Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Rise of History

Francis Fukuyama pronounced the death of history toward the end of the 20th century, but since then history is rising. The collapse of the Soviet Union and apparent emergence of the West in triumph sounds strangely hollow after the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The structure that framed the world from 1945 to 1991 was supported by two, huge foundation stones – the US and the USSR. When one of the foundation blocks vanished, rather than an end to history, the resulting cloud of dust obscured the beginnings of the structural changes which are now settling into a new pattern. History strikes back.

This resurrection of a pattern of national interactions, resulting in temporary groups of blocks which nations like the US find difficult to grasp, is beginning to reveal a return to natural historical patterns based on pre-cold war views.

It is very clear that the intellectually challenged in the US have difficulty with their rapidly sinking influence which had dominated the planet since 1945. There are those who have the ability and intellect to deal with the changing environment. But the rise of the genuinely ignorant – the Tancredos, Palins, Becks, Limbaughs and the rest of their ilk – bodes poorly for US foreign policy in the future. Yes, there are the Chuck Hagels of the US – but they have been pushed aside by a great mass of simply stupid, uneducated and hateful people.

Although it is certainly not alone in comprehending the new, current reality of history’s rebirth, the US has difficulty dealing with it. An example of the discomfort for the US is the visit by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of Turkey to China and their deepening relationship. The fact of the matter is that nations are returning to normality by following their national interests and not the direction mapped for them by organizations such as NATO, the long-defunct Warsaw Pact, ASEAN or by former power centers in Moscow or Washington.

Turkey is establishing strong ties with China because it is in its interests now to do so. However, in the world of the neo-cons and Palinites in the US for example, one must pick sides. Black and white. Yes or no. For these people the independent foreign policy of Turkey is a sign of betrayal. Why can’t Ankara just do what they are told like the old days? Because, that’s why it’s called history. It’s gone. Lessons to be learned and mistakes not to be repeated (hopefully). Turkey has excellent relationships with the west. US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were meeting six or seven times a year while the US and Turkish leaders met at most two times a year a decade ago. There is a constant stream of contact with Western Europe. The fact that Turkey also deals with its neighbours, Iran and Syria, and is reaching out to establish more ties with China is, well, normal.

The same can be said for Brazil. Despite the infantile Hugo Chavez who, like North Korean leaders, stamps his feet and repeats a tired litany of cold war, Castro-like platitudes while his country founders economically, it is Brazil that is leading the way in the south. Brazil and Turkey have a growing trade and political relationship outside of anyone’s sphere of influence. Brazill is following a foreign policy that supports its - not North American - interests.  Clearly disturbing to some up north who likely believe that Brazil's national language is Spanish.

Russia, formerly flying high under Putin, is discovering that its military adventurism is not paying many dividends and has, in the case of Georgia, begun to back-fire. Invading a weak neighbour, whatever the provocation, while at the same time promoting ethnic separatism, did not go down well with the international community, particularly its neighbours in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Like the US, it has found that projection of military strength does not equate to political influence except, perhaps, in the short run. Aggressive use of its energy supplies to influence or force compliance with its foreign policy political agenda has not been well received; despite, for example, German dependence on Russian gas and oil, France and Eastern Europe are looking for ways to blunt overreaching. Poland and the Baltic States look to the US for support through a military footprint, while France is building more nuclear power plants. Medvedev seems to be getting the point and has been far more interested in spreading influence through trade deals rather than threats.  The Putin era is over in Russia.

China, although attempting to represent the new paradigm in foreign policy normality, has some problems of its own. Its recent move to use the cut-off of rare metals as punishment for perceived foreign policy slights by Japan raises concerns among its trading partners. The fears surfacing over its commercial policies are linked to fears over strategic intentions. Unfair trade practices don’t work in the long-term.  Unfortunately, it is unclear who are the rising stars in China and the fingerprints of an aggressively minded military are appearing on many policy papers.

