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Archive for the ‘foreign policy’ Category

National Sovereignty vs. the Anglo-American Empire

In foreign policy, liberty and rights, sovereignty on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

“Every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will; and externally to transact business with other nations through whatever organ it chooses, whether that be a King, Convention, Assembly, Committee, President, or whatever it be. The only thing essential is, the will of the nation.” –Thomas Jefferson

Conspiracy theorists are often berated for warning about the coming “New World Order.” But the global government is not some scheme cooked up by Ron Paul nut jobs. On the contrary, the concept of establishing a “new world order” has been referenced by the likes of George Bush Sr., Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama.

Really, we already have a partial “new world order” — better termed the “Anglo-American Empire.” Basically, the Anglo-American Empire describes the already existing global power structure seated in Western Europe and the United States.

Policy-making think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission already exercise excessive global sway. And institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and International Criminals Court already function/govern at a global level.

Ultimately, the goal of these intuitions is to lessen national sovereignty and further global governance. CFR President Richard Haass has openly advocated to such goals:

State sovereignty must be altered in globalized era.

Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute. If a state fails to live up to its side of the bargain by sponsoring terrorism, either transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, or conducting genocide, then it forfeits the normal benefits of sovereignty and opens itself up to attack, removal or occupation.

Globalization thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker.

Moreover, states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function.

But is trading national governance for global governance a wise idea? To be sure, most nations’ governments are corrupt and many oppress their people in one form or another. But would a more centralized, powerful form of government guarantee the “liberty and justice for all”?

Reason for War: Is Iran Violating the NPT?

In foreign policy, war and peace on May 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Has Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? That depends on who you ask.

Yesterday, at the opening session of the May 3-28 conference in New York meant to review the NPT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Iran has violated its international obligations.

“Iran has defied the UN Security Council … and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy,” Clinton said. “Potential violators must know that they will pay a high price if they break the rules.”

However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again denied his country has nuclear ambitions. Instead, he berated the U.S. for its possession and use of nuclear weapons.

“The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is disgusting and rather shameful.” Ahmadinejad said in a speech on the conference’s opening day.

Iran is often accused of violating section 3 of the NPT which reads in part:

“Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

The key phrase is “accept safeguards” as determined by the IAEA. Article XII of the IAEA Statute outlines these safeguards which include “To examine the design of specialized equipment and facilities” and “To call for and receive progress reports.”

The fact is, Iran has allowed AIEA inspectors in the country since the early 90s and continues to do so. However, it has sometimes not reported otherwise legal activity until after it has been discovered. Iran’s has failed to meet its “obligations” not by violating the NPT, but by failing to report. The IAEA has consistently reported Iran’s activity as peaceful. 

Rhetoric against Iran by the international community is gaining momentum. The accusations are not dissimilar to those that were used against Iraq and made to justify a U.S. invasion. While nations such as Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel posses nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the NPT, the international community is concerned with Iran: a basically compliant signatory who has yet to be proven in pursuit of nuclear energy for non-peaceful purposes. 

Additional Sources:

IAEA Says No New Concerns Regarding Iran Inspections, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty

NPT 101: Is Iran violating the nuclear treaty? The Christian Science Monitor

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, IAEA

Iran did NOT violate the NPT, Iran Affairs: Iranian foreign policy and international affairs

Fact Sheet: Violations of U.N. Sanctions and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, The Israel Project

A Tragic Foreign Policy: How the U.S. Ignored and Aided Genocide in East Timor

In foreign policy, sovereignty on April 28, 2010 at 1:44 am

“There is no Western concern for issues of aggression, atrocities, human rights abuses and so on if there’s a profit to be made from them.” — Noam Chomsky talking about the genocide in East Timor.

Sometimes inspiration for a post comes from an unlikely source. Today while wasting valuable study time watching videos on YouTube, I came across the song “Timor” by Colombian singer/songwriter Shakira.

“It’s alright, it’s alright. As long as we can vote. We live in a democracy and that’s what we promote.” 

I had listened to the song many times before but was never really sure of it’s meaning. Obviously, the song was political in nature — but what was Timor? I decided to Google the term.

