Posts Tagged ‘foreign policy’
Ahh, Thursday – the beginning of the weekend in Oxford. Here’s what we’re reading this Thursday morning:
Coverage of Haley Barbour’s Pardongate expanded yesterday as the former governor came under criticism for issuing around 200 pardons his last day in office. Attorney General Hood’s efforts to block the release of prisoners seems to be moving forward. Haley’s defensive statement here.
- Mississippi Democrats are calling for a shortened legislative session. While this move is probably politically motivated given the recent Republican takeover of the House, giving the government less time to mess things up seems like a good idea. This is where Texas gets it right.
- The latest poll released from South Carolina shows Romney (23) essentially tied with Gingrich (21), followed by Santorum (14), Paul (13), Huntsman (7), and Perry (5).
- Another Iranian nuclear scientist is dead, further evidence that either American or Israeli forces are actively waging a covert war on Iran’s nuclear program.
- Another one of the reasons our military presence abroad inevitably inspires others to fight against us.
- MSN Money has a great piece warning about the dangers of another round of quantitative easing by the Fed. The author, Anthony Mirhaydari, lays it out: ”In simple terms: The Fed is laying the groundwork for another round of unmitigated money printing.”
- The Department of Justice asked a judge to rule in favor of allowing citizens to record police officers on duty. As Radley Balko notes, “The federal government rarely urges a federal court to give the government less power.”
- While covering the GOP primary in New Hampshire, Adam Kokesh had a surprisingly cordial encounter with a police officer discussing the use of recording equipment.
- Ole Miss YAL hosted Kokesh to speak in the grove during the 2008 presidential debate at Ole Miss. That video here.
James Robertson currently attends the University of Mississippi, where he plans to receive degrees in Political Science and English. He is the President of the Ole Miss Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook and Twitter.
Today, residents of New Hampshire head to the polls to vote in the nation’s first presidential primary. The Democrats failed to field a legitimate primary challenger to Obama, pledging their implicit support for his foreign intervention and disregard for civil liberties at home. Glenn Greenwald confronts this hypocrisy masterfully.
On the Republican side, though, things are a bit more interesting. Polling suggests that Mitt Romney will easily win the state, followed by a possible second place finish for Ron Paul and Huntsman in third.
- Tom Woods, who spoke to Ole Miss YAL after the release of his book Meltdown, is on the ground in New Hampshire.
- A recent Politico piece suggests that Ron Paul’s libertarian message is failing to inspire voters, referring to his stump speech as “a grim, thousand-points-of-darkness jeremiad that makes the rest of the GOP field’s somber depiction of Obama-era America seem sunny.”
- In light of the current election season, A. Barton Hinkle discusses the liberal backlash against Citizens United and why the Supreme Court made the right decision.
- Now that Romney is the established front-runner of the Republican field, several of his opponents are laying it on. Both Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman have criticized Romney for firing workers while working at Bain Capital. As James Pethokoukis from the American Enterprise Institute notes, the attacks are purely political and suggest that the Republicans’ understanding of free markets is superficial at best.
“Of course, Romney and Bain weren’t in the game to create jobs. They were in it to make money for their investors and themselves. Then again, the same would go for Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Warren Buffett, and just about every other successful entrepreneur and investor you could name. But that is the miracle of free-market capitalism. The pursuit of profits by creating value benefits the rest of society through higher incomes, more jobs, and better products and services.”
- On an unrelated note, Reason’s Brian Dougherty has a fascinating post which asserts that Haiti’s lack of prosperity stems from their insecure property rights.
Join us back here tomorrow to discuss the New Hampshire results!
James Robertson currently attends the University of Mississippi, where he plans to receive degrees in Political Science and English. He is the President of the Ole Miss Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
In his article for the Daily Times, Brian Cloughley argues that the sanctions the US uses to try and put an end to nuclear ambitions from “rogue” nations only succeeds in punishing the already destitute civilian population of the targeted country. However, the leaders of those countries continue to ride high with lifestyles MTV Cribs should consider for their next episode.
[Sanctions] penalise the poor, and not their leaders. One only has to look at the appalling situation in Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe, a corrupt and brutal dictator, is disgustingly rich (as are his evil henchmen), while the majority of citizens are starving.
Cloughley also argues that the US is extremely fickle in its implementation of sanctions. While Madeleine Albright says the benefits received from US sanctions are worth the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, Washington is quick to remove them when they are need of help from our not-so-fortunate Middle Eastern “allies.” Cloughley uses the US’s on-again-off-again sanction policy toward Pakistan to explain this concept: as Pakistan’s assistance is needed in US foreign policy blunders, sanctions are conveniently lifted. However, when Pakistan’s usefulness has run out, sanctions are quickly reapplied.
