Posts Tagged Foreign Affairs

TRUST IS VERY IMPORTANT WITH DONALD TRUMP. SO, WHO DOES HE RELY ON FOR TRUSTED ADVICE?

It has often been suggested that Donald Tump has numerous emotional disorders; but, it appears to me that his neurotic behavior is a controlling one.  If you believe him, Donald is perfect and never makes mistakes, and it appears that he always seems to find others to blame for his problems.  Based on the fact that he seems to feel that everyone else is out to get him, he often relies on a very small group of confidents, in whom he can trust!

Just before his first overseas trip, when Donald addressed the graduates of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, he told them:  “Look at the way I’ve been treated, especially by the media.”  He went on to say: ”No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”  Remember that Trump is a man, who has lived his entire life in privilege, and he complains because the media reports the obvious!

Now, since he has somehow stumbled into the highest office in the land, Donald is delusional about non-existed “accomplishments”.  After kowtowing to King Salman, of the Saudi Arabia, one of the two foremost financiers of Islamist Extremism, Trump stopped in Palestine, and then he travelled on to Europe.  There, during several summit conferences, he established himself as being boorish and ignorant. his signature move resulted in his pushing the President of Montenegro, so that he could be front-and-center for the “Class Picture”.

In the extreme delusion, which personifies Trump, he declared that his overseas trip was: “…a Home Run!”  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, suggested that she can no longer feel confident of a European-U. S. Partnership!  Then, upon returning to Washington, Donald announced that he is considering re-shuffling his Staff, in order to stop the leaks.  But, Trump appears to be asking the very leaders of the past disruption to provide the needed cooperation and security.

For a self-proclaimed businessman, Donald Trump seems to rely too much on Jared Kushner for virtually everything.  His 36 year-old son-in-law, Kushner has been involved in negotiation in Lain America and China, he is Trump’s Envoy to Palestine and the Middle East, and let’s not forget his discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, allegedly about establishing a secret communications link.  Oh, and Donald has also tapped Jared to reform the government along business lines.

Might this be a combination of factors:  Donald Trump is too despised by anyone with valid high-level Foreign Affairs experience, to join his Regime; no one in his Inner Circle would dare suggest a highly regarded consulting firm to re-align government, as if that was actually a realistic idea; or Donald Trump really is that dumb?  Personally, I believe that it is a combination of all three. Trump is despised, narrow-minded, and dumb!

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in Cyprus and Oman.

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DONALD! ON YOUR FIRST TRIP OVERSEAS—ESPECIALLY MEETING WITH ALLIES IN EUROPE—YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS TRULY DISGRACEFUL

Let me break it down for you:

1.  Remember that comment about Germany selling cars here?  Well, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen all have auto plants in the U. S., and they employee American workers.  As a self-proclaimed “Businessman”, you ought to realize that it is more cost-effective to manufacture the Supply, when it comes to heavy industry, near where the Demand is!

2.  There should absolutely not be any pushing and shoving—as you did to the President of Montenegro—in getting to your pre-assigned photo-op places.  I realize that you always like to be “In-Front”; but, in this case, everyone was also a Head of State.  So, be civil next time!

3.  Surely, a number of the NATO Allies have not adequately been funding their respective Defense Budgets, at two percent of GDP, as agreed upon!  But, you have to stop lying that they owe it to the American People.  Donald, with your various absurd health care proposals, you have already shown how much YOU care for the American People.  HA! When a Nation underfunds its own budget, regardless as to whether it was Defense or not—it would only be underfunding itself!  And thus, they would owe nothing to America, or its people!

4.  I wish that there was such as thing as “The European Union—for Idiots”; because, I would be happy to send you a copy!  When you meet a group—in this case, it was members of the European Union—it is just common sense to, at least, know something about them—and how they function.  By the way, it certainly was foolish on your part to attack Germany for its Trade Surplus; because, the E. U. negotiates trade policy as one unified bloc–even with the U. S!  (In fact, there has already been some discussion, within the E. U., about Germany’s trade surplus with its European neighbors.)

5.  Lastly, Donald, you showed no tact whatsoever, when you spoke at a NATO Memorial, for those who died in the 9/11 Attacks on the U. S., and you specifically harped on the underfunding of NATO Defense Budgets.  That, Donald, was neither the time, nor the place!

Frankly, Donald, I feel very embarrassed every time I see you on TV; but, it was certainly even more horrendous, watching you act like a boorish clod, while you were traveling overseas, this past week.

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya.