How will the US adapt to the new reality? In the short run, not well I suspect because of a domestic economic climate that has not only exposed the failure of free-wheeling capitalism promoted by previous Republican administrations, but  perhaps more importantly uncovered the hidden racism, religious intolerance and has led to the rise of a brown-shirt movement which constitutes a threat to the republic. But, sooner or later, the US will need to realize that its disproportionate amount of military power does not translate into influence. It cannot continue to equate efforts by others to harmonize relationships with re-alignment. Rather than railing against the normalization of international relationships, the US needs to find a way to capitalize on it – or it will simply lose its perceived “exceptionalism” and influence.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Follow-up on Turkey

Like most countries, Turkey has a top secret document outlining perceived and actual threats.  In Turkey it's commonly referred to as the "Red Book".  Depending on the  leaks one wants to believe, it includes Iran, Greece (not surprising), Kurdish northern Iraq and climate change as threat factors.  Maybe. It's also less than 20 pages, apparently.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Iran may be on the list given the "zero problems with neighbors" policy, and supports the complexity of Turkish foreign policy that the media likes to ignore.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New US Overlords

Introducing the new overlords of foreign affairs in America:

My training is as an economist. I was in the PhD program in economics at Stanford until my research led me more towards moral theory and constitutional law, at which point I dropped the program and started working on my own. I was writing a book on republicanism (the system of liberty under law) for World Ahead Publishing when I discovered that the Flight 93 memorial was going to be a terrorist memorial mosque. World Ahead agreed to first publish my book about this rehijacking of Flight 93 (Crescent of Betrayal, temporarily available for free download at This is not my first venture into journalism. Over the years I have been a writer, opinions editor, and advisor for Stanford’s conservative campus newspaper The Stanford Review, and am currently on the Review’s board of directors.
Shorter version: I failed as a wannabe economist. I wanted to espouse moral theories and constitutional law, but since I’m a Republican, and a conservative one at that, didn’t believe in either. I have worked at nothing important because I couldn’t find anyone who would hire me. Oh. I wrote an un-publishable book which I now give away for free and continue as a wannabe journalist by advising a college newspaper.

Last week he wrote about his feelings shortly following the events of 9/11:

Five days later I finally got a flight to San Fran out of Logan. I scanned everyone in the boarding area looking for two things: hidden Muslim terrorists, and alert possible allies. As I boarded the plane, I scanned the face of every prime-age male, Muslim-looking and non-Muslim looking alike, for any sign of either fellow-spirit or hostility.

I noted where the three or four Arab or Indian looking men were seated. None had a hostile look. Half of the other men returned my own quietly inquiring gaze, looking long enough to let me know that they were asking the same thing I was: was I ready to act, should allies be needed?

No nods were necessary, as each of us received what we were looking for. All of us understood that this was now a national duty. It was up to the passengers to be vigilant, and be ready to work together to defend each other and the nation.

Now NPR has fired Juan Williams for expressing that exact same vigilance: a watchfulness towards Muslim passengers. Embrace your duty to your countrymen, and the moral trash at NPR will brand you a moral criminal.
This is an example of the intellect that is sweeping the US today and which will, with the election of his favourite uninformed, unaware and ignorant representatives, advise US foreign policy in the future. To say that there is a core of 25% - 35% of Americans who are dumber than a bag of hammers is an understatement at this point. Watch out world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Changing the Middle East Political Map

How long will it be before Hezbollah’s dominance of Lebanon, coupled with its ties to Iran proves intolerable to Syria? And will Turkey’s newly found and aggressively advanced agenda as a leader in the Middle East (and beyond) be tolerated by one or more of the presumptive leaders – Egypt, for example?

Lost in the simplified and simplistic media world, particularly in the US, is the fact that there are multiple, conflicting practical interests among the players in the region. These are likely to rise rapidly to the surface as the US pulls back from Iraq and leaves the region to the strongest. Unfortunately, the ill advised and profoundly stupid invasion and subsequent “reconstruction” of Iraq by the US eliminated a key, secular player and handed it to one of the key religious players, Iran.

Nevertheless, the cracks are beginning to appear. The recent visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon probably was an unwelcome event for Damascus. Syria has always view Lebanon as part of a greater Syria and worked with Hezbollah to act as a proxy against Israel and if Hezbollah was financed by Tehran, so much the better. However, Syria considers Lebanon as its territory and tolerates Hezbollah only so long as they follow rules set down in Damascus, which has been known to react violently against Hezbollah (23 shot by Syrian troops in 1987) when they go too far and risk involving Syria in a wider conflict. Iran, of course, has a different agenda and sees Hezbollah as a tool to extend its influence and particular brand of religiosity into the region. Iran also would like to firmly entrench its power in Lebanon as it simultaneously extends its control of Iraq. Sooner or later, despite the current arrangement (it is hardly an alliance) among the three is going to unravel.

