Beyond the Cusp

September 6, 2014

ISIS and Other Foreign Crises not Obama’s Fault

President Obama has performed and executed his position of President of the United States of America exactly as the electorate that placed him in that office twice demanded of him. President Obama was elected to be the anti-Bush President. This meant in large part that he was to ignore foreign entanglements and never ever use American military might in foreign soils but solely as the last ditch effort to protect the United States should the nation come under attack on its own soil. The electorate sent that message in a loud and clear voice which erupted in ecstatic exuberance when President Obama chided Mitt Romney in their debates berating his answer claiming that Russia was America’s existential threat by correcting him and chided Romney telling him the 1980s wanted its foreign policy back. This one statement stood apart from the rest as the defining difference between Romney and Obama, one that has played out exactly how anyone writing a political thriller would have cast it with that statement becoming the sorrowful joke that it has proven to be. President Obama was elected to address problems on the home front and not only with but because he promised that he would bring all the soldiers home and refuse to redeploy them unless the entire world became inflamed by conflicts. Wherever President Obama may have failed the American people, he has not failed on the foreign policy front as he was reelected because he had withdrawn or had set dates by which American military force would be disengaged and return home never to be redeployed anywhere while President Obama was in the White House.

 

We were amongst those who even back in the 2008 Presidential elections sounded the alarms that the world was about to explode in violence, destruction and potential genocides and that the only force which could prevent the coming disasters was the United States. This claim was carefully crafted because of the fact that American force since World War II has been the force most beneficial and capable in the world and because America had little desire for conquest, the American military would always return sovereignty to the people indigenous to the nation involved and would remain in order to stabilize the nation guiding it towards inclusion in the Western world with the ideal of cooperation and mediation as the way to solve differences. This was most evident in the rebuilding and steady guidance and assistance which restored Germany and Japan to functioning nations with minimal force or presence and steadily reducing the American presence from their initial position as the enforcers of the rule of law while also routing out those who belonged to the hierarchy of German Nazis and Japanese who guided Japan into a military threat to the Pacific nations if not the entire world. President Obama did correctly point out that the world is in the twenty-first century and expressed the view that the world might have outgrown naked aggression and that the nations who were entrusted with the most major roles should set an example of cooperation and mediation and refrain from the use of brute force as Russian President Putin has displayed in the Eastern Ukraine and by annexing the Crimean Peninsula.

 

But if only President Putin advancing and swallowing up parts of the Ukraine were the only problem facing the world today. The most ominous threat facing the world today comes from the Middle East and has direct effect not only there but across North Africa and is threatening to sweep into, or even across, Europe and beyond. This is the specter of radicalized Islamist forces with the greatest threat at this moment being ISIS, or IS if one accepts their self-aggrandized title of Caliphate. Whether the title is earned or even applicable is not the problem, the genocidal murdering of entire towns and the wiping out of entire minority populations and even posing a threat to their fellow coreligionist Sunnis who any ISIS member believes is not sufficiently devout and the other slaughters are the problem. The use by ISIS of beheadings, crucifixions and other barbaric forms of punishment which were the custom over a thousand years ago and are mostly utilized by barbaric tribal forces which have failed to progress into the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first century are the acts which are abhorred and need eradication by twenty-first century standards of civility. These practices which are being directed and imposed by the leadership of ISIS are not in use so as to properly apply the Quran but as a means to control and intimidate the people over whom ISIS has spread its deadly wings. Many of the leaders in ISIS were educated in Western universities and most have higher degrees, many in engineering or other sciences, and have obviously lived in the technologically advance Western World and lived in what would be regarded as a civilized atmosphere, though if I recall college through the haze my mind spent much of the time there, not completely civilized. The ISIS leadership has intentionally chosen to enforce the Quran in the most crude and barbaric forms pulled from Islam’s earliest days of conquest when Islam proved to be the preeminent force sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa and threatening to sweep into the heart of Europe only to be repulsed by the barest of fortunes. I pray that the ISIS leadership is not employing these tactics and barbarous acts as they believe they are required in order to return Islam to its former glory and give the Muslims the renewed ability to vanquish their foes on the battlefield and allow them to complete the sweeping glory bring the rest of the world to heed their edicts and bend to their commands.

