Archive for the ‘US FOREIGN POLICY’ Category

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THE DECIDING DEBATE…or just more blather?

October 22, 2012

For weeks we have heard the debates don’t matter. Opps…poll numbers started shifting during the first three, and now this final debate is the MOST IMPORTANT thing of the campaign. Who knows what the truth is? All I really know is that we should expect posturing and not truthful thought-out responses.
Yesterday I started a blog that outlined what I would like to hear discussed in the last debate tonight. No, Benghazi was not on the list…contrary to neo-con manipulation of Romney’s impression, Benghazi’s greatest importance was the unexpected loss of American lives-especially one who may have emerged as a knowledgeable and informed leader in 21st century foreign policy-someone who understands the Middle East; someone that could have helped the United States make needed transitions from “War is the Answer” to peaceful co-existence. And, its second most important role was as a demonstration for the American people of just how complex-even murky-an incident like this is. Such an incident calls for patience and level heads, no finger pointing until everyone has the facts, and no posturing for political advantage…especially from a neophyte whose total foreign policy is wrapped up in a father born in Mexico for religious reasons, and time spent as a missionary in France – a country that was then just emerging from post-WWII recovery! While I applaud Romney for his time and compassion, I do not think he emerged a qualified 21st century diplomat based on that experience! And frankly, I shudder to think his neo-con advisors are the very same men and women that manipulated Bush and tricked the world into the wrongful war in Iraq!
But I digress. What I was in the midst of outlining yesterday was my own questions/issues I hope to hear discussed tonight.
• Japan is about to take China’s place as the US largest creditor. What do you see as positive/negative impacts, if  any, on the United States?
• With China’s low profit margins on production of goods, combined with extremely low worker wages, what do you see as impact in the US, of as the Chinese “Boom” recedes? Will there be economic consequences from the many US companies with facilities there? Are the US corporate investments in China significant enough that a collapse there would impact us domestically?
NOTE: This morning STRIB had article in Business Insider Page 1 raising similar question of what will happen as US Corporations ramp up there, expecting China to replace slow markets in the US and Europe.
• What impact to US do you see as the Chinese population growth controls (one child; preferably male) starts impacting the Chinese economy?
I’ve read that traditionally, this male head of family takes on responsibility of support for parents AND parents of spouse. That support of three families on low wages seems challenging; as does the question of whom do these favored sons marry with so few Chinese women in their generation?
The Strib OPINION PAGE added significant “food for thought” this morning by pointing out that the most serious security challenges confronting the US –which come from the Mideast and South Asia- are “so complex and fluid” it is hard to provide clear answers…so at best we can expect posturing by Romney and over-simplification by Obama.
Uggh.
Before the debate, take the time to check out the article “What to hope for tonight at the debate”. The questions raised about the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, will make your head spin, but every one of them is valid and raises significant issues…just reviewing the questions makes one realize how daunting the situation is.
The author’s last paragraph says it all.
Whatever the weaknesses of Obama on these issues, I’ve heard no clear alternatives from Romney and no recognition of the global changes of the last decade. I hope Schieffer will press both candidates for real, not canned answers. But my expectations aren’t high.
Amen to that….by now, most of you know, my biggest issue with Romney is that he is NOT prepared or even cognizant that we do not live today in a world in which his experience and success in a past century will make any difference. If he does not understand the implications and relationships in the world today, he will not be effective; nor will he be able to lead us successfully into the future. I say again, tomorrow is NOT more of the same. The world has changed.

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TEN YEARS: Creating the Fiscal Cliff from My Perspective

August 5, 2012

 “More than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will kick in at year’s end unless Congress reaches a budget deal.  If they can’t, the economy will plunge into recession, contracting at an annual rate of 1.3 per cent in the first six months of 2013, the Congressional Budget Office said.”

Headlines focusing on the Fiscal Cliff tell the story.  Economic growth has slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter…because businesses are holding off hiring and investments as they wait for Washington to decide what will happen next year. Of course, in the meantime, they are amassing great pools of working capital and profit without taking any responsibility for our situation.

