Tag Archives: Iran

Commentary—Who “Owns” The United States

My grandmother was my love, my protector and one of the reasons I was tubby. She was also a master of negotiations with the innate skill of protecting ones’ turf and a keen sense of when to strike when her feelings of what was right were violated. She also knew when she had blundered by immediately saying: “I didn’t said it “which foreclosed any further discussion of her mistake. No one owned her, not even the cancer that killed her.

My feelings today, as I peek under the veneer that distorts reality, is that we as a nation are owned , manipulated , and at times being told to bug off by nations that take our billions in aid. The first to come to mind is Turkey who with a slight-of-hand movement pokes a finger in our eye. The U.S. is investigating whether Turkey violated agreements with Washington about the use of U.S.-provided weapons and equipment, including whether Ankara knowingly and improperly transferred those weapons to its proxies in Syria, groups that U.S. officials say may have committed war crimes and ethnic cleaning .Why won’t I be surprised by its findings. And while Congress moves to sanction Turkey, the President nevertheless invites its leader to the White House as Turkey announces it will not remove its troops from Syria, threatens to further inflame tensions between the two nations by indicating its purchasing of Russian military fighter jets, and once again attacks the Kurds. Former national security adviser John Bolton suggested during a private speech in Miami last week that the president’s approach to U.S. policy on Turkey is motivated by his personal and financial interests in that country.

When we talk about our national debt (which keeps rising under Trump, notwithstanding his promise to reduce it) we must frame what may seem like a strange question — who owns America – who owns our U.S. released treasury bills, notes and bonds? The answer is startling — China owns 27% of our world’s value. They have a big key to our pantry.

Under Putin, the Russian economy is based solely upon how much gas, oil and minerals it can extract from the ground. In all senses, the former Soviet Union has little if any resemblance to the economic diversity necessary for a strong national economy. Putin, thus strong arms weaker and smaller nations to bend to his needs to shore up Russia’s economic deficiency, while his paranoia has encouraged the successor to the KGB, the FSB (a strong arm group he wholly supports) to be “enforcers” so that so-called “vital” scientific material and knowledge (as determined by him) may not be sold abroad without proper (his) authorization. In other words keep everything at home in the hope of developing a monopoly to benefit his cronies. His latest method is to have major Russian scientific institutions raided and scientists (some recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize) detained for long periods of questing. People’s lives have been put on indefinite hold. None of this has upset the leader of the United States to help him achieve his goal to make Russia great again (MRGA). Putin, not only the master of a vast nation seeking to drain the will and resources of those who dare cross his line in the sand, has mastered the mechanics of a mystical cloak that has just produced what bombs and thugs could not. He winked twice with his right eye and “The “ President of the United States handed over control of the Syrian “crisis” and its complex fault lines throughout that area to the Russians. Trump pulled out our troops (with no consultation with those with any understanding of consequences), the Kurds were swept into a dust bin and the Israelis were further surrounded by their emboldened enemies. The rocket launching toward Israel started once again this week after a long interval of quiet.

Muhammad Hussein Al-Momani, on the board of directors of Jordan’s Al-Ghad daily and Jordan’s former government spokesman and state minister for media affairs, “slammed the U.S. for its decision to withdraw its forces from northeastern Syria”.

Al-Momani warned that this “hasty, miscalculated and uncoordinated” step would harm America’s interests in Syria as well as the interests of its allies. Russia becomes the clear winner in the area since the withdrawal only reinforces its standing as the major decision-maker in Syria and Iran. That position will be the launching pad for it to be able to expand its regional influence with little or no resistance. All to our detriment.

“The mutual hostilities in northern Syria go far beyond Turkey, the U.S. and Russia. The events there have placed all the countries in the region in a state of doubt and uncertainty, causing complete chaos and granting Russia and Iran an opportunity to fill the strategic vacuum created by America’s hasty, uncalculated and uncoordinated unilateral withdrawal.”

President Trump has created a dangerous strategic quagmire by the withdrawal, ignoring the interests of our supporting allies and clearly upsetting what regional stability there is. What happens to our interests in combating terror and preventing the reemergence of ISIS, at the same moment curbing Iran’s influence in Syria? His precipitous withdrawal has threatened not merely the region’s stability but our own interests in the area. We have, by throwing the Kurds to the wolves, not only diminished their ability and will to fight ISIS in northern Syria but created the obvious strategic vacuum that will be filled by Iran. Our growing aggressive nuclear enemy!