President Obama recently stated that he was going to move 100,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. In no particular order, I tried to justify the most common reasons for continued occupation:
1. To Capture Osama/Al Qaeda: While it is clear Bin Laden is no where near Afghanistan (and why would he be, he’s not even from there), someone in the country might know where he is. Also, none of the 9/11 terrorists were from Afghanistan, and the bulk of Al Qaeda is spread amongst 45 different countries (according to CIA reports). Therefore, a surge is needed in Afghanistan to enable us to move to the next country harboring Al Qaeda terrorists. If the occupation’s true intention is to capture and kill all of Al Qaeda, why would we ignore their presence in the other 44 countries? Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are just as dangerous as Al Qaeda in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, one of which is housing Osama and the other produced nearly all of the 9/11 terrorists.
2. Eliminate Terrorism: Terrorism can not be eliminated if there are no terrorists to eliminate. Since Al Qaeda is using our occupation as a recruiting tool, it is likely our evacuation would reduce the amount of terrorists (violent dissenters) available to eliminate. Thus, only by continuing our occupation can we create enough terrorists to be able to wage a war to eliminate terrorism.
So with the two presidential nominees set to spar over the Executive seat up for grabs, we are all left asking ourselves, “Which is the lesser evil?” I would like to first point out that I believe these two candidates are both horrible choices for president, but right now I would like to focus on the self-proclaimed change candidate, Barack Obama. I hear Obama when he labels himself as an agent of change; I’m just not sure what kind of change he is talking about. Seemingly, nothing has come out of his mouth that is a big change for democratic presidential nominees.
Perhaps he is talking about his change in positions. In February, when asked about vouchers, which involves the payment of government money to the parents of private school children, Obama said that he might be open to them. His reasoning was that if studies could show that they help to improve education, he would not let his predispositions stand in the way. An interesting stance seeing as how some studies show vouchers do improve education, while others show they don’t. However, after a little pressure from teachers’ unions, Obama quickly ‘changed’ his stance on vouchers. His position now is to not support vouchers in any shape or form. Maybe he found a foolproof study among the lot.
Speaking about the Cuba embargo, which is the US trade ban with Cuba, in January 2004, Obama said we should, “end the Cuba embargo.” His reasoning was that it had, “utterly failed to overthrow Castro.” In a speech given in 2007, Obama ‘changed’ his position, saying that he would not, “take off the embargo,” because, “it is an important inducement for change.” Let’s not consider the fact that the trade embargo has been in place for 46 years already. Has much changed with Cuba in 46 years? The US trades with communist China and Vietnam, yet we deny Cubans the right to American goods. Is this 46 year-old initiative your idea of change?
While running for US Senate in 2004, Obama said he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. However, in 2007 he ‘changed’ his position to fit in with his fellow democratic candidates in opposing the decriminalization of the drug. Obama has also ‘changed’ his stance on civil liberties. He now supports legislation to grant immunity to telecom companies that cooperated with wiretapping without warrants. Let’s not forget that Obama also voted for the Patriot Act, which is a gross overstatement of federal involvement in the lives of citizens. This bill lets the government illegally spy on its citizens, most notably through international phone calls. This is confusing if you consider that the democrat/liberal position of pro-choice is based on the Bill of Rights and our right to privacy, and, as Obama has stated, the trust he has of women to make the right decision. So evidently, he trusts us enough to decide if our children should live or die, but he doesn’t trust us to make overseas phone calls.
In January of this year, Obama described union contributions to the Clinton and Edwards camp as special interest money. However, once Obama started getting several union checks himself, he ‘changed’ his position. He now refers to unions as agents of the working people. How about campaign financing? Obama once was a supporter of public financing for campaigns and said he would accept public money as a presidential candidate if his opponent did the same. He now has ‘changed’ that stance and recently denied public funds so he could maintain his massive private fundraising. Keep in mind he will be the first presidential candidate since Watergate not to accept public funds. In good ole politician form, he also put a spin on why he did this whilst blaming his opponent at the same time. What a change! So perhaps the change Obama is talking about is the kind in his pocketbook.
Obama is also in bed with AIPAC, and is dedicated to Israel. He has recently sounded more like Bush in talking about the nuclear threat of Iran, which is pretty much non-existent. He doesn’t ever mention Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza’s 1.5 million people. He does downplay the threat of Iran to America, yet considers them a huge threat to Israel. I suppose we should risk the lives of US soldiers and the near suicide of the American economy so Obama can please AIPAC and keep Israel safe while not making a single American more secure.
