Why subtlety and national security don’t mix.
BY MICAH ZENKO | FEBRUARY 20, 2013
Before Congress took a well-earned nine day recess, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of two generals to lead Central Command and Africa Command. Senator Lindsey Graham asked the Central Command nominee, General Lloyd Austin: “If…we pick a [troop] number in Afghanistan that makes it a high likelihood of failure, that would be sending the wrong signals, do you agree, to the Iranians?” Austin replied: “I would, sir. I would agree with that.”
Later, Gen. Austin observed of cutting forces from the Middle East: “Once you reduce the presence in the region, you could very well signal the wrong things to our adversaries.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte echoed his observation, claiming that President Obama’s plan to withdraw 34,000 thousand U.S. troops from Afghanistan within one year “leaves us dangerously low on military personnel…it’s going to send a clear signal that America’s commitment to Afghanistan is going wobbly.” Similarly, during a separate House Armed Services Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter ominously warned of the possibility of sequestration: “Perhaps most important, the world is watching. Our friends and allies are watching, potential foes — all over the world.”
These routine and unchallenged assertions highlight what is perhaps the most widely agreed-upon conventional wisdom in U.S. foreign and national security policymaking: the inherent power of signaling. This psychological capability rests on two core assumptions: All relevant international audiences can or will accurately interpret the signals conveyed, and upon correctly comprehending this signal, these audiences will act as intended by U.S. policymakers. Many policymakers and pundits fundamentally believe that the Pentagon is an omni-directional radar that uniformly transmits signals via presidential declarations, defense spending levels, visits with defense ministers, or troop deployments to receptive antennas. A bit of digging, however, exposes cracks in the premises underlying signaling theories.
There is a half-century of social science research demonstrating the cultural and cognitive biases that make communication difficult between two humans. Why would this be any different between two states, or between a state and non-state actor? Unlike foreign policy signaling in the context of disputes or escalating crises — of which there is an extensive body of research into types and effectiveness — policymakers’ claims about signaling are merely made in a peacetime vacuum. These signals are never articulated with a precision that could be tested or falsified, and thus policymakers cannot be judged misleading or wrong.
Paired with the faith in signaling is the assumption that policymakers can read the minds of potential or actual friends and adversaries. During the cycle of congressional hearings this spring, you can rest assured that elected representatives and expert witnesses will claim to know what the Iranian supreme leader thinks, how “the Taliban” perceives White House pronouncements about Afghanistan, or how allies in East Asia will react to sequestration. This self-assuredness is referred to as the illusion of transparency by psychologists, or how “people overestimate others’ ability to know them, and…also overestimate their ability to know others.”
Policymakers also conceive of signaling as a one-way transmission: something that the United States does and others absorb. You rarely read or hear critical thinking from U.S. policymakers about how to interpret the signals from others states. Moreover, since U.S. officials correctly downplay the attention-seeking actions of adversaries — such as Iran’s near-weekly pronouncement of inventing a new drone or missile — wouldn’t it be safer to assume that the majority of U.S. signals are similarly dismissed? During my encounters with foreign officials, few take U.S. government pronouncements seriously, and instead assume they are made to appease domestic audiences.
At the same time, the range of acceptable national security signals is a very narrow spectrum framed by “strong” on one end and “weak” on the other. The former is always characterized as the preferred communication, while the latter is dismissed pejoratively. As a result, the constant need to signal American strength is the overriding justification and/or objective for more — more spending, more troops, more carrier battle group tours, etc. But since only weak or strong can be indicated, officials never ask if some foreign policy activity will signal whether the United States is wise, hypocritical, just, or moral.
Finally, it is ironic that many of the biggest advocates of non-verbally signaling intentions to adversaries also believe that the United States must never actually communicate directly with them. For these policymakers, speaking to an adversary face-to-face is a “reward” that should be withheld, and one that is much less effective than indefinitely stationing tens of thousands of U.S. troops in a neighboring country.
There is little doubt that the United States — due to its military power, range of self-generated global interests, and perpetual state of warfare — is more closely watched and studied than any other state on earth. However, what outsiders think about the United States based on national security debates on Capitol Hill and U.S. foreign policy actions is beyond the control of Washington. There are specific strategies, missions, and tasks that U.S. servicemembers and diplomats are sent abroad to achieve. Signaling, as a justification in itself, should not be one of them given its significant costs and inherent limits — though it might be worth trying.
In 1977, the United States sent two Voyager spacecraft on a mission to “conduct closeup studies of Jupiter and Saturn, Saturn’s rings, and the larger moons of the two planets.” Only intended to last five years, both Voyagers are now more than nine million miles from earth, sending back information on an open-ended interstellar mission of discovery. Attached to each are identical gold-plated copper records. The records’ contents, developed by a committee chaired by astronomer and cosmologist Carl Sagan, included: greetings in 55 languages, various natural and human-generated sounds (including one hour of author Ann Druyan’s brain waves compressed into one minute), music samplings from around the world, 115 images encoded in analog form, and instructions for how to play the record for extraterrestrial life forms.
Sagan later warned, “Many, perhaps most, of our messages will be indecipherable. But we have sent them because it is important to try.” Indeed, it was important to try signaling this information to aliens, though notably it was never the primary mission or justification for the Voyager probes, nor done with any expectation of success. Moreover, listening to the golden records — much like listening to signaling claims in Washington — communicates much more about who we are to us, than it ever could to anyone, or anything, else.
Allison Shelley/Getty Images
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To those who are in the know, Oops, cognocenti, I dislike Micah Zenko and his ilk. Military brass are idiots. More or less boots on the ground makes very little difference in our foreign policy. It is the human communication, not (military) signalling that makes friends, allies and adversaries understand our notions, devotion, Oops, avocations.
We have been wrong in invading Iraq and Afghanistan. If we did not learn anything from our failures what chances do we have in the future confrontation with China?
The days of President Teddy Roosevelt (Walk softly and carry a big stick) saber rattling are long gone. Future depends upon our capabilities in judging the situation and assigning our best resources.
I worship Abraham Maslow and his “hierarchy of needs” psychological theory (A Theory of Human Motivation, 1943).
Since we are all adults why not talk dirty? Micah started it by pushing Neocon agenda.
…and I am Sid Harth@elcidharth.comcoggocog
My dear Micah Zenco, May your tribe (not Jewish) increase.
Theories of Human Communication, Littlejohn Stephen W,, Foss Karen A., Thomson-Wadsworth
…and I am Sid Harth@elcidharth.com
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In the Jan./Feb. 2011 issue of Foreign Policy, former CIA official Paul Pillar takes down the conventional wisdom about the degree to which intelligence — both good and bad — can influence presidential decision-making, alter U.S. foreign policy, and prevent surprises. Whatever the limits of the U.S. intelligence community, it continues to face criticism for its perceived shortcomings, most recently for not predicting the Arab Spring and totally missing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death.
Indeed, while the intelligence community can claim several successes (Pillar, for example, points to the CIA nailing the Six-Day War in 1967), it has also endured a number of humiliating failures. As the ten examples below demonstrate, these intelligence breakdowns have been at the heart of pivotal events that refashioned the Middle East, altered the course of the Cold War, and thrust the United States into World War II, the war on terror, and the war in Iraq.You Can’t Miss
Pearl Harbor Attack
As dawn broke on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese struck the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, pushing a once-reluctant America headlong into World War II. The naval base was utterly unprepared for battle, even though the United States had managed to break Japanese diplomatic code in the lead-up to the assault and a military attaché in Java had warned Washington of a planned Japanese attack on Hawaii, the Philippines, and Thailand a week earlier. “Never before have we had so complete an intelligence picture of the enemy,” Roberta Wholstetter wrote in Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision.
That picture, however, was not seen in full because of inadequate intelligence-sharing among government agencies, faulty U.S. assumptions about Japan’s appetite for carrying out such a brazen attack, and rivalries within the U.S. intelligence community. The CIA — established in 1947 as part of the National Security Act – later noted that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor highlighted the need to separate “signals” from “noise” and create a centralized intelligence organization.
Above, the USS Arizona burns during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion
In April 1961, a CIA-planned effort by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime and replace it with a non-communist, U.S.-friendly government went horribly awry when an aerial attack on Cuba’s air force flopped and the 1,400-strong “Assault Brigade 2506″ came under heavy fire from the Cuban military after landing off the country’s southern coast. The botched invasion poisoned U.S.-Cuban relations.
CIA files later revealed that the agency, assuming President John F. Kennedy would commit American troops to the assault if all else failed, never showed the newly minted president an assessment expressing doubt about whether the brigade could succeed without open support from the U.S. military — support Kennedy never intended to provide. (The historian Piero Gleijeses has compared the CIA and Kennedy to ships passing in the night.) The CIA didn’t do itself any favors a year later by concluding that the Soviets were unlikely to establish offensive missiles in Cuba in a report issued a month before the Cuban Missile Crisis, though the agency redeemed itself a bit by later snapping U-2 photographs of the missile sites.
Above, guards keep a watchful eye on members of Assault Brigade 2506 after their capture in the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
Miguel Vinas/AFP/Getty Images
The Tet Offensive
On Jan. 31, 1968, during the Tet holiday in Vietnam, North Vietnam’s communist forces stunned the United States by launching a massive, coordinated assault against South Vietnam. While the communist military gains proved fleeting, the Tet Offensive was arguably the most decisive battle of Vietnam. Americans grew disillusioned with the war, prompting U.S. policymakers to shift gears and focus on reducing America’s footprint in Vietnam.
A government inquiry shortly after the Tet Offensive concluded that U.S. and South Vietnamese military officers and intelligence analysts had failed to fully anticipate the “intensity, coordination, and timing of the enemy attack” — despite multiple warnings. Navy librarian Glenn E. Helm notes that disregard for intelligence collection, language barriers, and a misunderstanding of enemy strategy played particularly prominent roles in the intelligence debacle. Still, James J. Wirtz points out in The Tet Offensive: Intelligence Failure in War that the “Americans almost succeeded in anticipating their opponents’ moves in time to avoid the military consequences of surprise.”
Above, Vietcong soldiers climb onto a U.S. tank abandoned on a road in Hue during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
The Yom Kippur War
While the CIA accurately analyzed the Six-Day War between Israel and neighboring Arab states in 1967, it was caught flat-footed only six years later when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched coordinated attacks on Israeli forces in the Sinai Desert and the Golan Heights during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The conflict, which ended with a ceasefire in October 1973, tested U.S.-Soviet relations and pushed the Arab-Israeli conflict to the top of Washington’s foreign-policy agenda.
Documents collected by George Washington University’s National Security Archive reveal that the Israeli intelligence community believed that the country’s superior military power would deter its Arab neighbors from initiating a war, and U.S. intelligence officials bought into this line of reasoning. On the day the war began, a National Security Council memo noted that Soviet advisers had been evacuated from Egypt and that Israel was anticipating an attack because of Egyptian and Syrian military movements, but added that U.S. intelligence services “continue to downplay the likelihood of an Arab attack on Israel” and “favor the alternative explanation of a crisis in Arab-Soviet relations.”
Above, a young Ariel Sharon (bandaged head) confers with fellow military leader Haim Bar Lev and then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (eye patch) in the Sinai on Oct. 17, 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.
Yossi Greenberg/GPO via Getty Images
The Iranian Revolution
In August 1978, six months before the U.S-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi fled Iran, the CIA infamously concluded that “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation.” As we all now know, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rose to power in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, opening up a rift between Iran and the United States that persists to this day.
According to Gary Sick, a member of Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council, the United Stated had scaled back its intelligence gathering inside Iran in the lead-up to the revolution in deference to the Shah, which helped contribute to U.S. officials overlooking widespread Iranian resentment against the Shah and the United States and underestimating the ability of the religious opposition to overthrow the Shah. Still, a 2004 Georgetown University report points out that the intelligence community did issue warnings about the Shah’s eroding power and the religious opposition’s growing clout, and that political infighting and the Carter administration’s preoccupation with Egyptian-Israeli peace talks contributed to American myopia on Iran.
Above, Iranian protesters hold up a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini on Jan. 1, 1979, during a demonstration in Tehran against the Shah.
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
The Soviet Union’s military incursion into Afghanistan, which began in December 1979 and devolved into a bloody, nine-year occupation, took the Carter administration by surprise. The U.S. intelligence community had assumed that the specter of a costly quagmire would deter the Soviets from invading Afghanistan. Former CIA official Douglas MacEachin recalls that in the days after the invasion, a dark joke began circulating around the agency that “the analysts got it right, and it was the Soviets who got it wrong.”
It’s not entirely clear, however, whether intelligence or policy is primarily to blame for America’s lack of foresight about the invasion. In The CIA and the Culture of Failure, John Diamond concedes that the agency failed to predict the invasion until shortly before it happened. But he adds that the CIA’s warnings about Soviet military preparations and movements throughout 1979 gave the Carter administration “all the information it needed to issue a stern warning to Moscow,” and that the administration instead chose to “downplay its warnings.” A Georgetown study adds that the White House was distracted by the SALT II treaty negotiations and the Iranian hostage crisis.
Above, Afghan children wave Afghan and Soviet flags near Kabul on May 15, 1988, as Russian troops begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Douglas E. Curran/AFP/Getty Images
The Collapse of the Soviet Union
Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. intelligence community failed to predict the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991, presaged as it was by President Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, the deteriorating Soviet economy, the collapse of communism in east-central Europe, and the moves toward independence by several Soviet republics. As the BBC recently noted, “the Soviet example illustrates the problem that intelligence gatherers are great counters: they can look at missiles, estimate the output of weapons factories, and so on. But the underlying political and social dynamics in a society are much harder to read.”
Indeed, in Western Intelligence and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1980-1990, David Arbel and Ran Edelist argue that the intelligence community often catered to the preconceived notions officials in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had of the Soviet threat, producing a “rigid conceptual conformity between the analysts and the decision-makers.” But former CIA official Douglas MacEachin adds that while the CIA did not forecast the breakup of the Soviet Union, it did “predict that the failing economy and stultifying societal conditions it had described in so many of its studies would ultimately provoke some kind of political confrontation within the USSR … What actually did happen depended on people and decisions that were not inevitable.”
Above, Gorbachev reads his resignation statement in Moscow on Dec. 25, 1991, before appearing on television to cede power to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and effectively dissolve the Soviet Union.
Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images
The Indian Nuclear Test
In May 1998, the CIA didn’t get wind of India’s intention to set off several underground nuclear blasts, in what Richard Shelby, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called a “colossal failure of our nation’s intelligence gathering.” The intelligence agency saved some face a couple weeks later when it warned that Pakistan was preparing to conduct its own nuclear tests, which it did on May 28, 1998.
At the time, the Washington Post reported that a U.S. spy satellite had picked up clear evidence of India’s nuclear test preparations six hours before the blasts, but the U.S. intelligence analysts responsible for tracking India’s nuclear program hadn’t been on duty. Instead, they discovered the images when they arrived at work the next morning, after the tests had already taken place.
Above, Indian soldiers walk on shattered ground on May 20, 1998, as they patrol the Shakti-1 site near New Delhi, where the nuclear test had taken place nine days earlier.
John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
The 9/11 Attacks
In its report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the 9/11 Commission noted that the intelligence community, assailed by “an overwhelming number of priorities, flat budgets, an outmoded structure, and bureaucratic rivalries,” had failed to pin down the big-picture threat posed by “transnational terrorism” throughout the 1990s and up to 9/11. In response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, Congress created a national intelligence director and the National Counterterrorism Center to pool intelligence.
As former CIA analyst Paul Pillar points out in his Foreign Policy piece, intelligence officials missed the 9/11 attacks but didn’t miss the threat posed by al Qaeda. The CIA created a unit focusing solely on Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s and President Bill Clinton launched covert operations against al Qaeda. The intelligence community’s February 2001 briefing on worldwide threats branded bin Laden’s terrorist network as “the most immediate and serious threat” to the United States, capable of “planning multiple attacks with little or no warning.”
Above, the Twin Towers burn after getting hit by planes on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Iraq War
In a February 2003 appearance before the U.N. Security Council to make the case for confronting Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that his accusations about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were based on “solid intelligence.” Indeed, an October 2002 intelligence estimate had concluded that Iraq was continuing its WMD program and could make a nuclear weapon “within several months to a year” if it acquired sufficient fissile material. But the United States never found evidence for such programs after its invasion of Iraq — an intelligence failure that President George W. Bush called his “biggest regret.”
Here too, however, it’s unclear how much of the failure should be blamed on intelligence as opposed to policymakers. In 2004, the Washington Post reported that President Bush and his top advisers “ignored many of the caveats and qualifiers” in the October 2002 intelligence report as they doggedly pressed ahead with the plans for war. Analysts, for example, estimated that Saddam wouldn’t use his WMD or give the weapons to terrorists unless Iraq was invaded. The New York Times also reported that senior Bush administration officials brandished tubes that they said were destined for Iraqi nuclear centrifuges despite the skepticism of nuclear experts.
Above, Powell holds a vial representing a teaspoon of anthrax during his Feb. 5, 2003, U.N. address. The secretary of state declared that Saddam Hussein might have enough dry anthrax to “fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons.” And, he added, “Saddam Hussein has not verifiably accounted for even one teaspoon-full of this deadly material.”
