Closing Thought–05Apr17

Exploit those veterans!

American veterans have to put up with a lot of crap….from delayed medical to educational issues to homelessness….but in a recent news article I read where they were being exploited by none other than America’s butt buddy, Saudi Arabia.

The DOJ has filed a complaint against the actions of the Saudis during an election…..

A group of 9/11 families and survivors has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, suggesting broad misconduct in a lobbying campaign the firm has conducted on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

According to the 17-page complaint, individuals associated with Qorvis MSLGroup violated several provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as they worked to weaken a law that cleared the way for 9/11 families and victims to sue the kingdom for its alleged role in the September 11 attacks.

The accusations, leveled by 9/11 Victims’ Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, center on a campaign in which lobbyists have flown large groups of U.S. military veterans to Washington to oppose the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)—without informing those veterans that Saudi Arabia was sponsoring and orchestrating their activities.

Source: DOJ Complaint Filed Over Saudi Lobbying Campaign That Exploited Military Veterans | 28Pages.org

I have said that troops are used like tools and now so are the veterans that gave so much for their country.

Have a good day my friends….tomorrow will be another such day…..chuq

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Finally! Some Sanity!

Breaking News!

It appears that someone has finally shown that there is some semi-intelligent thinking in DC.

The little toad from Breitbart, Bannon, has been kicked off the National Security Council….

Steve Bannon, the controversial former head of Breitbart News who now serves as the chief political strategist for President Donald Trump, has been removed from his post on the National Security Council.

Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reports that Trump reorganized his NSC on Tuesday to remove Bannon, while also “downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert.”

The move also puts Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — back as :regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.

On Twitter, Jacobs also claimed that Bannon “never” went to meetings, while noting that his original role as an NSC member was to “look over Gen. Flynn’s shoulder.”

This says a lot about the functioning of the NSC….now maybe it will do the job it is suppose to do….advise the prez on national security questions.

But will Trump listen?

The only downside to this is that Bannon has not been shown the door for good.

2017 CrisisWatch #1

There are blogs here on the internet that give breakdowns….on markets, business, politics, etc……but there are very few that watch armed conflicts.

As a person who has studied conflict management and resolution I am always reading reports and papers on the different international conflicts.

I thought IST might be a good place for me to give a crisis report every month….

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict and they publish a watch list for people that need more info about conflicts.

Amid global geopolitical uncertainties, fighting intensified in Libya over oil installations and in the capital Tripoli, where clashes could flare up in April, while in Yemen an assault on Hodeida city by the Saudi-led coalition and allied Yemeni forces looks imminent. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), violence spiked in Kasai Central province and uncertainty grew over talks to establish interim governing arrangements. Ethnic fighting worsened in Kenya driven partly by drought. Macedonia and Paraguay witnessed heightened political tensions, while Venezuela’s political standoff took another dangerous turn.

Source: CrisisWatch | Crisis Group

As an analyst and teacher I am always looking for reference materials…I hope others who are interested in the world’s conflict they to will find this a good source of information.

R.I.N.O.

I have been a political junkie since I was about 9 years old.  My grandfather was a GOPer and I helped him stuff envelopes and put out signs…he was a staunch Repub then….the year was 1956.

If the GOP had not gone off the rails I would probably be in the party today….well until 1980 that is……they lost me when they started going after culture as a way to win elections.

Take a long look at the platform from 1956…..everything in there is something I can support….but those days are gone….gone….gone.