 

If these are their motivations, then they should know that as soon as the West gets leadership from the people finally choosing their President to resolve the worldly threats, especially to end threats posed by barbaric pretenders who think if they are sufficiently brutal the world will cower before their greatness. The American people are slow to rise to threats from abroad but once they awaken and their sense of justice and righteousness has been incensed, there is nothing which is capable of withstanding the force of their indignation as it produces a righteous anger filling their soldiers with purpose and drive unparalleled in its force over any army in human history. The forces of the United States that broke the wills of the Barbary Pirates was but a compliment of Marines, one cannot compare the meaning of the full force of the United States from that early foray into international politics. President Obama was correct when advising that the world has entered the twenty-first century and that everything is different today. No longer does there need to be a soldier with his weapon in close proximity to a target to remove them from this earth, a drone piloted from well over the horizon is equally adept at delivering the same justice as any sniper. This has been proven quite well by President Obama as drone strikes have pretty much served as his weapon of choice and has shown a great propensity to use this impersonal weapon to remove problematic persons. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi should be very mindful that these drones fly very high, are almost impossible to hear and even more difficult to see, operate in daylight and the pitch dark of night, can see through rain or windswept sand, be piloted from just over the hill or from across the globe via satellite links, and can destroy you and everybody in that tent with you before you know your number has come up. And if the people of the United States stand united and have the will to commit their sons and daughters to guarantee your demise, well, just as Saddam Hussein or Osama ben Laden when you see them as Vice-President Biden opens up the Gates of Hell to allow you to pass within their domain. Enjoy America’s slumber for as long as it lasts because you will know as soon as it lifts what real determined warriors are capable of and how weak is your horse when reality comes knocking.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 31, 2014

The Conflicting Duality that is American Foreign Policy

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American foreign policy is often a result of the struggle to assist people in need or under duress and the American people’s desire to mind their own business. America is often the reluctant warrior when using her vast military might abroad and even when using that might there is a definitive reluctance to unleash her entire might and fury. The problem is that even the measured and restrained use of American military might does not appear to be such as even that is well beyond the capability of any other nation on the planet and often more destructive than the entire forces from the combined forces of an entire region in which it is used. A typical example was the American use of force to take Panamanian strongman and international drug dealer and facilitator General Manuel Antonio Noriega into custody and to stand trial on charges in the United States. The force utilized to bring him to face charges in America were very limited by American standards yet were likely capable of not only overwhelming the Panamanian military but also that of the several surrounding nations if that had become necessary. The troops and forces represented by a single United States battle group attached to a single aircraft carrier and supporting ships which includes a contingent of United States Marines would be capable of conquering most nations on the face of the earth without needing to call for reserves or other reinforcements. The United States was probably the sole power in the history of the human race since the first city states brought civilization into existence and led to the formation of nations which had the capability and the opportunity to literally conquer the entire globe. Had the United States been a colonizing power in the ideals of the great European colonizers such as Spain, England, France, Portugal, and the Dutch; then perhaps the President and Congress would have acted on the suggestions of two of the greatest American Generals from World War II and as General George Patton suggested taken Russia and as General Douglas MacArthur suggested have taken China and as there were more American troops in Germany, Italy, France and England at the end of World War II, the world today might look vastly different with everybody throughout the globe voting for the President of the United States and for their own members to its Congress and there would be no United Nations other than the United Nations of America. That is the upper limit of American power at its zenith at the end of World War II. Every use of American military might since World War II had been but a small contingent of the potential strength America is capable of fielding and since she has done so on only the most dire of occasions, we can only hope we do not need her maximum efforts ever again.

 

On the other hand, and as was witnessed in both World Wars, America is the reluctant warrior and only enters into the fray as a final resort or in response to an actual attack on her people or threat thereof. More often we witness American military might bringing aid to areas struck by the most horrific catastrophes, be they the result of natural catastrophe or the result of human indifference. The American people are mostly of a mind to allow the world to decide on their own policies and to fight their own battles as long as they have no direct effect or bring harm to the Americans themselves. The Americans have often been called isolationists who more often than not withdraw from the rest of the world’s problems only acting by invitation or as a last resort to restore a balance they perceive has been lost. There was a period after World War II where the United States would respond and act to prevent the spread of Communist influence which was being spread by military means and most often against nations which had limited military ability to resist the forces backed by the Soviet Union on their own and without assistance. After the fall of the Soviet Union the United States also retreated from its use of military might throughout the world. This calm was broken by the attacks of September 11, 2001 when terrorists from al-Qaeda struck the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and were prevented from striking a fourth target when the passengers brought United Airlines Flight 93 to the ground in western Pennsylvania. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq followed these events and America once again used a portion of her military might to avenge herself and strike at those they perceived had struck them. Before this vengeance was completed by many American’s ideas of what should have been accomplished and who held the strongest of angers the American military was brought home and once again the United States began to withdraw into her solitude until being required again to answer the call. We saw the other side of American military might in Haiti after the horrendous earthquake and again in Japan after the disastrous trio of an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and then the explosive failures of nuclear power reactors as a result of the flooding and force of the tidal waves. These are the more common examples of American use of her military might, that of bringing relief to those in dire need resulting from natural disasters. The United States is unmatched in her ability to provide such aid though a few other nations also spring to mind who are amongst the first to respond when the calamity of natural forces strike and wreak their havoc. The majority of Americans, that so-called silent majority, would be pleased if the world would never require the deployment of American military might except for the hopefully rare natural disaster where such military force is used to relieve the pain and suffering of the victims of the whims of Mother Nature and her forces often unleashed from within the planet herself.

