The Argument for the Electoral College

Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been an unprecedented amount of media coverage and debate surrounding the Electoral College. I have not been even slightly swayed by any of these opinions and arguments. I think as a student of history having read parts of the classics like Aristotle and Adam Smith; add to that the reading biographies of influential founding fathers. A student of history knows that the founding fathers read and studied all the classics. The prevailing ideas of the day were based on the enlightenment movement starting in Europe and spreading throughout the world. It was truly a renaissance of ideas that transformed governments. Now we are here about 227 years of democracy later and people are suddenly up in arms about the electoral college? I want to defend the Electoral college as a necessary and proper institution in the American representative democracy. I think the term ‘representative’ is the most important word that validates the Electoral College. My opening salvo can be summarized as the blame game of the system that has worked over 200 years with approximately 56 elections taking place.

My first argument is to say that why must we blame the electoral college? Why is it not the candidates that we picked? The system is merely in place to keep the election fair and offset any disadvantages that typically plague a representative democracy. The two candidates that we’re voted in the primary to run in the presidential election, were by far the most despicable candidates in history. Both of them polarizing. One candidate had 30 years of public office experience with multiple scandals, corruption, and mistakes. The other candidate is an international businessman who went through multiple bankruptcies. He was a television reality star. During the campaign became well-known for vulgar statements about different races and the opposite sex. These unlikable candidates were the only ones who had a shot to win. So why is the electoral college the fault for electing Donald Trump? That brings me to my first argument for the Electoral college.The bad candidates has to make one wonder if it’s actually the electorate that is at fault for putting up the two worst candidates in history. We must remember that the people or the citizens of the United States are in charge of voting for the candidates in the primaries. The primaries can be rigged like the DNC did, however, in an honesty primary you would think the electorate would vote out the bad candidates? Hence, my first argument is essentially this: The founding fathers installed the electoral college because they didn’t feel that the voting  populace could effectively elect the right leaders.

The original source of this argument is from the Federalist Papers. If you paid attention in history class or if you have been reading this blog you probably know about the Federalist Papers. If you don’t then please look it up. The specific number was Federalist paper 68. Federalist paper 68 was written by none other than Alexander Hamilton. In no uncertain terms, Hamilton argues that the President and Vice President should have a ‘small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations’. The translation of that old English is that Hamilton believes its necessary that a small group would choose as a surrogates to make the final decision on the election of the President and Vice President. He even goes on to say this about who the Electoral college will made up of: “No Senator, representative or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States“. Hamilton believes the electoral college can prevent corruption because of these stipulations. Hamilton keeps repeating his argument and each time it gets clearer. This line that Hamilton writes at the beginning of the 8th indentation, is exactly why the Electoral college exists today.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.

I  would strongly encourage you read the whole Federalist Paper 68 because Hamilton is a master of his craft and gives a very persuasive argument.

My second argument is based on  previous Supreme Court cases that have been decided in favor of the Electoral College. The last time a candidate won a popular vote and lost the electoral college vote was George W. Bush vs. Albert Gore. The case happened over a just few days in early December 2000. However, it was not the first case about the Electoral College. The issue that is typically argued in the Supreme Court is over the 14th amendment. The specific clause in this case is the equal protection clause. The equal protection clause simply protects all people under the law within its jurisdiction. This means that you can’t make law that excludes a specific type of person based on sex, religion, gender, etc;etc. The equal protection clause also includes voting laws and vote counting laws. The first case on how states count their votes and tally it up for the electoral votes was McPherson vs Blacker. In this case, Michigan’s legislature wanted to change the way it calculated it votes for the electoral college. The Supreme Court ruled that the constitution gives the power of the legislatures to choose how electors are counted based on the popular vote. The constitution says the legislatures have power to decide in the second article. It was later expanded by the 14th amendment. In the Bush vs. Gore case it was over the re-count of the vote processes by county or district in Florida. If you recall the election of 2000 was too close to call because of Florida and their ‘hanging chads’. The controversy came from the fact that recount policies were different but the court didn’t find that the equal protection clause was being broken. The reason is that the Florida legislature had let the rules vary by county and district. Granted, Supreme court cases can be overturned. However, the point here is that the laws within our constitution and amendments actually do protect us from any sort corruption or problem that is purely systematic.

My last argument is one of simple logic. I have now presented two legitimizing reasons for the Electoral College. Here’s is my third one, that also doubles as a challenge to those nay-sayers. Let’s say we want to get rid of the Electoral College because it is not perfect by any means. What would you replace it with? My third argument is simply that I truly don’t think that the citizens of the United States would like the replacement. The replacement would be a similar system to almost every European and every other democracy or republic in the world. We would have to discard our two-party system. We would have to allow multiples of candidates on the ballot . The system that we would change to is called a “single vote majority” or a “plurality vote”. This means that the candidate with the largest majority of the vote would win. Straight up. In the case of this election between Clinton and Trump, neither of them would have won. We would have to have a re-vote. There was only three candidates in every state ballot for president. Clinton had 47 percent, Trump had 46, Johnson had 3 percent and Stein had 1 percent. The other 3 percent was for Harambe or Bernie I assume. Depending on the rules, the winner would either have to have 51 percent in our current system with two main candidates. If there was more than 2 candidates, then the winner would be the person who takes the most, in that case it would be a Hillary Clinton victory. It would certainly invite a wider range of candidates. I think its pretty stupid to ask for majority vote when reality is that this specific election might have had a different outcome with a majority vote. This doesn’t mean the future elections won’t also be negative outcomes with a majority vote. If another candidate similar to Trump comes along after getting rid of the Electoral College then we are at the mercy of majority. It’s odd that many of the same people who want to get rid of the Electoral College are in the minority. (Very strange to me?)

