Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dangerous Diplomacy in Syria

When does diplomacy become dangerous? The answer: when it is not sincere. Now that may sound a tad naïve, but give me a moment of your time to explain. The purpose of diplomacy is to allow nations to settle differences through talk rather than war. It can work, and it can fail miserably. The most often cited case of diplomacy failing is the now infamous peace plan brokered by British Prime Minister Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler just prior to the outbreak of World War Two, and Chamberlain's famous words "Peace in our time". More often than not diplomacy solves small issues between nations, while the more serious, or strategic issues generally have ended in military action.

In todays world we have all kinds of "diplomacy" happening every day, and all day long, but we also have wars raging during the same period. In fact, diplomacy has been reduced to acts of one-up-man-ship for some theoretical "moral high ground" rather than its intended purpose of resolving disputes. The peril that results from this kind of behaviour leaves mankind with no real dispute mechanism other than war, or the "Law of the Jungle" - might is right and the end justifies the means.

Just recently I had the unfortunate privilege of watching the Israeli military Chief of Staff give a brief interview regarding a possible Kurdish state being formed from the countries of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Although that push to create a Kurdish state from these countries is not news, his particular delight in the idea, and his "too cute for words" pronouncement that Israel wouldn't be opposed to such a development, as he smiled into the camera, was in a word shocking. It wasn't shocking because he believed in the idea, but rather it was shocking because he showed no respect for the territorial integrity of the three nations already at war for their survival. In other words, while Israel sits somewhat quietly on the sides of these conflicts, feigning if you will diplomacy, in reality Israel isn't uninvolved or sincere.

Similarly, while the United States sits at one UN Security Council meeting after another, in many cases over Syria, and attempts to diplomatically pressure the Syrian government and its allies, one of its senior Generals recently pronounced that the Syrian army and its allies would not be permitted to cross the Euphrates River to enter Eastern Syria. Take a moment and consider that General's pronouncement. The Syrian army would not be permitted to enter the eastern half of its own country... Where in the rules of international law could this statement be rooted? The idea that a sovereign power cannot exercise sovereignty over its own territory is an affront to the very foundation of nationhood. An exception to this rule can me made in cases of genocide, such as Rwanda, but that is clearly not the case in Syria.

In fact, with the establishment of at least two US airbases in eastern Syria, and according to the Turkish government at least ten US bases of all types in the same area, it is clear that the American government is occupying eastern Syria in order to reinforce the Kurdish annexation of that area in order to establish a Kurdish state. The impending independence vote of the Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq, an area also heavily aligned with the US government, reinforces the notion. Yet, and here comes the dangerous diplomacy, the Americans continue to posture internationally that they want a peaceful settlement of the Syrian civil war.

The question then becomes, obviously, how sincere are the US diplomatic pronouncements about peace in Syria? The answer quite clearly is they are not serious what-so-ever. That leads to a greater problem: if the US is not serious about its diplomacy in Syria, then is it serious in its diplomacy toward Iran, North Korea, or even Russia and China? Should these countries take American diplomacy seriously at all, or should they rely on military means to resolve their inevitable national clashes of interests? Therein lies the danger of diplomacy without sincerity, and diplomacy that ignores its fundamental foundation which is international law. How nations must act toward other nations.

Real diplomacy has resolved some of the world's most anxious moments. The Cuban missile crisis comes to mind. There was also the fall of the Berlin Wall. These were crisis that, once resolved by diplomacy, gave nations a chance to move forward without the direct use of force. Yes, they had their origins in force, but sincerity and adherence to international law overcame the threat of war, because the nations involved sincerely did not want such a confrontation. That is missing today. On a daily basis we here one side or the other threatening nuclear war, or "limited" nuclear strikes as doable. The aim is not to restore international law, or for that matter international order. The goal quite clearly appears to be the reverse - "strategic interests or national interests" trump (pardon the pun) the law of nations. The same type of scenario the world witnessed just before World War Two and the "peace in our time" declaration. It was not "appeasement" that didn't work in 1939, but the sincerity behind the "appeasement". The exact same conditions exist today. So, yes, dangerous diplomacy is alive and well, and ruling the hearts of men and women who lead their nations, but conveniently toss the lessons of history to the side - at all our peril.












Thursday, August 10, 2017

War With China

There are only so many coincidences in politics, and even less so in international politics. Today we stand on the precipice of  a war with China - all the coincidences point to it.

India

The Indian military's move into tiny Bhutan, which is located between India and China, is the latest hostile act between the two neighbors. The Indian army allegedly moved troops into the western part of Bhutan at the request of Bhutan's government in order to halt Chinese road construction on what it considers to be its sovereign territory. Each side has its own view of who's territory or claim is the truest, but the bottom line is China now has a mounting, perhaps imminent conflict on its southern border with India. As the Indian deployment in Bhutan remains ongoing, both sides have assembled forces on the border waiting to engage each other should the need rise.

