Afghanistan

US disengages finally?  Potentially another win for Trump diplomacy.

Status of Taliban Negotiation

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Russia Initiative

Back in the late 60s and early 70s — when the Cold War was really hot and very threatening —  Nixon was faced with two giant communist countries forming a very intimidating ideological alliance against the United States.  He did a very smart and diplomatic but unexpected thing by broaching a thaw with communist China, and actually went to China to cement the new relationship.  The obvious benefit was that communist China would be less of an ally to the then Soviet Union and more neutral in its dealings with the United States.

We face the same potential alliance between Russia and China today that Nixon faced, even though Russia is no longer communist and so the two countries are not all that ideologically compatible.  But with the relentless bad mouthing that the American press has voiced toward Russia, as well as the State Department’s endless negative tactics toward Putin’s Russia, we have done the reverse of what Nixon did, and actually driven Russia into the welcoming arms of China — the two countries have actually participated in joint strategic games, and it goes without saying who their enemy is.  Our rigidly hostile attitude toward Russia is responsible for all of this.

What I think the United States should do is take a page out of Nixon’s playbook, and try to splinter this alliance or at a minimum neutralize one of the two countries.  But instead of China — still a communist country, one with a very domineering economy, and, in my mind, the greater long-term threat to the United States — we should rather approach Russia with a new and welcoming relationship 

The truth is that the United States and Russia have very few areas in the world where we are in direct conflict with one another — perhaps in the Arctic region, but that’s about it.  And Russia is a Christian country with the same issue of Islamic terrorism that we face.  It is also an underdeveloped country, but a huge one with tremendous natural resources yet to be fully exploited.

Russia is also a country loaded with nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.  Is it really in our interest to keep poking the Russians in the eye when this nuclear threat hangs over our heads?  I think not.  A more cordial relationship with Russia would go a long way toward safeguarding our nation against annihilation.  Improved relations with Russia could push back the Doomsday Clock a good half hour, if not even more.

That American media is always playing the Russia bogeyman card is no reason why we shouldn’t be doing a smart diplomatic play if it would clearly be in our national interest.  Nixon did it; why can’t we?

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American Interventions

What about American interventions in troubled countries where the perception is that we can influence the outcome to be favorable to the United States?  I think it is useful to look at examples of when we tried to do this, and accurately see just what actually happened — to see whether such interventions were in fact in the best interest of the United States, not of the country we tried to intervene in but of our own country, the benefit to it.

Vietnam comes to mind. Nearly 60k dead Americans and an untold number of wounded Americans.  Perhaps a million dead Vietnamese.  And the hyper inflation of the 70s.  Not much benefit for the US there.

Iraq — not so many American casualties but a very large number of Americans with very serious wounds.  Perhaps a half million Iraqis dead.  But then the creation of an internal civil war between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq that spilled over into Syria and destabilized that country.  Ultimately an Iraq that is now firmly under the sphere of influence of Iran — one of our adversaries.  Not much benefit for the US there.

Afghanistan – the longest war in American history and more or less now a permanent civil war with the Taliban (who by the way never attacked us), and so an endless drain on our treasury.  Not much benefit there either.

So where have been the benefits to the United States?  What has the United States actually gained from these types of interventions?  I only see LOSS, and not small losses either but big ones.

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The Ugly American — All Over Again

Not sure the administration’s open hostility to the government in Venezuela is such a smart policy.  To the rest of the world, it smacks of more American imperialism. Not that I endorse the current Venezuelan government there, but they were elected.  Remember democracy?  That’s what we are supposed to stand for.

Instead, the US is using a tight embargo to make the country’s already fragile economic condition that much worse, and basically backing a coup by endorsing the legitimacy of this opposition leader.  They have given him access to the Venezuelan funds here in the US, even though he has never been elected.  How is this anything but a hostile and undemocratic overthrow of the government of another country?  The “ugly American” all over again.

Rather than an embargo, what would have been a refreshing change in policy if the US had simply sent foodstuffs and supplies to a population on the edge of widespread starvation — foodstuffs with no strings attached and no ulterior motive.   We do this kind of humanitarianism in foreign affairs very well, and much better than blundering imperialism.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the US, for a change, to do something with a high moral purpose, as in staving off starvation — simply because it is the right thing to do…because we will not tolerate starvation in the Western Hemisphere.  Period.

And here’s a new flash to the State Department: Venezuela is not our country to do with what we will because we can.  Leave their politics to the Venezuelans.  It’s not our friggin’ business.

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The Ultimate Pyrrhic Victory

Let’s see.  Russia can destroy the continental United States in about 20 minutes.  Probably kill about a 1/3 of the population with the initial strike, but of the ones who survived, 90% will die from starvation or radiation.  But the Russia-haters in Congress think it is a good idea to keep poking Russia in the eye with a stick.  I don’t.

I do think our military technology might be slightly better than Russia’s since we spend so much money on it, so that in 20 minutes we kill 1/2 their population, and then 95% of the rest dies from starvation or radiation.  So I suppose you could say we would “win,” right?

Pyrrhic Victory

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Who Gets To Be Secretary of State

John Kerry was an clueless Secretary of State — witness his various Geneva “negotiations” over the Syrian civil war that, oh by the way, didn’t include any of the key players — duh.  He calls for negotiation in Geneva and no one comes.  That’s called talking to yourself and thinking it “diplomacy”.

Then there was the Chamberlain-like, “peace in our time” Iranian deal that he engineered, which was the big giveaway in order to get any kind of agreement, so that he could claim “success”.  No one told Kerry that you have to be willing to walk away from the table in order to get a good deal — you can’t be too eager or give that impression.

Now he is being a disastrous ex-Secretary of State and actually interfering in our foreign policy with respect to Iran — his first experience dealing with Iran wasn’t bad enough, it seems.  These former office-holders should learn how to fade away gracefully, but apparently that is asking to much.

But I guess my lingering question has to do with how we fill this position of Secretary of State?  It seems to be reserved as a political plum, that is to say, it’s given as a prize to some former senator or other, as if election to political office is the appropriate background and sufficient training for diplomacy.  But why would some political hack necessarily have the best qualifications for leadership in international affairs?

Remember Henry Kissinger, with that marvelous gravelly voice?  Whatever you might say about Kissinger, he wasn’t some off-the-wall political hack, but someone who actual knew something about negotiating, foreign affairs, and diplomacy, with enough gravitas that even our adversaries listened his every word with rapt attention.  Seems to me we should get back to that model for making this very critical appointment — appointing someone as Secretary of State who has actual claims as a diplomat.  Doesn’t that make more sense?  Or are we going to continue giving away the position to ex-Senators as a booby prize — ex-Senators with zero qualifications for the job?

Pompeo on Kerry Undermining Our Foreign Policy

Neville Chamberlain’s Peace in Our Time Speech

Henry Kissinger

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What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

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