Over my morning coffee, I could not help but ponder what of all this is the result of good PR and SPIN on the part of the Republicans, and what of this situation tells the story of the Obama Administration.  Am I totally off base to give the benefit of the doubt to Obama because I view him as the first of a NEW generation of Presidents, in a NEW century , with NEW rules – most of which we as a world have not yet discovered?

Surely, I know the Republicans and MOST of the press are still using 20th century benchmarks and dreams to define this political campaign.  Daily, I shake my head and say to myself:  all this emotion, gloom and doom, and yearning for the comfortable world of the 20th century … when are we as people going to grab the ring, welcome the new frontiers, pull ourselves up and direct our strengths and resources to take advantage of opportunities lying before us?

And every day I am dragged, kicking and fighting, back into these old battles as we all balance on the precipice.  But, I know I am not the only one in the US who is not clinging to the past-every day I see proof of a more positive future in whatever I do.

And so, this morning, I determined I needed to create my own timeline of the 21st century, so I can understand how we got to where we are today.

2000:    Most can agree; we were on the right track in debt reduction in the Clinton Administration. But yes, many wanted a change; a closely  divided country wanted the Democrats out and the Republicans in….and it came to pass.

2001:     Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress; but to get a majority to pass the Bush $1.7 trillion tax cut, they called it a temporary cut, and limited it to ten years.

2001:     After 9-11, Republicans supported by most Democrats called for WAR on Afghanistan for sole purpose:  to get Osama bin Laden.  What we missed in the emotion was the plan to pay for this war on a credit card.  AND we wrongly assumed we could use our power, friends and technical superiority to quickly FIND HIM and take him out..  AND we got the country wrong.   But we all joined together, waved the flag and shouted “Support the Troops”.

 I do dimly remember a few cautionary “discussions” about the Russian Experience in Afghanistan,  as some of us  thought that this would not be as easy as emotion and promotion promised.  I am sorry I called it right on this one.

Eleven years later, we are still there and trying to figure out how to avoid being killed by the very guns we provided to Afghani rebels fighting the Russian, and how to get out…now finally recognizing this was no easy task and the Neo-Cons were wrong.  How many lives lost (PLEASE do not just count US lives) but the good news is a decade later, Osama bin Laden was found – hiding in plain sight in Pakistan and is now dead.  So finally, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, despite a decade-long war fought in the wrong country!  But, it’s a score for OBAMA not the NEO-CON Republicans.

2002:     Republican plans for IRAQI military action, disrupted by 9-11 and the beginning of the 11 year hunt for Osama bin Laden, were again on the table.  We started a second war based on “imminent nuclear threat”.  This war, as well, was neither budgeted nor paid for during the Bush administration….we were still swiping the credit card.   

Editorial Comment:  Nothing I have learned in the decade since has shown my personal theory to be incorrect.  How much of this disaster was due to familial one-upmanship manipulated by neo-cons, disappointed in George Hubert Bush refusing to extend the original Gulf War?

2003:     Two wars were not going well and George W needed a popularity boost I guess, so back to the drawing board for a second “temporary” tax cut…this time for only seven years, so it coincided with the expiration date of the cuts passed in 2001.

The general consensus was that this Republican initiated move was supposed to “increase pressure” on Congress to extend them or make them permanent.

2004-8: So life was good; spending up; two wars on a credit card; government funds down with tax cuts for all…but instead of “job creation” we stalled out.  We “tripped” on the fun that resulted in unsustainable housing booms and incredible questionable antics in the financial world. And the wall came tumbling down.

By 2008, we are still fighting two wars on a credit card and we are lowering the US coffers.  The tax reductions did NOT lead to job creation, but to more job losses than any time in the last eighty years. The housing and financial bubbles burst and finally, like the little Dutch Boy, George W stuck his thumb in the dike-on his way out the door.  As he retreated to Texas, he abdicated all responsibility for the hole he made in the dike; and passed on to Obama, the responsibility to clean up the mess.

