What Is Up With Middle East Policy?

I was trained in the diplomacy and conflict management in college and I then went to work in the Middle East as an analyst….after living in the region for 6 years I have learned that there is always more to the policies than what we see, read or hear…..

First where are the troops stationed in the Middle East?

The US has between 60,000 and 70,000 troops in the Middle East, according to the US Central Command, and has announced plans to deploy thousands of additional troops to the region amid the heightened tensions.

This map shows where US soldiers are deployed in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as some of the major bases they are stationed at in the region.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/01/military-presence-middle-east-afghanistan-200113120612249.html

I understood Bush’s policies and that of Obama as well….neither was a policy that I thought would succeed….then Trump was elected and the policy became obfuscated and in coherent…..

Donald Trump’s decision to kill Qassim Suleimani, the most influential figure in Iran other than the Ayatollah Khamenei, will increase the terrorist threat to the United States and the global community. Suleimani’s death has already provoked widespread outrage in Iraq and Iran among the Shiia populations. Prior to the killing, Iraqi leaders were campaigning against Iran’s military presence in their country. Now, the Iraqi Parliament has called for the removal of the U.S. military presence. The decision has created more tactical and terrorist opportunities for the Islamic State as the United States has decided to cease operations against the Islamic State.

Trump’s decision has undermined fundamental U.S. decisions in every way, particularly the need to forestall terrorist threats; protect friends and allies; and prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Trump administration has enhanced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to improve relations with Iraq and Iran; caused controversy and even dissent within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; and further exposed the instability and ignorance of Trump’s national security team. Since the decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord, the European co-signers of that agreement along with Russia and China, have questioned the wisdom of Washington’s international actions.

The Incoherence of U.S. Policy in the Middle East

I see no continuity in our Middle East policy…..chaos and knee jerk decisions seem to be the rule of the day.

I fear that this approach will just make the region more dangerous and solve no problems.

Where did it all begin?

Well with World War One and the Sykes-Picot…..but beyond that where did the whirlwind we have today get its fuel?

In the long history of imperial folly and recklessness, nothing compares to U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf. Yes, the British shouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan in 1838, and, yes, JFK shouldn’t have backed the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963. If they had thought things through more carefully, one wouldn’t have lost an entire army in the retreat from Kabul while the other wouldn’t have stumbled into a dozen-year-long quagmire that would leave the US military depleted and demoralized – not to mention killing more than a million or more Vietnamese.

But those were momentary miscalculations compared to the slow-motion disaster in the gulf. For nearly half a century, every US president – liberal, conservative, or whatever – has pumped up a regional arms race that has set the stage for ever more destructive wars. The death and destruction have been incalculable. Yet not once throughout the long sorry saga have Americans paused for even a moment to consider where it was all going.

Who Created the Persian Gulf Tinderbox?

Where will it all end?

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

The Ghost Of Henry Cabot Lodge

Who?

US foreign policy nerds know the name…..a GOP senator from Massachusetts….over 100 years ago……but that is not the topic here regardless the title.

This is actually about the days after WW1 when Wilson offered up his 14 points to include the League of Nations…..

Summary of the Fourteen Points

  1. No more secret agreements between countries. Diplomacy shall be open to the world.
  2. International seas shall be free to navigate during peace and war.
  3. There shall be free trade between the countries who accept the peace.
  4. There shall be a worldwide reduction in weapons and armies by all countries.
  5. Colonial claims over land and regions will be fair.
  6. Russia will be allowed to determine its own form of government. All German troops will leave Russian soil.
  7. German troops will evacuate Belgium and Belgium will be an independent country.
  8. France will regain all territory including the disputed land of Alsace-Lorraine.
  9. The borders of Italy will be established such that all Italians will be within the country of Italy.
  10. Austria-Hungary will be allowed to continue to be an independent country.
  11. The Central Powers will evacuate Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania leaving them as independent countries.
  12. The Turkish people of the Ottoman Empire will have their own country. Other nationalities under the Ottoman rule will also have security.
  13. Poland shall be an independent country.
  14. A League of Nations will be formed that protects the independence of all countries no matter how big or small.

This is where Lodge enters the picture…..Republican Congressman from MassachusettsHenry Cabot Lodge led a battle against the treaty. Lodge believed both the treaty and the League undercut U.S. autonomy in international matters.

The idea of a League of Nations that could head off any chances of another world war…..Congress did not ratify the treaty, and the United States refused to take part in the League of Nations.

All that background leads to the guts of the post…..

The world that Pres. Wilson envisioned is coming to a close…..

Liberal internationalists insist that American engagement abroad be on liberal or Wilsonian terms. But the Wilsonian internationalist vision, especially in its post–Cold War iteration, contains some very serious flaws that helped lead to Donald Trump’s election in the first place.

