Afghanistan–Deal Or No Deal?

I have been watching the events in Afghanistan around the possibility of a peace deal between the US and the Taleban……

After months of back and forth….the news is that there is a deal…..

US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has reported that the US and Taliban have a peace deal “in principle” now, and that it is just pending approval from President Trump. The Afghan government has confirmed being given a copy of the draft deal.

The specifics are not all public knowledge yet, but negotiators say that the deal would remove some 5,000 US ground troops from Afghanistan in the first five months, in return for the Taliban agreeing to keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out, and reduce violence.

All previous indications were that the deal was meant to see a full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. This raises questions since Trump promised last week that he would “always” have a presence in Afghanistan.

With only mentions of 5,000 leaving, it leaves questions of what will happen to the other 8,000 or so troops. It is unthinkable for the Taliban to have not covered this matter, but so far those facts are not known.

What is known is that some in the White House want to expand the number of CIA on the ground in Afghanistan even as troops leave. Both the CIA and military are expressing concerns about this, since the CIA has embedded with troops in the past. The in-administration debate is further adding to resistance to leaving Afghanistan at all.


We have been close before…..hopefully this time it is closer than in the past…..

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

The Road To Middle East Peace

This could be seen as 70+ years of failures…..from the proposals of Count Folke Bernadotte in 1948 to the promises of peace from Donald Trump……the closest we came to an end was in 1978 Camp David Accords….and then we had an election that brought a warmonger to the White House and the downhill slide began and has only picked up speed in the years after.

We have been promised to hear a plan from Kushner, the leader of Trump’s ME peace team, for years….the promise is that we will finally hear this plan sometime this month.

Personally, I feel that this plan will be nothing more than a sideshow to help change the dialog of the day……

After two years of drum-rolling, Donald Trump’s “ultimate deal” for Israelis and Palestinians is about to enter what its architects claim is the pre-launch phase.

The US president has said the peace plan drawn up by his team – two former personal lawyers and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner – will be ready to unveil by the end of January.

Yet despite the anticipation surrounding Trump’s proposals for resolving one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, a more crucial plan for the region is already being implemented on the ground: an attempt to strengthen Israel’s hand while weakening that of the Palestinians.

Sorry being a Jew does not necessarily qualify one to be the master of peace in the Middle East…..but that aside any plan (if one actually makes an appearance) will need Congress before anything…..

In recent days, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, has revealed certain key aspects of the long-touted White House Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that he and other senior administration officials say they will launch sometime after the April 9 elections in Israel. In normal times, these would be headlines. But America is currently so consumed with the Mueller investigation and the president’s declaration of a national emergency to fund his border wall that it is hard to find the bandwidth to discuss anything else.

The plan is said to be based on four principles—freedom, respect, security, and opportunity—with one key goal being “developing infrastructure” for “tremendous growth in … the West Bank and Gaza.”

The price tag for these investments, meanwhile, is reported to be in the tens of billions of dollars—a substantial sum, particularly for an administration that has slashed U.S. foreign assistance across the board and especially to the Palestinians. No doubt this is why Kushner and other senior administration officials are currently touring the Arab Gulf states: not just to “share … some of the details … especially on the economic vision” with leaders there, as Kushner described, but to ask them to foot most if not all of the bill.

Keep in mind that the Trump machine has a long record of failures……
Many American presidents have blundered in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the region has been particularly disastrous. President Eisenhower introduced the CIA to the world of covert action, when he ordered the overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. President Reagan endorsed a U.S. troop presence in Lebanon in 1982 in order to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire there due to their war crimes in Beirut, offering proof to the Arab nations of Washington’s one-sided support for Israel. President George H.W. Bush went ahead with Desert Storm in 1991 although Soviet President Gorbachev had gained a commitment from Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. Worst of all, President George W. Bush used phony intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has created sixteen years of disarray throughout the region.
The roll out (if there is one) will be massive and taunted as “peace in our time” sort of thing…..I predict it will be yet another failed attempt at peace for this region.
The only peace plan is one the both sides keep their dignity and respect for the opponent….I do not see that happening anytime soon…..

