Do We Need Foreign Aid?

Op-Ed from the desk of IST editor

In these days of a worry about our national spending there has been a call for the suspension of all the US foreign aid to save some cash….many people are saying that we need to get rid of our spend thrift ways……I for one in the past has questioned the need for foreign aid….I have asked just what do we get in return…..but there are many that have NO idea what foreign aid is made up of…..they know the term and they know that it costs this country money…..but what it is is a mystery……maybe I can help…..

Here to help you visualize just how much the U.S. spends every year is a chart from the folks at Finance Degree Center.

Just How Much Does the U.S. Spend on Foreign Aid Anyway? This Chart Will Explain

Now I am saying that the suspension of foreign aid will NOT save much for the country……what we need to do is make country’s that qualify for aid use it for what it is intended, which happens very sparesly these days….take Israel…..the cash they get from the US is used to make war on its neighbors….we condemn any other country that does this…why not Israel?

Since foreign aid is basically “buy friends” then they should do as we wish or lose their cash cow…….call Israel out, for illustration, and the peace process would move along more smoothly…..but as long as we let them bully us and take our lunch money there will NEVER be a peaceful Middle East……..

Foreign aid is not going to solve many problems for this country….but it could be used to solve more international problems….that is if we make the aid on condition that it be used for the purposes it was given…..we can scream about wasted money but foreign aid is a fraction of what the Congress wastes every year……should we terminate their “benefits”?

My answer is YES!  Congressional “benefits” is wasted money…there has been NO return on our investment in them.

 

War Hawks Rejoice!

There has been very little for the Congressional war hawks to cheer about….diplomacy seems to be winning the day…..but they did great a minor boost from the Ukrainian situation….they can remake Russia into the beast it was during the Cold War…….

But this past week end they have more ammo to use for an increae in defense spending at least to make a good argument for it……..

Let’s see what happened to aid the hawks……

Iran has named a member of the militant group that held 52 Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days to be its next ambassador to the United Nations.

The Iranian government has applied for a U.S. visa for Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran’s former ambassador to Belgium and Italy, who was a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, a group of radical students that seized the U.S. embassy on Nov. 4, 1979. Imam was an honorific used for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Can you hear that sucking sound?  It is John McCain’s head readying to implode……..

But wait there is more!

We have been told….over and over and over and …………about the evils that is North Korea….and now they just helped the case against them……

Having tried out mid-range ballistic missiles in recent weeks, North Korea said today it may conduct a “new form” of nuclear test, the New York Times reports. Pyongyang officials didn’t clarify, but the US and its allies have long thought North Korea wants to build small, sophisticated nuclear devices that can ride piggyback on its new missiles. A spokesman for South Korea’s foreign ministry said North Korea “will have to pay a price” if it ignores international concerns and carries out the test.

For its part, North Korea accused the UN of “turning a blind eye” to “US madcap nuclear war exercises” while denouncing North Korea’s, Reuters reports. North Korea also said it wants the ability to hit medium- and long-range targets “with a variety of striking power.” Tensions between North and South Korea eased last month, when elderly people separated by the Korean War were allowed short reunions, but the North has since returned to harsh rhetoric—and a paper by a nuclear expert cited the “disquieting possibility” that North Korea is building a network of tunnels to carry out regular nuclear tests with highly enriched uranium.

Damn…..a busy weekend and what else could go wrong?

Glad you asked.

South Korea has fired shells into North Korean waters after their rivals sent more than 100 rounds below the disputed sea boundary during a live-fire drill.

The heated artillery exchange was prompted by an unusual warning fax sent from the North to the South, informing them of their live-fire drill.

Though it is not unusual for the reclusive nation to practice at sea, South Korean officials were alarmed by the alert, which they claim ‘indicates their hostile intention’.

My, my….just when the hawks were at one of their lowest points….gifts from heaven…….what will we do?  (repeat for effect)……….

What To Do About Foreign Policy?