 

The dichotomy the American military is often accused of suffering from is actually a dichotomy found in the American public. Trying to classify the American public is a fool’s effort as it is comprised of individuals as diverse as any population anywhere, partially because they come from almost everywhere originally. The secret of America has been that they take the best from each culture and merge it into the whole of American culture just as they would merge the people from every culture into the American body public. While the customs from the old world, as it is often referred to, would remain within the family at gatherings and at home while each generation would slowly meld into the American ethos while still remembering their roots and knowing that a small part of what they brought was now part of the greater whole and this allowed them to feel at home and a part of a greater whole. This is how the multiethnic American people can unite and believe they are one. It is also why it is near impossible to read the American people as simply being from a single culture and background. Where the British are known for their stiff upper lip, the French for l’amour, and all the other stereotypes can be found among the American peoples because they are not a single, harmonious identity. Instead of their familiar background, the American slowly fits into their new identity such as the western cowboy ethos, the cosmopolitan New Yorker, the proper Bostonian, the unrestrained and experimental Californian, the middle America farmer and almost countless others all of which might describe a few but nothing is that straight forward. The same comes to bear when attempting to figure the American foreign policies. First off is that with every new President the person who shapes foreign policy the most is replaced often with somebody with a completely different point of view. This could not have been more evident than when President Obama followed President Bush and the interventional policies of President Bush were replaced by the regressive retreat which was enacted by President Obama. The other side of the equation is that even though President Obama and President Bush could not have had any more disparate foreign policy goals, one trying to right the grievance from the September 11 attacks and the other trying to reverse everything and retreat from the world and give the United States a smaller and more passive world presence, President Obama had been unable to completely reverse every last iota of the policies of President Bush most evidenced by the inability to close the Guantanamo prison as President Obama likely realized that not everything is controllable, even for the President of the United States.

 

The one sure and unalterable truth about the American foreign policy will change direction, not completely though possibly more radically than can be predicted, every change of the family occupying the White House. Still, there are certain core principles which even a President is obliged to follow; the will of the American people should they ever unite behind a cause or as a reaction to events, especially a perceived assault on the United States or her interests or allies. That is the one power which is capable of taking American foreign policy to its furthest extremes. The other truth is that it is near impossible to predict when or where the American people might demand a President respond. Where a President can resist or even deny the desires and demands of the American public, if their positions are strongly felt the next President will be elected to carry out their exact desires. It is this strange mixture of the whims of the people, the regular changes in the leader of the United States, and most of all, the fact that for the large part the American people have very little if any interest in most foreign policy and could not care or find a reason to follow foreign affairs and largely only care about domestic policies and their own expectations of the government. That means that when it comes to foreign policy decisions and setting the priorities the American people, probably the best regulating control over government ever invented, have little desire to use their regulatory control over the foreign policy of the United States. That means that the only real controlling and limiting influence on American foreign policy is the five hundred and thirty-five members of Congress, the one-hundred Senators and the four-hundred-thirty-five members of the House of Representatives who are mostly concerned with assuring their reelection as many are not capable of honest work. Many of these representatives of the American public are simply walking through their assigned paces, repeating lines fed them by their advisors, and attempting to satisfy those who finance their next campaign as well as attempting to meet any needs any of their constituents may request their assistance with right down to tracking down their errant Social Security check as each voter satisfied could mean another hundred votes the next election and an unsatisfied voter definitely means a few thousand lost voters support simply from viral word of mouth and social media. Mostly though they just read their teleprompters or recite memorized positions which often they have no knowledge or concept of their position beyond what they have been instructed. Yet these are the main and often only people with any power to affect the American foreign policy from simply being the result of some ulterior motives and schemes of the President or that of his handlers and advisors. The people and functionaries who hold the uppermost positions in the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, Homeland Security, the National Security Administration and the military, especially in the Pentagon, have the most direct influence on the President as they also control much of the research ordered by the President’s closest advisors and those who the government assigns the responsibility for crafting and influencing American foreign policy. Is it any wonder that it often appears as those controlling the American foreign policy are clueless or many on opposing pages all talking at once and the resultant output is pure gibberish, gibberish, a decent definition for American foreign policy if ever I heard one.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 8, 2013

