Closing Thought–01May17

Happy May Day…..celebrate the International Day of the Worker…..

The world over the worker is celebrated on May 01….that is except in the US we could not celebrate it with everyone else we had to have a separate day for labor…..1st Monday of September.

Around the early days of the 20th century the world was seeing the workers demanding some rights that have been denied them for so long.  There were riots, protests, and movements popping up all over the world.

This is when the trade unions starting showing their strength…back in those days it was the IWW, the Wobblies…..and it grew from there….

So today I thought that some tunes from those days of struggle would be a good way to end the day for me….people like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie,Paul Robeson, etc……..

Enjoy some musical history…..

I will see you guys tomorrow…..have a good day and evening…..be well, be safe….chuq

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Troop Deaths Update

Before I move on to the meat of the post……I recently reported that 2 more Americans have died in the operations in Afghanistan….I have an update on those deaths…..

Pentagon officials continue to play up the “sacrifice” of a pair of US Army Rangers who were killed earlier this week in fighting in eastern Afghanistan. Yet the circumstances surrounding their deaths remain uncertain, with indications they may have been killed by “friendly fire.”

The Rangers were participating in an anti-ISIS raid at the time when they were killed with small arms fire, but officials concede they have no idea who actually shot them, and that they might well have been shot either by other US troops in the area, or by Afghan commandos participating in the raid.

The two slain Rangers were shot almost immediately after they started the attack, and while there was some limited ISIS fire from fortified tunnels during the operation, there seems to be suspicion that the fact that US troops and Afghan commandos approached from opposite directions, and both came in firing, left the Rangers in a crossfire situation.

Iraq is next and we lost another US soldier over the weekend….

A U.S. service member in Iraq was killed Saturday by an explosive device outside Mosul, according to a statement released by the Pentagon.

The Pentagon said the service member died from wounds sustained in an “explosive device blast,” stating further information would be released as appropriate.

The service member killed Saturday is the fifth combat death in Iraq since the U.S. launched military operations against IS in August 2014. IS fighters began growing in power in Iraq in early 2014 in the country’s west and in the summer of 2014 swept across much of the country’s north.

There are now more U.S. forces in Iraq than any time since the 2011 U.S. withdrawal, marking an intensifying war as Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition work to push IS out of the last pockets of territory the extremists control in Iraq.

(AP)

Time for this to end.

Time to bring our troops home and give them a rest from the constant warfare we force them to fight.

Foreign Policy: First 100 Days

I have written, along with everybody else that writes a political blog, on Trump’s 100 day mark…..well those that are looking at the administration some just roll over and agree with everything as long as the old white guy rules.

But since my forte is foreign policy I thought I would give my take on Trump’s 100 day foreign policy….so far…..

Contrary to popular belief…I do find some things that Trump is doing to be positive even if it is in some small way…..so this analysis is from my point of view not from some others and I am sure that there will be those that will not agree with my assessment of his policies….

To be honest Trump’s rhetoric in the beginning had me a bit disturbed…but thank goodness some of that has changed.

A positive sign was when Trump admitted that the job was harder than he expected…..”This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier” (from the Reuters interview)……..

Another negative in my eyes was his choice for SecState, Tillerson….the man has zero experience plus the department is hemorrhaging diplomats, those people with expertise in the areas that in the news….plus Trump doesn’t seem concerned and is not appointing people that are needed.  On this I have to give him a “D”

His national security team is in chaos…..people come and go at an alarming rate….plus scandal has arisen around some of the people he has chose to lead the NatSec team……the grade for this is a fat “F”……..

Now on the the conflicts……

Syria……Trump said that we would satay out of Syria (that was a bit unrealistic)…….Trump is just rolling along with the same plan that was used by Obama and sending more troops (for now a trickle)….he flexed his muscle with the missile strike but the plan is an old one from a previous administration…..I have to give him a “C-”

Iraq……basically the same as Syria……same plan…..more troops….prolonged conflict…….another “C-”

Afghanistan……the longest war ever is not getting any better and Trump’s answer is to send in more troops….as if this will end this conflict….doing the same thing over again….grade…..”F”……

His battle with ISIS is going well but no where near his pledge to defeat ISIS in 30 days….the barbaric pricks are losing territory almost daily….the best I can do is a “C” because he is just riding the coattails of previous admins in this fight…now if he comes up with a better more successful plan his grade will improve considerably.

Other locations……Trump is sending more troops to Somalia, Yemen…….this is NOT a good idea…we will be fighting AQ and ISIS but as usual there will most likely be mission creep…..this is a bad idea and the grade will be a “D”

How about the countries that we are NOT at war with?

