Foreign Affairs – (…in alphabetical order)
As mentioned in an earlier tape, my research covers a tremendously wide swath of the world. And the research has been centered on a good number of geo-political issues.
What I’ve decided to do here, to flush this out a bit, is, well, go in alphabetical order (from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) looking at some of these issues, in brief…
As an example, with the NATO draw down in Afghanistan, I’ve looked at such security issues as a resurgent Taliban hubris, as well as redevelopment issues designed to boost agriculture and the business infra-structure there. My take, and others: “We broke it, we bought it.”
I’ve looked at why there isn’t much teeth in the Antarctic Treaty, of which the U.S. is a signatory. I’ve looked a multitude of dynamics around the ongoing “Arab Spring,” and why there is a good deal of tumult in the region still.
I’ve looked at massive, and ongoing, flooding in Bangladesh and why that country may be the “canary in the coal mine” for global warming. (And I’ve looked at global warming from a variety of research angles, because of what a huge, looming problem it appears to be.)
I’ve researched China and find their forced abortions and regular torture and killing of Christians, and other “dissidents,” to be absolutely abhorrent. Who cares if their currency needs to appreciate in value for more trade parity. I mean, c’mon – where are our priorities?
I looked at Columbia President Juan Manuel Santos’s groundbreaking restitution of money and land that was taken from peasants during the war there. (And I’ve looked at this in light of a good template for America in offering tangible amends to the Native Americans and Blacks for past atrocities.)
I’ve looked at various dynamics around opening even more international relations, or not, with Cuba.
I’ve looked at overcrowding issues and extreme violence in the East Congo. And I’ve researched the core fundamentals of the 27-member European Union.
I’ve looked at various aspects of the situation in Haiti, including a doing a number of interviews with people who have been there. Five years after the earthquake, a significant number of people still live in tents there. Our administration would get the rest of these people out of the tents, quick.
I looked at why San Pedro Sula in the Honduras has just replaced Juarez, Mexico, as the most violent city in the world. (We went to Juarez during a border tour, and saw the horrifying conditions there. And you don’t want that for anyone.)
I researched the Iran nuclear dilemma, and recent deal, from a multitude of angles. One thing that has been missing in the discussion though, is: We don’t want Iran to have a nuclear missile – but we have more than 2,000 deployable nuclear missiles aimed all over the world.
As I write this, the so called “ISIS caliphate” reaches significantly into Syria and Iraq. By destabilizing Iraq, and in the midst of civil war in Syria, a vacuum was created to allow for the rise of ISIS. People are regularly being tortured and killed. Suicide bombers multiply. Boys are forced to become jihadists and girls sex slaves.
Currently, there is a multi-pronged attack against ISIS. The U.S. is currently marshalling the tribal forces of Syrian Kurds, Arabs and Turkman to clear northeast Syria. They are also bombing strategic locations in the area and threatening a “no fly zone” if there’s interference from the Assad regime. In addition, our administration would also work to bolster Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIS, as we would put U.S. troop boots back on the ground in Iraq to fight this threat and help stabilize the country in general.
I looked at the catastrophic dynamics around the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in Japan after the devastating tsunami there. Then there’s the Kashmir region, between China, India and Pakistan. It is known for its tremendous political repression and rampant human rights abuses. I also looked at some of the reasons president Obama backed off his intensions to intervene there. Reasons I would differ with.
Then there’s the country of Laos. A country we intensely bombed during the Vietnam War to cut off supply lines. All these years later, there’s still unexploded bomblets that are igniting when stepped on or when, say, a farmer’s hoe comes into contact. Adults and kids are dying, losing limbs… fairly frequently there because of this. Our administration would organize a massive sweep of that country to unearth as many of these bomblets as possible.
And what about malaria? It threatens more than half the world’s countries still. Some 3,000 children die of malaria each day in Africa. Our administration would mobilize way more help to fight this much more than we are.
And moving south of the border to Mexico. Drug cartels are increasing there, as is lawlessness in many sectors. Poverty is a huge issue as well. Our administration would look, first, at our part in creating the tremendous demand for illegal drugs on our side of the fence. Common sense. We would also increase our DEA presence in Mexico in order to help the country’s military and law enforcement in their fight against the cartels. And we would mobilize way more help for people in Mexico. Often times people don’t want to leave family, neighborhood, culture… But if their kids are hungry, then of course they’re going to look elsewhere.
And many people in Myanmar are looking elsewhere for help. They rank as having the worst healthcare system on the planet, and it continues to be a somewhat repressive political landscape. Aung San Suu Ky, after a long arrest as a dissident, has recently been named the country’s opposition leader. In 2011, then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited her as a show of support and to further more democratic progress. This is the type of geo-political move our administration would take as well.
