Is Foreign Aid Crucial?

There have been many calls for the US to lessen or eliminate the foreign aid to the rest of the world.

I for one have said that we could use it more to get favorable commitments and not just give it away to our “buddies”…it could be used to avoid war or end disastrous conflicts.

Is foreign aid vital to our national security?

Some say yes…….

In our active duty days, we were honored to help lead the finest fighting force in the world and we strongly support an increase in military spending to maintain the readiness of those forces. But our experiences also taught us that not all foreign crises are solved on the battlefield; in the 21st century, weapons and war fighters alone are insufficient to keep America secure.

That’s why we support a robust development budget to advance our national security objectives — and we are not alone in this belief. This week, we will join 14 other experienced former four-star generals and admirals in submitting testimony to Congress that military power alone cannot prevent radicalization, nor can it, by itself, prevent despair from turning to anger and increasing outbursts of violence and instability. Over the past 15 years, our national experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the Middle East, and now in Africa has shown clearly that development aid is critical to America’s national security.

Source: Why foreign aid is critical to U.S. national security

For too long it has been used to reward our “buddies” instead of trying to affect change in the conflicts that rage the globe.

Since the days of Bush 1 our foreign policy has been going downhill……I was not a supporter of George HW Bush by any stretch of the imagination….I will give him his props…his foreign policy was impressive…..

George H.W. Bush, who turns 93 today, was the last person elected president of the United States with any prior foreign policy experience.

He entered office with one of the most impressive resumes of any president, having served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to the United Nations and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

He left office with an impressive list of achievements, including managing the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany. But a major high point of his presidency was also the harbinger of disappointments to come: the swift military victory that reversed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and seemed to herald a new era in world affairs – but left Saddam Hussein in power.

Source: George H.W. Bush: America’s last foreign policy president

It is a shame that our present president has so little confidence in foreign policy and diplomacy….we were better off when we had presidents that believed in the positive aspects of foreign policy.

If national security is a priority then so should foreign policy and diplomacy.

These days our national security is under attack and we have turned our backs on foreign policy……you should be very worried…..I know I am.

Iran: How It All Began

I see that Iran has once again made it into the conversation about foreign policy….there is the nuke deal that Congress is screwing with and then there is the Iranian interference in Syria or should I say…the Middle East?

I realize that Iran has become the “bad guy” in our foreign policy…..and since many readers are not old enough to remember the history behind the situation ….leave it to me to fill in the blanks for you….

Relations with Iran has been in the dumper since 1979 and the taking of American hostages….that is the story the media and the history book will pass along…..but actually the problem began further back than 1979…..it all began in 1953…..with the plot to overthrow a popularly elected prime minister because of his leftist leanings….

The State Department today released a long-awaited “retrospective” volume of declassified U.S. government documents on the 1953 coup in Iran, including records describing planning and implementation of the covert operation.  The publication is the culmination of decades of internal debates and public controversy after a previous official collection omitted all references to the role of American and British intelligence in the ouster of Iran’s then-prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq.  The volume is part of the Department’s venerable Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

For decades, neither the U.S. nor the British governments would acknowledge their part in Mosaddeq’s overthrow, even though a detailed account appeared as early as 1954 in The Saturday Evening Post, and since then CIA and MI6 veterans of the coup have published memoirs detailing their activities.  Kermit Roosevelt’s Countercoup is the best known and most detailed such account, although highly controversial because of its selective rendering of events.  In 2000, The New York Times posted a 200-page classified internal CIA history of the operation.

Source: US Releases Long-Awaited Documents on 1953 Coup in Iran

Now as Paul Harvey use to say….”You know the rest of the story”.

(For those too young…Paul Harvey was a radio show commentator for decades)

One More Time

On numerous occasions I have written that I do not like the foreign policy that Trump has set out for this country…..I think it is dangerous and ill-conceived…..his dependency on military force over diplomacy is not making the world a safer place…..

A loyal reader and friend of IST posted this the other day on his blog…

In 2016, Spiegel wrote that Donald Trump could be the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement as a president during which George W. Bush’s America would seem like a place of logic and reason in comparison. Bush, to his credit, never compared migrants to poisonous snakes — something Trump does. And Spiegel was not wrong about the Trump gloal threat. All what he said about Middle East  before his election were just communication tactics. And the US becomes more and more dangerous country under Trump’s hegemony.

Source: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Warmonger | Eyes on Europe & Middle East

Within the ranks of foreign policy wonks there is a growing concern about his, Trump’s, foreign policy…..

