Closing Thought–28Oct20

Today in history….the natives around New Orleans in 1768 revolt against the Spanish governor of the territory……

The Insurrection of 1768 constituted a rebellion against colonial Louisiana’s first Spanish governor, Antonio de Ulloa, and a temporary victory for New Orleans’s elite French Creoles. The revolt occurred after the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War (1754–1763) and divided the territories of French colonial Louisiana between Spain and England. Events surrounding the insurrection revealed long-standing problems with the colonial government of French Louisiana and the initial weaknesses of Spain’s occupation policy. Spanish forces would ultimately resolve the conflict in 1769 and control Louisiana west of the Mississippi River for the remainder of the century.

Insurrection of 1768

Now with the history lesson complete…..I shall move on to the meat of this post…..

While the US remains tied down by its many many endless wars….other nations are trying to extricate themselves from the scenario that the US keeps living with…..

I read an article recently that Britain is confirming that it will withdraw from the military missions of the EU…..as reported by Reuters…..

Britain has formally notified the European Union of its intention to withdraw from the bloc’s military missions by the end of this year, EU officials told envoys on Wednesday, diplomats said.

As one of Europe’s biggest military powers, Britain is central to European security efforts but EU and British negotiators agreed in March 2018 that Britain could not continue to lead or take part in EU missions when London leaves the EU.

Spain and Italy have agreed to take a larger role in many of the EU’s 17 peacekeeping and training operations around the world.

Who will step up to fill the void left by Great Britain when they finally depart from the EU?

Any Thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

P.S.  We will be boarding up and getting everything ready for the storm name Zeta to arrive.  Hopefully I will be back tomorrow but Zeta may have a different idea.  Scary that Zeta looks like it will become a Cat 2 storm…now that is some dangerous stuff.

I will try to post from my cel phone…..as much as I can.

But we will persevere!

See you soon.

What Do Americans Want In Foreign Policy?

We have had our last debate for the 2020 presidential candidates…..it was pretty typical fare….lots of bullshit few specifics…..

There was little said about any of our foreign polices or our endless wars…..and I blame the moderator who was just playing the hand dealt to her by the owners of the news, the M-IC.

You would think that since Trump is getting some pretty positive feedback on his announcement of troop withdrawals that he would have found a way to insert that into his presentation….unless of course all his BS is just that BS….

We Americans deserve a debate where foreign policy is the only subject covered……

Foreign policy issues have barely made an appearance during the 2020 presidential campaign. The first presidential debate on Sept. 29 was wholly unsatisfying. While the 90-minute vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was a bit more civilized, the discussion was so general and superficial as to be virtually meaningless. Short of bumper-sticker phrases that are designed to win the news cycle, the American people have been left to wonder how a President Trump or President Biden would manage relations with some of Washington’s most significant adversaries; the circumstances with which each would use U.S. military force; which conflicts they believe are important enough to warrant U.S. involvement; and what specific concepts will help guide their decision-making. The last presidential debate offers both candidates the opportunity to provide the country with the foreign-policy conversation it deserves.

After two consecutive decades of U.S. overreach that has taken U.S. troops into countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, and Niger—all on the backs of a tired, 19 year-old authorization for the use of military force—Americans are increasingly searching for leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue who understand that a course correction is desperately overdue. Recent public opinion surveys portray an American population disillusioned with what can only be described as a whole-of-government fixation on a violent and dysfunctional Middle East—a region whose strategic value to the United States is dwindling. More than $6 trillion and the sacrifice of tens of thousands of U.S. casualties over 19 years have bought the United States little security benefit. The list of opportunity costs, however, have continued to grow. It is not a coincidence that China’s hard power, diplomatic influence, and wealth have improved while Washington was stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan taming multiple insurgencies.

https://www.realclearworld.com/2020/10/22/americans_deserve_a_debate_on_foreign_policy_581565.html

It looks like no matter which old fart wins the wars status quo will remain….

Forever-war advocates rest on the logic that because it is theoretically possible a negative outcome might result if we end unsuccessful wars, it is safer to continue supporting them; that the lowest cost is to maintain the status quo. When the actual conditions of each deployment are examined, however, it becomes quickly evident the significant costs we are enduring, right now, are inappropriate and unsustainable.

https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2020/10/23/risk-to-america-of-maintaining-forever-war-status-quo-dangerously-high/

My thought is since that we spend so much money on our endless wars then maybe we should hear what the candidates think and what they have planned…….and I am not alone…..

 a YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute and completed in the summer of 2020 found that 74 percent of Americans wanted to withdraw our troops from Iraq and 76 percent wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The numbers from veteransthose who have done the fighting and dying over the past two decadeswas just as stark: 73 percent favored ending the war.