As our administration would support efforts in Nigeria to fight the terrorist group Boka Haran – who were responsible for the abduction of some 200 school girls recently. Many people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populace country with 130 million people, are also desperately poor and their country is being environmentally decimated by an oil industry with few controls.
While North Korea continues to “beat the war drums” (primarily in rhetoric at this point), there are chronic food and fuel shortages there. In our travels, I met with a man in Comers, Georgia, who went with Jimmy Carter and a Habitat for Humanity delegation to build homes there in the spirit of the Bible passage: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” I mean, do we think Jesus was kidding on that. Our administration would try to help North Korea across the board humanitarian aid wise.
Another huge foreign affairs issue is our oceans. This is 97% of the planet’s water, produces more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere, regulates the earth’s climate, store carbon dioxide… Yet we are currently devastating the oceans with our massive over fishing, polluting, destroying marine habitats… Our administration would, say, work with the UN to dramatically increase international protection of the oceans.
The Obama administration has stepped up drone strikes into the mountain regions of Pakistan against Al Qaeda targets. Yet some of these aren’t as “surgical” as they are billed – killing a significant number of civilians. This is stoking yet more anti-American sentiment in Pakistan (and throughout the Middle East).
Poverty worldwide is staggering with more than one billion people living in deplorable slum conditions, more than one billion people not having access to clean drinking water, some 24,000 people starving to death every day… Our administration would take on Third World poverty with tremendous vigor to spark a lot more help.
We would also try to aid the development and use of much more renewable energy worldwide, especially in the Third World. For instance, in rural Kenya the New York Times reported that $80 will buy a small, solar power system for dwellings in these villages. Our administration would get behind such initiatives.
Now granted, there are sets of complex geo-political issues with Russia and U.S. relations, but there is one overarching thing our administration would be proactive about. Since the transition to a free market economy there (or at least a semblance of one), many of your average Russians have been hurting financially. Our administration would push for, say, many Sister City projects with Russia to provide more financial help, cultural exchange, and such. In tandem, we would continue to address Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine, as we would, say, work at the reduction of deployable nuclear weapons on both sides.
As for Saudi Arabia, the U.S. has for years had a strong and strategic economic and military alliance with this country. Yet their human rights abuses are flagrant, including the repression of women. But because we want continued access to Saudi oil and the U.S. regularly makes a lot of money on the Saudis purchasing our military hardware – we look the other way as our foreign policy spins primarily around “our economic interests.” Not with our administration.
Our administration would also be committed to a democratic Syria and we would back “legitimate Syrian opposition” in a number of ways. In addition, as war refugees from Syria flow out of that country and toward Europe, our administration would work robustly to create conduits for a significant amount of these refugees to come here. Again, very much in line with the spirit of the Biblical passage: “…to welcome strangers.”
We would also link with the Tibetan independence movement. China took over Tibet when the Tibetan government was abolished in 1959. The protestors lobbying for change argue that Tibet had always been independent – yet China opposes this because Tibet is an asset.
In Uganda, an extreme terrorism is playing itself with the Lord’s Resistance army and notorious leader Joseph Kony. According to reports, he is arguably the most wanted man in the world. He, among other things, forcibly conscripts children who serve in his “killing squads.” Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in rural Uganda. The Obama administration last year deployed 100 U.S. soldiers to help with tracking down Kony – as of yet, the efforts have been unsuccessful. Our administration would follow up with even more help in trying to track Kony down.
In regard to the crisis in the Ukraine, I would subscribe to the theory that Russia is, indeed, experiencing a “phantom limb” syndrome after the Soviet Union break up. The Obama administration, with a number of European countries, have imposed harsher and harsher sanctions on Russia to get them to back off from backing the separatists, and as punishment for the annexation of Crimea. In addition, the U.S. and NATO forces have sent troops to Eastern Europe to match the strength of the Russians. In combination with some of these geopolitical chess moves, as I mentioned earlier, we would still send more humanitarian aid help to Russia and we would look closely at a suggestion columnist David Ignatius suggested: “Every element of American power should be focused in the Ukraine building a stable, prosperous country [in regard to] free markets and open political systems.”
And it’s the economic system in Zimbabwe that’s in trouble, never mind the Cecil the Lion thing. It has had a decade of slow growth and high unemployment. Many companies have closed or moved to neighboring countries. And due to bad climate conditions, the crop yield there is declining – spelling “food insecurity” for almost 20% of the population currently.
Many dynamics that face many Third World countries.
Our administration would push for things like debt relief for these countries, bolstered humanitarian aid and more programs to help people in these countries become as sustainable as possible.
Well, that’s a wrap.
This, by no means, are all the countries. Nor does it encompass all the geopolitical dynamics and solutions. But it is a broad brush look at some of these countries and some insight into templates for how I’d approach various foreign relations issues.
However, these foreign issues are, indeed, fluid and will admittedly necessitate different answers at different times. Again, this is just a brief schematic of some of my thinking in these areas.