Diplomats Are Us

There was a time when I wanted to work for the foreign service for the US….the diplomatic Corps….I applied for a couple of positions….the ones that I wanted I never got for there was always someone with more letters after their name than me.

I then tried to find work with the United Nations….the one that would let me use my degrees was in Tunisia…..again I was pushed out by a guy with a whole alphabet after his surname.

I finally found work as an analyst for a Spanish newspaper and finally got to work in the Middle East.

Sorry about that but I wanted to give a little background for this post.

International relations, foreign policy and conflict management are areas that this country needs top people in their fields.  And usually this country has the brightest minds formulating and implementing policies that help protect this country as well as helping with its prosperity.

All that use to be true….but since the election of Donald Trump our foreign policy has become a joke with no laughter.

First he hires a oil company CEO as SecSta, Rex Tillerson….then he cuts the budget of the department then he will not fill the diplomatic positions that are needed to keep the country ahead of the game then he started losing ambassadors…it is said that there is a job listing that is 11 pages and no takers.

Then the sector on the world governing stage, the Untied nations……here we have another amateur as ambassador…Nikki Haley a governor with zero experience on the world situation….and like the State Department she cannot keep qualified people around her…..

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has lost two of her top aides, key departures that come at a time of growing international tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Haley’s Chief of Staff Steven Groves resigned, as did her communications director Jonathan Wachtel. Haley said on Twitter Wednesday it was because of “family concerns.” The departures also come ahead of Haley’s trip to Vienna to review Iran’s nuclear activities with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

These loses probably will not hurt her standing at the UN because neither of them had much international experience other than a think tank.

Without qualified professionals then our policies look more like a 2nd graders coloring book…..and our decisions are more knee jerk than thoughtful deliberation.

Closing Thought–11Aug17

Can You Hear That?

Ever read a news story that made you stop and think?

The one that caught my attention was the story of hearing loss by some American diplomats and some of Canada as well…..a fascinating thing indeed….

A duty station in Cuba could be hazardous to your hearing…..

The Canadian government said Thursday that at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba has been treated for hearing loss, following disclosures that a group of American diplomats in Havana suffered the same. US officials believe they were caused by an advanced sonic device, per the AP. Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell said Canadian officials “are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana” and were working to figure out the cause. In the fall of 2016, US diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation. Several were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of President Obama’s reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the US diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, US officials concluded that the diplomats had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. The Cuban government said that “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.”

Investigations on-going but how will they determine what the cause is or who is behind this attack?

Time to start the weekend….hope all my readers have a wonderful couple of days….chuq

Will There Be A Foreign Policy Crisis?

Since I am a foreign policy wonk I spend a lot of time reading reports and analyses about world affairs and what I have found is there is many “hot spots” in this world that could spill over into a major confrontation.

North Korea is on a slow boil……China in the South China Sea is sizzling….troop movements in around the Baltic states, both US and Russian….terrorist cells plotting…..Iran will soon be back in the headlines….and of course all the different armed conflicts that spread like a fungus…..so many opportunities for something to go horribly wrong.

I am concerned on the future because our president does not seem to care about all the situations as they build.  His State Department is woefully understaffed….the military is expanding faster than a irritating rash and the White House is full of factions fighting for dominance……and foreign policy is a couple of words that few know how to use.

It is only a matter of time before something breaks on the foreign policy front……

It is now six months into the Trump administration and, thankfully, the United States has not yet faced a foreign-policy crisis. In no other area does a president have more responsibility and power than in such a crisis. Any president, but particularly this one, must welcome and respect expert advice, choose quickly and wisely from a difficult set of options, consult with Congress and involve U.S. allies in the common cause. The United States must deal from a position of strength but be open to negotiations.

Unfortunately, we have seen much in Trump’s conduct as president that raises serious questions as to how he will respond when that inevitable crisis comes. Perhaps none more puzzling or concerning is his attitude toward Russia. Rebuilding cooperation with Russia where possible in areas such as antiterrorism and arms control is in the U.S. interest, but not at the expense of indifference to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria or dismissing the investigations of Russian interference in recent U.S. elections.

Source: Trump and the Impending Foreign-Policy Crisis | The National Interest

It is time for this administration to settle down and get to work on the foreign policy….our State Department should be the spear point of our foreign policy and right now it is little more than a discussion group with NO direction.

Once we are confronted with a international crisis it will be too late to try and return the State Department to the forefront….basically as it is now our foreign policy is little more than a crap shoot.