Iran and Syria have, at times, conflicting agendas, not the least of which is that Iran would like to export its vision of Islam and form of government into the Arab world. Since Iranians are not Arab, this is bound to create a problem. In addition, Syria is not particularly interested in seeing Iranian influence rise in Lebanon or Iraq. As a result of the 2006 war with Israel where Hezbollah demonstrated it could fight the strongest military in the region outside of Turkey to a standstill and the withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon, Syria suffered a defeat in its foreign policy agenda regarding Lebanon and Iraq. Iran gained an advantage. But, at the end of the day, Iran was far away and Syria was not. It is now back in strength, its security apparatus controlling Lebanon and remaining a threat to Hezbollah and its Iranian ally.

This brings in the other players – Turkey and Iran’s arch enemy, Saudi Arabia. Both have intensified their foreign policy campaigns to court Syria. Neither are friends of Hezbollah or, despite the rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Iran. Syria is very happy to exploit the leverage provided by the Saudi’s and it is not lost on Hezbollah that Syria holds many of the cards for determining the future of Lebanon – and that Iranian control is not in the picture as far as Damascus is concerned.

Nevertheless, Syria is not strong enough to abandon its relationship with Iran or Hezbollah. It remains a better tactic to retain the leverage of both its regained supremacy in Lebanon, its new relationship with Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the current arrangements with Hezbollah and Iran. From the point of view of Damascus, this is ideal. But, it won’t last basically because the original raison d’être for the arrangement with Hezbollah and Iran was to establish dominance over Lebanon – not to mention getting rid of Saddam Hussein. One part of the formula is finished. Hezbollah now is an obstacle to Syrian control of Lebanon because of its ties to Iran. Hezbollah has good reason to be concerned about Syria’s next steps and Iran would be unable to save them against a serious Syrian push for complete control. Syria is in a good negotiating position with all sides in the region but, ultimately, it is not interested in seeing Iran as the major regional power. Neither is Turkey nor Saudi Arabia – not to mention Israel. Iran and Hezbollah should be worried.

This brings me to the second question posed at the beginning of this post. What about Turkey? Despite its publically repeated message that it’s foreign policy is to seek peace in its neighborhood, the geo-political reality is that it is the major power in the region with influence far beyond its borders based on culture, religion and the legacy (sometimes not so great) of the Ottoman Empire. With regard to the latter, that legacy is not fondly recalled in places like Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey has finally engaged in a re-definition of its foreign policy and can do so because of two events – the collapse of the Soviet Union and the questionable usefulness of NATO. The first has brought into serious question the survivability of the second. The continued stonewalling by the EU regarding the accession process has also impacted the direction of its foreign policy activities, much to the apparent dismay of those same members who accuse Turkey of abandoning the West.

Turkey characterizes its active foreign policy initiatives as deepening political relations, increasing trade and starting a cultural dialogue with its neighbours. At the same time, the internal political necessity of pleasing the voters who support the AKP require the current government to take a more independent, less Western oriented position regarding, for example, the Iranian nuclear program. At the same time, Turkey is not interested in importing an Iranian political and religious ideology regardless of its own deeply held religious beliefs. Nor is it supportive of an Iranian take-over of Iraq despite its equal dislike of an independent Kurdish state that could be triggered by the dominance of Iran in Baghdad.

Yet its policies and preaching do not go down well in parts of Egyptian society – historically the leader of the Arab world. Turkey has a tiny non-Muslim population and consequently can afford to preach. Egypt does not and has not been especially pleased with Erdogan’s lectures. This may be the opening shot of a push-back against Turkish cultural expansionism that uses the vehicle of Islamic principals to achieve another, more geo-political goal, at the expense of countries like Egypt and Syria.

Turkey, like Iran, is not an Arab state. The traditional Arabic leaders will be wary of the diplomatic, economic and social manoeuvring of Turkey which, although it has not reached the active dislike of attempts by Iran to extend its vision of religious governance, may well trigger actions to blunt similar regional hegemonic attempts. However, in the current climate, it is unlikely that further resistance to Turkish influence extension will manifest itself with anything more dramatic than private concerns expressed over relaxed afternoon tea. It is on Iran that Egypt, Syria and especially Saudi Arabia are focusing their attention. Consequently, while Iran remains an issue, Turkey will be able to extend its influence more or less unopposed.

