Closing Thought–03Nov17

There has been a bit of a war over the placement of statutes mostly Civil War era commemorations….a statue of Robert E. Lee or Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the KKK and others….there was even a violent confrontation over the removal of one in Virginia just a few months ago….

This is something new for this country to have differences over statues, right?

Well, not exactly…….

President Trump may be infuriating and offending many with his calls to save our “great statues/heritage,” but the unending uproar over Confederate monuments isn’t the first time Americans have feuded over whom we should preserve in plaster—and who’s best left forgotten.

That’s a clash that is literally as old as the nation itself. It began more than 200 years ago with a vicious debate over how the country should celebrate the founding of the American Republic—a debate that continued well into the 20th century.

Source: America Has Been Fighting Over Statues Since the Founding – POLITICO Magazine

A little dreaded history came you way……some things remain the same year after year from the beginning….a/holes are gonna be a/holes……

I must close down for the evening meal…may your day be happy and fruitful….I shall return tomorrow with more stuff……peace out…..chuq

America’s Shadow War

Recently I wrote a couple of posts one about the deaths of special ops troops in Niger and another about American killing Americans in Mali.

I was disturb at the response I got from readers on the second post of the Mali deaths….

Source: USAFRICOM–WTF? – In Saner Thought

It is that 2 SEALs allegedly killed a Green Beret by strangulation…Americans killing Americans….and none seemed care….what has a nation come to that this is not outrageous to them?  Please enlighten me!

Could it have anything to do with the shadow war we are fighting in Africa?

America’s little-known war on terrorists in Africa is becoming more perilous as the U.S. deploys growing numbers of troops to the continent’s most lawless regions, including the part of Niger where four special operations soldiers died in an ambush last week.

The escalation is occurring with little public debate — and, some military experts say, too little attention from top decision-makers in Washington. The U.S. military presence in the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions has grown to at least 1,500 troops, roughly triple the official number of American troops in Syria, according to Pentagon and White House figures.

Source: America’s shadow war in Africa – POLITICO

At least the conversation has come round to our involvement in Africa but it took the deaths of 4 special ops troopers to get it started……

The October 4 ambush in Niger, which led to the deaths of four US special forces, has added to that push in a big way, because not only was this operation obviously not ever authorized by Congress, but in this case Congress wasn’t even told it was happening.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and others are very vocal about not liking just how out of the loop Congress has become on wars like the one in Niger. President Trump has suggested his generals authorized the Niger war by themselves, and it doesn’t appear he knew about it either.


Congress has been struggling for years with getting the leadership to allow votes on War Powers Act-related bills, as war authorizations are politically controversial and many of the leaders simply prefer to dodge those matters. This has been going on so long, however, that it’s going to take substantial efforts for Congress to reestablish itself as responsible for authorizing wars.

It is time for Congress to grow a set and ring in these limitless wars we are fighting…..and for them to get grip on the situation within USAFRICOM…there is something rotten in that command.


Will It Come To Conflict

AS a foreign policy wonk I find the situation between the US and North Korea fascinating….granted most of my experience comes from the Middle East and are by no means an expert on Asia… for that reason I spend a lot of time trying to make sense of the situation through massive amounts of research.

We Americans tend to accept the daily analysis given by whichever news organization one aligns with as fact and accurate.

As a student of international relations I can safely say the the way that this situation is being handled is NOT the best way forward.

The battle of threats will accomplish nothing good.

Is it propaganda or is North Korea preparing for the worse?

Nothing like an escalating war of words and fear of nuclear annihilation to boost your country’s military enlistments. That’s the narrative North Korea is now pushing, with state media claiming 4.7 million of its people have volunteered or re-enlisted, USA Today reports. That’s roughly 20% of its population, and of those said to have signed up, more than 1.2 million are women, per the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. This after President Trump promised to “totally destroy” North Korea and other verbal sparring with Kim Jong Un and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The Yonhap News Agency notes that whenever tensions are ratcheted up between the two countries, North Korea tends to try to spur solidarity with propaganda claims on a boost in military volunteering. It reportedly did the same when the UN Security Council approved new sanctions on Pyongyang in August.

In fact, these claims of nationalists rushing to serve their country have been circulating since at least August, Reuters reported then. The Express notes Kim Jong Un’s “propaganda machine is in full force,” claiming North Koreans are “furious” at the US. A state-controlled website says citizens are even calling for Trump’s “beheading” and that his rhetoric against the North is “unprecedented rude nonsense.” The Daily Star reports that the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, which represents about 1 million of the North’s citizens, is also holding tight with Kim, noting workers are eager to supply “more strategic weapons” and “turn out in the do-or-die battle with the US.” Meanwhile, if war were to break out, a retired Air Force brigadier general says the Pentagon estimates 20,000 would die daily in South Korea, per the Los Angeles Times.

There are lots of opinions floating around the ether….that the war with North Korea is inevitable… say some……

Events are unfolding as predicted. The strategic arguments are exhaustively interrogated in the four-part debate between myself and Dr. David Santoro (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). The analysis remains unchanged, except to say that diplomatic avenues look bleak, time is running out, and the cost of war mounts daily as North Korea prepares and fortifies.