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Uri Friedman is an associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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All contents ©2013 The Foreign Policy Group, LLC. All rights reserved.Theories of Human Communication, Ninth EditionStephen W. Littlejohn and Karen A. FossPublisher:Lyn UhlArt Director:Maria EpesAcquisitions Editor:Jaime PerkinsPrint Buyer:Linda HsuDevelopment Editor:Renee DeljonPermissions Editor:Roberta BroyerAssistant Editor:John GahbauerProduction Service:Laura Houston, Pre-Press Company, Inc.Editorial Assistant:Kim GenglerText Designer:Jeanne CalabreseAssociate Technology Project Manager:Lucinda BinghamCover Designer:GopaMarketing Manager:Erin MitchellCover Image:Sonia Delauney/SuperStockMarketing Communications Manager:Jessica PerryCompositor:Pre-Press Company, Inc.Project Manager, Editorial Production:Cheri PalmerPrinter:Thomson WestCreative Director:Rob Hugel© 2008, 2005 Thomson Wadsworth, a part of The ThomsonCorporation. Thomson, the Star logo, and Wadsworth aretrademarks used herein under license.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this work covered bythe copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any formor by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical,including photocopying, recording, taping, Web distribution,information storage and retrieval systems, or in any othermanner—without the written permission of the publisher.Printed in the United States of America12345670711100908Library of Congress Control Number: 2006941014ISBN-13: 978-0-495-09587-3ISBN-10: 0-495-09587-7For more information about our products,contact us at:Thomson Learning AcademicResource Center 1-800-423-0563For permission to use material from this text orproduct, submit a request online atAny additional questions about permissions canbe submitted by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.Thomson Higher Education10 Davis DriveBelmont, CA 94002–3098USA95877_00_FM_pi-xviii pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:32 PM Page ivCopyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partCHAPTER12COMMUNICATIONTHEORYANDSCHOLARSHIPAs long as people have wondered about theworld, they have been intrigued by the myster-ies of human nature. The most commonplace ac-tivities of our lives—the things we take forgranted—can become quite puzzling when wetry to understand them systematically. Commu-nication is one of those everyday activities that isintertwined with all of human life so completelythat we sometimes overlook its pervasiveness,importance, and complexity. In this book, wetreat communication as central to human life.Every aspect of our daily lives is affected by ourcommunication with others, as well as by mes-sages from people we don’t even know—peoplenear and far, living and dead. This book is de-signed to help you better understand communi-cation in all of its aspects—its complexities, itspowers, its possibilities, and its limitations.We could proceed with this book in severalways. We could provide a set of recipes for im-proving communication, but such an approachwould ignore the complexities and ambiguitiesof the communication process. We could offersome basic models, but this too offers a limitedview of communication. Instead, we will focuson theories of communication, because theoriesprovide explanations that help us understandthe phenomenon we call communication. Ourguiding question is how scholars from varioustraditions have described and explained thisuniversal human experience. By developing anunderstanding of a variety of communicationtheories, you can be more discriminating in yourinterpretation of communication, can gain toolsto improve your communication, and can betterunderstand what the discipline of communica-tion is about.1Studying communication theory will help youto see things you never saw before, to see the un-familiar in the everyday. This widening of percep-tion, or unhitching of blinders, will enable you totranscend habitual thinking and to become in-creasingly adaptable, flexible, and sophisticatedin terms of your approach to communication. The95877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 2Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partphilosopher Thomas Kuhn explains the differentway of seeing that knowledge of a field provides:“Looking at a contour map, the student sees lineson paper, the cartographer a picture of a terrain.Looking at a bubble chamber photograph, thestudent sees confused and broken lines, thephysicist a record of familiar subnuclear events.”2Theories, then, provide a set of useful tools forseeing the everyday processes and experiences ofcommunication through new lenses.DEFININGCOMMUNICATIONTo begin our study of communication theories, weturn first to the task of definingcommunication—and communication is not easy to define.3Theodore Clevenger Jr. noted that “the continu-ing problem in defining communication forscholarly or scientific purposes stems from thefact that the verb ‘to communicate’ is well estab-lished in the common lexicon and therefore isnot easily captured for scientific use. Indeed, it isone of the most overworked terms in the Englishlanguage.”4Scholars have made many attemptsto definecommunication,but establishing a singledefinition has proved impossible and may notbe very fruitful.Frank Dance took a major step toward clarify-ing this muddy concept by outlining a number ofelements used to distinguish communication.5Hefound three points of “critical conceptual differ-entiation” that form the basic dimensions of com-munication. The first dimension islevel of observa-tion,or abstractness. Some definitions are broadand inclusive; others are restrictive. For example,the definition of communication as “the processthat links discontinuous parts of the living worldto one another” is general.6On the other hand,communication as “a system (as of telephones ortelegraphs) for communicating information andorders (as in a naval service),” is restrictive.7The second distinction isintentionality.Somedefinitions include only purposeful messagesending and receiving; others do not impose thislimitation. The following is an example of adefinition that includes intention: “Those situa-tions in which a source transmits a message to areceiver with conscious intent to affect the lat-ter’s behaviors.”8A definition that does not re-quire intent follows: “It is a process that makescommon to two or several what was the monop-oly of one or some.”9The third dimension used to distinguishamong definitions of communication is norma-tivejudgment.Some definitions include a state-ment of success, effectiveness, or accuracy; otherdefinitions do not contain such implicit judg-ments. The following definition, for example,presumes that communication is successful:“Communication is the verbal interchange of athought or idea.”10The assumption in this defini-tion is that a thought or idea is successfullyexchanged. Another definition, on the other hand,does not judge whether the outcome is successfulor not: “Communication [is] the transmission ofinformation.”11Here information istransmitted,but it is not necessarilyreceivedor understood.Debates over what communication is and thedimensions that characterize it will undoubtedlycontinue. Dance’s conclusion is appropriate:“We are trying to make the concept of ‘commu-nication’ do too much work for us.”12He callsfor a family of concepts, rather than a singletheory or idea, that collectively defines commu-nication. These definitional issues are important,as Peter Andersen reminds us: “While there isnot a right or wrong perspective, choices regard-ing [definitions] are not trivial. These perspec-tives launch scholars down different theoreticaltrajectories, predispose them to ask distinctquestions, and set them up to conduct differentkinds of communication studies.”13Different de-finitions have different functions and enable thetheorist to do different things.A definition should be evaluated on the basisof how well it helps scholars answer the ques-tions they are investigating. Different sorts ofinvestigations require separate, even contradic-tory, definitions of communication. Definitions,then, are tools that should be used flexibly. InChapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship395877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 3Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partthis book we do not offer a single definition ofcommunication but instead look at a range oftheories that defines communication in a varietyof ways. We hope this range of definitions willhelp you determine what communication meansto you as you begin to explore the many arenasof communication theory.THEACADEMICSTUDYOFCOMMUNICATIONCommunication has been systematically studiedsince antiquity,14but it became an especially im-portant topic in the twentieth century. W. BarnettPearce describes this development as a “revolu-tionary discovery,” largely caused by the rise ofcommunication technologies (such as radio,television, telephone, satellites, and computernetworking), along with industrialization, bigbusiness, and global politics.15Clearly, commu-nication has assumed immense importance inour time.Intense interest in the academic study ofcommunication began after World War I, as ad-vances in technology and literacy made commu-nication a topic of concern.16The subject wasfurther promoted by the popular twentieth-century philosophies of progress and pragma-tism, which stimulated a desire to improvesociety through widespread social change. Thistrend is important because it grounds communi-cation firmly in the intellectual history of theUnited States during the twentieth century. Dur-ing this period, the nation was “on the move” interms of efforts to advance technology, improvesociety, fight tyranny, and foster the spread ofcapitalism. Communication figured prominentlyin these movements and became central to suchconcerns as propaganda and public opinion; therise of the social sciences; and the role of themedia in commerce, marketing, and advertising.After World War II, the social sciences becamefully recognized as legitimate disciplines, and theinterest in psychological and social processes be-came intense. Persuasion and decision making ingroups were central concerns, not only among re-searchers but in society in general because of thewidespread use of propaganda during the war todisseminate oppressive ideological regimes. Com-munication studies developed considerably in thesecond half of the twentieth century because ofpragmatic interests in what communication canaccomplish and the outcomes it produces.At first, university courses related to commu-nication were found in many departments—thesciences, the arts, mathematics, literature, biology,business, and political science.17In fact, commu-nication is still studied across the university cur-riculum. Psychologists study communication, forinstance, as a particular kindofbehavior moti-vated by different psychological processes. Soci-ologists focus on society and social processesand thus see communication as one of manysocial factors important in society. Anthropolo-gists are interested primarily in culture, treatingcommunication as a factor that helps develop,maintain, and change cultures. There has beenconsiderable cross-fertilization between commu-nication and other disciplines: “While many dis-ciplines have undoubtedly benefited fromadopting a communication model, it is equallytrue that they, in turn, have added greatly to ourunderstanding of human interaction.”18Gradually, however, separate departments ofspeech, speech communication, communication,and mass communication developed. Today, mostdepartments are called departments of communi-cation or communication studies, but whateverthe label, they share a focus on communicationas central to human experience. In contrast, then,to researchers in other fields like psychology, soci-ology, anthropology, or business, who tend toconsider communication a secondary process—something important for transmitting informationonce other structures are in place—scholars in thediscipline of communication consider communi-cation as the organizing element of human life.As communication became a discrete disci-pline, organizations such as the National Com-munication Association and the InternationalCommunication Association, as well as many re-gional and specialized associations, developedto assist in articulating the nature of the disci-pline. Journals in which scholars publish theirwork also have become prolific and also helpPart One Foundations495877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 4Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partdefine what the field of communication is.19Anddespite its interdisciplinary origins and contin-ued interdisciplinary flavor, communication isproducing theories of its own rather than relyingon sister disciplines for theoretical startingpoints, as was the case when the field first be-gan. In fact, the evolution of this textbook offersevidence of this shift from reliance on other dis-ciplines to disciplinary autonomy. In earlier edi-tions ofTheories, theories from other disciplineswere featured heavily since that was where com-munication scholars directed their attention anddrew their inspiration. Now, we try to includeprimarily theories developed within the disci-pline itself—theories that center communicationin ways other disciplines do not.The development of the discipline of commu-nication took different forms and foci in differentparts of the world. Communication theory hashad a different history in Europe, in Asia, and inAfrica than in the United States, for example.20Inthe United States, researchers beganby studyingcommunication quantitatively, seeking to estab-lish communication as a social science. Althoughthese researchers were never in complete agree-ment on this objective ideal, quantitative meth-ods were the standard for many years. Europeaninvestigations of communication, on the otherhand, were influenced more by Marxist perspec-tives and came to rely on critical/cultural meth-ods. Within the contemporary discipline ofcommunication, however, there is considerableinteraction both ways, with scientific proceduresdeveloping a toehold in Europe and critical andother qualitative perspectives gaining promi-nence in North America.Communication scholars have also begun toattend to distinctions between Western andother forms of communication theory.21Easterntheories tend to focus on wholeness and unity,whereas Western perspectives sometimes mea-sure parts without necessarily being concernedabout an ultimate integration or unification ofthose parts. In addition, much Western theory isdominated by a vision of individualism: peopleare considered to be deliberate and active inachieving personal aims. Most Eastern theories,on the other hand, tend to view communicationoutcomes as largely unplanned and naturalconsequences of events. Even the many Westerntheories that share the Asian preoccupation withunintended events tend to be individualistic andhighly cognitive, whereas most Eastern tradi-tions stress emotional and spiritual convergenceas communication outcomes.Eastern and Western views of communicationalso differ because of their perspectives on lan-guage. In the East, verbal symbols, especiallyspeech, are downplayed and even viewed withskepticism. Western-style thinking, which val-ues the rational and logical, is also mistrusted inthe Eastern tradition. What counts in manyAsian philosophies is intuitive insight gainedfrom direct experience. Such insight can be ac-quired by not intervening in natural events,which explains why silence is so important inEastern communication. Relationships, too, areconceptualized differently in the two traditions.In Western thought, relationships exist betweentwo or more individuals. In many Eastern tradi-tions, relationships are more complicated andcontextualized, evolving out of differences in thesocial positions of role, status, and power.Some scholars seek to develop larger (or meta)theories that are specific to a certain culture or re-gion. Molefi Asante’s work on Afrocentricity andYoshitaka Miike’s efforts to describe an Asiacen-tric theory of communication are two examples.By outlining theoretical concepts and constructs,research materials, and methodologies from suchperspectives, scholars like Miike and Asante seekto introduce alternatives to the Eurocentric para-digm in the field of communication.22Like all distinctions, however, the cultural,racial, or regional distinctions among communica-tion theories should be viewed with caution. Al-though general differences can be noted, what isimportant to remember is that similarities abound.We could take each of the aforementioned charac-teristics of Eastern thought and show how each ismanifest in Western thinking and vice versa. Andno members of a cultural group all communicatein the same way, no matter how much they sharea common background. Communication is sobroad that it cannot be essentialized or confinedwithin a single paradigm.Chapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship595877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 5Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part.In this text, we focus on communicationtheories as they have emerged in the Westerndiscipline called communication or communica-tion studies. We are interested in presenting(1) the theories that have been formative in thediscipline; and (2) the contemporary evolutionsof those theories. This is not to say that the per-spectives developed in other areas of the worldare not important; we simply cannot cover all ofthe traditions in one book. Increasingly, how-ever, the theories in the discipline are cognizant ofcultural and contextual factors of all kinds, sug-gesting a greater integration of diversetheoriesfrom many communication perspectives.In a landmark article, Robert T. Craig pro-poses a vision for communication theory thattakes a huge step toward unifying this rather dis-parate field and addressing its complexities.23Craig argues that communication will never beunited by a single theory or group of theories.Theories will always reflect the diversity of prac-tical ideas about communication in ordinary life,so we will always be presented with a multiplic-ity of approaches. Our goal cannot and shouldnot be to seek a standard model that appliesuniversally to any communication situation. Ifthis impossible state of affairs were to happen,communication would become “a static field, adead field.”24Instead, Craig argues, we must seek a differ-ent kind of coherence based on (1) a commonunderstanding of the similarities and differ-ences, or tension points, among theories; and (2)a commitment to manage these tensions throughdialogue. Craig writes, “The goal should not bea state in which we have nothing to argue about,but one in which we better understand that weall have something very important to argueabout.”25The first requirement for the field, accordingto Craig, is a common understanding of similari-ties and differences among theories. More than alist of similarities and differences, we must havea common idea of where and how theories coa-lesce and clash. We need ametamodel. The termmetameans “higher” or “above,” so ametamodelis a “model of models.” The second requirementfor coherence in the field is a definition oftheory.Rather than viewing a theory as an explanationof a process, it should be seen as a statement orargument in favor of a particular approach. Inother words, theories are a form ofdiscourse.More precisely, theories are discourses aboutdiscourse, ormetadiscourse.As a student of communication theory, youwill find these twin concepts useful in sortingout what this theory-making enterprise is allabout. If you can find a useful metamodel, youwill be able to make connections among theo-ries, and if you see communication theory asmetadiscourse, you will begin to understand thevalue of multiple perspectives in the field. Inother words, communication theories will lookless like a bunch of rocks laid out on tables in ageology laboratory and more like a dynamiccomputer model of the way the earth wasformed.As a basic premise for a metamodel, Craigsays that communication is the primary processby which human life is experienced; communica-tionconstitutesreality. How we communicateabout our experience itself forms or makes ourexperience. The many forms of experience aremade in many forms ofcommunication. People’smeanings change from one group to another,from one setting to another, and from one timeperiod to another because communication itselfis dynamic across situations. Craig describes theimportance of this thought to communication asa field: “Communication . . . is not a secondaryphenomenon that can be explained by an-tecedent psychological, sociological, cultural, oreconomic factors; rather, communication itself isthe primary, constitutive social process thatexplains all these other factors.”26Craig suggests that we move the same princi-ple to another level. Theories are special forms ofcommunication, so theories constitute, or make,an experience of communication. Theories com-municate about communication, which is exactlywhat Craig means by metadiscourse. Differenttheories are different ways of “talking about”communication, each of which has its powersand limits. We need to acknowledge the consti-tutive power of theories and find a shared wayto understand what varioustheories are designedPart One Foundations695877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 6Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partto address and how they differ in their forms ofaddress. Because every communication theoryultimately is a response to some aspect of com-munication encountered in everyday life, the di-alogue within the field can focus onwhatandhowvarious theories address the social world inwhich people live.Craig describes seven traditional standpointsthat provide different ways of talking aboutcommunication: (1) the rhetorical; (2) the semi-otic; (3) the phenomenological; (4)the cybernetic;(5) the sociopsychological; (6) the sociocultural;and (7) the critical. Thesetraditions are describedin greater detail in Chapter 3 and constitute theframe we use to organize this book.THEPROCESSOFINQUIRYINCOMMUNICATIONA Basic Model of InquiryA starting point for understanding communicationas a field and its theories is the basic process of in-quiry itself. Inquiry is the systematic study of expe-rience that leads to understanding, knowledge,and theory. People engage in inquiry when they at-tempt to find out about something in an orderlyway. The process of systematic inquiry involvesthree stages.27The first stage is asking questions.Gerald Miller and Henry Nicholson believe thatinquiry is “nothing more . . . than the process ofasking interesting, significant questions . . . andproviding disciplined, systematic answers tothem.”28Questions can be of various types. Ques-tions ofdefinitioncall for concepts as answers, seek-ing to clarify what is observed or inferred: What isit? What will we call it? Questions offactask aboutproperties and relationships in what is observed:What does it consist of? How does it relate to otherthings? Questions ofvalueprobe aesthetic, prag-matic, and ethical qualities of the observed: Is itbeautiful? Is it effective? Is it good?The second stage of inquiry isobservation.Here, the scholar looks for answers by observingthe phenomenon under investigation. Methods ofobservation vary significantly from one traditionto another. Some scholars observe by examiningrecords and artifacts, others by personal involve-ment, others by using instruments and controlledexperimentation, and others by interviewing peo-ple. Whatever method is used, the investigatoremploys some planned method for answering thequestions posed about communication.The third stage of inquiry isconstructing an-swers. Here, the scholar attempts to define, de-scribe, and explain—to make judgments andinterpretations about what was observed. Thisstage is usually referred to astheory, and thisstage is the focus of this book.People often think of the stages of inquiry aslinear, occurring one step at a time—first ques-tions, then observations, and finally answers. Butinquiry does not proceed in this fashion. Eachstage affects and is affected by the others. Obser-vations often stimulate new questions, and theo-ries are challenged by both observations andquestions. Theories lead to new questions, andobservations are determined in part by theories.Inquiry, then, is more like running around a circleand back and forth between different points onit than walking in a straight line. Figure 1.1illustrates the interaction among the stages ofinquiry.Types of ScholarshipThe preceding section outlines thebasic elementsof inquiry, but it ignores important differences.Different types of inquiry ask different questions,Chapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship7QuestionsTheory ObservationFIGURE1.1The Stages of Inquiry95877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 7Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in paruse different methods of observation, and leadto different kinds of theory. Methods of inquirycan be grouped into three broad forms of scholar-ship—scientific, humanistic, and social scientific.29Although these forms of scholarship share thecommon elements discussed in the previous sec-tion, they also have major differences.30Scientific Scholarship.Science is often asso-ciated with objectivity, standardization, and gen-eralizability. The scientist attempts to look at theworld in such a way that all other observers,trained the same way and using the same meth-ods, will see the same thing. Replications of astudy should yield identical results. Standard-ization and replication are important in sciencebecause scientists assume that the world has ob-servable form, and they view their task as dis-covering the world as it is. The world sits in waitof discovery, and the goal of science is to observeand explain the world as accurately as possible.Because there is no absolute way to knowhow accurate observations are, the scientist mustrely on agreement among observers. If alltrained observers using the same method reportthe same results, the object is presumed to havebeen accurately observed. Because of the empha-sis on discovering a knowable world, scientificmethods are especially well suited to problemsof nature.In its focus on standardization and objectivity,science sometimes appears to be value free. Yet,this appearance may belie reality, as science isbased on many implicit values. Humanisticscholarship is a tradition that more deliberatelyacknowledges the place of values in research.Humanistic Scholarship.Whereas science isassociated with objectivity, the humanities areassociated with subjectivity. Science aims tostandardize observation; the humanities seekcreative interpretation. If the aim of science is toreduce human differences in what is observed, theaim of the humanities is to understand individualsubjective response.31Most humanists are moreinterested in individual cases thangeneralizedtheory.Science focuses on the discovered world, andthe humanities focus on the discovering person.Science seeks consensus while the humanitiesseek alternative interpretations. Humanists oftenare suspicious of the claim that there is an im-mutable world to be discovered, and they tendnot to separate the knower from the known. Theclassical humanistic position is that what onesees is largely determined by who one is. Becauseof its emphasis on the subjective response, hu-manistic scholarship is especially well suited toproblems of art, personal experience, and values.Science and the humanities are not so farapart that they never come together. Almost anyprogram of research and theory building in-cludes some aspects of both scientific and hu-manistic scholarship. At times the scientist is ahumanist, using intuition, creativity, interpreta-tion, and insight tounderstand thedata collectedor to take research in entirely new directions.Many of the great scientific discoveries were infact the result of creative insight. Archimedesdiscovered how to measure the volume of liquidusing displacement when he stepped into hisbathtub; Alexander Fleming used, rather thanthrew away, the mold in the Petri dish—which,in fact, produced penicillin. Ironically, the scien-tist must be subjective in creating the methodsthat will eventually lead to objective observa-tion, making research design a creative process.In turn, at times the humanist must be scientific,seeking facts that enable experience to be under-stood. As we will see in the next section, thepoint where science leaves off and the humani-ties begin is not always clear.Social-Scientific