Archive for the ‘foreign relations’ Tag

5 Questions To Ask In The Wake Of Wednesday’s Presidential Speech   1 comment

There’s an interesting article over at Think Progress on what questions we should ask our elected officials in the wake of last night’s presidential speech by President Obama on what the U.S. and our allies plan to do against the growing threat posed by ISIS; here are the five questions…

  • What will happen in the spaces of Syria where ISIS is rolled back?
  • How much will this cost?
  • What will our allies, both in the West & within the Middle East, do to assist us?
  • What’s next for Iraq?
  • When will this end?
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Mark Sumner Is A Tool, Argumentatively Speaking   Leave a comment

For what its’ worth, I agree with Booman Tribune on his assessment on the threat ISIS poses to the United States. I’m also of the opinion that Daily Kos’s Mark Sumner is a major tool, as evidenced by his anti-war screed over at the Great Orange Satan in regards to potential U.S. military action in Iraq.

Now, why am I of this opinion? A couple of reasons…first, I don’t buy his argument that ISIS poses no threat to America…sir, go tell that, as Booman points out, to the families of Americans being held by ISIS at present. Does this mean that ISIS poses as big a threat at the moment as al-Qaeda did years before? Not quite…close, but not quite. We know from historical evidence that, unlike ISIS, al-Qaeda had already hit us a few times (the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the East African embassy bombings and the U.S.S. Cole bombing) and had nearly pulled off another series of terrorist attacks and bombings back in the mid-90’s (Operation Bojinka) and as bad as ISIS appears to be at present, they’ve yet to attempt anything like that as of yet.

Second, if Mr. Sumner (and for that matter, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitas), are that opposed to U.S. intervention in Iraq, they need to fully explain their reasoning and not just stand on their proverbial high horses and call the rest of us hyperventilating cowards for wanting to do something about ISIS. Given what ISIS has done at present in that part of the world, do we really want to sit around on our asses and wait to see what happens? I don’t think so..but it also doesn’t mean we rush in blindly. Say whatever you want about President Obama, but on this occasion, he’s dead-to-rights in taking his time, just as Bush the Elder back in 1990 was right to take his time prior to Desert Storm and build the necessary coalitions that we’re going to damn well need in that part of the world.

Does this mean we go in with large combat formations? No – on that point, I happen to agree w/Mr. Moulitas…on the other hand, no one of record here in the U.S. – or in the West, for that matter – has even suggested that we send in the 82nd Airborne or the 2nd Marine Division back into Iraq. No one’s made that argument as of yet and given the general war-weariness of the American people, it’d be downright foolhardy to suggest that. 

For what it is worth, my view is that, whatever we do in Iraq, it needs to be part of a broad-based coalition that doesn’t rush back into that part of the world but instead takes their time and makes sure that when we do leave this go-round, we won’t have to go back for a long time to come. 

A Smart Strategy At Work   Leave a comment

For what its’ worth, I agree with Booman Tribune in regards to President Obama’s foreign policy strategy thus far; as much as Americans would like to see us intervene in various places around the world, we have to remember that to do does entail risk, regardless of whether its’ through direct assistance or through outright military involvement and while we may complain that the president is being slow or cautious in his foreign policy actions..given the world we currently live in, let’s at least be glad that cautiousness is there in the first place.

Welcome To The Great Game, Booman   Leave a comment

The more that I read Booman Tribune’s latest article concerning the current events in Gaza between Israel & Hamas, I can’t help but think, “surely, Booman knows about the 19th-century Great Game and its’ 21st-century equivalent here?”

For those who don’t the first reference, the Great Game refers to the 19th-century rivalry between Great Britain and Czarist Russia which took place across the steppes of Central Asia – namely, in Afghanistan – and which, over time, bled both Britain and Russia dry in terms of both effort and blood. The 21st-century equivalent is the current conflict in Gaza and the fact that – as evidenced by how stunned Booman stated he was in his article – there seems to be a very interesting dynamic here in regards to some of the Arab states in the region.

Now, to be fair, most of these players – notably Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. – don’t give a flip whatsoever about Israel; neither country recognizes Israel and under most circumstances doesn’t care for the state of Israel. On the other hand, they really, really despise Hamas…and its’ on this basis that – privately – they’re hoping Israel absolutely effing crushes Hamas. Call it an unintended consequence of the 2011 Arab Spring, but what is going on, I would argue, is nothing more than a return to that age-old axiom: the enemy of my enemy is my friend

For what its’ though, I do agree with Booman’s conclusion and that is that, even with this, Israel had better figure out how to make a lasting peace with its’ neighbors or, to quote Booman:

And when this is all over and Hamas is defeated, assuming that is even accomplished, then Israel will immediately lose its erstwhile allies if they don’t reopen the peace talks and get real about ending the occupation.(Booman Tribune)

NASA Suspends Work With Russia Over Ukraine Conflict   2 comments

Given how much we depend on Russia for space travel at present (in regards to transit to/from the International Space Station), this can’t be good

Citing Russia’s ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereign and territorial integrity, NASA told its officials today that the agency is suspending all contact with Russian government representatives. In an internal NASA memorandum obtained by The Verge, the agency said that the suspension includes travel to Russia, teleconferences, and visits by Russian government officials to NASA facilities. NASA is even suspending the exchange of emails with Russian officials.

