We all are aware of the speech the president delivers to a join session of Congress, the State of the Union……but there is also a report on the condition of our armed forces…..
As an analyst of international situations I am always watching the major arm of our foreign policy the military…..there is an annual report on the condition of our armed forces (prepared by a defense industry site so it is skewed a bit)…..
I you are interested in our armed forces and would like to read about the preparedness then pick a service and learn stuff…..
If we had written this State of Defense report two months ago, it would have been almost entirely different. For better or worse, President Trump brings the nation into 2019 with a new attitude and new attention to the U.S. military’s ground wars.
By presidential order, this will be the year the U.S. ground war in Syria ends. Trump also reportedly wants a drawdown in Afghanistan, but hasn’t started planning for one, and was looking into restricting U.S. special operations forces fighting across Africa, though U.S. combat in Somalia appears to be escalating. In fact, in 2019, the sprawling footprint of the U.S. military from southwest Asia to north Africa may not change much at all.
So in the upcoming budget hearings, expect service leaders to argue that too much is being asked of too-few troops with too-few resources. That means some hard choices and some exciting ones. Read on, in Defense One’s2019 State of Defense:
Our Beloved Supreme Leader just had a horrible and unproductive meeting (some call it a “summit”) with North Korea’s Kim…..but to listen to his rhetoric it was a success with the Dems trying to hang some criminality around his neck……but what of the so-called “summits”…….
Let’s step back to the beginning……
As far as is known, the first professional diplomatic corps appeared in the Byzantine Empire following the collapse of Rome in 476 AD. Byzantium established the world’s first department of foreign affairs, developed strict and complex diplomatic protocols, and actively sought intelligence about friend and enemy alike. Surrounded by enemies, Byzantium needed all the skill in diplomacy it could muster.
The art of diplomacy was carried to the next higher (some might say lower) plane in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Italian city-states of the era engaged in constant intrigues against each other. During this era, diplomacy became identified with behind-the-scenes scheming, duplicity, and double-dealing. Niccolo Machiavelli of Florence, whom many consider the father of “realist” views of the international system, stressed in his book The Prince (1532) that rulers should use whatever means they had at their disposal to stay in power.
Summits and summitry have their uses in a modern foreign policy…a constructive foreign policy (there’s the rub….we, the US, no longer has a constructive foreign policy)…….
It should not be regarded as an instant elixir for the assuagement of crises to dissimulate relief from the realities of inter-governmental ailment (1979, p. 186).
To begin with, this essay will discuss both on some of the possible strengths and flaws of the different types summits. It also argues on how summitry can be infused as a tool of a constructive means of diplomacy and it will also unearth some factors that could help determine the success of summits. The first part of this essay discusses on how summitry could be a tool in the engagement of public diplomacy and followed by with an insight on how timing is crucial in initiating a summit. Meanwhile, the second part of this essay details on how summitry could provide an opportunity for state leaders to administrate and show their capabilities in winning a summit.
This is where the Trump summits go off the rail…..a summit should NOT be an elixir for a solution to whatever problem it tries to address.
And yet Trump himself billed his “summits” as a solution to North Korea’s rush to nuke weapons…..
So far nothing but a few exchanged “love” between the two leaders and the search for nukes continued…
Summits are a diplomatic tool not necessarily the end of the search of solutions to problems….something someone needs to teach to our president….maybe then he would stop embarrassing the country on the world stage.
The violence that has plagued Haiti in the last month got me to thinking about the island nation….Haiti has been devastated by an earthquake…..the government (no matter who leads) is always hit with corruption……the people protest and the government reacts with violence and then it snowballs from there….it is a never ending cycle and the people of Haiti, the poorest in the region, always pay the price.
The so-called Core Group is made up of the head of UN Mission MINUJUSTH, Helen Meagher La Lime; and the UN ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States, and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States.
They took note of the demands expressed by demonstrators on Thursday, aimed at a worsening economic crisis that has led to a drop in living standards, inflation at around 15 per cent, a growing national deficit, and allegations of corruption levelled at President Jovenel Moise, before he took office.
As I read about the situation in Haiti…this one tried to explain the return of violence…..
It began with demonstrations last summer in July and August, re-emerged in November and December, and exploded again in the first two weeks of February when hundreds of thousands marched in all the major cities of the country, from the capital of Port-au-Prince to the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.
The demonstrators demanded an investigation into what happened to billions of dollars of funds from Venezuela, an end to austerity measures and price increases for basic goods, and the resignation of Moïse and his prime minister, Jean-Henry Céant.
