Category Archives: United Nations

Time to Do Nothing

In 1949 Mao Zedong and the communists took over China. They instituted communist policies . In response the US cut off all relations with the People’s Republic of China for many years. Mao was a dictator. Harsh. Ruthless. The US would have nothing to do with him. He was an enemy.

Then, in 1972 , Richard Nixon did what was necessary. Mao did what his subordinates did not want him to do. Nixon visited China, met with Mao and started the opening up of trade and cultural relationships. The rightwing in China and the US were outraged by this betrayal of ideals. They wanted conflict, not reproachment.

The world did not end. The US was not defeated. In fact, over time, China has become a major world player and dominant economic force. A major trading partner with the US.

In 1986 the Russian leader, Gorbachev, met with the US leader, Ronald Reagan. Gorbachev had opened up Russia and the Russian people to the possibilities of democracy. Perestroika and glasnost . Reagan, a fervent anti-communists, saw an opportunity to cooperate on arms control. Both men signed the arms reduction deal which helped defuse the 40 years of hostility and tension between the two superpowers. Both men were criticized as “weak” by hardliners at home.

While Russia has fallen back into a dictatorship, the arms deals have held. Billions that could have been wasted by both nations on military spending has been saved. Not to say that both countries still spend way too much on the military. More than either needs for its defense. It was a bold, unpopular move for Reagan and Gorbachev to make.

But Reagan took a step toward an enemy and helped change the world.

Vietnam was a communist nation. The US fought a long war before ultimately admitting defeat. The hatred of many toward the North Vietnamese (and to some extent the South Vietnamese) was overwhelming. They were ruthless. They were despicable. The hatred of Americans by the millions of Vietnamese who had family killed by the “invaders” was also overwhelming.

In 1994, almost 20 years after the US left Vietnam, Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo. Once again US companies could do business in Vietnam. Vietnam could be brought fully into the world trading system. Trade between the two nations now has reached billions of dollars a year. Former enemies have become trading partners.

Which brings us to Kim Jung -Un. The dictator of North Korea. Yesterday Mr Kim called for talks with his neighbor, South Korea. And South Korea responded positively. Both sides see no reason for increased hostility and increased fear. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has asked the US to postpone joint military operations as a gesture of good will. He wants to open up talks with his enemy to the north.

Would it not be nice if North and South Korea opened up more and more trade relations? Would it not be nice if these two nations could tone down the rhetoric and begin more cultural and economic interactions? Hasn’t history taught us that even the most hated  enemies can, over time, become trading partners? And once nations forge strong trade partnerships they both have a stake in keeping the peace and developing economically.

Nixon taught us that. Reagan taught us that. Clinton taught us that. Have we learned?

Let us hope that the US encourages this new interaction between the 2 Koreas. Or at least does not do anything to undermine the possibility of peace. Then, 20 years from now the people of North and South Korea may be able to freely visit each other and take advantage of increased trade and wealth.

If the US just lets it happen. Sometmes just doing nothing is enough.

 

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Filed under Clinton, Conservatives, economics, Economy, foreign aid, Foreign policy, Free Trade, government, nuclear weapons, Politics, president, Trump, United Nations, US

Re-Fighting the Vietnam War

The US lost the war in Vietnam. The USA bombed and napalmed and bombed  some more. And lost. In the end, the US forces left and the North Vietnamese united the country.

Ever since the US lost the Vietnam War many American politicians and military men of my generation have been trying to win it. In other parts of the world. In Grenada. In Lebanon. In Libya. In Panama. In Haiti. In Bosnia.  In Kuwait. In Iraq. In Afghanistan.

The idea that a superpower like the USA could be defeated by a small Asian country like Vietnam has stuck in the craw of some in my generation for many years. They simply could not understand it. Or accept it. Many still can’t.

And they have been fighting it over and over again in other parts of the world ever since. The military solution is, in their minds, the only solution.

So now we are on the brink of a war with North Korea. Make no mistake, this is a war of choice. Like Vietnam. Like Iraq. It is a war we are being pulled toward simply because those in power want it. They want to be “tough”. And they want simple solutions. Nothing is more simple than war.

Demonizing leaders of nations before attacking them has become par for the course. Ho Chi Minh, an ally in WW2, was suddenly a devil. Noriega, our man in Panama, became evil overnight. Saddam Hussein, who the US supplied with chemical and other weapons in his war with Iran,  was discovered to be a bad guy! And so it goes.