The fact is there is nothing about this man that embodies change. People who believe this will be very disappointed in his performance. We deserve better than somebody who can merely give a good speech. We need good policies, and Barack Obama is lacking in them.
In summing up the presidential candidates, I don’t think I could come across an easier critique than John McCain. Republicans these days almost always seem to be a walking contradiction. McCain personifies that image with amazing ease. His warmonger rhetoric is enough to deny him my vote, yet he loves giving me new reasons. It really upsets me that the democrats had to pick such a horrible candidate for their nominee, because I would really like to vote against the platform of John McCain. Lucky for the republicans, the democrats have kept stride and chosen Barack Obama. I guess, for me, it’s either vote third party or not vote.
McCain embodies the reincarnation of George W. Bush’s presidency. The neocons that got Bush elected even when his opponent received more votes are now on the John McCain bandwagon. So where does John McCain fall when it comes to the neocons’ most famous issue? Well if you haven’t viewed McCain’s Beach Boys remake on youtube yet, let’s just say he aligns very well with the neocons on the war issue. That’s right, John McCain can sing, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” and not feel sympathetic for it. He actually said he was proud of it. He tells people to, “lighten up,” when they criticize him for his unique song writing ability. I wonder what John McCain would say if Ahmidinijad jokingly sang a song about bombing America or Israel? Let me give you some straight talk my friends; John McCain is not funny. It’s not funny for a presidential candidate to sing a song about bombing a country that we already are having hostile relations with thanks to the very rhetoric of people like John McCain.
Not only does McCain nonchalantly speak of bombing Iran, he confuses Iranians as sponsors of Al Qaeda almost daily. McCain has stated, “It is common knowledge,” that, “Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back to Iraq.” This, he said, “is well known.” Of course this was well known only to him until he was quickly corrected by Joe Lieberman and had to apologize to his audience. Of course Sunni, Shia, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Extremists: these are all the same to John McCain. One of the most important lessons in demonizing your presumptive enemy is lumping them all into a big nest of insanity, isn’t it? If you can make people believe that Iranians are all crazy and sing, “Death to America,” every night by the bonfire while roasting American flags and dreaming of suicide bombings, then you have a shot at starting a war that would otherwise seem immoral and completely ludicrous. Can you seriously trust a man who doesn’t understand the culture of the Middle East to be able to fix what is mainly a cultural problem?
McCain is even worse on economic issues. He himself has said that he still needs to be educated on the economy. You should watch his ‘deer-in-headlights’ expression when asked about the Federal Reserve and interest rates. When asked if he thought the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates aggressively enough, McCain said, “I’m glad whenever they cut interest rates, I wish interest rates were zero.” I’m hoping that was another one of his hilarious jokes, because it sure made me laugh. Let’s not also forget that if we do attack Iran, which McCain loves to sing about on karaoke nights, the Straight of Hormuz would most likely be cut off. If this happens, oil prices could very well double almost overnight, and then have a near endless rise thereafter. What do you think that would do to the American economy? Could McCain and his zero percent interest rates fix that kind of a blow?
McCain is also quick, with his new neocon agenda, to say he never supported amnesty for illegal immigrants. Yet McCain has been quoted with saying, “I think we could set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people,” and that, “amnesty has to be an important part,” to any kind of immigration reform. McCain has also stated that he would not even vote for the immigration bill that he helped write! Moreover, McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts and said that he would not support extending them. Yet now, he has come out with campaign ads saying he will make them permanent. So which side of the issue can you trust him not to do?
It saddens me listening to McCain and his opponent, because I know that both parties had good candidates to choose from. Maybe in a perfect world, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul would be the nominees. However, until then, we’re stuck with more of the same.
Turn on your television and breathe it in. The political climate is abuzz with new cold war fever. The big, bad Russians have invaded Georgia! But don’t worry, its America’s reliable news networks to the rescue with factual coverage and reliable correspondence. Oh wait, factual news doesn’t exist anymore in America, I forgot.
I’ll give you some history and a run down of what happened; something that American news networks
have failed to do. In 1991, Georgia broke away from the Soviet Union. During this time, South Ossetia also broke away claiming autonomy from Georgia, and has since been mostly independent. However, under the cover of the summer Olympic games, Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, attacked South Ossetia. The shelling was enough to kill plenty of innocent civilians, Russian peacekeepers, and send thousands of South Ossetians fleeing into Russia. Keep in mind that Georgia and South Ossetia are right on Russia’s doorstep. Therefore, Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia, sent in the Russian military and kicked the Georgians out of South Ossetia. He also used the occasion to kick the Georgian army out of Abkhazia as well as bomb Tbilisi, capitol of Georgia. So in a nutshell, our beloved, democratic Georgia started the conflict.
