The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘diplomacy’ Category

BALD DIPLOMACY

About thirty years ago, long before we had topical treatments or the Hair Club for Men had gained its large following, a friend who was in his late twenties was experiencing a very significant amount of hair loss.  Because he was very conscious of his appearance this disturbed him and he did everything he could to comb his hair in a way to minimize the appearance of his diminishing follicular growth.

It happened that his loss occurred on the pate of his head and was nearly perfectly circular, looking almost like a monastic tonsure.  But despite his best efforts to cover this bald spot, it kept expanding.  Finally, realizing that he was fighting a losing battle, he decided to embrace his condition and look at it as a badge of honor.  The rationale he came up with was that, “If you lose your hair at the back of your head, it means that you’re a lover.”

Another friend also had a problem with hair loss.  But unlike my first friend, his hair loss occurred at his rapidly receding and thinning hair line near his forehead.  He never made much attempt to cover the loss because, other than growing long bangs, there wasn’t much he could do cosmetically.  His explanation for his hair loss was, “If you lose your hair at the front of your head it means that you’re a thinker.”

These two chaps and I had mutual friends who were a couple who loved to host dinner parties.  Both the husband and wife were gourmet cooks and an invitation to one of their gatherings was always a treat to which their guests looked forward.  The three of us happened to be invited to one of these affairs.

At the dinner I was seated between these two guys.  They had reached a point of acceptance with their thinning hair that they enjoyed joking about it openly.  My one friend made his assertion, “If you lose your hair in the back it means you’re a lover.”  My second friend asserted, “Yes, but if you lose it in the front it means you’re a thinker.”

Well, I couldn’t resist.  So, to the amusement of the other dinner guests sitting nearby I asked, “So does that mean that if you lose your hair both in the back and the front it means that you only think you’re a lover?”

Secretary of State Kerry has perhaps the fullest head of hair belonging to a human being that one can imagine.  One would think it were otherwise – because he apparently “thinks he’s a negotiator.”

In all fairness to the Secretary, it shouldn’t surprise any rational person that, despite what I deem a sincere effort, the Israeli/Palestinian talks broke down.  This is not an issue that will be easily resolved as 1500 years of history have demonstrated.  And the naiveté that good intentions would be sufficient to get the parties to sit down and make nice nice with each other borders either on sheer hubris or a total lack of understanding of the intense emotions that are involved.

The Little Engine That Could mentality is a great lesson for our toddlers, inspiring them to do things that they didn’t believe possible.  But there’s a difference between the challenges that a six year old may face and which confront adults in a very hostile, fractured world.  I’m not sure that either the Secretary or his boss, CIC Obama appreciate that fact.

In Syria, that land which crossed the “Great Red Line,” there are disturbing reports that over the last several days, chlorine gas was used by the Assad regime against its citizens.  We (courtesy of Vladimir Putin) negotiated an agreement that all of Syria’s chemical weapons were to be turned over and destroyed by the end of June.  The last (and only) report I have seen that as of the end of January, the international group overseeing that effort had only received what is estimated as two percent of Syria’s supply of such weapons.

Then, of course, there’s Ukraine – or what’s left of it.  Given our past performance in negotiating diplomatic questions, the only one at issue in that sovereign nation is whether or not we are going to award Secretary Kerry and the State Department the Clement Atlee achievement award.

There’s been a trend among some men for a number of years to embrace baldness in its most extensive form and shave their heads completely.  If Secretary Kerry took that dramatic step and shaved his locks, while it might not help his skills as a negotiator, at least he could claim that he was chic.

THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

When I was a young child there was nothing that I found more entertaining than completing one of the jigsaw puzzles that my parents had bought for me.  Back in those days, the frames that contained the puzzles were made out of a one half inch thick block of wood and the pieces were carved out of it.  These were rather easy puzzles with only ten or twelve pieces.

If you don’t know the history of jigsaw puzzles you may not be aware that they were originally created by a mapmaker for his children.  One of the first puzzles that he created was a map of the earth painted on a flat surface.  He then used a jigsaw to carve out the pieces – hence the name – although this was not the source of the “Flat Earth Theory,” which had been discredited centuries earlier thanks to the invention of sailing ships and the courage of adventurous seamen.

But today it seems that the local chapter of “The Flat Earth Society” in Washington has been resuscitated in the marbled halls of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Rather than admit that Obamacare’s rollout has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster, they continue to spin (with the Chief Dradle Spinner being President Obama) that things are going along and will get better.  (More on this in the next post).

