Why NATO Needs A European Pillar

If you followed the last election then know that our newly elected president has no love for NATO…..he even called it “obsolete”…..

There is a scramble going on the try and find a way to preserve the organization if the US somehow takes a powder and leaves the European allies high and dry.

Below is a opinion from the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the situation with NATO……

If Europe tries to protect the alliance only by ‘buying’ American commitment through increased defence spending, it will fail.

Europeans have every reason to worry about U.S. President Donald Trump. He has declared NATO “obsolete.” He’s spoken more glowingly about Russian President Vladimir Putin than about most Western European leaders. And he’s suggested he will apply his transactional vision of diplomacy to his country’s alliances. A president who has unabashedly made “America First” his guiding principle is telling Europeans America’s commitment to them will depend on their willingness to pay for it.

The Continent’s leaders should listen carefully. For too long, European countries have not been serious enough about their own defence; most spend much less than the two per cent of GDP goal set by NATO. If they do not change course, a president who has little understanding of soft power and, in his own words, only respects “strength,” will not take them seriously.

Source: Why NATO Needs A European Pillar | Crisis Group

Although it is early in the presidency of Trump….but so far the fate of NATO is still up in the air.

Going After Li’l Kim

Since the inauguration of Trump there has been an uptick in the “fighting” words toward a couple of countries that we only mentioned in passing before that….China and North Korea.

But it is North Korea that has gotten more attention in the media and the bobble-heads……their nuke program, missile tests, and other assorted “problems”….

But what does all this attention mean?

According to Trump…TROUBLE!

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he will deal with North Korea “very strongly,” calling the communist regime a “big, big problem” after Pyongyang carried out the latest ballistic missile launch.

“Obviously North Korea is a big, big problem and we will deal with that very strongly,” Trump said during a joint news conference at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in response to a question about the most important national security matters facing him.

Source: Trump Vows to Deal with North Korea ‘Very Strongly’ After Missile Launch | World Affairs Journal

Below is an alternate look at the situation with North Korea…not a typical MSM blow back……

Less than a month into the Trump presidency, North Korea is looming as a major flashpoint after the Pyongyang regime test fired a new intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday. The test takes place amid mounting tensions between the US and China, North Korea’s ally, over trade, monetary policy, Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas.

The launch drew immediate condemnation by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was visiting with Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. At a joint press conference Sunday night, Abe called the missile test “absolutely intolerable.” Trump declared that the US was “behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.” The US, Japan and South Korea have called an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss North Korea.

Source: US drumbeat for action against North Korea – World Socialist Web Site

I have written about NK whenever I felt there was something brewing that needs attention….recently there was a news story that NK could see a regime change and soon….

https://lobotero.com/2017/02/01/closing-thought-01feb17/

Was this story just propaganda or is the story just wishful thinking?

My point is that NK is getting more and more press….and to what end?  Is this something that we Americans should be concerned with or is it just a diversion from some other situation?

What say you?

Illegal Drug Trade Essential To Geopolitics

I have written extensively here on IST about my dislike for the War on Drugs….that I feel that it is a total waste of energy and cash…..

I read an interesting take on this war has on geopolitics…..it seems far fetched but it is something to consider…..

Peter Dale Scott notes that the connection between the CIA and BCCI enabled drug trafficking as a means of arming the resistance against the Soviet Union.

The illegal drug trade is an essential component of global politics, playing a central role in the proliferation of arms used to destabilize countries and unseat unfavorable regimes in the geopolitical quest to create favorable conditions for oil ventures while bolstering the banking industry.

Peter Dale Scott, a Canadian born scholar, poet and former diplomat, the world’s foremost researcher into the inner workings of government conspiracy (conspiracy meaning organized plans and programs). He has for decades been exposing the shadow elements operating under the cover of government, deep politics and big oil.

Source: Illegal Drug Trade Essential To Geopolitics, Says Former Diplomat

I believe that the whole war thing is a total made up story to waste money on non-essential “bad guy”…..legalize and tax….many of the problems would be solved…and yes there may create a few new ones but that is minor compared to the damage this war is doing worldwide.

It’s Iran Again

Iran pretty much fell off the radar there for about a year but then we had an election and the winner has started saying one thing then another….and when you have leaders in DC with nicknames like “Mad Dog” then there has got to be chest thumping about Iran…..

I was taking notes to write this post and then decided I would do it another way because in the last week or so everybody has had an opinion on Iran and how to handle the situation…..

So to make it easier on me and for my readers I will give you links on this issue and you decide what you want to know……get caught up before the fall…..