This got the grey matter fired up……Haiti shares an island with the Dominican Republic…….
Half of the island speaks a form of French and the other half speaks Spanish……Haiti is dirt poor and unstable the Dominican Republic is fairly prosperous and stable……
I short video can explain it better than my words plus most had rather watch than read…..
It is amazing that there can be two so different nations just miles from each other…….and on the very same island.
The situation on the island is something that can keep us International Relations geeks busy looking for and then the explanations of how this development took place so close together without influencing one another. But research is what we do.
I will leave it there for “experts” in the region to offer their pronouncements…..I shall return to the Middle East where events are more predictable than on Hispaniola.
The big news on the world stage is the mash up the US is having with Venezuela……there are many reasons but oil is probably the only reason.
First, let me ask…..are we still fighting a War on Terror? Is the money trail of the terror groups still one of the prongs of that war?
If so then why are we not paying closer attention to Paraguay?
The U.S. Department of Justice last year designated Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militant group, as a transnational criminal organization, thanks to its long-standing and well-documented partnership with Latin American drug cartels. A focal point of Hezbollah operations in the Western Hemisphere is the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, a sanctuary for all sorts of organized crime. Numerous terrorism financing, money laundering, and drug trafficking cases in U.S. courts involve Hezbollah-aligned Lebanese nationals who operate there. Argentina and Brazil have shown an increased readiness to take action against Hezbollah, but Paraguay, the country where Hezbollah is most vulnerable to action, is the most reluctant to recognize the challenge.
Paraguay’s president, Mario Abdo Benítez, in power since last August, is under pressure to change that. Despite a promising start, his administration remains plagued by the same problems his predecessors could not overcome, and a reckoning is coming. This year, the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization, will evaluate Paraguay to assess the effectiveness of Asunción’s anti-money laundering and counterterrorism finance systems, for which the task force sets global standards. Countries that do not measure up, such as Iran and North Korea, have to contend with cumbersome restrictions that inhibit trade and investment.
Venezuela is still brewing and the MSM wants you to believe the lies spread by the Neocons and the Neo-liberal twats….
Venezuela Lies #1: The Venezuelan People Have No Food and the Shelves Are Bare
In these videos (here and here) on the ground in Caracas, Max Blumenthal exposed one of the lies about Venezuela that is constantly repeated, i.e. that the people have no food and the supermarket shelves are bare.
The summit between our Beloved Leader and the Beloved Leader in North Korea has sucked all the energy out of the situation in Venezuela…..the US is still pretending to care about the people of the country and trying to sell the idea that Maduro (Tell me…does Trump’s buddy Calamari look like Maduro?) is driving the country to ruin.
The US Neocon-led strategy is increasingly clear: establish a ‘beach-head’ on the Colombian-Venezuelan (and Venezuelan-Brazilian) border under the guise of providing humanitarian aid. Use the aid to get Venezuelans on the border to welcome the US proxy forces to cross over. Set up political and military structures thereafter just inside the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil, from which to launch further similar efforts deeper into Venezuela. Repeat this province by province, step by step, penetrating Venezuela space until enough local units of the Venezuelan military change sides and convince one or more of the Venezuelan military hierarchy to join them. Establish a dual state and government within and along the border of the Venezuelan state this way. A breakaway State and dual power within the country. Make it appear, by manipulating the media, that the Venezuelan people are rising up against the Maduro government, when in fact it is US proxy forces invading and using opportunist local politicians, military, and others in the ‘conquered’ zones, as the media covers for their invasion.
The main ideological justification being used for the invasion and regime change is that the Maduro government has grossly mismanaged the Venezuelan economy and driven its people into poverty. With Democrats now joining Trump and Republicans in support of invasion, the liberal mainstream US media, as well as the rightwing alternative media, are both pushing the same line, to blunt US opposition to invasion and yet another war before the final military assault is launched. Somehow the democratic elections less than a year ago, which returned the Maduro government to power, did not represent the ‘will of the people’. Explanations how they did not are thin and unconvincing, moreover. Nor is any explanation given how US policies and actions have played the central role in destroying Venezuela’s currency and economy. And the financial measures used to destabilize the economy are especially opaque.
The typical case is being made by Neocons…..similar to the case made to invade Iraq in 2003…..how long will the American people continue to support such crap?
With that said……
If you repeat your own lies enough—so goes the apocryphal Goebbels quote—you start to believe them yourself. For two decades, the Venezuelan opposition and its supporters in Washington have smeared Hugo Chávez and now his successor, Nicolás Maduro, as despotic strongmen kept in power solely through military force and paltry payouts to the poor. So it’s no surprise that they are once again underestimating both Chavismo and the resilience of its supporters today.
