Will The War On Terror Succeed?

The deadly attacks of 9/11 marked the beginning of a new war declared by DC….the War On Terror.

We Americans declared war on many things….on drugs, on poverty, and now on terror…..and of the wars we have declared after 1945 have NOT brought about a victory.

The War on Poverty was a heady idea and was a flop at best….the war on drugs has been nothing short of a massive failure that we still fund with the hopes that something good will happen.

And now we have another “War” to fund…the War on Terror.

After 17 years can we declare victory…or at least a success?

It has been a great success…..a success at creating far more terrorists than it eliminates.

In the 17 years since the events of Sept. 11 2001, after which the United States declared a “global war on terror,” there has not been a terrorist attack of similar size or magnitude on American soil.

However, according to findings in a new congressionally mandated report by the United States Institute of Peace—authored by members of a federal task force focused on extremism—nations around the world have suffered a five-fold increase in terrorist attacks following the post-9/11 policies unleashed by the U.S. and its allies.

The focus of the report—titled Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States—maintains a very U.S.-centric worldview. And while it does little or nothing to critically challenge the widely criticized policies pursued by the Bush, Obama, or Trump presidencies, its tabulation of the dramatic rise in destablized states and growing terrorist violence throughout the regions where the U.S. military has been most active since 2001—namely, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa—is nonetheless revealing.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/09/17/us-led-global-war-terrorism-has-succeeded-creating-more-global-terrorism

I mean look at Al-Qaeda….they were the bastards that attacked the US in 2001……destroyed and killed much……and yet this same organization, AQ, is being protected in Syria by the US military……

In a rare and unprecedented speech delivered on the House floor just two days after the nation memorialized 9/11, Democratic Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Thursday slammed Washington’s longtime support to anti-Assad jihadists in Syria, while also sounding the alarm over the current build-up of tensions between the US and Russia over the Syria crisis.

She called on Congress to condemn what she called the Trump Administration’s protection of al-Qaeda in Idlib and slammed Washington’s policies in Syria as “a betrayal of the American people” — especially the victims and families that perished on 9/11.

https://theantimedia.com/tulsi-gabbard-trump-al-qaeda-syria/

The War on Terror is doing the same thing as our War on Drugs…….siphoning off much needed funds for social programs and giving it to the M-IC that has NO intention to ending these wars.

Since the original attacks the US has spent $2.8 trillion on fighting terrorism……that is $2.8 trillion with a “T”…..the War on Drugs has cost this country about $1 trillion over 40 years.

But I must answer the question asked in the title…….NO!  Our track record would indicate that we have NO intention on winning this war…..these wars.

Further Reading:

https://www.brookings.edu/research/are-we-winning-the-war-on-terrorism/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-mullen/its-time-to-end-the-failed_b_11965170.html

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/05/13/ap-impact-years-trillion-war-drugs-failed-meet-goals.html

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The “Law And Order” Nation

For as long as I can remember the US has run on a political platform of “law and order”….and especially the GOP, it is the Law and Order party.

We are a country that prides ourselves on being a nation of laws and the use of courts to maintain order.

It is not a perfect system but a system that we are very proud of….if all that is true why is the International Criminal Court (ICC) catching Hell from Our Dear Leader and his minions?

John Bolton gave his first major speech as national security adviser Monday, and it was a doozy. He unloaded on the “illegitimate” International Criminal Court and warned its judges they will pay a stiff price if they go after US troops in Afghanistan, reports the New York Times. “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution,” said Bolton. “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering” the US, “we will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system.” He added that the same punishments apply to “any company or state that assists in an ICC investigation of Americans.” The speech came as the US took a related action by shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in DC.

The two developments are related in that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to take Israel to the ICC, reports CNN. The “PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” says the State Department in justifying the office closure. And Bolton added, “We will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense,” per the Wall Street Journal. Bolton, along with many on the right, has long viewed the ICC as hostile to America, notes the Times. “The largely unspoken, but always central, aim of its most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States,” Bolton said Monday. Now, he says, per the Guardian, “the ICC is already dead to us.”