As noted, Mr. Putin and Russia will benefit most from these developments. They will have greater credibility, undermining whatever standing we may have had in the region and opens the way for Iran to expand and increase it influence politically. Boldly, Iran announced this week that it is increasing its nuclear capabilities and advancing it timetable for nuclear development.

But the unsettling story doesn’t end there, on the other side of the world– Trump has caved to China giving them a major trade victory. In an article by Brian Klaas,: “Early in his presidency, President Trump scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade bloc that would have put the United States at the center of a trade zone that represented about a third of the global economy. Now, 2½ years later, China is putting itself at the center of an alternative trade zone that represents about a third of the global economy.” Trump’s animosity toward China is governed by his personal, unwieldy political desires instead of our national interests. His rational is blindsiding our involvement in a $49 trillion dollar trade bloc that might embrace half the world’s population. As Mr. Klass noted: “And China couldn’t be happier.”

And it doesn’t end there! lost in the back pages of any decent newspaper is the story that in mid-January, Kevin Moley, the senior State Department official responsible for overseeing U.S. relations with the United Nations and other international organizations, “issued a stern command to a gathering of visiting U.S. diplomats in Washington: China was on the rise, and America’s diplomatic corps needed to do everything in its power to thwart Beijing’s ambitions. It doesn’t seem like much of an important event, but the news illustrates China’s bid to place itself ahead of the U.S. on all fronts.” As I have written in the past China’s aggressiveness started last year with it militarization of uninhabited rocks in the South China Sea into military installations.

China’s move to place one of its own top officials at the head of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps direct agricultural and food security policies worldwide, is a perfect example of China’s international efforts in achieving world dominance. Defeating China would become a key U.S. foreign-policy goal. Five months later, the race ended in a harsh rout for the United States. Beijing’s candidate, the vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs won. U.S. diplomats initially anticipated their favored candidate, a former Georgian agriculture minister, receiving at least 60 votes. He ended up getting 12.

While the nation is focused on impeachment, and the President is attempting to change the subject of the daily news by lashing out in all directions we, as nation, are fast losing our international importance, status and moral compass—our leadership. In other words –our international clout. And even if Trump is defeated in 2020, his failures, his lack of self-discipline and the damage he has inflicted on this nation to enhance and defend his purse and unhealthy ego will last far beyond the end of his presidency. It will take years to right the wrongs he has created.

Richard Allan,  Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary–A Moral Response to Violence

Arab Spring: In December 2010 it all began. But the scenes that remain vivid in my mind begin in January 2011 and Tahir Square, Egypt when the wave of Arab Spring came into my home via CNN on an hourly basis. As the Arab Spring movement grew across northern Africa and Middle East, the Syrians rose up on March 15th against their minority masters– one of the many in the Middle East. The man at the center in Syria had the right DNA as a dictator-president. Medically trained Bashar Hafez al-Assad and his father, Hafez al-Assad before him have ruled Syria with an iron fist and cold heart.

Politics in the Middle East had finally exploded. The political will of the majority across northern Africa and the Middle East was grabbing for its part of the political pot. Arab Spring protesters were met in many cases by a violent governmental response. In Syria it became a “civil war”, in Egypt there was a “coup”, then there was the Libyan and Yemen “crisis”. In these movements there was a call for a new form of government and recognition of rights. And that power struggle continues.   In Syria, as I write this commentary, the fighting has gone on for more than six years with over four hundred thousand dead and counting and untold numbers in the millions seeking shelter however and wherever it may be found. Some found floating dead at sea.

In Syria, the dictator Assad emulates his father’s core philosophy: you meet a demand for a voice at the ballot box by the force of a bullet. Clearly, Assad could not win at the ballot box if he had been open to the idea of a referendum, and so he would try to murder his way to control and his sense of “victory”. His simple plan to victory became politically and strategically complex for the United States.

It started in July 2011; defectors from Assad’s regime formed an organized militia called the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to protect protesters and strike back at Assad. By January 2012, the Syrian “uprising” had disintegrated and fragmented into a full-blown civil war pitting the FSA and other assorted rebel groups against Assad and his supporters. It is the “assorted rebel groups” and Assad’s supporters that make this war both a humanitarian blood bath and an international nightmare. Today, The United States is in the middle of this conflict facing its modern historical enemy: Russia. How we got here starts much earlier than the Arab Spring.