Scholarship.A third formof scholarship is the social sciences. Althoughmany social scientists see this kind of research asan extension of the natural sciences in that ituses methods borrowed from the sciences, socialscience is actually a very different kind of in-quiry.32Paradoxically, it includes elements ofboth science and the humanities but is differentfrom both.33In seeking to observe and interpret patternsof human behavior, social-science scholars makehuman beings the object of study. If humanPart One Foundations895877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 8Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part.behavior patterns do, in fact, exist, then observa-tion must be as objective as possible. In otherwords, the social scientist, like the natural scien-tist, must establish consensus on the basis ofwhat is observed. Once behavioral phenomenaare accurately observed, they must be explainedor interpreted—and here’s where the humanisticpart comes in. Interpreting is complicated by thefact that the object of observation—the humansubject—is an active, knowing being, unlike ob-jects in the natural world. The question becomes,Can “scientific” explanations of human behaviortake place without consideration of the “human-istic” knowledge of the observed person? Thisquestion is the central philosophical issue of so-cial science and has provoked considerable con-cern and debate across disciplines.34In the past,social scientists believed that scientific methodsalone would suffice to uncover the mysteries ofhuman experience, but today many realize thata strong humanistic element is needed as well.Communication involves understanding howpeople behave in creating, exchanging, and in-terpreting messages. Consequently, communica-tion inquiry makes use of the range of methods,from scientific to humanistic.35The theories cov-ered in this book vary significantly in the extentto which they use scientific, social-scientific, orhumanistic elements.HOWSCHOLARSWORKAlthough standards vary from one academiccommunity to another, scholars follow a fairlypredictable pattern of inquiry and theory devel-opment. First, a scholar or group of scholarsbecomes curious about a topic. Sometimes thetopic relates to something personal in thescholar’s own life. Sometimes it is an extensionof what the individual has been reading in theliterature. Often a conversation with mentors orcolleagues provokes an interest in a particularsubject. Sometimes professors are challenged byquestions that come up in class.Because they genuinely care about communi-cation, communication scholars are motivated toinvestigate subjects of interest to them; theirprofessional advancement may depend on suchinvestigations as well. These scholars must de-velop their curiosity into research topics of theirchoice for their doctoraldissertations. They oftencannot get pay raises, tenure, or promotion with-out engaging in research and theory building.Many other incentives exist as well, including theability to get grant money, travel, be recognizedas leaders in the field, earn awards, and so forth.Thus, while the theory-making process beginswith curiosity about a topic, it does not end there.The results of reading, observing, and thinking—of scholarly investigation—must be shared withothers. On the most informal level, scholars sharetheir work with students. They may bring someof their latest work into the classroom as a lectureor basis for discussion, which can be helpful inrefining ideas. Graduate students are aware ofthis, but undergraduates often do not realize thattheir professors “test” their theoretical ideas inclasses. In the process of preparing a lecture on atopic, the weaknesses as well as the strengths ofthe argument become apparent.Ultimately, a scholar’s work must go out forpeer review. One of the first formal theory“tests” a scholar uses is the convention paper.The researcher writes a paper and submits it to aprofessional association, so the paper can be pre-sented at a regional or national meeting. Most ofthese convention submissions are reviewed by apanel of peers. This peer review can help schol-ars determine if they are on the right track. Uni-versities usually encourage professors to submitpapers by agreeing to pay their travel expensesif they have a paper accepted.When a paper is given at a convention, thepresentation permits at least two other forms ofpeer assessment. Often a designated critic deliv-ers comments about several papers to the audi-ence right after the papers are presented; this isthe most formal kind of critique. Less formalfeedback consists of the comments that col-leagues make after hearing the presentation—during the question-and-answer session follow-ing the paper presentation, in the hallway afterthe session, later that evening in the hotel bar, orat the airport. Colleagues may even enjoy aphone call or e-mail exchange about their workafter the convention is over.Chapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship995877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 9Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part.Conventions are very valuable for scholars asan initial testing ground for ideas. Not only doconvention attendees have the opportunity tohear the most recent research but the presenterscan refine their work based on the reactions theyreceive. Often a group of researchers will presentvarious iterations of their work several times atconventions before they submit the work forpublication.Two forms of publication are most valued inthe academic community. The first is a journalarticle, and the second is a monograph, or book.Literally thousands of academic journals arepublished around the world, and every field, nomatter how small, has at least one (and usuallyseveral) journals. A glance through the bibliogra-phy of this book will reveal several of the mostimportant journals in the communication field.One of the most important publications for in-troducing communication theories is a journalCommunication Theory. Indeed, if you scan thenotes of each chapter of this book, you will seejust how important this journal has become. Butmany other journals are also highly recognized,including, for example,Human CommunicationResearch, Critical Studies in Media Communication,andCommunication Monographs.Members of the communication field sub-scribe to these journals, use their contents asbackground for their own research, and learnabout the latest and best developments in thefield. Usually, the articles in a journal are refer-eed, meaning that they are formally reviewedand judged by a panel of peers for quality. Sinceonly the best articles are published, the majorityof papers submitted to journals do not appear inprint. This rigorous form of review is the pri-mary force establishing what is taken seriouslywithin an academic community.36Since no universal, objective scale can befound, peers must judge potential publicationssubjectively. Evaluation is always a matter ofjudgment, and consensus about the value of apiece of scholarship is rare. Just as a group ofstudents might disagree about whether theirprofessor is a good or bad teacher, scholars alsodisagree about the merits of particular researchand theory. The references and footnotes inessays show the history of research and theoryin that area. These notes are an excellent place tostart researching a topic; they show the workthat is valued in that area of the discipline.Through this process of convention presenta-tion and journal publication, the scholarship con-sidered most interesting, profound, useful, orprogressive “bubbles up” and forms the body ofrecognized work within the community of schol-ars. As this work develops, various scholars be-gin to develop more formal explanations that tiethe work together. Initially, these explanationsmay be mere interpretations of research findings,but as theorists give more convention papers andpublish more articles on their work, the explana-tions offered by the other scholars involved inthis line of research become more formal andcodified.Many scholarly projects find their way to an-other level of publication—the scholarly book.After a group of scholars develops a line of re-search and theory in some detail by presentingnumerous convention presentations and pub-lishing journal articles, they may publish a bookthat provides the theory and its various permu-tations in one volume. In contrast to textbookswritten primarily to help students learn the con-tent of certain courses, scholarly treatises arepublished for the benefit of other scholars; suchvolumes serve as a convenient way to makeavailable the results of a major research pro-gram. And once a theory—or emerging theory—is identified and codified, other scholars mayuse it to guide additional research, which adds,in turn, to the body of research and theory ac-cepted as standard within the community.One final level of publication further elabo-rates a theory. After a group of scholars hasestablished a name for itself, the scholars areoften invited to write about and summarize theirwork in edited volumes—books of essays writ-ten by a group of scholars about a particularsubject. This form of publication is very usefulbecause it helps students and professors accessthe current state of theory in a particular area ofthe field.In the end, then, theories are made. Scholarslabel the concepts in the theory, decide whatPart One Foundations1095877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 10Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partconnections or relationshipsto feature, deter-mine how to organize the theory, and give thetheory a name. They then use the theory to talkabout what theyexperience. The creation anddevelopment of a theory is a human social activ-ity: people create it, test it, and evaluate it. As asocial activity, theory making is done withinscholarly communities that share a way of know-ing and a set ofcommon practices.Ultimately,the community of scholars or practitioners de-cides what works for them and what theoriesprevail. Because the communities vary tremen-dously, they differ in what they consider to bevalid and valuable. A theory widely adopted byone community may be rejected entirely by an-other. So creating a theory is largely a questionof persuading some community that the theoryfits and has utility for its purposes.A body of theory is really just a snapshot intime. It provides a brief glance at a moment in theevolving history of ideas within a community ofscholars. The body of theory helps members ofthe community identify their primary areas of in-terest and work; it brings them together as a com-munity and provides a set of standards for howscholarly work should proceed. The “body”metaphor is good because it captures the quali-ties of growth, change, development, aging, andrenewal that characterize theory. The theoriesscholars come to respect and use in graduateschool, for example, will not be the same set oftheories they use in mid-career, and probablywill not resemble very closely what is valuedlater in their careers. In Chapter 2, we will definetheorymore specifically and discuss the particu-lar processes at the heart of theory construction.Chapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship11NOTES1. For the importance of studying diverse theories, see Robert T. Craig, “Communication The-ory as a Field,”Communication Theory9 (1999): 119–61.2. Thomas S. Kuhn,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,2nd ed. (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1970), 111.3. There are 126 definitions of communication listed in Frank E. X. Dance and Carl E. Larson,The Functions of Human Communication: A Theoretical Approach(New York: Holt, Rinehart &Winston, 1976), Appendix A.4. Theodore Clevenger, Jr., “Can One Not Communicate?: A Conflict of Models,”Communica-tion Studies42 (1991): 351.5. Frank E. X. Dance, “The ‘Concept’ of Communication,” Journal of Communication20 (1970):201–10.6. Jürgen Ruesch, “Technology and Social Communication,” inCommunication Theory andResearch,ed. L. Thayer (Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1957), 462.7.Webster’s Third New International Dictionary(Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1986), 460.8. Gerald R. Miller, “On Defining Communication: Another Stab,”Journal of Communication16 (1966): 92.9. F. A. Cartier, “The President’s Letter,”Journal of Communication9 (1959): 5.10. John B. Hoben, “English Communication at Colgate Re-examined,”Journal of Communica-tion4 (1954): 77.11. Bernard Berelson and Gary Steiner,Human Behavior(New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World,1964), 254.12. Dance, “The ‘Concept’ of Communication,” 210.13. Peter A. Andersen, “When One Cannot Not Communicate: A Challenge to Motley’s Tradi-tional Communication Postulates,”Communication Studies42 (1991): 309.14. See, for example, John Stewart,Language as Articulate Contact: Toward a Post-Semiotic Philos-ophy of Communication(Albany: SUNY Press, 1995), 33–101; W. Barnett Pearce and Karen A.Foss, “The Historical Context of Communication as a Science,” inHuman Communication:Theory and Research, ed. Gordon L. Dahnke and Glen W. Clatterbuck (Belmont, CA:Wadsworth, 1990), 1-20; Nancy Harper,Human Communication Theory: The History of a Para-digm(Rochelle Park, NJ: Hayden, 1979).15. W. Barnett Pearce,Communication and the Human Condition(Carbondale: Southern IllinoisUniversity Press, 1989).16. This brief history is based on Jesse G. Delia, “Communication Research: A History,” inHandbook of Communication Science,ed. Charles R. Berger and Steven H. Chaffee (NewburyPark, CA: Sage, 1987), 20–98. See also Donald G. Ellis,Crafting Society: Ethnicity, Class, and95877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 11Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in partCommunication Theory(Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999), 16–19; Gustav W. Friedrichand Don M. Boileau, “The Communication Discipline,” inTeaching Communication, ed.Anita L. Vangelisti, John A. Daly, and Gustav Friedrich (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum,1999), 3–13; John Durham Peters, “Tangled Legacies,”Journal of Communication46 (1996):85–87; and Everett M. Rogers,A History of Communication Study: A Biographical Approach(New York: Free Press, 1994).17. The multidisciplinary nature of the study of communication is examined by Craig, “Com-munication Theory as a Field”; see also Stephen W. Littlejohn, “An Overview of theContributions to Human Communication Theory from Other Disciplines,” inHuman Com-munication Theory: Comparative Essays,ed. Frank E. X. Dance (New York: Harper & Row,1982), 243–85; and W. Barnett Pearce, “Scientific Research Methods in CommunicationStudies and Their Implications for Theory and Research,” inSpeech Communication in the20th Century,ed. Thomas W. Benson (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985),255–81.18. Dean Barnlund,Interpersonal Communication: Survey and Studies(New York: HoughtonMifflin, 1968), v.19. Regional associations include the Western States Communication Association, the CentralStates Communication Association, the Southern States Communication Association, andthe Eastern States Communication Association. The Organization for the Study of Commu-nication, Language, and Gender and the Organization for Research on Women andCommunication are two specialized organizations focused on issues of gender. The journalspublished by the National Communication Association include theQuarterly Journal ofSpeech,Communication Monographs,Critical Studies in Media Communication, Text and Perfor-mance Quarterly, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies,andCommunication Education.The journals of the International Communication Association includeHuman Communica-tion Research, Communication Theory, Journal of Communication, andJournal ofComputer-Mediated Communication.20. For more about distinctions between communication theory in the U. S. and Europe, seeRobert Fortner, “Mediated Communication Theory,” inBuilding Communication Theories:A Socio/Cultural Approach,ed. Fred L. Casmir (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994),209–40.21. See D. Lawrence Kincaid,Communication Theory: Eastern and Western Perspectives(SanDiego: Academic, 1987); Peter R. Monge, “Communication Theory for a GlobalizingWorld,” inCommunication: Views from the Helm for the 21st Century, ed. Judith S. Trent(Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1998), 3–7; Wimal Dissanayake,Communication Theory: The AsianPerspective(Singapore: Asian Mass Communication Research and Information Center,1988); Wimal Dissanayake, “The Need for the Study of Asian Approaches to Communica-tion,”Media Asia13 (1986): 6–13; Guo-Ming Chen, “Toward Transcultural Understanding:A Harmony Theory of Chinese Communication,” inTranscultural Realities: InterdisciplinaryPerspectives on Cross-Cultural Relations, ed. V. H. Milhouse, M. K. Asante, and P. O. Nwosu(Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), 55–70.22. For summaries of Asante’s work, see Molefi K. Asante,Afrocentricity: The Theory of SocialChange(Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1988); and Molefi K. Asante, “An AfrocentricCommunication Theory,” inContemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader, ed. John L. Lucaites,Celeste M. Condit, and Sally Caudill (New York: Guilford Press, 1999), 552–62. For Miike’stheory of Asiacentricity, see Yoshitaka Miike, “Toward an Alternative Metatheory of Hu-man Communication: An Asiacentric Vision,” inIntercultural Communication Studies12(2003): 39–63; “Rethinking Humanity, Culture, and Communication: Asiacentric Critiquesand Contributions,”Human Communication7 (2004): 69–82; “Theorizing Culture and Com-munication in the Asian Context: An Assumptive Foundation,”Intercultural Communica-tion Studies11 (2002): 1–21; and “Asian Approaches to Human Communication: A SelectedBibliography,”Intercultural Communication Studies, 12 (2003): 209–18.23. Craig, “Communication Theory as a Field.” A similar effort is offeredby JamesA.Anderson,Communication Theory: Epistemological Foundations(New York: Guilford, 1996).24. Craig, “Communication Theory as a Field,” 123.25. Craig, “Communication Theory as a Field,” 124.26. Craig, “Communication Theory as a Field,” 126.27. The process of inquiry is described in Gerald R. Miller and Henry Nicholson,Communica-tion Inquiry(Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1976).28. Miller and Nicholson,Communication Inquiry,ix. See also Don W. Stacks and Michael B.Salwen, “Integrating Theory and Research: Starting with Questions,” inAn IntegratedApproach to Communication Theory and Research,ed. Michael B. Salwen and Don W. Stacks(Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996), 3–14.Part One Foundations1295877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 12Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part.29. An excellent discussion of scholarship can be found in Ernest G. Bormann,Theory and Researchin the Communicative Arts(New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965). See also Nathan Glazer,“The Social Sciences in Liberal Education,” inThe Philosophy of theCurriculum,ed. SidneyHook (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1975), 145–58; James L. Jarrett,The Humanities and Human-istic Education(Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1973); Gerald Holton, “Science, ScienceTeaching, and Rationality,” inThe Philosophy of the Curriculum,ed. Sidney Hook (Buffalo,NY: Prometheus, 1975), 101–108.30. See, for example, C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures and a Second Look(Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1964).31. James A. Diefenbeck,A Celebration of Subjective Thought(Carbondale: Southern IllinoisUniversity Press, 1984).32. See, for example, Charles R. Berger and Steven H. Chaffee, “The Study of Communication asa Science,” inHandbook of Communication Science, ed. Charles R. Berger and Steven H. Chaffee(Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1987), 15–19. For aninteresting discussion ofthescientific natureof communication research, see Glenn G. Sparks, W. James Potter, Roger Cooper, andMichel Dupagne, “Is Media Research Prescientific?”Communication Theory5 (1995): 273–89.33. See, for example, Robert T. Craig, “Why Are There SoManyCommunication Theories?”Journal of Communication43 (1993): 26–33; Hubert M. Blalock,Basic Dilemmas in the SocialSciences(Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1984), 15; Anthony Giddens,Profiles and Critiques inSocial Theory(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 133; Peter Winch,The Idea of aSocial Science and Its Relation to Philosophy(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958).34. See, for example, Klaus Krippendorff, “Conversation or Intellectual Imperialism in Com-paring Communication (Theories),”Communication Theory3 (1993): 252–66; Donald W. Fiskeand Richard A. Shweder, “Introduction: Uneasy Social Science,” inMetatheory in SocialScience: Pluralisms and Subjectivities, ed. Donald W. Fiske and Richard A. Shweder (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1986), 1–18; Kenneth J. Gergen,Toward Transformation in SocialKnowledge(New York: Springer-Verlag, 1982).35. This position is developed in Thomas B. Farrell, “Beyond Science: Humanities Contribu-tions to Communication Theory,” inHandbook of Communication Science,ed. Charles R.Berger and Steven H. Chaffee (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1987), 123–39.36. Publishing in journals is not an unbiased process. Based on the peer review process, theeditor’s overall judgment, disciplinary trends and interests, and the like, sometimes verygood essays are overlooked and some of lesser quality are accepted. For an interesting dis-cussion of this process, see Carole Blair, Julie R. Brown, and Leslie A. Baxter, “Discipliningthe Feminine,”Quarterly Journal of Speech80 (1994): 383–409.Chapter 1 Communication Theory and Scholarship1395877_01_ch01_p1_13 pp2.qxp 2/11/07 2:33 PM Page 13Copyright 2008 Thomson Learning, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part
Failures of U.S. Foreign Policy – February 2013
United States foreign policyafter World War II often failed to accomplish its objectives and behaved counterproductive. Force replaced diplomacy. Military solutions trampled negotiations. Counter-insurgency produced insurgents. The U.S. identified anti-communism as its principal guide to foreign policy during the Cold War, but similar policies continued after the Soviet Union’s collapse and disintegration.As the balance of terror receded, the United States confronted global terrorism, which obligated the unique world power to initiate a new war, the ‘war against terrorism.’ This war does not recede; it grows, and as it grows, it becomes connected to another war, ‘the war against drugs.’ In Afghanistan, the U.S. wages a war against the poppy fields, the same war the Soviets initially fought. In Mexico, a border war of drug violence exceeds the terrorist violence against America.Incoherent behavior has the U.S. ‘war on terrorism’ serving to breed terrorism.Throughout the Arab world and parts of Islamic Africa, revolutions have encouraged Al Queda ‘look-alikes.’ The U.S. State Department officials seem to watch helplessly as sympathizers to Al Queda in Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq gain strength and support, while the U.S. Defense department scrambles to react to inept foreign policies.
U.S. foreign policy in Europe during the Cold War has been considered successful. However, a comprehensive review of American foreign policy towards countries in other regions and in different eras, including post Cold War Europe, expose a consistent lack of statesmanship, ineffective methods of diplomacy and a disposition to use military force.Regarded as the winner of the Cold War, the U.S. has subsequently been involved in several hot wars, and been excluded from socio-economic blocs.An ever-enlarging European Union, a Latin America Mercosur, which is composed of more radical and less-friendly regimes to the U.S., and an Association of Southeast Asian nations plus three (ASEAN +China, Japan, South Korea), in which China is gaining a dominant role, are challenging U.S. political hegemony and economic leadership.
If the presentation appears one-sided, it is because U.S. administration policies have been one-sided and have exhibited patterns that caused international catastrophes. Interference in internal affairs of nations and direct American military involvement have not brought peace and stability to the world.
NOTE: This is the latest update of a previous article, and includes information occurring up to the year 2013. All facts have been verified and references appear within the article. Updates for the year 2012 are shown in green. There is no bibliography. Due to the lengthy discussion, specific sections can be addressed by using the links:
The European Scene
The Asian Scene
The Middle East
Central America and Caribbean
The European Scene
“The Cold War really began with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917; and it triggered a hot war in 1939 as soon as the British and French squandered the chance to secure a firm military alliance with the Soviet Union.”
Michael Jabara Carley. 1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999.
“Our Cold War foreign policy truly began with George F. Kennan’s famous article, signed “X,” published in Foreign Affairs in July of 1947, in which Kennan argued for a “firm and vigilant containment” of a Soviet Union that was imperially, rather than ideologically, motivated. “
The Coming Anarchy, by Robert D. Kaplan, February 1994 Atlantic
During the Cold war, antagonists faced one another across European borders, but no military confrontations occurred between them. The U.S. stabilized Western Europe and prevented the Soviet Union from encroaching upon West European territory. Was this necessary? Was the Soviet Union “imperially motivated” or simply fearful? Did the communist state want more than the maintenance of its sphere of influence in East Europe for defensive reasons, a situation the U.S. reluctantly permitted to happen? By late 1980, military burdens and internal policies greatly diminished the power of the Soviet Union. The U.S. achieved its objectives without firing a bullet at its adversary. Nevertheless, the Cold War policies were not completely successful.
The forty year length of the Cold War created political (McCarthyism), social (polarization, crime and drugs) and economic (displacement of resources, budget deficits and inflation) tensions in the United States, especially during the 1960′s and 1970′s. It is entirely possible that the rigid policies of the Cold War dampened conflicts within the Soviet Union and hindered internal challenges to the communist system from occurring at an earlier time. Deterrence and détente, two key provisions of the Cold War stalemate, were conceived with the belief that conflict meant use of weapons of mass destruction, and use of these weapons meant mutual destruction to both major powers. The philosophies deterred attack but stimulated an arms race throughout the world. China, India, Pakistan, and Israel have added nuclear weapons to their military arsenals. Other nations, such as North Korea and Iran, have been accused of seeking weapons of mass destruction.
Russia, the principal remaining state of the Soviet Union, has a tepid relationship with the United States, while it increases economic ties with China, India and the European Union. After a decade of economic and social deterioration during Boris Yeltsin’s mismanagement, the succeeding president and later Prime Minister Alexander Putin managed to expand an economy that coupled itself with a slight drift back to the former Soviet Union’s centralized system. The economic rise and stability of a new Russia did not enhance relations of the former foes; just the opposite, the Bush administration perceived a revitalized Russia as a revitalized challenge to U.S. hegemony, and a more dangerous situation has unfolded. President Bush’s policies, which could have been soothed to accommodate Russia, provoked the Bear. A Russian challenge could once again threaten United States world leadership, just as it did at the start of 1946. President Obama has tried a more conciliatory approach, and, in December 2010, the US Senate ratified a new Russian-American strategic arms reduction treaty. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, pushed a restart button as a symbolic refresh of relations between the two Cold War warriors. However, the switch apparently stuck; hostility prevails and relations are returning to Cold War arrangements.