The first U.S. liberal internationalist wave developed during and immediately after World War !. Woodrow Wilson’s vision was that U.S. entry into war against the Kaiser’s Germany would usher in a new world order characterized by global democratic government, economic interdependence, mutual disarmament, and collective security. This last feature, in particular, was to be secured through a new League of Nations, in which every member state would promise to protect the independence of every other state by force if necessary.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/end-wilsonian-century-78426

I guess I can be said to hold Wilsonian beliefs in international relations…..Americans have generally seen the principles and objectives proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War as having continued relevance for United States foreign policy. However, they have often differed over their application to specific situations, particularly because there is likely to be a tension between a drive to establish democratic values across the globe and commitment to a universal system of collective security. Rather than seeking a pure, abstract definition of ‘Wilsonianism’, it is more illuminating to examine its origins and evolution in relation to the development of American foreign policy over the years. Tracing this historical process reveals that Wilson committed himself to a postwar league of nations during the period of American neutrality, but it was only as the United States became a belligerent that the spread of democratic government became a policy objective, and then only in a partial and qualified way. A similar pattern has been discernible in subsequent decades. It has been during conflicts, or the run-up to them, that the more ideological and revisionist aspects of Wilsonian principles have come to the fore, whereas it has been in the aftermath of conflicts that there has been the greatest interest in the potentialities of a universal collective security organization. There has also been a broad shift of emphasis over time. As confidence in America’s power position has grown, the core of Wilson’s legacy has more often come to be seen as the promotion of democracy rather than the strengthening of international institutions. The persistence of both themes may be seen as reflecting basic and enduring elements of the policy-making context—on the one hand, the interests of the United States as a status quo power, and on the other, the demands of domestic American opinion.

I still firmly believe that world problems can be solved with diplomacy and mediation……wars should be the last resort not the first thought.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Wrote, You know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

No Room For Amateurs

I am a foreign policy wonk….I studied it in college………I worked for the country in the pursuit of foreign policy and I have been a writer on the subject for decades……so to say that I live and breath foreign policy/international relations/geopolitics would be an understatement….

I have been a fierce critic of our presidents actions for decades from Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama and now to Trump….but in all those years I have seen the track of our foreign policy, I did not always agree with their decisions but I could see their end game…..but this administration looks like a 3 Stooges episode……Lincoln had his Team of Rivals but Trump has a Team of Amateurs….especially when it comes to foreign policy….the clueless team is Mulvaney, Pompeo and Rudy…. we have a “Don” overseeing the actions……and dictate our policy.

The truth is I was surprised when Trump picked Tillerson as SecState…..

https://lobotero.com/2016/12/15/tea-for-the-tillerson/

Then he picked a even more clueless person to lead our diplomatic branch, Pompeo……https://lobotero.com/2018/03/14/my-opinion-us-state-secretarys-rex-tillersons-replacement-is-the-presidents-toady/

I have watched our foreign policy be reduced to a pale, very pale reflection of what it use to be….all thanx to Trump and his Team of Amateurs……

US foreign policy is increasingly hostage to a mind that is, as NPR’s Car Talk guys used to say, “unencumbered by the thought process.” That’s embarrassing, but it could also be lethal. If we’re not going to use nuclear weapons, Trump once argued, “then why are we making them?”

Set aside the delegation of Ukraine relations to liegeman Rudi Giuliani and campaign contributor Gordon Sondland, and ignore for a moment whatever caprice inspired last week’s abandonment of Syria’s Kurds. There’s already something amiss when, at any G-20 summit, the most powerful person in the world is also the most ignorant person in the room, an inversion of competence and power that you don’t tend to see in corporate boardrooms or in other organizations that wield significant public influence

There’s a reason society requires the credentialing of people who make highly consequential decisions — lawyers through bar exams, doctors through board certifications and state licensing procedures. It’s the same reason airlines don’t put untrained pilots in the cockpit and pray that they’re quick learners; pilots pass rigorous tests of competence long before they start moving passengers. And yet the most critical job on earth has no test for measuring what other professions call “job knowledge.”

Diplomacy for Dummies: Foreign Policy Is No Place for Amateurs

These same amateurs are helping the US to lose our war on tyranny…..

The dominance of the public debate by these two camps advocating a diminished international role for the U.S. is easily observed by our nemeses, who take great heart at the silence of some, departure from office of others, and tired repetitiveness of yet more of those who advocate a more muscular foreign policy. Absent the U.S., no great power stands in their way, and the regional allies which could have reinforced American power are left hunkering down in defensive postures.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-us-is-losing-the-war-against-tyranny

All this does not bode well for our foreign policy in the coming years and decades……the damage being done could possible be permanent….why?

The State Department’s civilian workforce shrank more than 6 percent overall during the initial eight months of the Trump administration, but that figure masks significantly higher departure rates in critical areas of the country’s diplomatic apparatus.