The nation of East Timor lies just north of Australia and shares a small island with the Indonesian province of West Timor. The CIA’s World Factbook briefly references the small nation’s recent bloody history: 

“East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals lost their lives.” 

What the website fails to mention is the large role the U.S. government played in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Timorese.  

The National Security Archive’s Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project details U.S. involvement in the invasion, citing previously classified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. According to its website, the Archive reveals a “consistent pattern” by U.S. administrations “of subordinating East Timor’s right to self-determination to its relations with Indonesia.”

One of the supporting documents, a former top secret memo addressed to Henry Kissinger, admits U.S. knowledge of Indonesia’s intent to invade or, “Incorporate Portuguese Timor by force.” It also reports U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia David Newsom’s recommendation for “a policy of silence”: 

“The State Department has been uncertain about the best policy to follow. Ambassador Newsom has recommended a general policy of silence. He has argued that we have considerable interests in Indonesia and none in Timor. If we try to dissuade Indonesia from what Suharto may regard as a necessary use of force, major difficulties in our relationship could result.” 

As the memo forecasted, both the U.S. government and mainstream media were silent on the invasion and resulting genocide for more than 25 years. An Australian parliamentary report described the situation in East Timor as “indiscriminate killing on a scale unprecedented in post-World War II history.”  

But more unsettling than the United States’ pretend ignorance of the genocide, was its active participation in it. Prior to the invasion, the U.S. supplied the Indonesia government with large amounts of military support and weapons — a business that did not cease after the assault on Timor. According to The National Security Archive’s research, “virtually all of the military equipment used in the invasion was U.S. supplied.”

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writer Matthew Jardine concurs. In his article, East Timor: Media Turned Their Backs on Genocide, he says not only did the U.S. give Indonesia the green light, it also provided millions in aid.  

“Since that time, the U.S. has provided Indonesia with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and military assistance, greatly facilitating the colonization of East Timor. On the diplomatic front, the U.S. has helped to block any effective action on the issue. Former U.N. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan openly bragged, in his book A Dangerous Place, about how he carried out with ‘no inconsiderable success U.S. policy to render the U.N. ‘utterly ineffective’ on East Timor.”

I was saddened to learn of the recent tragic history of East Timor and my own government’s responsibility. Unfortunately, the United State’s involvement and interventions in the region are not out of character. Timor is just one of many U.S.-backed tragedies.

Iran to host nuclear conference, US says ‘no thanks’

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on April 8, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be hosting a nuclear weapon disarmament conference in Tehran April 17–18 titled “Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For No One.”

Needless to say the United States will not be attending.

However, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, more than 60 countries will be at the conference. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said China will be present. However, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said Beijing has not yet decided.

It’s unlikely the scheduling of the conference so soon after the U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons agreement is a coincidence. Ahmadinejad is as politically savvy as he is controversial.

But the real story is not that “black sheep” Iran is hosting a conference on nuclear disarmament, or at least it shouldn’t be. The real story is that the United States is so bent on isolating Iran that it’s shunning a chance to discuss and possibly learn more about Iran’s nuclear program.

Perhaps Iran and Ahmadinejad are not to be trusted. But ignoring and demonizing a historically peaceful country and potential ally is simply bad foreign policy. Why not attend the conference? Is the United States as sure of Iran’s destructive determination and lust for “weapons of mass destruction” as it was with Iraq?

Who is Hamid Karzai?

In foreign policy, war and peace on April 5, 2010 at 12:17 am

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, has a closet overflowing with skeletons. Karzai has been portrayed by western media as a democratically-elected leader bent on waging a war against the evil Taliban. In reality, he is a corrupt former mujahideen who has a history of Taliban association.

Most Americans, if they have heard of him, have no knowledge of who Hamid Karzai really is. Karzai’s approval of a controversial bill specifying a wife’s sexual duties and restricting when a woman can leave home in 2009 hinted at the president’s true self.

Retired US Army officer Matthew Hoh who resigned in protest of the Afghan war called the Karzai government “corrupt and illegitimate” in an interview with Russia Today.

“American soldiers, European soldiers, soldiers from NATO should not be dying to support or prop up the Karzai government,” he said. “We’ll look at ourselves 5, 10, 15 years from now and wonder why did we allow our young men to die in support of that government.”