During the “Cold War,” intervening states separated the principal antagonists. Post “Cold War” alliances have brought U.S. influence to Russia’s bordering neighbors of Georgia, Poland and Ukraine. The results – a short war engineered the detachments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, constant political turmoil in Ukraine where the conflicting powers jockey for control and a NATO proposal to install ant-ballistic missiles at Poland’s eastern frontier countered by a Russian threat to deploy short-range missiles near Poland. Enhanced by a Bush administration that fortifies East European states, a “cool war” with the United States started. Another “Cold War” is not predicted, but an independent-minded Russia will assuredly prevent U.S. interests from exercising control in nations close to Russia’s borders, and will counter attempts that undermine Russia’s economic activities in the Middle East. Putin’s Russia has expanded its military and developed new weapons, including testing of new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) – and for good reason – the U.S. commitment to station anti-ballistic missile systems in nations bordering on Russia have been perceived by the Russian President as a disguised threat to his nation.
New battle lines formed in Syria and Iran, where the U.S. and Russia exercise opposing policies. Rhetoric reached a Cold War pitch after the Obama administration passed the Magnitsky Act, legislation that prevents entry to the U.S. of about 60 Russian official who are accused of having been involved in a wrongful prosecution and alleged murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer who reveled a corruption scheme. For his efforts, Magnitsky was arrested by the same officials he had implicated, and was supposedly beaten to death in prison. In retaliation to tthe Magnitsky legislation, President Putin signed the Dmitri Yakovlev Act, named for an adopted Russian child who died after being left in a car on a hot day. The law bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
To emphasize the return to Cold War arrangements, Russian warships started the 2013 New Year with their largest naval exercises in decades in the Black and Mediterranean seas.
Greece – 1946
The Truman Doctrine permitted military and economic aid to anti-Communist forces in the 1946 Greek civil war. This support occurred despite the Soviet Union’s refusal to assist the Greek Communists in the struggle. The Truman Doctrine prevented a communist government from taking power in Greece, but the American interference in Greece affairs added to the initial post-war frictions between the East and the West and established a path to the Cold War.
Berlin – 1948
The four powers divided Berlin into specific zones of occupation. In early 1948, the western allies–United States, France and Great Britain–discussed the possibility of consolidating their three zones into one federated zone. On June 23, 1948, the ever-wary Soviet Union reacted to the discussion and closed the Berlin border to allied vehicle and rail traffic.
The Soviet Union considered the allied sectors in isolated Berlin as espionage bases and not of strategic value to the allies. A Soviet embargo of the Three Powers’ traffic became more than a case of harassment–it tested U.S. intentions in Berlin. The Soviet leaders expected the allies would compromise and evacuate Berlin. It did not happen. The Berlin airlift brought adequate supplies to West Berlin, and forced the Soviet government to halt the blockade after seven months. Allied resolve in the Berlin airlift convinced the Soviet leaders that the West would struggle for each advantage and the adversaries would not easily find rapport. The U.S. successful response to the Soviet embargo moved the Cold War to an “eyeball-to-eyeball” confrontation and initiated a drastic arms race.
The U.S. strengthened its economic and military position by cooperating in European recovery.
Marshall Plan – 1948 to 1960
The Marshall plan provided economic resources for West Europe to recover from the war. It is undoubtedly the finest U.S. foreign policy achievement. Proposed and guided by General George C. Marshall, the plan assured markets for U.S. exports and smoothed the transition from a war economy to a peace economy. It is an example of using U.S. policy in a “win-win” situation that benefits the American people and supplies sustenance to others.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – 1948 to 2013
The U.S. sponsored NATO grew in size and strength and prepared to act all through the Cold War years. Despite opportunities assist East Europeans in their uprisings against Communist governments in Czechoslovakia in 1948, Hungary in 1956, the Czechs again in the Prague spring of 1968 and the Poles in the 70′s, NATO refrained from modifying its doctrine of only attacking after being attacked. In the post Cold War era, after the Soviet Union had been humbled and could not retaliate, NATO changed its position from a defensive alliance to an offensive component of U.S. foreign policy. NATO warred against a hapless Yugoslavia in Kosovo. An expanded NATO, which includes East European nations, sent forces to Bosnia and Afghanistan but did not replace or augment U.S. troops in Iraq.
NATO’s offensive tactics and far-reaching thrusts provoked a challenge from The European Union (EU). In December 2004, Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, drafted a European security strategy that is based on “effective multilateralism” and use of international agencies. The words are often used in NATO meetings and UN Security Council resolutions. In November 2003, Britain, France and Germany formulated plans to give the European Union a military planning facility that is independent of NATO. The “Big Three” have not made much of an advance to their objective.
The treaty between west European nations, inaugurated as a barrier to Soviet aggression, graduated to new prominence in 2011 with establishment of a “free fly” zone for Libyan insurgents, and aerial attacks on Libya. The spread of NATO actions to several continents redefines NATO as an arm of western political and military policies, and replaces the policy of deterrence against a defunct Soviet Union. Coupling that with the anti-missile system the U.S. and NATO allies propose to deploy in Eastern Europe, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared on Russian First Channel program Cold Politics (Kholodnaya Politika) and exclaimed that this anti-missile system “is undoubtedly aimed at neutralizing the nuclear rocket capability of Russia.”
NATO succeeded in preventing a Soviet military action against Western Europe. The same NATO has aggressively promoted U.S. policies in the Balkans and modified its charter to U.S. dictates. NATO now has an international role with troops in Afghanistan and military expansion into East Europe.
The Balkan Wars – Bosnia and Kosovo
The words Balkan wars create images of armies with long muskets and early 20th century colorful uniforms. Despite two World Wars, the creation of two international peace organizations, and several resolutions that resolved the Balkan borders, the area’s problems continually revived and persisted. The ferocity of the antagonisms, killings, dislocations, and brutalities committed in the Balkans, and the military involvement of the U.S. and NATO in the disputes, indicate that a capitalist/communist hostility, the most accepted reason for previous disputes, and one that had never resulted in military strife in Europe, might have disguised the real reasons for America’s role in the Cold War. Other likely reasons for the Cold War:
- the assurance of trade and markets,
- the control of a major portion of world resources,
- the need to have all nations conform to a unified economic plan,
- world hegemony by one party, and
- rendering powerless those nations that threaten an emerging New World Order or do not conform to it.
The NATO/Yugoslavia War
NATO’s 1999 war against Yugoslavia inflicted more than 1000 casualties to its Serbian population. Physical destruction has been estimated in the range 40 to 100 billion dollars. NATO bombings destroyed all bridges across the Danube River and temporarily paralyzed Serbian infrastructure.
Although the return of the Kosovar refugees to their towns and villages seemed to prove that the ends justified the means, all the results of the Yugoslavia war should be considered: testing of weapons in all types of conditions that caused death and destruction, an acceptance that strong nations may attack weaker nations with the pretext of unfair treatment of their minorities, revival of war as a solution to problems, renewal of an arms race, the loss of sovereignty, and the uncomfortable feeling that no matter where you are in the world, if you don’t agree with a specified policy you can become the target of a guided missile.
Because Kosovo contained sites of Serbia’s most sacred churches and monasteries, Serbian nationalism located Kosovo as the medieval center of a Serbian empire. In 1389, the Serbs lost the land to the Ottoman Turks in a decisive battle fought in Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds. However, Serbia was unable to reincorporate Kosovo into its territory until 1912, immediately after the first Balkan wars. Kosovo’s status as an integral part of Serbia wavered between the two world wars. After World War II, the mostly Albanian populated land became officially attached to Yugoslavia.
As far back as 1939, the Yugoslavian parliament addressed its problems in Kosovo: an Albanian minority showed determination to force out the Serb population and eventually declare independence. Albanian emigration to Kosovo and a high Albanian birthrate slowly shifted the demographics to favor the Albanians. The struggle to achieve independence by a minority that becomes a majority in a province of a nation is not unique. Central government suppression of minority rights during civil strife and the commission of atrocities on warring sides occur in many regions of the world. Basque Spain, Catholic Northern Ireland, Tamil Sri Lanka, Kurdish Turkey and Chechnya Russia have dominant ethnic minorities and rebellious forces, similar to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), that engage governments and provoke retaliation.
Yugoslavia was not a threat to the United States or any European country. So, why did Yugoslavia and its Kosovo province receive extensive attention? Atrocities against Albanians have been cited as the reason for NATO’s attack, but the mass excursion of Albanians from Kosovo did not start until the NATO bombings of Kosovo, in which many Kosovars were killed. The Civil war in Kosovo and its atrocities were not unique and negotiations were still a viable path to resolution of the internecine warfare. Milosevich agreed to almost all NATO demands except the stationing of troops in sovereign Serbian territory. Possible reasons for the attack on Yugoslavia:
- Yugoslavia was allied with Russia and afforded Russia access to the Adriatic Sea,
- Yugoslavia’s independent foreign policy did not conform to the emerging New World Order,
- Yugoslavia had a socialist oriented economy,
- Yugoslavia had the potential to becoming a powerful nation outside of the western orbit.
- NATO’s war against Yugoslavia provided a proving ground for new military strategies that used air power and guided missiles.
Start with the year 2000.
Washington, February 7, 2000—About five hundred civilians died in ninety separate incidents as a result of NATO bombing in Yugoslavia…–Human Rights Watch.(NATO estimates were 1500.) Considering the extent of the strife and mayhem, can U.S. policy in the Balkans be considered a success? The Kosovo war had counter-productive results:
- Physical and economic destruction of Yugoslavia: GDP/capita immediately dropped to $2,266 in 2001. By 2005, it rose to $4400 (includes Kosovo.). In 2011, it had returned to a respectable $10,800. For reference, Bosnia had a GDP of $5,200 (2005 est.) and Albania had a GDP of $5,300 (2005 est.). However, a high unemployment of 31.6% (50% in Kosovo) in 2005 remained high at 237%. (CIA Factbook, 2006, 2012).
- The Serbs lost authority in Kosovo: Civil authority in Kosovo was transferred to a United Nations Mission to Kosovo (UNMIK)
- The UN has had to prevent ethnic cleansing of a Serb population that was previously accused of attacking Albanian populations in a civil war and that had been subjected to abuses by Albanian Kosovars for decades. US State Department officials calculated the figure of expelled Serbs at about 100,000( R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Statement before House Committee on International Relations, May 18, 2005.) Ian Bancroft, guardian.co.uk, 5 May 2009 raised the total: “While pockets of protest by Kosovo Serbs have been a constant since Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, these latest confrontations are distinctive for their underlying motivations; with the grievances of the Kosovo Serbs deriving in part from the international community’s persistent failure to ensure the safe and sustainable return of about 220,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians expelled from Kosovo since 1999.”
- Promotion of the concept that strong nations can attack weaker nations that are judged to treat a province unfairly, a prelude to the attack on Iraq.
- Revival of nationalism, once cited as a cause of World War II.
- Ethnic separation rather then ethnic integration as a guide to national structures, a prelude to the dismemberment of Iraq.
- Renewal of U.S. and Russian hostility, which continues.
- Deterioration of the concept of national sovereignty; as noted in interferences in Iraq, Sudan and possibly Syria and Iran.
- Deterioration of the concept of national sovereignty; noted in later direct interferences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and in indirect interferences with operations of the governments of Sudan and Iran.
In 2005, Montenegro detached itself from Yugoslavia, and in 2010, Kosovo independence received UN legal blessing. The former Yugoslavia has been reduced to Serbia. Walking a fine line between not jeopardizing entrance into the European Union and maintaining Kosovo as a Serbian province (Hong Kong relations with China has been cited as an example), the Serbian government has been reluctant to act too aggressively toward the former Yugoslavian Southern Republic. On 25 Feb 2012, Borislav Stefanovic, the head of the Serbian government’s team for dialogue with Kosovo, called only Pristina by the Serbian government, tried to put a “good face” on a meeting In Brussels with Kosovo representatives. He stated the
agreement made between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels is fully in accordance with the Constitution and national interests of Serbia. Stefanovic underlined at a press conference that with this agreement Serbia did not recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo-Metohija, nor will ever do. He explained that this agreement protects Serbia’s sovereignty, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 got international reaffirmation once more and its position on the international scene has been reinforced. He said that Serbia reached the best possible agreement at the moment, which allowed for asymmetric representation of Pristina in regional organisations, with reference to Resolution 1244. In international initiatives, Pristina will be represented without prejudging the elements of statehood, which will not be present either in a symbolic or essential sense.He explained that in the regional representation, beyond the inscription “Kosovo” there will be an asterisk and the footnote will read “This name does not prejudge the status of Kosovo and is in line with UN Resolution 1244 and the decision of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.”
The Bosniak/Croat leaders realized in 1991 that the leaders of the Serb population would not approve a separation from the Yugoslavia Federation. Former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic presented the idealistic view that:
Bosnian unity can be maintained only if Bosnia is organized as a democratic and secular state which stresses the human and political rights of all individuals rather than the rights of national or confessional groups. Only a united Bosnia can be economically viable.
Nevertheless, the March 3, 1992 declaration of independence, in effect, informed the Bosnian Serbs that they would be separated from their fellow Serbs in Yugoslavia and be subservient to a new and unknown Bosnian authority. The Bosniaks and Croats were naive in expecting the Bosnian Serbs, who had major physical, economic and social control of Bosnia, to accept that proposition?
Yugoslavia President Milosevich had permitted Slovenia and Macedonia to become independent and did not overpower Croatia after the Catholic province declared its independence. Milosevich made the most serious compromises that established the Bosnia Federation at a meeting in Dayton, Ohio. The Yugoslavia president locked in the agreement by yielding a narrow strip of territory to Bosnia. The Dayton peace agreements, that halted the war, arranged the map of Bosnia in almost the same manner as it had been divided at the initial start of the war. The Croat/Bosniak Federation covers 51% of the territory and Srpska (Serb Republic) is contained in 49% of the Bosnian nation. During the war, Serbs controlled 70% of the Bosnian Republic.
What happened to Bosnia and Kosovo?
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been divided into a Serbia Republic (Sprska) and a Bosnia Federation that includes Muslim and Croatian regions. The divided nation has a three-member presidency that consists of a representative from each major ethnic group, a Muslim, a Croat and a Serb, which rotates every 8 months. Ethnic identity determines voting patterns.
The republics have maintained separate armies. U.S. troops as a part of NATO remained in Bosnia until the end of 2004. On Dec. 2, 2004, a European Union force, consisting of almost the same troops as in NATO, assumed peacekeeping operations. Bosnia’s appearance after drastic wars seems to be constituted worse than a pre-war successful diplomacy would have designed it.
It took until the end of 2004, for the Bosnian republics to show some cooperation.
More than a million refugees have returned home, even to villages where they are in the minority, dozens of culprits have been sent to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and a common all-Bosnia defense ministry has been established.
Karel Kovanda, Czech Republic’s UN ambassador, Dec. 16 edition of Mlada fronta Dnes.
The cooperative atmosphere was short lived. Dragan Mikerevic, Bosnian Serb government prime minister resigned on Dec. 17, 2004, in a protest to what he described as unconstitutional interference in his government’s affairs by the country’s Western administrator, Paddy Ashdown. High Representative Ashdown had fired nine Serb officials as punishment for the Bosnian Serb Republic’s failure to arrest war crimes suspects and for Serb rebuke to the establishment of a common all-Bosnia defense ministry. In March 2005, High Representative Paddy Ashdown abruptly dismissed Croat President Dragan Covic after Covic’s indictment for financial corruption, but before his trial took place.
Optimism and spin reconcile Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats living in a single centralized state. The optimism has not been realized.
- The political trend since December 2005 has the Serb Republic (Srpska) developing its own characteristics and the Croat population maintaining a separation from the Bosniak population.
- Bosnian leaders met in early November 2005 for a three-day meeting in Brussels. On November 14, 2005, they adjourned and failed to reach agreement on a new draft constitution. They met again in Washington D.C. to observe the tenth anniversary of the Dayton peace accords and, at that meeting, gave only a pledge to embark on a process of constitutional reform.
- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees cites the figure of one million refugees having returned to homes in Bosnia. The one million figure is misleading: (1) Most returnees are elderly who have no other place to locate. (2) Many refugees have returned temporarily to reclaim property and sell homes before moving to a more acceptable location. (3) Jobs are not available. (4) The minority populations that realize they will be discriminated against in employment and education will eventually leave.
- What advantage is it to the Serb population to unite with ethnicities with whom they fought a vicious war? Enemies might live close without renewing violence, but would they want to unite and relive the experiences? Isn’t it more likely Srpska will either remain separate or unite one day with Serbia, which has a compatible population? The Dayton Accords contemplated the latter possibility by constructing Srpska so that it is contiguous, except for the shared Brcko District (see map above).
- Serbian President Boris Tadic (since 2004) has indicated that Srpska has a right to join with Serbia if Kosovo becomes an independent state. A November 2007 public opinion poll in Republika Srpska had 77 percent of Bosnian Serbs believing they should break away from Bosnia if Kosovo Albanians secede from Serbia.
In 2008, the New York Times summed up the condition of Bosnia:
For the country to progress, leaders on all sides say, the structure established by the Dayton accord must be overhauled. The country’s two entities have their own Parliaments, and there are 10 regional authorities, each with its own police force and education, health and judicial authorities. The result is a Byzantine system of government directed by 160 ministers, a structure that absorbs 50 percent of Bosnia’s gross domestic product of $15 billion, according to the World Bank.
DAN BILEFSKY, NYT, December 13, 2008
The Serbian News Agency provided a positive spin to the ongoing friction between Serbs and Bosniaks:
President Boris Tadic said that Serbia does not support a break up of Bosnia and that, as a guarantor of the Dayton Accords that brought peace to Bosnia, supports Bosnia’s territorial integrity.
Serbianna December 11, 2008
The Economist, Nov 19th 2010, cited a report on Bosnia’s continual backward progress.
Even though the rest of the region has moved forward, for Bosnia and Herzegovina the last four years have largely been lost, as the country has stagnated and begun moving backwards. The current trajectory—if left unchanged—risks eventual state dissolution. The international community has lost sight of the dangers and frequently avoids facing the real issues. More robust US engagement with the EU is required to restore reform momentum.
David Rohde, Reuters columnist, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times, writing in The Nation, April 27, 2012:
Today, the economy (Bosnia) is stalled, with half of business activity generated by state-owned companies and unemployment hovering at 25 percent. The country is divided between a Serb entity whose leader talks openly of secession and a Muslim-Croat federation with worrying rifts of its own. And corruption is endemic among senior government officials on all sides.
The UN (KFOR) had 18,000 troops in Kosovo (2004). At the end of 2007, the UN still controlled police and justice functions in Kosovo while NATO controlled maintained order with 16,000 troops. On February 17, 2008 , the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government proclaimed its “independence” from Serbia, and the UN established a new legal force called Eulex. The EU legal mission will “provide monitoring, mentoring and advice, whilst also retaining some executive powers.” The mission hoped to have the local rule of law institutions such as the judiciary and police remain with Kosovo and Serbian authorities.
The Recent History
The former Yugoslavia province has its own president, parliament, prime minister, cabinet, independent police force and judiciary. Back in December 12, 2003, the Kosovo parliament voted to invalidate all laws passed during Yugoslavia rule. However, at that time, the top UN official, Harri Holkeri, who holds the ultimate authority in the disputed province, quickly declared parliament’s move invalid–AP, Dec. 12, 2003.
Although mayhem has slowed since the early reports from 2003, six years after the end of hostilities, mayhem still existed in Kososvo.
According to statistics collected by the UN criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, 1,192 Serbs have been killed, 1,303 kidnapped and 1,305 wounded in Kosovo this year. Though nominally still under UN control, the southern province of Serbia is today dominated by a triumvirate of Albanian paramilitaries, mafiosi and terrorists. They control a host of smuggling operations and are implementing what many observers call their own brutal ethnic cleansing of minority groups, such as Serbs, Roma and Jews.
Isabel Vincent, National Post Wednesday, December 10, 2003, Canada.com
In 2008, attacks on Serbs continued at a lessened pace.