The South China Sea

China's claim to the South China Sea has caused rifts with its neighbors - many of them in fact. From a purely legal point of view, China's claims to the Sea are out of whack with international law which delineates maritime boundaries between nations. The only possible way China can legitimately claim the South China Sea is to prove its has been a part of China. However, putting the legitimacy of the claim aside for the moment, let's take into account what is happening "on the ground" there. The United States navy has been conducting "freedom of navigation" drills, one tiny frigate at a time, in the Sea for months now - three since Trump became president of the US. In addition, the US has mounted aerial challenges to China's claim with mainly electronic surveillance aircraft. These challenges have been met with intercepting Chinese jet fighters. The naval challenges have not been met on the seas to any extent.

Taiwan

Taiwan has been a thorn in the side of China since anti-communist forces retreated to the island after the Chinese civil war. The US, in order to keep the peace presumably, has respected the "one China" policy that views Taiwan as essentially a part of China. However, that has not stopped the US from selling massive amounts of arms to Taiwan, and formally guaranteeing Taiwan's independence from China - essentially a country to country defence treaty. That policy hasn't changed under Trump. Instead, the Trump administration caused a furor when it suggested it may not recognize the long standing "one China" policy. It quickly changed its mind when China became enraged with the suggestion. However, the US did continue to sign multi-billion arms deals with Taiwan for the latest in military hardware.

North Korea

By far the most pressing issue between the two super powers is that of North Korea. Having been levelled by the US air force during the Korean War of the 1950's, North Korea seems completely unprepared to surrender its nuclear weapons, and/or nuclear program. It claims self-defence, and views the massive military exercises between the US and South Korea as evidence of an ongoing hostility toward it. And on it goes. What has been completely lost in this whole conflict, at least in the mass media and therefore with most of the general public, is that China and North Korea have a "NATO-like" defence treaty known as the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty. The treaty was signed in 1961, renews every 20 years automatically, and Article 2 requires each side to come to the defence of the other in case attacked by an enemy or coalition of enemies. In other words, war with North Korea means war with China.

Now, there can be no doubt that the US government is fully aware of China's obligations to North Korea, yet the US is dramatically escalating the conflict with North Korea. US President Trump has even gone so far as to threaten North Korea with "fire and fury the world has never seen". What the US government is conveniently leaving out of its pronouncements is that, should it attack North Korea, it will immediately be at war with China. That's a revelation that may well alter any war licence the American people might grant their politicians. After all, it is questionable whether North Korea poses a serious threat to the existence of the US, but there is no question that China could end that existence via nuclear war - at least there shouldn't be.

Connecting the Dots

The pressure being placed on China at multiple fronts is very similar to the pressure being placed on Russia at multiple fronts. One similarity is these areas of conflicts are on China's and Russia's borders for the most part - with the exception of Syria. Just this week the top US military types were claiming "thousands would die", but those thousands would be in North Korea and not the United States. So, it seems safe to say, that the deliberate US strategy is to engage China and Russia, in an aggressive fashion, on those countries borders. A second similarity is the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems by the US on both Chinese and Russian borders. In the case of China, the THADD system set up in South Korea to nominally defend it against ballistic missile attack from North Korea. In the case of Russia, the construction of a "missile shield" in former Soviet bloc countries to thwart potential Iranian missiles. These deployments, however, clearly effect the ground based retaliatory measures either China or Russia could take in the event of a nuclear war - back to the whole only so many coincidences thing.

Just in case you believe all these geopolitical moves have a single thing to do with "saving the world for democracy" or "fighting rouge regimes", pause, take a deep breath, and think. China is eclipsing the US as the dominant world power - a movement that has been happening slowly but surely since the early 1990's. China and Russia are in the midst of building their own world economy - Eurasia, BRICS, and the Silk Road - and this is perceived by the US as a direct threat to its "place in the world". To emphasize the point, in response to this weeks US sanctions against Russia, Russian President Putin announced his country would be dramatically ramping up its "settlement of trades" aim. Essentially, dropping the US currency as the means for trading internationally. China will likely not be far behind. The plain, obvious and simple truth is the move toward wars with China and Russia is all about business. Not the kind of business you often hear about with accusations of the "military industrial complex" looking to make more arms sales. No, not that. It's the war for economic supremacy, or better put the war to maintain economic supremacy. That's all this is about. Don't wrap yourself in a flag over it. If you have to wrap yourself in anything pick a dollar.

