Mixed Bag: Wrong on Tariffs, Got Hacked?, Garrett for President 2028?

My last post on tariffs was very good if you haven’t read it yet. I just want to make one clarification about that post. Throughout the post, I mention the possibility of plan to make tariffs a bigger source of national revenue. The problem is that I wrote it just trying to educate people about tariffs and thinking after research I could present a plan to help relieve the tax burden. After some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was totally misguided. I know that free trade is a great economic benefit for every country. I never proposed doing away with it. I’ve come to the realization that I was wrong about tariffs. I don’t think there’s way to make tariffs viable without starting multiple trade wars or killing off American businesses. The explanation is simple. Its basically a tariff on imports would make many products that aren’t produce here in America very expensive to the consumer. A tariff on exports would create tension between the US and other countries whom export to us. The bottom line is that tariffs in this free trade world just won’t work either politically or economically.

This particular post is a mixed bag of goodies such as the tariff plan which is not happening. I’m going to try to keep short, not sure that is possible for me. (See any other post) I think that first I want to address the Russia hacking. I don’t usually like to give these ridiculous stories that people call “news” any sort of attention. However, its been bothering me. The problem I have with the story is not that Russia tried to hack, or that Trump wanted to them to hack, or even the debate over whether or not its true. There are conflicting reports that the hacking was made up. Whatever the case is, I find it completely ridiculous. The best I came up with to describe it was this unusual status I made on my facebook:

The Russians interfered with my whole life, hacked my SATs scores, college transcripts, my facebook, my old myspace account, and all four of my email addresses. (I lost count actually) Apparently its totally a valid excuse for why I’m such a failure. You want to see proof just look at how big of a loser I am. This my friends is what the federal government and Democratic party are doing. How pathetic and sad can you honestly get? Trump won because people are tired of Obama and his socialist policies that really haven’t worked. They don’t like the increased terrorism and racial strife. I don’t believe that Trump is the solution but blaming your problems on Russia is ridiculous. Trying to start World War 3 is dumb. If I could run for President in 2020 I would, because the only people who seem to be politicians are idiots.

I think that I make a valid point of how this Russia hacking is playing out in the media. I’ve never actually believed anything the media tells me. I would recommend you don’t listen either. As they say: Don’t drink the kool-aid.  I thought I would just share that.

In an unrelated matter, I want point out that I made a half hearted declaration for President in 2020 even though I’m only going to be 30. If you didn’t know you need to be 35 to run for President. In the event that I turn 35 and I decide to run, I promise that my readers will be the first to know. If you are curious, I will be 35 in 2025, and eligible to run in the 2028 election. So uh, mark your calendars. If Trump doesn’t ruin us then I hope I can count on my educated readers for your support. I will be on running on the libertarian platform with a little bit of my own ideas mixed in. Just for fun, lets review my positions:

  • Against Minimum Wage
  • Pro-Adoption (Pro-Choice because 14th amendment and Against Abortion because its killing)
  • Audit the Fed (Reserve) (Hold them accountable)
  • Pro-free trade
  • Cut spending and actually lower taxes (Against raising taxes on anyone)
  • Hold the Department of Defense accountable (military industrial complex)
  • Make Healthcare a free market system (fix regulations)
  • Repeal the Patriot Act
  • Make gay marriage legal everywhere (states rights be damned, gov’t shouldn’t control marriage
  • Make marijuana legal everywhere (kills the black market and raises revenue)
  • Basic Income, see my post, Which also leads to cuts in all of the welfare portions of the budget plus a savings of about 200 billion dollars
  • Invest in infrastructure like high speed rails and roads
  • Pay down the national debt (again extra money from cuts over a course of 10 to 20 years)
  • Pull all troops station abroad and put them on the Mexican Border (Simultaneously, I would institute a streamlined immigration for legal and illegal immigrants basically just giving them citizenship after a background check and psychological evaluation plus for illegals a higher tax rate to ensure they really want to come here. No handouts here. All countries citizens welcome.
  • Slowly end all unnecessary government functions or phase them out because a big bureaucracy isn’t necessarily great in terms of cost and effectiveness. Including but not limited to my own power once I get what I see fit to be done.
  • Eliminate all Federal government regulation regarding education such as common core because teachers know their own students better.