In December 2016, the department employed 2,580 people under the foreign affairs occupation series, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management. By September 2017, the most recent data available, that number fell to 2,273, a decrease of roughly 11.9 percent.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/02/tillerson-trump-state-foreign-service/553034/

That expertise will be missed when we return to a ‘normal’ state department activity until then we are in the clutches of inmates ruling the asylum…..

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

North Korea–The In And Out Meeting

Just recently the US and North Korea announced they would hold nuclear meetings after a long lull…

The talks were started after North Korea had another successful missile launch…this time from a sub off shore…

North Korea has confirmed that its latest missile launch involved a new kind of ballistic missile—and it’s one that has other countries very worried. Pyongyang says the missile launched early Wednesday was a Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which state news agency KCNA said “ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat” to the country, reports Reuters. Analysts say that the missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, was probably fired not from a submarine but from a barge built for an underwater launch, the AP reports. The final stage of testing for the medium-range missile will be a launch from a submarine, says Kyungnam University expert Kim Dong-yub.

Kim estimates that the missile, which was launched in vertical mode and flew 280 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, could have flown up to 1,240 miles if launched on a standard trajectory. Analysts say the launch demonstrates that the country can now launch missiles far from its own territory—and missiles launched from submarines are harder to detect.

Was it coincidence that the missile incident took place just days before the talks were to begin?

My thought is,,,NO WAY!

So North Korea comes to the negotiation table with a new feather in their hat…

On to Sweden and the talks (comment here…as I was writing this post the talks began and ended)…..

American and North Korean officials met Saturday in Sweden to resume talks—and walked away only hours later, Reuters reports. “The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke off,” said Pyongyang’s top negotiator, Kim Myong Gil. “The US raised expectations by offering suggestions like a flexible approach, new method and creative solutions, but they have disappointed us greatly and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiation by bringing nothing to the negotiation table.” The US team gave no immediate comment, and its leader—US Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun—apparently went back to the US Embassy in Stockholm.

Many analysts expressed hope the new working-level nuclear talks would lead to a third summit, per the BBC. The first, in Singapore in 2018, led to a hazy denuclearization agreement, while the second, in Vietnam in February, prompted President Trump to walk out. The latest attempt follows a Thursday report that North Korea had fired yet another ballistic missile. Its eleventh in 2019, this one was launched from a platform at sea and is capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. Observers said the launch looked like an attempt to pressure Washington before the Sweden talks

This meeting sounds more like a pay back for the short Hanoi meeting with Kim just a few months ago.

How about you?

But do not worry according to the American people this meeting went well…..

North Korea said the meeting had broken down, because the US brought “nothing to the negotiation table”.

Officials from the two countries met in Sweden on Saturday, in the hope of breaking their stalemate.

This came just days after North Korea tested a new missile, in a significant advance on earlier tests.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49947836

Seriously?  Dom we believe a group that his proven to lie whenever the mood comes over them….well you may believe…I think they are trying to make sirloin out of bullshit.

I Read, I Wrote You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

United Nations For The 21st Century

This week has been the annual meetings of the world leaders at the General Assembly….and as usual was full of drama and theatrics.

I admit it…I am not as gung-ho as I use to be about the United Nations (UN)……what started off as a great idea and the elimination of the necessity for war has become a joke among international analysts (me included).

I have tried to explain the reason why the UN seems ineffectual…..https://lobotero.com/2015/06/30/why-hate-the-united-nations-un/

I read a lot of papers trying to keep up to date since I left the international relations field…..and this one is a paper about the limitations and capabilities of the UN in conflict management……

A plethora of contemporary challenges have exposed the UN to criticism in its ability to evolve with changes in geopolitics, most notably the organization’s responsive rather than reactive approach to confronting international crises and the rise in nations disinterested in international consensus building. “The protection of civilians, the threat of violent extremism… and the dilemmas of state building” have presented obstacles that have forced both the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UNSC to reevaluate their ability to comprehensively address today’s global challenges.[8] However, the primary obstacle threatening the capacity of the UN remains “how to deal with conflicts – be they between or within states – without offending the national sovereignty of its member states”.[9] Additionally, the UNSC remains controversial for its lack of global representation amongst the P-5 members with the ability to veto vital resolutions brought before the body. Given that the organization “remains largely unchanged since its founding in 1946”, debate regarding “its efficacy and authority as a mediator on matters of international security” is ongoing and increasingly prevalent in light of presently deteriorating modern conflicts.[10] With the determination of the P-5 having been structured in the aftermath of World War II, critics note that the current authority of the body disproportionately favors the positions of the permanent members, thus hindering the UNSC’s ability to distance itself from the sovereign interests of states when attempting to combat international security risks. Respective geopolitical aims of hegemons are evident in the present stalemate in the UNSC between Russia and the United States, with the veto power granted to permanent members constraining “the Council from engaging in the resolution of civil wars within their borders and in areas of perceived vital interest”.[11] Evidently, there is a disconnect between present threats to international security and the capacity for entities such as the UNSC to effectively mediate and mitigate conflict. The archaic structure of the UN and its entities makes it unable to address transitions in conflict that have complicated the need for resolution vis-à-vis mediation between nation states.