For example, Turkey has proved to be very successful in developing its interests in Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. In the former, its cultural understanding has proved to be invaluable for military training purposes. In the latter, Turkey will supply $800 million of military aid to the government, helping to advance its interests in Central Asia – largely of Turkic origin. An eventual settlement of the Ngorno Kharabakh issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as continued aid to Georgia further establishes regional influence eastward for Turkey. This is something to be encouraged inasmuch as all these states, with the exception of Armenia which is firmly under Russian influence, are in the front line of Iranian attempts to expand its ideology.

Turkey will be put to the test on another matter very, very soon. It is a member of NATO and although its policy of “zero problems with neighbours” does not diminish its commitment to NATO, many in the West consider the policy as making Turkey an unreliable partner. The test will occur when Turkey must decide on November 19 or 20 whether to deploy a proposed missile shield, against a yet unrealized threat of Iranian missiles, on Turkish soil.

A “no” will serve no other purpose than to reinforce the neo-con and Israeli propaganda that Turkey cannot be trusted. It could also lead to the withdrawal of Turkey and the second largest army in Europe, from NATO – a fatal blow to an already questionable alliance. A “yes” will seriously impair Turkish foreign policy in the region and it would not be possible for Ankara to maintain the positive atmosphere in ties with either Iran or Syria which it sees a fundamental requirement of its national interests. On the other hand, a “yes” would elicit all the support Turkey needs from a far more conservative Saudi Arabia.

Turkey, having decided it was time to act like a grown-up rather than the ward of the US, now has the difficult prospect of making serious foreign policy decisions which will not only impact its own geo-political goals but those of the US, EU and other countries of the Middle East. It’s a new world. Welcome to it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Multiculturalism Fail

Coat of arms of the Federal Republic of Germany.Image via Wikipedia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared on Oct. 16 at a meeting of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, that multiculturalism, “has failed totally.” This is merely stating the obvious as the failure to integrate non-Germans into society was quite clear a very long time ago. The same can be said of France and all the other members of the old EU to one degree or another.

Horst Seehofer, minister-president of Bavaria and the chairman of a sister party to the Christian Democrats, said at the same meeting that the two parties were “committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.” The reference to a dominant German culture is striking, for obvious reasons. However, the phenomenon is not confined to Germany as right wing populists gain in the polls, much as in the US. In this context, it is clear that immigration issues are affecting all of Europe and the response is not pleasant.

Of course, much of the reaction to immigration is driven by the deteriorating economies of Europe (although Germany is doing rather well despite a shortage of highly trained specialists). But, the perceived problem in Germany is of its own making.

Germany’s labor shortage began, again for obvious reasons, following World War II. So it began to import some skilled, but largely unskilled, labor from other European countries. These workers were referred to as “guest workers” and they came from Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey. They were considered temporary, as the name implies, not immigrants. Most returned as expected and in any event Germany had no plan for assimilation. Furthermore, Germans could now rely on the unskilled migrant workers to perform, well, unskilled and rudimentary jobs, thereby allowing Germans to move into far less menial positions.

Germany had a very liberal policy for the guest workers – including social benefits and the ability to bring in family members to join the already large number of migrants. Guess which migrants took advantage of this the most. Turks. And not Turks from the cosmopolitan west of Turkey or Istanbul, but from the very poor east. The Turkish community became permanent, raising families and, as the economy slumped, taking advantage of a very liberal German social safety net as they became un-employed.

Germany never wanted to assimilate any of the guest workers, but their own policies created a situation where they needed to do something. So they came up with the smoke and mirrors multi-culturalism solution. It seemed a great idea at the time, but contained a time bomb because the deal was that the guest workers (and at this point this really only included the Turkish population) could retain their cultural and social beliefs but had to pledge loyalty to Germany. This ended up creating a sub-class – a sort of separate but equal system – which did not share (and were not required to share) German values.

As I said earlier, this is not solely a German prediliction. Europeans in general have no idea how to assimilate different cultures. Germany, like France, hid its head in the sand and, until now, never defined what it meant to be German. There was never a core culture that the immigrants were required to accept in return for citizenship - a contract of shared values. Multi-culturalism is not dead because it never was alive in the first place. The German (and French) view was a pretence and merely created ghettos. Is it surprising that after being made second class persons that Turks in particular considered Turkey their home to which they owed loyalty?

For the Germans to claim failure now is a little like the shock – shock – that Greece lied about its finances in order to enter the Euro zone or that the unregulated, shadow banks in the US precipitated the latest economic crash.

