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!

 

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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!

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!

Rand Paul 2016: The Application of Politics.

Rand Paul is a senator from Kentucky and another one of 20 something GOP candidates for the presidency. Rand Paul’s campaign was supposed to be one of the front-running candidates. He was trumped by the Donald Trump steam roller. Rand Paul is best known as the son of Ron Paul who made a few runs for the presidency in the past 30 years. None of them were that successful. I have this feeling it’s because Ron’s platform was extremely constitutionalist and for some reason voters are scared of people who want to follow the constitution strictly. Besides his famous father, Rand Paul on his own merits is known as conservative libertarian. The goal is primarily about shrinking government and allowing more freedom for businesses while at the same time restricting some personal rights for security. Rand Paul is also well-known for his charitable work as a doctor. Rand Paul is one those candidates that strikes my interest because of his political leaning and his platform.

Recently, Rand Paul created a new application for iPhone and android.  Its called “Rand Paul 2016”. The application seems to be well put together. When you first open it, a black screen with styled white and red letters reads “Rand”. With a little red flame above the “a”. Then you see a picture of him in the background with the date and time in a little blue circle. Then you can scroll down to see all different functions. The functions range from donations to news articles to his platform. His platform is what caught my attention. It seems smart of him to put this on the app. Many American voters are not caught up with each candidates platform. How could one possibly made a decision without reading a platform? FYI: A platform in the politic meaning is just a candidate’s agenda for if they become president.

My last post reviewed the economic part of democratic candidate Bernie Sanders platform. What I want to do in this post is just review some of the more interesting topics on Rand’s platform. The platform information comes near bottom of the app just before the “fun stuff” section which includes a photo booth and meme creator. (I love this!) When you arrive at “Rand on the Issues” you can scroll to the right to see all of them. One of Rand’s big points brought up in last debate is ending the NSA spying. The fourth amendment is what Rand cites as public protection from government spying. If you’re not familiar with fourth amendment, the basic protection is from unreasonable search and seizure. Over the years, many supreme court cases have expanded and expounded parts of it. The fourth amendment was actually made because before the American revolution, the British took the liberty of searching ships and cargo without warning. Especially when the British crown taxed many goods such as stamps and tea. The amendment has evolved to making it illegal to search a person without a warrant or reasonable cause. The controversy remains about what constitutes reasonable cause. However, Rand wants to apply this rule to the NSA.  I think that he has the right idea. We shouldn’t have to worry about our government spying on us. Although I have personally have nothing to hide, i still think its overkill to have be watching citizens phone records, emails and everything. There are 330 million people or so living in the USA, not everyone is a terrorist. Also when is the last time they caught a terrorist in the US because of the NSA spying? Let me know.

The NSA spying is just one of the many topics that Rand covers. Each topic has a few paragraphs about the issue and what Rand will do as president. The next topic, I want to look at is taxes. The old saying goes “There few certain things in life, like taxes and death”.  Everyone has to pay taxes so this should naturally be huge issue. Referring back to my last post which is linked above, Bernie Sanders wants to tax the rich more. Rand Paul takes a different approach. First, he wants to scrap the entire tax code. This he claims will institute a 2 trillion-dollar cut. Replacing the old tax code will be a 14.5 percent flat tax on individuals and businesses alike. In addition, the plan will eliminate many federal taxes like estate, telephone taxes and payroll taxes.  He calls the plan “The Fair and Flat tax”.  A few paragraphs after bashing Obama and politic ramble, he gets to job creation and savings. Rand claims from research done by the heritage foundation–a think tank, that it will create 1.4 million new jobs in 10 years. He also claims that the first 50,000 dollars of income won’t be taxed. These are some bold claims.

To Rand’s credit, he is decreasing the world’s highest corporate taxes. I strongly believe that a flax tax is a good thing at least to start. The critics will say that the flat tax isn’t fair because the rich don’t pay enough or the poor pay too much. It’s all nonsense. A flat tax would work especially if set at the correct percentage. Rand wants to establish a 14.5 percent tax. I’m no math genius but percentages can work like ratios. The basic idea is that even though everyone is paying the same percentage, the amount of money being paid depends on how much money you make.  Lets say there’s two families of four. Family A makes 100,000 dollars a year. Family B makes $200,000. Family A paying 14.5 percent tax would have 7,250 in taxes. Family B paying 14.5 percent would have 21,750  in taxes. Remember in his plan each family would have the first 50,000 dollars tax-free. My point here is that yes if you make more money you pay more. However, it’s still fair because the percentage is exactly the same. Compare his plan to the rich paying less than the middle class. I really have to commend Rand Paul because I think starting out in a fair tax rate is smart. If he is elected and he institutes this plan successfully, then he could always lower or raise it as needed.

The last two issues I want to briefly discuss is healthcare and national security. Rand covers these two topics in much less than taxes. It’s actually kind of disappointing.  In the national security section, he mostly discusses how he would as president always consult congress. Of course, it’s mostly political but war is supposed to be approved by congress. Rand believes that this is only way that we should go to war. He does not state his intentions abroad other than standing with Israel. What I would really like to see is his take on the situation in Iran. I can infer from the fact that Israel is actually topic on his platform that his take is against the Iran nuclear deal. In no situation does one give Iran anything positive when supporting Israel. This is due to the nature of the mutual hatred. I just hope that Rand takes a more isolationist view for our sake because the America just cannot afford to be the world’s police officer.

On healthcare, Rand doesn’t dive into much details. He is against Obamacare. Not surprisingly. At this point almost anything is preferable to Obamacare. However, Obamacare has shown us what does not work. Rand writes that he believes in a free market system. The idea being that competitive health insurance companies would have to compete for customers with benefits and premiums. In theory this would bring excellent healthcare to millions. I heard mixed reactions to a free market system. Democrats don’t think that it will work. Meanwhile Republicans are all for it. I believe that free market is a good to a certain extent. There are still things that should be regulated. I do believe the government should regulate the insurance companies preventing monopolies and mergers. They also need to regulate scams and fraud because that can really hurt a system making it more costly. I hope that Rand can fine tune his “free market system” to truly help people.

Overall I really like the application. I think it’s a good creative to connect with millions of cellphone users. Especially those younger voters. It shows that Rand isn’t out of touch and even though his campaign isn’t like the grassroots social media force of Bernie Sanders or the News Media Party of Trump. Rand Paul takes a more conservative take on candidacy, pun definitely intended. I would personally say that I like Rand Paul. However, like with any candidate its good to read about their ideas on the issues. Sometimes, news coverage and popularity is not what makes a good president. At least thats not how its supposed to work.  (Download his Rand Paul 2016 in the Apple store or Play store on Android)

My next post coming soon. Thanks for reading!