Against the backdrop of the counter-Islamic State campaign, the civil wars in Syria and Yemen and efforts to forge strong ties with Israel, recent reports suggest that the Trump administration is placing a renewed focus on combating Iran’s network of sectarian-based militant groups and terrorist organizations, even as inter-Arab tensions are on the rise.

The Trump administration has also, reportedly, engaged in direct military action against Iranian-backed elements, threatening U.S. and U.S.-backed personnel in Syria.  The administration will have to determine how best to manage a more direct and aggressive approach to Iran’s proxy network in the midst of inter-Arab disputes.

Source: Is Trump’s foreign policy more ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ or ‘Press Your Luck’? | TheHill

The world has changed and our State Department needs to keep up with the rest of the world…..as it is today there is NO direction other than a military one.

For as long as they have existed, nations have clung to the illusion that their military strength guarantees their security.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the military power that one nation considers vital to its security fosters other nations’ sense of insecurity. In this climate of suspicion, an arms race ensues, often culminating in military conflict. Also, sometimes the very military strength that a nation intended for protection ends up emboldening it to engage in reckless, aggressive behavior, leading to war.

By the twentieth century, the devastation caused by wars among nations had grown so great that the general public and even many government officials began to recognize that a world left to the mercies of national military power was a dangerous world, indeed. As a result, after the mass slaughter of World War I, they organized the League of Nations to foster international security. When this proved insufficient to stop the march of nations toward World War II and its even greater devastation, they organized a new and stronger global entity: the United Nations.

Source: National Illusions and Global Realities – Antiwar.com Original

The US needs to work with other countries to solve problems instead of resorting to force at every turn…..mutual agreement is far superior to brute force.

War and violence decoupled from strategy and policy—or worse yet, mistaken for strategy and policy—have contributed to perpetual war, or what has seemed like 15 years of “Groundhog War.” In its wars since 11 September 2001, the United States has arguably cultivated the best-equipped, most capable, and fully seasoned combat forces in remembered history. They attack, kill, capture, and win battles with great nimbleness and strength. But absent strategy, these victories are fleeting. Divorced from political objectives, successful tactics are without meaning.

In theory, we fight wars to fulfill a political purpose and to achieve objectives by aligning the means and methods of war toward that purpose. In theory, the purpose of war is a better peace. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but as history has shown repeatedly, in practice there is.

Source: The Wages of War Without Strategy | RealClearDefense

There is only so much that can be accomplished without a strategy….a long war will ensue.

Are We Inching Toward All Out War?

When Russia sent in aircraft to help the Syrians fight against the rebels…..I wrote then that this was leading to a big mistake that could take the US and Russia into a confrontation……

Well the worse case scenario just happened…..

The US military shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet Sunday that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against ISIS militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict. The US had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. While the US has said since it began recruiting, training, and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIS that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise, the AP reports.

The US-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a statement that a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the US partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The shootdown was near Tabqa, a Syrian town in an area that has been a weekslong focus of fighting against ISIS militants by the SDF as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it from ISIS. The US military statement said it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces and that the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters. “The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said.

The Russians have a retort……

Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria that venture west of the Euphrates River as targets after the US military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, reports the AP. Moscow also suspended a military hotline the two nations have used to coordinate air missions over Syria, reports the New York Times. Russia condemned the US downing of the Syrian government fighter jet as a “military aggression” and demanded a fuller explanation. The US has said the Syrian jet dropped bombs near its partner forces, but Syria said its jet was attacking ISIS militants.

“All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The downing of the warplane—the first time in the conflict that the US has shot down a Syrian jet—came as Iran fired several ballistic missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria in retaliation for two attacks by the extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people. Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by ISIS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months

Where will this end?

We know how Trump feels about using force……will that be the answer?

I mentioned the illegality of U.S. actions in Syria in an earlier post, but I wanted to say a bit more on that point. There has never been a Congressional vote authorizing U.S. military operations in Syria against anyone, and there has been scant debate over any of the goals that the U.S. claims to be pursuing there. The U.S. launches attacks inside Syria with no legal authority from the U.N. or Congress, and it strains credulity that any of these operations have anything to do with individual or collective self-defense. The U.S. wages war in Syria simply because it can.

Source: Syria and Our Illegal Acts of War | The American Conservative

Americans need to pay attention before it is too late.

Will The Longest War Ever End?

Best answer is…….. No Time Soon!

I have been trying to keep my readers attention on America’s longest war and how nothing improves year after year…..

For the most part Americans try hard to ignore the war and its impact….even when we lose more troops as we did last week….we lost 3 more US troops in Afghanistan.