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AMERICA NEEDS TO MAINTAIN A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA—TRADE-WISE AND MILITARILY—TO KEEP THE SEA LANES OPEN AND FREE!

In my last post, I made several points, which I wish to clarify, and enhance. The U. S. should: shift its focus to the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, rather than the Atlantic; remain in the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and avoid local, internecine military engagements.  Let me explain why each of those points are still appropriate.

Russia, with its economy in a shambles, will not be able to continue funding an aggressive military, while providing the domestic programs that its people need.  The Eurasian Economic Union, of former Soviet satellites, adds nothing whatsoever to its global strength.  Also, its primary external target, Europe, is integrated militarily, and geographically concentrated.

China, on the other hand, is on the ascent, both economically and militarily.  Although it’s economy is currently showing its growing pains, it is still projected to surpass that of the U. S., within the next decade or two.  Also, China’s economy further benefits from its location in the moist dynamic, fastest-growing Region on earth.  The growth of the Chinese Navy seems to be a major element of its military growth, since any engagements in Asia-Pacific would be mostly naval battles

While China’s Military Budget pales when compared to that of the U. S., it is more concentrated.  It is primarily focused, first, in Southeast Asia, and then second, in the the Asia-Pacific Region.  It doesn’t patrol all the oceans of the world, as the American Navy does, and therefore, it isn’t diluting itself by acting as the Traffic Cop to the World,  We need our allies to step-up, and share the load—financially and militarily.

Let’s narrow the focus, from the two-ocean WorldAtlas map, to one of the Southeast China Sea (Middleburg-SCS map).  The Strait of Malacca lies between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (just left of word “INDONESIA”, north-left of Australia), and it is a major choke-point, through which 50% of all global sea commerce passes, as well as 85% of China’s crude oil.  Also, as might be imagined, control of that one location—11 miles across, at its narrowest point, near Singapore—is of strategic importance.

More and more, Energy Security is of primary concern for most nations.  And, as China’s military power increases, the nations of Southeast Asia are concerned for several reasons.  China has been building “islands” in the middle of the Southeast China Sea, while citing historical claims, which have no relationship to any coastal shelf, or any other geological proof.  These claims might be used to take possession of valuable oil and mineral rights, as well as vital fisheries.  Also, there is concern that China might use them for military purposes, or to block vital waterways—such as The Strait!

Several of the Southeast Asian nations invite U. S. ships to visit their major ports frequently, and they have even upgraded their ports to accommodate them.  Realistically, however, they realize that America is half a world away.  They should transform ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) into a mutual defense pact, patterned after NATO, but with an Asian character.  They are all upgrading their military; but, properly coordinated, their might be strength in numbers—if they are integrated.

As China continues to grow its military—both in size and technological capacity—it might begin to become more offensive in asserting its alleged rights and, perhaps, even enforcing them militarily.  Even though the U. S. currently has a larger Defense Budget—and a larger Navy—we might still lose the advantage.  That’s because China’s somewhat smaller Military would have the geographic advantage.  This is why we need to remain engaged; not only in a military capacity, but in trade and diplomatic involvement, as well.  We also need all of our allies to meet their Defense Funding Obligations.

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LEAVING THE TPP IS DUMB! CHINA WOULD JOIN, ASSUME THE LEADERSHIP ROLE, AND EVENTUALLY CONTROL THE REGION’S SEA LANES.

Prior to the formation of the European Common Market, which grew into the current  28-member European Union, there were intra-continental wars—neighbor against neighbor—in Europe, every twenty years or so.  In the 70 years since World War II, after which the E. U. was formed; however, there haven’t been any wars on the Continent.  Familiarity and economic cooperation breeds peaceful coexistence!

The twelve-member Trans-Pacific Partnership would have included members from both sides of the ocean, and from four continents.  Due to the huge size of the U. S. Economy—and the exclusion of China—America would, most certainly, have held a leadership role. With the formation of this trade pact, it could evolve somewhat along the lines of the E. U., but with its own Asia-Pacific character.

Now, let’s consider TPP as a military strategy. China and Russia are the American Military’s two main adversaries.  Global powers require two characteristics:  a strong military; and a large, growing economy.  The importance of the economy, in projecting global power, is two-fold:  domestic needs must be met in order to prevent political turbulence, back at home; and a strong economy is necessary to finance a large, technologically-powerful military.