To wrap up my post and conclude my point, I want to finish my arguments by saying that the Electoral College actually levels the playing field in every election. The electoral college makes sure that every voice is heard. The states with the higher electoral votes are more populated, like California, New York, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The states with the lower electoral votes are less populated and it’s not surprising that there is more of them. I believe that if you think population shouldn’t matter then you probably don’t understand urbanization. America used to be a farming society and it has transitioned into a mostly urban society. The cities on each of the coasts and elsewhere hold nearly 50 percent of the United States populace.You can almost guarantee whoever the cities vote for will have a chance to win. If in the off-chance like this  year and in 2000, you can get a coalition of rural states and a few swing states to change color, that is when you get a President Trump. Let’s face the facts the electoral college isn’t to blame for Trump. Remember that Trump was elected in the primary. Trump was basically allowed the majority of Republican and non-Republican voters alike to run for President. If nothing else, Trump used the electoral college to his advantage better than Hillary. I could easily argue that Hillary had an easier path to victory. All she had to do was win either Ohio or Florida plus two other states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. Her coalition of Democrat states includes two of the biggest in New York and California.

So please next time you want to blame the Electoral College, don’t blame the system that was put in place and has worked for 227 years. Look at the voters, look at yourself. People vote for the president. People are responsible for the candidates that are put up to run for office. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps people understand why the Electoral College is necessary and proper!

“Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,” yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.” — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 68

Citations:

Quotes From Sources in Bold or Italics.

Hamilton, Alexander. Federalist Paper 68: Mode of Electing the President, March 14th 1788. Lillian Goldman Law Library, 2008. Link Here

Denniston, Lyle. Constitution Check: Is winner take all Electoral College Voting in trouble?, Constitution Center. January 29, 2013. Link Here

Cornell University Law: Legal Information Institute: Bush vs. Gore, Supreme Court. December, 2000 Link Here

The featured picture is the electoral map of the US for the 2016 Election. The red represents where Trump won. The blue represents where Hillary won. Trump won mostly rural areas meanwhile Hillary won mostly urban. Population does matter.

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Meddling in the Middle East: Aid Trouble

Before I go into my headline topic on the middle east, I want to just take moment to say that I called the stock market crash and rebound after the Brexit vote last week. After nearly three days of down stocks, the market has returned almost all the losses. Once again I want to reiterate that the long-term economic and political results won’t be seen for at least 3 to 5 years. Now let me switch gears into a very controversial topic that relates to terrorism and the middle east. Today I want to discuss the absurdly of the US foreign policy toward Israel. I also want touch on tragic airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey that was supposedly planned by ISIS. My main focus of this post is to make the point that Israel should be able to accept being an US ally without needing over 50 billion dollars for military aid.

First up, I want to mourn for the victims of the airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a horrible and savage attack. The death toll has reach nearly 50 people with over 200 people injured. I think that its very necessary to use caution especially when traveling abroad. You never know when ISIS will strike. The US response was about as usual as it could be. There isn’t much choice but to strengthen the airport security. It’s very unfortunate for the Turkish people for whom terrorist attacks have been increasing in the past year. You can find part of the reason in the civil war in Syria which continues to raise havoc in the region. Turkey also has some domestic terrorist which are just as bad. Turkey actually relies on tourism for a good part of their economy. Hopefully the Turkish government can take the necessary steps to deter and stop more attacks. They can also thank Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. Unfortunately President Obama and Hillary Clinton conceived a foreign policy that led to the creation of ISIS because of power void. This absence of power is thanks to George W. Bush, however, without a stable government in the area it was pretty much impossible to stop the formation of a terror group.

On the topic of stable governments in the middle east, there is at least one US ally that is not named Saudi Arabia or Jordan. That US ally is also one of the world’s nuclear powers. The small nation of Israel, location centrally in the middle east. A key ally in helping maintain a balance of power in the thick of US hatred. Recently, there was news about the agreements that happen each year between the US and Israel. This time around it seems that President Obama is standing up against Israel. The article highlights the main facts surrounding the Israeli-American defense agreement that sends 50 billion dollars a year of taxpayer to help fund the Israeli military. It also says that Obama wants to cut out his part of the agreement. The agreement also deals with civilian aid and economic aide. For once, I think President Obama is making the right move with Israel and here’s why.

First, no other country gets such special treatment like the Israeli’s do. Not the UK, not France, not anybody. Israel is the only country in the world that gets to spend its US aid on military weapons. Now granted, this policy was formed after World War 2 because of the holocaust and the need to protect the Jewish population. However, its has been a signficant amount of time since then, about 70 years. President Obama correct asserts that Israel should start paying for their own military. Second, it is not fair to the American taxpayers (that’s me and you) to have pay for defense that typically never benefits them. The reason why it never benefits US citizens is because just look at the middle east! It’s a fucking mess. I don’t think Israel has done much to help the situation.

The third problem is that America can no longer afford to keep shoveling 50 billion a year to Israel. We have enough debt as it is. We have a huge military and trust me its enough to defend Israel if its necessary. You might say “Oh but what about Iran, don’t they want to wipe Israel off the map?” Yes, that’s true. However, I think Israel will be fine since they have nuclear weapons and Iran just signed an agreement to not have them. The deterrence factor should come into play here. My problem with this is just about the money. I think the Israeli’s have always been a great ally and never tried to play us or trick us. However, many nations are America’s ally for benefits and many of them do it without 3 billion a year in military.

