Posts Tagged Foreign Affairs

WHAT COMPETITIVE GROUP WOULD GIVE-UP, WHEN THEIR “BEST” TEAM OF MEN AND WOMEN IS IN THE GAME? DONALD?

Throughout his Presidential Campaign, Donald Trump complained about: the Trans-Pacific Partnership; adverse trade agreements with Mexico and China; the six-nation nuclear agreement with Iran and, of course, any of President Barack Obama’s accomplishments!  He often tied the two points together: we negotiated bad deals, because we have bad negotiators.

But, can’t Mr. Trump see that he now has the best possible negotiating team, and the Negotiator-in-Chief is personally available to turn things around!  Surely the (presumed) Author of “The Art of the Deal” can bring all of his super negotiating skills to bear. 

 Keep in mind, that if we do leave the TPP—a trade pact, which consolidates the fastest-growing region on earth under one “roof”—we will be offering our seat to China.  And, President Xi Jinping will be quite pleased to replace us, and assume our leadership position,

The nuclear agreement with Iran, which was thought to be only a couple of months away from having The Bomb, has truly accomplished its very important purpose!  Tehran shipped both 95% of its plutonium and its centrifuges out of the country, in June of 2014, when the negotiations began.  So, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s worst nightmare—a nuclear-armed Iran—has not come to pass.  Psst: Israel has had an entire nuclear arsenal itself, for decades!

And lastly, remember that New World Order that Trump has been dissing—off and on—whenever it suits his purpose?  That’s the UN, NATO, the IMF, World Bank, the WTO, etc.  Guess what?  Those organizations, established after World War II, have: enhanced the global economic recovery: promoted world peace; and further led to a better functioning world.  

As Donald Trump must surely know, the best time to drive that hard bargain is when you are in a position of relative strength!  America did not suffer the double whammy, of both The Great Depression and a Major War being fought on U. S. Soil, during the 1930s and 40s.  Yes, we fought in the War, lost a lot of good men, and drained our National Treasury.  In the end, however, we were in much better shape then either the vanquished, or even the other victors.

America must retain a leadership position when aid, assistance and leadership are needed to:  reverse global climate change; provide financial, medical and manpower assistance in combating medical pandemics; and we must remain in the forefront in responding to natural disasters.  Helping people in times of distress, helps prevent future wars!  

Following any military confrontations, we must act benevolently, if we win, and be thankful if we lose.  Outrageous reparation payments should never be assessed on the vanquished.  The harsh treatment forced on Germany, by the Allies after World War I, merely laid the groundwork for an even deadlier World War II, just 20 years later.  After World War II, however, America instituted the Marshall Plan, by providing $13 billion ($130 billion in 2015 dollars) to help re-build European economies.

Donald Trump should re-consider some of his misguided ideas, and the harsh rhetoric that he has been using to attack a number of global and regional institutions.  As long as the U. S. still maintains a level of stature, Mr. Trump should reflect on another Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was often associated with the phrase: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick!”

NOTE:  If anyone wonders why I was so easy, on Donald Trump, in writing this post, just read the prior post, where I had questioned whether anyone would want his hands on the key that launches the nukes.   In past posts, I have used every name in the book, in referring to Donald Trump.

I took a somewhat different approach this time.  Donald says the negotiators on the deals that he wants to replace–mostly everything–were really awful.  But now, with His Team, led by him as the Negotiator-in-Chief, I say:  Go for it!  Donald, it’s time to “Put-up, or Shut-up!”

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HEY DONALD, DO YOU KNOW WHO’S RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT? WE SURELY DON’T!

Donald Trump is a true shyster!  From the time he announced his candidacy, back in June of 2015, he has boasted about how truly great each of his promises would be.  The best ever!  You wouldn’t believe it!  And then, of course, the bullshittiest “Just trust me!”  RIGHT!

He has used that Pavlovian sales pitch in every one of his performances, in order to have the audience drooling to the point that they would accept anything!  But now, it seems that the American people are beginning to see through this Bait and Switch charade!  Remember who was going to pay for that Wall?   But now///?