But the current German view points to a broader issue. The fact that Germany is using the language of nationalism is, to put it mildly, a little alarming. Germany is looking beyond the old constraints that tied it to the Western defense and economic establishments, including the EU. Back to the future.

Germany already has the closest economic ties to Russia of any Western European state. Russia ties Germany to itself with energy and Germany provides investment to Russia. There is already the shadow of a political alliance. The Baltic States and Poland should view this developing relationship with alarm. So should the US.

The outcome the last time Germany talked up national interest was not at all agreeable.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

China to the Rescue

The recent announcement by China that it would buy Greek bonds when they are issued, likely early in 2011, and to double bi-lateral trade is definitely good news for Athens. It is also an interesting maneuver by China to gain influence within the EU as a whole through bi-lateral agreements with individual members that expose fault lines in attempts by France and Germany to impose a uniform foreign policy. 

Bi-lateral agreements with individual members of a bloc can provide significant leverage. For China, this form of diplomatic initiative will assist in lifting the EU ban on certain high-tech exports to China and for the EU to recognise China's market economy status, a long-standing request that would limit the EU's room to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese imports. 

Will other debt burdened EU members turn to China as the financial saviour?  If so, then the results of bad financial policies in the EU and the US will very much affect global relationships in an unanticipated way.  As the US devolves toward banana republic status under control of its Republican and teabagger overlords and the EU struggles with the increasingly worrisome single currency, the balance is tipping.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Kremlin vs Minsk

VITEBSK, BELARUS. President Putin with Belarus...Image via Wikipedia
There is a fierce war of words erupting between the former state farm directory President Lukashenko of Belarus and President Medvedev and PM Putin of Russia.  Medvedev has harshly criticised Lukashenko of Russia-bashing in his re-election campaign.  In a video blog entry posted on the Kremlin web site on Sunday, Medvedev accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of trying to cast Russia as his nation's main enemy while running for re-election. 

The economic union among Belarus, Russian and Khazakhstan has been delayed for more than six months.  There are numerous reasons for this, including the global economic crises. But also figuring into the equation is Russian's aggressive expansion at the expense of Georgia, bullying of Ukraine with threats that the same type of independence movement could strike in the Crimea, and the suspicion that it engineered  the coup in the Kyrgyz Republic.  All this has made countries like Belarus - regardless of its less than democratic government - move closer to the EU in terms of cooperation. It has not helped Lukashenko's position in the Kremlin that Belarus has refused to recognize S. Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent of Georgia, thereby joining the ranks of Venezuela, Nicaragua and some tiny atoll in the Pacific.

Lukashenko has oppositon, but it is usually not effective.  The question is if Moscow will throw its weight, overtly, behind any other contender for the thrown of Minsk.  The last time they did that, their man in Kyiv went down to defeat and they have failed miserably in Georgia trying to unseat their least favourite president.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On the other hand...

Over at Bellum, Mark Rice reports on "good(ish) news from Afghanistan, point to this at the Paper of Record.

Optimism is fine and I think that those doing development work in Afghanistan deserve medals - or a substantial increase in their daily rate which would be more tho their liking.  But a reality check is in order.  The troops are leaving and the money will dry up and in the meantime, in order to get anything done at all, the latest development news out of Afghanistan may actually be occurring much more often than people expect.

But this is shocking, shocking - and is behind a subscription wall so I'll quote the key parts of the story.

Subcontractors of DAI, a development contracting firm, may have misused funds of the U.S. Agency for International Development to pay the Taliban in exchange for protection, a review by USAID’s Office of Inspector General finds.

DAI is implementing that USAID-backed Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, and West, and Local Governance and Community Development projects in Afghanistan.


News reports over the past year claimed that U.S. funds paid to contractors for Afghan reconstruction projects were siphoned off to Taliban insurgents in exchange for “protection” to prevent attacks.

The review, which was conducted by the USAID Regional Inspector General/Manila, however, revealed that DAI subcontractors may have “misused USAID funds to pay off Taliban insurgents in remote and insecure Taliban strongholds” for the Local Governance and Community Development project.

The review said: “Interviews with personnel from USAID, U.S. intelligence, and DAI indicated that, for LGCD subprojects, Afghan subcontractors would meet with local community leaders before the implementation phase and negotiate the terms of community support, including employment opportunities and security arrangements. The subcontractors would also negotiate security terms with insurgents either directly or indirectly through community leaders. Insurgents could demand from the subcontractor a ‘protection tax’ of up to 20 percent of the total subcontract value in exchange for protection. ‘Protection’ might include Taliban-provided security guards for the activity site and a promise not to attack the subcontractor’s personnel and equipment and not to halt the activity.”
Does anyone really find it shocking that some money is going to pay off the people who might blow up your
project and you with it?  The trouble is that money is somewhat fungible and a pay-off at one site merely allows the cash to be spent to buy weapons to use against someone who did not pay the protection money - like NATO troops.

