Beyond the Cusp

October 19, 2018

Talking Elections in America

 

The elections are rapidly approaching upon the United States and there is little to campaign upon. The Republicans are counting on the good economy and the general lack of major problems while the Democrats are putting magnifying glasses on even the slightest problems and trying to make them appear systemic. Both parties are facing the dearth of problems as their greatest challenge. While one would believe that the rise in economic realities would favor those who support the President and his tax cuts and backing off on regulatory morass which had been stymying economic growth, that may not be sufficient a reason to get out and vote. On the other side of the coin, the Democrats will cast the improved economy as just paying dividends to the wealthy and not helping the middle class or the poor. Even the lack of the issue of unemployment will still be cast by Democrats as being unusually high. This might be considered to be simply wrong except that people have short memories and may be convinced that real unemployment is still a problem. Then there will be the usual claims that the Republicans are a bunch of racists and the only means of solving these problems is to elect those loving Democrats. Then there will be the concerns about the sporadic but troublesome violence which has struck cities across the country. These will be laid at the feet of President Trump and the Republicans despite the lack of evidence. Still, this is a staple of politicking in America despite the seeming lack of real racism. This will be an interesting election as all will depend on which party can get their base out to vote.

 

The recent circus over the Kavanaugh confirmation and the DNA test backfiring on Senator Warren will both be forgotten possibly by the time this article is posted. There is one way of possibly producing another brouhaha by sending a nomination for a new United Nations Ambassador to replace Nikki Haley. This would be risky as any time one foments a confrontation, they can never tell how it will eventually play out politically. The other problem would be whom President Trump might consider appointing which the American people would accept on face value and still be opposed strongly by partisan Democrats. Dina Powell has been probably the main person along with Richard Grenell, the recently appointed Ambassador to Germany, Republican Sen. Bob Corker who recently served as Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman. There has been what we consider a humorous suggestion of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. She will not be the choice for many and obvious reasons. Then there are the less obvious choices such as Secretary of State Pompeo or, should the President want a really big and vocal pushback, appointing once serving United Nations Ambassador John Bolton who currently serves as the President’s Security Advisor. The trick would be to choose somebody with unquestionable credentials but also partisan enough to cause the desired uproar from the Democrat side of the Senate. Still, we doubt that the President will risk any such appointment until after the elections, though one never knows with Trump. If President Trump were to attempt to use such an appointment as a wedge issue in the upcoming elections, we would suggest that the appointment be made ten days or so before the election as the ultimate October surprise. We might suggest a position for the recently retired columnist and renowned economist and generally well-rounded man of knowledge, Thomas Sowell, or Katrina Pierson who was national spokeswoman for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as Allen West who had a stellar military career and is a proven spokesperson for the United States. The problem is whomever the President chooses is going to have some very impressive shoes to fill and will have the stellar performance of Nikki Haley always in the backdrop upon which they will be compared. Of the former choices, the one which stands out would have to be Allen West as he has shown a strong understanding of world politics and particularly the problematic Middle East. And yes, we admit his unwavering support for Israel did color our choice.

 

Allen West

Allen West

 

Unfortunately, we do not have a direct line to the White House beyond calling the operator and being shuffled around and put on hold until we give up. But that might have more to do with our living outside the United States than anything else as well as our lack of notoriety. Still, we would love to see one of the above choices be sent by the President at any point in time as they all have their qualifications. Another reason we love the idea of Allen West is he has a quick wit and is difficult to intimidate as he fears virtually nothing, or at least has not shown any indication of such fears. As far as providing sufficient paper trail as evidence of his fitness for such a position, his editorials and speeches would serve well. Nobody could be able to question his patriotism or his dogged determination to get the job accomplished, as proven by his military record. Even the one presumed blemish on his command was his being relieved from his command for what was deemed unprofessional conduct. The story behind this was a simply one. His unit in a combat zone in Iraq, if memory serves, had been ambushed regularly and they had a high-level detainee who was expected of Taliban connections with knowledge of where the next day’s ambush would likely be waiting his troops. This detainee was resisting normative methods of interrogation and Lieutenant Colonel Allen West ordered the other officers and enlisted men out of the interrogation area. He then proceeded to use a less normative form of interrogation by discharging his service sidearm into the sand-bucket used for clearing weapons, except he did so tight behind the detainee’s head. He then racked his weapon and asked again, likely but not proven, brandishing said weapon and the detainee provided the necessary information. He then advised the officers of the gleaned information, preceded to the communication area, called his commanding officer, some general, and informed him of his actions. The gears of the military turned and he was removed from command for his special form of coercion and improper treatment of a prisoner. This would be the kind of officer I would have followed into any war zone as he placed his men ahead of his own career, a rare and exception commander in our book. We would almost dare the Democrats to attempt to use this as ammunition to try and stall his selection as once the real story broke and was carried by FOXX News and any other conservative outlet, the story would get to the remainder of the population and would definitely super-charge the Republican base to support their candidates. But that would be devious and we all know that President Trump would never lay a trap such as this.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 7, 2013

