Where Will The Failure Be?

The Middle East has been the graveyard of American presidents…..pick a president and they failed in the Middle East…..and believe it or not Donald Trump will be NO different…..

The Middle East has a century old tradition of being the political graveyard of American and British political leaders. The list of casualties is long: Lloyd George, Anthony Eden, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair and George W Bush. All saw their careers ended or their authority crippled by failure in the region.

Will the same thing happen to Donald Trump as he struggles with the consequences of the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi? I always suspected that Trump might come unstuck because of his exaggerated reliance on a weak state like Saudi Arabia rather than because of his supposed links to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Contrary to the PR company boosterism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and his ambitious projects, Saudi Arabia has oil and money, but is demonstrably ineffective as an independent operator.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/23/the-middle-east-not-russia-will-prove-trumps-downfall/

I have watched the Russia thing as being the downfall of this president….I do not see it….Russia will always be there….the Middle East will be Trump’s Waterloo……

The problem is that those people that Trump thinks is the Middle East, the authoritarians, and to ignore the events taking place will be the final downfall…..

Two perfect storms have struck the Arab world in the past decade. In 2011, in what was at first optimistically called “the Arab Spring,” popular uprisings unseated autocrats across the region. Hopes ran high that these peaceful protest movements would usher in a new era of democracy in the Middle East. But except in Tunisia, they ended in turmoil or deadly civil wars. Then, in 2014, the region’s leaders were dealt another blow when the price of oil plummeted, threatening the basic model of governance on which their power rested. Low oil prices since have made it difficult for regimes to fund bloated budgets, buy off elites, and hold up long-postponed reforms. This is not a temporary aberration: it is unlikely that the price of oil will ever again rise to its pre-2014 levels.

On the surface, many Arab states appear to have weathered these two storms—however shakily. But there is more turbulence ahead. The shocks of 2011 and 2014 were just the first symptoms of a deeper transformation under way in the region: the fundamental bargain underpinning stability in Middle Eastern states is coming undone, and unless regional leaders move quickly to strike new bargains with their citizens, even larger storms will come.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2018-10-15/next-arab-uprising

He and his team have been promising their Middle East peace plan and for nearly 2 years we have NO idea what it is….but take their word for it will be a good deal.

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Iran: Here We Go Again

Voting has ended and we await the result…….The midterms were all consuming for the media…there were events on the international stage that flew under the MSM radar……

1979–Iranian rebels storm and occupy the American embassy in Tehran……and began 40 years of diplomatic bullsh*t….under Obama there was a deal struck by what is called the P5+1 that would limit and end Iranian search for nukes……but then we elected a “deal maker” and nothing is good enough…..

The Trump administration on Friday announced the reimposition of all US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal. The sanctions will take effect Monday and cover Iran’s shipping, financial, and energy sectors, the AP reports. It’s the second batch of penalties the administration has reimposed since President Trump withdrew from the landmark deal in May. With limited exceptions, the sanctions will penalize countries that don’t stop importing Iranian oil and foreign companies that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including Iran’s central bank, a number of private financial institutions, and state-run port and shipping companies. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who released a list of 12 demands Iran must meet if it wants the sanctions lifted, said they’re “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The sanctions include ending support for terrorism, ending military engagement in Syria, and completely halting its nuclear and ballistic missile development. “Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,” Pompeo said. Pompeo said eight nations, which other officials identified as US allies such as Italy, India, Japan, and South Korea, will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products for a limited period as long as they end such imports entirely. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said 700 more Iranian companies and people would be added to the sanctions lists under the reimposed sanctions. Pompeo and Mnuchin both said the sanctions will have exceptions for humanitarian purchases. (Hawks in Congress want to get tougher on Iran.)

Yep under Trump we have gone back in time to the days of protests and hard feelings toward the US by Iranians…..

What’s new? A 40-year analysis of Iran’s economic performance and regional policy reveals little to no correlation between the two, as Tehran has continued to pursue policies it deems central to its national security no matter its degree of economic wellbeing at home.

Why does it matter? The Trump administration hopes that sanctions will force Iran to curb its regional activities. But data shows that outcome is uncertain as changes in Iran’s wealth have had little impact on the direction or capabilities of its regional policy. Sanctions risk empowering harder-line officials in the Islamic Republic and prompting them to lash out, exacerbating regional tensions.

What should be done? The U.S. optimally should leverage its sanctions to de-escalate regional tensions. That requires acknowledging Iran’s legitimate security concerns as long as Iran acknowledges those of its regional rivals. However unlikely at this time, the U.S., Iran and Gulf Arab states should take steps to build a more stable regional security architecture.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/b64-illogic-us-sanctions-snapback-iran

There are many setbacks that these sanctions could aggravate….