Inkwell Institue

Welcome to the Google-y World of Geopolitics

There is much being said about the US foreign policy now that Russia is strutting it’s stuff in Eurasia…….some say that the Prez and his posse are wimps….that he is basically giving Putin everything he wants….and then there are those that think we are preceding cautiously as we should as to avoid any overreaction that could lead to yet another war……

The truth is that the American people are war weary…..and at the same time do not want some upstart like Putin to get the upper hand in world affairs…….but what is really happening?

Americans seem to want a minimalist foreign policy……minimalist?  Basically is it means to advocate a moderate foreign policy…….simply put…. just to avoid the meltdown of my readers mental activity……..

President Obama seems to be giving Americans the foreign policy they want—a “minimalist” one that refrains from knee-jerk military intervention and requires nations to deal with their own problems, observes Robert Kagan at the Washington Post. So why, then, are his approval ratings on foreign policy so dismal, hovering as they are in the mid-30s? Kagan see a “paradox” at play: Yes, Americans “may may want a more narrowly self-interested American policy,” he writes. “But they’re not proud of it, and they’re not grateful to him for giving them what they want.”

Obama’s tough speech about Russia yesterday suggests that he may buck this very trend and rally the rest of the world in penalizing Moscow, but only time will tell whether he can do so in his remaining time in office. In general, America is adjusting to its reduced role as a world power, and Obama is the one leading that transition. The public may want it, “but it is not something they will thank him for,” writes Kagan. “To follow a leader to triumph inspires loyalty, gratitude, and affection. Following a leader in retreat inspires no such emotions.” Click for his full column.

For now everything we say and do will be from a point of moderation…..this could change once the Afghanistan thing has come t a close…….but Putin could be watching that same thing and could act before we pull out…….

Foreign policy will most likely play a roll in the next contest for the presidency……..will minimalist approach be a winner or will the hawks gain?

 

Remember Dooms Day?

In 2012 we were suppose to listen to the Maya and wait for the end of the world, 21 December, to be exact….but we found what they were really predicting was the need for a new calendar………then there are other prophets that have predicted the end of the world for a 1000 years, probably more……and then there is the rapture that some of our religious brethren are waiting for to occur……Nostradamus had an encrypted message that some say predicts it also and Issac Newton is supposedly waiting for 2060 as the end…… but so far none of them have been accurate ( we will have to wait awhile for the one from Newton)……is there any one with any knowledge that is predicting our demise?

Funny you should ask……there is this……..

Don’t look now, but industrial society is going the way of the Dodo bird. According to a NASA-funded study, modern societies will self-destruct in the vein of past empires (think Roman, Han, Mesopotamian) because the 1% are consuming too much and we’re bound to run out of resources. “Who’s to blame?” asks Gizmodo. “You. Me. Everyone walking around outside your window.” The study itself gives a more detailed breakdown of how elites will gobble up too many resources and idly ignore impending disaster, the Guardian reports. Led by mathematician Safa Motesharri, the study found that energy, agriculture, water, climate, and population have undermined past empires when resources ran thin and society became overly stratified between haves and have-nots. “Collapse is difficult to avoid” in our society, probably because “elites consume too much” and will create “an inequality-induced famine.” Technology won’t save us, either, because it forces greater resource extraction and consumption. The only solutions? Distribute resources more fairly, use less-intensive renewable resources, and reduce population growth, the study says. “Which is just as difficult and improbable as it sounds,” sighs Gizmodo. (Click to see other theories about how human civilization could end.)

The 1%?  Does that mean we can blame Mitt when it happens?

Who would you like to blame?

I Like History

At last!  The weekend and time for stuff other than the drudgery of politics………decided to let my readers in on what I do other type my ass off……….

I am a member of the Psi Phi Society…..no it has nothing to do with science fiction….rather it is the

two Greek letters……………

It is a group of people that get together and discuss and debate different subjects….our last meeting we were joined by an archeologist and we decided to discuss the ancient Minoan civilization…..as usual the discussion turned into a debate and then an all out argument…….I will get you a synopsis of the topic.