Unidentified assailants have demolished Serb Orthodox church in the village of Vrbovac in Serbia’s Kosovo province. Spokesperson for the regional police in Gnjilane, Ismet Hashani, has confirmed the destruction.
December 14, 2008, SERBIANNA
By mid- 2004, almost one-half of the Serbs living in Kosovo had been forced to leave. Serbia’s ethnic presence and Serbian control of Kosovo has been almost eliminated.
Note: The number of Serbs in Kosovo might never have exceeded 200,000.
On Dec. 3, 2004, Kosovo had a national election
Following the unopposed victory in a Dec. 3, 2004 election in Kosovo, which Serbs boycotted, and the election of the former KLA leader, Ramush Haradinaj, as President, Albanians now expect to declare independence and be recognised by the international community. However, Kosovo is still the legal province of Serbia and guaranteed as such by UN Resolution 1244 of 1999. (One problem) is that the new Kosovo Prime Minister has been indicted in Serbia on 108 counts of war crimes committed by his troops against Serb civilians, as well as other offenses. But he is also facing a possible indictment from the U.N. itself. The U.N.’s war crime tribunal, created in the aftermath of the Kosovo war, has already questioned him as part of an investigation into war crimes.
UN Development Program Agency, December 29, 2004
Note: Ramush Haradinaj was indicted for war crimes by The Hague-based United Nations tribunal (ICTY) in 2005. He was forced to leave his post.
May 2004, R. Nicholas Burns, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, in a statement before the House Committee on International Relations:
The economy is a significant challenge for all the people of Kosovo, where unemployment runs at 60 percent or higher. Huge swaths of the economy are outside of formal structures, making them ripe targets for corruption and organized criminal activities. Investment and development are constrained by unreliable basic services that we take for granted, like electricity and telephone systems. Large and inefficient state enterprises are still not privatized and foreign investors are waiting for greater political clarity and decisions on Kosovo’s sovereignty before investing. The UN, after much delay, promulgated rules on eminent domain and land tenure that will allow privatization and other essential economic programs to move forward. With its status unresolved, however, Kosovo is not eligible for the IMF or World Bank assistance that it so urgently needs to develop a stable economy.
While Serbia argued against it, the Kosovars assumed they will have independence:
PRISTINA, Serbia, Nov 28, 2006 (Reuters) – U.N. police in Kosovo fired teargas on Tuesday to disperse ethnic Albanians who smashed the windows of parliament and stoned U.N. headquarters, angry at a delay to their demand for independence from Serbia.
United Nations envoy, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari issued a proposal in 2007 that recommended a supervised independence for Kosovo. Russia blocked the adoption of the framework of Martti Ahtisaari’s proposal.
At that time, Serbia’s new constitution declared Kosovo is to be an “inseparable” part of Serbia. However, Agim Ceku, former Prime Minister of the predominantly Albanian Kosovo, replied that Kosovo would unilaterally declare itself independent if the UN does not grant it independence.
Serbian President Boris Tadic mentioned an autonomy that stops short of complete independence for Kosovo, with Kosovo technically a part of Serbia and Serbia controlling foreign policy and armed forces.
BELGRADE, Dec. 16, 2007 (Xinhua) — Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Sunday he expects that Russia, China and other U.N. Security Council members will support Belgrade’s stand that the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo province should continue.
“I will not accept any independence of Kosovo, not only because of the integrity of this country, but also because I am absolutely convinced that such a solution jeopardizes the development and future of the region of the Balkans and the Black Sea region, where there are many problems similar to that of Kosovo,” Tadic said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during that era, injected his opinion into the “independence for Kosovo” discussion by proclaiming that “if Kosovo is granted independence, then the Russian population in the Georgian Republic of South Ossetia, should also be granted independence.” In 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees, which formally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Nevertheless, Kosovo’s politicians prepared for independence:
PRISTINA, Serbia, Dec 26,2007 (Reuters) – Kosovo’s two main political parties have agreed to form a coalition government which will lead the breakaway province towards independence from Serbia early next year, party sources said on Wednesday.
On February 17, 2008, the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government proclaimed “independence” from Serbia. Principal EU nations and the U.S. immediately recognized the new status while Russia, China and other nations refused to echo support. The European Union responded by implementation of a mandate to improve the rule of law in Kosovo. “Some 15,000 NATO soldiers and 1,500 UN police officers remained, as well as 400 judges, police officers and security officers belonging to the UN’s EULEX mission. The two-year mandate of this mission contained the European Union’s largest civilian mission, with about 3,000 people in total when fully staffed.
The International Court of Justice rejected Serbian claims that the move had violated its territorial integrity.Kosovo officials said all doubt about its status had been removed. However, in 2010, Serbia’s president insisted his nation will never recognize the secession. A coda to the musical chairs drama has a report In December 2010, by controversial Dick Marty, of the European Council’s Parliamentary Assembly committee on legal affairs and human rights, accusing then Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi “of heading a crime ring during and after the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, which killed opponents and trafficked in drugs and organs taken from murdered Serbs.”
Ninety nations, including the United States, have recognized Kosovo’s independent status. Serbia, whose new prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, is the leader of former President Slobodan Miloševich’s Socialist Party, has refused to formally recognize Kosovo’s independence, and for good reasons – fear that Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-dominated government will move against the 60,000 plus Serbs inside Kosovo who are resisting the government’s authority.
Serbia’s Beta news agency, allegedly quoting a document to be sent to the Serb Republic’s parliament for debate, reported on Dec. 20, 2012, that “Serbia wants for its Serb minority in Kosovo a ‘high degree of autonomy’ modelled on Spain’s Catalan region.” Kosovo President Thaci’s reply, “The presence of illegal structures financed by Serbia makes our work very difficult there.”
At a hopeful Feb. 6, 2013 meeting between Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Kosovo’s young female President Atifete Jahjaga in Brussels, Nikolic reiterated that Serbia would not recognise Kosovo as an independent state, and Ms. Jahjaga declared that Kosovo is an independent state.
The stalemate indicates there will be three legal systems in Kosovo: laws passed by the Kosovo parliament, UN administration regulations, and in the North where Serbs live, the laws of Serbia. Despite Serbia’s pleadings, Washington has announced that it will help Kosovo join NATO and the European Union.Still ominously present are the foreign bases in Kosovo, most prominent which is Camp Bondsteel. This military camp, located near the city of Ferizaj/ Urosevacis the largest US base in Kosovo, with about 7000 military personnel and extensive facilities.
In both Bosnia and Kosovo, U.S. policies succeeded in replacing a governing authority with poorly governing authorities, in trading the appearance of repression and incipient “ethnic cleansing” with violence leading to institutionalized “ethnic cleansing” and anarchy, and in complicating problems with war rather than resolving them with negotiation and diplomacy.
The new Europe rejected the treaties and agreements made by allied leaders after two world wars. The new Europe has a united and powerful Germany, a disintegrated Soviet Union, a divided Czechoslovakia and a fragmented Balkans. The United States (a non-European nation) possesses a military and cultural dominance that solicits cooperation from East European nations, but is becoming less controlling in the Western European nations. It almost seems that Europe has strangely accepted a Nazi vision of Europe: stability enforced by dominance of a single nation and national identity characterized by ethnic identity.
Throughout the post-WWII years, the U.S. maintained good relations with the Western European countries, even with those that had socialist orientation. The United States
- did not confront Portugal when it was governed by the leftist leader Caravalho, but tried to destroy the leftist government of the former Portuguese colony of Angola.
- was undisturbed when leftist regimes in Greece and Spain replaced former rightist regimes that had championed U.S. policies.
- continued friendly relations with Italy despite the fact that the Communists were Italy’s major political party and had several opportunities to achieve power.
- resolved its difficulties with DeGaulle, who pursued independent policies that conflicted with U.S. policies.
- did not contend Mitterand’s Socialist government that had characteristics, which alarmed the U.S. State Department in other areas of the world.
The U.S. acceptance of European regimes that were unacceptable to the U.S. State Department in other regions of the world was due to lack of American support for attacks on Europeans and fear of retaliation from other Europeans if a European country became a victim of an attack. A touch of cowardice and bully is also apparent – The U.S. has only attacked small and less industrialized Third World nations. Racism guides U.S. foreign policy.
Although leaders portrayed friendliness, U.S. relations deteriorated with the European countries that did not support the attack on Iraq (France, Germany and Russia). American policies, such as not permitting UN control in Iraq and denying contracts in Iraq to those who have not sent troops, antagonized European allies. The U.S. needed European assistance in its war on terrorism. Instead, the George W. Bush administration pursued alienating, confrontational and controversial relations with major European countries. Charges that the American CIA violated European Union regulations by using European nations to imprison and interrogate suspected Al-Qaeda members captured by the U.S. intensified the anger of European leaders to U.S. policies. After Nicholas Sarkozy became president in France, U.S. and French relations greatly improved. Barack Obama’s election rejuvenated relations between the U.S. and the European Community, but became overshadowed by economic problems in both regions. With the U.S. winding down commitments in Afghamistan and Iraq, 2012 relations bettween the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds’ had become normal. If the economic and financial difficulties in Europe affect its neighbor on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the year 2013 might witness abrupts changes in the relationship.
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The Asian Scene
U.S. foreign policy and military adventures in Asia have been counter-productive. Without resolving controversies in its favor, the U.S. temporarily destroyed the Indo-Chinese countries, allowed repressive regimes to flourish in other countries and stimulated what it wanted to prevent, North Korea’s attempt to nuclear developments and China’s rapid economic development.
Korean War 1948-1952
In 1948, the United States had no alternative to military intervention in the Korean Civil War. America was obligated to prevent the Korean peninsula from becoming totally controlled by the northern Communists. Although the two Koreas threatened one another, and the stronger North Korea showed itself ready to settle the conflict by military force in 1948, the U.S. had not prepared a constructive Korean policy.
After U.S. troops were trapped in a southern area of the Korean peninsula, commanding General Douglas MacArthur landed troops at Inchon and launched a counterattack. Deemed a suicide venture by military experts, and ignored as an impossibility by the North Korean command, the surprise maneuver doomed the North Korean army and ignited an offensive that cleared the South of enemy forces. Instead of calling a truce, U.S. foreign policy drifted into its first great post-war error–a chilling prelude to a future of military catastrophes–U.S. troops continued into North Korea. This excursion generated a military confrontation with China, an additional 20 to 30 thousand American deaths, many more wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Korean casualties.
The military move across the 37th parallel escalated the Cold War and moved China closer to the Soviet Union orbit. After the truce, Korea remained as it had been in 1948, a divided nation. Uncertainty and war has threatened the Korean peninsula for decades. A strategic foothold on the Asian mainland and the economic progress of South Korea have often been described as the successful components of the Korean policy. The losses in American and Korean lives, the human tragedies due to the lack of reunification, and the escalation of East-West tensions offset the immediate successes.
Korea after 1952
The U.S. need for a strategic foothold on the Asian mainland seems unnecessary and redundant. Many South Koreans, at times, agree with that position.
A January 2005 poll indicated the South Koreans did not regard U.S. troop presence as a benefit to their nation. To the question, “Which country is the most threatening to South Korea?” Research & Research, one of South Korea’s largest pollsters, recorded that 39 percent of 800 respondents named the United States. North Korea came in second at 33 percent.
South Korea has become a prosperous country and, with each succeeding year, becomes more competitive with the United States, more antagonistic to its benefactor and more allied with China. America’s troops in Japan, fortified by nuclear bases in both offensive, are sufficient to deter a North Korean attack, which makes redundant the bases in South Korea that contain a limited number of troops. Meanwhile, U.S. diplomacy has not deterred North Korea from attempting to become a nuclear power or prevented China from becoming the dominant nation in Asia.
The U.S. and South Korea negotiated a Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations were announced on February 2, 2006 and were concluded on April 1, 2007, but the agreement stalled in the National Assembly of South Korea and United States Congress. In early December 2010, the U.S. and South Korea representatives renegotiated the long-delayed free trade agreement. Hopes have ratification by legislative bodies in January 2011. Although President Obama claimed the agreement would bring 70,000 jobs to the United States, conflicting opinions marred the efforts to final ratification. The principle obstacle is the trade deficit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the first nine months of 2006, the U.S. exported $24.2 billion of goods to South Korea, imported $34.3 billion of merchandise from the Asian nation and created a trade deficit of $10 billion. Four years later, in the first ten months of 2010, the U.S. exported $32.2 billion of goods to South Korea, imported $39.9 billion of merchandise from the Asian nation and created a trade deficit of $7.7 billion.
The Korean War only ended in an armistice, a glorified cease-fire; no peace treaty has been signed and no official termination of hostilities exists. Despite the absence of a formal peace treaty, the peninsula peoples slowly and deliberately cross one another’s borders for humanitarian, cultural and tourist purposes. Since 2004 North Korea has wavered in acceptance of South Korean investments and South Korea has wondered if its worth dealing with its frenetic neighbor.Meanwhile, the U.S. continually challenges a hapless North Korea that might be able to cause havoc if attacked, but has insufficient military power to sustain offensive operations against any nation. Tracing the history:
From a REUTERS report, December 30, 2004
SEOUL – North and South Korea have agreed to resume telecommunication services stopped half a century ago as South Korean companies start business at the jointly developed industrial park in the communist state, Seoul said on Thursday. KT Corp., South Korea’s top fixed-line carrier, would offer landline phone calls and facsimile services for local firms operating at the Kaesong industrial park, just across the heavily militarised border, South Korea’s unification ministry said in a statement.
The Kaesong project is the first major joint business venture since the Korean War and South Korean firms are being attracted to the project by cheap labour and land costs. The industrial complex is 10 km (6 miles) north of the heavily fortified border that divides the two Koreas.
In August 2006, about 35 companies began operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where every day, hundreds of workers from South Korea go to work in North Korea, and thousands of workers from North Korea go to jobs in South Korean factories. Due to intermittent skirmishes between the two Koreas, North Korea has often banned the South Korean workers. On Dec 27, 2010, after South Korea conducted war games, the ban was again lifted. By April 2012, despite the constant tensions, the complex grew to 120 South Korean small and medium-sized companies. That growth has been duplicated by a surge in trade between the two antagonists, rising 36% to US$320 million in the first two months of year 2012.
Although continually engaging one another, South and North Korea built a tourism centre in 2005 on North Korea’s Mount Kumgang.More than 1,000 South Korean tourists welcomed the 2006 New Year on the popular mountain resort. The killing of a South Korean woman, who ventured went beyond the resort’s boundaries, interrupted the “sunshine policy” that allowed interchanges between the two Korean nations. South Korea’s Hyundai saw their investment of more than $1.5 billion for a hotel, hot springs, shopping mall, and a road inside the North crumble as tourism swiftly diminished. North Korea eventually took sole control of the previously jointly maintained tourist area.
U.S. policy to contain North Korea and alienate that nation from the world’s economic system becomes less successful each year. America’s ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow has publicly referred to North Korea as a “criminal regime,” which is engaged in money laundering, drug running, counterfeiting and other illicit activities. These remarks could be partly true, in the sense that some renegade North Koreans have been shown to be engaged in illicit activities. They could also apply to Mexico and Israel, and other countries whose nationals have been know to engage in all of these activities. The “hermit kingdom” has shown its disdain for the pronouncement by calling it a “declaration of war.”
In December 2006, the U.S. administration hit a new low in diplomacy. An AP Report:
(AP) — The Bush administration wants North Korea’s attention, so like a scolding parent it’s trying to make it tougher for that country’s eccentric leader to buy iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters. The U.S. government’s first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government.
But the list of proposed luxury sanctions, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim’s swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or even personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis.
The I-pod has become the new symbol of a “swanky life,” which of course hardly affects the North Korean economy. TheU.S. has about $33,000 in trade with the “hermit kingdom.” Meanwhile, trade between North Korea and South Korea has exhibited an increasing trend. Two-way trade between North and South Korea, legalized in 1988, reached $1.1 billion in 2005 (and almost $1.35 billion in 2006). The U.S. continues bullying and threatening North Korea, but nothing changes in North Korea. And the reason is obvious – the U.S. has little support for its policies.
Suzanne Goldenberg in Hanoi, Monday November 20, 2006
President George Bush suffered his most visible diplomatic setback since his party’s defeat in mid-term elections yesterday when Asian leaders failed to back Washington’s call for robust action against North Korea.
Mr. Bush, in Vietnam on his first foreign trip since the elections, had lobbied strenuously for a unified strategy aimed at getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, meeting the Russian, Chinese, South Korean and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
Bush obtained a supportive Security Council Resolution. The action did not impede North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Ed Helmore in New York, Sunday October 15, 2006
The UN Security Council voted unanimously last night to impose sanctions on North Korea over its apparent nuclear test and declared that the action of the renegade nation was ‘a clear threat to international security’.
The decision, which came after the US, Britain and France overcame last-minute differences with Russia and China, demands that North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but, following demands by Russia and China, expressly rules out military action against the country.
After North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for economic compensation from the United States and other nations, and after South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il shook hands in Pyongyang on October 2, 2007, Pyongyang claimed aid was arriving too slow and disabling nuclear facilities would also slow. U.S. Secretary of State at that time, Condoleezza Rice, said that the U.S. is not prepared to expand relations with North Korea until its leadership has fully shut down its nuclear weapons program. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill, after returning from North Korea, said, “There were clear differences in opinion between Washington and Pyongyang over the declaration of nuclear materials. Hill added resuming six-nation talks this year would be difficult.”
Another difficulty is the election of a new South Korean president who isn’t as eager to expand relations with North Korea, as was his predecessor.
The Associated Press – Dec 20, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — President-elect Lee Myung-bak said Thursday he would not shy from criticizing North Korea’s authoritarian regime,
The South Korean Prime Minister followed his inclinations.He took a hard line with Pyongyang by which he has been accused of ignoring agreements, delaying promised humanitarian aid and not taking advantage of the North’s changing political situation. “Nine months after the launch of the Lee Myung-bak administration, the North-South cooperation and trust, cultivated with difficulty since the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000, are crashing down.”
A stubborn and nationalistic North Korea regime has responded by threatening to close the Kaeseong Industrial Complex, cut off rail transportation and tourism and sever inter-Korean relations. Another ‘tit-for-tat’ that takes these two nations nowhere.
U.S. initiatives in six party talks, concluded an agreement in February 2007, promised a solution to U.S. and North Korea conflicts and then suddenly stalled. Use of diplomatic and economic incentives included fuel assistance to an energy deficient North Korea, and a ‘promise’ to remove the pariah state from the ‘state terrorism’ list in return for North Korea discontinuing giving its nuclear programs.
Bush responded to North Korean’s gripe that the U.S. had not, as promised, removed them from the ‘terrorist nation’ list and finally proceeded to do that. Nevertheless, on December 11, 2008, North Korea cited invasion of sovereignty and refused to agree to a written plan prepared to verify its nuclear developments. The ‘hermit’ nation also denied permission to have environmental samples taken from nuclear facilities, which could be used to measure plutonium production.U.S. officials admitted that most of the announced agreements were not set in ink and were only oral understandings between Undersecretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korean officials.
Result of this dispute: The United States claims suspended fuel aid shipments to Pyongyang. Pyongyang slowed the disabling of its nuclear program.
The beginning of the year 2011 still lacked an official end of the Korean War, and featured continuous military confrontations. On March 26, 2010, an explosion sank a South Korean patrol vessel and killed 46 of its sailors. North Korea adamantly denied accusations that a torpedo from one of its submarines deliberately hit the ship.
On November 23, 2010, North Korea responded to South Korean military maneuvers near Yeonpyeong Island, by shelling the island and killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.
One month later, in a determined show of strength and message of defiance, South Korea’s military staged a brief but large drill at a distance of 30 kilometers from the DMZ. Troops fired shells from howitzers and tanks. Attack helicopters and jets dropped bombs in an exercise, which simulated countering a mock North Korean invasion. Despite threats to respond with nuclear devices, the North Koreans behaved conciliatory. This attitude might have been due to an unofficial visit to Pyongyang by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who reported, “that the heated rhetoric reported in the national media doesn’t always match the actions of officials.” In a National Public Radio interview, Richard said, “You’ve got to differentiate between their news agency . . . that puts out these very heated, war-like comments almost all the time — and their officials,” Richardson said in the interview that aired on NPR Thursday. When you meet with them, they’re much more pragmatic.”
In retrospect, considering the nature of the North Korea regime, U.S. intervention in the Korean War saved South Korea sovereignty and benefited the South Korean people. Nevertheless, it is difficult to know if present-day North Korea is belligerent because it genuinely fears a U.S. attack or is belligerent because it has some diabolical purpose. If the latter is true, then what can an aggressive North Korea accomplish without being permanently destroyed by U.S. military power? If the U.S. had a better defined and less confrontational policy, it is possible that it would have achieved what it claims it always wanted; a non-threatening North Korea, a nuclear free Korean peninsula, peace and cooperation and possible unification of the two Koreas.