Granted my plan is ambitious but I don’t just win the presidency not to make a major impact. I made this list off the top of my head. I made some vague positions and perhaps in the future I will get to expand on them. If I had to describe my presidential ambitions in a sentence or two I would describe it as:

I want America to be a fiscally smart, diplomatic savvy and self aware as a nation and as a people. Americans have always thrived on their freedom and their ability to govern themselves and that is exactly what I aim to do, is put the control in hands of the people.

I think my plans are simply for freedom and not much else. America has become extreme and its painfully obvious with the election of a person like Trump. I think we need to go back to our roots. People need to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are the documents that built the country. I think the words have significant meaning that puts being American in great honor. I also think that we shouldn’t forget our past mistakes whether its invading Iraq or the whole cold war, we should not let history repeat itself. I really don’t fancy getting elected or being President easy. However, I think i would really enjoy working to make a country that I’ve been living in and studying since I was a child.

That’s will do it for this post. I had to address a few things and next post will be more coherent, I promise. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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US Foreign Policy: Syrian Intervention?

Many people have found the heartbreaking videos of the Syrian refugees in Aleppo to saddening and angering. The Syrian conflict has been going on since March 2011. It seems that the conflict will not come to an end anytime soon. The situation is Syria is hugely complex. The conflict itself has many sides in addition to the international ramifications that could lead to worldwide consequences. Russia has already thrown their weight around with air strikes called in by the Syrian President himself, Bashar Al-Assad. The conflict involves major powers like the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, Australia and of course the United States. It also involves archenemies like China and Russia. Its a very tense and dangerously unstable situation. In this post, I want to praise the Obama Administration for showing restraint and handling the situation in the proper way. A rare thing for me to do. I also want to discuss the pros and cons of military intervention. Its probably more accurate to say that I want to argue for a massive humanitarian effort.

To my surprise, President Obama has perfectly dealt with the Syrian Civil war. Although he did help create it by withdrawing troops out of Iraq. However, Obama cannot be blamed for the conflict, it was many years in the making. Assad’s father had re-written the constitution of Syria. He tried to move it toward a democratic government not so connected to Muslims. After his father died in 2000, Bashar took over. He opposed the Iraq war and US invasion. He promised democratic reforms but ultimately fail to implement them. This created the events that occurred in March 2011. The peaceful protest all over the middle east suddenly turned violent in Syria. Assad went to suppress the protesters with violence. This act only spurred more violence and the formation of the Free Syrian Army. By 2014, ISIS had joined the fight and then in 2015, Russia and Turkey joined the fray. All told about 470,000 people have lost their lives. As for President Obama, he chose not to intervene with full military force.

Similar to Russian efforts, President Obama opted for airstrikes against ISIS targets. I’m sure glad he didn’t go any further than that. President Obama is very much against the war in Syria but even he knows the military intervention would be dangerous option. Not even mentioning the coalition that it would bring and the international controversy but the causalities would probably quadruple. Syria is a bigger death than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We cannot afford another extended conflict. I want to praise Obama for his restraint because I think most President’s in his position might be tempted to intervene due to the human rights violations. I think the case against intervention is that of a humanitarian effort. We also can’t forget that there would be some major foreign policy implications.

Let’s say for argument that there was invasion plan on the table with the backing of Department of Defense and a UN coalition not including Russia and China who have problems. Like usual with any UN resolution it demands that the US front the bulk of the troops on the ground. They call it a peacekeeping force to keep Assad from murdering his own people. But everyone else knows its a suicide mission to eliminate ISIS. Russia has a problem because Syria is their ally. Syria is in the Russian sphere of influence. Assad had called Vladimir Putin for air support. China is opposed because it sees the US as trying to grab influence and oil. The invasion plan calls for 100,000 troops over the next year or so. It calls for increases as necessary with full air and navy support. This plan could incur up to a million causalities in total. It could double the causality rate especially for the Syrian civilian population.