I am so proud of President Obama. His foreign policy has been characterized as soft and lacking. I think this is a bold move that Israel definitely won’t like but what are they going to do? Obama is so right to play hardball. Obama should absolutely stick up for American taxpayers. I honestly just don’t give shit about how good of ally and let me explain it in simpler terms. For example, let’s say you have two different friends. Both friends you’ve known for 15 years. Both friends provide you the same support and kinship that you love about them. The difference is that one friend only hits you up when they need money. The other friend is always down to pay for their own shit. Israel is like the friend that only hits you up for money. It’s not a very good way to be a friend. If you are only in it for the money!

I don’t want to sound anti-Semitic or anything, but I really think it’s an unnecessary amount of money. America is going through its own economic crisis. This crisis has been brought on in part by the spending of the military industrial complex. Trust me, 16 trillion dollars of our national debt is not just from bailouts and social programs. 16 trillion dollars is the estimation by a great scholar by the name of Paul A.C Koistnen. He is a tremendous scholar whom I gotten advice from. He is an expert on the military industrial complex with about 10 books in publication. I recommend that you read up on him. His estimate of 16 trillion dollars is the amount that the military industrial complex has cost the US since the end of World War 2. That is nearly 76 percent of the national debt. So I just want to end by congratulating President Obama on his good move and I hope that he continues to push to get rid of the 3 billion subsidization.

Thank you for reading!

 

US Foreign Policy: Terrorism is the New War

Welcome back to the second installment of US Foreign Policy  as it relates to the presidential candidates and their future presidencies. Today, I will continue a little bit on my China and US narrative. Then I will start on a new issue which can be considered the most alarming threat to US national security. If you read or watch the news you know all about ISIS. I am more interested in how the candidates intend to fight back against ISIS. I will also preview a short history of terrorism, very similar to this post I wrote awhile back. I would encourage you to read both that article and read my last post: US Foreign Policy: Commander and Peace. I hope your ready for some complex international relations because these two situations typify two classic international relations circumstances. Just a warning, this post may be very long.

In my last post, I started out talking about the Chinese rise to a world power via economic dominance in manufacturing. I also covered the economic interdependence that tie the US and China closely. In my concluding statements, I talked about Hillary Clinton and her corporate connections that might draw us into war because of corporate and self interests. Now I want to try to explain as simply as I can, the order of preferences for both China and the US. Trying to pick out preferences or national interests in this case, can show us where the relationship between China and US is heading. Its nearly impossible to predict because sometimes actors make irrational decisions. However, most of the time, it is assumed that actors are rational. A rational decision maker follows standard logic of any given circumstance making it easier to predict. Also my perceived preferences could be totally wrong because I’m merely an observer, not an actor inside China or the US. Observations can be inaccurate due to a lack of information. For the sake of education and knowledge though, I will try to be as accurate as possible.

Let’s start with China’s preferences or national interests. Its clear from Chinese actions that they want to build up their power. I would say that power is China’s first preference. They already have economic power but they want to be considered among the great world powers. The Chinese have perceived by history, that they have been sort of second class in terms of world power. This perceived lack of power leads into their two second preference or national interests. Chinese are looking to become influential within their sphere of influence. I can tell this because the US influence in Asian is quite large. The US holds some type of alliance or mutual defense agreement with Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam. Japan is a powerful economic engine itself. Also they happen to be a Chinese sworn rival. The last Chinese preference from what I can tell, is the continuation of their economic dominance. This is both a power AND influence preference because the economy can allow a country the resources and wherewithal to pursue their national interests.

Of course with any preference order there is a preferred set of outcomes. Based on the China’s building up a navy and their defiance of international law, one outcome is war. I would assume that in a rational decision making process they would try diplomatic  or non-violent ways to get power and influence. However, I sense that now after nearly 20 years of economic dominance they still don’t feel respected. The outcome of war is very likely something that the Chinese would embrace given their large navy and abundant population. The only downside is that their opponent is already who or what their aiming to be.

The US preference is very similar to the Chinese but for different reasons. The US prefers to maintain their power because unlike China, the US already has the world power and elite status. The US also prefers to increase their influence in Asian to push back China via the Asian pivot. America also prefers to increase their economic production to catch up with China. As you can see, the US preferences are similar to China’s because the US wants to keep China from gaining too much power and influence. The most important difference is the outcome of war. US does not want to go war with China, hence the Asian pivot. Another factor that helps US national interests is economic interdependence with China. It also hurts the US because China has the same ability to effect a war.

Now in the perspective of a presidential candidate like Trump or Clinton, they will have access to much more classified information and intelligence. The most important foreign policy decision in regards to China is how to handle their bullying of other Asian countries. We can’t get caught up in their games. Its very similar to a game of poker, if a player bluffs a good or bad hand, then its up to you to figure out which their trying to hide. Sometimes you guess wrong. I believe that as long as Clinton or Trump protect US interests only and don’t try to overreach, they can keep China at bay. At the very least avoid a war that might cost over a billion people due to nuclear weapons.