The trends are clear. Americans across the spectrum recognize with increasing clarity that the militaristic foreign policy of the past two decades has failed. More diplomacy, not militancy, is what the people want. Their rationale is as simple as it is reasonable: the people are tired of failure and are eager to try a new path that has a greater chance of success.

We are spending trillions (yes that is trillion with a “T”) I think that the candidates could spare 90 minutes to explain themselves and their foreign policies.

But sadly Biden’s foreign policy track record is not at all something I would wnat to continue…..

With some 44 years of collective government service as a U.S. senator and vice president, Joe Biden has amassed a substantial foreign and national security record. An examination of some of his key votes as senator and performance as vice president does not provide a ringing endorsement for his presidential candidacy. Instead, it raises serious questions about whether his votes and decisions detrimentally affected the U.S. economy, U.S. national security, and international peace and security.

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/522480-is-america-ready-to-return-to-the-obama-biden-foreign-policy

What I see is more the same endless wars and the conflicts that go unreported…..but at least Trump will be gone right?

Any thoughts?

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“You WILL Withdraw!”

Countries are taking the initiative and signing a new ban on nuclear weapons….50 nations have signed this treaty…..and to say that the US is pissed would be an understatement.

A treaty aimed at destroying all nuclear weapons and forever prohibiting their use has hit an important benchmark, with Honduras becoming the 50th country to ratify the accord — the minimum needed for it to enter into force as international law.

The United Nations announced late Saturday that the ratification threshold had been achieved, a little more than three years after the treaty was completed in negotiations at the organization’s New York headquarters. Secretary-General António Guterre…

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/international/world-news-politics/fifty-nations-ratify-nuclear-weapons-prohibition-treaty-allowing-enforcement-as-international-law-906959.html
Of course countries like Russia, China, US et al have not bothered to sign onto the treaty…..as a matter of fact the US in its arrogance has demanded that nations withdraw from the treaty….

The US is urging countries that have ratified a UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons to withdraw their support for the pact. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is approaching ratifications from 50 countries, which is needed to bring the treaty into force.

The TPNW requires all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The TPNW also bans the transfer or use of nuclear weapons and requires its participants to promote the treaty to other countries.

The Associated Press obtained the US letter to the signatories of the treaty. The letter says Washington’s NATO allies and the five original nuclear powers, the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK, all “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the TPNW.

The letter says the TPNW “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament” and says it threatens the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT was created to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the original five powers in exchange for those powers to reduce their arsenals.

“Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession,” the letter reads.

The Associated Press spoke with Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, about Washington’s letter. Fihn dismissed the claim in the letter that the TPNW would interfere with the decades-old NPT as “straightforward lies, to be frank.”

“They have no actual argument to back that up,” Fihn said. “The Nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

(antiwar.com)

No argument other than “Do as we say”!

What gives the US the right to interfere in the policies of sovereign nations?  We are starting to look and sound like annexation of the Israeli policies.

Our arrogance knows no bounds these days.

Will the US resort to ‘blackmail” to kill this treaty…the same type of “blackmail” they used on Sudan to force them into a treaty with Israel?

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“lego ergo scribo”

News From Libya

It all began in 2011 when NATO decided to intervene in the civil unrest in Libya…..and ever since the death of Gaddafi the nation has been torn by civil war and destruction.

There have been many attempts to bring all sides together and all have failed miserably….even when one of the war lords is an CIA asset.

All this is looking like another war with no end and Europe is considering an intervention (again)…..

Wherever Europe’s attention turns in northern Africa, that region is the worse for it. In recent years, this has meant Libya, where the destruction of the Libyan government during the 2011 NATO intervention there is now set to give way to direct European Union intervention.

NATO was quite pleased with its 2011 handiwork, which saw Moammar Gaddafi removed from power and quickly killed. The assumption was that this would lead to an orderly transition of power. Instead it led to a civil war that’s continued to tear the country apart ever since.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the European Union is in the process of developing multiple potential military options for intervening in Libya, all intended to stabilize the situation. This is being done with an eye toward getting Libya’s oil industry back to exporting.