There is another plan lingering among some of the other countries who don’t feel that all out military invasion is the route to go. Germany used to be in support but pulled out. (Truth) For argument sake, Germany proposes a plan of humanitarian support for Syria. After the last terrorist attack on the Christmas flea market they can’t stand for this human suffering and refugees any longer. The humanitarian plan includes donations of at least 100 million dollars in food and supplies for each country who joins. It includes a plan for small force to protect the distributors of the food and supplies. Germany thinks that if the United States joins then it could help keep the international tensions of Russia and China at bay.

The problem with the military intervention is that Russia won’t possibly stand for more influence in their sphere. Putin has already show a willingness to intervene if it means that Russia can take that influence. Just look at Crimea, there were many pro-Russia elements even though they were separate from Russia, Putin decided that military push to annex Crimea with pro-Russia elements could extend the Russia influence and strengthen it. The pros to an intervention are far and few in between. One pro might be the decimation of ISIS. However, ISIS has shown a willingness to move somewhere better  and terrorists rarely ever stay put if they are being overwhelmingly attacked. It also a desired outcome of any terrorist to have the one of the most powerful nations come after them. It means they have power.

The cons of military intervention are those of death and destruction of the Syria society. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan dramatically change the lives of citizens. In an unforeseen turn of events, the Iraqis and Afghans have turned against the United States. The Syrians already find the US to be detestable because of their actions in the Iraq war. In a simple phrase, we have been in this situation before. However, I do think that doing nothing is not an option. The human rights violations call for action, but we can’t exacerbate an already violent situation with more violence. If a humanitarian plan is put forward either by Germany or any country it might be suggested that sanctions be issued against Syria. It might also encourage the elimination of allies trying to help fight. The more countries that join the fight, the more complicated it gets.

The humanitarian effort could save more lives. The humanitarian effort help the civilians who are stuck in the middle of this terrible conflict. According to the most recent numbers, the Syrian Civilian death toll is near 90,000. You can break it down, about 16,000 children, about 11,000 females over 18. The death toll is already too high, a military intervention could see these numbers triple.  I haven’t even mention the refugees already created, approximately: 6 million refugees according to the UN. The controversy continues with these refugees about whether to accept them. Germany has already experienced what many are convinced of. The Christmas market tragedy. I believe the UN should set up a background check system to vet these refugees for admission to safety. The dangers of a terrorist slipping through are well known.

Another unanswered question is that of Genocide. (Not to end on a dark note) Under the Geneva Convention rules on Genocide it defines a genocide by:

“Article II:  In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III:  The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide. “

Source: http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext-printerfriendly.htm

Has Assad and the Syrian Government committed genocide under the convention? Now I personally would have too look at who is being killed. We know the why. They were protesting for a democratic government, better economic conditions and the like. However, Syria has a rather large population of Muslim sects. This might need another post to cover. But it is a serious question to ask.

I want to wrap up this post on Syria with one last summary of perhaps a different of saying what I’ve already argued. The Syrian Civil war is a conflict that is extremely complicated and controversial. The conflict cannot be solved with war as evidenced by the past five years of fighting. The people of Syria are suffering the most from this prolonged conflict. The refusal of the UN countries to sufficiently act in a humanitarian effort is deplorable. However, a military intervention is not necessarily the best option in terms of the safety of the Syria people. As human beings, we have a duty to help those in need, those in suffering. We need to act to either bring help to those suffering in Syria or we need to figure out a way to sufficiently prevent terrorists from coming with those 6 million refugees to the United States and Europe alike. Humanitarian efforts keep the Syrian people safe and the international tensions at bay meanwhile a military intervention guarantees nothing but the antagonizing of the terrorist and America’s enemies.

Thanks for reading!