If you haven’t done so already, please read The Post 9/11 Narrative vs. The Past 50 years of American Foreign Policy. This is will give you some background about terrorism, also you could read my post on 9/11’s 14th anniversary. In order to save my word count and your time, I will get right into ISIS and how the candidates might deal with it. I think the best place to start is with former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Secretary of State is an appointed position within the President’s cabinet. The Secretary of State is responsible for diplomatic relations with other countries. Under Clinton’s tenure, the rise of ISIS happened among the civil war in Syria and chaos in the Afghanistan and Iraq. Many news pundits like to blame Bush for creating a power void that let ISIS come to power. I don’t want to get into how it was formed or why because it would take a rather complex, scholarly effort to conclude such a hypothesis. However, if we look back on how Clinton handle foreign policy situations we can see how her policies might unfold as president.

One of Clinton’s most controversial moves as Secretary of State was a decision to leave ambassadors in Libya despite the dangerous conditions in the north African country. The political scandal that has followed Clinton because of the deaths of these four ambassadors under her watch. It has become known as the Benghazi Scandal. I feel like Clinton’s handling of the situation was poor, however the surprise attack cannot be faulted on her. At the same time, she should have known that surprise attacks are common and had prepare an appropriate security force to protect those ambassadors. I think from this situation, I gather the Clinton will follow a policy of national interests over human interests. During her tenure, she choose to remain out of the Syrian Civil War, which has just begun a year or two earlier. This was despite the reports of Syrian president Assad killing his own people. Once again, Clinton doesn’t deserve all the blame because I feel she made the right choice.

The Syria Civil war is a very complex conflict within the country of Syria. There are multiple warring factions. It would be stupid to get involved in such a conflict. Even to this day, President Obama and new Secretary of State John Kerry, have decided to stay away with the exception of training some rebels and bombing campaigns. An all out war on Syria would be more costly than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Unfortunately one consequences of not intervening has been the formation of ISIS. We have seen how Clinton handled some situations as Secretary of State, but how will she handle ISIS as president?

In the next series of this US Foreign policy, I will take the each of the Candidates platform on Terrorism and see how that will work against ISIS. To concluded this post, I will talk a little bit about why Trump worries me in foreign policy. Then I will do quick explanation of my title. Donald Trump is by profession, a business man. He brags about his book, Art of the Deal. Despite Trump being a savvy businessman, I have some anxiety about his foreign policy. Business deals tend not to have as high stakes as diplomatic talks can. Trump has to remember that in foreign policy, he represents the world’s most powerful nation. There are other countries and terrorist who want to see America go down in flames. Trump negotiating skills will definitely come in handy. However, his knowledge of foreign policy is probably not on par with many other past presidents.If there is one thing he could do to sooth my fears, it would be to get a very experienced Secretary of State that has been in foreign policy.

Obviously I can find positives and scary negatives about both candidates in foreign policy.  To conclude this post, let me explain why “Terrorism is the New War”. If you remember in your American and Global history classes,  in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries it was common for States or Nations to fight against each other. There is a multitude of wars that pit two or more countries against each other. The wars usually start over economic, religious, or land issues. Now, in the 21st century, we have seen a dramatic change in the face of war. Since the 9/11 terrorist attack, we have seen wars not to conquer other countries for land. The wars fought especially by the US have been over religious extremists and some economic interests like Oil.  War has changed and so has how we conduct foreign policy. Whoever becomes President in January 2017 will be dealing primarily with a terrorism threat. It was much easier when Nations fought each other because you know who your negotiating with. Also it was easy to impose international sanctions. Now, terrorists are just groups of people with a common cause. They don’t care about being diplomatic, they want to use force and coercion.

In order to defeat these terrorist who feed off fear and overreactions, we need to unite as country. We need to unite as allies with Europe and Asian. These groups of terrorist are not new or invisible. They are human beings. Whoever is President will need to bring peace of mind and stability. Their leadership will be instrumental in fighting back the terrorists. I personally feel that their intentions are to incite war. The best defense against another costly war is to be determined to keep peace through increased homeland security of our borders. We must keep out those terrorists and allow those who deserve to be here, to come freely. The future of our nation rests upon the foreign policy decisions made in these critical years.

Part 3 of this series in a few days! Thanks for reading!

 

US Foreign Policy: Commander and Peace

One of my very favorite topics among the variety that history and politics provide, is foreign policy. The issues in foreign policy have long puzzled observers and political scientists alike. I will try to explain briefly the concepts by which foreign policy is conducted. I may also dive into the rich history of foreign policy. Sometimes, the best way to explain it is through situations that have occurred in the past. In this post, as promised, I will preview what Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will face in foreign policy affairs. The world has changed dramatically since early days after the Revolutionary war. The changes that can be seen even from World War 2 to the Cold War are tremendous. The US has always maintained an aggressive foreign policy with an isolationist tinge. Before diving into some of the issues of foreign policy, I need to explain some concepts.

The first concept is known as political theory. Political theory is rooted in ancient Greek philosophy and ancient roman politics. There are three theories that exist in today’s political world. First, Realism is the theory that says that states act in self interest and put security first. Realism is basically a theory of survival, its uses rational decision making to survive. This theory usually is best seen in early to mid 20th century during the World Wars.  The second theory is liberalism. Not to be confused with the Democratic party. Liberalism is the theory that people are by nature good and that non governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations work together. Liberalism is basically a theory of unity and sovereignty among large groups that act similarly. In other words, its a collective society of people that make decisions on consensus. The best example is Woodrow Wilson and his Fourteen Points, this attempt at world peace just before World War 1 is an example of  liberalism theory. The last theory is Neoliberalism which builds on liberalism by adding that states are the main actors.