Can you say….North Korea!

Trump Is No Realist

But what is meant by “Realist”?

If we are talking about it in the context of philosophy then……

a. The scholastic doctrine, opposed to nominalism, that universals exist independently of their being thought.
b. The modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to idealism, that physical objects exist independently of their being perceived.
But what if we are talking about the situation as it relates to International Relations……
A particular view of the world, or paradigm, defined by the following assumptions: the international realm is anarchic and consists of independent political units called states; states are the primary actors and inherently possess some offensive military capability or power which makes them potentially dangerous to each other; states can never be sure about the intentions of other states; the basic motive driving states is survival or the maintenance of sovereignty; states are instrumentally rational and think strategically about how to survive.
That brings us to Trump’s views on foreign policy……

In his speech in Riyadh, President Trump said his administration was adopting “Principled Realism”—capitalized in the official White House version of the speech, as if to make a statement that there is a distinct doctrine being followed, one worthy of the term realismSome commentaries seem to have taken him at his word, with the main reference point being a contrast with the two previous U.S. administrations, which, in very different ways, placed greater importance than Trump does on the extent to which liberal democratic values prevail abroad.  The contrast is based more broadly on Trump’s overall lack of concern for human rights overseas.

But slapping away any interest in democracy and human rights does not define realism.  And we certainly have enough experience now with Trump to realize that his declaring he is doing something may have little relationship to what he actually is doing.

Source: Trump Is No Realist « LobeLog

I Think that his ideas in foreign policy are unrealistic…..he disses diplomacy and embraces a larger more power military and he hugs and compliments petty dictators and monarchs……

President Donald Trump has failed to reassure members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) that the United States was fully committed to the alliance. When pressed about the importance of Article 5 of the NATO charter—which obliges members to ensure collective defence—Trump dithered. No clarity was possible. He wants NATO members to increase military spending. It is something the U.S. needs little prodding to do by itself.

Trump wants the U.S. to spend over $700 billion on its military, which is astronomically higher than any of the other NATO states. The U.S. expenditure is two-thirds of the total the 28 NATO states spent on their militaries. The U.S. spends 3.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the military, almost twice the 2 per cent standard asked of NATO states. The U.S., by itself, is effectively the military arm of the NATO.

Source: Trump Believes in a World Order Based on Brute Force—and Much of Europe Is Surprisingly Willing to Go Along with It | Alternet

Trump has started the US  down a path that it does not need to travel…..and could very well end badly for the country.

It’s Sanctions Time Again

The US has always used economic sanctions liberally….Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and most recently Venezuela.

But what does the term “economic sanctions” actually mean?

Economic sanctions are defined as the withdrawal of customary trade and financial relations for foreign and security policy purposes. They may be comprehensive, prohibiting commercial activity with regard to an entire country, like the long-standing U.S. embargo of Cuba, or they may be targeted, blocking transactions of and with particular businesses, groups, or individuals.

(Learn more)…….

Source: What Are Economic Sanctions? | Council on Foreign Relations

Now what to ask is….just how effective sanctions are as a punishment for perceived misbehaving?

Well let’s see…Cuba is still there……Iran is still there…..North Korea is still up and running….Russia will continue on and as well will Venezuela.

Next question would be…..why bother if every one is still plowing along as usual?

There is always some sort of retaliation against the US by effected countries…..take the Russian sanctions……where could this lead?

A few articles that can answer the question for you…..

Washington Pushes Harder Against Russia

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, July 31, 2017

On July 30 Russian President Putin finally responded to the Obama regime’s orchestrated expulsion of Russian diplomats from Washington last Christmas and illegal seizure of Russian government properties in the Washington area by evicting 750 “American diplomats,” in reality agents working to undermine the Russian government. Putin could just as well have arrested them. It only took 7 months for Russia to respond to Washington’s hostile actions against Russian diplomats.

Sabotaging Russia-US Relations for Good

By Federico Pieraccini, July 31, 2017

The Senate has overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions, the primary purpose of which is to deny the US President the ability to end sanctions on Russia without Moscow first demonstrating good will to resolve points of friction between the two countries.

Sanctions against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Part of a Global Military Agenda. Pentagon’s World War III Scenario

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, July 29, 2017

The Congressional bill invoked respectively Tehran’s support of terrorism, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, and North Korea’s ICBM missile tests.

Breaking: Russia Suspends Use of US Embassy Property in Moscow

By Adam Garrie, July 29, 2017

Russian retaliation against US sanctions and the prolonged diplomatic property crisis caused by Barack Obama and prolonged under the current administration, has commenced.