Ramifications of Obama’s Syria Blundering

The news stories have spent much ink and headlines pointing out the fiasco around Syria, chemical weapons, and President Obama’s pronouncement of the necessity for a strike against Bashir al-Assad’s military infrastructure in order to send a message that his use of such weapons will not and cannot be tolerated by the United States, the world, and in particular, President Obama and his advisers. We have read and heard about the shrinking credibility President Obama may suffer if he does not strike even if he should have the excuse that Congress would not authorize his request to use force. Many have pointed out that President Obama does not require anything from Congress in order to exercise his option as President to use force for up to ninety days before any Congressional action is required. I have always thought this was somewhat of a joke as a way to curtail the power of a President to engage in military actions as should a President instigate a military intervention and have even a mere thirty days freedom to act as he believes is necessary, a President could easily get American forces so engaged and deeply into a mission that no sane Congress would vote to pull the rug out from under them at that point. The reality that President Obama could have ordered his strikes on Syria and they would have been planned and executed all before the Congress returned from their Labor Day break assuming President Obama was being forthright when he said all he planned to do was strike selected military targets from the air using Tomahawk Missiles and other stand-off air assets fired from over the Mediterranean Sea from B-2 and B-52 heavy bombers. So, what has President Obama gained and lost by invoking Congressional approval and once again choosing dithering over acting?

 

The gains are easy for one to see but they are not envious gains and are likely going to cause the President serious harm and probably Congressional approval. The grandest gain is the American people have been allowed to give voice to their feelings on the whole matter of Syria and it appears they are almost unanimously against any form of United States military actions for any purpose in the Syrian conflict. Not sure if this is exactly a gain, but we now have a few more gems of complete inane and completely ridiculous comments from Senator McCain who among his brilliant opinions comes his defining the meaning of “Allahu Akbar” for the rest of us members of the ignorant masses which he defined as the same as a Christian exclaiming, “Thank G0d” and not what we had all likely assumed which was, “Allah is the greatest.” Many Americans are finding out whether or not their Congressional representative, be they either Senator or their Representative in the House, are able to understand that when hundreds if not thousands of their constituents call in demanding they vote against a military intervention, that such actions actually means the people do not want them to give the President blessings to go ahead and strike Syria. There may be a future lesson when at the next election for these same representatives who decide not to heed their public comes around and we will see if their constituents have any memory and actually meant what they said. There have already been a number of Senators and Representatives who have been interviewed specifically on why they changed their position from originally supporting the President for a strike on Syria and within a day or two changed their minds. Of the few I have been fortunate enough to hear or watch, and I always love watching politicians backing away from a previous position, it is just so amusing watching them stumble and try to sound contrite and convincing all at the same time, none of them have simply stated the plain truth. I sometimes wonder how difficult it is for a grown person to simply state, “After the barrage of calls my offices have received on this issue demanding my vote on this issue I have listened to the people and will do as they elected me to do and vote their desired position.” There you have it, all you politicians looking for what to say to the cameras in explaining your change, plain, simple, and oddly enough, it is the truth which would be nice to hear for a change. The final and possibly only advantage President Obama has gained by invoking Congress is he will have a way out of backing his poorly chosen red line threat without completely losing face as he can claim it is the will of the American people and after all, he will be able to claim he is nothing if not a man of the people.

