” expressed by today’s American politicians. He saw domestic concerns as our most important issues. Our current president, who is quite certain that he himself is exceptional, defines strict national interests as “narrow” and selfish. We must interfere with other countries because we’re better than they are.

                We were better than many other countries, but as we have attempted to force our governing system and culture on “lesser” nations, we have degraded our own exceptionalism. If we were to return to our ideals, we might recapture that unique position once more. If we are to preserve any part of our nation, we would do well to return to those ideas that made us great, return a time when Sumner’s warning made sense.

                America’s governing system worked because it did NOT do things like other nations. We were characterized by what we did NOT do. We let individuals govern themselves. We didn’t have the huge administrative state of France. We had no king like England. We stayed home and paid attention to our domestic concerns and made people from all over the world want to come here to live.

              That is exceptionalism without imperialism. Can we get back to that?

Avoiding Customs Harrassment   Leave a comment

I picked up on this story and thought it was interesting.

The writer does a poor job here of journalism. His “hero” Chris Eaton is a foreign national whose name has been connected with eco-terrorism. Maybe he thinks the Esperanza is a cruise ship, but it was retrofitted to interfere and ram oil rigs in Artic waters, which is what it was up to in Alaska when he was on it. Actic oil drilling is not inherently unsafe, but it becomes unsafe when amateurs slam their ships into yours. Those are MY waters! I’d do more than detain him in Customs, if I had the power.

I have no problem with him designing encryption software, but I can see where the DHS might. They shouldn’t, because this sort of software shouldn’t be necessary if DHS, NSA, etc. were not snooping into our communications. However, in Mr. Eton’s case, I suspect he uses Cryptocat to talk with his fellow eco-terrorists.

Although I do not want to see our government harrassing American citizens, the fact is that the 911 attacks were made possible by lax border security. We need to get over this politically correct idea that anyone could be a terrorist. No, 90-year-old Irish-American grandmothers have never shown to be terrorists. Young men of Middle Eastern heritage have been. So have men and women who have piled onto Esparanza to make their eco-terrorism points in the Artic. Mr. Eaton can avoid such treatment in the future by not coming to the United States. Of course, I think his own country should probably have somewhat to say about his terrorist activities.

Standing on the Brink Alone   Leave a comment

This president scares me. He’s done nothing in the last five years to convince me that he knows what he is doing or that what he is doing puts America in a safer place on the world stage.

He gives great speeches. The man is a good orator. Then I read the transcript and my stomach clenches.

Months ago, this president drew a line in the sand and said “If Syria’s government crosses this line, I’ll have to respond.” At the time, I thought the danger would be that he’d move the line when the day came. The problem with a line in the sand is that if you aren’t committed to it, if you move it, you look weak and weak nations are open to all kinds of attacks. That sort of mushiness led to the Iranian hostage crisis and 911. “What attacks would Obama’s limp-wristed brinkmanship bring us to down the road?” I thought.

But, now I’m starting to really wonder. The “rebels” in Syria are Alqaeda-affiliated. They’re the bad guys as far as we’re concerned. King Assad is not a nice guy either. There’s no good side here! Why are we involved in Syria? Because it’s a stone’s throw from Israel? Yeah, okay, I can sort of accept that, but arming Alqaeda in Syria doesn’t make any sense if we’re talking about Israel’s safety. Alqaeda is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Assad used chemical weapons on his people. That’s bad. I denounce that. But the US’s response will be to arm Alqaeda?

We did something similar in the Iran-Iraq war — supported one side, then supported the other, then went to war against the first side and then … well, I lost our place in that square dance. I’m not sure what side we were on when 911 happened. Does it matter? Probably not!

So after spending a decade dismantling Alqaeda worldwide, we’re going to give material support to them now? On what planet is that considered a wise idea?

Kerry certainly sounded like we might commit American military assets — at least drones — to the Syria action. A USA Today poll says that 80% of us want him to get Congressional approval. Congress has warned him that he needs their approval. Syria has not attacked the United States or our assets. Britain has said they want no part of this charade. President Obama is standing alone on the brink of sticking his finger into a hornet’s nest.