But what people do not understand about Obamacare is not that it is a disaster (the position of the GOP and other rational people); it is not even about the five million soon to be many more Americans who are losing the health insurance that they chose and liked; it is really about confidence and perception – not just in the United States but throughout the world.

Obama, while not having quite achieved the abysmal levels that President Nixon reached shortly before his resignation, is well on the way.  The latest Quinnipiac poll records the fact that 52% of those polled DO NOT TRUST PRESIDENT OBAMA.  And if we don’t trust the elected leader of our own country, what must be the view of those who lead foreign countries – like Kim Jong Un in North Korea and Hassan Rouhani in Iran.

Well, North Korea is under wraps.  We have ex-officio Ambassador and jumpster Dennis Rodman making nice nice with one of the most ruthless dictators left on our planet (flat or otherwise).  And we have basset hound-faced Secretary of State John Kerry, trying to work out a deal that will virtually ensure that Iran will be able to develop the nuclear weapon they have been working on for a decade.

As bad as the Obamacare disaster is, the loss of confidence and final recognition that Obama is a man who simply cannot be trusted, will have far greater implications throughout the world.  He will be rightly perceived as a weak man who might currently have some charisma left but who lacks vision.  And while Kim is merely insane, Rouhani is cunning and will exploit Obama’s need to find some kind of a win in international relations to try to recover from the Syrian fiasco from which Vladimir Putin bailed him out.

Simply put, Americans are finally coming to the realization that world leaders throughout the world, both friend and foe, have come to believe in the five years of the Obama presidency.  That the United States has elected to the most important office in the world, a man who cannot be believed and, therefore, cannot be trusted.

No matter your view of the world, round or flat, that is a dangerous conclusion – particularly if it is true.  And the evidence seems to point strongly in that direction.

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

My friend NEO published a piece which deals with a subject on which I had intended to write.  Since he did so, I would refer you to his post as he did an excellent job as always of giving details on the subject of closing our embassies this Sunday because of “fear of al-Qaeda” malevolence”.

http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/leadership-2/

We are, through the month of August under a “high security watch”.  Those of us who remember back to September 11, 2001 will recall how the threat level was indicated by a barometer of varying colors.  We took those indications seriously after the events of that fateful day.

The warning coming from our government is that people who are travelling – especially to the Middle East should take extra precautions.  I would imagine that anyone who had business in the Middle East, which is perhaps the world’s most volatile powder keg, probably already knew to do that.

Together with the traveler’s advisory and the announcement of the closing of a number of our embassies was the statement that “due to NSA electronic surveillance, thirteen potential ‘situations” had been diffused before terrorists could carry them out.”

Perhaps this will sound a bit like paranoia – a mindset I try to avoid – but I find that statement less consoling than I do self-serving.  It is, of course, hard for anyone to prove or disprove that thirteen separate incidents did not occur for any specific reason – electronic surveillance or otherwise.

It’s hard for me not to wonder that if NSA surveillance is so effective, why did we have the tragedy at the Boston Marathon?  And it’s hard for me not to ask the question, is the recent threat warning and the embassy closing really due to any actual threats (real or imagined) – or is this just a dog and pony show to diffuse the rising anger coming from the American people about the surveillance which our government has unconstitutionally engaged in on all of us?

Perhaps that sounds like paranoia to you.  If the NSA scandal were unique – I might question my point of view myself – as I often do.  But as we all know, the NSA is merely the latest in a litany of scandals in which the administration has voluntarily embroiled itself.

But for a moment, and merely for the sake of discussion, let’s take the recent advisory at face value.  The question that we need to ask is, “Is the closing of our embassies the right response?”

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life it is that evil exists.   Closing our eyes to it and attempting to hide from it merely strengthen its resolve to destroy us, taking our “prudent” retreat as a sign of weakness.  In order to destroy evil we must, as much as we would like to avoid doing so, confront it.  This is a principle known as moral courage.  That is a principle that has been a pillar of American action throughout our history.

We may try to placate evil (in this case terrorism), but like the greedy blackmailer who has received his demanded ransom, he now comes back and asks for more.  And he will never stop asking until we stop allowing him to suck us dry.

There is little argument that the terrorists of whom I speak, share a common bond.  That bond is Islam – or what we politely call “radical” Islam.  Is there another version?  Like the blackmailer, Islam treats all who are not believers as though they are second-class people and tolerates their presence only if they pay a special “tax”.  If that isn’t blackmail, perhaps I need to get a better understanding of what is.

And we in America, like most of our friends in Europe have gone along with paying this tax – but we call it “accommodation”.  Take a look at Europe to see how well that strategy has worked.  The recent outbursts in France, the beheading of a soldier in the UK, the list goes on ad nauseam.