The year 2012 arrived with hope of great changes in a never changing DPRK and in its relations with the United States. On a train during December 2011, President Kim Jong II died and his son, Kim Jong Un, soon succeeded him. The same confusion, same fear, same belligerency led the ‘hermit kingdom’ to test a long range missile, under disguise of orbiting a satellite. The test failed, but on December 11, 2012, much to the consternation of the western world, Pyongyang successfully launched a multi-range rocket ino orbit. The year ended with North Korean government officials telling a top U.S. official that “the hermitic Stalinist state would not continue on its path to denuclearization, as promised in 2005, until the United States ends what it sees as America’s hostile policy to the DPRK.”
The year 2013 opened with a brightened disposition; North Korean authorities lifted the ban on foreigners bringing their cell phones into North Korea and high heel shoes pounded the pavement of Pyongang. The sunshine did not last long. A defiant North korea announced plans to perform a nucleat test, and on Feb. 12, 2013 defied U.N. protests and conducted its third underground nuclear test, one more step toward building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile – another response to what it perceives as U.S. threats,
Vietnamese War 1961-1975
The greatest foreign policy blunder in U.S. history (until the arming of the Afghanistan Mujaheedin and the occupation of Iraq) brought America 47,382 military dead, 10,811 non-combatant deaths, 153,382 wounded, and 10,173 captured. The American military devastated both North and South Vietnam, inflicted 1 million casualties upon their peoples and brought environmental catastrophes to large areas. Washington claimed counter-insurgency as the U.S role in the war. The insurgents countered the arrival of each American counter-insurgent with an increase in insurgent ranks.
Many arguments can be presented for the escalation of the war. One reason is the failure of the United States to adhere to provisions in the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference on the Problem of Restoring Peace in Indo-China, July 21, 1954.
Article 5. The Conference takes note of the clauses in the agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Viet-Nam to the effect that no military base under the control of a foreign State may be established in the regrouping zones of the two parties, the latter having the obligation to see that the zones allotted to them shall not constitute part of any military alliance and shall not be utilized for the resumption of hostilities or in the service of an aggressive policy.
Article 7. The Conference declares that, so far as Vietnam is concerned, the settlement of political problems, effected on the basis of respect for the principles of independence, unity and territorial integrity, shall permit the Vietnamese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of free general elections by secret ballot. In order to ensure that sufficient progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of the national will, general elections shall be held in July 1956, under the supervision of an international commission composed of representatives of the Member States of the International Supervisory Commission, referred to in the agreement on the cessation of hostilities. Consultations will be held on this subject between the competent representative authorities of the two zones from 20 July 1955 onwards.
The United States established military bases in the Vietnam state (South Vietnam) and refused to allow the Vietnam state to participate in the free elections that were scheduled for July 1956.
Those guiding U.S. foreign policy used exaggerations, such as the skeptical Tonkin Bay attack on U.S. warships by small North Vietnamese speed boats, to justify intervention, and then cited dubious SEATO treaties and an amateurishly created “domino effect” to give legitimacy to intervention.
After years of turmoil and violence in Vietnam and at home, the U.S. realized its policy of a government “without elections” in Vietnam. The North took control of all of Vietnam without any election. This result might have been a blessing for a U.S. administration that had no cognizance of how a demoralized, ill equipped, corrupt and poorly led South Vietnam could govern Vietnam without leaning on U.S. military presence for a long period.
Vietnam after 1975
After its battles with China and Cambodia, (both of which were accused by the U.S. administration as being partners with North Vietnam in the Vietnam War) the united Vietnam is a peaceful country and does not threaten neighbors. It is slowly becoming part of the international investment community, the position that the U.S. envisioned for a united Vietnam when it sent its forces to wage battle in the deltas and jungles of a relatively primitive country.
The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2001 and three years later, the first U.S. scheduled flight since the war ended in 1975, a United Airlines’ Boeing 747-400 carrying more than 300 passengers, landed at Tan Son Nhat international airport in Ho Chi Minh City . Foreign investors poured US $4.2 billion into projects in Vietnam in 2004. U.S. exports to Vietnam reached $1.2 billion in 2004 and total bilateral trade was almost $6.5 billion. The United States is Vietnam’s largest overseas market and purchases one-fifth of all Vietnamese exports. In December 2006, the U.S. Congress granted permanent normal trade relations to Vietnam, which ends the Cold War requirement that trade with the communist state is reviewed every year. On Dec. 20, 2006, President Bush signed the bill into law. Since then, relations have been cordial. Vietnam farm raised shrimp are sold in many U.S. supermarkets.
The trade balance has greatly favored Vietnam. The United States Census Bureau reports that for the year 2011, U.S, exports to its former antagonist totaled $4,340.7 and imports reached $17,485.2, giving a deficit of $13,144.
What happened to the “domino theory,” a theory proposed by U.S. Asian experts, who said if the communists won the war then all of Southeast Asia would come under communist domination?
The destruction in Cambodia started before the end of the Vietnam campaign. The U.S. challenged the North Vietnamese military’s use of a neutral territory for bringing troops and material to the South, and the U.S. carried the war into Cambodia with extensive bombings and military excursions. This “secret” war was the first time after WWII that the U.S. attacked a sovereign country in an undeclared war. The action set a precedent for future attacks.
After realizing they could not convince Cambodia’s ruler, Prince Sihanouk, to take action against the North Vietnamese use of Cambodian jungle paths to bring soldiers and material to the Viet Cong, the CIA engineered Sihanouk’s overthrow. The years following this action are one of the saddest of any country’s history. Sihanouk, who brought a measure of stability and prosperity to his country during a wartime crisis, wanted to remain neutral. His disposal, exile and replacement by General Lon Nol, who quickly assumed dictator powers, brought violence and civil war to the country. The ultra- radical Khmer Rouge captured the leadership and brought the country to administrative and economic ruin. After the end of the Vietnam War, the united Socialist Republic of Vietnam invaded the country, ostensibly to create order. The war escalated to further civil wars and extended the killings and destruction, which had started with the U.S. policy of replacing Sihanouk.
Cambodia after 1978
In November 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, The People’s Republic of Kampuchea, a Pro-Soviet state led by the Salvation Front, a group of Cambodian leftists dissatisfied with the Khmer Rouge, was established.
The Khmer Rouge has been defeated. Sihanouk has died. Vietnamese forces have vacated the country. Cambodia has a democratically elected government and intermittent social stability. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s political Party controls the military, and its nation. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a former Khmer Rouge member before he escaped to Vietnam 1979 and called for the Vietnamese to overthrow the Khmer Rouge government, advanced Cambodia. Hun Sens’ critics accused him of selling the country to foreigners, of jailing opponents and aiding his family in corruption. No question of Hun Sens’ close friendship with Vietnam, the same Vietnam with whom the U.S. fought a disastrous war, and of Hun Sens’ antagonism towards Thailand, the same Thailand who assisted the U.S. in its war with Vietnam. For sure, Cambodia is no longer the operating constitutional monarchy of Siahnouk. U.S. policies and military actions have reshaped the former Kampuchea Republic.
America’s position in the world has not been changed by Cambodia’s flip-flop of governments. Cambodian life has been tragically punished due to careless American policies.
Containment guided the United States’ policy towards China. Successive American administrations designed their policies to prevent China from developing into a world economic and military power that could challenge U.S. hegemony. The U.S. attitude towards China has grown from intense hostility without violent intent to a “constructive engagement,” that cajoles, insults, accuses and tries everything to get China to do…what? Nobody is sure, and regardless of what the government states or implies, China has done what it wants–border wars with Vietnam and India, incorporating Tibet, controlling its people in a manner in which it feels they should be controlled. Meanwhile China grows economically and militarily more powerful each day. And each day the U.S. perceives China as an increasing threat. The containment of China has raised fears of an eventual conflict that will use the mightiest weapons to achieve victory.
The U.S. concerns with a war on terrorism, establishment of a viable Afghan government and its occupation of Iraq, defused its aggressive stance with China. The Asian dynamo’s positive entrance into the world economy and its possibilities for U.S. investment and trade mellowed the “China bashers.” America’s diplomacy with China jelled into a more mutual arrangement; an accidental result of U.S. intensive attention to Middle East problems. In this mutual cooperation, China has assisted the U.S. attempts to resolve its dispute with North Korea, and the U.S. has assisted China in dampening its dispute with Taiwan. The friendly stance has been buffeted by ill wind – planned joint maneuvers of Chinese and Russian military forces, held on Chinese territory,.
Military exercises have been large scale and comprehensive, including army, navy, air force and submarine units, and possibly strategic bombers. The war games are a further step in the “strategic partnership” between Moscow and Beijing, which began after Washington and the European Union imposed arms embargoes on Beijing in the aftermath of the suppression in 1989 of the Chinese pro-democracy movement. Since then, China has become the major purchaser of Russian armaments, including fighter aircraft, missiles, submarines and naval destroyers. The joint exercises indicate Moscow’s and Beijing’s common interest in countering Washington’s unilateral strategy.
China has taken a leading role in the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), while advancing another association of East Asian nations. By establishing Free Trade areas for its members, these associations make it more difficult for U.S. exports to the Pacific area. U.S. trade deficit with China has monotonically increased from only $6 million in 1985 to $295 billion in 2011, and $315 billion in 2012.
At the end of 2012, new confontations began to appear between China and its neighbors. Beijing became testy in forwarding claims to sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, bringing angry rebuttals from Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. After two small unoccupied Diayou islands were purportedly sold by a private owner to the Japanese government for $26.2 million, a furious China cited historical evidence as having jurisdition over the barren islands, whose waters may contain oil deposits.
Not wanting to be left out of the engagements and aware of the important rise of Southeast Asia, Washington has shifted its focus from the Middle East to East Asia. With clear warnings from China, telling Austalia not to contemplate allowing Australia entry of U.S. troops as a possible force against China, Australia and the United States signed a Treaty of Defense Trade Cooperation. The Treaty allows the United States to have “license free” exports to Australia for:
Mutually determined security and defence projects where the Commonwealth of Australia is the end-user;
Cooperative security and defence research, development, production and support programs; and
Combined military or counter-terrorism operations.
U.S. foreign policy with China follows a familiar pattern of an aggressive stance, supporting Taiwan, constantly accusing China of violation of human rights and lack of democracy. China yawns, the world does not care, and U.S. policies slowly sink…the U.S.
MYANMAR (Union of Burma)
The United States showed moral courage in attempting to either modify or overthrow an illegitimate military government in Myanmar. Nevertheless, moral imperatives don’t move nations, and an amateur U.S. policy toward Myanmar harmed Burma’s people and did not bring freedom and democracy to Myanmar, at least not until April 2012, when new elections brought a glimmer of democratic action.
After Myanmar’s ruling junta refused to recognize the 1990 overwhelming legislative election victory by the National League for Democracy (NLD), and placed NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, the U.S. Congress passed the Customs and Trade Act, which enabled the president to impose new sanctions against Myanmar. On May 20, 1997, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13047, which took effect on May 21, banning most new U.S. investment in “economic development of resources in Myanmar .” To justify the ban, the president cited a “constant and continuing pattern of severe repression” of the democratic opposition by Burma’s ruling junta. In 2003, the U.S. government banned imports from Myanmar. What were the results of U.S. actions against Myanmar?
Due to continuous sanctions against Myanmar and import restrictions of its goods to the U.S., the Myanmar garment industry closed more than 200 of its 400 factories, wages dropped and many workers were either unemployed or forced to take jobs in Thailand until the garment industry recovered. Asian nations, especially China, India and South Korea, the usual suspects, filled the vacuum created by American sanctions. China is investing in Myanmar mining and light industry. India is importing natural gas and proposes to construct a pipeline from Myanmar to India. South Korea’s Daewoo International has invested heavily in gas development projects. The previous $470 million/yr garment exports to the United States has been shifted to orders from Korean and Taiwan merchandisers who then sell the merchandise in Europe
On Nov. 7, 2010, Myanmar citizens went to the polls for the first time since May 1990. The pro-government Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) won 874 of the 1,140 seats, which gave it control of the two national-level assemblies. Surprisingly, a number of ethnic nationality parties fared well in the elections. The Shan Nationalities Democracy Party acquired the third-largest number of seats (57), and the Rakhine, Mon, Chin, Pa-O and Karen parties also gained seats.
Despite UN criticism of the election, the UN envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, said “it is clear that political change is taking place in the country, ” He told the BBC that parliamentary by-elections could now open up “opportunities” for broadening the political spectrum.“Government formation is taking place . I think there will be new spaces, new slots in the parliament which will open up for by-elections.”
The UN envoy’s prediction came to fruition on April 1, 2012 when well-known dissident Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party, gained 42 seats in a by-election to parliament. Despite the victory, the newly elected lawmakers at first refused to attend the opening session of parliament because wording in their oath of office included safeguarding a constitution they find objectionable. They later relented.
Noting Myanmar’s economic and political potential, delegations from many nations have poured into Myanmar. “Western nations had held out the prospect of easing sanctions if Thein Sein, a former general who retains close ties to the military, continues the political liberalization he began after taking office a year ago.”
Economic and military interests have dictated U.S. policy towards other Asiatic countries. The U.S. has contributed to the creation of economic powerhouses in Japan and Taiwan in order to create stable and friendly governments that allow the U.S. to maintain military bases. Other countries have not been as fortunate. Indonesia and the Philippines had their years of prosperity turn into near economic collapse, but have recovered. These countries maintained totalitarian and corrupt governments for decades and U.S. support to them generated insurrections, retaliations and violent confrontations. Although still subject to terrorism, Indonesia and the Philippines have started to evolve more stable institutions.
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The post WWII policies liberated the Arab countries from foreign domination and enabled their governments to exercise greater control of oil resources. The United States had superior finances and technology for assisting the oil producers and became the favored partner. As energy became the most significant resource to the fast growing Western world, U.S. policy in the Middle East retreated to three words–get the oil. Several powerful oil producing nations remain antagonistic to the United States and the U.S. policy towards the Arab world has been one cause of terrorism. The hypocritical policy has created havoc for some of the area’s nations. Lacking any apparent change, it portends a dangerous future.
In 1946, the Soviet Union occupied parts of Northern Iran that had previously been attached to the Soviet Union. Truman demanded a Soviet retreat and succeeded in having the Russian troops removed. This overlooked event signified a basis for cooperation with the Soviet Union. The U.S. government ignored the Soviet acquiescence and headed into the Cold War. The next major Iranian event occurred in 1954 when Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh threatened to nationalize the oil industry. He was forced to resign and soon the U.S. found its colleague, the anti-Communist Shah Pahlevi, firmly in power. The State Department failed to realize that the Shah considered Iran his personal fiefdom and that the uneven economic progress he brought to Iran did not have the support of the masses, especially those inclined to a more rigid Islam. This lack of foresight proved fatal to the Shah and American interests in Iran.
In 1979, the Iranians deposed the Shah and an Islamic movement, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, gained control. Instead of using diplomacy with the new government and demonstrating restraint, U.S. policy reflected its bias against a regime that did not follow its dictates. Despite Iran’s protests, the Carter government, with advice from the ubiquitous Henry Kissinger, allowed the Shah to enter the U.S. for medical treatment. This event provoked Iranian extremists to seize the American embassy and hold U.S. citizens as prisoners. The Shah eventually returned to Panama and died in Egypt. Relations with Iran rapidly declined to a total separation. The U.S. quickly lost any economic and strategic advantages it had established in Iran.
U.S. policy planners could not admit mistakes and their policy towards Iran continued on a destructive path. In Iraq’s war against Iran, the U.S. provided arms and support to Saddam Hussein. During the war, Iran and Iraq attempted to prevent external trading by one another and.attacked oil tankers and merchant ships in the Persian Gulf. After Iraq bombed Iran’s main oil exporting facility on Khark Island, Iran attacked a Kuwaiti tanker near Bahrain on May 13, 1984, and a Saudi tanker in Saudi waters on May 16.
Kuwait, in 1986, formally petitioned foreign powers to protect its shipping, and the U.S. responded in 1987. The U.S. Navy moved warships into the Persian Gulf to guard the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to protect tanker shipping against possible Iranian aggression. In one aggression in the Persian Gulf, on May 17, 1987, the Iraqi air force bombed the USS Stark, killing 37 and injuring 21 Americans. The U.S. excused the aggression as a mistake.
The Iran/Iraq war, encouraged by U.S. military support to Iraq, caused massive destruction to both countries and to their Kurdish citizens. In a coda to the macabre concerto, on July 3, 1988, the U.S. cruiser Vincennes shot down an Iranian commercial Airbus in Iranian waters, after supposedly mistaking it for an Iranian F-14. Two hundred and ninety civilian passengers, included 66 children, were killed.
After these catastrophes, the U.S. tried to establish friendly relations with Iran and wondered why the Iranians were obstinate.
One major result of the bitter antagonism between the U.S. and Iran has been suspicion of Iranian involvement in terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel. Although lacking definite proof, Iran has been accused of assisting the incipient Lebanese Hezbollah in the 1983 bombing of the Beirut marine barracks in which 241 U.S. military personnel were killed, and involvement in the June 1996 bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which claimed the lives of 19 U.S. servicemen. Two more recent events have impeded any rapprochement between the United States and Iran. The American occupation of Iraq has strengthened the Shi’a majority in that country and made the U.S. suspicious that Iran will influence its co-religionists to favor Iranian policies. U.S. antagonism, pushed by Israel’s fear of Iran, has provoked Iran to pursue nuclear weapons. Words lead to more bitter words and not any positive action. Iran’s relations with America are as strained as the first day that the U.S. assisted the Shah after his downfall. Since America might not be able extend its military engagements beyond Iraq, Israel has shown intentions to halt Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. has become attached to Israel’s policies and cannot achieve an agreement with Iran without compromising Israel’s objectives.
The U.S. government can try to invoke its “democracy” message of rescuing the Iranian people from tyranny and leading it into being a democracy. However, in what was considered a democratic election, (but not democratic procedure since not all political persuasions could pursue office) in 2005, the Iranian people elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran, to becoming Iranian president with 61.69% of the vote in the second voting round. Turnout was estimated at almost 60% of eligible voters. Evidently, even a new democratic government in Iran won’t easily change Iran’s positions.
In retrospect, the United States has no issues with Iran that cannot be resolved by diplomacy. Iran directly supports those it considers being oppressed by Israel and is definitely opposed to the Israeli state. However, arguments that Iran supports international terrorism have never been adequately proved. Iran has no special reason to harm the United States and no capability to do harm without itself being demolished. The Islamic state has no territorial ambitions and can’t spread its religious doctrines because of the limitations of Shiism in the Moslem world. Actually, Iran has often allied itself with U.S. interests by vigorously opposing the enemies of the United States. Iran has contested Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Afghanistan’s Taliban, Soviet Union’s communism and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. Despite all this assistance to U.S. causes, although the insurgency in Iraq obtains most of its weapons from theft or sales of U.S. weapons, and all of its impetus from the U.S. occupation, the U.S., without providing proof, has tried to blame Iran for helping Iraqi insurgents. General Petraeus, former Commander of US forces in Iraq , has absolved Iraq of being responsible for insurgent capability. His spokesperson, Col. Steven Boylan, told The Washington Times that Iran is not assisting insurgents in Iraq.
Decades of antagonism between the United States and The Islamic Republic have only reinforced the antagonisms and have propelled the two nations to a collision course.U.S. aggressive attitude and Israel’s nuclear capability have propelled Iran’s nuclear ambitions. While many, including the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, plead for dialogue, President Bush insisted on confrontation.This confrontation persists despite a recent National Intelligence Estimate report indicating that Iran’s nuclear weapons program was halted sometime in 2003.
The more the U.S. prods Iran, the more Iran retaliates, even going so far as having proposed to construct a nuclear weapon. More retaliation translates into more evidence for the U.S. to prove that the powerless Iranians, who have no real air force, no real navy and no modern army, are a danger and must be confronted. Somehow, the world doesn’t seem to consider that U.S. policies towards Iran have been ultra-aggressive – arming Saddam Hussein (remember him?) in his war against Iran, sinking Iranian vessels in Iranian waters, downing an Iranian civilian airliner with a great loss of Iranian life and moving U.S. troops to Iran’s border. All these provocations answer the questions – why do the Mullahs despise the U.S. and why do they talk aggressively?