But the Afghani president is more than just corrupt — he is dangerous.

Karzi, like Osama bin Laden, was among the original mujahideen or “freedom fighters” employed by the CIA to overthrow Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 80s. The president’s official website states:

“Hamid Karzai traveled to Pakistan and joined the Mujahideen resisting the Soviet occupation of his homeland. When the Mujahideen Government was established in Kabul in 1992, he was appointed as its Deputy Foreign Minister.”

But the website makes no mention of Karzai’s initial support of the Taliban. Instead, it briefly describes the “civil war between various Mujahideen groups” and highlights Karzai’s fight against the Taliban. Referring to Kazai’s father, the release says:

“In August 1999, Abdul Ahad Karzai, who was organizing resistance to the Taliban from his base in Quetta, Pakistan, was assassinated by the Taliban and their foreign supporters. This tragedy did not shake the Karzai family’s commitment to ridding Afghanistan of this foreign menace, and the son continued his father’s struggle against the Taliban. Hamid Karzai returned to Uruzgan province in October 2001, and worked to coordinate local efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and their supporters.”

But according to a PBS Online News Hour Report, Karzai initially viewed the Taliban as a force for good:

“When the Taliban first began to emerge in the early 1990s, Karzai supported them. A native of the region around Kandahar, he saw the Taliban as a force that could finally end the violence.”

The report goes on to say Karzai withdrew his support after suspecting the Taliban to be under foreign influence.

Writer for The Washington Post, Ann Marlowe, describes the notion that Karzai is Afghanistan’s defense against the Taliban as an “illusion.” In her article, Two Myths About Afghanistan, Marlowe points to Karzai’s praise of the Taliban:

“On Aug. 20, 1998, the day the United States sent cruise missiles to kill Osama bin Laden, Karzai told The Post that ‘there were many wonderful people in the Taliban.’ Yes, Karzai fought the Taliban — for a month in 2001, when we insisted.”

One thing is for certain, Afghanistan does not pose a simple good-vs.-evil dilemma. The country has a long history of foreign (especially US) intervention, corruption and oppression. Karzai appears to be one of many interested in self promotion at the Afghan peoples’ expense. The United States should not be taking part in what officer Hoh describes as a “35 year-old civil war.”

U.S.-Israel; an unwise alliance

In foreign policy on April 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. — President George Washington

President Obama recently pledged $3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel for the 2011 fiscal year, according to The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. Such outlandish “gifts” from the American taxpayers are nothing new in the history of U.S-Israeli relations.

Israel is currently the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. According to Washington Report, since World War II the country has received almost $114 billion in aid — a “conservative” estimate, according to the website. At the risk of sounding anti-Israel, such transferring of American taxpayers’ money is outrageous.

To be sure, the United States gives aid, both military and economic, to other nations as well. But none so great as Israel. According to AIPAC, included in the president’s 2011 budget request is $1.55 billion to Egypt, $661.5 million to Jordan and $550.4 Million to the Palestinian authority.

Ignoring the fact that the U.S. government is running a trillion-dollar deficit, are such appropriations wise? AIPAC thinks so:

“This aid reflects the third year of a 10-year U.S.-Israel security agreement signed in 2007 to gradually increase U.S. security assistance to the Jewish state in order to meet increasing threats, including a potential nuclear-armed Iran.”

But is it really in the interest of America to be funding the military programs of other countries? And, as a nation, how do we justify imposing crippling sanctions on Iran for pursuing nuclear energy while at the same time arming its nuclear neighbors? Where is the logic in such a foreign policy?

Perhaps the next time some angry Arab cites the United States’ exorbitant support of Israel as a cause of hostility, Americans should take note.

Bin Laden, Taliban; American made

In foreign policy on March 31, 2010 at 2:01 am

What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war? — Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Above: Former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter and former foreign policy advisor to Senator Barrack Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, visits the Mujahideen in Pakistan.