 Now fast forward to the 2016 GOP platform…….
Reagan came about and embraced religion as a basis of the party…..and the GOP are the ones that are concerned about another religion taking hold….but they have no problem forcing theirs on the society……
The GOP has become a party of hypocrisy.  They feed ignorance to win elections.  A shame they are not more like the party of 1956…then this would be a much better country.
Old school conservatism is long gone….replaced with divisive issues that does nothing to move the country forward…..
There is still a bit of the old conservatism left and some of the ideas can be found within the site “The American Conservative”….I may not agree with them all the time but I appreciate the fact that they are a site that has intellectual discourse on what it means to be conservative.
I especially agree with TAC when it comes to international relations….GOP would do well to embrace their policies…..and the world could be a better place.
An interesting take from TAC……
I had an interesting exchange this past weekend at Benedictine College with Prof. Susan Traffas, who argued that conservative Christians cannot abandon politics. In the Q&A, I pointed out that in The Benedict Option, I explicitly say that we cannot abandon politics entirely, mostly because we have to stay in the game to fight for religious liberty. But I also argue that we should reprioritize our approach to public engagement, and spend more time and effort trying to shore up the church and its internal culture — this, because our losses in politics on the issues that mean the most to us are the result of our having lost first the culture. My contention is that conditions have changed on the culture war battlefield, and that means we have to change the way we resist. That is very much not the same thing as surrender.
The GOP could do no better than to find itself in the sea of confusion that it created…..stop insisting on cultural changes and work for the country and society.

More On North Korea

It’s North Korea….one more time!

Earlier this week I wrote about the US approach to the situation with North Korea…..basically it was about the possibility of using realism in that approach….but read for yourself…..

Lil Kim and North Korea have been showing up more and more in the news.  He has mouthed off, launched a couple missiles and thumped his chest….much the same that his daddy and granddaddy had done and the US has met their challenge in much the same manner for three decades of so.

The Trump administration is headed down the same path…a path that has not worked in those many years…maybe time to try something new (I have said this before but no one was listening)….

Source: North Korea: Why Not Try Realism? – In Saner Thought

After I posted that more news was creeped into the situation…and like most things international Trump has pointed a finger and his eyes glazed over and he threatens……

President Trump is taking a tough line on the North Korean nuclear threat days ahead of his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart. He says he plans to raise the issue with Xi Jinping when they meet in Florida this week. “China has great influence over North Korea,” and they will “decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump told the Financial Times in an Oval Office interview. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.” Asked if he would consider a deal that includes the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea, he replied: “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.” He added that it was “totally” possible for the US to deal with Pyongyang alone.

Trump said he had great respect for Xi and that he “would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries.” Trump has implied that trade issues could be used as leverage when dealing with China, though he says he won’t be raising the issue of tariffs with Xi, the BBC reports. Former CIA China analyst Dennis Wilder tells the FT that Trump appears ready to bring in “secondary sanctions” against Chinese individuals and companies that deal with North Korea, and he may also pressure China to stop using North Korean labor. (Pyongyang was furious last week after John McCain described Kim Jong Un as a “crazy fat kid.”)

More on this threat from the President…….

Source: Trump Ready to Tackle North Korea Alone | RealClearDefense

There needs to be some sort of balance….between threats and sanctions……running one’s mouth does not do anything constructive to this situation.

Plus there is a defector that had some sad news……and it pertains to the threatening attitude of our new master……

President Trump talked tough on North Korea in an interview with the Financial Times, his language setting the stage for Friday’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The Voice of America reports that one line of thought is that Trump may be willing to offer Beijing incentives on a range of trade and security issues in exchange for help with the North. Meanwhile, a flurry of North Korean developments were making headlines:

  • The highest-ranking North Korean defector in recent decades has a stark warning about Kim Jong Un: “Once he sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons,” Thae Young Ho, who bolted in 2016, tells NBC News.
  • A story in the New York Times suggests that it might be too late to prevent Pyongyang from joining the ranks of advanced nuclear powers. It points to the discovery of a classified ad, traced to North Korea, offering the sale of 22 pounds of lithium 6 per month; lithium 6 is needed to make a hydrogen bomb, and the ad suggests the North has excess supplies.
  • An analysis by the AP digs into the context of Trump’s answers. Any solo solution would have to be “pretty clever,” given the possibility of antagonizing not just the North and China, but Russia as well.
  • There’s lots of chatter about heightened activity at a nuclear site in the North, suggesting that another test is imminent, but the 38 North blog assesses satellite photos and throws some cold water on the theory.

Above all sanity would go a long way to repairing this situation……threats are not sane.  period!

OPINION | Too many pundits cling to unhelpful narratives that harm the development of a more effective policy to disarm North Korea.