Since 2011, Libya has had as many as three, and at times zero, self-proclaimed governments operating out of different areas of the country. At times, the UN has endorsed a government, or created a government to endorse, and other nations in the region have backed either those governments or other rival governments, though none has ever controlled more than a fraction of Libya in any real way.

Europe Gears Up for Another Military Intervention in Libya

Just what the world needs…yet another war to finance.

With all the death and destruction the question needs to be asked….

Being one of the most prosperous countries in the African continent, thanks to its vast oil fields, after the fall of Gaddafi, the North African country was divided between rival governments in the east and west, and among multiple armed groups competing for quotas of power, control of the country and its wealth.

Gaddafi ruled for 42 years, leading Libya to a significant advance in social, political and economic matters that were recognized and admired by many African and Arab nations at the time. Despite his controversial government, Gaddafi came to represent an important figure for anti-imperialist struggles for his position mainly against the U.S. and the policies carried out from Washington on the Middle East.

It is for this reason, his life and death became pivotal events in Libya and key to understand the current situation.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Libya-Before-and-After-Muammar-Gaddafi-20200115-0011.html

What part of 2011 was good for the Libyan people?

A decade later and the death and destruction just keeps flowing…..

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“lego ergo scribo”

Post Script:  While I was writing this draft news has come out that the two factions in Libya that have been fighting for a decade have come to an agreement for a ceasefire…..

Warring factions in Libya have agreed to a “permanent” ceasefire following talks, the United Nations said on Friday.

The agreement came after five days of discussions in Geneva between representatives of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

“The Libyan parties have reached a permanent ceasefire agreement throughout Libya,” said Stephanie Williams, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“This achievement represents an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya.”

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/libya-ceasefire-sign-permanent-following-talks

All military units and armed groups must pull back from the front lines and return to their camps. All foreign fighters and mercenaries must leave Libya within three months – by January 23.

Williams said there were mercenaries from up to nine countries fighting in Libya. Both the GNA, backed by Turkey, and the LNA, backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have fielded foreign combatants.

Any military agreements either side has struck with their foreign backers must also be suspended until a new unified government is in place, the deal said, with all foreign military trainers to depart.

This is good for the Libyan people but not so much for the arms industry…..will this play into the equation?

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Bolivia

Most know what a international relations geek I truly am…..but for those newbies….

If a people vote a person in office regardless of their political leanings then that nation should be left alone without interference from the US or anyone because they do not agree with the political philosophy embraced by the new leader.

For instance Chile of the 70s….voted a socialist into the office of president and the US immediately started undermining the government……in the end the president was assassinated and the people spent many decades of suppression of democratic rights…….then Venezuela under Chavez…..he was elected and he deserved a shot at leading with out interference from the corporations and the US…..and after decades of sanctions the people still do not have the rights that we Americans think we embrace….those worthless sanctions have done nothing but make the poor poorer and their suffering prolonged.

Now we have Bolivia…..before I go on……I find it interesting that the poorest countries of the Americas are interested in electing what the idiots called socialists…..could it be because the poor have been exploited by corrupt officials after so many years?

Now about Bolivia…..it has always been the poorest country in South America and pretty much all the Americas…..then they elected Evo Morales…..a socialist and the US immediately started undermining his government.

Look at Bolivia…..

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of coups and countercoups, with the last coup occurring in 1978. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production.

In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president – by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 – after he ran on a promise to change the country’s traditional political class and empower the nation’s poor, indigenous majority. In December 2009 and October 2014, President MORALES easily won reelection. His party maintained control of the legislative branch of the government, which has allowed him to continue his process of change. In February 2016, MORALES narrowly lost a referendum to approve a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to compete in the 2019 presidential election. However, a 2017 Supreme Court ruling stating that term limits violate human rights provided the justification for MORALES to be chosen by his party to run again in 2019. MORALES attempted to claim victory in the 20 October 2019 election, but widespread allegations of electoral fraud, rising violence, and pressure from the military ultimately forced him to flee the country. An interim government is preparing new elections for 2020.

It is always interesting to watch the US justify the interference in the government and the state operation of countries that some do not agree with….

After the ousting of the Morales government the promised elections have taken place and once again the people of Bolivia have spoken……..