So some, mostly me it seems, keeps asking…how much longer must we endure the agony of the longest war in our history?

America’s Long War or Global War on Terror has taken some ugly turns as the West’s continued war-making in the Muslim world leads to new terrorism against Western targets, with no end in sight,

Source: Will the Neocons’ Long War Ever End? – Consortiumnews

Every year we prove that Afghanistan cannot be fixed….so why not admit it and get the Hell out?

Months have passed since we first heard the Trump administration is considering a new surge of United States forces in Afghanistan, and if the president is any closer to a decision than he was in February, mark that down as the one secret the White House has yet to leak to the press.

Trump’s unpredictability makes it impossible to define what this delay might mean, but perhaps the wait can offer opportunity for more prudent and realistic counsel to prevail. Sending more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan cannot and will not produce anything resembling a win—it will only protract the failed status quo of the country’s longest war.

Source: The US can’t fix Afghanistan, and it should stop trying

Many see the futility of staying in Afghanistan….why cannot the slugs in DC see the big picture as well?

I realize that war equals more profit…but there should be a time when reality and sanity enters into the equation…..but not soon enough,,,

All indications are that Mattis, and the other former generals in Trump’s cabinet, are all in favor of the larger escalation proposals among the options presented to Trump, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was among the few skeptics.

Mattis had told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today that a decision on Afghan troop levels was still weeks away, but it is unclear if that was based on the assumption that Trump was still going to have to decide. Now that he gets to decide himself, such a decision is likely to be faster.

Mattis promised to “correct” the lack of winning with the new strategy, but indications for months have been that the proposals center around slight increases in direct US involvement in fighting, and likely thousands of additional troops being sent to the country.

Senators, however, expressed increasing annoyance at not hearing any sort of coherent strategy from the administration, with Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) warning that if the Pentagon didn’t provide a strategy for the war, the  Senate would end up providing one for them.

The reality is that the Taliban have been seizing territory from the Afghan government for months, and hold more territory now than at any time during the 16-year US occupation. The US has dramatically increased its number of airstrikes in recent months, trying to slow the losses a bit, but so far that appears to be the best they can really do, slow the inevitable defeat in an unwinnable war.

(antiwar.com

There you go…new plan…throw more troops at the problem.

Damn that does not sound all that new to me.

More news……

Tora Bora, the mountain redoubt that was once Osama bin Laden’s fortress, fell to the Islamic State early Wednesday, handing the extremists a significant strategic and symbolic victory, according to Afghan officials and local elders and residents. – New York Times

A key Republican lawmaker criticized Pentagon and administration officials on Tuesday for failing to deliver a timely strategy for victory in Afghanistan. – Military.com

The World Bank has approved a $520 million package of funding for projects to boost Afghanistan’s economy, build critical infrastructure, and support Afghan refugees sent back from Pakistan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan that is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, during an unannounced visit to the war-torn country. – Reuters

Some in DC please ask…..why are we still in Afghanistan?

Why are we still there? We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda. Now bin Laden is dead; al-Qaeda is dispersed; the Taliban has been battered. Afghan civilians have been killed, wounded or displaced in increasing numbers. The United Nations reports that there were more than 11,000 war-related civilian casualties last year, and 660,000 Afghans were displaced, adding to the country’s massive refugee crisis.

The war has now cost us over $1 trillion, making it the second-costliest U.S. war, after World War II. In fiscal year 2017, the war will cost about $50 billion, nearly a billion every week. We’ve lost over 2,350 soldiers, with 20,000 more suffering injuries. And as Trevor Timm of the Guardian noted, in a couple of years, there will be soldiers fighting in Afghanistan that weren’t even born at the time of 9/1

Source: The US-led Coalition Will Never Win the War in Afghanistan

Enough is enough!  Bring the troops home!

Destabilization of the Persian Gulf

The situation between Qatar and the Saudis is starting to destabilize the Middle East….a region that does not any more help in doing so.

That “Arab NATO” didn’t last very long, did it? The break with Qatar by some of its Arab brethren, including its nearest neighbors, is impressively comprehensive, involving a breach of diplomatic relations and an economic and transportation embargo. It reflects sharp divisions not only within the Arab world but even among the half dozen monarchies that constitute the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The break is a resounding refutation of the notion, which was a leitmotif of President Trump’s recent trip to the region, that significant lines of conflict in the region can all be reduced to some simplistic grand division, such as of evil versus good, Shia versus Sunni, or Iran versus everyone else.

Source: Trump’s Destabilization of the Persian Gulf | The National Interest Blog

Nothing good can come from the Trump admin taking sides in this situation….