In addition to these theories which you read more about here, there are some terms which I may use that you should be familiar with. Here they are in a list form:

Actor: a person or state participating in international relations

Rational: A logical human or state decision maker

Irrational: An illogical human or state decision maker

Interest or Self interest: The pursues of an actor.

Preferences: The order of outcomes which an actor perceives a better outcome.

Collective: A group of decision makers

Interdependence: The dependence on two or more actors on each other. (usually States)

Power: the capabilities of an actor, the resources, and might.

Sovereignty: ability to make own decisions

National interests: State actions in relation to other states.

So now that the boring part is over, I hope that you learned something. Just keep in mind these words because they are important to remember when discussing foreign policy. You may hear pundits and other news sources say that America is the world’s police. You probably have heard about Benghazi and ISIS. I have written a post or two on terrorism because that is foreign policy, however it significantly changes the game that typical foreign policy dictates. Let’s start with one of the most controversial foreign policy challenges. The upcoming contest with China. As you may know, China is the world’s most populous nation with nearly a billion people. If you recall, Trump has taken an extremely hard stance on the situation with China.

The problem with China is that they have communist oligarchy with a state run capitalist economy. The Chinese also have acquired world power as recently as 2000. China is relatively poorer than the US. However, China’s increased economic production over the past 20 years has given it new world power. The Chinese have not been shy about wielding this power. The fact is that China doesn’t necessarily agree with the US all the time due to the difference in government. It is also a fact that the Chinese are interdependent on the US and vice versa. Part of the Chinese rise has come from selling manufactured products in the US market. The other part has come from China buying up US debt bonds. So whoever becomes President will have a tricky task trying to navigate the tight relationship that bounds the US and Chinese economies together.

Unfortunately for Trump and Clinton, it won’t be that easy to assuage China. Of many complicated situations that arise from China there are two specifically that are worth mentioning. President Obama has devoted much time to what many called the Asian Pivot. One of the part of this trade agreements with Asian countries. The Asian Pivot advances an American agenda into Asian countries surrounding China like Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. The economic benefits of such trade agreements with these countries is debatable. However, more important it leads to the second issue with the Chinese. China have developed in a similar fashion to the United States, a sphere of influence. The United States’ sphere of influence reaches global because of our past foreign policy exploits, in other words all the wars that we have fought won have further our sphere of influence. The Chinese sphere of influence is mainly all the countries that surround it. With the exception of Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Tawian and others must deal with the power and interests of the Chinese. Japan might be the only country in the sphere that China has a hard time to bully. (long story short, Japan is a sworn enemy and its protection comes from the US exclusively)

Despite, the Chinese influence in these countries, the US still has been trying entice these countries to become closer US allies. President Obama has consistently pursue these trade agreements. As you can tell, the problem is that China and US will eventually clash because the interests of both states are at stake. The counter to this building tension in the eastern pacific is the economic ties that make both Chinese and US markets vulnerable. So what do you think that Trump or Clinton will bring to the table? Here is my opinion, for Trump I think he is a little ambitious with his plan to talk down to China. The Chinese really don’t mess around, they have been building up an a large navy. They aren’t afraid to use the US debt against us. Trump needs to tread carefully. He should in all probability follow President Obama’s lead and advance the Asian Pivot. The fortification of the countries surrounding China could act as an buffer to any Chinese aggression to expand their influence and power.

I know that based on Clinton’s secretary of state tenure that she will almost certainly build on the Asian Pivot. However, what worries me about Clinton is that her campaign support consist of corporations. These big money donors may or may not be involved some type of war contracting companies. Clinton would probably be interested in a potential escalation if it would help her reelection in the future. Now you can call me a skeptic and hater. However, let’s just quickly look back at the Iraq War. If I recall correctly, it was Dick Cheney who encourage George Bush to invade Iraq despite the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Dick Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton, a military contractor and oil producer. I happen to know about his secret salary he collected during his tenure as Vice President. All I am saying with this little expose is that the preference order of politicians is often hidden. The way that self interest can dictate how a policy is formed and executed is one of the most interesting motives in politics.

I will end here, however, I want to continue to discuss different foreign policies and further apply and explain how they work within the context of international relations. So please stay tuned. Thanks for reading!!!

 

The post 9/11 Narrative vs.The past 50 years of American Foreign Policy

The post 9/11 Narrative vs. The past 50 years of American Foreign Policy is a very long title for a blog post. However, let me explain in this opening paragraph why the title must be so long. I’ve written about 9/11 on this blog once before on the 14th anniversary last September. I wrote briefly about why it happened and the effects. I also recounted my personal experiences. The reason for this post is not necessarily about 9/11 but about the circumstances that were created afterwards. Just yesterday, ISIS sent suicide bombers to an airport in Belgium.The whole world has responded in horror and sadness. Yet another case of innocent people dying because of extremists. The 9/11 attack is an example of a bigger narrative, or more accurately its the effects of 50 years of misguided or mislead policies by the US and Europe. The post 9/11 narrative is one that can be used to predict how all terrorist attacks will be handle in the future. First, I want to explain the narrative and what it entails. Second, I want to briefly touch on some key moments in American foreign policy dating back to the 1950s. The 50 years in the title refers to the 50 years before 9/11. The last thing  is to bring all these narratives and histories together by presenting in terms of the attack on Belgium and how the US has handled it.