China’s economy is second only to that of the U. S., and it is growing, although it has recently shown the normal growing pains of a young economy.  It also has the additional advantage of being located in the most dynamic, fastest-growing region of the world! Although its defense budget lags that of the U. S. in total size, it has been continuing to
accelerate its spending to strengthen its military–both in size and technologically..

Russia, on the other hand, appears to be stymied.  It’s poorly diversified economy, was decimated by the economic sanctions of the Atlantic Alliance, and the 50% decline in global oil prices, which accounts for 70% of Russia’s hard currency.   Geopolitically, it has entangled itself in local wars, both in Eastern Ukraine and, more recently, in Syria.  Lastly, it seems to have been rebuffed in its plan to break-up the E. U., by decimating fake news and hacking the political polls in various European National Elections.

With three-quarters of the world covered by seas, and the global landmass already set, at least for the most part, President Obama’s idea of the Asian Pivot was an important one. In fact, he personally preferred the term: “Indio-Pacific Pivot.”  With Russia apparently in somewhat of a decline, the U. S. needs to change the focus from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to the Indian and the Western Pacific.  In fact, three-quarters of the American Navy was deployed in that Region when he left office.

In my next post, I will add more detail as to why the shift in focus, from the Atlantic and Pacific, to the Indian and Western Pacific.  Just consider where the current global hot spots are: the Horn of Africa; the Arabian Peninsula; the Persian Plateau; the Subcontinent of India; the South China Sea; Taiwan  (Republic of China) and the Korean Peninsula.  This area also has the two choke-points through which global sea commerce passes: the Strait of Hormuz (40% of global crude oil), between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the Strait of Malacca (50% of all global sea commerce, and 85% of China’s oil), between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Parts of this region, mostly toward the South China Sea are very dynamic, both intellectually and economically, while others, more toward East Asia (left on the WorldAtlas Map), are not advancing either intellectually or economically.  Many analyst predict that the future will be one of the two Asian Giants—China and India—confronting each other in their quest for Oil Security.

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers from the Republic of China, A/K/A Taiwan!

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MIGHT DONALD TRUMP’S DISREGARD FOR MEXICO JEOPARDIZE OUR BORDER SECURITY?

Last January, I compared the current disastrous situation with Mexico, which Donald Trump created, when he announced his candidacy in June of 2015.  Mr. Trump always seems to need objects, which he can later blame for his own mistakes or inadequacies.  In fact, ever since Trump’s irrational attacks on Mexico began, the possible reaction could present a much clearer and more dangerous situation.

In October of 1962, President John F. Kennedy averted the Soviet Union’s installation of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles in Cuba, by establishing a blockade of U. S. naval ships around the island nation.  Allowing ICBMs, just 90 miles from our shares, would have been courting a similarly dangerous situation, between the two nuclear superpowers.  Luckily, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev “blinked”, and the ships returned to Russia.

Given Trump’s raucous attacks over the past two years, current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who had previously been lagging in popularity, has dropped even farther in the polls.  The Mexican economy has stagnated, partially due to a halt in corporate investments until Donald Trump decides, for sure, what the status of NAFTA will be!  Keep in mind, as well, that Russia and now China, have b been building trading relationships throughout South America, and Mexico might be of interest to them.

Ironically, as America tries to determine whether there was any possible Russian involvement in our Election, last November, Donald Trump has apparently contributed toward a probable Presidential turn-over in Mexico.  If Donald would have considered the facts—only 5.6 million undocumented Mexicans were in the U. S. in 2016, as compared to 6.4 million in 2009, according to a new Pew Research Report—we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Senior Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist former Mayor of Mexico City, appears favored to win the Presidential Election on July 1.  Andres Oppenheimer writes that, when he interviewed Lopez Obrador, two years ago for the Miami Herald, he sounded exactly like Communist Hugo Chavez, the deceased former President of Venezuela.  Lopez Obrador further places the blame, for the current deadly riots in Venezuela, on the political opponents of current President, Nicolas Maduro.

U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment, earlier this week, announced that the Trump Regime would no longer insist that countries we deal with, must abide by our values.  Those would include Democracy and Human Rights.  In that case, Donald Trump; might develop a closer relationship with Mexico, if the favored Lopez Obrador, who might have Communist tendencies. is elected President.  Of course, Donald might then have to accept the ramifications—of having either China or Russia, literally on our doorstep!

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WHY DOES RUSSIA SEEM TO CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH ELECTION?