The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

President Trump’s tough talk on Iran is winning him friends in the Arab world, but it also carries a significant risk of conflict with a U.S. rival that is now more powerful than at any point since the creation of the Islamic republic nearly 40 years ago. – Washington Post

New sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on Friday to punish Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test marked the beginning of what officials called the end of an era in which the United States was “too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior.” – New York Times

Iran on Saturday began extensive military exercises in a defiant response to a week of warnings from the Trump administration, including new sanctions, with a senior Iranian military commander calling the actions “futile” and threatening to “rain” missiles down on the country’s enemies. – Washington Post

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described Iran as the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism on Saturday, but he emphasized that there was no pressing need for the United States to beef up its military presence in the Persian Gulf region. – New York Times

Until President Trump’s inauguration, Iran’s clerics felt comfortable leading worshipers in a chorus of “Death to America” while simultaneously signing a $16.6 billion deal with Boeing. Now, the establishment is treading carefully, with even most hard-liners concerned that the smallest provocation could lead to military conflict. – New York Times

Iran is set to boost its crude output next month and a deadline to bid for oil and gas fields has been pushed back, a top Iranian oil official was reported as saying Saturday, amid fears a recent missile test could lead to new U.S. measures that would deter foreign companies from investing in the nation’s petroleum. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Donald Trump jetted off Friday for his first weekend away from the White House after his first two weeks in office, capping off 14 days in which his administration moved aggressively to move on his campaign promises and take shots at the Obama era. Yet, as the president heads for his Mar-a-Lago retreat in South Florida, his first two weeks produced little clarity about the next four years. – Roll Call

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration is likely to remain in place. – The Hill

A member of the House Armed Services Committee is urging the Trump administration to build a new ballistic missile defense system in the Middle East to counter Iranian aggression and defend U.S. allies, according to communications to the White House obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon

Iran’s nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers after a shipment expected later this week. – Associated Press

Editorial: Iran’s missile launch is a deliberate effort to test the seriousness of the new U.S. Administration. Iran may now decide to test the White House again on how far it is willing to go to enforce the meaning of “on notice.” The more unequivocal the Administration’s response, the sooner Tehran will get the message that, this time, it faces a U.S. government that means what it says. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Editorial: Rolling back the gains Iran has made across the Middle East in the past decade will be, at best, a work of years. To succeed, the Trump administration will have to clarify priorities: Russia, which it regards as a potential ally in the region, has become Iran’s strategic partner. Leaving the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in place will lock in Iranian domination where it matters most. Until it has a strategy for addressing such challenges, the administration will find it hard to impress the mullahs. – Washington Post

John Bolton writes: Time always works on the side of nuclear proliferators, and the Iran deal is providing the ayatollahs with protective camouflage. Every day Washington lets pass without ripping the deal up is a day of danger for America and its friends. We proceed slowly at our peril. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Fred Fleitz writes: Putting Iran on notice is significant because it signals the return to the global stage of a strong and decisive United States prepared to reinstate the successful national-security strategy of President Ronald Reagan: “peace through strength.” Such a jolt to the international order could convince rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to dial back their destabilizing behavior and possibly agree to talks to address regional concerns about their missile and weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. – National Review Online

As Iran tries to calibrate how to deal with President Trump, its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in caustic comments to air force commanders, thanked the new American leader for revealing “the real face” of the United States. – New York Times

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Western leaders to follow U.S. President Donald Trump in imposing fresh sanctions against Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Sanctions the Trump administration imposed on Iran after the country conducted another ballistic missile launch are more symbolic than punitive, a former Obama administration Treasury Department official said Monday. – The Weekly Standard

James Rubin writes: Republicans and Democrats can and should agree on the broad thrust of U.S. policy toward Iran’s nuclear program and Russia’s international aggression. For one day at least, that is possible. – Politico

Mark Dubowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu write: The administration could also accelerate the process, both technical and diplomatic, of getting America’s Middle East partners and allies to integrate existing ballistic missile defense systems. But most important, the U.S. can respond against future missile tests by targeting sectors of the Iranian economy that underwrite, procure, produce, develop, and house those capabilities. – The Hill

See what I mean?  Anyone with a keyboard has a better idea…..

Why Not Go To War?

I recently did a piece where I gave some props to McCain and his ally Graham…..they were showing their grit by standing up to the emperor on some issues…..and then when I was starting to like these guys a bit, after years if bad mouthing them, they just could not let some things go….

It appears the McCain and his crony Graham recently made a “fact finding” mission to the Ukraine and while there had to thump their chest like crazed primates….

The United States has never been particularly supportive of efforts by European nations to negotiate a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine. Perennial hawks Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) and John McCain (R – AZ) took things a step further, however, visiting Ukrainian troops on the frontlines and openly urging new military offensives against the ethnic Russian rebels.