Perhaps Russia’s response was a bit harsh. However, who is the United States to talk? The US has invaded countries for far less than what the Georgians did. The US, under Bill Clinton, bombed Serbia for 78 days in order to force it to surrender Kosovo, a territory the US has no claim to whatsoever. Now, you have hypocrites like George Bush telling the Russians that countries don’t invade other countries in the 21st Century. Hello! Bush has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan all within the last few years! All we can say after more than 4,000 American deaths, over 85,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, and about 4 million displaced human beings is we caught Saddam Hussein… and he was a bad guy. Is that America’s job, to track down the world’s bad guys by ruining innocent people’s lives? How can America say anything to the Russians about 21st century morality when we are seen as the nation that causes war?
In addition, you have conspiracy written all over this, which Putin has already begun pointing out. If you dig into the situation, you will find that Randy Scheunemann is John McCain’s foreign advisor. You will also find that Scheunemann’s company Orion Strategies, according to Pat Buchanan, was paid $290,000 from January 2007 to March 2008 by the Georgian regime of Mikheil Saakashvili. In his article And None Dare Call it Treason, Buchanan claims that Scheunemann has struck it rich as a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to wars for client regimes. Is it fishy that McCain has come out so strong against Russia for this action against Georgia when his foreign advisor is receiving monetary funds from Georgia? Could it be that McCain needs a boost in the polls, and his best bet is to bank on coming out tough on foreign affairs and instilling fear by creating a lie about Russian aggression? Fear helped Bush gain support. Could it be that the US had prior knowledge of this attack on South Ossetia by Georgia, or worse, could have helped plan it? Many claim that it would be nearly impossible for the US not to have known about Georgia’s plans on attacking South Ossetia given the close relationship the country has with the US and our CIA.
Furthermore, why are we acting like Russia is always the bad guy when we have been aggravating them for years? When the Soviet Union collapsed they removed their bases in Cuba, pulled back the Red Army, and dissolved into 15 nations peacefully. Since then, the US has been at work bringing Warsaw Pact nations into NATO, cutting Russia out of the oil of the Caspian Sea which formally was theirs and transporting it through Georgia into Turkey, building an anti-missile defense system in Poland, and creating revolutions that turned over governments friendly to Russia and replacing them with governments aligning with the US. Is it any wonder why we are having bad relations with this country?
The next step will be sanctions, which could push Russia farther away from the West and right into the arms of China. This reminds me of how alliances were formed prior to the world wars; it’s frightening. This is not our fight, and if we don’t quit poking at the Russians there is going to be a deadly backlash.
So the debate has come and gone and while we no longer have the ability to walk around on campus with a high probability of being interviewed, we have been left with a few memorable moments. I personally didn’t find anything either candidate said during the debate laudable. However, I now believe my suspicion about their foreign issue stances to be affirmed. That suspension was that their foreign policy is nearly identical.
I have for a long time now been totally ashamed of American foreign policy. I am ashamed, not just because it doesn’t work in accomplishing its goals, but because it shows a complete lack of respect for human life. If I asked you how many countries we are involved in hostile relations with, how many would you guess? To tell you the truth, I am not even sure of the number. However, I know that right now we are still involved in a war in Iraq. We also have the blood of thousands of Somalians on our hands after we paid and trained the Ethiopian army to invade Somalia and overthrow their government. This crisis has been called one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world today with tens of thousands killed and millions left homeless. We’re constantly threatening Iran and are chomping at the bits to attack them. We’re picking a fight with Russia for retaliating against Georgian advances into South Ossetia. We want to send more troops into Afghanistan, and we’re beginning to pick a fight with Pakistan for not allowing the US to kill anymore innocent Pakistani civilians. Are we insane? Do we not think people within these countries are going to react negatively toward our actions? These are human beings we are murdering.
With all of these issues weighing on my mind, I get frustrated when people ask me how I felt about the debate. I honestly didn’t see much of one. Did Obama or McCain address the crisis we created in Somalia? Not to my knowledge. Where was the disagreement over what should be done about Russia? Did either of the candidates admit Georgia actually started the conflict or suggest ceasing with the threats in order to prevent a reemergence of the Cold War?