Evo Morales’ party has claimed victory in a presidential election that appears to sharply shift Bolivia away from the conservative policies of the US-backed interim government that took power after the leftist leader resigned and fled the country a year ago. The leading rival of Morales’s handpicked successor, Luis Arce, conceded defeat on Monday, as did interim President Jeanine Áñez, a bitter foe of Morales. Officials released no formal, comprehensive quick count of results from Sunday’s vote, but two independent surveys of selected polling places showed Arce with a lead of roughly 20 percentage points over his closest rival—far more than needed to avoid a runoff. Officials said final results could take days. Áñez asked Arce “to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” the AP reports. Arce, meanwhile, appealed for calm in the bitterly divided nation, saying he would seek to form a government of national unity under his Movement Toward Socialism party.

“I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” Arce declared. He oversaw a surge in growth and a sharp reduction in poverty as Morales’ economy minister for more than a decade but will struggle to reignite that growth. The boom in prices for Bolivia’s mineral exports that helped feed that progress has faded, and the coronavirus has hit the impoverished nation harder than almost any other country on a per capita basis. Nearly 8,400 of its 11.6 million people have died of COVID-19. Arce, 57, also faces the challenge of emerging from the shadow of his polarizing former boss, whose support helped the low-key, UK-educated economist. Áñez’s government tried to overturn many Morales policies and pull the country from its leftist alliances, and Morales faces prosecution on what are seen as trumped-up terrorism charges if he returns home. He said Monday in Buenos Aires that he plans to return to Bolivia. Calling for “a great meeting of reconciliation for reconstruction,” Morales said, “we are not vengeful.”

I try to be fair in my postings….so will this win by Morales be bad for the region?

Roger Cortez, a socio-economics expert, predicts problems ahead. “MAS propagates an outdated economic model based on state capitalism and the exploitation of natural resources.” In addition, he says, “the pandemic has pushed between one and two million Bolivians back into poverty.” Cortez does not think slash-and-burn farming and gene modified crops in Bolivia’s plain are sustainable either.

Mesa has promised a new economic approach, yet remained vague on details. In any case, it will prove hard to generate majorities in such a fragmented parliament. Many ordinary Bolivians, therefore, are quite pessimistic about the future. An online survey conducted by Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation found that 78% of respondents see Bolivia’s situation worsening, while 57% said they expect an upshot in violence during and after the election. Meanwhile, a staggering 80% said they are concerned about the state of the economy and growing poverty.

https://www.dw.com/en/bolivias-presidential-election-could-spark-further-instability/a-55289761

On the other hand…..a look into the legacy of Morales…..the legacy of Evo Morales — who won power in South America’s poorest country, tripled its GDP, and lifted millions out of extreme poverty.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/10/evo-morales-bolivia-indigenous-president-mas

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“lego ergo scribo”

Inkwell Institute Study Of War Update

I have studied war in all its forms for 40+ years…..nothing about it makes much sense these days…..but I try to keep my readers informed.

Since the 2020 election is sucking all the energy out of the foreign policy of the US…I thought I would let my readers know what was happening around the world while they were distracted by the antics of Donald the Orange.

The Chinese are testing a horrible weapon along the same vain as a cluster bomb but this is a swarm of deadly drones….

The China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology (CAEIT) has released a video of a test involving an array of 48 weaponized drones launching from the back of a truck, The South China Morning Post reports.

The drones can be seen launching from tubes, with a set of pop-out wings deploying from each right after. Troops on the ground then identify the drones’ targets on a tablet device. Each one is packed with explosives, according to The Times.

https://futurism.com/the-byte/chinese-weapon-launches-swarm-explosive-suicide-drones

Does anyone remember MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction)?

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is the deterrence concept developed in the 1960s by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in response to the Soviet nuclear threat. For the 2020s and beyond, America should not acquiesce to entering this mutual suicide pact with Iran or North Korea.

Various formulations of MAD were based on having enough surviving weapons after a Soviet first strike to kill 1/5 to 1/3 of the Soviet population and destroy half its industry. Henry Kissinger’s response to MAD was prescient: “The doctrine of ‘assured destruction’ led to the extraordinary conclusion that the vulnerability of our civilian population was an asset reassuring the Soviet Union and guaranteeing its restraint in a crisis. For the first time, a major country saw an advantage in enhancing its own vulnerability.