Camp David–40 Years On

Closing Thought–17Sep18

Forty years ago today, 17 September…..Pres, Carter, PM Begin and Egypt’s Sadat met for 2 weeks at Camp David and came away with a peace agreement signed by all sides…..

At the White House in Washington, D.C., Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign the Camp David Accords, laying the groundwork for a permanent peace agreement between Egypt and Israel after three decades of hostilities. The accords were negotiated during 12 days of intensive talks at President Jimmy Carter’s Camp David retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland. The final peace agreement–the first between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors–was signed in March 1979. Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

A state of war had existed between Egypt and the State of Israel since the establishment of Israel in 1948. In the first three Arab-Israeli wars, Israel decisively defeated Egypt. As a result of the 1967 war, Israel occupied Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the 23,500-square-mile peninsula that links Africa with Asia. When Anwar el-Sadat became Egyptian president in 1970, he found himself leader of an economically troubled nation that could ill afford to continue its endless crusade against Israel. He wanted to make peace and thereby achieve stability and recovery of the Sinai, but after Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 war it was unlikely that Israel’s peace terms would be favorable to Egypt. So Sadat conceived of a daring plan to attack Israel again, which, even if unsuccessful, might convince the Israelis that peace with Egypt was necessary.

This was the closest the Middle East had come to peace in many years and within a short period….Sadat had been assassinated and Begin also….Carter was replaced with Reagan and from that point on peace was never on the agenda.

The world missed the perfect opportunity to have a lasting peace….and history has shown just how bad events have gotten since those days 40 years ago.

Peace In Our Time?

Let’s get something straight before we get to the meat of this post…..I think that this situation shows promise for a happy ending for the Koreans.  But it will depend on the negotiations of the two parties and not the handshake for the cameras.  This is a dangerous situation and not a reality show….and yes if the deal actually ends the hostilities on the Peninsula then Trump should be awarded the Nobel but not for a handshake photo op.

Now let’s look at what is happening in the Koreas….we already have been beat to death by the US media…..the South Koreans have spoken at the polls….

When South Koreans went to the polls yesterday they registered their unambiguous backing for President Moon’s Democratic Party and the peace process that is a signature policy of his administration. In doing so, they also dealt a devastating blow to the country’s main faction hostile to North Korean diplomacy.

Here’s how one South Korean outlet summed up the results: “In what was considered an opportunity to measure the public support of the Moon Jae-in administration one year into its term, the Democratic Party achieved an enormous victory in the local elections of June 13th, providing even more political flexibility for Moon’s government…. At the same time, the Liberty Korea Party suffered a historically crushing rout that has seen its power wither, leaving it solely with its [traditional strongholds]…as the party appears on the verge of being swept away in a maelstrom of internal discord with members looking for someone to blame for this defeat.” (Translation of original Korean by author.)


Looks like the locals are looking for that happy ending to 70+ years of hostilities……and SecState Pompeo has put a time limit on any deal….

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there had been understandings reached with North Korea on in-depth verification of the denuclearization process, and a lot of other issues related to it, that weren’t written explicitly in the official document shown to the public.

Pompeo also talked about the length of the disarmament process, saying the US wants to see major parts of the disarmament done in the next two or two and a half years. President Trump has long said he expected denuclearization to happen in phases.

The time-frame likely reflects US political realities, with the administration hoping that they can have major progress to show off to the voters during the 2020 presidential election. Pompeo added that Trump would restart the frozen wargames with South Korea if North Korea stopped showing good will in the process.


That would be fantastic if a deal could be finalized….as long as South Korea is at the table and agrees to the deal .

As a foreign policy wonk I see this as a chance for a true diplomatic break through……as much as I hate to admit it it does smell like some small beginning of sanity in our foreign policy…..

President Trump gave peace a chance like few presidents before him, and if his critics cannot respect that fact, shame on them. What he and the hawks around him have done is as profound a shift in U.S. foreign policy as it is unexpected in its departure from an America-centric view of the world.