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/regional-risks-rising-us-iran-rivalry

https://www.globalresearch.ca/new-iran-sanctions-risk-long-term-us-isolation/5658745

Pompeo has stated that these sanctions will not hurt the Iranian people….

As the Trump Administration reimposes all nuclear sanctions on Iran beginning Monday, there is a substantial difference between the narrative of “toughest ever” sanctions and the reality that most of the world has no intention of complying with US demands this time.

This has Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to argue that Iran knows how decisive these sanctions are, and further emphasizing that some countries need “a little bit more time” to stop buying Iranian oil.

Pompeo is also trying to defend the humanitarian issues of these sanctions, saying that they will not hurt the ordinary Iranian. This is clearly untrue, as the sanctions are hurting aid groups importing medicine, and forcing the public to be increasingly dependent on the Iranian government, the only group with the size, and money, to weather the immediate attempts to halt banking contacts.

This is a typical Neocon LIE!  Sanctions always hurt the people of the sanctioned country.

As the reader can see there are few that see any upside to re-imposing of crippling sanctions…….there is NO upside……

The next round of economic sanctions on Iran, which will start going into effect on Nov.4, will mainly target the country’s oil and gas industries. These sanctions were eased after the 2015 signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, but are being phased back in following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord six months ago.

Trump’s goal in reinstituting the sanctions is to kill the nuclear deal, to bring Iran’s economy to the point of total collapse, to contain Iran’s regional involvement in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and, in spite of Washington’s denials, presumably to celebrate the collapse of Iran’s ruling regime. The White House’s official position is that, by increasing economic and political pressure, it aims to bring Iran back to the negotiating table in order to replace the JCPOA with a new deal that bears Trump’s name.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mousavian-iran-commentary/commentary-five-reasons-why-trumps-iran-sanctions-will-fail-idUSKCN1N42QY

AS I have written there are few that see any upside to these sanctions…..and some even think that it will bite the US in the ass in the long run…..

Me?  I cannot say for certain….it does not look good…..

Treaties That Ended The Cold War

In the late 1980’s the US and the USSR made several treaties to limit weapons of mass destruction……and 30+ years later those treaties are falling apart….

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was probably the Alliance’s most important and secretive institution during the Cold War. Notably, it worked out NATO members’ joint strategy and tactics for using non-strategic nuclear weapons in a possible all-European war with the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Such a confrontation seemed all too possible—and sometimes almost inevitable—during acute crisis situations that brought the Cold War opponents to the brink in 1949, 1956, 1962, 1973 and 1983. In the last of the aforementioned crises, tensions spiked as the United States deployed nuclear-tipped land-based cruise missiles as well as medium-range Pershing II ballistic missiles on the territory of several European NATO allies to counter the threat of the deployment of hundreds of Soviet SS-20 nuclear intermediary missiles known in Russia as Pioneer. The Soviets produced over 800 Pioneer missiles, and each carried a heavier payload than the Pershing IIs; but their U.S. counterparts were stealthier and much more accurate.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/10/agreements_that_ended_the_cold_war_are_disintegrating_113882.html

The INF Treaty, what is it?

https://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/102360.htm

One of the main treaties from those days was the INF Treaty…..Trump with the urging of Bolton is thinking about withdrawing from this treaty….

Years of US allegations that Russia is violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) may be coming to a head, with John Bolton reportedly pushing hard for President Trump to withdraw outright from the pact.

Instead of negotiating over the questions, Bolton wants the US to just withdraw outright, despite that being a major escalation on tensions with Russia. State Department and Pentagon officials are both opposed to this.

The administration was to have talks on Monday to discuss Bolton’s idea, but this has been postponed, at least for now. Still, Congress is also pushing for action on Russia, as part of general hostility toward Russia.

(antiwar.com)

Trump has made it official and pulled out of the treaty……

President Donald Trump said Saturday he will pull the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement. The 1987 pact, which helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. “Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada, per the AP. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.” The agreement has constrained the US from developing new weapons, but America will begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons, Trump said.

“We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” he said. National Security Adviser John Bolton was headed Saturday to Moscow to meet with senior Russian officials at a time when Moscow-Washington relations remain frosty over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and upcoming US midterm elections. US officials have previously alleged that Russia violated the treaty by deliberately deploying a land-based cruise missile in order to pose a threat to NATO.

Yet another international treaty the Trump thinks he can throw away….And of course Russia will have something to say…..