As I write this, it is already early Sunday morning in France, on the day of the Final Round of the French Presidential Election.  The candidates from the two major parties have been eliminated, and the 2017 Presidential Election will choose between: Marion Anne “Marine” Le Pen, of Ultra-Right “Le Front National”, against Emmanuel (Jean-Michel Frederic) Macron of the Centrist “En Marche!” Party.

The Russian cyber-prints seem to be all over the French Election, as was the case in the     U. S., Germany and perhaps elsewhere in Europe.  Unlike Donald Trump, however, who sent his “Special Advisors” to meet with the Russians, Madam Le Pen made a personal visit to President Vladimir Putin, and even had her photograph taken with him.   So, why does Russia care about the French Election?

President Putin seems to have two major problems with the Atlantic Alliance, which includes:  Canada; the U. S; and Europe.  Following the implosion of he Soviet Union, some of it’s former Soviet satellites either claimed independence, or joined NATO and/or the European Union.  Additionally, when Russia annexed Crimea, and began interfering in Eastern Ukraine, the Alliance toughened its economic sanctions on Russia.

The sanctions have greatly hindered Russia’s trade:  either for importing goods that its economy needs; or selling its exports—primarily oil and gas—to acquire necessary dollars, or other reserve currencies.  The Russian economy, which had never diversified much beyond the energy sector, was further devastated when the price of oil—its major cash source—was cut in half, on local markets, from the $90 per barrel three years ago.

Although Monsieur Macron appears favored to win; as we saw in the U. S. Election, strange things can happen.  If Marine Le Pen were to become President, and her avowed Referendum to leave the E. U. were successful, that would mean that two of the three major economies—and largest nations—would be gone.

Also, a FRexit would be even worse than Britain leaving, since breaking-up the 19 member Euro, the common currency, would cause even more of an upheaval—both for France and the E. U.  At that point, losing 30% of the trade pact’s GDP—between France and U. K., would certainly cause the relevance of the E. U. to come into question.  And then, nations that leave, as they look for trading options, might begin to cozy-up to Russia and, thus, reduce the impact of the economic sanctions.

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DONALD TRUMP PLANS TO EVISCERATE THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET, BY 30%! DOES HE STILL HATE HILLARY CLINTON THAT MUCH?

When Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, heard that the State Department Budget would be slashed by 30%, he said: “I’m going to need a lot more bullets!”   As a retired Marine General, Secretary Mattis understands that the dollars spent by State are worth more than those in the Pentagon’s Budget.  Similarly, 150 retired generals and admirals signed a letter to Mr. Trump, asking him to re-consider this down-sizing; because, they know how State Department programs can partially offset the need for Military action!

Throughout the entire Trump Regime, there are only a handful of key staff positions—Deputy and Assistant Secretaries—that are filled.  Also, since these are political appointments, they would need to go through the often tedious Confirmation Process.
While 200 key positions remain vacant at State, it is expected that the Department might not be up to full-strength, at the key levels, until well into 2018.

Due to the size of the State Department, with some 170 overseas locations, the void at the top is especially debilitating.  Secretary Tillerson must travel quite extensively, mostly out of the country.  Who, then, would be in-charge when the Secretary of State is overseas?  He surely needs several key assistants to keep things functioning properly.

Donald Trump appears to know nothing about Foreign Policy, nor does he seem intent on learning.  Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State—who should be his Chief Foreign Policy Advisor, was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil Corporation, and is a diplomatic novice, as well.  With both Trump and Tillerson lacking in any form of Foreign Policy experience, who do they call when they need help…NOW?

Secretary Tillerson, in his former career at Exxon, knows that any confident executive would have screamed holy murder at a 30% budget cut.—especially for no apparent reason!  Budget-size reflects relative importance—in government, as well as business. Mr. Tillerson, however, apparently didn’t bat an eye.  What kind of message does that down-sizing send to the world, at large, about how America views Diplomacy?

Besides America’s vast global network of Embassies and Consulates, the State Department provides leadership and financing for numerous vital programs: eradicating illnesses such as malaria and diphtheria; empowering women in combatting rape, incest, honor-killings and sex-trafficking; promoting education and micro-banking; and providing clean water and sewer systems to rural area.  Such programs help enable disadvantaged regions to become more economically aligned with the rest of the world.

Given the Importance of the State Department, as the face of America to the rest of the world, I can only wonder why its Budget was slashed so significantly.  Besides the many geopolitical trouble spots, let’s not forget growing starvation due to Climate Change, and the potential for medical pandemics. Why…WHY is Donald Trump trying to eviscerate the very Department of State?  Does he hate Secretary Hillary R. Clinton that much?

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