You can only deal reasonably with people who are themselves reasonable.  Terrorists are, virtually by definition, not members of that group.  And so it is high time that we stopped dealing with them as though they were.  It is high time that we stopped making excuses for those who have no good will toward us and treat them as the evil enemy that they are.  When reason and logic fail, we need to exert the considerable force that we have to make our statement clear.

The closing of our embassies makes exactly the opposite statement and only serves to further empower this evil.  It can smell weakness, lack of resolve and the abandonment of moral principles.  These are the pheromones it uses to  track down its prey.  And we are that prey.

We know what happened to the first two little pigs when the Big Bad Wolf came to their homes.  They sought shelter with their brother in his well-built house, believing they were safe and secure that all the wolf’s huffing and puffing could not blow it down.

But unlike the third little pig who slammed the door in the wolf’s face, our wolf has already entered our home through the back door and is contemplating his next meal.

The message we should be sending is a simple one.

“We are open for business as usual.  Be advised that we are armed, dangerous and ready to apply deadly force if you provoke us to do so.  Enter at your own risk.”

BRAZIL – ARE YOU NUTS?!

Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota is upset.  It seems that his government has received reports that billions of Brazilian email and telephone conversations have been monitored and archived by the United States of America’s “Do-gooder protect us from all evil agency”, the NSA.

On the surface, it might appear that the United States of America is employing the same sort of tactics that the former USSR used in its foreign surveillance activities.  But there are good reasons why these spying activities are in place and I would like to offer an explanation to help relieve the Foreign Minister of his concerns.

Irrespective of whether or not the Congress is able to come up with any sort of reasonable and workable immigration bill, it is clear that from the standpoint of our neighboring citizens to the south, America is still the land of opportunity.  Free phones, free food and free medical care are merely some of the benefits of living in the United States – whether that is legally or otherwise.  So who wouldn’t want to move in?

Given this continuing trend, it is my expectation that the land between Mexico and Panama within five to ten years will be empty.  That is what G-30 government analysts refer to as a “void.”  Imagine, all that land going unused – and therein lies one of the justifiable reasons for the NSA’s activities on Brazilian citizens, corporations and government.  In less than a decade, Panama City will effectively be the United States’ most southern urban establishment.

Now the nature of geography has inconveniently placed the continent of South America on which the Foreign Minister resides, awfully close to our new southern border.  And while it is true that between his country and Panama, Venezuela and Colombia are in the way, let’s face facts.

With the death of President Chavez, the Venezuelans are too busy trying to find a new dictator to rule them to care about geographic expansion, and the Colombians are too involved in perpetual fiestas funded by all the money they have made selling their drugs in the United States to care.

Brazil, the largest geographical country and the most technologically advanced in South America, naturally poses a threat with the potential of moving northward and poaching the resources of our new southern border.  And what is to prevent Brazil from continuing this wave northward?

With the abandonment of Central America and Mexico by its people in favor of the much nicer weather and other bennies to be found in the United States, Brazilian armies could just take over the entire Central American peninsula.  And the best part is that since no one will be there, your Portuguese speaking troops wouldn’t even have to take immersion courses in Spanish.  Surely, Mr. Foreign Minister you can see the threat involved to American sovereignty.

If this weren’t a long term game plan of your government, then why did you officially name your country The United States of Brazil?  Huh?  Answer me that one.

Of course, I suspect there is a bit of hubris involved in your shock and outrage at these legitimate spying activities.  I mean, Mr. Foreign Minister, do you think that you Brazilians are better than us red blooded Americans?  The NSA conducts the same sort of illegal surveillance on American citizens.  So if it’s good enough for us it should darn well be good enough for you.

And if you think otherwise – then you’re just nuts.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO …

Hillary Rodham Clinton has had an interesting career – to put it mildly.

She is an attorney; an inexperienced but highly successful commodities trader; the former first lady of the State of Arkansas and of these United States; the first female partner in the Rose Law Firm – the firm of choice for the rich and powerful in her adopted state (the first one); a key player in the Whitewater Scandal that absorbed the nation’s attention for over two years; a partner in an unusually “open” marriage; a United States Senator elected from her adopted state (the second one); our 67th Secretary of State; and now … my nominee for “The Best Actress In A Leading Role” for her testimony regarding the “Benghazi Affair” delivered to the Senate.

With a dossier that is extensive as Secretary of State Clinton’s it is hard to know where to begin in reviewing her career.