A lengthy New York Times article over the weekend touches on a contradiction in the U.S. strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Even as the United States cooperates in a de facto tactical alliance with Iran against ISIS, we’re engaged in a longer-term strategy against Iranian influence in the Middle East. U.S. and Iranian-backed forces have even clashed in battlefield skirmishes in recent weeks.

Picking a fight with an implicit ally is problematic for many reasons. Perhaps most worryingly, such clashes risk sucking U.S. forces deeper into Syria’s civil war.

The article quotes Lebanese scholar Kamel Wazne’s argument that the Trump administration, with encouragement from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, is “turning up the heat against Iran,” and eager to prevent it from establishing “’Shiite crescent’ of influence from Iran to Lebanon” when the Islamic State is defeated. This stance, we’re told, “puts the United States at loggerheads with the pro-government alliance in Syria.”

Source: Placating the Gulf States Distorts Middle East Policy | Cato @ Liberty

The first causality of this incident is America’s top diplomat in Qatar…..

The U.S. ambassador to Qatar reportedly resigned on Tuesday over President Trump’s criticism of the Persian Gulf nation.

CNBC’s John Harwood reported that Ambassador Dana Shell Smith resigned over Trump’s attacks. Harwood cited Trump’s recent comments about Qatar, saying they undermined State Department efforts to ease tensions.

Source: US ambassador to Qatar resigns: report | TheHill

Some see a failure of this Saudi attempt…….

It has been apparent for some time that the war against the Islamic State (IS) group and its forebear al-Qaeda is by no means the only show in town in the Middle East. In fact, for most of the time, the war on terror has been a sideshow.

The attempt to bring Qatar to heel by closing its borders and effectively laying siege to it has shed light on the real forces competing for dominance of the region in the post-Western world in which we live today.

Three regional blocks are vying for control.

Source: Why the campaign against Qatar is doomed | Middle East Eye

This situation is fascinating to observe……just how it plays out is still up in the ether…..

I know it is giving me sleepless nights on the PC and the cel…but it is worth it!

Pentagon Papers Turns 46

Where we you on 13 June 1971?

There was a publication that blew the top off the story of the year…….

46 years ago today the first part of the Pentagon papers was published…..

Pentagon Papers, papers that contain a history of the U.S. role in Indochina from World War II until May 1968 and that were commissioned in 1967 by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. They were turned over (without authorization) to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a senior research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies.

The 47-volume history, consisting of approximately 3,000 pages of narrative and 4,000 pages of appended documents, took 18 months to complete. Ellsberg, who worked on the project, had been an ardent early supporter of the U.S. role in Indochina but, by the project’s end, had become seriously opposed to U.S. involvement. He felt compelled to reveal the nature of U.S. participation and leaked major portions of the papers to the press.

On June 13, 1971, The New York Times began publishing a series of articles based on the study, which was classified as “top secret” by the federal government. After the third daily installment appeared in the Times, the U.S. Department of Justice obtained in U.S. District Court a temporary restraining order against further publication of the classified material, contending that further public dissemination of the material would cause “immediate and irreparable harm” to U.S. national defense interests.

Source: Pentagon Papers | United States history | Britannica.com

On 13 June 2011 the papers were declassified and the question was asked…..do the Pentagon Papers still matter?

The declassification and online release Monday of the full original version of the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top secret Pentagon study of US decision-making in Vietnam 1945-67 – comes 40 years after I gave it to 19 newspapers and to Senator Mike Gravel (minus volumes on negotiations, which I had given only to the Senate foreign relations committee). Gravel entered what I had given him in the congressional record and later published nearly all of it with Beacon Press. Together with the newspaper coverage and a government printing office (GPO) edition that was heavily redacted but overlapped the Senator Gravel edition, most of the material has been available to the public and scholars since 1971. (The negotiation volumes were declassified some years ago; the Senate, if not the Pentagon, should have released them no later than the end of the war in 1975.)

In other words, today’s declassification of the whole study comes 36 to 40 years overdue. Yet, unfortunately, it happens to be peculiarly timely that this study gets attention and goes online just now. That’s because we’re mired again in wars – especially in Afghanistan – remarkably similar to the 30-year conflict in Vietnam, and we don’t have comparable documentation and insider analysis to enlighten us on how we got here and where it’s likely to go.

Source: Why the Pentagon Papers matter now | Daniel Ellsberg | Opinion | The Guardian

The Papers still matter because it shows at what lengths the government will go and the death of Americans matter not.

The “Paper” matter to me because I learned why I was fighting in Vietnam and the disastrous decisions that got me there.

History lesson is over…you may return to your normal day…..