I like archeology the study of civilizations long past and since I am by no means an expert in the field I approached the topic, Minoan civilization, from a History point of view…..I had the opportunity to take a couple of courses on ancient civilizations such as Babylon, Sumeria, Hittites and the Minoans………

Since those days I have formed a couple of opinions, theories if you will, pertaining to these civilizations……some of these civilizations built stuff using massive stones….some weighing over 50 tons…..I want some random archeologists to explain to me how they moved and set these stones if they did not have pulleys and such.

Sorry for the digression….back to my point…..What became of the Minoans?

The prevailing theory is that the Minoan civilization was destroyed when Mt. Thera erupted and the island was hit by a massive tsunami……that is one theory…but my acquaintance idea is the more prevailing of the day…..it seems that according to archeologists the Mycenaean Greeks came about 1450 BCE and slowly the Minoans were absorbed into that culture….let’s step back a bit……

The Minoans were a trading culture…they had extensive dealings with most areas of the Eastern Mediterranean…Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, ………now that I filled in that little piece of history…I will continue….

About 1425 BCE the culture started to decline and by 1100 BCE it was all but gone……now we come to my assertion……as the Minoans were in decline…the Phoenicians were gaining prominence……around 1200 BCE….and as we know from our word history…the Phoenicians were a strong naval power which reached as fr as the straight of Gibraltar and beyond (not commonly accepted) ….so far a historical perspective….as the Minoans were in decline on the island of Crete they just changed their “home base” and moved their operations to an established outpost in what is today’s Lebanon.

Well our back and forth went on for about 2 hours….and my friend decided that the day was about over and he was tired and said that he must retire for the day…of course I said that means”I won”…he replied….”Nope I am tired”…..I thought for a moment and said….”I win”!

After a few well chosen four letter words and he removed himself from the gathering……..

The moral of this story is……I WON!

IST Op-Ed: A “New” Cold War?

Opinion From Editor’s Desk

This week seems to be all about the international situation………and I for one love it!

Since Russia has moved into the Crimea there have been many that are calling this the start of a “New Cold War”….most of it coming from the hawks in Congress but that really does not matter who is calling a spade a spade……this is NOTHING but political role playing……by disingenuous people with an agenda…..

There is NO new Cold War…..the Cold War did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union…..the players just changed somewhat…..instead of the socialist republics it was China and North Korea and Iran (thanx to the Iraqi invasion)……all the aspects that made it the Cold War were still being employed….spies, tech theft, territory disputes and actions….placing missiles and such on borders……..all the same things……..not gone and not forgotten!

But today our beloved hawks are drumming up the M-IC into a frenzy…….

Russia’s annexation of Crimea shows the need to “build up missile defenses and modernize the US nuclear force,” James S. Robbins, a senior fellow for national security affairs for the American Foreign Policy Council, wrote last week in USA Today. “To live in the 21st century, the United States will need to relearn the lessons of the 20th.”

There is so much more from the Hawks…….

The Lexington Institute’s Thompson argues that Russia is now “on the march” and may invade other Baltic states. “If we have to take conventional military action in the Baltic or Black Sea, we could see an escalation to the nuclear level,” he told me, “and therefore we need to have weapons that are flexible and survivable”—that’s military-speak meaning we would have time to launch a counterattack before being obliterated. In practice, it would mean a new generation of submarine-based nukes, which can’t be taken out in a first-wave attack.

The M-IC is drooling at the thought of a revved up defense spending…….will not cease any hostilities but it will be good for the industry….only!  They can smell profits!

With the Pentagon due for some substantial cuts to its budget….all this is to keep that cash and maybe add to the total….but then the question needs to be asked…..”who will pay for the increased defense spending”?

Anybody want to venture a guess?

Who is going to win this debate?  Will we jump into making the “New Cold War” even hotter?  Will calmer heads prevail?

So many questions and so many vultures circling……….

Is Moldova In The Crosshairs?

Inkwell Institute

Eurasian Desk

Moldova?  Kinda sounds like a planet in the Gnarn system, right?

Actually it is a small nation sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania…..during the old USSR days it was a small socialist republic within the Soviet Union of nations…….since the break-up of the USSR it has been a free nation……and there is still a strong communist party within the country…..but it has been a republic since 1990……

Why would anyone be interested i what happens in Moldova?