There have been stories of insurgents around the world that use child soldiers……from Africa to the sand of the deserts of the Middle East….child soldiers are still a problem….I have written about this situation before……
I bring this up again because the study made of child soldiers involved in war worldwide……
The number of child soldiers involved in conflicts globally has increased 159 percent within five years, with almost 30,000 verified recruitment cases since 2012, Child Soldiers International, a London-based human rights organization, said in a press release on Monday, February 11.
“Ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and persistent unrest in Somalia, South Sudan, DR Congo, Central African Republic and elsewhere are all leaving children increasingly exposed to recruitment,” the release said. “Boys and girls are routinely being used as fighters and at checkpoints, as informants, to loot villages and as domestic and sexual slaves.”
Child Soldiers International analyzed United Nations annual reports on Children and Armed Conflict issued in 2013-2018, recording 29,128 verified cases of child recruitment in 17 countries. Even though a significant number of cases usually take place in Africa, about half of them happen outside the continent, in countries like Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, and Colombia.
Most Americans do. The bastards that committed the atrocities on that day were members of the extremist group called al-Qaeda whose leader Osama bin Laden ordered the attacks.
We invaded Afghanistan on the pretext of hunting down the culprit and destroying the organization so they could never again be so brazen.
We took our eye off the target by the BS of Iraq and we invaded yet another country in 2003…..we finally found and executed Osama over a decade after he ordered the attacks of 9/11….but that aside he is dead and AQ is on their back foot right now and have been replaced by yet another extremist group named ISIS.
After about 5 years of constant war ISIS is on their back foot….not defeated just a bloody nose and a period of decline (for now)……
The US conned its allies into supporting the war on ISIS…..we groomed many “freedom loving” factions to do the fighting in the region (mostly Syria)……one of the groups that we “armed” either directly or through proxies was…….wait for it…….Al-Qaeda.
I understand the Saudis supporting AQ for they share an extremist view of Islam….but not to the point of total support against ISIS (another extremist view)……
Less than two decades after the attacks of September 11, the U.S. government has now effectively allied with the Al Qaeda terrorist group it has long blamed for planning and executing those attacks, which still remain the worst terror attacks to have ever taken place on U.S. soil.
Despite the U.S. having launched the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the years-long “War on Terror” as a means of allegedly countering Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the past year has revealed several instances in which Washington has been making “deals” with, protecting, and even (indirectly but knowingly) arming Al Qaeda operatives in countries like Yemen and Syria. The about-face has come as the U.S.’ interest in “counter-terrorism” throughout the Middle East has been superseded by regime-change policies targeting countries like Yemen, Syria and Iran.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has issued a letter demanding that President Donald Trump’s administration explain a recent report suggesting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates transferred U.S. weapons to Al-Qaeda.
Warren’s letter came in response to an investigation by CNN, which uncovered reports earlier this month that Saudi Arabia and its ally, the UAE, have taken weapons provided by the U.S. and given them to fighters linked to the Sunni Muslim militant group Al-Qaeda and other organizations as part of a secret, shared initiative to defeat Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebels known as Ansar Allah or the Houthis in Yemen. The document was addressed to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“If this report is true, it raises serious concerns that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other governments have violated their end user agreements with the United States by diverting American weapons to terrorists and other extremists without prior authorization from the United States,” Warren said, as reported Friday by CNN.
I am sorry but I cannot see why we would supply implements of destruction to a regime of wankers that will use them against us…….
I still do not trust the Saudis as far as I could toss their fat butts……plus I am not convinced that they did not know or support the terrorists on 9/11 after all most of them were Saudis…….but this is a good piece that ask an important question……
The BBC’s article merely reports what is accepted as common knowledge and documented fact regarding the inception of this now enduring, notorious and shape-shifting terrorist organization… that it was the initial creation of joint US-Saudi interests.
This fact would carry with it an ironic sting in 2001 when Al Qaeda, allegedly led by Bin Laden, struck the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, killing nearly 3,000 people and precipitating now over 15 years of global war.
Without doubt, the US and Saudi Arabia created Al Qaeda, and many believe still control the terrorist organization citing that the immense material support it and its subsidiaries require along with the virtual impunity they enjoy as they operate worldwide could only be due to substantial and influential state sponsorship.
Many have postulated that because the 15 years of war following September 11, 2001 have benefited only a handful of special interests both in the US and Europe, as well as in the Persian Gulf, that it cannot be ruled out that these interests were also somehow involved in the attacks that justified this enduring war to begin with.