Russia….there was some concern that Trump might be in the pocket of Russia and allow the sanctions to lapse….that did not happen…sanctions remain and even piled a few more on the situation….this part gets a “B”….but there is another part ….the movement of more troops along the borders with Russia….this is a spitball to the face of Russia….an instigation of sorts…..this part is a “C” (because this is not needed but in response to Russian troop movement….a checkmate move)  Overall grade:  “C+”

China….tough talk before the election….but once in office Trump came to see the real situation with China and changed the tune of his rhetoric….plus the gentle push for China to intervene with North Korea so the US does not have to…….Grade:  “B”

North Korea…..here is a failure in my mind….the tough talk……the threats….the insulting demeanor…..not just by the prez but also his advisers…..the situation can be handled without the threat of nuke war…..but did ask China for help so the grade is a “D”……

Trump’s hard words for NATO and then a softening of his position…..even his turnaround about the organization itself…..illustrates some thought here….Grade:  “B”

Trump is not using our intel sources to their full potential…instead he attacks them in the media and belittle their efforts to keep this country safe….he is getting briefings but they are watered down to one page….so his grade for the use of intel is a “D”………

He walked back his comments on NAFTA…he has slipped out of TPP…for now I give him the benefit of the doubt and a grade of  “B+”

At the end of 100 days in foreign policy I have given Trump an overall score of……(drum roll)……”C” (it would have been better if he had achieved more of his pledges)…

I am pleased to say that , overall, Trump has learned a few lessons as he goes on foreign policy…..he needs to find a way to let diplomacy play a part in his policies…..if he had his grade would have been a bit higher.

He, Trump, has shown some maturity in foreign policy …..but will it continue or will the neocons win the day and conflicts will abound?

Happy May Day!

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement,anarchists, socialists, and communists and occurs every year on May Day, 1 May, an ancient European spring holiday. The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International […]

via May Day May 1st: International Workers’ Day. — The Militant Negro™

A re-blog from the blog of my friend Mr. Militant Negro…..We all know that I love my history and this is a great look at worker’s movements from days past…..chuq

What If ISIS No Longer Exist?

You know we hear daily about the measures being used to destroy ISIS….or we hear just how important it is that Assad be relieved of his command of Syria…..both are really good and important topics but with that said has anyone considered what the Middle east would look like with either of the position were actually achieved?

Then in the news came word that ISIS was losing fighters…….

ISIS is steadily losing territory in Iraq and Syria, and a lot of foreign fighters are apparently having second thoughts about fighting to the death for it. The Guardian reports that officials in Turkey and Europe say large numbers of foreign fighters are abandoning the group and trying to flee, especially now that an offensive is closing in on Raqqa, Syria, where many foreigners who joined the “caliphate” were based. Officials believe those fleeing include foreign fighters who have renounced the group, people who weren’t fighters but found themselves living in ISIS territory, and hardcore militants suspected of planning terrorist attacks in their homelands.

Sources tell the Guardian that the latest foreigners to surrender to Turkish border police include a British couple and US citizen Kary Paul Kleman. A Turkish official confirmed to CNN that Kleman, a former Florida resident, was detained after arriving at the border with his Syrian wife and their three children. Authorities believe he “was compelled to escape the conflict zone following airstrikes and military operations against ISIS,” the official says. Kleman’s family says he converted to Islam after moving to the Middle East in 2011. They say he went to Syria in 2015 to help with humanitarian efforts but soon realized it was a “scam” and started trying to escape the country.

Is this good news or just news?

To answer my own questions…..the best answer is…..not really.

First of all, the most press worthy topic…..Assad is thrown out of Syria…..

A new study from IHS Jane’s is cautioning that moves to undermine and ultimately oust the Assad government in Syria would greatly benefit ISIS, since a large portion of ISIS’ fighting in Syria is against the Syrian government and its allies.

Though Western officials have long downplayed the amount of fighting between ISIS and Assad, and Western-backed rebels have even claimed at time the two are in league with one another, Jane’s study showed that 42% of all ISIS fighting in Syria was against Assad-backing forces, with just 17% against the Kurdish YPG, and the rest against rival rebel factions, including the Turkish-backed rebels and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

The US has been keen to oust Assad for years, with CIA officials arguing that the war against ISIS would be enhanced by imposing regime change first and hoping a more “stable” government assumes control. The Jane’s study seems to indicate that a shift in the US war to imposing regime change would free up a lot more ISIS forces, who have been fighting the Assad government, to recover lost ground.

Jane’s termed it an “inconvenient reality” that any US actions against the Assad government would necessarily benefit ISIS as well. The big question remains whether or not this will be sufficient to deter the US from carrying out more attacks against Assad, as the Trump Administration has been keen to threaten more action against them in recent weeks.

(antiwar.com)

Just maybe the “planners” at the Pentagon should look beyond next year…..there is a lot at stake.

Second point….the defeat of ISIS…..