Good question…..there have been several reports that Putin’s Russia may be eyeing Moldova for the next exercise in his growing power…….

 

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, following the lead of NATO’s political brass in hyping the Russian “threat” to Europe, has warned Russia’s deployment along its border with Ukraine could mean a plan to attack Moldova.

That’s his theory, though over 500 miles of Ukrainian territory lies between the Russian border and Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, so the deployments aren’t exactly within striking distance.

Breedlove urged a major military redeployment with an eye on defending Eastern Europe, and Moldova in particular, from a full scale Russian invasion, noting “you cannot defend against that if you are not there to defend against it.”

Transnistria is a narrow strip that hugs the Dniester River, and seceded from Moldova in 1992, though its secession is not generally recognized by NATO member nations. The region’s population is split roughly in thirds by ethnic Moldovans, Ukrainians, and Russians.

The Russian military retains a 1,200-man military presence in Transnistria, which Moldova claims is an “illegal occupation,” since they don’t recognize Transnistria’s independence and seek to re-annex them.

NATO officials are trying to draw a parallel between Transnistria and Crimea, though as a region with little strategic value which Russia is protecting from re-annexation, it seems to have more in common with South Ossetia, which Georgia continues to claim as its own territory.

We need to keep an eye on the prize here……Putin has gotten to where he is today because the West underestimated his intentions……

Americans are supremely ignorant on international situations only when it hits the front page do they offer an opinion………we are reacting not acting……..and that is a terrible foreign policy……….enough said?

Some Successes In Syria

It is time for the world to move on……..the missing plane went down in the Indian Ocean with all hands on board……they are presumed dead…..now stop letting the vultures that pretend to be experts hawk their perspective trades….their ‘analysis’ is nothing but a promo of their services……..time to let the families deal with their losses……media…MOVE ON!

The shameful attempts of the media to protect Boeing makes me feel dirty………..Let me slip into something more comfortable…..international situations…………

Crimea…..Ukraine…….Russia…….and all those interesting places in the world…….but while you were on Google maps checking out the Indian Ocean……more has been going on Syria.

Yes, their CWs are being destroyed as we speak…….refugees are still suffering……and the civil war rages on.  The US and its allies have been pumping assets into the region with the hope of ousting Assad….so how are we doing so far?

As the title implies….there have been successes in Syria….unfortunately they are not related to the US in any way…………SAY WHAT?

Syrian forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, are in full control of Yabroud after clearing out rebels holed up in the strategic Syrian town for months, Syrian state media and opposition activists have reported.

Capturing Yabroud, the last major rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, will help President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route linking his Mediterranean coastal stronghold with the capital Damascus, and choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon.

“The Syrian army is now in full control of the town of Yabroud in Damascus [province] and are now combing through the city and dismantling the roadside bombs planted by terrorists,”

Not too bad right?  The Syrian army is just cleaning out around the capital, right?

Syrian soldiers have raised the national flag on the battlements of a 900-year-old Crusader castle after a three-month siege that ended on Thursday when rebel fighters fled.

The recapture of Crac des Chevaliers, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a real and symbolic victory over divided rebel factions.

The army has also wrested back control of most of al-Hosn, the town below the hilltop castle, which was surrounded by Syrian troops for weeks until many rebels moved out on Thursday morning and the army moved in, according to residents.

“The Syrian Arab Army raised the national flag on al-Hosn Castle in Homs province after eliminating the terrorists holed up in it,” Syrian state television said.

The Syrian army is having more and more successes…..how can that be?  The US and the West are pumping aid into the region…..what is becoming of all this aid and why is it not helping?

My answer is an easy one….too many factions feeding on the aid cake……..there is not a central command to coordinate campaigns against Assad’s forces….too many groups with a personal agenda….Syria is beginning to look a lot like the Balkans in WW2……….as long as the opposition is fighting each other then Assad forces will have more and more successes and the US aid will be squandered away…..and in the end….Assad will survive.