Given his history, do we really think he won’t act without or without Congressional approval? I think that in his deranged little narcissistic mind, he believes this will secure him a third term (the Constitution is no bar to King Obama) … or at least a legacy that won’t fall to defunding legislation or an amendments convention as ObamaCare is likely to do.

The last place I want us to be is Syria. We should have stayed out of the whole devolution of the Arab Spring debacle. It’s not ending in a good place for anyone. But there’s a silver lining in the coming thunderhead. If Obama acts without Congressional approval, we might have grounds for impeachment.

Call your Congressional delegates!

US Gov Guarantees Foreign Loans   Leave a comment

So this came across my screen and it torques me off. It’s not that I don’t want people in Panama City, Florida, to have jobs. I’m not against boat building even for foreign companies. But this involves American tax payer money. Simple math is that for every dollar loaned out, about $3 needs to be collected in taxes to cover the overhead and federal salaries. So, $250 million actually cost you and me $750 million, at a minimum. And, it’s not just this project. Stick with the article to the end and follow the link that tells you all about the MARAD loan program.

MARAD loan guarantee helps the Bravante V supply vessel set sail from Panama City

When President Obama told the nation that he wanted America to be a “magnet for jobs,” he envisioned an economy that invested in our country’s workforce and brought business to our shores.

And with last Thursday’s launch of the Bravante V from the Eastern Shipyard in Panama City, Fla., it’s clear that vision – and the hard work that followed – is paying off.

The Bravante V is a platform supply vessel owned by Boldini S.A., of Rio de Janiero, Brazil.  But thanks to a $240.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) in 2011, Boldini selected the Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding Company to construct Bravante V and four additional platform supply vessels over the next three-and-a-half years.

By choosing Eastern, Boldini helped create 350 jobs in Panama City, which in turn added more than 2,600 overall new jobs to the U.S. economy through suppliers and other jobs in the local economy.  This is the kind of return we hoped for when we awarded Eastern two small shipyard grants totaling $3.4 million to buy new panel lines, and modern welding equipment.

That equipment enabled them to construct ship panels more quickly than they had previously, when each was built by hand.  The end result was lower costs and much higher, more cost-efficient productivity at Eastern Shipyard.

Thanks in large part to federal investments and the improvements they provided, Eastern manufactures an average of 18 vessels per year, delivering each on or ahead of schedule.  More vessels create more business, and more jobs.

The Bravante V and Boldini’s four remaining vessels are perfect examples of what we can achieve when the public and private sectors work together.  Our partnership with Eastern helped convince a foreign company to invest in U.S. workers, and now hundreds of men and women in Panama City have good jobs as a result.

That’s why MARAD has guaranteed nearly $2 billion in Title XI loans for shipyard projects around the country, and it’s why we’ve invested nearly $10 million in small shipyard grants in the past year.  That money helps attract business to American manufacturers, creating jobs for American workers.

In the bigger picture, partnerships like this will help achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling our country’s exports by 2015.  Eastern’s success will also send a powerful message to the international community: U.S. shipbuilders can – and will – compete successfully worldwide.  As Boldini adds five American-built vessels to its Brazilian fleet, those ships will become everyday reminders of the skill and strength of our nation’s workforce.

This is a very exciting time for the U.S. maritime industry, and last Thursday’s launch of the Bravante V shows there is real reason for optimism in the near future.

The Federal Ship Financing Program provides a full faith and credit guarantee by the United States Government to promote the growth and modernization of the U.S. merchant marine and U.S. shipyards.

This program is very similar to the loan guarantee given to failed solar manufacturer Solyndra. We the people are the hook to pay these loans if the ship builders walk away from them. As much as I object to that with American-owned companies, I really really object to it when it is a foreign company. Do the American jobs generated in the shipyard and associated industries by these loans really pay off if the company walks away from the loan and we the people are on the hook for it?

While subject to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, MarAd will refuse to disclose information in financing applications that would likely cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the company from whom it was obtained. MarAd officials are subject to the Trade Secrets Act, which makes it a criminal act for a government employee to release financial information such as a company’s balance sheet, bids or other proprietary information. In other words, it’s our money and they’ll pretend we have access to the records to show its being spent correctly, but in reality, a lot of it is a state secret.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?


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