Over the past several weeks, National Security has been front and center.  His Military’s Tomahawk Missile attack on a Syrian air field was so devastating, that the Syrian Air Force was still able to strike that same city, a couple of days later from another air field.  Then, “My Military”, as he calls it, dropped a 22,000 pound bomb on caves in Afghanistan.  But, when you live in a cave, however, surely other accommodations can be easily located!   Donald’s Pentagon” responded to questions about Congressional Authorization, by citing an ancient War Powers Act—for Iraq!

Of course the saber-rattling then pointed toward North Korea, and even true Trumpians would hardly assume that any current attacks could be covered under the 1950 UN Resolution, authorizing that “Police Action”.  But, then, to top-off VP Mike Pence’s “Shield and The Sword” speech at the DMZ, the Trump Regime promptly sent the Carrier Group to the wrong ocean.  (Syria = Iraq?   Indian Ocean = Sea of Japan?)

Honestly, I think that Donald Trump’s two generals—H. R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor, and James Mattis, his Secretary of Defense—are in those positions merely for the cachet that they bring to his personal Tough Guy image.  But, it’s not just the McMaster and Mattis who seem to be mostly invisible.  In fact, most of Trump’s Cabinet Officers seem to remain out-of-sight, and are only paraded-out when Donald needs them for photo-ops.

And now, some 90 days after his Inauguration, Donald seems to be feeling the heat!  Political pundits tend to review what new Presidents have accomplished at the end of their first 100 days in office.  It’s sort of a report card; but, in Trump’s case, it is totally blank—other than the many red checks in the Deportment Section.  So, he’s trying to play catch-up, with smoke and mirrors!

Perhaps that’s why Donald takes great pride in signing meaningless Executive Orders, and then holding them up; but, angles each one into the TV glare, lest we see its irrelevance to the Affairs of State.  In fact, he traveled to the Treasury Department on Friday, and merely signed documents directing Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to do what he has already been doing, and doesn’t need an Executive Order, or a Memorandum to proceed with. For instance:

1. One directs Treasury to review the regulations included in the Dodd-Frank Act, which President Obama signed in 2010.  That Law was intended to rein-in banks after The Great Depression (4Q07-1Q09), which deeply harmed the U. S. Economy, and the contagion spread globally.  “Dodd” was the necessary response to prevent a reoccurrence!

2. The second directs a review of tax regulations, which Obama imposed on corporations to avert “Inversions”, which are acquisitions of foreign corporation for tax purposes.  Ironically, one of Donald Trump’s very mantras—remain and manufacture in America—would seem to benefit completely with that Obama Legislation!

As I watch these meaningless exercises—such as reviewing necessary regulations, with the intent to repeal them—I can only believe that Donald Trump remains committed to eliminate all vestiges of President Barack Obama.  Meanwhile, Donald Trump is thriving on the pompous nature his role, which only he could feel comfortable in, and spending most of his time holding: hateful rallies; photo-ops and his frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago.

And those Cabinet Officers?  No photo-ops until after lunch, please!

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REX TILLERSON’S “EX”, EXXON-MOBIL, DUSTED-OFF ITS WAIVER TO DRILL IN RUSSIA

The Russian economy remains in a shambles as the West’s economic sanctions,  imposed after the invasion of Crimea in 2014, continue to serve their intended purpose.  Obviously the drop in global oil prices, by 50% over the past few years, didn’t help Russia either.  Economic, as well as political concerns certainly led to protests marches throughout Russia.   That’s where Exxon-Mobil may come in handy–at least, on the economic front.

Some 45 % of Russian Energy production is exported, and that provides 70% of Russia’s overall  earnings.  Prior to the section imposition, Exxon-Mobil had intended to transfer state-of-the-art drilling technology, for use in both the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea.  Exxon had applied for a sanctions waiver, from the U. S. Treasury, during the Obama Administration.  The company, however, has raised the issue again.

As the very recent Chairman and CEO of Exxon-Mobil, current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had been very much in favor of providing the drilling waiver.   Although any decision now will be made by the treasury Department, and he supposedly has recused himself, there will always be the suspicion–rightfully or not–than he had plan a finger ion the sale.  Remember that, when he left Exxon-Mobil, he obviously receivers an extremely lucrative severance package.

 

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IS DONALD TRUMP TRYING TO PROVOKE NORTH KOREA’S KIM JONG-UN?