It is very noble to engage in making lives better.  It is something else to do it in the name of nation-building knowing that when the foreigners leave it will not be a pleasant scene for those left behind.  Nation building was not the purpose of the US or NATO involvement in Afghanistan.  To butcher Nietzsche - "To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity."
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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Druids are Coming...Run

OK. Well, maybe not run.  The only question is whether a religion based on a close relationship with and protection of the natural environment can become a significant world-wide movement.  Before you laugh, consider this.  Christianity was a minor cult of disaffected Jewish thinkers for a considerable period of time which promoted its doctrine amid increasing hostility from the power that controlled everything important in Europe, the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas for over 750 years.  It was accepted as the official religion of the Roman Empire only after 300 years. Without official support from the weakened, but still dangerous empire, Christianity would have been less able to become firmly established.  Islam didn't take quite that long - but he basis was the same. State acceptance and enforcement.

The scenario is interesting in that people need religion to fill a need and concern for the environment is a good enough reason as any. As a movement promoting a cause that could affect international policy, the Druids may not find a niche outside of the UK, Ireland or Brittany. But then, in a few hundred years...well.

Here come the Druids. Again. Everyone remain calm.
The Charles de Gaulle (R91) nuclear-powered ai...Image via Wikipedia
France just made a significant contribution to NATO in Afghanistan by sending the battle group (Le Figaro - in French) led by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Indian Ocean.  Last year, NATO members France, Germany and the UK insisted on a timetable for a draw down in Afghanistan.  The US administration responded with a "surge" tactic and the announcement that NATO would be out by the summer of 2011. My suspicion is that additional support from Europe was part of the deal.  A nuclear aircraft carrier is a pretty big deal.

What impresses about the French under Sarkozy (I am not a big fan of his) is the aggressiveness of the French military.  It was the French that chased down and killed Somali pirates - on land.  The French naval forces in the region are effective while being low-profile. This new deployment seems to be part of the "surge" - a vast input of firepower as a parting shot so that NATO can leave without being accused of losing by those in the US who are very happy to send other peoples children off to war for no valid reason.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Middle East - Outside the Box

This is a good idea.  It is outside the box. It undercuts opppositon on both sides.

The current round of Isreali-Palestinian negotiations will be as successful as the previous.  Almost as successful as Doha or the recently concluded aid conference in New York City.  Even Hamas would have trouble dealing with this idea because opposing it would reveal to the world exactly what everyone knows - that it is nothing but a gang of terrorists who happen to have gotten control over a piece of land by promising the people of Gaza ultimate victory - no economy, but ultimate victory. 

Worth a try.

Kansas Controls US Foreign Policy

Among the problems with implementing US foreign policy is the ability of a small group of people - or in this case one Republikan - to bring an important posting to a key country to a screaming, tire burning halt. And for no reason or some double super-secret reason or,more likely to pander to whatever group is paying him or her off.

There has been no ambassador to Turkey since last July.  Turkey is a member of NATO.  Even the EU is now warming to it. Now, due to a deal by the "why can't we all get along" Democrats that will never be repeated once the lunatics gain political control in the US, preventing recess appointments , it will not happen for another seven weeks or so. Senator Brownbeck (R - KS) originally put this appointment on hold for no apparent reason other than to please his Bible thumping friends and "punish" Turkey for following a foreign policy that Turkey considers suitable for Turkey and not necessarily for the bought-and-paid-for US Congress.

There are major policy decisions that need to be discussed in the region, including dealing with Russian expansionism, energy, stability in Iraq and dealing with Iran. The petty, childish foot stomping by one senator from Dorothyland puts US foreign policy at risk.

Development Thought for the Day

CICERO, IL - AUGUST 11:  A driver backs his tr...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Don't want it more than they do.  It will be a waste of time and money and likely keep a corrupt, stupid government in power longer than necessary.
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Please explain to me why this is any different than the actions taken by the recently defeated regime in Germany a few years earlier.  And please - differences in degree don't count unless you believe that killing one person makes one a murderer. Killing millions, a conquerer.