Hagel Appointment Not Just a Problem for Israel

The appointment of former Senator Chuck Hagel as United States Secretary of Defense is far more than just an Israeli problem, it will present a problem for the United States and especially the United States Military as well as the balance, security and safety for everywhere that the influence of the United States will no longer be a factor as the United States foreign policy turns inward. Hagel is on record opposing sanctions on Iran and is a firm believer that only through direct negotiations that recognizes and grants Iran the respect and deference they demand can the Iranian nuclear program be prevented from reaching its weapons goals. Hagel refused to sign a Congressional Petition supporting Israel and has insisted that Hamas be recognized as a legitimate and responsible entity and brought into any negotiations concerning Israel and the Palestinians. He has proven credentials to be a member of a group of politicians who have taken the title of realists which, if intents and actions mean anything, would be better described as Arabists whose first and often sole concern is what will favor the oil producing nations, especially those in the Saudi Peninsula. With so much of the world’s attention, tensions, and potential problems currently fomenting in the Middle East and North Africa, especially the most critical threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power, a Hagel appointment as Secretary of Defense would pose more problems than it could solve.

Nobody should be overly surprised at President Obama choosing Chuck Hagel as he presents almost the perfect stealth candidate who shares the vast majority of the President’s views on foreign affairs and paring back the defense department. With the fact that Hagel is a Republican, President Obama can present the Hagel appointment as a bipartisan move making the Republicans in the Senate vote against a fellow Republican which will be used as a bludgeon painting those Republicans who oppose Hagel’s appointment as simply impossible to satisfy and acting in a purely partisan manner even to the point of refusing a Republican appointment. Add that should the Democrats manage to hold discipline on the vote they have enough votes to approve the appointment which would force the republicans to use the filibuster. If some Republicans are willing to vote with the Democrats, a likely possibility, then they would likely have the votes for cloture. A successful cloture vote would be a guarantee of Hagel being confirmed as the next United States Secretary of Defense. This may prove out in the long run to be a very cunning and tactful appointment forcing Republicans with either voting against one from among their own ranks or giving President Obama an able ally at the head of the Department of Defense which will already be facing difficulties with draconian budget cuts.

There are some in Israel who have pointed to John Kerry being the likely candidate for Secretary of State as a possible mitigating factor and a possible balance against Chuck Hagel in any discussions and policy decisions on the Middle East and particularly Israel and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Kerry would be overpowered as of the three, Kerry, Hagel and President Obama; Kerry has a comparatively passive personality and would easily be bullied and overwhelmed by the President and Hagel. Betting on Kerry as Secretary of State to stand up for Israel is a fool’s gambit which is why the Israelis have one of the most important elections in their short history later this month but that is for an article coming later this week.

In the meantime, the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC will have a most ticklish situation on their hands; should they lobby long and hard against Hagel or keep a low profile and make their preferences known quietly keeping behind the scenes. It is likely that if AIPAC is seen to be presenting too high a profile on the Hagel appointment and ratification, it might be used by some as a reason for confirming the Hagel appointment. On the other hand, their taking too passive an approach might backfire, especially if J Street, the PAC falsely claiming to be pro-Israel, should come out strongly in favor of Hagel. Any supporters of Israel are going to need to walk a knife’s edge if they hope to be effective and not end up being counterproductive. Politics is rarely simple and never straightforward and the Hagel appointment should be excellent proof of such.