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War#cite_note-SOHR-90

Memorial Day–An excuse to BBQ?

I find this holiday of Memorial Day to be quite interesting from historical to modern context. Usually, since I was a kid in cub scouts, I walked in our small town’s memorial day parade. I participated in the wreath ceremony at our big cemetery. Then my family would go home and have a classic American BBQ. I only know of one veteran in my family, my mother’s father. Unfortunately, he never met me because of his refusal to go to the doctor with skin cancer. His name was Paul Chase. He married my grandma who is still alive, in the late 1940s after the war. They ended up having three children, their first and only daughter was my mother. My grandfather was in military during World War 2, I don’t know much about his actual combat experience if he had any. But I know he was a military police or MP. He was also an avid baseball player, a catcher. From what I’ve been told, I have his some of his personality. My grandfather died of skin cancer in 1985 and is buried in a cemetery only a mile from my house.

This accounts for the most of the significance that I put on memorial day. However, being a history buff and knowing how many wars the US has fought. Its strange to think to that we would celebrate such a sad and sometimes tragic event like war deaths. On the other hand, its not strange in history to see civilizations honor their fallen heroes of war. War is a spectacle like none other. It has evolved over hundreds of years. It has killed unknown billions. Yet here in America we celebrate the soldiers that are dead and alive, that have fought our wars. America’s intentions have not always been pure or even moral. We have waged wars to pursue world power. We have waged them to pursue economic dominance. Presidents have tricked the American people into sending their boys into war on multiple occasions. So what is the point of celebrating this off-color history of war? More importantly why do we BBQ and say “Happy” memorial day?

Memorial Day like other holidays are federally mandated by the government. Usually when the government approves a holiday it means all federal offices are closed. It also means that kids have the day from school, businesses sometimes close too. My point that I’m trying to make is are we celebrating the individuals give some or gave everything for their country? Or are we celebrating the fact that war has made our soldiers heroic despite the reason for sending them there? Regardless of the answer to a question that can’t be answered, I believe Memorial Day has turned into kind of sham. I never understood the whole BBQ thing because that’s irrelevant to war and soldiers alike! Along with that, I don’t the find the holiday to be particularly happy? Many people say “Happy Memorial Day” like Merry Christmas. Memorial Day is more of a solemn reflection on the soldiers who maintain our way of life or our freedoms. (If freedoms still exist?) I am for one not very happy that over 5000 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What did they die for, besides some stupid extreme religious nuts and some oil? The war has been more dangerous than ever and they had to give up their lives. That’s not fair to them.

Although I find nothing wrong with BBQ or the patriotism that comes out of Memorial Day. I just think that people should take it a little more seriously. In addition to that, we should be thanking our soldiers everyday for their service because they protect us even if its for the wrong reasons. Every day should be Memorial Day. I know that its a cliched argument. However, its clear that war heroes are very important, given that we have yet another under appreciated holiday called Veterans Day. Even worse than memorial day it represents a day off for 80 percent of people. I am under the belief that memorial day also encompasses those soldiers who are still living. The lucky ones who live through war, tend to have a lot of health problems. Its clear that the Veteran Affairs sections of the government is ill-equipped to give veterans what they need. The lack of fast service healthcare is even more a slap face to living veterans. Its just underlines the fact that a government run healthcare system would absolutely suck.

Without mentioning specific politicians, I just want to say that the mishandling of the VA hospitals and operations is appalling. Instead of Memorial Day being happy or about BBQs maybe we should be focusing on the real issues that face our veterans. I know that culture is a hard thing to change. My rantings probably won’t change anything. But I think on an individual level if we start respecting Memorial Day as a day of solemn reflection then it would be an more effective holiday. In addition, we need to recognize and fix problems that Veterans may face in healthcare and other things. I think one solution would be to get government out of the VA. Make it a privately run, charity donation based service. Have actual Veterans run and operate it so no scumbag outsider can steal money or fuck them over. There are enough veteran charities to help fund such an operation. If not, then the government can donate some money too, no strings attached.