It shows remarkable, innate talent on Ms.Clinton’s part to have given the emotional performance that she delivered in front of the Simpy Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week while essentially avoiding answering the questions that were put to her.  Rather than respond with facts, Ms. Clinton launched her own assault on those who were questioning her – overflowing with “emotion” as she talked about standing next to the caskets of those who had been murdered by Muslim “extremists” in Libya.

During her testimony she also pointed out to her Republican critics that it was not only Libya but that there were at least twenty countries around the globe where American diplomats and embassies were at great risk.  That was perhaps the most honest part of the testimony which she delivered.  Perhaps that was what prompted Senator Dick “Duh” Durbin of Illinois to comment,

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done an extraordinary job for this country. It’ll be recognized by history. This was one of her finer moments.”

Sadly, Senator Durbin’s statement might have been one of the most insightful of his rather inglorious career.  The only small emendation I would like to make would be the small matter of a preposition in the first line of that comment.  My revision would change that line to read, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done an extraordinary job on this country.”

Let’s return briefly to the Secretary’s remark about the danger our men and women in the foreign service face around the world.  As the present administration, which claimed that it would be the most transparent in history has proven continuously to be the polar opposite, it is unusual to have one of its members be so forthright by making this kind of statement – and it gives us an unexpected opportunity to gain an understanding of our government’s thinking and foreign policy.

What is it, if anything, that these twenty hot spots have in common?  Well, for those of you who lived through 9/11 (the first one), it should come as no surprise that virtually all of these foreign lands are run by governments where sharia Muslim law is the law of their land and jihad is their political message.

So having been forthcoming in her analysis of what is going on globally, how did Secretary Clinton’s Department of State explain the Benghazi massacre?  Did they place the blame on extremists whose goal is to bring down America?  No.  It squarely faulted an “insulting film made by an American Coptic Christian” and publicly maintained that position for at least a week after the facts were known.

Have you heard anyone, whether in the State Department, the Congress or the White House with the guts to speak out against those in the Muslim world of jihad and say, “America will not tolerate your abrogation either of our laws or of international law and you will be rooted out and destroyed if you attack any of our embassies or our personnel?”

Secretary Clinton (along with many of her European colleagues) has maintained a position (our official position) of being an apologist when the “rights of Muslims” are purportedly infringed.  Protecting our citizens’ ability to practice their religious convictions freely is an essential part of the American Constitution – and one not accorded to non-believers in the countries to which the Secretary made reference.

The performance to which the Senators and the nation were treated by the Secretary was nothing short of astounding.  Perhaps the senior Senator from Illinois’ comment,  “It’ll be recognized by history. This was one of her finer moments”  will ring true.

But coming off a baseline of a career filled with deception, half truths, intrigue and unmitigated dishonesty, doesn’t America deserve better?

MITT ROMNEY’S LOST OPPORTUNITY

The town hall forum for the second Presidential debate proved far more energetic, on both sides this time, than the first one.  I half expected a referee to suddenly appear on the stage and offer both the combatants boxing gloves so they could spar off.

The President had some energy and appeared far more involved than in round one.  I suspect he received a stern lecture from his election staff about the performance he turned in the first time.

Romney was as energetic as the first time – perhaps a little too much so.  He seemed unwilling to relinquish the floor even though asked to do so by the moderator.  That annoyed me.

But his refusal to stop talking annoyed me more because there was one question which provided him the opportunity to do so and put the President on the defensive.  That question was posed by a gentleman who had prepared it together with some of his co-workers.

“Who in the Administration was responsible for ignoring the Libyan embassy’s request for more security?”

That question was addressed to President Obama.  Instead of answering it, he talked about attending the funerals of the four Americans murdered and the grief he felt at their loss.  He talked about how he had been responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden.  He talked about ending the war in Iraq.  He did everything to use his time other than even peripherally answer that question.

If I had been Mr. Romney, when it came my turn to speak, I would have stepped back, addressed that fact and “ceded” a minute of my time back to the President so that he could answer the questioner.

Of course hindsight is 20/20 and as I reflect on some debates in which I have been involved I realized that I might have better responded in a particular situation.  Normally that happens about two minutes after the debate has ended and I have for all time lost the opportunity.

But this debate will not be over until the final ballot is counted in three weeks.  And, I am sure, like the gentleman who asked the question, I would still like to get an answer from the President.

WHY RADICAL ISLAM WANTS AN OBAMA VICTORY

In “Dreams From My Father” President Obama discusses extensively his father’s anti-colonial spirit and motivations.  Were this simply a documentary about his father and not a blueprint for the President’s own view of the world, the book might have been better titled, “Dreams Of My Father.”  I can only presume that the President, a person with several college degrees, made a conscious choice in entitling his work.