MAD proponents still believe the U.S. population should remain vulnerable against large Russian and Chinese nuclear missile attacks. The proponents argue that defending against such attacks would be destabilizing, even as both adversaries continue to deploy more deadly nuclear armaments in the absence of significant U.S. defenses, and the U.S. contemplates spending hundreds of billions to modernize its own nuclear arsenal.

MAD also appears to be the only U.S. deterrent to even very small nuclear attacks from space by emerging nuclear powers Iran and North Korea. With one or at most a few space-based nuclear explosions, both adversaries could mount electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attacks that could disable America’s electricity supply for very long times, possibly resulting in the deaths of 2/3 or more, up to 90%, of the U.S. population (well over 200 million fatalities) after a year and collapse of American society

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2020/10/15/mad_is_bad_us_policy_for_iran_and_north_korea_580803.html

Recently Turkey and Greece  once again went at each other…..this time it was over gas reserves and not Cyprus….https://lobotero.com/2020/09/18/greco-turkish-tensions/

The tension calmed a bit and now it is about to flare once again…..

In a move certain to widen the rift between Turkey and its NATO allies, Turkey tested its Russian-made S-400 air defense system Friday in the latest affirmation that Ankara intends to operationalize the system.

Turkish and Russian media reports said the launch took place at a military base near the Black Sea. The test marked the first time the Turkish military fired the system it bought in 2017, ignoring years of warnings from NATO not to buy the Russian system. It comes just weeks after the system’s radar tracked a Greek F-16, earning Turkey a sharp rebuke from NATO.

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/10/turkey-tests-russian-s-400-as-tensions-with-greece-nato-spike/

Turkey has accused Greece of violations….

Those tensions had flared up over the summer, prompting a military buildup, bellicose rhetoric and fears of a confrontation between the two NATO members and historic regional rivals.

“Our Oruc Reis has returned to its duty in the Mediterranean,” Erdogan told legislators of his ruling party in a speech in parliament. “We will continue to give the response they deserve on the field, to Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration who have not kept their promises during talks within the EU and NATO platforms.”

He didn’t spell out what the promises were but Turkish officials have been accusing Greek officials of engaging in a series of “provocations” despite efforts to revive the so-called exploratory talks between the neighbors that were aimed at resolving disputes and were last held in 2016.

https://apnews.com/article/turkey-europe-recep-tayyip-erdogan-ankara-greece-9118400193af9a0048397be12830a439

Armenia and Azerbaijan are at each others throats once again…..

September 27th 2020, two countries have been battling it out for supremacy over a disputed site. The countries in question include Armenia and Azerbaijan and the dispute is related to that of region called as Nagorno-Karabakh. So, what exactly is the conflict and why exactly has an old dispute resurfaced all over again? How are the world super powers react to this?

Nagorno-Karabakh comes under the geographical jurisdiction of Azerbaijan but is administrated by groups from Armenia. A closer look on the map shows Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave inside Azerbaijan

The current conflict began after Azerbaijan reportedly initiated an attack on civilians areas in Nagorno-Karabakh including the capital city of Stepanakert. Armenia claims it was forced to retaliate in order to protect civilians living in the area. In the following days, both sides claim to have made significant damage to the order side, with multiple narratives presenting a polarising picture of the ground reality.

Understanding the Armenia, Azerbaijan conflict

But if you are a reader of exquisite taste then you will want to read what I have to say about this conflict…..https://lobotero.com/2020/10/12/meanwhile-back-at-the-south-caucasus-conflict/

 

After The Pandemic

I am an international relations geek….foreign policy and geopolitics……and this pandemic has made some changes to the world and the policies of Trump has made changes to the geopolitical landscape…..

What will geopolitics look like after we are done with this pandemic?

I read about five possible changes to the world after we have survived the Covid-19 virus…..

There is no single future until it happens, and any effort to envision geopolitics in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic must include a range of possible futures. I suggest five plausible futures in 2030, but obviously others can be imagined.

The end of the globalised liberal order. The world order established by the United States after World War II created a framework of institutions that led to a remarkable liberalisation of international trade and finance. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, this order was being challenged by the rise of China and the growth of populism in Western democracies. China has benefited from the order, but as its strategic weight grows, it increasingly insists on setting standards and rules. The US resists, institutions atrophy and appeals to sovereignty increase. The US remains outside the World Health Organization and the Paris climate agreement. Covid-19 contributes to the probability of this scenario by weakening the US ‘system manager’.

1930s-like authoritarian challenge.4

China-dominated world order.