After 9/11 occurred, there was a lot of things happening in the US. As a nation we came together and united unlike any other time in our history. The exception being Pearl Harbor. The mourning for the loss of the thousands of innocent lives started. The most important changes within the US came in the form of policies. The US traded freedom for security. Security was tighten everywhere, football games, baseball games, events, airports, borders…etc. The US government passed the controversial patriot act which allowed the NSA to spy on the American.The US government created the TSA for airport security. At the time, President George W. Bush decided in 2003 to combine many of the departments that handled elements of security to Homeland Security. He put all the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense under one roof. In that same year, Congress easily voted to invade Afghanistan and later Iraq. Even New York City stepped up its police force and made stricter rules regarding safety on its public transportation. Now there is two cops on every other block in Manhattan.

Things changed for good. Today we still see these things as normal. The most telling action that occurred during this time was the start of the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars were not started because either country had attacked the US directly. Afghanistan was under rule by the Taliban. Iraq was under rule by Saddam Hussein. It was supposed that attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden was hiding out in Afghanistan so in retaliation for the attacks. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was allegedly hiding weapons of mass destruction. It turned out to be untrue.Both wars created a very important policy for the future. Aptly named the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine is a policy that uses preventive measures and preempted invasions or interventions to prevent future terrorist attacks. The Bush Doctrine has been used in countries such as Libya, Syria, Iran (Iran deal is preventive), and Egypt.

The post 9/11 narrative is partly the Bush Doctrine. The other part is political rhetoric. To justify these wars and acts to prevent terrorism, the politicians warned that terrorist did not like our way of live. They didn’t like that we had freedoms. The terrorist hate democracy. So in the name of freedom and democracy the American people were tricked into trading freedoms for security. But ask yourself, are we really safer? Now lets turn our attention to some of the events leading of up to 9/11.

The first event leading towards the creation of terrorist groups in the middle east is set in the 1950s. Iran was happy being ruled by a democratic government. President Eisenhower decided to have the CIA overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replace him with the Shah (Mohammed Reza Pahlavi). Iran went from being a democracy to a dictatorship. Why? It was a deal with Britain to take control over the oil supply for British and American oil companies. Iran would has not forgotten about this overthrow. Eisenhower was not done in the middle east either. He defend Egypt from attack by the Israeli’s and French over the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, it helped a dictator stay in power. This strongly affected many countries in the middle east because of Eisenhower actions it set up trouble later on.

Ronald Reagan also did some damage in the middle east. Starting with the bombing of Libya in 1986. Muammar Gaddafi was still in power at that time, and a bomb exploded in Berlin killing some Americans. The tensions between the US and Libya were already high. Reagan also sold weapons to the Iranian rebels. The Iran-Contra scandal was the result. These small but meaningful events all helped to contribute to instability in the middle east. Also in the 1980s during the Soviet Afghanistan war, the US backed the rebels of Afghanistan against the Soviets. They supplied leaders like Osama Bin Laden with weapons.

Now we are back in 2016. The attacks on Belgium and the advanced security of the US is in full force. President Obama said:

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium. We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.

“We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world”.

Hillary Clinton said:

“We face an adversary that is constantly adapting and operating across multiple theaters,” she said. “Our response must be just as nimble and far reaching. We need to reinforce the alliances that have been pillars of American power for decades.”

As you can see both these quotes put the weigh of defense on preventive measures. They both insist that America will be going to war. I could find a lot of quotes with similar sediments. The post 9/11 narrative of Bush Doctrine is still at work even today. American politicians are obsessed with fighting terrorists. I think its because they have the perfect justification for it, democracy and freedom. The choices previously made by the US government to intervene in middle east affairs over oil or disputes has been wrecking havoc today. The problem is not what many candidates or President’s suggest, its not that America is defense-less or lacks the ability. Its not that Europe hasn’t beefed up its security. Its that we have meddled in other countries business and disrupted the natural order.

I believe that terrorists are religious extremists and that they use fear and coercion to lead governments into retaliation. The terrorists don’t care what type of government or anything like that. They only see the non-believers in their sect of religious beliefs. If you can’t make people comply with reason then you go to killing and terrorism. The US government would be smart to realize that America has the defense resources and it could make the coalitions necessary to defeat these terrorists.The problem is we shouldn’t be attacking. We should be defending. Diplomatically, we pose a truce and try to work out the problems. However, if any terrorist decide to attack then we will be ready to push them back. This whole post is basically what the political science world calls an example of blowback. Blowback is a term used to described retaliation over actions between countries or groups.

I hope that this post clears up some of the misconceptions about terrorism. Terrorism is notoriously hard to stop. There is no clear solution. Just remember to keep alert. Be safe.

Thanks for reading!

Republican Debate: The Media Bashing Monster

I regretfully did not watch the debate last night because I was watching the World Series. However, the good news I was able to record the debate and watch it this morning. Let’s talk about the World Series because during the conference series I said that I hoped the Blue Jays would win over the Royals. My reason was that the Blue Jays are power hitting team similar to the Cubs. The Mets’ strength is pitching especially their starters. The Royals even before seeing the two games already played versus the Mets, I saw they could be a potentially dangerous opponent. The Royals with their contact hitting and situational genius are the Mets worse nightmare. That is what we are seeing in the World Series. Unfortunately, as a Mets fan I have to concede to the Royals because the Mets have no answer.

I also have another reason for bringing up sports before going into the nitty gritty of politics. I was watching the Herd on fox sports 1 and he was talking about the similarities of sports and politics. It is a very similar world where winners and losers are created through a contest, both being of physical and mental in nature.  Both worlds are built on big money and big time publicity. Both drive the conversation of the media. Rarely ever do sports and politics mix but as an analogy I feel they work perfectly.