2009:     I am sure Republicans celebrated secretly as they thought“Whew, we are outta there before the bill came due from the wars, and no one recognizes yet that those tax cuts we implemented  did not create jobs…we can retreat and regroup and if we hurry, we can blame this whole mess caused by our incompetence on the Democrats”.   

Hard to believe it worked, but it did, and a new generation well-versed in 21st century thinking did not sense it coming.  A really hard way to lose one’s innocence.

2011:     FAST FORWARD to Summer, 2011.  Time is running out and we were stalemated on the budget.

Congressional Democrats offered automatic cuts to domestic programs and suggested the BUSH temporary tax cuts be evaluated.  Republicans countered with NO WAY and offered instead, Military cuts.

The LAST player to sign on to this plan?  Not the Demos, not the Repos… with a united congress, Obama agreed.

And except for the bickering and the spin, we got a short-term reprieve from the fiscal cliff.

2012:     Here we go again, but the spin has changed the story.  And either the Republicans have hung their candidate out to dry, or Romney just cannot follow what happened.   Either way, he does not seem to understand how foolish he sounds quoting neo-con strategies and platitudes.

  • Republicans cut taxes; and we lost jobs.
  • Republicans went to war and failed in two missions:  Get bin Laden and uncover the nuclear threat of Iraq.
  • Republicans went to war on a credit card and amassed incredible debt.
  • Republicans passed temporary tax cuts; wrote the law for reversal in 2011. I will pass on what options come next.   
  • Republicans cut the military budget so it doesn’t sound good for Romney to rage on about it.

I could keep going, but I am tired of this now, and have sorted out enough of the facts to see that I am remembering correctly what has transpired since the New Age dawned…and more talks of “let’s try again” in Syria and Iran just are not selling points for me.

Then I add the Congressional work not accomplished (the Strib outlines a few including Farm and Food, Postal Service, Russia Trade, Cyber-security, and Violence Against Women) and I can’t help but recognize-based on my own successful 40 year track record in business- that we have some Employee Performance issues within Congress  that may only be fairly solved by termination of work and all benefits without severance. 

I can’t wait to hear the details of–in his words- the” businessman’s plan” between now and election day.

 

 

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RAMBLINGS ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON – PART 2

July 29, 2012

THANK YOU AMBASSADOR RYAN CROCKER

Sorry to see this man retire!

I first heard the name a decade ago when Bush and the neo-cons were hatching their Iraq War Plans/  Crocker was co-author of “The Perfect Storm” – a memorandum defining risk of a U.S. Invasion of Iraq.  Yes, the ignored analysis that predicted accurately the disintegration of Iraqi society that did, indeed, take place!

Five years later, the Bushies with no other option, had to call on him for help to “fix the deadly situation.”

As ambassador, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, he worked to build trust with local leaders, understood intimidation would not work, and showed compassion towards the ordinary citizens caught in the life-threatening and political power struggles.  That was a rarity for Bush and Neo-cons –which  I repeatedly point out is reflected when we recite the cost of war and only mention deaths of AMERICAN soldiers, and not who we killed, or were killed by others because of our presence.

He suggests we need to learn the lessons of our recent past as we weigh military options for the future- including plans for Syria and Iran.

We’re a superpower, we don’t fight on our territory, but that means you are in somebody else’s stadium, playing by somebody else’s ground rules, and you have to understand the environment, the history, the politics of the country you wish to intervene in.

Good advice.  I THINK Obama gets this; I KNOW the neo-cons advising Romney do not.  And where those that support Romney stand, I have no idea.

In any case, I think it worthwhile to repeat three thoughts from Crocker as found in the Strib:

  1.        Remember the law of unintended consequences
  2.        Recognize the limits of the United States actual capabilities
  3.        Understand getting out of a conflict once you are in can often be dangerous and as destructive for the country as the original conflict.

And to those I would add: If you don’t have money to pay for it, you can’t just charge ten plus years of war, residual damage, and long-term impacts on the US soldiers and families involved to your successor. 

You fooled us once…I hope we learned not to trust you again.