Breaking: Senate Passes Russia, Iran, North Korea Sanctions Bill, 98-2!

By Daniel McAdams, July 29, 2017

The House and Senate passed “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” now goes to President Trump’s desk, where he faces a damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t scenario. A veto would certainly be over-ridden, handing the president a bitter bi-partisan blow that would likely end whatever aspirations he may retain to keep his campaign promises to get along better with Russia.

Is the US Trying to Start a Hot War with Russia?

By Steven MacMillan, July 27, 2017

Tensions between Russia and the US have reached a level not seen since the height of the Cold War, with some even arguing that we have surpassed this point by now. The US is continually provoking Russia, as the hawks in Washington cannot stand the fact that Moscow has stood up to the neocons in Syria.

Finally, if these sanctions could lead to a more dangerous situation then why impose them?

Just how effective are sanctions anyway?

The North Korean Endgame

Is North Korea still the problem it was a month ago?

Really?  Are they?

I mean I have heard little in the last couple of weeks….so was the whole situation settled?

Of course not…..it is just not as important as the fluff crap they are reporting today.  And then enter a another news report…..

China is ramping up its military presence on its 880-mile border with North Korea in case a nuclear, economic, or military crisis sends millions of North Koreans fleeing in search of greener pastures, according to government websites. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, that might not be all China is preparing for. China’s Defense Ministry hasn’t referred to North Korea as the reason for a new border defense brigade along with a 24-hour video surveillance system, unit upgrades, new shelters and command posts, and recent live-fire and special forces drills in border regions; but experts say China could be preparing to intervene should the US attempt to seize nuclear weapons from its ally on the Korean Peninsula. Some aren’t so sure China would be keen to take on the US and stress that recent enhancements at the border were first discussed last year.

However, “once you start talking about efforts from outside powers, in particular the United States and South Korea, to stabilize the North … you’re starting to look at a much more robust Chinese response,” argues a former US defense official for East Asia. “If you’re going to make me place bets on where I think the US and China would first get into a conflict … it’s the Korean Peninsula.” Others note China will want to prevent US influence there to retain its regional power. In a column in May, retired Maj. Gen. Wang Haiyun wrote China should not only intervene in a Korean conflict but demand no US occupation of North Korean territory, though he said he did not speak for the government. He made similar comments in an op-ed in the state-owned Global Times in March, CNN reports.

Since NK is still a thorn in the side of American foreign policy….how should we go about ending this docu-drama?

This is a piece that was carried on the site The Diplomat……

There is only one feasible choice for solving the issue: treat Pyongyang as a rational actor.

In 2016, North Korea conducted the most missile tests ever, a total of 24. Since the beginning of 2017, the regime in Pyongyang had only ratcheted up the number of tests, currently at 17, with the promise of reaching a new all-time high, and surpassing last year’s record. The last test, conducted symbolically on July 4, marked a new milestone by introducing Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with a range that could reach Alaska and potentially Seattle. It is now believed that North Korea will soon be able to develop and mount miniaturized nuclear warheads on its ICBMs and become an even greater threat to its neighbors, and the United States.

The urgency of the current developments, fast outpacing the expected timetable, has raised the stakes in Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, and Beijing, raising the demand for new policies targeting the military belligerence of the rogue state. As Washington considers its main policy options, it will have to consider both feasibility and the cost-benefit analysis of their potential outcomes.

Source: The North Korean Endgame | The Diplomat

There will be those that scoff at the ideas presented here….but they only know what they are told to know….very few thinking people will scoff.


The Huntsman And The Cossack

A great title for a spy movie…..and believe it or not that is what we have going on between the US and Russia….a bad spy movie.

But this is about something that Trump has done that I see as something positive….at least for now…..

He has nominated Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia…….Huntsman, a former Utah governor, was U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. He has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate Jon Huntsman, an envoy to China under former Democratic President Barack Obama, as U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.

The job, all the more high-profile because of allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

If confirmed, Huntsman, who has long been expected to be Trump’s pick for the job, will head to Moscow as the U.S. Congress and a special counsel investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump’s campaign had ties to Moscow.

Huntsman has lots of experience as a diplomat…..but my question is can Trump and Huntsman work for the common good….or will it be contentious from the start?

I do not look for Huntsman to be in place for long……especially as this investigation progresses…..

For now I give Trump 2 thumbs up for his choice as Ambassador to Russia….but will my confidence last?