Iran’s positive qualities, all of which could be beneficial to the U.S., are politely neglected. Note there is no Al-Qaeda in Iran, no terrorists have been Iranians, and no terrorist attacks against U.S. interests have proceeded from Iran. Compare Iran to Saudi Arabia, the breeding ground for terrorists. Iran greatly assisted the U.S. in the initial stages of the reconstruction of Afghanistan, to which the U.S. gave no recognition.
The obvious consequences of the U.S. replacement of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, which was the strengthening of Iran’s relations with the new Iraq and the elevation of Iran to a power broker in the region, finally materialized. Well aware of but not admitting the circumlocutory actions of its policies, the Bush administration proceeded to counter the influence it had awarded to Iran by accusing the Islamic Republic of unsettling the region. The U.S. and Israel continued to maintain that Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons as a part of its normal nuclear energy developments. Although Israel threatens military action to neutralize the neutrons, the Bush administration behaved more cautious, only threatening isolation and sanctions. After years of posturing, threatening and cajoling, the fate of U.S. and Iranian relations has been left to incoming President Barack Obama.
Neither sanctions nor foreign pressure have deterred Iran’s nuclear programs. After uranium refinement reached 20%, a computer virus labeled Stuxnet halted the program. A German computer consultant predicts the virus will set back the Islamic nation’s nuclear developments by two years. This did not materialize. Iran thrusts forward with its controversial nuclear developments and the United States wavers between supporting an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and favoring more diplomacy. President Obama’s arguments reflect his dilemma in an election year; either appear too weak by not confronting the Islamic Republic’s delaying tactics or appear too aggressive by not allowing diplomacy to resolve the issue.
By not seizing on positive responses, the U.S. has provoked negative reactions, all detrimental to its interests. The Islamic Republic is well situated politically and economically in Iraq and Afghanistan. A new stage of acceptable relation with Syria and Turkey has emerged. With strengthened relations, Iran has strengthened its borders. From Teheran to Ankara a new coalition of nations counter American influence and exert independent policies, which could reshape the Middle East.
Despite severe economic sanctions and pressure by the international community, Iran continues with its nuclear developments. According to the International Atomic Energy Administration (IEA,) “Iran lost an estimated $40 billion in 2012 in oil export revenues as the West tightened sanctions. The country’s oil production in January hit a 30 year low.”
Statistics are difficult to verify, but it is known that the Iranian currency (Rial) fell, during the first week of February 2013, to an all time low of 38,000-39,000 rials for one dollar, which has forced Iranian families to ration imported goods, including food. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said. “The sanctions also appear to be affecting humanitarian operations in the country,” he wrote. “Even companies that have obtained the requisite license to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions.”
Similar to North Korea, sanctions have harmed the populace without modifying Iran’s nuclear policies, another in a long line of counterproductive U.S. policies.
U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein’s secular Iraq had been the reverse of its policy towards clerical Iran. The U.S. supported Iraq in the 1980′s, but Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait changed America’s attitude. Within one month after the start of the war, U.S. led forces in the Persian Gulf war destroyed Iraq’s military and eventually Iraq’s economy. U.S. policy built up an intended friend, determined the intended friend was actually an enemy nation, and then saved the enemy nation by destroying it.
Accurate Iraqi casualty figures in the Gulf War, killed and wounded, have been difficult to verify. Estimates range from tens of thousands to 600,000. The PBS program Frontline broadcast its acceptance of the following figures:
According to “Gulf War Air Power Survey” by Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen, (a report commissioned by the U.S. Air Force; 1993-ISBN 0-16-041950-6), there were an estimated 10-12,000 Iraqi combat deaths in the air campaign and as many as 10,000 casualties in the ground war. This analysis is based on enemy prisoner of war reports. The Iraqi government says 2,300 civilians died during the air campaign.
Did all of this have to happen? By being cordial to Saddam Hussein for many years, the United States reinforced the Iraqi leader’s power. State department dispatches indicate that Ambassador Glaspie gave Iraq a “green” light to invade Kuwait, or at least did not apply sufficient pressure to prevent the invasion.
Iraq had legitimate complaints: Kuwait had siphoned oil from the shifting sands of Iraqi territory: Kuwait owed a prostate Iraq some remuneration after having defended Kuwait against a possible Iran incursion: Kuwait walked out of discussions on the complaints and totally rebuffed Iraq. The United States could have arbitrated these complaints or forced the parties to comply with its directives. The U.S. policy makers had options. They chose to be complacent and indirectly paved the path to a punishing war.
The post-war policy continued a ferocious pattern, and U.S. and British planes bombed Iraq for the next twelve years. The bombings destroyed more “command and control” facilities and “radar bases” than Iraq could possibly have had. This senseless and vicious policy transformed Iraq from an emerging country with moderate prosperity into an impoverished country with a starving population. Statistics from a “UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, Mar. 1999:”
- Maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997.
- Low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg) rose from 4% in 1990 to about 25% of registered births in 1997, due mainly to maternal malnutrition.
- Calorie intake fell from 3,120 to 1,093 calories per capita/per day by 1994-95.
- Malnutrition in Iraqi children under five increased from 12% to 23% from 1991-96.
- The World Food Program estimated that access to potable water in 1998 was 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and only 33% in rural areas.
Consider the total population affected by the macabre figures and it is possible that one million Iraqis had their lives shortened by the punishing embargoes and bombing. Future generations will inherit the suffering. What were the purposes of this unstated U.S. policy?
The U.S. continually attempted to overthrow Saddam Hussein and continually failed. Rebellions by the Shiites and Kurds were encouraged and these rebellions reinforced Saddam’s retribution and will. The U.S. claimed to protect the rebellious Kurd and Shiite minorities but allowed Turkey to attack the Kurds and didn’t prevent Oman, a Persian Gulf sultanate, from terrorizing its Shiite minority.
The reasons for the U.S. policy towards Iraqi have been ambiguous. If the results follow policy, then the results indicate the unstated policy was the opposite of what was believed. The U.S. did not want a new Iraqi government. It wanted a continually unstable, embattled, embargoed and disrupted Iraq. Why? To maintain impotent a potentially strong Middle East country that could contend U.S. policy and arouse others in the region to challenge U.S. major partners.
After Iraq recovered from war and sanctions and entered a path to stability and progress, the combined U.S. and British invasion in 2003 destroyed additional physical plant and interrupted Iraq’s return to normalcy. Post-war developments continued the destruction with losses of basic services, widespread looting and crime and inept reconstruction efforts to rebuild infrastructure. The “we had to destroy them in order to save them policy” has brought internal conflicts, sabotage, and aggressive reactions.
The defeat of Saddam Hussein’s regime and his capture happened too late. It occurred after an Iranian war, a Gulf war, Iraqi civil wars, sanctions and a joint American and British war against Iraq. The damage had been done. A failed policy did not prevent the damage. War, which is the last resort of inept diplomacy to resolve a problem, cannot undo the damage. The dramatization of the capture of a powerless Saddam Hussein, shriveled up in a dirt hole cannot disguise the facts that he was powerless before the invasion and already in a self-made hole. The United States has not been able to convince the world that the invasion did more than only displace Saddam Hussein and transfer his location.
The principal arguments for the invasion–finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction and being essential for the war on terrorism– have proven false. U.S. weapons of massive destruction have been used to learn that no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction exist. The war has not diminished terrorism–just the opposite–the battlefield has been changed and enlarged. Radical Islamists, who might have stayed home, found a cause and have entered Iraq. Nevertheless, the percentage of foreign insurgents in the entire insurgency is small. U.S. troops are mainly fighting a home-grown Iraq insurgency that has no visible end.
The attempt to establish a regime in Iraq that is partial to American interests threatened the economic life, cultural awareness and social identity of Iraq. In Vietnam, America’s departure did not leave a political vacuum–the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam had an established government and extended its authority. The retreat of American forces from Vietnam did not unleash internecine warfare–a repressive authority together with an allied National Liberation Front stifled opposition. A U.S. departure from Iraq will leave an untested government and might stir unresolved antagonisms into conflict. By invading and occupying Iraq, the Bush administration:
- Shifted resources from a legitimate war on terrorism to a wasted war on a sovereign country.
- Shifted a battle against Al Qaeda to a wider battlefield against expanded opponents.
- Inherited the ethnic problems that faced all Iraqi rulers.
- Alienated itself from much of the world community.
- Made all wars legal by its doctrine of pre-emptive strike.
- Polarized American citizens,
- Created economic, military and social quagmires from which America might not escape.
- Caused the death of about 30,000 Iraqi civilians (George W. Bush estimate, Dec. 2005)
- Started a war that has brought death to 2,016 and combat-related injuries to16,601 U.S. troops (Associated press, Dec. 15, 2005).
December 2005 pronouncements from President George W. Bush shifted the priorities and reasons for the war:
- Although Iraq had no WMD’s the war is bringing democracy and stability to the Middle East. Not said is that Iraq might not be ready for democracy and there is no evidence of any increased political stability in the Middle East.
- Progress is shown by the drafting of a preliminary constitution and by the parliamentary elections. The U.S. is selective in defining progress. Iran has had elections and they aren’t making progress.
- The United States is winning the war.
The U.S, is not fighting a war. An insurgency is fighting occupation. U.S. has a defensive role. By fighting terrorists in Iraq, the U.S. does not have to fight them at home. These ” terrorists” are a small part of the Iraq insurgency and have been manufactured by the occupation of Iraq. It’s interesting that President Bush has permitted 3000 American soldiers to be killed (almost as many as happened in 9/11) and more than 16,000 to be wounded (much more than happened in 9/11) in Iraq, to “protect” them from being killed or wounded in the U.S. He doesn’t mention the more than tens of thousands Iraqis killed during the battles that supposedly protect American citizens. In other words, Iraqis have to be sacrificed so Americans are “protected,” even if Bush can’t prove that Americans are being protected.
The year 2006 only continued the strife in Iraq with a greater fury,and an admission that the U.S. was not winning the war and, from many quarters, that the strife was a genuine Civil War. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group document did not provide a suitable guide for conducting the war. The U.S. government remained in a dilemma, procrastinating each day in its decisions. The Shiite Iraqis, trained to be policemen friends, were attacked by coalition forces as torturers and enemies. The Sunni groups originally labeled as enemies were treated as friends and as enemies. Meanwhile almost two million Sunni Iraqis left their homeland and exiled themselves to predominantly Syria and Jordan. Others are being ethnically cleansed from neighborhoods they shared with Shiites for centuries.
In the last decade of Saddam Hussein’s reign, few Iraqis were being killed, no Iraqis were leaving, no Iraqis were fighting with each other, no Iraqis were being ethnically cleansed. The 2006 year closed with the execution of Iraq’s former dictator leader, Saddam Hussein, for crimes against humanity.
After insurgent attacks and deaths of U.S. military surged, the Bush administration decided to implement its own surge. During 2007, more than 30,000 fresh U.S. troops arrived in Iraq and concentrated in the more troublesome areas, especially Baghdad. Combining the “surge” with enlisted support of Sunny militias to combat Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a move that incurred the wrath of the Maliki government, casualties in Iraq were severely reduced.
The surge had beneficial effects, but will it matter? Iraq is already a destroyed nation. An estimated four-and-a-half million Iraqis have been forced from their homes by the violence unleashed by the US-led invasion and occupation. The nation is separated into an autonomous Kurdish region (previously known as Northern Iraq), a southern Basra region region dominated by Shi’a, a western region controlled by Sunni insurgents who have become allied with U.S. military against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Baghdad that has ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, and a central region that has civil war, insurgent violence and unresolved ownership of contested oil fields.
President Bush left office with contradictory assertions; regrets of the intelligence concerning Iraq and praise for the ‘liberation’ of Iraq – as if the faulty intelligence was not obviously false and, if remotely true, warranted the invasion. At a December 15, 2008 reaffirmation of the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States that governs the withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2011, an Iraqi journalist expressed his displeasure with George W. Bush by throwing two shoes at him – a revolutionary coda to the musical dance that finally ‘shooed’ U.S. forces from a destroyed Iraq.
Before the clock sounded the end of 2010, and after a nine-month power struggle, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki named a cabinet. However, key security portfolios were not announced. The Iraqi PM said he will run the defense, interior and national security ministries himself while feuding blocs decide on suitable candidates.U.S. principal opponent, the hard-line Sadrist movement, which has been jostling for influence ever since being urged by Iran to support Maliki, a one-time foe, claimed eight ministries and sought one of the security positions.
As the U.S. leaves, so do the Christians. Protected by the Hussein government, the followers of Jesus are now subjected to periodic mayhem of bombings, killings and threats.
From the Associated Press, Bushra Juhi And Barbara Surk – Fri Dec 31, 2010
BAGHDAD – The latest bloody attack on Iraq’s Christians was brutal in its simplicity. Militants left a bomb on the doorstep of the home of an elderly Christian couple and rang the doorbell. When Fawzi Rahim, 76, and his 78-year-old wife Janet Mekha answered the doorbell Thursday night, the bomb exploded, killing them, Mekha’s brother told The Associated Press on Friday.
The bombing was among a string of seemingly coordinated attacks Thursday evening that targeted at least seven Christian homes in various parts of Baghdad that wounded at least 13 other people, a week after al-Qaida-linked militants renewed their threats to attack Iraq’s Christians.The attacks are the latest since an Oct. 31 siege of a Baghdad church by al-Qaida killed 68 worshippers, terrifying the minority community, whose numbers have already fallen dramatically in the past seven years of violence in Iraq.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
“As a result of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled that secular government and brought to power a coalition led by sectarian Shiite Muslim parties and created a backlash by Sunni Muslim extremists, the Christian community in Iraq — one of the oldest in the world — has been reduced by more than half,” the National Catholic Reporter reports.
Summation of seven years of occupation of the land between the Euphrates and Tigris reveals:
From Iraq War Facts, Results & Statistics as of November 30, 2010
4,432 US Soldiers Killed, 31,992 Seriously Wounded
Iraq Body Count Project — 107,152 civilian deaths as a result of the conflict and a total of 150,726 civilian and combatant deaths from March 2003 to October 2010
Deborah White, About.com Guide U.S. SPENDING IN IRAQ
Spent & Approved War-Spending – About $900 billion of US taxpayers’ funds spent or approved for spending through Sept 2010.
Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq – $9 billion of US taxpayers’ money and $549.7 million in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.
Missing – $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)
UNHCR estimates that more than 4.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes. Of these, more than 2.7 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2 million have escaped to neighboring states.
A parliamentary election, held in Iraq on 7 March 2010, resulted in a partial victory for the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, which won a total of 91 seats. The State of Law Coalition, led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, was the second largest grouping with 89 seats. Although the parliament opened on 14 June 2010, formation of a new government did not occur until 11 November. The usual suspects returned; Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani would as president, Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister and a disillusioned Ayad Allawi as head of a new security council. Allawi, in an editorial in the Washington Times, Apr 9, 2012 , claimed, “Mr. al-Maliki presides over an increasingly Kafkaesque bureaucracy characterized by corruption and brutality, relying on the compromised judiciary as a weapon against political opponents while concealing the crimes of his cronies.” Allawi’s statement comes after U.S. troops formally left Iraq in accord with the December 2011 schedule and previous al-Maliki supporter, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for the dissolution of the country’s parliament and asked for new elections.
The provocative operations of the al_Maliki government created a bizarre twist with the indictment for murder of Vice-president Tareq al-Hashimi, charged with operating death squads that killed Shia pilgrims, six judges and government officials. Al-Hashemi fled to the autonomous Kurdistan area of Iraq and then entered Qataq on an official visit.
With violence continuing as an almost daily occurrence, disgruntled leaders finally decided to meet and issue an ultimatum to al-Maliki.
Associated Press, April 28, 2012 BAGHDAD — Leaders from nearly all of Iraq’s top political blocs called Saturday for a solution to a crisis pitting the Shiite-led government against Sunnis and Kurds, saying the dispute threatens the country’s national interests.
The statement came after three days of meetings that brought together senior Sunni, Kurdish and even Shiite politicians disgruntled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — who was not represented at the talks in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. While no one at the mini-summit demanded that al-Maliki step down, the fact that the discussions included key figures from across Iraq’s political spectrum underscored the growing impatience with the Shiite prime minister.
Al-Maliki’s critics accuse him of consolidating power and sidelining both Sunnis and Kurds, touching off a political impasse that has brought government work to a near standstill and threatens to break up Iraq.
Nine years of war and occupation gained the United States nothing and its enemies much. Al-Qaeda elements found a battleground, and caused thousands of casualties to U.S.troops. Iran, without firing a shot, witnessed an enemy deposed from its border and its influenced imposed upon a new Iraq administration. Oil contracts went to other companies than those from the American continent. America leaves a destroyed Iraqi nation, its own hospitals filled with casualties and the American economy gasping.
One of the more serious consequence of U.S. policy in Iraq is the development of an American psyche which disregards the falsehoods that govern attack on and accepts the concept of pre-emptive strike, regardless of casualties. The U.S. government can originate any reason to attack other countries, suffer losses and not be constrained by public opinion. It is not too early to realize we are not witnessing the rebirth of an Iraqi people, but the final whisper of an Iraqi civilization, and the gathering decline of a once all powerful America.
U.S. policies that countered Soviet Union influence in Afghanistan, which included the massive entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, will go down in history as one of the greatest blunder of American foreign policies. The policies exhibited a common feature of U.S. foreign policy: arming eventual enemies to combat perceived antagonists.
Although Afghanistan was never considered a part of the Cold war conflict, being that it was outside the U.S. sphere of influence and bordered the Soviet Union, American President Ronald Reagan provided assistance to the Mujaheedin in Afghanistan. The Mujaheedin eventually succeeded in forcing out Soviet troops, but enabled Radical Islam to flourish and Osama Bin Laden to establish terrorist training camps. The result of U.S. policies in Afghanistan: The greatest terrorist attack on U.S. soil with a loss of approximately 3000 lives.
The Soviet Union intervention in the internal conflicts of Afghanistan may have been improper but it did not include economic exploitation or permanent seizure of territory. It had benefits for the United States that the Reagan administration failed to recognize: Radical Islam was suppressed and poppy production was not permitted. The Soviet Union supplied forces from 1980-1986 to assist Babrak Kamal’s Afghan regime to contain internal political frictions, prevent a Civil War from creating anarchy that could undo the economic progress of previous governments, and maintain the status quo in East-West spheres of influence. The Afghan internal politics, the Civil War and the Soviet Union intervention did not directly affect U.S. world hegemony or the Cold War balance of power. The Mujaheedin, whom the U.S. provided arms, material and finances through Pakistan, consisted of a radical Islam that had already shown itself to be hostile to American interests.
The Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in Feb. 1989, and the United States had an opportunity to let the war play out among Afghans. Continued U.S. arms shipments through Pakistan to the Mujaheedin forced the 1992 demise of the Najibullah government, which tried to carry out democratic reforms by creating a coalition government of reconciliation. A reactionary Islamic Taliban gained control of Afghanistan after the civil war caused more than 50,000 additional deaths. The Mujaheedin, characterized as freedom fighters and brought to fighting capability by U.S. arms, destroyed Afghanistan, caused an immense number of deaths, could not compromise among themselves to form a stable government, and became responsible for the Taliban emergence and its control of Afghanistan. The Taliban permitted terrorist groups to train on its territory. These terrorists have brought death to Americans and destruction to U.S. facilities. The most prominent vestige of U.S. intervention in the Afghanistan Civil War is Ibn Bin Laden.
The American administration reacted to the the 9/11 terrorist on its territory with appropriate attacks against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and with an overthrow and scattering of the Taliban regime. The battles have not ended and some of the same conditions that promoted the Afghanistan war exist–tribal rivalries, warlords, religious fundamentalism and poppy growing as a principal economic contribution. In effect, the U.S. replaced the Soviet Union in the war in Afghanistan.
In 2004, political trends were positive. Provincial warlords had been severely reduced in power and Taliban supporters were composed of loosely connected insurgents rather than a major fighting force. On December 7, 2004, Afghanistan elected Hamid Karzai was inaugurated as its first president. Karzai’s government initiated a plan that allowed low-ranking Taliban forces to be granted amnesty from prosecution in exchange for surrender of their arms to US troops. Many accepted the deal. More recently, President Karzai extended amnesty to top Taliban leader’s, including 2nd in command Mullah Mohammad Omar. The Mullah refused the offer.
If a sufficient number of Taliban followers accepted the amnesty offer, the withdrawal of the 18,000 Afghanistan-based American troops would have begun in June 2005. This has not happened. U.S.personnel, in a Jan. 4, 2006 interview, said “the insurgency grew stronger in 2005. It has become better organized with better-trained fighters and more advanced weaponry.” NATO foreign ministers approved plans to send up to 6,000 soldiers, mostly European and Canadian, into volatile southern Afghanistan.