Source: North Korea’s nuclear blackmail: Trump, make sanctions work again | TheHill

If my reader would like to stay up to date then I can help……

President Donald Trump emphasized that the U.S. is willing to take unilateral action against North Korea if China doesn’t move to contain the burgeoning nuclear power, as he put trade and the military threat from Pyongyang at the top of the agenda of his planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The United States should remain positioned to execute a preemptive strike against nuclear weapons facilities in North Korea, despite the fact such an attack would trigger a regional conflict, a former Defense Department chief said Sunday. – Washington Times

[E]xperts say the lithium ad — with its implication that the North is happy to sell an excess supply of the precious material — suggests that it is far too late to prevent the nation from becoming an advanced nuclear power. – New York Times

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it had leveled a package of new economic sanctions against North Korea, Russia, and China over efforts by individuals in these countries to support an illicit nuclear arms network that feeds North Korea’s nuclear program, according to an announcement by the Treasury Department. – Washington Free Beacon

Donald Trump has warned that the US will take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang. – Financial Times

President Donald Trump’s top national security aides have completed a broad review of U.S. options aimed at countering North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday. – Reuters

North Korea must be stopped on its path toward being able to threaten the United States with nuclear attack, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday in a stark expression of America’s top national security concern at the moment. – Associated Press

In closing…..they have done it again!  Yet another missile fired!

North Korea may have just moved up the agenda at President Trump’s first meeting with China’s President Xi Jingping: In what as seen as a provocation ahead of the US-China summit later this week, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile into the sea Wednesday morning in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, Reuters reports. US and South Korean officials believe the missile, like one fired in February, was a KN-15 medium-range missile, a type of missile more mobile, easier to launch, and harder to detect than other missiles in Pyongyang’s arsenal, the AP reports. The one fired in February traveled 310 miles but this one only flew around 37 miles, suggesting the test may not have been a complete success.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons program was already expected to be a main focus of the talks between Xi and Trump, who recently said the US can deal with the problem alone if China is unwilling to help. “The launch took place possibly in consideration of the US-China summit, while at the same time it was to check its missile capability,” a South Korean official tells Reuters. Japan condemned the latest launch as “extremely problematic,” while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” (This week, a North Korean defector had an ominous warning about Kim Jong Un’s state of mind.)

Tillerson was rude but he probably just needed a nap.

NO more North Korea until something major happens…..you’re welcome.

Avoiding Counter-Terrorism Pitfalls

The continuing saga of the fight against ISIS and AQ…..some say that Trump will defeat the bad guys……the fight is good but it must try to avoid any pitfalls that will make the situation worse…..

This report examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit.

In pledging to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS), U.S. President Donald J. Trump looks set to make counter-terrorism a centrepiece of his foreign policy. His administration’s determination against groups that plot to kill Americans is understandable, but it should be careful when fighting jihadists not to play into their hands. The risks include angering local populations whose support is critical, picking untimely or counter-productive fights and neglecting the vital role diplomacy and foreign aid must play in national security policy. Most importantly, aggressive counter-terrorism operations should not inadvertently fuel other conflicts and deepen the disorder that both ISIS and al-Qaeda exploit.

The new U.S. administration has inherited military campaigns that are eating deep into ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Much of Mosul, its last urban stronghold in Iraq, has been recaptured; Raqqa, its capital in Syria, is encircled. Its decisive defeat is still a remote prospect while the Syrian war rages and Sunnis’ place in Iraqi politics is uncertain. The threat it poses will evolve in its heartlands and elsewhere, as fighters disperse. But ISIS is in retreat, its brand diminished. For many adherents, its allure was its territorial expansion; with that gone, its leaders are struggling to redefine success. Al-Qaeda could prove harder to suppress. Its affiliates fight across numerous war zones in coalitions with other armed groups, its operatives are embedded in local militias, and it shows more pragmatic adaptability to local conditions.

Source: Counter-terrorism Pitfalls: What the U.S. Fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Should Avoid | Crisis Group

Our mission must stop the bleeding to propaganda making situations…..this will eliminate the only true weapon these “bad guys” have in the their recruiting methods.

We can win the battle but the war will continue….let’s try and not make it worse than it could be.