Who can be certain that North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un, can restrain himself from escalating the current tension with the United States?  But then, can we trust Donald Trump to attempt a peaceful solution either?  Each man has lived his whole life in a privileged environment, is conceited, and appears to love the exhilaration of power.  Also, both have surrounded themselves with loyal Yes-Men!

Given Donald Trump’s recent outlandish attacks on Syria and Afghanistan—both of which were unconstitutional, and violations of the UN Charter—I am concerned that, he believes he’s on a roll!  A very dangerous one, at that!  China, on the other hand, has appealed to both sides to show restraint, and it has reportedly cut-off coal shipments to North Korea.  I can only believe that it is a sorry state of affairs when I can take more comfort in what Chinese President Xi Jinping might do, as compared to our own “Fearless Leader”.

The Korean Peninsula is a dangerous region, at present.  The Kim Dynasty has purposely kept anyone, but the Kim line, from leading the country.  And yet, some sort of re-unification of the Two Koreas—similar to Germany in 1990—would never work.  The Soviet Union had collapsed by then; so, the German re-unification was successful.

China doesn’t wish to assume responsibility for a failed North Korea, if it were to invade it.  Similarly, I doubt that some sort of U. S. military attack on the North would work either, since Mr. Kim just might begin firing missiles.  Also, President Xi doesn’t wish to become America’s next door neighbor, nor should we want that. either.  But, the Trump Regime doesn’t plan ahead for such contingencies.

China is North Korea’s only source of (mostly) humanitarian goods; but, it has recently stopped the shipment of coal.  Food and medicine can hardly be denied to the North Korean People.  The American deployment of a Carrier Task Force, led by the USS Carl Vincent, accompanied by three guided missile destroyers and support ships, hardly diffuses the situation—especially given Mr. Kim’s apparent instability.  So, what is the solution?

Expecting rational thoughts or actions from someone, like Supreme Leader Kim, whose very being is treated as godlike, is hard to comprehend.  He doesn’t seem to be especially concerned about his People, since they are barely given a semblance of human needs as it is.  I firmly believe that, if Kim were asked the proverbial Guns vs Butter question—the balance between Military vs Consumer needs—Mr. Kim would surely respond:  Butter?

Although I have no experience in National Security, there are several things that I would suggest:  stop the shipments of military supplies; deny North Korea access to all manufacturing equipment and supplies; and also eliminate the import of any luxury supplies, which Mr. Kim and the privileged class receive from somewhere.  And then, surround the Korean Peninsula with a U. N. flotilla, plus aircraft, including AWACS!  

The blockade armada could be deployed under a U. N. Resolution.  Besides acting as a blockade against all incoming supplies, other than humanitarian necessities.  The global armada would also eliminate any rational “Fields of Fire”, for North Korean missiles.  Lastly, have the Chinese Navy, as a North Korean Ally, take the lead, in order to provide additional buy-in from Mr. Kim.

NOTE:  Since this action would be under a U. N. Resolution, Congressional Approval of U. S. participation should be easily approved.

NOTE #2:  Welcome to my visitors from Israel and Trinidad & Tobago, and of course the U. S.

NOTE #3:   WHOOPS!  It now appears that the Carrier Task Group had not been deployed to the Sea of Japan, as the White House first announced.  Rather, it had been deployed into the Indian Ocean, for joint naval exercises with the Australian Navy.  The ships are, however, now headed in the right direction–the Korean Peninsula, some 3,500 miles away.

A more in-depth description this last Trump Regime misadventure, is provided by a NY Times article

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THURSDAY’S EXCESSIVE SHOW OF FORCE SERVED NO RATIONAL PURPOSE WHATSOEVER!

On Thursday, Donald’s Trump’s (not ours, anymore) Military dropped a GBU-43, a 22,000 pound bomb, on a series of suspected ISIS caves, in the Achin district of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.  Various Jihadist groups—such as al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban—have located their training camps in such areas over the years.  Perhaps, Donald feels that he displayed some humane restraint by not going all-out, and using the even larger GBU-77, which weighs 30,000 pounds.

The benefit of this area, near Pakistan, enables the terrorists fighters to cross the border, when they are feel threatened.  And then, they return to their caps, once the danger has passed.  Thursday’s show-of-force serves no purpose–besides enabling the generals to play with their “Toys of War.  Meanwhile, when the Big Show subsides, the residents of those caves will merely find similar accommodations nearby.