Seriously?  A nation that prides itself on living a life of “law and order” does not want to live by “law and order”?

Bolton took the occasion of an appearance before a group of lawyers to declare the US government’s defiance of any constraint on its actions under international law, which he characterized as an attack on American sovereignty. His main concern was not so much for front-line soldiers, as for the decision-makers, from military commanders on the battlefield to war planners and strategists in Washington, right up to the White House itself, who he said were in danger of being “intimidated” by the threat of war crimes charges.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/09/11/bolt-s11.html

This is the perfect situation to explain a Trump as president.  The rules and laws do not apply to the US for we can do as we want with no interference of laws.

I feel it should be mandatory if a nation is to do business globally then the ICC member they should be.

Kuwait, Thanx For Nothing

As most visitors know is that I spend a lot of time reading and writing about the Middle East.  The one country in the region that should be our closest ally is Kuwait.

I realize that a good portion of my readers are young and may not be aware of why Kuwait should be our closest Middle East friend.

Image result for Kuwait

I shall give a short history…..after Iran/Iraq signed a ceasefire from their 10 year war….Iraq’s Saddam turned his attention to his mneighbor to the South, Kuwait.

On Aug. 2, 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, his small neighbor to the South and set in motion a chain of events that would impact America and the rest of the world forever. Within mere days, Operation Desert Shield was in full swing with U.S. Military Personnel streaming into Saudi Arabia. Over the next 6 months the buildup of U.S. forces would total close to 700,000 Americans. On January 16th 1991 Operation Desert Storm was launched following Saddam Hussein’s refusal to heed U.N. Resolution 678 by refusing to withdraw his Iraqi forces from Kuwait by January 15, 1991 deadline. After a more than four weeks of relentless bombardment by U.S. and coalition Air Strikes, the ground phase kicked in and was completed in an astounding 100 hours!

http://www.desert-storm.com/

The US went to war to get some justice for Kuwait and the events that followed Iraq’s invasion.

It appears that Kuwait is pulling a way from the US and towards the nations of Iran and China…..

The relationship with Kuwait should be one of the United States’ strongest, but it is starting to fray. There’s still time to set it right, and the Kuwaiti Emir’s visit to Washington last week was a good start. Meanwhile, however, investors remain on edge, as they have been ever since officials in this Gulf state froze millions of dollars in American and international assets without any clear explanation.

Candidly, there’s a lot going on in Kuwait that’s suspect. The regime seems to be cozying up to Iran and China, officials have made remarks about Israel that are just short of incendiary, and corruption surrounding the delivery of supplies to U.S. troops stationed there has been highly disruptive. Americans, it seems to me, have the right to expect better from those whom they saved by leading an international intervention after their country was invaded by Saddam Hussein.

https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2018/09/10/kuwait_is_not_behaving_like_a_us_ally_112871.html

This is the thanks we get for helping Kuwait regain its country from the hands of Saddam.

Just another reason for me not to like the idea of the US going to war to “help” our friends.

Hunger: The Saddest Injustice

A good friend and blogger (https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/ ) got me to thinking about the issue of hunger….as always I have an opinion on that issue as well…….

There were times during my life when food was a major concern…..I admit that I had gone to bed hungry…..the saddest injustice for me is hunger.

I have tried to focus on hunger here on IST…..

https://lobotero.com/2008/12/22/hunger-is-growing/

https://lobotero.com/2010/02/03/hunger-is/

Then we have TV shows that waste food for entertainment….pumpkin chunking. bowling with raw turkey, etc.  I find all such “entertainment” disgusting……but let’s look at hunger right here in the US, that shining city on the hill…..