This piece focuses on the reasons why deterrence is destined for failure and war on the peninsula is increasingly inevitable. A future piece will discuss the ethics of embarking on second Korean war (and those of advocating it).

Source: North Korea: The Inevitability of War | RealClearDefense

But as long as I have gone there……some are more optimistic and see a peaceful end to this international mash-up… this case it is that Libertarian, Rand Paul…..

To every problem there exists a solution—even for a problem as vexing as the two Koreas. Recently, the rhetoric has ratcheted up, and I, for one, fervently hope that diplomacy and problem-solving can avoid war.

To solve a problem that seems to stump everyone, it is often necessary to consider what others refuse to consider. To solve the Korean problem, it may take considering options that both sides don’t like and think won’t work. If the problem had easy answers, then someone else would have fixed it by now.

Source: Rand Paul: How to Achieve Peace on the Korean Peninsula | The National Interest

There are as many twists and turns in this situation than a hand-made rope…..

About all we can do right now is pray that calmer minds prevail…..but when we have a leader that cannot have a calmer head then we get more threats like this one…..

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that 25 years of agreements with North Korea have failed, “making fools” of US negotiators.

Then he added cryptically that “only one thing will work.”

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday afternoon, Trump said that past agreements with North Korea have all been violated.

“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid … hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators,” Trump wrote. “Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

AS long as we openly threaten North Korea then no diplomacy will not work.


Putin This, Russia That

On 26 December 1991 the USSR cease to exist and enter the Russian Republic(?).

Russia was experimenting with democracy  that brought Boris Yeltsin to power as head of the new Republic…….they had a few elections and tried to make democracy work…..but things did not go as planned……and out of the ashes of a budding democracy rose the specter that is Putin.

How Russia’s democratic hopes gave way to repressive nationalism.

In 1997, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the Clinton administration’s lead official on all matters Russia, gave a speech at Stanford University on American policy toward Moscow. He admitted, in not so many words, that persuading the erratic President Boris Yeltsin to keep on course with economic reform and progress toward democracy was a daunting task. But Talbott declared himself optimistic nonetheless. His main reason, he said, was “generational,”

or to be even more blunt, biological. The dynamic of what is happening in Russia today is not just Westernizers versus Slavophiles; it is also young versus old—and the young have a certain advantage in at least that dimension of the larger struggle.

Source: Why Democracy Didn’t Work in Russia | New Republic

How did Putin take control and just what is Putinism?

An excellent piece in the Journal Of Democracy….here on pdf…….

What is Putinism?
M. Steven Fish is professor of political science at the University of
California–Berkeley. His works include
Are Muslims Distinctive?
A Look at the Evidence
(2011) and
Democracy Derailed in Russia: The
Failure of Open Politics
A quarter-century after the demise of the Soviet regime, Russia again
presents a powerful challenge to global liberalism and to the Western
democratic community. Ambitious military modernization, aggres-
sion in the post-Soviet neighborhood, intervention in the Middle East,
the construction of a global propaganda network, support for despots
abroad, and brazen interference in …..(.read more)
To deal with Putin we must know Putin……make speeches and slogans about what a super guy he is it is better to know the real person and not some stylized character.


Russia Before 1917

A hundred years ago this month lost of stuff is happening….World War One is still raging….the US has  committed troops to the fight against the “Hun”….and one of the most important aspects of history was taking place….the Russian Revolution……..

With financial help from Germany the group lead by Lenin was about to assume power and oust the royals and set up the new Soviet Union.

If you are interested in history then the book is a good place to start if you are remotely interested in Russia and what it became.

Since Russia seems to be in the headlines almost daily maybe a little knowledge on what is what and who became who…..

An excerpt from ”October: The Story of the Russian Revolution.”

In the final years of the nineteenth century, the state pours resources into its infrastructure and industry, including an immense program of railway building. Great crews drag iron rails across the country, hammering them down, stitching the limits of the empire together. The Trans-Siberian Railway. “Since the Great Wall of China the world has seen no one material undertaking of equal magnitude,” breathes Sir Henry Norman, a British observer. For Nicholas [II, tsar of Russia], the building of this transit route between Europe and East Asia is a “sacred duty.”

Russia’s urban population soars. Foreign capital flows in. Huge industries arise around St Petersburg, Moscow, the Donbass region in Ukraine. As thousands of new workers struggle to eke out livings in cavernous plants under desperate conditions, subject to the contemptuous paternalism of their bosses, the labor movement takes unsteady steps forward. In 1882, the young Grigory Plekhanov, later to be Russia’s leading socialist theorist, joins the legendary Vera Zasulich herself, the failed assassin of Trepov, to found Osvobozhdenie truda, Liberation of Labor — the first Russian Marxist group.

Source: Russia Before 1917: Imperial Schemes, Doomed Royals and Young Marxists

After 1917 the world would be changed forever……just as WW1 changed the world……so did the  birth of the USSR.