In this debate, we saw countless candidates bash the media especially coming from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Interestingly enough, these two stand to gain the most from doing so. Mr. Trump kept quiet because as I have written before, Trump has the media to thank for the success of his candidacy. Almost everyone including pundits and others feel that Cruz and Rubio are the hold the line establishment republicans. One could also include Jeb Bush in there due to his large amount of endorsements. I will come back to Bush later. I thought Cruz and Rubio both put on strong performances. They were able to grab a lot of air time. They also made their points and plans clear. The more I listen to Rubio the more I actually like him.  I that think Rubio sometimes makes sense. He also has a legitimate shot especially if Carson or Trump fall apart.

As for Jeb Bush, it seems the end is near. This article that I have linked is a very interesting one because it breaks down the performance of Bush compared to the other candidates. Bush just couldn’t seem to gain any traction or talk time. Foreign policy was not Bush’s biggest fault in this debate. (They barely touched it) Chris Christie was another surprising candidate to me. Christie helped push Bush near the edge with his blast about fantasy football. Christie literally told him, “Look, who cares about fantasy football, if they want to play let them” I thought Christie along with Mike Huckabee also put on a strong performance. Huckabee has never been my favorite candidate. He’s a little too much into religion and pushing it on others. The problem is not that he is religious but that he is willing to criticize and tried to convert anyone who isn’t. Let’s face it, Huckabee, this country is moving away from not towards to god. Fewer people attend church every Sunday now than ever in the history of this country!

Before I move on to Rand Paul’s performance, I want to rant and rave about this fantasy football thing. I believe each candidate nailed it when they said government should not be involved. However, I do believe that unregulated gambling is above the law. These daily fantasy companies definitely stretch the rules. I don’t care if people want to gamble all their money away. The problem I have is that they might actually just be blind robbing people. I read articles that their commercials which are annoying as hell, fleece the regular person who would want to play. The word ‘fleece’ means trick in this case. They show these people who are actually professional gamblers that win millions. Its not right. At least portray the reality of the game. I think that regulation to make sure there is no false advertising and there is no insider advantage. Also stop playing so many damn annoying commercials!

Pheww.

Ok then, Rand Paul’s debate performance was lackluster because he got very little air time. It seems like my man Rand always the shaft on air time. Either way, when he did get a chance to talk, he made it count. He set some things straight about taxes, the fed, and healthcare. I love how everyone says Dr. Carson is sooooo fucking great. Bullshit. I’d take Rand Paul as my doctor any day of the week. Excuse my french. For one thing, I do like Rand’s tax plan as I have written in previous posts.  I think Rand is a dark horse candidate. Despite the media ignoring him, he is still doing well. Also unlike other candidates, Rand is a class act and polite. I think its going to take more than no media attention to kill his campaign. Give me any candidate against Rand and I’ll take Rand’s view on the issues 80 percent of the time. Vote Rand.

Now let’s turn our attention to the two clowns in front. Dr. Jykell and Mr. Hyde. Aka Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump. I thought they both underperformed. I feel like Trump’s punch lines have gotten old and stale. He has been saying the same things about the same issues. Its boring. I know that they have worked in the past. I would also place the blame on the moderators who literally asked him the stupidest questions (fittingly). While Trump struggles to find a new tune to scream, Dr. Carson just finds new ways to look like a novice. I just can’t get over Dr. Carson’s inability to explain his views on issues. I also feel like  he has no clue what he is talking about. Seriously. Especially with foreign policy, I rather have Jeb Bush. (Rand Paul over anyone else) There is a big part of me that wants to see both of these candidates get lost. They might be outsiders but I don’t think they can run it properly.

The only two people whom I didn’t mention is the Ohio governor John Kasich. I felt like he did a lot of talking. Unfortunately it was always the same thing. “I have a proven record and a plan to fix Washington.” (Repeat 7 times) OK Mr. Kaisch WE GET IT. ugh. We know that you did it in OHIO. If Ohio is so great then why can’t Lebron James fix the Cavs? Riddle me that. I digress. And Carly Fiorina. Carly seem to do okay. My opinion about her hasn’t changed. The moderators went after her HP experience. The only thing I do want to say is that if her and Hillary Clinton got in a fight, a big cat fight. I think my money is on Hillary. Clinton probably beats the shit out of Bill Clinton all the time. After all, Monica kinda made them look bad. hahahaha

To bring this post full circle, I am going to use a little sports analogy. With so many candidates in the Republican field the candidates have a distinct disadvantage. Hillary Clinton has it pretty easy as a frontrunner because other than Bernie Sanders there is no other legitimate threats. (Let’s face it, Bernie is hardly an enemy basically supporting Clinton in that debate) Meanwhile the Republicans face a longer and tougher road. In sports, usually better tested teams tend to win. However, the game is a little different. The problem that Republicans face is divided support at this moment. Meanwhile Hillary enjoys a strong lead with most of the support split between her and Bernie. If Republicans want to go for the victory, they will need to focus on maybe two candidates to push behind. The two strongest candidates both outside and establishment. The more voters behind the Republican nominee the better. The nomination is like a goal line stand, your just trying to punch in the touchdown. But you don’t want to use all your energy there, because the election is a marathon with the game going into overtime. Regardless of sports or politics, there is only one thing that matters, winning.

Thanks for reading!

