Archive for the ‘#foreignpolicy’ Tag

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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Obama’s Real Legacy   Leave a comment

My brother is a liberal who loves Obama and is thrilled with his legacy (shutting down Alaska drilling notwithstanding, which Jeff realizes will kill Alaska’s economy). I got to listen to him extol Obama’s legacy over Christmas dessert. Fortunately, Jeff allows people to counter his arguments (he was raised by our mother, after all).

Image result for image of the syrian civil warObama is feverishly trying to set his legacy in concrete. It’s the usual Democrat “lame duck” stupidity. While I agree with pardoning convicted felons, locking up Alaska’s offshore oil depositions is just plain national suicide, and stashing billions of taxpayer dollars in federal agencies that will then act as governments unto themselves, taking away freedoms one regulation as a time is equally stupid.

Hoo-haw! He’s running roughshod over the actual rights of some people in order to give the ill-informed what they think they need. Isn’t democracy great? The problem with this scenario is that no Obama lover seems to recognize that Obama’s primary legacy is not so warm and fuzzy and the damage it causes may go on for decades after Obama has passed from the public mindset.

The forgotten Obama legacy is ISIS, the Syrian civil war, and the resulting mass migration/invasion of Europe. Bluntly stated, the whole idea to bring “democracy” to Syria was hatched by the Obama Administration and probably mostly by the Emperor himself, which some enthusiastic encouragement from Hillary. The conversation probably went something like this:

Mr. President, if you topple this dictator and install an American-friendly puppet government in his place, people will remember you as a great foreign policy president and forget all about you literally bowing to dictators early in your presidency. Assad is ripe for the picking. His people hate him and you can make up any story you want … you know the Americans who love you will believe whatever you say. And those others … they’re pro-war anyway, so their protests will sound silly and racist.

When Assad refused to concede to Obama’s “superiority” and refused to step down as Obama demanded, Obama’s ego wouldn’t let it rest. It became an ego contest between Obama, Assad and Putin not because Assad and Putin were seeking to get into a pissing context with the Commander and Chief of the largest military in the world, but because Obama’s ego is so big that his pride couldn’t take it that Assad didn’t just do what he demanded.

Image result for image of the syrian civil warLiberals say “words matter” and that’s why they don’t call terrorism “terrorism”, but when all you do is tell lies, words actually don’t matter when they originate from your mouths. Liberals say calling terrorism “terrorism” gives the terrorist power. That’s ridiculous! Words do not give terrorists power. The weapons Obama gave them gives them power.

Bear with me a moment. The US has a long history of covertly arming “rebels” around the world. The Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran less than a decade after Iranians captured the US embassy and held US diplomatic staff as prisoners. They then used the proceeds of that sale to arm “rebels” in El Salvador. We know this because the US press reported on it throughout the end of the Reagan administration.

We did the same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s and created al-Qaida in the process.

The media doesn’t mention all the blood Obama has on his hands. ISIS started as a small off-shoot of Al-Qaida that wanted to use more brutal tactics than its parent organization. ISIS could not have won the battlefield victories they have without major military weaponry from somewhere. Neither could the so-called “moderate” rebels, who are out-and-out terrorists the Obama administration  relabeled as “moderates” to justify funneling weapons to them. Terrorists blow crap up to inflict terror on a population. The “moderate” rebels blow crap up, thus inflicting terror on the Syrian people, causing them to flee their country.

When the war-weary American people demanded the US government opt out of involvement in the Syrian civil war, Obama found an al-Qaida-affiliated group to add to the chaos. Given the Kalashnikovs and other Russian-made arms found in ISIS hands, it’s likely the US is using our brand new NATO allies in Eastern Europe to arm them. Yes, Eastern Europe would rather have Putin distracted in the Middle East than breathing down their necks in Europe the way he is in Ukraine. We certainly know that American-made pickup trucks sold in the United States as used vehicles showed up in ISIS hands. This is how ISIS got the anti-tank missiles to take out Assad’s armor and anti-aircraft missiles capable of downing Assad’s aircraft. There’s obviously been continual re-supply of replacement small arms, ammunition, light artillery, food, clothing, medical supplies, and vehicles. These items weren’t picked up at garage sale. They were bought in Eastern Europe with American money, just as we armed the Iraqi puppet army after 2003. The United States thought these groups would topple Assad and then invite the US government to install an American-friendly regime through a rigged election where both candidates were groomed by US convert agencies years ago. Remember the Orlando shooter’s father?

Image result for image of the syrian civil warThe problem with this plan was that the Syrian voters fled Syria, taking their votes with them. These people are now all homeless. Europe, who ought to be really pissed off at the result of Obama’s pride, absorbed tens of thousands of refugees and more keep coming. The Obama administration has yet to admit they failed and give up this tragic course of action. They continued arming and training “rebels” over there and that kept the war going. Rather than cooperate with the nations fighting ISIS, they were training “rebels” to fight Assad, Iran, Russia, and ISIS.

You’d think Europe would wake up and smell the coffee and recognize that Obama administration is the responsible body for all of the bloodshed and refugees. I keep hearing hints of this realization on PBS, but they don’t want to come out directly and say Obama is directly responsible for the Syrian civil war dragging on for years and that only U.S.-supplied weapons made that possible.

Judging from al-Qaida (which ISIS is an off-shoot of), we can look forward to at least another two decades of attacks from ISIS. Al-Qaida began during the Afghan-Soviet War (another terrorist group we created to fight a government, too) and started operations against the West in 1993. They hit the World Trade Center with a truck bomb during Clinton administration. Europe better get used to terrorism attacks because they will continue for decades to come. The United States ought to realize we’ll soon see major attacks that will dwarf the last two mass shooting. We just haven’t seen ISIS’s version of 9-11 yet. When that comes, some of us will recognize that as President Obama’s true legacy, but I suspect that Obama lovers like my brother will blame the last or current Republican administration rather than their “hero”.

Posted December 29, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Non-partisan

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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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It’s Time to Privatize Foreign Policy | Richard M. Ebeling   Leave a comment

It should be a matter of personal conscience and choice to assist those in other lands who need and deserve outside help.

Source: It’s Time to Privatize Foreign Policy | Richard M. Ebeling

Posted August 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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