Which brings us to North Korea. Kim Jung -un is the new Ho. The reincarnation of Saddam. In preparation for war.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Kim is a great guy. He has his political enemies jailed or executed. He has poured vast resources into the military at the expense of other forms of development. By most accounts the North Korean people have an extremely low standard of living compared to their southern neighbors.

Kim is a big mouth, a braggart, a complete narcissist and shows signs of instability. No president of the USA could ever be accused of that! He likes to rattle the sabers.  He is certainly no one I would want to invite to dinner.

And, like Saddam and Ho and Noriega he has never attacked the USA. The only reason to attack Kim, like the attack on Iraq, is some theory of a “pre-emptive” strike. Of course, you cannot have a “pre-emptive” strike without a propaganda campaign to convince folks that war is inevitable.  Major powers using “pre-emptive” strikes are not new. Hitler attack the Poles in 1939 before the Polish cavalry could sweep through Germany. And Tojo attacked Pearl Harbor before Americans could attack Tokyo. Bush attacked Iraq before Saddam could unleash all those WMDs, which were never discovered.

The Trump administration seems intent on going to war. The American media is right there with him. Wars sell air time. Sell newspapers. Sell books. Make careers, in both the military and in journalism. So we see various editorials and proclamations about the “inevitable” conflict.

Of course war is with North Korea is not inevitable. The only outcome would be the deaths of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of North and South Koreans, Japanese and Americans.

The only other “solution” to the North Korea-USA conflict, according to “conventional wisdom”, is to close off North Korea and further isolate Kim. That has not worked and will not work . Especially since China and Russia are not about to stop supporting his regime. Has isolating Cuba led to the downfall of the Castro regime?

Only by opening up trade and cultural exchanges, bringing North Korea into the web of international affairs, will catastrophe be avoided. We have done so with characters less savory even than Kim. Stalin and Mao Zedong come to mind. Vietnam is now a trading partner. The world needs to make sure Kim has “skin in the game”, not further isolate him.

It is sad. Very sad. That a man like Dennis Rodman has shown more diplomatic skill than our current president. Rodman has gone to North Korea and tried to open up the doors of understanding. Instead of anticipating (hoping for?) war, he has tried to bring people together.

From a Newsweek article published today, Rodman, just back from North Korea  says the following:

“I’m not defending him, I’m not defending the fact that what he does as far as his country and his leadership. I think he has been passed a throne from his grandfather and his father. A lot of people say that the grandfather was worse than the father and the father is worse than the marshal today. I’ve got to hope,” he said, adding “I don’t love him. I just want to try to straighten things out for everyone to get along together, that’s it.”

“Things can happen if Donald Trump, if they sit down, have some type of mutual conversation, they don’t have to be like a friendship conversation, just a mutual conversation, saying: ‘Hi, I would love to engage in some words and politics and over the history of your country and my country and just try to start some dialogue,” Rodman said, “I think that’ll open up maybe the door just a little bit.”

What a state of affairs when Dennis Rodman seems to be the sane one in the room! When a tatooed body pierced former athlete makes more substantial diplomatic efforts that the US State Department.

But then again, Dennis was not around when the USA lost the Vietnam War. He sees no need to fight it all over again.

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Filed under Foreign policy, government, Politics, POTUS, president, Trump, United Nations, United States, US

Something Deeper

Let me start by clarifying. I am not a conspiracy nut.

Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Bigfoot does not exist. The “government” did not take down the Twin Towers on 9/11 as an “inside job”. Millions of illegals do not vote in US elections. There is no  secret cabal of Jewish bankers running the world. The UN is not trying to destroy freedom in America. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I am a fact guy. A pragmatist. Show me the evidence and I will consider your case. But evidence is a must.

Which brings me to the latest, ongoing attacks by Mr Trump on the free press. Over and over he has been slamming any news organization that does not pay him proper homage as “the enemy of the people”. All news that is not completely positive is FAKE news.

Why keep harping on FAKE news? Why continue to try to undermine faith in such news organizations as the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, The LA Times and others? News organizations that once in awhile make mistakes  but have spent years cultivating processes that lead to accurate reporting. News organizations that vet sources and double check  facts before putting ink to paper.

Mr. Trump is a stupid man. Yes. He is. He knows virtually nothing except how to put together real estate deals. How to manipulate  (or rather HIRE accountants to  manipulate) the tax code. He is singularly UNCURIOUS about the world. He has demonstrated no understanding of basic science, literature, history, sociology or any other field. Since he was given $13,000,000 by his father as a young man his existence has been one of self-promotion. Period.