At the heart of this bold initiative is an openness to the wisdom and concerns of other nations, beginning with the government of South Korea but including most definitely the insights of the leaders of neighboring China, Russia and Japan. It is a break with the demonization of the North Korean enemy in the spirit of Richard Nixon’s opening to Communist China, which effectively ended the Cold War.

Now maybe we can work on the G7 and NATO…..a good beginning but it must continue…..the world is waiting.

But wait!  What about those interventionists like John Bolton?  Where will they be standing during this time of sanity?  Trump should worry more about these toads than the media for they are already working to derail the deal.

Critics and pundits have been reacting dismissively to President Donald Trump’s engagement with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. A few weeks ago Donald Trump was going to start World War III with the Korean peninsula’s “Rocket Man,” or so observers said. Now, the prospect for peace, which has never been formally codified by treaty with North Korea since 1953, seems to have critics equally vexed and upset.

Yet, hoping for peace to fail in order to prevent Trump from gaining a victory is to engage in precisely the type of behavior his critics accuse him of displaying.

So much to do and so little time…..and the clock is ticking…..

What Happens When War Is Outlawed?

Breaking News:  “If it bleeds it leads”!  Shooting in Las Vegas has replaced 3 million starving people in the US territory of Puerto Rico.

Don’t go crazy……we all know that war cannot be outlawed……this is a historic piece about a little known treaty of 1928……

You guys know me…if there is a chance for me to drop some history on my readers then I will damn well do it.

Did a largely forgotten peace pact transform the world we live in?

On August 27, 1928, in Paris, with due pomp and circumstance, representatives of fifteen nations signed an agreement outlawing war. The agreement was the unanticipated fruit of an attempt by the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand, to negotiate a bilateral treaty with the United States in which each nation would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy toward the other. The American Secretary of State, Frank Kellogg, had been unenthusiastic about Briand’s idea. He saw no prospect of going to war with France and therefore no point in promising not to, and he suspected that the proposal was a gimmick designed to commit the United States to intervening on France’s behalf if Germany attacked it (as Germany did in 1914). After some delay and in response to public pressure, Kellogg told Briand that his idea sounded great. Who wouldn’t want to renounce war? But why not make the treaty multilateral, and have it signed by “all the principal powers of the world”? Everyone would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy.

Source: What Happens When War Is Outlawed | The New Yorker

The years after World War One was a time when so much of the world we know today could have been change and for the better…..and little changed (pertaining to war that is)

The old path “Not Taken” scenario.

Class Dismissed!

What Just Happened in Colombia?

Recently I posted on the Colombian peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels after about 50 years of violence and conflict….but the big story was that the people of Colombia rejected the deal through their vote.

After the news broke the world started asking………. WTF?

This journal is the best of Neocon PR…..keep that in mind while trying to discern what went wrong with the peace deal.

Surprising everyone, Colombians rejected the FARC peace deal because it ultimately rewarded the rebels for years of violence. So now it’s back to the negotiating table to get it right this time.

By a razor-thin margin of less than half a percentage point, Colombian voters narrowly rejected a proposed peace plan that would have formally ended the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere.

Almost everyone thought the referendum would pass, that it was a mere formality after years of painstaking negotiations in Cuba, but no.

The UK’s Independent calls the vote “Farcxit.” Indeed, the peso crashed hard against the dollar for the same reason the British pound fell after Brexit—international markets hate uncertainty, especially where war and peace are concerned.

Source: What Just Happened in Colombia? | World Affairs Journal

Back to the negotiating table……but first…..there are always 2 ways of looking at any situation…..

The day of 2 October will probably be remembered as the most unexpected plot-twist of Colombia’s history. In a referendum, Colombians voted to against the peace treaty between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Against all expectations, the NO side won by less than 54,000 votes and obtained a surprising 50.2 per cent majority, rejecting a deal that would have put an end to more than 52 years of internal conflict.

The outcome of the referendum has had three clear consequences. First, the agreements between President Santos and FARC Supreme Commander Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timochenko, signed in Cartagena on 26 September, are now virtually suspended, and the peace deal is caught in a legal limbo.