 

The real ramification will have little effect on actions the United States was ever actually going to commit but at least that is now a certainty. If the Israeli leadership ever entertained the idea that President Obama actually intended to prevent the Iranians from gaining nuclear weapons, they have now been completely disabused of that notion. The evidence is now overwhelming and the truth is plain to see, President Obama is completely ineffectual on foreign policy. He is exactly as was warned coming in to the last elections by us here that the main problems on the doorstep of the world and especially the United States were not the seemingly immense problems with the economy or other items concerning the home-front but the affairs of state and the international crisis which were all coming to a boil almost in a tsunami. The world can only be left on autopilot so long before it begins to lose altitude and a crash becomes inevitable if nobody takes hold of the controls and steers it back on course. This has been the case numerous times throughout history, recent history even. Anyone observing the world stage during President Obama’s first term watched as Iraq slowly devolved back into sectarian violence with Sunni-Shia fighting growing almost daily by the end of the first term. Terrorism has been steadily rising and the Iraqi government has become a puppet of the Mullahs of Iran who have completely replaced the United States as the guiding influence. Egypt also has become unstable as President Morsi with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to install an Islamic governance structured around Sharia and get the equivalent of what has taken Turkey’s Prime minister Erdogan almost a decade to do there and the Egyptian people revolted. The Egyptian military has subsequently intervened and replaced the Morsi government and now comes the slow decent into civil strife with terrorist bombings, shootings, burning buildings, and worst of all, the complete dissolution of Egypt’s oldest establishment, the Coptic Christians who are helplessly watching their churches and monasteries burned to the ground or converted into Mosques; their homes and businesses looted and destroyed; their women and children kidnapped, forced into marriages, forced to convert, or even murdered; watched as their numbers dwindle away as those who can get out of Egypt flee, and they realize that one of the oldest Christian communities is on the verge of following Egyptian’s once flourishing Jewish community into oblivion and wiped from the pages of history. Turkey is also experiencing violence between Shia and Sunni segments of the population and there have even been some demonstrations against the creep towards Islamist Sharia Law which the people are resisting at long last. Syria has completely melted down and the Christian community is being slowly decimated. There is also growing violence between the Kurdish elements and militias and the Sunni rebel forces. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood have supplanted the pro-democracy forces of the rebel cause and the fight is now between Sunni and Shia forces with Iran and Hezballah supporting Shia al-Assad and his predominantly Alawite military forces while the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and mujahedeen fighters are flocking into Syria to fight for Sunni preeminence in the Muslim world. Then there has been the financial collapse of much of Europe with Germany and France trying to prevent the complete meltdown of the Euro as an effective and useable currency. These are just the highlights of a world in complete upheaval almost anywhere one looks. We have not mentioned the still completely out of control Horn of Africa, the struggles between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and Mali, the continuing friction between China and both Japan and the Philippines over claims on solitary islands and free travel within the South China Sea, the drug wars in Mexico, the collapsing scene in Afghanistan and Pakistan where terrorist forces are once again growing in power, civil strife in a number of Asian nations, financial difficulties among many South American countries and a plethora of lesser problems almost anywhere one looks. Add in the growing adversarial relations between the United States and Russia as well as China and it almost seems the Cold War has returned.

 

And lastly there is the Iranian drive to produce nuclear weapons which recently was uncovered is not only enriching uranium but is also producing plutonium making their drive a dual route pursuit for nuclear weapons doubling at the least their likelihood of attaining nuclear status that much sooner. With the now obvious punting of any possibility of an intervention by the United States concerning Iran, the entire responsibility will likely fall on Israel, just as it did in the early eighties when nobody was willing to prevent Saddam Hussein and the French had even built him a reactor aiding his drive for nuclear weapons. Israel addressed that problem and the world was fortunate that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program was so easily derailed. Despite what eventually was a grateful United States who years later quietly thanked Israel for preventing a nuclear Iraq, at the time of Israeli action against the Osirak reactor President Reagan joined the rest of the Security Council in condemning the Israeli strike. Preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon will not be as easy as a single sortie on one location but will require days or maybe weeks of sorties covering almost the entirety of Iran in order to cripple the majority of the nuclear sites strewn strategically throughout the vast country. Making matters worse is that Israel has to fly routes which would take her aircraft over such hostile nations as Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and of course Iran. It is also not guaranteed that such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or any other nations which control alternate and much longer routes would be willing to stand down. The only probable nation which would be agreeable would be Jordan and I guess one should be thankful for any favors. Add to Iran the seeming determination of President Obama to divide Israel up in order to form a Palestinian state even to the point of dividing Jerusalem once again and Israel really has a difficult immediate future. The claims made by a number of Palestinian official spokespeople that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry provided the Palestinians with assurances that the borders would be crafted along the 1949 Armistice lines with only the land swaps the Palestinians allowed to alter the borders and one might decide that the best hope would be no success to the talks. Such possible outcomes make one hopeful that the Palestinians continue in their past tendencies to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Unfortunately, they only have to not miss one opportunity to make up for all those missed in the past, may it not be this one.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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