The Limitations and Capabilities of the United Nations in Modern Conflict

I think there is a place for the UN in the management and resolutions of conflict but to do so there would need to be a change…..for one get rid of the permanent members of the Security Council…those members have done NOTHING to make the world a safer place.

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Why Not Compete With Iran?

By now every Tom, Dick and Harriet knows about the mash up between the US and Iran with the Saudis on the side line throwing gas on the fire…..but instead of trying to destroy the country why not try to compete with them on the world stage?

US has imposed more sanctions on Iran and its leadership…..which is a tool for diplomacy but not for the Trump presidency……they have little to no plans……

For the Trump administration, and much of America’s Republican Party elite, the Obama administration’s nuclear deal was a step too far. Elements of the inspection regime expired prematurely, they argued, and the deal undercut a key pillar of Washington’s longstanding effort to topple the Iranian government through economic warfare. However, neither the Trump administration nor those that support the current U.S. policy in the Middle East have put forward a workable policy to address Iranian behavior. Instead, as Nicholas Miller wrote on Twitter, the Trump administration’s policies are “dangerously escalatory” and, importantly, have ceded diplomatic and coercive leverage to Iran. The result has been to push the United States into a position where it has to contemplate air strikes, a choice neither Trump nor the Democratic opposition is enthusiastic about, or just do more of the same and apply more sanctions.

Washington has no plan to translate sanctions against Iran into diplomatic success. The result is a policy of escalation that, counterintuitively, creates conditions that favor Iran’s policy of conflict-by-client to manage escalation and damage American relationships with its Gulf Arab partners. For this reason, it is important that Washington change course, seize the diplomatic initiative, and work alongside its European allies to explore ways to augment the nuclear deal — which remains operative despite the U.S. withdrawal. The United States could further defuse regional tensions by pushing for an end to the war in Yemen and initiating a high-level conversation with Iran about regional security.

Compete with Iran Without Trying to Destroy it

Something needs to change for the status quo in the Middle East is unsustainable……

At this point, it should be clear that the regional status quo is simply not sustainable. Iran’s “strategic patience” over economic sanctions following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, aimed at giving Europe the chance to provide Iran with the promised economic dividends of that pact, has not borne fruit. Europe has been unable to provide sufficient sanctions relief after more than a year of trying. Iran now sees its position deteriorating, with little diplomatic progress and a weakening economy – and it is not prepared to allow this to happen quietly.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/18/iran-saudi-attack-nuclear-deal-us

For 30 years the Middle East has been close to settling old hatreds and then someone somewhere has to re-light the fuse and conflict boils over again.

If Western ideals are superior to all others then why do we need to force them on others by military might?

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

That Damn “Libya Model”

This term is getting a workout from dear president Trump…it is one of the insults he has used to explain why Bolton had to resign…..He slammed a mistake Bolton made early in his tenure at the White House when he discussed a “Libyan model” in the context of North Korea — which that country took as a sign that its leadership could meet the fate of former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. 

He is conflating two events a  2003 decision  and the civil war that killed Qaddafi……

Let me offer a free lesson in international relations for our dear president…..

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003, Libya’s leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi feared he might be next. On Dec. 19, 2003, Gadhafi announced he intended to rid Libya of its weapons of mass destruction.

Within a few months, Libya handed over vast amounts of equipment, documents and centrifuges — all of which were flown out of the country, mostly to Oak Ridge, Tenn. Gadhafi allowed international inspectors into Libya, and, in about two years, they certified that Libya’s nuclear weapons program was no more. Full destruction of Libya’s chemical weapons program was due to be completed by 2016.

This event might have had a round about consequence in the civil war and eventual death of Qaddafi…but that would take a whole bunch of research.

Fast forward to 2011, when the Arab Spring uprisings roiled the Middle East. Riots broke out across the country, including in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. On March 19 of that year, the U.S. and its European allies – the very powers Gadhafi sought to cultivate by foreswearing nukes – launched a seven-month bombing campaign — ostensibly to stop attacks on civilians but in reality to topple his regime. On Oct. 20, 2011, Gadhafi was found hiding in a drainage ditch in Sirte after rebels overran the coastal city. He was beaten senseless by a crowd and shot dead.

And that was what was meant when Bolton mentioned the ‘Libya Model’…..

Only some amateur would conflate the two situations….and a bigger idiot that would do so in the press where he can be fact checked and proven to be uninformed on international issues.

Now Mr. President you may return to your normal daily consumption of shitty news and Tweeting all about it.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”