Closing Thought–11Jul18

Keeping with the Hispanic tone that I started with my last post……

Most of us old farts remember all the problems we had with Venezuela when it was lead by Chavez…..then a new guy was elected president….both here in the US and in Venezuela…..and the new US president wanted to push up his sleeves and invade Venezuela……

As an August meeting in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the US just invade? The suggestion stunned those at the meeting, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser HR McMaster, reports the AP. According to a senior administration official familiar with what was said, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro. But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada.

The idea, despite his aides’ best attempts to shoot it down, would persist in Trump’s head. The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “military option” to remove Maduro from power. The public remarks were initially dismissed in US policy circles as bluster, but shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, per the US official. Two high-ranking Colombian officials confirmed the report. Then in September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trump discussed it again in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos, saying, “My staff told me not to say this.” Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a military solution, per the official, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure. Eventually, McMaster pulled Trump aside and walked him through the dangers of an invasion.

We came back from a brink…but now the people that talked the “Very intelligent” Trump from launching an invasion of Venezuela have been replaced with yes men…..will common sense prevail now?

Nicaragua On My Mind

Back in the 80’s I was a staunch supporter of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua….that was when the Reagan and his Boyz were sneaking around trying to arm the Right wing terrorists with cash from the arms sold to Iran (BTW it was illegal and the NRA’s newest cretin, Ollie North, was convicted of his part in the illegal scheme)… need to try to force yourself remember those days….I have made it simple for you……  or maybe this one……

Well the events in Nicaragua did not go as planned and Ortega continued his hold on the government….he was a Socialists (the horror)…..but with the fall of the USSR Nicaragua fell off the CIA radar….or did it?

AS early as 2016, talk of war against Nicaragua could again be heard in Miami, at a time when the streets of this nation were a regional example of security, peace, and prosperity, where a hardworking, tranquil people proudly enjoyed the social and economic advances achieved by the Sandinista government, that had established a national consensus, in the wake of one of the worst interventions carried out by the United States in Central America.

With no justification whatsoever – when the news from Nicaragua around the world was about a proposed inter-oceanic canal that would boost the economy and impact global navigation – Congress members who make a living off the U.S. war against Cuba and Venezuela were mounting efforts to reverse the prosperity and calm that reigned in the land of Augusto César Sandino.

Congress members, first in the House of Representatives and later the Senate, introduced a bill to create obstacles to the awarding of international loans to Nicaragua, hamper foreign investment, and put a brake on socio-economic development in the country. This imperialist punishment, cooked up by the worst of the anti-Cuban mafia in 2015, set in motion the fabrication of a pretext regarding the alleged lack of democracy, justified as a way to “guarantee electoral transparency and fight corruption.” The result of this initial maneuver was the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act of 2017 (NICA Act).

After a couple of decades and some things never change, huh?

Post War Order

What the Hell?

Since our Fearless Leader has gone to Europe for meetings especially with NATO countries……let us look at the Post War Order which gave birth to NATO.

Most people nowadays are too young to remember the term at all… is a term that originated after the end of World War Two.

I’ll stop beating around the bush….a simple easy to understand definition of Post War Order……well truth is there are several available definitions but since this is my blog we will use mine…..

An invention of the division of the world after the war…..setting up the 3 divisions of the world….the US and the West, Soviet Union and its allies and the rest of the world, or the Third World.

This division has lasted for the last 75 years….the populist resurrection has caused cracks in the walls of this “Post War Order”… the point that the old order is quickly disappearing……

The 75-year-old post-war order crafted by the United States after World War II is falling apart. Almost every major foreign-policy initiative of the last 16 years seems to have gone haywire.

Donald Trump’s presidency was a reflection, not a catalyst, of the demise of the foreign-policy status quo. Much of the world now already operates on premises that have little to do with official post-war institutions, customs, and traditions, which, however once successful, belong now to a bygone age.

Take the idea of a Western Turkey, “linchpin of NATO southeastern flank” — an idea about as enduring as the “indomitable” French Army of 1939. For over a decade Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insidiously destroyed Turkey’s once pro-Western and largely secular traditions; he could not have done so without at least majority popular support.

Those days were a hot bed of democratic movements…..and now with the end in sight democracy is taking a backseat and the day of the strongman is at hand…..

That the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the principal opposition party in the most powerful country of the European Union has produced remarkably little reaction in Britain. In September of last year the then German foreign minister and vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, told Der Spiegel that if AfD made it into the Bundestag, Nazis would speak in the Reichstag for the first time in more than 70 years. The German political system was constructed after the end of the Second World War to make any such recurrence impossible. It has now happened, and yet liberals in this and other countries seem largely unmoved. Last year Angela Merkel was being celebrated as the leader of the Western world, and the dull stability over which she presided lauded as a model that Britain would do well to emulate. More than any other European country, we were assured, Germany had rid itself of the ugly nationalism that had disfigured the continent in the past.

Autocrats are becoming exciting…..look to the Arab countries, look to the Eastern European parties, look to Asia…..strongmen are coming out of the woodwork.

How long will this last?

Ethiopia–A Rising Star?

During the Cold War the East African nation of Ethiopia was on the front lines in our struggle with the USSR….it was a perfect region for the gathering of Sigint…..but has been happening since the end of the Cold War?

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea in the late 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia has not accepted them and has not withdrawn troops from previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea. In August 2012, longtime leader Prime Minister MELES Zenawi died in office and was replaced by his Deputy Prime Minister HAILEMARIAM Desalegn, marking the first peaceful transition of power in decades.

Ethiopia is a cog in our responses on the Horn of Africa….plus the renegade nation of Somalia is next door and from time to time has bucked the influence of Ethiopia in the region…..but their “friendship” with the US these days helps their star to rise in the Horn…..

When we think of countries competing for power and influence in the Horn of Africa, a short list of candidates comes to mind: the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Turkey and various European powers. Notably absent from this list are countries from within the region itself. But this may be about to change. Ethiopia has recently launched a number of political, economic and foreign policy reforms aimed at redefining the country internally and externally. These moves are a sign that Addis Ababa wants to increase its influence in the region and might be laying the groundwork to emerge as a regional power.

Ethiopia is uniquely positioned to take on this role. It has a history of resisting foreign intervention and remaining, for the most part, free of external domination in a region that was widely colonized by European powers. Now, as the presence of foreign powers grows, Ethiopia will need to become more assertive if it wants to compete for influence with these outside forces. But it has a number of challenges with which it must contend if it is to project power beyond its borders. This Deep Dive will examine the country’s history that has led it to this unique point in time and the conditions it must meet before it will be able to wield more influence in the region.