A green international agenda.

More of the same

Geopolitics after the pandemic

If you bothered to read the article then please  which possible world will we be looking at?

For me it is a China dominated world order……and possibly “More the Same”……

More thoughts of things to come….https://studies.aljazeera.net/en/policy-briefs/what-comes-after-pandemic-predicting-world-come

12 leading foreign policy pros give their look as well……

How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Any thoughts?

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Should US Troops Remain In The Middle East?

My first reaction to that question is…Hell NO!  Their families have suffered many years and it is time for them to be reunited with their soldiers.

Bring our troops home…..and the reasons are clear.

  1. The Middle East is a small, poor, weak region beset by an array of problems that mostly do not affect Americans—and that U.S. forces cannot fix. The best thing the United States can do is leave.
  2. The immense cost and evident fruitlessness of U.S. wars in the Middle East are widely lamented in American politics, but not enough to extricate U.S. troops. And even beyond the wars, U.S. policy in the region is an expensive and unnecessary disaster.
  3. The cost of maintaining forces to protect the Middle East from itself is extraordinary, even in peacetime. Conservatively, attempting to control the Middle East costs Americans on the order of $65–70 billion dollars each year, apart from the trillions spent on wars there. The number should be closer to zero.
  4. Nothing about the Middle East warrants the U.S. investment there over the past 30 years. The few important interests there—preventing major terrorist attacks, stopping the emergence of a market-making oil hegemon, curbing nuclear proliferation, and ensuring no regional actor destroys Israel—do not require American troops.
  5. The roughly 60,000 U.S. troops in the region should leave. American efforts to manage the Middle East make nothing about oil, Israel, or terrorism better. The United States would be better off withdrawing all forward-deployed troops from the region, while maintaining access agreements for naval ports with the consent of host countries.
  6. Withdrawing ground forces from the Middle East will make it harder for the United States to start or join any wars there. Shrinking the U.S. armed forces to reflect the lack of threat from the Middle East will free up resources for any number of higher priorities at home or abroad.

Six excellent reasons for pulling US troops out of the Middle East…..[

Why are we still there?

Is it to protect Israel?  If so I say fuck them let them do their own security.

Is it to protect oil?  Again I say screw it…we do not need their oil any longer.

Is it to keep the M-IC in defense contracts and their profits rolling in?  I think I have hit on the the true reason we are still there.  The industry spends billions on Congress they want their money to be well spent….if not they move on to the next corrupt politician that will do their bidding.

Why are we still in the Middle East?

(Insert your thoughts here)

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Sanctions, What Are They Good For?

I see that Donald the Orange has once again used his favorite tool for international situations….sanctions.

This time it is sanctions used against Iran….again.

The US slapped new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector on Thursday in an attempt to further isolate the Islamic Republic’s economy. The new measures target 18 Iranian banks and subjects foreign, non-Iranian institutions to penalties for doing business with them.

“Today’s action to identify the financial sector and sanction 18 major Iranian banks reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to US dollars,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The move comes after Washington’s European allies have been warning of the humanitarian consequences sanctions can have on Iran. The country is already facing an economic crisis due to previous US sanctions, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

European countries have been at odds with the Trump administration over its Iran policy. The US has been trying to enforce measures agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement the US withdrew from when it reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.

The US says the new sanctions do not apply to transactions that involve food or medical supplies. But the sanctions will discourage foreign banks from doing any business with Iran, including humanitarian deals. Sanctions imposed on Iran since 2018 also technically have exemptions for humanitarian goods, but have caused things like medicine shortages.

The new sanctions came just a day after Iran reported its highest number of daily deaths due to coronavirus. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the new sanctions on Twitter. “Amid Covid19 pandemic, US regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine,” Zarif wrote.

(antiwar.com)

I am not a big fan of sanctions…I believe they should be used only as a deterrent…..I dislike them for they usually hurt innocent people more than the intended recipients.

I have written my feelings about sanctions…..https://lobotero.com/2019/02/05/sanctions/

Sanctions are a cheap way to try and get the targeted nations to play ball with what the US wants…..but just how effective are they?

The imposition of sanctions is a relatively inexpensive political instrument compared to armed conflict, and is more popular with the public. However, when a sanctions regime is promulgated, it is impossible to determine the exact level of measures that must be taken in order for sanctions to have an impact on the policy of the sanctioned state.