Next Memorial Day, before we BBQ and get drunk and talk politics, lets try to remember the sacrifice that our soldiers have given to maintain America’s unique freedoms held in our constitution. Let’s also remember that war is not something happy, its pure hell. War is unnecessary till all other action is useless. If you are a veteran or current soldier reading this then hopefully you will be treated better than soldier’s past. There really is not words to say how much I have personally gained  from and appreciated your efforts. Thank you.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

US Foreign Policy: Candidates’ Terrorism Platforms

If you are just reading my blog for the first time, then you may want to go back to the very first post. If not, then you may want to read or re-read the first and second post of this US Foreign Policy series. In this series, I have offered some insight into our national security policies against Terrorism. I have also revealed our relationship with China and its vulnerability to change with a new president. In this third post of the series, I will try to wrap up the terrorism topic. Then I may write about other things for awhile until I can think of some foreign policy related posts to write. In other news, unrelated to this post, Donald Trump has indeed clinch the nomination and will go to the convention as the candidate. This is obviously not shocking given all his opponents have dropped out. I said in my last post that I would preview each candidates foreign policy platform and try to glean how that would play against ISIS. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump does not talk about ISIS specifically, so instead I will use his trade policy with China as a sample of his handling in international affairs.

Let’s being with Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state. She outlines a fairly specific national security plan. Instead trying to paraphrase it and make this post longer than necessary, I will instead just quote a part of it. The rest of it you read for yourself on her website, linked here. So here’s that quoted part:

 

  • Defeating ISIS. ISIS and the foreign terrorist fighters it recruits pose a serious threat to America and our allies. We will confront and defeat them in a way that builds greater stability across the region, without miring our troops in another misguided ground war. Hillary will empower our partners to defeat terrorism and the ideologies that drive it, including through our ongoing partnership to build Iraqi military and governing capacity, our commitment to Afghanistan’s democracy and security, and by supporting efforts to restore stability to Libya and Yemen.
  • Holding China accountable. As secretary of state, Hillary reasserted America’s role as a Pacific power and called out China’s aggressive actions in the region.  As president, she’ll work with friends and allies to promote strong rules of the road and institutions in Asia, and encourage China to be a responsible stakeholder—including on cyberspace, human rights, trade, territorial disputes, and climate change—and hold it accountable if it does not.

    ***

  • Strengthen alliances. From the Middle East and Asia to Europe and our own hemisphere, Hillary will strengthen the essential partnerships that are a unique source of America’s strength. That’s particularly true of Israel, which is why Hillary will continue to support Israel’s ability to defend itself, including with Iron Dome and other defense systems. If anyone challenges Israel’s security, they challenge America’s security.
  • Create partnerships for tomorrow. Hillary believes in free peoples and free markets. As president, she’ll invest in partnerships in Latin America, Africa, and Asia with people and nations who share our values and vision for the future. – Hillary Clinton

I quote two different sets of points. The two on the top are very controversial to me, because they are easier said than done and I will explain.  The bottom two essentially state the same goal but its actually a very encouraging sentiment to hear. Starting with defeating ISIS, it sounds like Hillary wants to use our allies in the middle east to help defeat them. (See the Italicized sentence) Although I find this to be a more tolerable policy then unilateral action, I still see problems. Naturally when trying to form a coalition to fight there will be disagreements. I think the real problems stem from who will pay for this fight and who actually can fight.

Let’s take Afghanistan for example, since the US handed over the reins of their newly installed democratic government, the Afghans still haven’t been able to re-gain full control. The insurgency is prevalent in interrupting day to day life. It also still requires a close relationship with US troops. If Hillary is counting on Afghanistan or even worse the center of ISIS in Syria to fight, then I think she is crazy. Now if we depend on other allies like Israel, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia; We might end up footing the bill. The sad reality is that typically the US does foot the bill for uni and bilateral action since we are the most powerful nation in the world. This is still leaves the question of would actually defeat ISIS?