I think the most shocking moment of the debate to me was when Obama, talking about Pakistan’s unwillingness to aid in capturing Bin Laden or other Al Qaeda members, said, “If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.” This is a sign to all you Obama supporters who think he is the peace candidate. If you look at the situation in Pakistan, you will understand why this comment he made is totally abhorrent. The main reason Pakistan has been pushing back against helping the US is because their country is falling apart due to all the bombings we are initiating inside their territory. So maybe we kill a few Al Qaeda leaders here and there, but how many innocent civilians are being killed during these bombings? How long do you think Americans would put up with another country bombing us in order to kill a few enemies of theirs? I believe the US would have launched a retaliation strike before the first bomb hit our soil, yet these people have been putting up with it for years now. Why is it that we can murder innocent people but nobody in foreign countries can even burn our flag without Americans talking about how evil they are?
Now, Obama is saying he is going to send troops into Pakistan. Pakistan is already threatening to retaliate against the US because we have been killing Pakistani civilians in cross-border attacks, yet Obama is going to provoke a nuclear armed country by sending troops within their territory against their will. This could start a Vietnam type war except this time our opponent would have nuclear weapons. That is a war the Bush Administration would have trouble dreaming up, yet people see this man as the anti-war candidate. Of course the response McCain gave to Obama launching military strikes into Pakistan was, “You don’t say that out loud.” Lord help us!
Americans need to begin seeing the people we kill in reality. Thousands of people are dying at the hands of our government, and they are not our enemies. These people are innocent civilians, and we have sunken to the level of threatening to attack other countries because they are finally saying they will no longer allow us to murder its citizens.
Is everybody familiar with the cliché, “One man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter?” Though it may be used too often, this phrase is all too true, and very relevant to our current situation in the Middle East. There are several examples throughout history that relate to this, ridiculously named, “War on Terror.” One all too prevalent to me is the Native American/White Man struggle that occurred a while back.
Condensing this long struggle for land and culture into a few paragraphs will eliminate several points I could make; yet I will try nonetheless. We are in a place today where most people will admit the atrocities that were inflicted upon Native Americans in the early settlement of the Americas were horrible and unfair. We have issued apologies to the Native Americans, and tried to right the wrongs. However, most people still shudder when they stop to think about the horrors these people suffered at the hands of the ‘white eyes,’ or white man. Eve Ball wrote of the Apache Indians’ perspective on some of these events. She interviewed many Apache tribe leaders about what they went through at the hands of the ‘white eyes.’ A nephew of the famous Apache Indian Geronimo described to Eve Ball a night when his mother, baby sister and his uncle were all murdered by ‘white eyes’. It breaks your heart to hear these interviews and the completely inhumane treatment that took place during this time.
We wonder why people were so brutal to these Native Americans. However, if you heard of some of the horrors that people captured by Apaches went through, you would shudder as well. The Apache warriors showed no mercy to their enemies either. Their brutal retaliation made it easy to demonize them to all ‘white eyes.’ Therefore, Indians, the ones inhabiting the land first, were deemed terrorists. However, I’m sure the Apaches themselves viewed these ‘terrorists’ as freedom fighters. I would be willing to bet that the types of acts committed against these Apaches had a lot of bearing on the hatred they harbored toward ‘white eyes.’ During an interview, one Apache told Eve Ball he wished a nuclear bomb would wipe out white civilization; and this was in the 1940’s and 50’s! Think of the deep seeded hatred. But it is a natural reaction, considering white people had killed these peoples’ families. Even in this country, the defense given to the death penalty is, “What if some guy had murdered your mom or dad, wouldn’t he deserve to die?” This revenge mentality is the same mentality the Apaches had, and it’s the same mentality the “terrorists” of today in the Middle East have as well.
America has done more than enough to anger Palestinians into a vengeful mindset. America supports Israel, who is responsible for numerous atrocities against Palestinian people. America has supported brutal dictators in the Middle East, imposed harsh sanctions, built military bases on holy soil, and, as a latest edition, declared war on Iraq, which has resulted in over 50,000 civilian deaths, not to mention the water-boarding and the paying of other countries to torture family members of these newly created ‘terrorists.’ We also have that Abu Ghraib prison debacle where the US has tortured and killed the freedom fighters of many extremists. I would say the torturing of one man to get information for one act of terrorism creates three to four new “terrorists” and several acts of terrorism.
Is this our idea of winning the war on terror and preventing more attacks on US soil? We are creating a whole new generation of extremists and terrorist acts by fighting a war of ideals with weapons. Native Americans began fighting white settlers in the 1600’s, and the end of the fighting really only came in the late 1800’s. That is two centuries! Are we willing to wage this war of attrition for over two centuries? If not, I would suggest us putting our pride away and start dealing with fighting terrorism the correct way. This is an ideological struggle, and the side that portrays morality is going to be the victor. Apaches had a limited terrain to deal with, while terrorists have the whole world. Apaches can only be born, while terrorists can be created. In this war of ideology, we cannot win by being a bully; we must be the better man.