It will come as no secret that the most fundamental goal of most extreme Islamic cadres is this – the complete and utter destruction of Israel.  Those are not my words but theirs.

Corollary to that is the undermining of those governments it sees as supporting the continuance of the Israeli state – notably the United States and the United Kingdom ( but pretty much any western, non-Islamic country may be included in the list).

The United States is an obvious choice for their anger as this country has been a stalwart in supporting the tiny Israeli state militarily and philosophically, at least until the current Administration took office.  And Great Britain, who accepted the responsibility of providing a safe environment for the Jews who chose to immigrate to Palestine by the mandate of the League of Nations, is also an obvious target for their anger.

Americans have a very limited and often incorrect view of Islam.  They view most Muslims as nomadic Arabs, riding around the desert on camels and brandishing scimitars.  The fact is that while the most holy places of Islam, Mecca and Medina are in Saudi Arabia, most of the world’s Muslims are not Arabic.  This confusion is added to by the fact that all prayers and services in Islam, wherever they are conducted, are offered in the Arabic language – a requirement the Prophet Muhammad set out in the Koran and in various hadiths (sayings attributed to him).

If we were to look at the Muslim perspective in terms of today’s software technology, Islam would be God’s Revelation 3.0; Christianity 2.0; Judaism 1.0.  Islam is, of course, God’s ultimate revelation.  There is no religion 4.0 waiting in the wings to be unveiled.  We have seen that whether it is for religious or secular reasons, whenever anyone or any group believes itself in possession of “ultimate truth” there are no boundaries that may not be breeched in their attempt to “purify” the world according to their sense of righteousness and correctness.

As examples we have the ruthlessness of Joshua (famous for the battle of Jericho), we have the Inquisition, we have Hitler and Stalin, and today we have radical, fundamentalist Islam.  All are outgrowths of the same mentality – they believed that they and they alone were right – and would brook no interference from any who would stand in their way.

To return to the title of this post, why would radical Islam want to see an Obama victory?  Perhaps it is because they feel that of the two candidates, he would be less decisive in supporting the State of Israel than Governor Romney, thus allowing them to pursue their goal of annihilating the country and its people.

What support can I offer for this speculative theory?

First, the greatest and longest lasting colonial empire of all time had to be the British Empire on which, at one time, the sun never set.  Consider how Obama’s anti-colonial father, once a subject of that very empire in his native Kenya must have viewed these intruders in his land.  And if he passed those views along to his son, would that not explain why our relationship with our closest ally has become strained under the Obama Administration.

Second, consider the remarks that were made recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  He has been warning that Iran is extremely close to developing sufficient enriched uranium to make an atomic device.  In recent days he did everything but endorse Mitt Romney for President of the United States.  It is clear that he feels that his country has a greater chance of surviving a potential new holocaust under a Romney presidency than under one at which Obama is at the helm.

In a curious way, the views of radical Islam and of President Obama dovetail.  If we are to believe that the President shares his father’s views on colonialism, then it is not a far reach to see why radical Islam is comfortable with him because they also have an anti-colonial viewpoint – seeing the State of Israel as a colony created through the aegis of the Western powers – a colony of which they believe they are the rightful owners, endowed in that status by Allah.

The State Department initially categorized the attack on the the U. S. embassy in Libya as a spontaneous, unorganized reaction to the You Tube video which demeaned the Prophet Muhammad.  After several days of reviewing the events around this tragedy, the State Department changed its view and determined that the attack was anything but disorganized but was as well co-ordinated and planned as the events that took place on 9/11/01 here at home.

Why this attack at this particular time?  It is not hard to conjecture that with what has been widely advertised as a hotly contested and close Presidential race, it was to give support to incumbent Obama.  People have a tendency to stay with the same horse in a crisis, thinking that at least that horse knows the race course, even if he’s lagging behind the field.  Ask those who voted President Bush into a second term because of the then ongoing war in Iraq how well that theory worked for them.

There is no question in my mind that Mitt Romney is a lightweight in international affairs.  There is also no question in my mind that President Obama hasn’t bulked up very much on the subject either in his four years in office.  And lastly, there is no question in my mind that one of the brightest politicians on the planet, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is perhaps in the best position to know, has thrown his support in favor of a Romney presidency.

That suggests that Israel’s arch-enemy, radical Islam would prefer President Obama for a second term and will do it’s best to see that he is re-elected, by whatever means they have at their disposal.

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