Source: Colombia’s two faces — New Internationalist

Colombia needs to be watched….there is more going on than the referendum…..will the ugly face of violence remain?

Colombia–What Went Wrong?

The big news last week, other than the silly antics of the two candidates, was the peace negotiations between the government of Colombia and the rebel faction  called FARC……after about 50 years of death destruction and conflict there was a real chance at a peaceful conclusion of this violent chapter in Colombian history…..

But first a little background for those that are not familiar with the situation……

Colombia is in the midst of a half-century long conflict between the government and several guerrilla groups. The human impact of the conflict has been enormous, with at least 50,000 lives lost to date and one of the world’s largest populations of internally displaced people, many of whom have disappeared.

Despite being the oldest democracy in Latin America, Colombia has lacked national cohesion since its independence in 1810. As a result of the country’s three Andean mountain ranges – which act as natural barriers to integration – and the division of society by class interests, Colombia has historically suffered from a weak state with large areas of territory in which the government is unable to exercise effective control.

The activities of the guerrillas prompted the formation of right-wing paramilitary organisations, primarily the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), as a means of protecting landowners, drug lords and local businessmen from attacks and kidnappings by guerrilla forces. Whilst denied by the government, there are accusations of linkages between the paramilitaries and the state in waging war against the guerrillas. Since their inception, both guerrilla and paramilitary forces have become increasingly involved in criminal activity, including as kidnapping, extortion, bombings, murder, and hijacking, and have given a new dimension to the problem of narco-trafficking. The penetration of drug-trafficking in Colombian society has contributed to widespread corruption and the de-legitimisation of the political class.

All this may be old hat for some…so let me move on to the real news about this situation……I found an article about the vote…….

Voters rejected a peace deal with leftist rebels by a razor-thin margin in a national referendum Sunday, delivering a major setback to President Juan Manuel Santos, who vowed to keep a ceasefire in place and not give up his campaign to end a half-century of war, the AP reports. With more than 99% of polling stations reporting, 50.2% of ballots opposed the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia while 49.8% favored it—a difference of less than 57,000 votes out of a total of 13 million. Pre-election polls had predicted the “yes” vote would win by an almost two-to-one margin.

“I won’t give up. I’ll continue to search for peace until the last moment of my mandate,” Santos said in a televised address recognizing his defeat. He ordered his negotiators to return to Cuba on Monday to consult with FARC leaders who were awaiting results on the communist island. He also promised to listen to opponents in a bid to save—and strengthen the deal, which he said is Colombia’s best chance for ending a conflict that has killed 220,000 people and driven almost 8 million people from their homes. Opponents, led by influential former President Alvaro Uribe, argued that the government was appeasing the rebels and setting a bad example that criminal gangs would seize on.

This is amazing to me since the people have endured 50 years of conflict and death why would they vote against their own best interests?

To answer my question I found text of the agreement and searched for something that would turn the people against the deal…..

We have agreed:

I.To initiate direct and uninterrupted conversations about the points of the agenda established here, with the end of reaching a Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict that will contribute to stable and lasting peace.

II. To establish a table of conversation that will be installed publicly (a month after the public announcement) in Oslo, Norway, and whose principal headquarters will be Havana, Cuba. The table could have meetings in other countries.

III. To guarantee the effectiveness of the process and conclude the work about the points of the agenda expeditiously and in the least amount of time possible, to fulfill the expectations of society concerning the agreement. In any case, the duration will be subject to periodic evaluations of progress.

IV. To develop the conversations with the support of the governments of Cuba and Norway as guarantors and the governments of Venezuela and Chile as accompaniment. In accordance with the necessities of the process, they may by agreement invite others.

Source: Text of deal between with FARC to end Colombia armed conflict

I cannot see that should be objectionable to the people…..(you check it out and see what you think)…..all I can think is that there is a spin doctor at work, like all democracies, that worked hard to turn the voter against the deal.

I can understand the voter voting against their own best interests…..the people of my state have been doing it for decades……but this vote could mean life or death if it fails……I would say the consequences should wake the voter up.