In order to determine the effectiveness of a sanctions regime, we will examine nine factors that we believe to be decisive: the economic cost to the sanctioned state; the nature of its political regime; its political and economic stability; the relationship between the sanctioning state and the sanctioned state; the type of objective; international cohesion; the phenomenon of rallying around the flag; the reputation and image of the sanctioned state; and time.

https://theconversation.com/under-what-conditions-are-international-sanctions-effective-147309

I still do not think that sanctions accomplished their intended conclusion……and do more harm than good.

So are these sanctions really all that good?

The genesis of the maximum pressure campaign as articulated by former national security adviser John Bolton and hawkish think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was founded upon a simplistic but appealing narrative: the Iranian Islamic regime has grand designs on the Middle East, including a kind of 21st century colonization that would swallow the region whole. Because this narrative was already fully entrenched in Washington’s security and intelligence establishment, it was a relatively easy one to sell to an administration staffed to the gills with Iran hawks. 

The main theoretical assumption underlying the maximum pressure campaign was as shallow as it was tempting: pummel the Iranian economy with so many restrictions that the ayatollahs would have no choice but to crawl back to the table on their hands and knees and negotiate a new agreement on Washington’s terms. 

However, knowing that caving to U.S. demands would leave it highly vulnerable to similar tactics in the future, the Iranian government has held firm to its original position: if the U.S. wants to talk about a bigger and better deal, it must first re-enter the original Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA) and compensate Tehran for its losses. The Trump administration, as can be expected, finds Iran’s demands absurd, if not insulting. Indeed, as of this writing, the White House, State Department, and Treasury are actively debating blacklisting what is left of the entire Iranian financial sector and thereby severing it from the international community. 

Punishing Iran wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

Really?  We have been punishing Iran for over 40 years and what has that lead to?

Thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

It’s North Korea Again

We have not had much news abut North Korea in the last few months…all the air in reporting has been sucked out by the pandemic and the election…..so it falls on the Old Professor to bring you the news the MSM does not feel you should know.

The nuclear powers have been warned!

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Saturday that his country would “fully mobilize” its nuclear force if threatened as he took center stage at a military parade in which the country unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile and other additions to its growing weapons arsenal, the AP reports. Kim, however, avoided direct criticism of Washington during the event, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the country’s ruling party and took place less than four weeks before the US presidential election. Instead, he focused on a domestic message urging his people to remain firm in the face of “tremendous challenges” posed by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear program.

Kim described the North’s continuing efforts to develop its nuclear deterrent as necessary for its defense and said it wasn’t targeting any specific country with its military force. But “if any force harms the safety of our nation, we will fully mobilize the strongest offensive might in a pre-emptive manner to punish them,” he said. Kim’s speech was punctuated by thousands of goose-stepping troops, tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and a broad range of ballistic missiles rolled out in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square. The weapons included what was possibly the North’s biggest-yet ICBM, which was mounted on an 11-axle launch vehicle that was also seen for the first time. The North also displayed a variety of solid-fuel weapon systems that highlighted how the North has expanded its military capabilities.

That huge rocket could be something new…..

We don’t have a name or specifications, just photos from the parade. A lot of the crowd that usually frets about North Korea’s weapons noted this to be the biggest one we saw, and seem to be drawing the conclusion that must mean it’s the most powerful and most dangerous.

Which is just a guess. Size doesn’t dictate power or level of advancement for an ICBM, and if anything this missile is just a huge version of existing designs. Presumably it will go farther because it’s got room for all that fuel, but the ICBM is still just delivering a warhead if it is used.

Since North Korea never tested such a missile, or even bragged about having it, it’s also possible that the point of this big, noticeable design was to be big and noticeable at a parade, and one for an important anniversary.

(antiwar.com)

North Korea and China have developed a more intense cooperation….

In a congratulatory message to Kim Jong Un for the founding anniversary of North Korea’s ruling party, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he intends to deepen relations with Pyongyang, North Korean state media reported on Saturday.

“We have an intent to successfully defend, consolidate and develop the China-Korea relations together with Korean comrades and propel the long-lasting and stable development of the socialist cause of the two countries,” North Korean state news agency KCNA quoted Xi as saying.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-missiles-china/chinas-xi-says-intends-to-deepen-relations-with-north-korea-kcna-idUKKBN26U2K2

Yet another front for the US and China to stand-off on.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”