A day after President Trump announced his intention to scrap a landmark arms control deal with Russia, the Kremlin called the pullout “a very dangerous step.” Trump is sending national security adviser John Bolton to Moscow to meet with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and was to relay Trump’s decision. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as telling state news agency Tass on Sunday that a US withdrawal “will cause the most serious condemnation from all members of the international community who are committed to security and stability.” The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty bars the US and Russia from possessing, producing, or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles, reports the AP.

Britain said it stood “absolutely resolute” with the US, while Germany called Trump’s move “regrettable.” Heiko Maas said Sunday that the three-decades-old treaty is “an important pillar of our European security architecture.” Maas says Germany has repeatedly urged Moscow to “clear up the serious allegations of breaching the INF treaty, which Russia has so far not done.” He says Germany is urging Washington to “consider the possible consequences” of its decision, including for a US-Russian nuclear disarmament treaty beyond 2021. But Britain’s defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, blamed Russia for making a “mockery” of the pact and called on the Kremlin to “get its house in order.” Independent Russian political analyst, Dmitry Oreshkin said, “We are slowly slipping back to the situation of cold war as it was at the end of the Soviet Union, but now it could be worse because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin belongs to a generation that had no war under its belt.”

Once again Our Dear Supreme Leader has taken it upon himself to make the world a little less safe…..nukes unregulated not a very promising situation.

The INF In The Rear View Mirror

As we slowly remove ourselves from the international treaties of our past….and the newest one is the INF Treaty…..a nuke and missile treaty from the 1980s….

Personally I think it is stupid to pull out yet another nuke treaty……but do not take my word for  it…..

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was cast in contractual logic: the U.S.-Russian agreement prohibits land-based short-and-intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, both nuclear and conventional, which are difficult to track and make unintentional nuclear war more likely. Washington, with support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, alleges that Moscow has breached that ban, and, as Trump put it , “we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

If Russia has violated the deal, why should America maintain it? While there is a good reason to think National Security Advisor John Bolton would want out of the INF Treaty regardless of Russian compliance—he has argued as much in the past—the basic logic of leaving an already broken treaty seems straightforward. Nevertheless, there are three strategic reasons to proceed with extreme caution.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/three-reasons-not-leave-inf-treaty-34287

His, Trump’s, withdrawal should not be the end of arms control as we know it…..

Even before President Trump reversed his position and announced (at a campaign rally for Republican congressional candidates in Nevada, no less) that he was pulling the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement (INF), the era of significant nuclear arms control agreements between the United States and Russia was in danger of ending. Such a development must be forestalled at all costs, because arms control efforts have over the last 50 years shown themselves to be remarkably effective.

From the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, to the 2011 New START Agreement, which limited the two countries to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons on no more than 700 deployed delivery vehicles, the two major nuclear powers have concluded dozens of bilateral agreements and supported several multilateral arms pacts.

https://thebulletin.org/2018/10/why-it-could-but-shouldnt-be-the-end-of-the-arms-control-era/

Hopefully Trump  will come to his senses about nukes and arms control…..but truthfully I am not holding my breath….are you?

Did You Know North Korea Was Still There?

As usual the situation with North Korea is not very newsworthy these days….we have a SCOTUS duel, a op-ed that has the Dear Leader batcrap pissed and then there is the probes this and the probes that….and in all the drama the situation with North Korea soldiers on……

Since the MSM wants to sweep most of it under the rug (would that be a Persian rug?  Persia?  Ain’t that Iran?)…….

It seems that Kim wants a declaration of peace for the Korean Peninsula and Trump’s boyz are waffling……

White House and State Department officials are reiterating that they have no current interest in making a deal with North Korea that would involve a peace declaration ending the Korean War.

The State Department said on Wednesday that the US position is that “denuclearization has to take place before we get to other parts.” The administration has repeatedly said they believe Korean denuclearization will take years, and that they want “progress” before the 2020 election.

The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later, there has never been a formal peace treaty ending the conflict. North Korea has been seeking a peace treaty for decades, with the US always resisting such a deal.

(antiwar.com)

Another summit is coming to a screen near you……mind you what Barry Goldwater said about a “summit”…..”only summit meeting that can succeed is the one that never takes place”…..could that be accurate in this case?

South Korean officials announced on Thursday that a deal has been reached to hold a summit in Pyongyang from September 18-20. The summit is to focus on “practical measures” which could be taken for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong told reporters that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has “reconfirmed his determination to completely denuclearize,” and that he continues to have faith in President Trump.

The commitment to denuclearize is a major announcement, as US officials have been increasingly dubious about that, and complaining about the lack of quick progress. North Korean officials say Kim is frustrated by the doubts expressed in the international community about his will to preemptively denuclearize. He told Chung that he feels the good faith moves made by North Korea should be reciprocated.