Addressing the troops alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Graham declared 2017 to be “the year of offensive” against Russia, insisting Ukraine’s fight was America’s fight, and that he was determined to make the Russian “pay a heavier price.”

Sen. McCain concurred, insisting that the US could not allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to “succeed” in Ukraine, because if he does he’s liable to also “succeed” in other countries around the world.  (Domino Theory again?)

Graham is also said to be pushing a draft resolution aiming to impose a new round of sanctions against Russia for “trying to interfere with our election.” He insisted he would “never be satisfied” until the US punishes the Russian government.

(antiwar.com)

Appears the Pres. Trump and McCain/Graham are not on the same page when it comes to Ukraine…..

White House officials say President Trump had a “very good call” with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the weekend, during which hew promised to work to restore peace along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, an area which has faced years of civil war.

According to a read-out of the call, Trump promised to work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties on the issue, with an eye toward restoring peace along the border. Trump and Poroshenko also discussed the possibility of meeting in the near future.

Is that our only answer to any situation….GO TO WAR?  Or is there a possibility for some sort of diplomacy? (that would be a pipe dream)……

Closing Thought–01Feb17

It’s Only A Matter Of Time!

The Kim family of North Korea has been a thorn in the ass of the world since the 1950’s….they have managed to stay in power for over 60 years….Kim the Elder was the main force that caused the Korean War….his son Lil Kim #1 took up where daddy left off and then he dropped dead and his son Lil Kim #2 took over and the nuke stuff just kept getting worse every year…

Bur recently a defector has provided some much needed good news about the situation in North Korea…..

North Korea is on a “slippery slope” toward a “popular uprising,” says a former diplomat who defected from the country last year. Thae Yong Ho went on to say that Kim Jong Un’s “days are numbered,” the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the New York Times, Thae spoke to reporters Wednesday, part of a series of interviews he’s been giving since December. He’s the highest-ranking North Korean defector in decades. Thae says he “wasted the first 50 years of my life” but that now he’ll “be a man of action,” dedicated to bringing down Kim’s regime in North Korea. He says it’s the outside world’s job to “spray gasoline” on North Korea so that its people can “set fire to it,” the Guardian reports.

Thae says Kim’s grip on North Korea is loosening as technology makes it easier for outside culture to spread there. TV shows from South Korea and movies from China are smuggled across the border in cellphones and flash drives. Thae says with greater views of the outside world, North Koreans will soon realize “they have the right to live freely.” In fact, he says dissent is already spreading among both ordinary citizens and the elite. But he says the world must not compromise with Kim; international sanctions are working. Sitting down with Kim would give him a victory he desperately needs, and defeating Kim is the only way of solving the growing North Korean nuclear problem, Thae says.

Just how reliable is this guy?  Is he for real?  Is this possibly some sort of international intrigue?  Do we believe or do we proceed with caution?

Thank you my friends for spending part of your day with IST….

Can You Remember Ukraine?

My main interest is that of conflicts around the world and one of them has fallen off the front page and by doing so then no one seems to care about the situation….

There has bee a ceasefire in place for almost 2 years so the interest of the world slipped on to something else…..but like most armed conflicts there is always more happening than we know…..

A quick rundown……

The war in eastern Ukraine that simmered quietly for months has erupted in a lethal bout of fighting in recent days. The violence, which killed at least eight Ukrainian soldiers and three on the pro-Russian side, shifted the front lines by only a few hundred yards in several spots, but potentially complicates American efforts to improve relations with Russia. – New York Times

Ukraine says one of its soldiers has been killed in the country’s east, where fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists has flared over the past four days. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine have launched an offensive to recapture a city on the border of the territory currently controlled by separatist groups, according to a U.S. diplomat. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Could it have been just a coincidence that Russian-backed forces in Ukraine launched their biggest offensive in months the day after Vladi­mir Putin spoke by phone with President Trump? Somehow, we doubt it. Rather, the volleys of Grad rockets and heavy artillery that have been raining down on Ukrainian army positions since Sunday look a lot like a test of whether the new president will yield to pressure from Moscow. – Washington Post

Yet another crisis waiting to happen and the Trump team needs to focus on prevent it from becoming an all out war.

Another region that bears the need for study is the region that perplexed Clinton in the 90’s….the Balkans

Ethnic tensions are rising in Kosovo, setting the stage for an early test of U.S.-Russian relations under President Donald Trump in a Balkan country where U.S. troops keep the peace decades after a NATO air campaign ended Serb rule over the Albanian population. – Stars and Stripes

You see there is more happening in the world than protests…..