But, Mr Trump is also a clever man. A con man. A manipulator of his supporters. A cult figure. He sees himself as larger than life. And so do the Trumpsters and Trumpettes who follow him. He knows how to use the media for free publicity, as he showed us in his  campaign for president. He hates any media that does not adore him. And he encourages his followers to do  the same.

But he WON the election in the electoral college. He is the president of the United States. So, why continue to attack the press? He won. He beat them, at least in his way of thinking.

As I said, I am not a conspiracy nut. But there is something deeper going on here.

The “leaks”, which every president hates, have gotten to Trump. He even had Sean Spicer take away the phones of his (Spicer’s) staff and had them checked for possible news leaks. Trump calls the leaks FAKE news, yet he seems to be giving credence to the validity of the information. Otherwise, why try to find the source?  If these negative reports are really “made up”, as he says, then why suspect his own inner circle?

I suspect something deeper is going on.  There are skeletons, probably Russian ones, in Mr Trump’s closet. There are connections, financial  and political, with Russian oligarchs. Perhaps with Putin himself. Connections that may be illegal or at least very damaging .

By trying to destroy the public confidence in the press, Mr Trump is staging a Pearl Harbor attack. Destroy the credibility of the press. then, when the stories come out about his corruption people may say it is simply the press out to “get him”. Mr Trump likes to control the agenda and he seeks to marginalize legitimate investigative journalism by preemptive strike. The press LIES. All the time. Don’t believe them.

Something is deeper here. Not just the rantings of our first  (and god help us, our LAST) twitter president. He is the master of distraction. He has called the New York  Times and Washington Post losers and his enemy.They did not  crumble.  When distraction  does not work he goes for destruction. Exactly the same way he did business in his real estate shenanigans.

There is something deeper here. And the press will discover it. Sooner or later. After all, Pearl Harbor was not a total defeat, it was a setback. Eventually the US won the war. The free press will not  be governed or destroyed by Mr Trump, no matter how hard he tries. But he is trying to set the stage for the inevitable investigations into his financial and political  chicanery. He hope to destroy the confidence of the citizenry in the free press. In the end, they will find him out. And publish.

The is something deeper here. Wait for it.  It will happen.

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Filed under Constitution, GOP, government, Neoconservative, news, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Trump, twitter, United Nations, United States

Deal or No Deal?

Welcome to the US Congress Game Show: Deal or No Deal? The show where members of Congress get to second guess every potential solution to every problem.  And , no matter how good the deal, they can try to squelch it.

Today’s deal is the Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement. Negotiated by the USA, Iran, Russia, France, Germany, China and the EU nations . Approved by the international community. Hailed as an achievement by all involved. They said it couldn’t be done…but they did it.

Now to our contestants. Any Republican in Congress. Doesn’t matter which one. They all think the same. Let’s call him Congressman Whitey White from anywhere outside of any urban area in any state.

Congressman White, here are some of the aspects of the deal.

1. Iran must be open 24/7 to inspections at all sites.

2. All of Iran’s plutonium and nuclear material will be monitored and accounted for by international inspectors  (International Atomic Energy Agency) on a regular basis.

3. Iran cannot develop the weapons grade materials for their reactors, again being monitored by international inspectors.

4. Iran must give up over 2/3 of its centrifuges which can be used to develop high grade plutonium. Which means they would lack the capacity, even if they could somehow cheat, to make any significant amount of weapons grade  material for many years.

5. After the IAEA inspects and verifies that Iran is in compliance (which will take some months) only then will Iran’s assets be unfrozen.  Those assets belong to Iran and are currently frozen, they are not US taxpayer dollars.

That’s the deal, Congressman. Now, if you do not take the deal there are the conditions.

1. Iran will be completely unmonitored  as to its atomic energy program and facilities.

2. Both the UN and the European Union have already began mechanisms for lifting sanctions on Iran whether or not the US follows suit. So, trade with Iran will likely begin.

3. Iran will deal their oil on the black  market.  Perhaps turning to China or Russia for support.

So Congressman White. What is it? Deal or No Deal?

Congressman White: NO DEAL, Barack. No deal. Bad deal. Can’t trust them. Bad people. Terrorists. Just like Obamacare. Dictator. Make him fail. Giving tax dollars to terrorists. Bibi says “no”. Bomb them back to the dark ages. We will be welcomed as liberators. Two week war. NO DEAL. NO DEAL!

Next up: Can the GOP Congress do anything to gain respect for themselves?

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Filed under Conservatives, Iran, Iran agreement, nuclear weapons, obama, plutonium, reactors, Republicans, unions, United Nations