My final thought on the machinations happening around the world right now is this: God must be very disappointed in his creation at this time.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Is the US a World Dictator?

Is the United States a world dictator? It's a question I've been wrestling with for some time. Being situated next door to the US, but as a separate country, Canadians get a fairly unique view on the matter. We aren't encumbered, or most of us are not, with wrapping ourselves in an American flag. In fact most Canadians are only quite happy to distinguish themselves from our American cousins to the south. Our foreign policy has typically been based on international law. For example we refused to take part in bombing Syria as we were not invited to do so by the Syrian government or the UN. We refused to take part in the invasion of Iraq for the same reasons. However, under our last Prime Minister, Harper, and apparently under our new Prime Minister, that has somewhat changed. My country has become far more vassal-like which is disturbing and upsetting.

Simply put, the United States has been subjecting the rest of the world to its economic and military will since that cement wall came down in Germany. Slowly at first, but since Bush it has been a dam burst. The US has attacked, militarily and especially financially, countries counter to any semblance of international law. It has become readily apparent that the US considers international law whatever it deems it to be - in other words international law is American law. Nations are defined primarily on their ability to assert their own law within their borders. If a country can't do that it loses sovereignty over areas of its country, and it quickly devolves into a state without borders or control - a failed or non-state.

Some examples of very disturbing, unilateral American actions include: unilateral withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile defence treaty with Russia; the imposing of economic sanctions against individuals and countries at will; the promotion of escalating tensions by accepting new NATO members of nations that border Russia; encouraging "regime" change in sovereign countries like Venezuela; needlessly provoking conflicts with China, Iran, and North Korea; unilaterally leaving trade agreements like NAFTA or environmental agreements like the Paris Accord; and the list goes on. All these instances have one thing in common though - belligerence. The US government is strutting about the world like a drunk man in a bar, taking swings and pushing people in a desperate quest for a fight.

I realize this sounds harsh, but how else can you credibly describe it? Let's take a moment. When is the last time North Korea, Iran or Venezuela militarily attacked another country - let alone the US? When is the last time Russia, as Russia, invaded another country - let alone the US? How about China? India just invaded a southern part of China which the two sides claim. China has held back from attacking India even though a part of its country has been occupied. That is restraint. What are the odds that the US was behind the scenes on this one? They have a "interest" in dividing the two Eurasian and BRICS partners. That will come out in due time no doubt. The bottom line is the US has not been seriously threatened by any of these countries. Even the US Generals I've listed to have stated North Korea's threats of retaliation (note "retaliation") are not serious given their vast superiority in fire power. So why the aggressive US stance in the world?

Frankly, the US's problems are not military, but rather financial. Russia, China, and Iran are now trading in their own currencies. In short order those trades will be backed by gold bullion - including trades in oil. As these vast markets trade in their own currencies, and/or gold bullion, the US petro dollar, established by Nixon with Saudi Arabia in the 1970's, will be undermined - thus undermining its position as the world reserve currency. In other words, it will no longer be needed in the fastest growing and most important markets in the world. As its demand falters so goes its value, and US dominance at home and abroad. That is really what you are witnessing play out on the world stage right now. It's a very big game of chess to try and preserve the "American century". The goals are quite obvious: alienate Iran from Iraq; alienate Syria from Iran; alienate India from China; alienate Russia from Europe; and eventually alienate China from all the above. A divide and conquer strategy, by any means, to; stop the Eurasian economic block from forming. If the Eurasian block, or the "Silk Road" as China terms it, does not successfully form the threat to the US dollar from gold backed currencies is removed.

The biggest question in the room is this: do the ends justify the means? Or, what does it benefit a man to win the world, but lose his soul? That's a question a lot of American should be asking themselves. What if the US wins? We have a world subjugated into virtual economic dictatorship by the US houses of Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency? Isn't the United States supposed to be the country that was founded on freedom and liberty when it rebelled against... wait fir it ... the dictatorship of the English Crown? Isn't freedom the most defining value most Americans associate with their nationality? Yet, those very same people are prepared to see the rest of the people on this earth denied that same freedom in the name of "American national interest"? That very notion sticks in the back of the throat as a stone too large to swallow.

Yes, the US government is acting as though it were a world dictator. Of that nobody can have any serious doubt. It does so without the concern over the impact it may have on the other nations and their people. It does so without the implied or express consent of those people. It meats out sanctions and military action against nations without regard to the suffering of others. In essence it has become the bully of the world. If you believe that we reap what we sow, then the US may well be in for a rocky road in the near future. Just like those early American patriots that rebelled against an oppressive King, nations capable of fighting back against the thwarting of their sovereign rights will do so. Unfortunately for us all, the result can only be a devastating world war that leaves no part of the earth untouched.