Beyond the Cusp

February 10, 2012

Patience not Muslim Brotherhood Strong Point

One would think that once the Freedom and Justice Party, also known as the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, took almost half of the seats which were recently elected to the to be formed Egyptian Parliament in the just ended three part elections, would be patient enough to wait a couple more months to take the reins of power. Well, you had better rethink that premise as the Muslim Brotherhood has now requested that the ruling Military Council surrender their power to the elected Parliament and allow the appointment of a Prime Minister by the Muslim Brotherhood so that the business of rebuilding Egypt in the new image and under a new Constitution which still needs to be written. The Muslim Brotherhood has also been pointing to the increased violence and the confrontations between the demonstrators and the military as a reason that these changes are so very vital to rebuilding Egypt and returning them to the world of nations more readily. Apparently the little fact that many of the protesters were members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the actual demonstrations were planned, financed, and executed by the Muslim Brotherhood should not be taken into consideration when turning the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party while also placing the Muslim Brotherhood’s chosen person to become the Prime Minister. Of course, they guarantee that in future elections they will guarantee the Prime Ministers will be chosen democratically.

 

After watching the election shenanigans of the Palestinian Authority in general and Fatah Party in particular and you can see a very similar start of circumnavigating elections when bothersome and the pattern repeating seemingly without end. After the Palestinian Authority, under immense pressure from President Bush and his Administration, included Hamas and the other less populous terror groups which make up the entire power structure of Palestinian governance to also place candidates on the ballots and have their people vote; Hamas won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian authority Parliament. Fearing losing his position of privilege and power as President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to stand for reelection and has thwarted every attempt at holding Presidential election. The other result of this forced decision which proved the actual popularity which Hamas was able to garner in the population was the revolt by Hamas taking complete power in Gaza and relegating Abbas and Fatah to the West Bank. Despite a number of attempts to reunite Hamas and Fatah, the two groups are still at odds which is becoming blatantly evident once again as they presently are attempting to patch together an agreement once again. One needs to remember that Hamas is another wing of the Muslim Brotherhood being formed and backed to this day by the Muslim Brotherhood. Oddly enough, I believe that the intransigence and lack of favor for democratic governance against top down dictatorial command governance would pretty much preclude a return to honest democratic elections should they succeed in having the ruling Military Council forgo elections for the position of Prime Minister and acquiesce by appointing one who was simply offered and approved by the Muslim Brotherhood. Then again, I might be sorely mistaken, time will tell.

 

Meanwhile, Egypt has been hemorrhaging cash reserves at an incredible rate and one of Egypt’s greatest revenue enterprises, tourism, has virtually disappeared. Add to that situation the statement by a number of ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood stating that they have no concern and tourism could dry up and never return for all they cared as it only brought foreign ideas and the way of the infidels into Egypt which can only be a corrupting influence. Fortunately, there have been a few others who have shown a greater concern for the hard truths about every country and its need for sustainable capital inflow and have called for assurances to be issued that tourists will not be held to the Sharia Law as long as they remain in the normally frequented areas denoted for tourists. Where for many who wish to visit Egypt and see some of the true wonders of the World that are found there may not be honestly comfortable with such a ruling, it is a step towards keeping the “Open for Tourism” sign lighted in Egypt. Never the less, I will probably not make plans to visit Egypt immediately but rather wait for some permanence to settle in and then judge whether or not the situation is favorable for tourism before making plans. As things stand now, for the sake of the future of the Egyptian people and in support of Egypt eventually developing an honest and true democratic governance, I pray that the ruling Military Council takes the more difficult road and forces all concerned to complete the planned path to civilian rule and finish all sectors of the voting process. Once all the positions have been duly elected and everything needed is in place, then I would hope that the Military would retreat and allow the civilian government to take the helm. After that, all any of us will be able to do is pray for the best and prepare for anything less. This is a situation where keeping to the agreed upon processes and schedules is actually important as once corners are allowed to be cut, the corners getting cut only get larger and larger until nothing remains except the clipping of cut corners.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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