  1. 1 in 6 people in America face hunger.
  2. The USDA defines “food insecurity” as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for all household members. In 2011, households with children reported a significantly higher food insecurity rate than households without children: 20.6% vs. 12.2%.
  3. Food insecurity exists in every county in America. In 2013, 17.5 million households were food insecure. More and more people are relying on food banks and pantries. Collect food outside your local supermarket for a local food bank. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout GL.
  4. 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
  5. In the US, hunger isn’t caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
  1. More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3.
  2. Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast, and only 10% have access to summer meal sites.
  3. For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food programs.
  4. 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
  5. 40% of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.
  6. These 8 states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.6%): Arkansas (21.2%), Mississippi (21.1%), Texas (18.0%), Tennessee (17.4%), North Carolina (17.3%), Missouri (16.9%), Georgia (16.6%), Ohio (16.0%).  (source:  dosomething.org)

Kinda sad from a country that can spend $1.5 trillion on a war that it cannot win.

It is a world problem not just one for the US…..and as the world’s nations grow more wealthy the hunger rate never changes……

It’s impossible to ignore the growth of economic inequality in each corner of the planet. Vulgarity is the order of the day, with the very rich hoarding vast amounts of wealth while the poor scratch the earth for their livelihood. The British-based charity group Oxfam has done an important service by offering an annual indication of the gravity of inequality. This year, Oxfam noted that a mere 42 rich people have as much wealth as 3.7 billion poor people. What is most astounding is that in 2017, 82 percent of the social wealth produced by the world’s people was vacuumed into the bank accounts of the wealthiest 1 percent among us. This is not an ancient problem, in other words, but a current problem posed by the structure of capitalism: goods and services are produced socially, but profit is sequestered privately—and with fewer and fewer hands able to seize this profit.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/09/05/hunger-warning

Every generation wants to end world hunger and very generation fails to do so.

I just cannot see a way to make the elimination of hunger  a priority…..words will not feed anyone…it will take action but where will that action come from?

North Korea, Along The Way

North Korea is once again in the news….NO we do not have a peace treaty and we have not got a deal to dump all nukes on the Peninsula……basically something nice was said by Kim about Trump and that warranted a couple days of news reports.

Some have said that the US is going about the situation with North Korea all wrong……

U.S. President Donald Trump came to office clearly determined to reverse his predecessor’s policy toward North Korea, one that he saw as stagnant and ineffective. “The era of strategic patience is over,” Trump declared in 2017. Other Republican voices echoed this promise to chart a new path. When Trump’s first approach, rooted in threats and bellicosity, offered little reason for optimism, the president shifted to diplomatic engagement.

What harm, many asked, could come from negotiations? “I don’t believe this is a situation where the president has anything to lose,” explained former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. In most cases, such confidence would be justified. What harm could possibly come from diplomatic engagement? North Korea, however, is not most cases, and the harm to American interests that appears to be emerging as a direct result of the Singapore talks may prove to be quite significant indeed.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/09/where-the-us-went-wrong-on-north-korea/

The news now is in a parade to celebrate 70 years of a Kim at the wheel….there were the usual suspects marching in review but what was not usual was the lack of missiles in the parade make-up….

North Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and its best-trained goose-stepping units through Kim Il Sung Square in a major military parade Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary, but held back its most advanced missiles and devoted nearly half the event to underscoring Kim Jong Un’s new strategy of putting economic development front and center. Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving brightly colored plastic bouquets filled Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square as the parade began, reports the AP. Pyongyang residents have been training for months for the anniversary and held up the bouquets to spell words and slogans that can be seen from the VIP viewing area. Those unable to attend at the square lined the streets around town to cheer convoys carrying the troops after they complete parade duties.

Although North Korea stages military parades almost every year, and held one just before the Olympics in South Korea in February, Sunday’s parade came at a particularly sensitive time. Kim’s effort to ease tensions with President Trump has stalled since their June summit in Singapore. With tensions again on the rise, a parade featuring the very missiles that so unnerved Trump last year, and led to a dangerous volley of insults from both leaders, could have been seen as a deliberate provocation. The “new line” of economic development has been Kim’s top priority this year. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter US aggression and devote his resources to raising the standard of living. This year’s celebrations also mark the revival of North Korea’s iconic mass games, which involve tens of thousands holding up placards or dancing in precise unison in a display of national unity

This should send the analysts into a frenzy trying to explain what Kim is doing.