In June 2014, ISIL seemingly came out of nowhere and has now grown to become a major force in the Middle East, more specifically in Iraq and Syria.  The organization became especially prominent following its lightning-swift military advance over northern Iraq, where it encountered an abysmally low level of government resistance (Terrill 2014).  With that being said, ISIL’s hold on the region has recently been on the decline with territorial losses mounting in key areas along the Euphrates River Valley, the Tigris River Valley, and Northern Syria, with current operations threatening their capitals in both Raqqah and Mosul.  Up to this point in time, the predominance of research and analysis has been carried out to figure out how to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State.  Governments of the 50+ Coalition nations from around the world that are participating in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE have seemingly put an infinite amount of time, money, and effort in the overall strategy of how to beat ISIL…which is, if you follow the news, still a plan very much so in the works.

Source: After ISIL: The Conflict Following the War | RealClearDefense

Is it just me or does our leadership at the Pentagon need a little reality injected into their midst?

The Balkans: Smoldering Ashes Of Conflict

All eyes are on North Korea with few glances toward Iran and a bit of fist pounding over Syria and Iraq……but these could just be diversions from a war that is brewing and No one is noticing….

Well not everyone is so diverted…..I have been watching the situation in the Balkans for some time and some of it does not look too promising for a peace region…..unfortunate since the late 1990’s the Balkans have been all but ignored….plus I have a loyal visitor to IST that writes mostly about the Balkans and I thought I would see her take on this situiation/s…..

Some of my thoughts on the situations in the Balkans…….

Source: Balkan War Drums Beat Again – In Saner Thought

But wait there is more……

Source: Balkans–A Return To Yesteryear? – In Saner Thought

Something I read made me think about my past posts…..it seems I am not the only one that is watching the Balkans…..

As the world focuses on the Middle Eastern and Korean flashpoints, the next war may not occur in either region, but rather in a replay of an old conflict that has been largely forgotten.

In an interview with Politico’s European edition, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama threatened war if Kosovo is denied entry into the European Union:

“Albania’s prime minister said a union between Albania and Kosovo cannot be ruled out if EU membership prospects for the Western Balkans fade.

Source: Will the Next War Erupt in the Balkans? by — Antiwar.com

There is very little peace in the region that was ravaged by war in the 1990’s…..but that matters not….what matters is to quell the fiery rhetoric and the threatened actions to prevent the region bursting into flames…..yet again.

Serbian officials are warning that the Albanian ambitions to absorb Kosovo could easily lead to another war in the Balkans, and that NATO and the European Union need to publicly rule out that possibility in an effort to forestall another ethnic war spanning the region.

The status of Kosovo is a big sore spot in the region, after NATO’s 1999 war imposed a separation of Kosovo from Serbia, which was supposed by the Kosovar Albanian majority but widely opposed by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. Kosovo’s independence is heavily contested, with a number of countries refusing to recognize it.

Political turbulence is once again showing its ugly head in the Balkans…..

The trouble in the Balkans today is not Russian meddling, though there is some of that, but a special case of the malaise afflicting Eastern Europe: unchecked executive power, erosion of the rule of law, xenophobia directed at neighbours and migrants and pervasive economic insecurity. The pattern varies from country to country but is palpable from Szczecin on the Baltic to Istanbul on the Bosporus. The countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – have long tended to follow patterns set by their larger, more powerful neighbours. They are doing it again.

Source: New Balkan Turbulence Challenges Europe | Crisis Group

Mounting political instability in the Western Balkans has the potential to spark new crises on the EU’s immediate borders. Political tensions are particularly high in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosovo. Many EU policymakers are concerned that Russia aims to exacerbate this disorder, a worry that has intensified since elements of the Russian intelligence service were implicated in a failed coup in Montenegro last year. But the region’s crises are rooted in a prevalent winner-takes-all party politics and flaws inherent in the political settlements forged to end the Yugo­slav wars. While Russia has deep-seated interests in the Balkans, its interventions are more opportunistic than strategic.

Source: The Western Balkans: Fragile Majorities | Crisis Group

While writing this post news came out in the Balkans…..

Hundreds of protesters forced their way into Macedonia’s Parliament Thursday and attacked several leading lawmakers, leaving Social-Democratic Union party leader Zoran Zaev with blood pouring down his face. The protesters, supporters of the conservative VMRO party, were enraged by the election of a new Parliament speaker by a coalition of Social Democrats and ethnic Albanian parties, the BBC reports. Nationalists, who are calling for new elections, have been protesting in the streets since Zaev created the coalition. His attempts to form a government have been blocked by President Gjorge Ivanov, whose candidacy was supported by VMRO.

Police say Ziadin Sela, leader of the Albanian Alliance, was the most seriously injured lawmaker, reports Radio Free Europe, whose journalists were attacked by the mob that stormed the Skopje Parliament building. Stun grenades were fired as police tried to force back protesters and clear the way for evacuation of lawmakers. At least 77 people were injured, including 22 police officers. “We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms,” the US Embassy in Macedonia said in a statement. “It is not consistent with democracy and is not an acceptable way to resolve differences.”

Without the proper diplomats (thanx to the emperor) all the US can do is watch the events unfold…..from the sidelines……

This could escalate into all out bang bang conflict and yet we are powerless to do anything but observe.