In my humble opinion, I don’t think it would be enough. Nor would I say that invading would be effective either. I think Hillary should broaden the whole policy and include everyone across the world. Her stated policies of creating and maintaining allies and partnerships is the exact solution to defeating ISIS. The reason is that ISIS like other terrorism groups are fueled by fear and coercion. These two elements help a terrorism group achieve its goals. They are feared by the people, and they coerce governments into giving them what they want. So Hillary needs to make sure every ally that we can possibly have on board is ready to stand up against ISIS, not by fighting them but by not fearing or giving into their demands.

Before I talk about her policy with China, I want to highlight something I just said because its pretty much the point I wanted to make about the last two policies in the quote. The sentence in bold is why I like those policy points. Terrorism can only be fought with kindness not with violence. It seems to psychologically weird, however, the terrorism feed off of expensive wars and fear. Just look at Afghanistan. Now moving away from terrorism, I just want to make some quick points about her policy with China.

I have stated before that Hillary would follow in President Obama’s footsteps and continue the Asian pivot. If I am not mistaken it sounds like that is exactly what she wants to do. I believe that its a solid step in the right direction. However, I would add to her policy that we should become more economically independent by reducing our federal deficit. If you read my first two posts then you know that our relationship with China is securely hinged on interdependent economies. Speaking of China and moving into Mr. Trump’s policy, once again I will quote a part of it and link the rest of it, here on Trump’s website. Here is that quote:

Bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator.

Strengthen our negotiating position by lowering our corporate tax rate to keep American companies and jobs here at home, attacking our debt and deficit so China cannot use financial blackmail against us, and bolstering the U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas to discourage Chinese adventurism. – Donald Trump

Mr. Trump lacks any sort of real national security issue on his website. However, this tidbit gives at least some clue as to how Trump would deal with foreign policy affairs. I find it interesting that his first statement is calling China a currency manipulator. Now its true, however, if anyone knows how to manipulate currency its Trump, see this heated post. I am not completely sure how he plans to get them to even talk about stopping much less punishing them. The reason why I feel such a slight chance of punishment is because the UN would be handing the sanctions. The problem is that the permanent security council that votes on sanctions in the UN, includes members like China. So obviously China would block anything  like that.

Fortunately, Mr. Trump’s second point makes a lot more sense if he can do right. One way to stop China from cheating to rely less on their economy. Trump is headed in the right direction with both the corporate tax rate and attacking the debt and deficit. However, let me hope that he doesn’t try to use his boneheaded and stupid plan that I blew up in a post recently. Of course, the right way to decrease our debt is to stop SPENDING. Just to set the record straight. The last part of Trump’s statement is a little controversial. Here it is again: bolstering the U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas to discourage Chinese adventurism.

I’m not personally crazy on this type of policy because it could give way to a war that we don’t want. I wrote before when writing about China that the Chinese are preparing to try to enlarge their sphere of influence. The Chinese aren’t ruling out a war as the building of their navy would indicate. Once again, I think military build ups just lead to war. There is no way for diplomatic negotiations with increased military force in close proximity. I think that Trump and the US would be better off using economic measures to help combat the Chinese reach for world power.

I hope that this was informative and gave some insight on how these policies may affect us if they are put into use. The goal of this US foreign policy series to help educate people on the aspects of foreign policy. It should also make clear who you may want to vote for. A candidate’s knowledge of foreign policy is a highly regarded asset in political circles. I think that besides the economy, foreign policy is one of the hardest areas in politics. The complexity and multitude of variable factors is absolutely overwhelming. I will say that even I struggle to comprehend foreign policy at times.Fortunately, my background in History has prepared me well to understand it. I also feel that foreign policy can make or break a presidency. I’ll be honest with President Obama, he had almost no foreign policy experience. Yet he has done just alright, with a quite a few mistakes. The two bright spots are his Asian Pivot and his dealing with Syria and ISIS. Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed all the posts in this series, there will definitely be more in the future!

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!

 

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: 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!