Is this something positive or negative?

Well Trump has received another letter and a request……

President Donald Trump has received a request from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a follow-up to their historic June summit, and planning is in motion to make it happen. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that no details had been finalized, the AP reports. Trump had told reporters last week that he was expecting a letter from Kim. Sanders said Trump has received the letter, which she described as “very warm, very positive.” The White House will not release the full letter unless Kim agrees it should be made public, she said. “The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that,” Sanders said at her first press briefing in nearly three weeks. She cited the letter as “further evidence of progress” in relations between the leaders.

On Sunday, Trump offered praise for Kim following a North Korean military parade that, unlike past parades, downplayed the missiles and nuclear weapons that brought North Korea to the brink of military conflict with the United States just a year ago. “This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea,” Trump tweeted Sunday about the parade. “Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.” Sanders also cited the parade in her comments Monday. “The recent parade in North Korea, for once, was not about their nuclear arsenal,” she said, characterizing the event as “a sign of good faith.” Trump, she said, had achieved “tremendous success” with his policies so far toward North Korea “and this letter was further evidence of progress in that relationship.”

I think a second meeting would benefit only Kim…..the US would get little out of it and in turn would look like we were graveling to Kim.

And the beat goes on!

Trying To Reason With The Middle East

To begin this post with the statement that Our Dear Leader plans to leave troops in Syria indefinitely….

According to State Department officials, President Trump has recently abandoned his desire to “get out” of Syria and bring US troops home.  He has signed a new strategy, which includes new military goals, and eliminates all timelines for removing troops from Syria.

US troops are in several parts of Syria, mostly in the Kurdish-held northeast. An estimated 2,200 US troops are in Syria, though official numbers are being withheld from the public. Special Envoy James Jeffrey said the old plan was to leave Syria by year’s end, but now the troops are committed to an “indefinitely extended” stay.

The new goals are substantial as well, with the US now focusing on forcing Iran out of Syria and “enduring defeat” for ISIS. Jeffrey says the US is “not in a hurry” and that Trump is now on board with this idea.

(antiwar.com)

The Middle East is one of those regions that few people understand….most people just write off the Middle East as a region that has always been in conflict and nothing will ever change.

With that oversimplification I do not agree with in any shape or form.

The reason these types of characterizations abound is because few people understand the Middle East  and fewer attempt to understand.

By why is that?

A recent editorial in the Washington Post, written by columnist David Ignatius, offers a shining example of the United States’ difficulty in understanding today’s world and, most of all, the Arab world.

Ignatius conveys a genuine concern for “The Unintended Consequences of US Disengagement in the Middle East”, quoting worried comments made by a member of the Arab elite allied with the US.

The journalist expresses uneasiness about the fact that “American power and values won’t matter the way they once did”. His position is steeped in the typical intellectual milieu of American exceptionalism, a position based on the hardwired assumption that the condition for an ideal existence and a stable world order are ensured only when American power and values are strong and shared.

https://theantimedia.com/americans-middle-east/

While the US drags its feet on the diplomatic front…China is not wasting any time to fill all diplomatic holds that the US creates…..

Tensions between the United States and China seem to be defining the bilateral relationship between the two countries these days. From a growing trade war to the Trump administration’s characterization of China as a “strategic competitor seeking to undermine U.S. power and influence” in its 2017 National Security Strategy , political and economic relations appear to have settled at a recent nadir.

But great power competition between the two most powerful militaries and economies is not geographically limited. China is indicating its intent to shape the Middle East’s regional and military landscape through trade relationships with regional states as well as through projection of its own military might. Below are three areas to watch where China’s more assertive Middle East engagement may lead to tensions with America.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-china-trying-dominate-middle-east-29922

The US is having to take to the sidelines…..although it is arming and propping up several countries in the region in the event that they are needed to fight a proxy war for the US…..Saudis, UAE, Jordan, and cash sucker Israel.

If the US loses the Middle East to China then I believe that the consequences will be great.

Teach Me How To Do The Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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