In the late 70s, President Jimmy Carter began a covert CIA operation in Afghanistan known as “Operation Cyclone.” The goal of the mission was to train and arm ragtag “freedom fighters” in the hills of Afghanistan to fight against occupying Soviet forces. At the time, the fighters were known as the Mujahideen — we now know them as Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  

Like the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953, “Operation Cyclone” resulted in serious blowback and further fueled the rise of radical Islam. Ironically, President George W. Bush spent more than seven years fighting the terrorists Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan helped create.

Sources:

The Road To September 11, Newsweek, Oct 1, 2001

The Oily Americans, Time Magazine, May 19, 2003

How the CIA created Osama bin Laden, the Green Left, Sept 19, 2001

Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV, The Huffington Post, July 25, 2008

The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan, Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur, January 1998

What ever happened to the anti-war left?

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 31, 2010 at 1:45 am
 
 
When President George W. Bush spoke of spreading democracy to other nations during his second inaugural speech, liberals cringed. In 2005, many on the left realized what most on the right did not — that such rhetoric was nothing more than a thinly veiled declaration of an aggressive foreign policy. But that was 2005.
 
How I long for the liberals of those days: anti-war, noninterventionists, skeptical of their government.
 
Sadly, as libertarian author and editor Lawrence Samuels points out, most former anti-war liberals have abandoned their posts.
 
It was not long ago when almost every progressive leader and newspaper voiced harsh words for Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Samuels said. Now that Obama is in charge, that anti-war sentiment is changing. It appears that it is okay for a Democrat administration to engage in war, but not a Republican one.
 
Are libertarians the only consistent voice of anti-war opposition? What ever happened to the angry protesters, celebrities, and progressive media railing against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? Perhaps their moral convictions changed with the new administration.
 
 

Ron Paul: The anti-war left has just left (5:37).

Murder by sanctions

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.” — American Enterprise Institute scholar Fred Kagan.

Tomorrow, foreign ministers of G8 countries will convene in Gatineau, Quebec to discuss “the major issues affecting international peace and security.” High on their agenda is the issue of Iran and the possibility of imposing harsher sanctions against the nation.

According to Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Iran’s nuclear program is of “critical concern.” The Associated Press reported the minister saying he believes it’s necessary to pursue UN-imposed sanctions.

“Unfortunately I believe we are left with little choice but to pursue additional sanctions against Iran ideally through the United Nations Security Council,” Cannon said.

But Cannon, like our own Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to have little concern for the impact such sanctions would have on the Iranian people. Too often, sanctions are viewed as a “peaceful” alternative to war. In reality, sanctions are a means of economic warfare.

Perhaps Cannon is ignorant of the effects of sanctions. Ms. Clinton has no such excuse.

In the 90s, her husband imposed harsh economic sanction against the nation of Iraq — reportedly killing more than a million Iraqis.

Pro-sanction scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Fred Kagan, is aware of the repercussions of such policy. 

“Look, we need to be honest about this,” Kagan said at an April 2009 AEI conference on Iran. “Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

According to AEI, the United States currently blocks “all investment and trade activity with Iran, with exceptions for the import of food, Persian rugs, informational materials, and gifts valued under $100.”

AEI admits that Iran, although host to the world’s third-largest proven petroleum reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, is vulnerable to sanctions because of its lack of refineries. Iran’s “real plan,” according to the institute, “is to become energy independent.”

Tomorrow, enlightened world leaders try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The (destructive) power of patriotism

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Patriotism destroyed the No. 1 best-selling female band of all time. On March 23, 2003, Natalie Maines, lead singer of former country music darlings the Dixie Chicks, made the now infamous comments regarding President George W. Bush and the Iraq war:

Just so you know, were on the good side with yall. We do not want this war, this violence, and were ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.

Today, those words seem hardly offensive. But spring of 2003, less than two years since tragic events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, those words were traitorous.

Its hard to remember the patriotic fever that swept the nation. Americans, including myself, were overwhelmed with an extreme sense of pride and loyalty. Emotions ran so high, in fact, that we were willing to follow our commander-in-chief into not one, but two unlawful wars.

The world did not change on Sept. 11, 2001 but much has changed since that day. We now have a new president. Conflicts continue to increase — now in Yemen, Pakistan and possibly Iran.

Let us not forget the blinding emotion that got us here.