Terrorists organizations, and perhaps ISIS more than others, operate as independently controlled cells, located around the world.  Like the Hydra of Greek Mythology, when the head of one is cut-off, the hydra just grows two more.  And in this case, there is no one head or one cell, to begin with.  So, as we found in literally every war since Vietnam, superior firepower can “Win the battles, but lose the War!”

In fact, such outlandish demonstrations generally accomplish little when the assumed audience remains mired in the age of donkeys and mud huts.  And, while Thursday’s absurd detonation will possibly provide ISIS with valuable recruiting propaganda, it is most important to remember that those donkeys can traverse the hills of Afghanistan, while our tanks cannot!   In fact, such demonstrations of firepower do little to enhance our image, or win friends, in the Developing World!

The next Federal Budget hasn’t been finalized; however, the Trump Regime had suggested slashing the State Department and Health and Human Services, while increasing our Defense Budget, which is already as large as those of the next ten countries combined.   Just think how cost-effective it would be to spend that same money, through State and HHS, to:  build hospitals and schools; fight malaria and tuberculosis; and provide clean water and electric power.  In other words, we could get more bang-for-the-buck, and enhance our reputation–by doing Good!

Donald Trump has a reputation for: his ignorance about complex issues; excessive hubris; and surrounding himself with Yes-Men.  Although he boasts about having generals in his Cabinet, I seriously wonder whether he even listens to them!  But, I am still concerned about what this fool might do next!   And now, Mr. Trump has, once again,  raised the issue of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.  Need I say more?

NOTE:  This video is analogous to Donald Trump’s personal reaction to his BIG BANG!  Once again, he just played through it!

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SYRIA ATTACKED! WILL NORTH KOREA BE NEXT? BUT, THE CURE MIGHT BE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE!

trumpAnyone with TV or broadband access, undoubtedly saw videos of the dead and wounded, following a poison gas attack, in Syria on Tuesday.   The U. S. responded with a massive 59 Tomahawk Missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield, the base which the U. S. believes that the planes, loaded with the Sarin-laden bombs, took-off from.   Russia helicopters also uses that base, however!  It is unclear as to whether the Syrians, or the Russians, heeded the advanced-warning of the attack; however, there did not appear to be any aircraft debris on the field, in photos that I saw on the following day.

It is commonly believed that, since the War began six years ago,  President Bashar Assad’s forces have killed 500,000 of his own people.  The photos of dead and wounded, after the Sarin air strike, were horrible to watch; but still, I remember the lifeless body of a three year-old boy, a couple of years ago, who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, with his mother and brother.  That still photo reminded me of just about any small child, just curled-up sleeping; but, that small boy was dead!   Why hasn’t anyone acted before—the     U. S., Russia, the U. N., the Arab League, etc?   How approaching this problem like the seven nation Nuclear Agreement with Iran?

Why didn’t Donald Trump delay the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping,  iust a day or two, so that he could devote his full attention to the missile attack?   Or, he could have changed the venue to the White House, rather than to his Mar-a-Lago estate.   How much time did the two presidents, and their various advisors waste, in flying down to Palm Beach?  And that faux “situation room”, with flags a-flutter, truly looked just like a group of businessmen waiting for their dinner reservation.  The flags were a photo-op give-away, in a room where tough decisions were charaded to be made?   And, no jackets off. sleeves rolled-up?

In a recent post, I had suggested that Congress needs to reaffirm its sole authority to Declare War!   Whether we like it or not, Syria is a sovereign state.  Also, as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, we can only use military force on another country’s soil, either with its consent, in cases of self-defense or with the approval of the U. N.

As morally warranted as last Thursday’s attacks might have been, what the Trump Regime did was unconstitutional, and also against International Law.  The U. S. Department of Defense justified the attack as being: “intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again,”   That is clearly NONSENSE!.

An initial use of force against an enemy, by the way, would generally be the first of several, or ,many, narrowly-focused actions, designed to progress toward a long-range, strategic mission. So far, however, since no end-game has been revealed, it certainly appears that the Trump Regime is just making this up as it goes along!