Republican Debate: Round 2

The republican debate aired last night on CNN. The debate set records for viewership on CNN with 23 million tuning in to hear what the candidates had to say. One of those 23 million viewers was me. I watched the whole debate from 6pm to 11:30pm. It was quite a show. The early debate offer just a preview of what was to come.

I only want to touch two of four candidates in the first debate. Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. I thought both men had a good debate. Pataki was the more of a surprise. The formerly disgraced governor of New York seem to come out strong. He was able to bounce back the attacks from the likes of Santorum and Jindal. Pataki was also more moderate in views and was able to soften the hard political rhetoric. I thought that he performed well. Lindsey Graham was thought to have won the first debate. I will say that Graham was able to use humor to his advantage, making many good one liners. He was also very aggressive pushing his hawkish foreign policy plan to put boots on the ground to fight ISIS. I felt like his push for boots on ground might not be as well received as many think. I feel the American is going to hesitate to send in troops without a good cause. However, all the candidates in both debates strongly push the idea that Obama’s foreign policy has made the US weaker. The American people are definitely weary of another war. The test for Graham will be to show that his plan would actually work and be worth the cost. Overall, the first debate was entertaining and interesting with only 4 candidates.

The second debate had a long list of candidates. A quick google search of the republic debate will give you winners, losers, and analysis of every candidate! I took the liberty of writing down some quick notes about what went on during the debate. In order to keep this blog post from becoming very long  and boring, I want to just list the candidates names (not all of them) and then put a few short points about their performance in the debate. After this list, I want to highlight some themes and similarities across each candidate.

Donald Trump- Held strong despite personal attacks on his background and business failures, Was passive aggressive, calmer than the first debate, still wasn’t specific enough in his plans for immigration and leadership in foreign policy, would write off social security for himself.

Rand Paul- A few good rebuttals especially at Trump, Bush, Christie. Made some quietly good points, Wasn’t aggressive enough.

Carly Fiorina- Took on Trump, overcame personal attacks especially for business failures, articulated her views quite well.

Jeb Bush- Not aggressive enough, his family history was used against him in foreign policy, bashes Hillary Clinton about guns, admitted to smoking marijuana.

Chris Christie-Against marijuana legalization, bashes Hillary Clinton

Ben Carson- Went against Trump, not aggressive enough, didn’t make impact but also didn’t lose anything.

Marco Rubio- strong points on gun control: criminals ignore laws. Not aggressive enough.

Ted Cruz: Too quiet and not aggressive enough.

The overall themes of the debate were mainly on foreign policy, immigration, supreme court justices, economics and gun control. On foreign policy, almost all the candidates are for boots on the ground to stop ISIS. They all are against the Iran deal. They all want to stand up to Russia and Valdmir Putin. These ideals are all great for rhetoric but they are in reality much tougher. I’m skeptical that an American army intervention will stop ISIS. The Iran deal should be fine as long as we retain the ability to reapply sanctions. Standing up to Russia is a bit harder because Putin is not afraid to play hardball. Any candidate faces many problems around the world.

On the topic of immigration, the conversation centered on birthright citizenship and whether or not it should be repealed. This means changing the 14th amendment. If you aren’t familiar with process of repealing an amendment to the constitution his a brief rundown. First, the senate and house of representatives must both pass another amendment to repeal the 14th. Each house needs 2/3 vote. Then if it is passed the amendment goes to states. The state legislatures have pass the amendment. If 2/3 of the states vote for the amendment it passes.  If not, then it goes back to congress. I personally feel repealing the 14th amendment has little chance to work. Neither will a wall as Trump wants. The immigration issue could remedied by an in and out system to keep track of who is here and who is not. Some of candidates endorse this. The problem with immigration will be the costs of it.

On the topic of economics and taxes, the strongest candidate was Rand Paul. He gave some very concrete numbers and logic on the way to fix the economy. The other candidates like Trump and Fiorina were just talk. They probably don’t have the understanding that some of the other career politicians have of government budgets. This is not to say that Trump or Fiorina can’t manage. However, most candidates in line with Rand agree that some kind of flat tax is the best. I think they are on the right track but its more than just taxes that need to be cut.

On the topic of supreme court justices, the conversation circled around the reappointment of Justice John Roberts Jr. The controversy among republicans is that he kept Obamacare as law and repeal marriage laws for gay marriage. I thought Obamacare should have repealed. However, gay marriage was a good call. I think that any justice will have a mixed bag of good and bad decisions. I think it was a moot point because new appointments always come up.

On the topic of gun control, the candidates disagreed on how to do gun control. Marco Rubio made a really good point on gun laws. He basically said that criminals ignore gun laws just like any other law. I believe that Rubio made an excellent point. Despite his otherwise weak performance, he is right that criminals ignore laws. I strongly support more background checks and mental health evaluations. I  think that banning guns will not work because banning drugs hasn’t worked, people still use heroin and cocaine. So its purely logical.

My last takeaway from this debate is that President Barack Obama came out relatively untouched. The candidates were obviously skeptical of Obama’s moves as president.  The person who was attacked the most by far was Hillary Clinton. Trump was also attacked a lot but he was able to deflect it. Hillary got slammed for her foreign policy, social issues and corruption. I can’t say I was surprised to hear her bashed so hard. Hillary hasn’t yet offered response except trolling Trump for slamming Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish. 

This debate certain set some records in entertainment value. It has set up an interesting political fight for the republican nominee. I am looking forward to the democratic debate as I anticipate Trump and GOP bashing. I love debates and cannot wait for more to happen.

Thank you for reading! More on political fallout from the debate!