(antiwar.com)

The trade war that Our Dear Leader has started with China has consequences……many have said the China has been a big help getting NK to the negotiating table….but for how much longer?

While the US has been pushing for diplomatic progress with North Korea to be met with even more restrict sanctions and restrictions, other countries have called for the UN to ease them. The US has blocked that, so far, but it isn’t stopping nations like China unilaterally easing limits on trade.

China has long been North Korea’s main trading partner, and while that trade ground to a halt earlier this year, a lot of it shows signs of picking up. Reports have China reopening coal trade, restarting frozen construction projects, and again allowing tourists into Pyongyang.

Analysts are suggesting that this “undercuts” US calls to keep escalating sanctions on North Korea, though there is also a case to be made that China is trying to ensure that it retains a major seat at the table if North Korea suddenly becomes an opened market with a lot of trade business.

(antiwar.com)

How much longer will China assist the process with this trade war looming large?

As one can see here is more going on on the Korean Peninsula than we are being told…..

A closing thought–President Trump tweeted to thank North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for his “unwavering faith,” promising that the two leaders would “get it done together.” This came after Wednesday’s reports that Kim, despite frustration at the diplomatic process, remains confident in Trump’s ability to progress things personally.

 

Teach Me How To Do The Job

I have worked in the foreign service and I have taught about foreign policy and international relations/conflict management……recently a young man asked me if I could help him prepare to take the Foreign Service Exam (FSOT)….I agreed to do so.

First thing I needed to do is let the young man know that the exam has many parts…written, oral, medical, security clearance and if at first he does not succeed he may take the test again.

To be employed in foreign service you will have to understand….geography, economics, political science…..the candidate will go before the QEP, Qualifications Evaluations Panel…..such skills will be needed such as…..communication skills, management skills, intellectual skills, an understanding of US history/government/culture.

I try to emphasize that the tests are not for the faint at heart….to pass these tests it will take hard work/hard study……but if and when one makes it through the process then the whole world opens up to them.

The study of international relations is a subject that has many aspects……I studied the political history of the Middle East but I could have studied many other subjects….a short intro to international relations…..

The jobs that you can expect to be offered….(below)…..

A career in international relations can be very rewarding and fascinating work…..foreign service is just one of the careers that are open to grads in international relations.

My advice was to get an advanced degree and then decide which field is to one’s liking……then decide if foreign service is to their liking….it is not for everyone.

I told the young man to let me know if I can be of any help in their pursuit of the degree and to keep his head up and an eye to the news.

The Western Balkans

These days the Balkans are not in the news as they once were….for back in the days of Pres, Clinton there were several wars raging in the region and of course the US was ass deep in the action.

These wars came about after the fall of Yugoslavia and it breaks into separate nations……but why all the hostilities?

 

If you are a bit too young to remember those days…I have a short video that may help……

And because of these “hatreds” war broke out all among the nations that use to be known as Yugoslavia….

Now that I have refreshed everyone’s memory I will continue with why I bring all this up….

Why has America overlooked the geopolitical opportunities made possible by forging a stronger relationship with the Western Balkans?

In part, America’s renewed interest reflects a wish that Balkans wars remain a thing of the past. Equally important, the United States hopes the Balkans’ future will be as a net contributor to peace and prosperity in the transatlantic community.

Complaints that the United States is disengaging from Europe and indifferent to the fate of the region are just plain wrong headed. On the other hand, Washington could do much more than wishful thinking to transform the Western Balkans from backwater to a bedrock of progress.

The United States should be leading to redefine “balkanization.” Instead of representing fragmentation and division, the region ought to stand as example of integration and affluence.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-build-better-balkans-27847

Our Dear Leader is the “Art of the Deal” president…..and because of his thrills of deals is harming the relations in the Balkans….

European officials are concerned the Trump administration’s hands-off approach to diplomacy could risk destabilizing a tinderbox region in Southeast Europe.

Europe’s major capitals — and until recently, Washington — have long opposed any proposal that toys with borders in the Western Balkans, fearing that such moves would disrupt the region’s delicate balance. But, under President Donald Trump, the US appears to have adopted a more ambivalent approach.

Europeans’ latest fears for the region center on Kosovo — which in 2008 unilaterally declared independence from Serbia — and the growing prospect of an agreement to redraw the border between the two countries.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/serbia-kosovo-trump

I feel that all this “deal crap” shows the world that a business man may not be the best person to run a country….a company is not a country….maybe now the GOP will shut the Hell up about a successful businessman as a candidate.