During the Administration of President (and former General) Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Defense Department formulated its “First Offset Strategy”, which has always been expected to be an on-going blueprint, for keeping militarily our superiority over the Soviet Union.  Ike’s Plan was to take advantage of on-going advanced technological applications within our weapons arsenal.  Currently, that top tier of adversaries is composed of Russia and China, with lesser adversaries grouped accordingly.  Two years ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, described the newest version of that blueprint, the “Third Offset Strategy”, to a group of U. S. partners and allies.  In his presentation, Mr. Work said:

“While the United States and our closest allies fought two lengthy wars over the past 13 years, the rest of our — the rest of the world and our potential adversaries were seeing how we operated. They looked at our advantages. They studied them. They analyzed them. They looked for weaknesses. And then they set about devising ways to counter our technological over-match.”

Donald Trump boasts about his unpredictability.  After the Election in November, when he received the full Presidential Briefing, he allegedly asked:  “Since we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?”  So here we are, just three days after the (conventional) attack on Syria, and he’s already talking about installing nuclear weapons in South Korea.  He had also suggested sending a (presumed) special ops team to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.

Donald Trump boasts about being unpredictable and, with his lack of any clearly defined strategic objectives, as well as his total disregard for the Rule of Law, I am deeply concerned about the potential outcome.  He does;t seem to realize that Power Kills, and that means real people’s lives!  Under his misguided “Leadership”, Donald Trump could transform America into just another irrational state, but with a vast nuclear arsenal!    

Given Mr. Trump’s unprecedented conceit, he doesn’t realize how ignorant he is about: knowing where the Syrian attack might lead America to militarily; the disapproval that the recent action might bring from the International Community; the ramifications from ignoring the U. S. Constitution and the International Rule of Law…and, now he wants to “Do it again”–in North Korea.  The GOP seems enamored with him; but, only so they can push through their Draconian laws.  But, when will the American People put a stop to this Megalomaniac?

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I CAN ONLY CRINGE WHEN I THINK OF DONALD J. TRUMP REPRESENTING AMERICA ON THE WORLD STAGE!

The adventures and misadventures of Mr. Know-it-All are well known, both at home and abroad!  Donald’s outrageous personal behavior, and his emotional instability, are quite self-evident.  In other words, as Andy Borowitz recently suggested, Donald Trump is even unqualified to run an Arby’s fast-food restaurant!

Whenever I know that Donald Trump will be representing America—whether it be in a one-to-one meeting with a head-of-state, or representing our country in an International Forum—I can only wonder how he will embarrass us this time?   Donald seems quite capable of taking this personal art form, to even newer and newer heights!

Mr. Trump shamelessly exalts in the trappings of his Office; but, he shows little interest in the dedication and realities that it requires.  He constantly complains about what he inherited: the terrible economy; the awful Affordable health Care System; the War in the Middle East, etc.  None of that is true; however, in his delusional state, he appears intent on lowering our expectations.  But Donald, you shouldn’t worry.  We haven’t expected much rational thought, from the White House, ever since you took over!

With regard to Foreign Affairs, our most important geopolitical relationship is the Atlantic Alliance, established after World War II.  It is basically a Trade and Defense Pact, with Canada and most Europe nations as our partners.  Donald Trump doesn’t seem to realize its value,; however, and he appears to send out mixed signals as to whether he supports it or not.

Two weeks ago, Donald apparently flubbed an opportunity to build a relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when they met at the White House.  She is the most experienced leader within the Atlantic Alliance.  According to one of her aides, Mr. Trump was: ill-prepared, disengaged; and his only contribution to the discussion was to claim that Germany owed the U. S. for under-funding its Defense needs.  At the following joint press conference, Donald Trump was surely, rude, and he even refused the traditional handshake.

A couple of months ago, at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump complained about last November’s Election, and then he praised Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor, whom he just fired.  And then yesterday, during a joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordon, he once again blamed President Barack Obama for the apparent use of Sarin gas in Syria.

Trump has a reputation for being a schoolyard bully: claiming credit for events that he had no part in; shifting blame, rather than acknowledging his own guilt; and blatantly and endlessly attacking the less powerful.  He even seems to have no qualms about publicly washing his own dirty linen—complaining, whining and boorish behavior—in front of other world leaders.  Donald, that’s not Leadership: that’s merely irrational behavior!

NOTE: Welcome to my readers from Qatar.

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