Ongoing International Space Station activities are exempt from this suspension, however, as are meetings with other countries held outside of Russia that include the participation of Russian officials. The directives come directly from Michael O’Brien, the agency associate administrator for International and Interagency Relations.(The Verge via Booman Tribune)

And you wonder why I support commercial crew operations; here’s a good reason why: access to space.

Don’t Globalize ICANN   Leave a comment

Rarely do I ever agree with anything the geniuses over at National Review say on the issues of the day but on this one I’ll gladly stand alongside them and that’s on the issue of the Commerce Department’s recent decision to begin a process of globalizing the powers of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers.

This decision has bad intentions written all over it. At first, note NR’s editors, no one noticed the news item as it was issued in a ubiquitous Friday-news dump…but as the editors point out, over the past 2 weeks there’s been a growing chorus of voices criticizing the decision and they boil down to two essential questions:

  1. Why fix what ain’t broken?
  2. What does America get in turn for this supposed global governance of ICANN?

Now, to be fair, the editors over at NR did make a general jab at the Commerce Dept’s raison d’etre, but – and this is a big but – their jab was directed in this manner: Cui bono? Who benefits? For starters, look at all the countries who regularly censor the Internet, in particular for reasons of political power and national security; just on those grounds alone, there’s no ethical, moral or honest reason the United States should relinquish any substantive power over ICANN.

What’s especially galling is the Obama Adminstration’s perceived silence on the question; while it’s understandable that, given the various national security scandals the administration’s been involved in (the NSA scandals, Edward Snowden, etc.) there would be a need for the administration not to say anything…but as things go, the quieter someone is, the more there’s something there that they’re not saying. Instead, as NR points out, all that’s been said are questions regarding “globalism”, “stakeholders” and “transition”, hoping that these little tidbits will scare off critics. Well, I for one have this to say: not..on…your…life!

Indeed, this is one of the few occasions where Republicans could really – and I mean really – stick it to Democrats come election season. Quoting:

During the past decade, both houses of Congress have repeatedly rebuked the United Nations’ ambitious International Telecommunications Union, a longtime stalking horse of those who long for greater influence and easier censorship. In 2012, despite the fractious atmosphere in Washington, D.C., bipartisan bills committing the United States to a protective role passed the House and the Senate without a single dissenting voice. Has the entire American political class had a change of heart?

Presuming that it has not, it should act — and swiftly. Lawmakers should explicitly force the Department of Commerce to retain its current role, over a presidential veto if need be. The executive branch was reportedly unsure as to whether it was able to make this decision without Congress. As is its wont, it went ahead and did it anyway. But there is no such doubt as to whether Congress may reverse its decision. This is a clear-cut Commerce Clause power, and one that should be exercised.(National Review)

This is a point worth telling; both houses of Congress have come out in support of keeping ICANN in American hands, if not for any other reason than that America is probably one of the few nations that still has – within reasonable bounds – solid recognition of free speech in most all its’ forms. Just as Keystone could be a problem for certain incumbents, this could be another problem as well, though on different grounds.

For what it’s worth, here’s what they concluded with:

The Internet has been a runaway hit in large part because it combines the two ingredients necessary for success: the untrammeled energies and talents of a liberated civil society, and a light framework of governance that seeks not to inform behavior but to protect liberty. In providing content, the world can evidently look out for itself. On the question of protecting free expression, however, the United States remains an outlier even among other putatively free countries. “A lot of people,” former president Bill Clinton warned over the weekend, “have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom.” Will America let them get away with it?(National Review)

Let us hope the answer to that concluding question is an emphatic no.

Israeli Official: Israel Can No Longer Rely On U.S., May Consider Unilateral Action Against Iran   Leave a comment

Boy, talk about chutzpah

Israel’s defense minister on Monday signaled that his country has abandoned any hope that the United States will solve the Iranian nuclear crisis diplomatically and that he – in a reported reversal – would now support Israel taking unilateral military action against the Islamic Republic.

“We had thought the ones who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States,” said Moshe Ya’alon, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better.”

“People know that Iran cheats,” Ya’alon said. “But comfortable Westerners prefer to put off confrontation. If possible, to next year, or the next president. But in the end, it will blow up.”

He claimed that the U.S. is “showing weakness” throughout the world and criticized the nuclear deal the West reached with Iran late last year. “Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”

Ya’alon’s comments, according to Haaretz, “attest to a sea-change in his attitude regarding how Israel should contend with the Iranian nuclear program,” as under the previous government, Ya’alon led the opposition to a unilateral attack on Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also criticized the nuclear deal, saying that it was a victory for Iran, and says regularly that Israel retains the right to defend its interests. “[L]etting the worst terrorist regime on the planet get atomic bombs would endanger everyone, and it certainly would endanger Israel since Iran openly calls for our destruction,” Netanyahu said in a speech earlier this month. “As prime minister as Israel, I will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state of Israel.”(Think Progress)

You know, for a country that, (a)has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and (b)refuses to acknowledge whether it possesses nuclear weapons, Israel needs to remember that, if it weren’t for, (a)America’s support for them over the past 60-plus years and (b)those annual foreign aid payments we send to them every year, they might not be as powerful as they are at present. Can we just go ahead and cut Israel loose so that they don’t drag us into another Middle Eastern conflict…please?

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