In 1980, Iran was using its deep financial resources to further not only its regional control and power but also to destroy Israel. To accomplish its objective it needed to supply its proxies Hezbollah (in Lebanon to control that troubled government and gain control of its common border with Israel in the south) and Hamas (in Gaza bordering in the southwest corner of Israel) with its military and financial needs. To further accomplish this object Iran needed a transfer point for all of this aid. Syria would be that transfer vehicle for conveying whatever military needs and supplies its proxy militias/allies –Hezbollah and Hamas –might require. Assad, in return for his help, would receive enormous military and political largess from Iran. Iran became the Assad’s regime benefactor. Then things changed; the minority population in Syria began their demands. A revolt in Syria is a revolt against Assad, and that clearly would upend Iran’s grand plans for the region. The logical result was that Iran sent Hezbollah to fight alongside of Assad against the rebels. Thus, the beginning of a maze of interventions on both sides.

In early 2013, the Arab League gave its member organizations permission to arm the Syrian rebels; in May of 2013, Qatar alone provided 3 billion dollars in aid to the rebel forces. The rebel pushback against Assad then became a “proxy war” between Iran and Assad on one side against those Gulf states that sided with the United States’ interests. By simple extension, the   “proxy war” morphed into a conflict between Russia, who had financed and in fact built the Syrian army in the 1960s, and the United States.

We have witnessed thousands of airstrikes with American pilots along with United States Special Forces on the ground to accomplish cutting the supply lines to ISIS and to assist the Kurdish army in its fight with ISIS. Notwithstanding the disabling politics (the number of assorted supporters fighting for each side requires a complex chart to understand the dynamics of the situation) and the airstrikes, the on-the- ground reality is that the rebels are far from toppling Assad’s regime. In truth, the rebels could be in crises mode. A major rebel stronghold fell to Assad, and although they are not at the precipice of defeat, they are a long way from any victory against the dictator’s hold on his country.

Then there was a sarin gas attack and a United States’ response– April 4th gas attack by Assad and Trump’s one-shot Tomahawk response against a Syrian military airport. Has anything changed? The short answer is: No. Don’t forget Assad has used Sarin gas in the past against his people. Has it changed Trump’s tweeting tone regarding Moscow? Yes. Does it really matter in the scheme of things, and remember Trump’s reasons for authorizing the air strike are totally irrelevant.   The pressing question is – Was the strike permissible under our laws and morally responsible?

I will leave the constitutional questions of a single air strike to others more qualified than I to discuss that issue. I am more concerned with those who now condemn the strike as involving us in a battle not on our own lawn. And these very vocal people are on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

Many years ago, I was visiting a friend in a high-rise in Manhattan, and in looking out his window across a one block construction site I noticed what appeared to be a Christmas tree on fire in an apartment two blocks away. I called the fire department, and within seconds I could hear the sirens of the fire engines. It took another three seconds to realize that what I was seeing was a reflection in the apartment window of a Christmas tree on fire in the construction site. The fire department told me that I had done the right thing. The “right thing”. Not what was legally right but what was morally right. It was the responsible thing to do, even though it was not my apartment on fire, not the building I was in at the moment, not my life in danger. I thought there was a fire.

I have never been to Syria, I know no one from that country, and I buy no items made in Syria. I can argue either way that what happens in Syria has no effect on my life in Manhattan. It is not a fire on the next block in New York. The issues are more complex, but the logic remains. One person—a stranger to me — is using an illegal weapon causing horrendous death and injury against another—also a person I do not know. The question is: do I, should I, must I intervene in some manner, or do I just “mind my own business”, and walk away. Animals kill for food. Human beings kill for territory and hate. Neither reason is acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to walk away.

In the late 1930s, the world walked away, and in doing so millions of people died that need not have. The world was a moral coward. American, until it was attacked, did little if anything. Had it acted morally, and when Hitler’s message was clear and unambiguous, cities would not have been left in ruins, millions of people would not have been displaced across the globe, and millions whose lives were destroyed would have lived. The question is not how you could possibly permit Assad to gas his own people. The question is how do you allow anyone to gas anyone else, anywhere in the world? The answer is: You don’t. Period.

Richard Allan

The Editor