As the New Year of 2006 rolled in, trends were not positive. In economics, the major Afghan income is still due to about 4,600 tons of opium (320,000 tons of heroin) and 70 drug laboratories in southern Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan that process opium into heroin. The ominous political and military trends are not well reported. From the British newspaper, The Scotsman, Jan. 13:
Foreign fighters flood into Afghanistan by TIM RIPLEY:
HUNDREDS of foreign Islamic fighters are gathering in Afghanistan ahead of the deployment of 4,000 British troops to the country in the spring. British intelligence sources have told The Scotsman Islamic radicals sympathetic to al-Qaeda see Afghanistan as their new frontline and are starting to shift the focus of their anti-western campaign from Iraq.
The fighters, including Jordanians, Yemenis, Egyptians and Gulf Arabs, stepped up their campaign two months ago with a series of suicide bombings against NATO peacekeepers, United States troops and Afghan government leaders. “Attacks in Afghanistan are now running at more than 500 a month – it’s getting as dangerous for westerners as Iraq in some places,” said a British officer involved in planning the NATO peacekeeping mission in the south-west of the country.
January to December 2006 news reports verify the Scotsman report. Suicide bombings are on the rise.
General expects militant attacks in Afghanistan to spike
By Jason Straziuso, December 31, 2006, Associated Press
Violence rose sharply in Afghanistan in 2006, killing an estimated 4,000 people, the deadliest year since the U.S.-led coalition swept the Taliban from power in 2001.The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan dropped slightly, from 93 in 2005 to 87 in 2006. But the number of casualties suffered by other NATO countries rose sharply.
The year 2007 saw more of the same violence but in more areas and with increased suicide bombings. Because suicide bombings had not been a Taliban weapon, the insurgency in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the insurgency in Afghanistan. Now identified as the neo-Taliban, the radical Islamists established communications and supply-lines in almost all of Afghanistan and opened new fronts against international forces.
The Pakistan-Afghanistan abyss by Paul Rogers
There are now 51,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, but they are still unable to cope with the resurgence. Of these troops, 40,000 are under Nato command in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf): 15,000 from the United States, 25,000 from other Nato countries.
All this is against a background of changing tactics by Taliban militias in response to increased use of firepower by coalition troops. The last weeks of 2007 witnessed one of the largest paramilitary attacks for several of months when fifteen Afghan security guards were killed in an assault on a convoy of fuel-tankers in western Afghanistan, away from what had previously been the most significant areas of Taliban activity in the south and east.
One advance in Afghanistan has been in poppy production.
US General Predicts Record Poppy Haul, Published: 1/2/08, By JASON STRAZIUSO
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The U.S. general in charge of NATO’s Afghanistan mission said Wednesday he expects another year of “explosive growth” in the country’s poppy fields, a harvest militants will turn into weapons for use against Afghan and NATO troops.”
The U.S. General prediction that “explosive growth in the country’s poppy fields, means a harvest militants will turn into weapons for use against Afghan and NATO troops,” became true. Violence increased an estimated 50 per cent over 2007, a year in which the violence had already increased by 30 per cent over 2006. In 2008, about 300 NATO soldiers were killed, making 2008 the deadliest year for NATO. Reports have nearly 1,000 police and 260 Afghan soldiers killed since March 2008 in insurgent violence. From January to August, 1,445 civilians have been killed more than half of them in Taliban attacks.
Insurgents staged spectacular attacks in Kabul, including a suicide attack at the luxurious Serena hotel in January, which left eight dead, and a car bombing at the Indian embassy in July, which killed more than 60 people. In April, President Hamid Karzai at a military parade with explosives and gunfire but he escaped the assassination attempt unharmed.
The International Council on Security and Development claims theTaliban insurgents had established a “permanent presence” in roughly three-quarters of the country . This claim might have ledLt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of the Canadian mission, to state: The coming year will bring more violence in Afghanistan than in 2008.”
And it has:
Despite the spurious predictions that President Obama’s announcement of the beginning of troop withdrawals during 2011 would make the Taliban politely retreat and wait it out, the insurgency has grown. AFP reports: “KABUL — More than 10,000 people, about a fifth of them civilians, lost their lives in violence in Afghanistan last year, an AFP count based on official figures and an independent website tally showed Sunday.” The year 2010 featured the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan’s against international troops since the start of hostilities. Previously constrained to the South, fighting has erupted in Northern provinces and exploded in Pakistan. U.S. pressure has shredded the silent agreement by which the Pakistani military did not enter the tribal provinces if the Taliban did not attack Pakistani forces. U.S. drones operate daily in Warizistan and al-Qaeda inspired suicide bombers operate daily throughout Pakistan. If natural forces don’t devastate Pakistan, then al-Qaeda will.
Monday, January 3, 2011
AfPak Channel Daily Brief
“On Christmas day, a female suicide bomber attacked a crowd of hundreds of people from the Salarzai tribe who were waiting to receive food aid from the U.N.’s World Food Program in the northwest Pakistan tribal agency of Bajaur, killing at least 46 and wounding more than 100 (CNN, AP, Guardian, LAT, Reuters, BBC). The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack, which led the WFP to close its offices in Bajaur pending new security arrangements and investigations; WFP officials said the Bajaur operations, which feed 300,000 people, will resume soon (AP, NYT). The day before, some 150 militants simultaneously attacked five security checkpoints in Mohmand agency, killing 11 paramilitary soldiers (CNN, AFP, Reuters, BBC, NYT). Two dozen militants died in subsequent clashes.”
Reducing the violence isn’t the only challenge. Before violence is subdued, the wars against the drug trade and corruption must be won.
Afghanistan remains the producer of about 90 percent of the world’s opium, most of which is exported in a world trade of about $65 billion. The United Nations estimates the Taliban derive $100-400 million dollars a year in revenues from drug production and trafficking. Only a few hundred million dollars; who gathers the other tens of billions?
Could it be corrupt officials?
The New York Times, December 2, 2010 examination of the Wikileaks cables showed, “In one astonishing incident in October 2009 the then vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was stopped and questioned in Dubai when he flew into the emirate with $52 million in cash, according to one diplomatic report. Massoud, the younger brother of the legendary anti-Soviet resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was detained by officials from the US and the United Arab Emirates trying to stop money laundering, it says.However, the vice-president was allowed to go on his way without explaining where the money came from.
A cable, sent by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry detailed a colossal scale of capital flight from Afghanistan – often with the cash simply carried out on flights from Kabul to the UAE.“Vast amounts of cash come and go from the country on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Before the 20 August [presidential] election $600m in banking system withdrawals were reported; however in recent months some $200m.”Couriers are said to usually carry the money on Pamir Airlines, which is jointly owned by Kabul Bank and influential Afghans such as Mahmood Karzai, one of the president’s brothers, and Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik warlord who was Hamid Karzai’s vice-presidential running mate in the August 2009 election.The cable records that exporting cash is encouraged by the fact that “drug traffickers, corrupt officials and to a large extent licit business owners do not benefit from keeping millions of dollars in Afghanistan and instead are motivated to move value into accounts and investments outside of Afghanistan.
Other high-profile Afghans involved in amassing extraordinary wealth in Dubai include Sher Khan Farnood, the chairman of Kabul Bank who was disgraced this summer after corrupt loans at the bank almost brought down Afghanistan’s fragile financial system.The document notes that Farnood – an enthusiast for high-stakes international poker tournaments – was said to own 39 properties on the Palm Jumeirah, a luxury man-made peninsula in Dubai.The cable adds: “Many other notable private individuals and public officials maintain assets (primarily property) outside Afghanistan, suggesting these individuals are extracting as much wealth as possible while conditions permit.”
That’s a part of the big time corruption. The small time corruption paralyzes all Afghans.
Germany’s Spiegel Online, January 19, 2009: “Need a driver’s license in Kabul? $180 will get you one within hours. $60,000 will get you out of jail in Afghanistan. A new UN study shows just how rampant corruption has become in the war-torn country. Indeed, bribery is equal to a quarter of the Afghan GDP.
“Just how extreme corruption has become in Afghanistan can be seen in a new study released by the United Nations. According to the paper, 59 percent of Afghanistan citizens point to corruption as the greatest problem facing the country — that ranks the problem even higher than security (54 percent) and unemployment (chosen by 52 percent of those polled). The study, released on Tuesday, was put together by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and includes the responses of 7,600 people from 1,600 villages questioned between August and October of last year.
The study shows just how omnipresent the payment of bribes has become in everyday life in Afghanistan. In the last 12 months, Afghan citizens have paid $2.5 billion in bribes — roughly a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. “The Afghans say that it is impossible to obtain a public service without paying a bribe,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa writes on the organization’s Web site. The “cancer of corruption” is “metastatic,” he says, and can be found even in the highest echelons of government. Afghans who have had recent contact with government representatives report that, in 40 percent of the cases, they were asked for bribes.”
Hopefully, but not expected, is that the new parliament will curtail the drugs, bribes and corruption. Just the opposite might occur.“Afghan officials and losing candidates say the election could have much the opposite effect from what many here had hoped. Seating the new Parliament, they warn, could fuel the insurgency and even the kind of ethnic strife that might lead to civil war.” Jamil Karzai, a former member of Parliament and cousin of the president, warned, “Step by step Pashtuns will say we are not represented, the government does not care about us, our people are not in government, and step by step they will join the enemy.”
Meanwhile, cables from the U.S. ambassador in Kabul portray Afghan President Hamid Karzai as paranoid, with an “inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building.” Similar to Iraq bordering on Iran stirs interest of Iran in Iraq, the sharing of borders stirs Iran interest in Afghanistan.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri called for the consolidation of direct banking relations and an increase in joint ventures by Tehran and Kabul. “We are optimistic that great steps will be taken for resolving the problems and our duty as the government’s representatives is to provide a framework for cooperation between the two countries’ private sectors so as to facilitate grant of developmental aids (to Afghanistan) in this field,” Alishiri said in a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Mostafa Mastour on Saturday.Referring to the two countries’ cultural and religious commonalities, he described the development of relations in areas of banking, insurance, customs and standards as among the most important factors in boosting exchanges between Iran and Afghanistan.And earlier this month, Karzai hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who used his brief visit to lob insults at the United States and argue that international forces in Afghanistan would only lead to more civilian deaths.Karzai called Iran – with which Afghanistan shares a long land border – “our brother nation” with whom it had excellent relations.
Wkileaks related conversations between American and Afghan officials, in which they concluded Iran was greatly increasing its involvement in the eastern neighbor. The cables indicated that “Iran is financing a range of Afghan religious and political leaders, grooming Afghan religious scholars, training Taliban militants and even seeking to influence MPs.” A top Hamid Karzai aide revealed to have received sacks of cash from the Iranian government and told a senior US diplomat that all sorts of Afghan officials were on Tehran’s payroll, including some people nominated for cabinet positions.Omar Daudzai “also asserted that in addition to financing Afghan religious leaders, Iran had provided salary support for some [Afghan government] deputy ministers and other officials, including ‘one or two even in the [presidential] palace’.”
If all that is insufficient to highlight another failing policy, we have the failure of government repsonsibilty to its soldiers.
The New York Times, James Risen, Jan 1, 2011: “Ever since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, suicides among American troops have been soaring, as military personnel become mentally exhausted and traumatized from repeated deployments to combat zones. In 2004, the Army reported that 67 soldiers on active duty committed suicide; by 2009 that number had jumped to 162. The Army has reported 144 suicides in 2010 through November, and officials say it is now beginning to see a sharp rise in suicides among nonactive duty National Guard and Reserve personnel who are not currently deployed.”
As the 2014 date for withdrawal of U.S. troops approaches, it has become obvious that the U.S. (NATO) excursion into Afghanistan replayed the Soviet Union’s earlier misadventure. President Obama admitted as much in a May Day, 2012 visit to Osama bin Laden’s previous sanctuary. Billed as a trip to sign a strategic agreement with the Karzai government, the president revealed that “The agreement calls for the continuing reduction of the U.S. troop level while supporting the growth of ‘strong and sustainable’ Afghan security forces,” and that “the U.S. goal was not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban but to destroy Al Qaeda, while leaving enough time for the nation to stabilize.” In other words, the Taliban will have an opportunity to regain power, as long as Al Qaeda remains away, an arrangement that could have been made ten years ago.
The Taliban issued a response to Obama’s message.
Tom A. Peter, Special for USA TODAY
KABUL – Hours after President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the strategic partnership agreement that will serve as the framework for future relations between their two nations, the Taliban issued its response.
Taliban attackers Wednesday targeted a heavily fortified, private compound in eastern Afghanistan that is mostly occupied by international workers with a car bomb about two hours after Obama delivered a speech at Bagram Air Base about the pact. Three bystanders were killed besides the four terrorists.
“With this attack, we want to send a message to Obama that the Afghans will welcome you with attacks. You don’t need to sign agreements, you need to focus on how to get out of this country,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.
All this follows a series of incidents that demonstrated: (1) The Karzai government is critical of America, (2) The Taliban has proved much stronger in engagements, (3) The U.S. trained Afghan security personnel are using their training to kill NATO soldiers, and (4) Many U.S. soldiers have no regard for Afghan life.
New York Daily News, January 11, 2012, HELEN KENNEDY
The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating a shocking video that appears to show four Marines cracking wise while desecrating the bodies of three dead Taliban terrorists. Dressed in full combat gear and holding their rifles at their sides, the four men stand over the three corpses sprawled out near an overturned wheelbarrow. The warriors start urinating on the bloodied corpses, and cracking locker-room-style jokes. “Have a great day, buddy,” one of the chuckling men says in a comic, high-pitched voice as the group defiles the dead. “Golden – like a shower,” another jokes.
One of the photos shows a smiling U.S. soldier in the foreground with the body of a dead Taliban fighter behind him. A second U.S. soldier appears to be putting the dead fighter’s hand on the shoulder of the smiling soldier in the foreground.
In another, U.S. soldiers and Afghan National Police officers are seen holding up the severed legs of a Taliban suicide bomber.
Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2012|By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of slaying eight adults and nine children, could face the death penalty. His attorney says the suspect remembers very little of the incident. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in connection with a nighttime massacre at two remote Afghan villages, after villagers say he burst into the homes of civilians with a pistol, rifle and grenade launcher and indiscriminately shot family members in the head, neck, chest and groin.
New York Times, March 16, 2012, by By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and HELENE COOPER
…Mr. Karzai lashed out again at the United States, saying he was at “the end of the rope” over the deaths of Afghan civilians at the hands of NATO forces. He reiterated his call to confine coalition forces to major bases and to speed up the handoff to Afghan troops. He also accused American officials of not cooperating with a delegation he had sent to investigate the killings in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, in southern Afghanistan.
McClatchy Newspapers, April 15, 2012, Jonathan S. Landay and Ali Safi
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban-led insurgents opened a spring offensive Sunday with a wave of coordinated suicide missions, firing at embassies and government offices from seized buildings in Kabul and attacking U.S. bases and police stations in three eastern provinces.
The strikes, which seemed to catch U.S.-led forces and Afghan authorities by surprise, sparked fierce fire fights in Kabul and two other cities that underscored the insurgency’s lethality as U.S. combat troops gird for the second phase of a withdrawal due to end in 2014.
“This is the start of the spring operations,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, declared in a cell phone interview with McClatchy. “This is just the beginning.”
The violence, which lasted past nightfall in Kabul and Puli Alam, the capital of neighboring Logar province, claimed the lives of at least 26 insurgents and four civilians, Afghan and NATO officials said.
Christian Science Monitor, By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer / April 27, 2012
The latest killing of a US soldier at the hands of an Afghan counterpart – this time of a US Special Operations Forces soldier by a US-trained Afghan commando – raises anew concerns about America’s ability to build a credible Afghan security force before 2014, when US combat forces are scheduled to leave the country. In total, so-called green-on-blue killings now account for 20 percent of the 84 NATO casualties in 2012.
By Rahim Faiez – The Associated Press, Feb 22, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed for calm Wednesday after clashes in several cities between Afghan security forces and protesters furious over the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. military base left seven people dead.The anger over the Koran burning has sparked two days of protests across Afghanistan and tapped into anti-foreign sentiment fueled by a popular perception that U.S. and Western troops disrespect Afghan culture and Islam. The demonstrations prompted the U.S. to lock down its embassy and bar its staff from traveling.The Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement that seven people were killed — four in clashes in the eastern province of Parwan, one at a U.S. base outside Kabul, and one each in Jalalabad and Logar provinces. It said an investigation was under way to determine what happened.
The Afghanistan insurgency is becoming part of an expanded Asian war. The continued insurgency in Iraq, the instability in Pakistan and the Taliban resurgence are highly related.The questions now being asked are: Will NATO win the war in Afghanistan, and will Afghanistan return to the last days of the Russian occupation?
U.S. Middle East policy is driven, rather than guided, by the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Although the U.S. has the military and economic power and opportunities to force an acceptable solution to the strife, its wandering and contradictory policies have not prevented the violence.
The contradictions include acting as a sole arbitrator for bringing peace and then vetoing dozens of UN resolutions that criticized Israel and which, if implemented, might have compelled Israel to end the conflict. After decades of conflicts and debates, the conflict and debate continue. Since Israel’s military strength is infinite times that of the Palestinians, the U.S. could serve to equalize the strengths. The U.S. insists the two parties compromise their differences, while knowing that a dominant Israel will not make concessions to a fragile Palestine. Each day Israel becomes stronger and the Palestinians become weaker.
The U.S. policy has strengthened Israel and weakened the Palestinians. The future is ominous. Israel’s construction of a barrier wall, supposedly to prevent infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel, doesn’t prevent Israeli F-15 bombers from entering Palestinian territory. The barrier’s encroachment into Palestinian lands and its encirclement of Palestinian communities and major cities will bring the entire West Bank under Israeli control and decimate Palestinian life.
In effect, since President Jimmy Carter in 1979 negotiated the withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai and the establishment of relations between Egypt and Israel, U.S wandering policies have allowed Israel to expand its territory and occupation, and have served to bring the Palestinian community closer to total destruction.
The hope that the demise of Yasser Arafat would bring agreement between Israel and a new Palestinian Authority (PA) is fading quickly. It is apparent that Israel wants surrender and is dictating the surrender terms to the PA. The fundamental issues remain:
- Israeli settlements in the West Bank
- Israel’s denial of compensation to Palestinian refugees.
- Israel’s desire of total control of Jerusalem.
Lack of resolution of the fundamental issues have created more difficult issues:
- Terrorism against Israel by Palestinian extremists.
- Construction of a separation wall that will strangle Palestinian economic and social life.
The United States has described Hamas as a terrorist organization, although Hamas can be considered a well organized, humanitarian and graft free organization that has provided welfare to the Palestinian people. Only its military wing, which considers itself in a legitimate battle against occupiers has participated in terrorist actions. Hamas has proposed several Hundas (truces), and has unilaterally refrained from military activity for many months on several occasions.
Counter-productive U.S. policies, such as demanding the Palestinian Authority to halt all terrorism before Israel halts settlements, an impossible task for Abu Mazen, drove the Palestinian people to elect the Hamas Authority to a majority in the Palestinian parliament. A U.S. administration that places democracy for the Middle East on the top of its political agenda, refused to recognize the democratically elected Hamas government. To add to the confusion, the Hamas Authority seized all the institutions in Gaza from Fatah; their reason being that Fatah officials had become too corrupt and had created an unmanageable atmosphere. Fatah retreated to the West Bank and established a competing government in the West Bank. This weak government.which represents only one segment of the Palestinian people, has been chosen by the western governments to seek a new peace plan with Israel
Before Bush left office, he wanted to be identified with a successful peace plan. To advance the peace objective, the U.S. president organized a one-day international conference at Annapolis, Maryland on December 12, 2007. The conference had no notable results and subsequent meetings of the Palestinian Authority and Israel have had no agreements nor accomplished anything to advance peace.
The year 2008 ended with the Palestinians and Israelis still at square one, probably no more advanced in settling the issues than they were twenty years ago. A worsened dispute that grows more dangerous each day has, as other domestic and international problems, been ceded to the Obama administration for resolution.
The U.S. has helped to achieve the opposite of what it claims it wanted. It almost seems that the U.S. does not want a just solution to the problem; it only wants Israel to control the entire area, regardless of the injustices to the Palestinians. The continuing conflict and U.S. impartiality to Israel is cited as a principal reason for Arab and Muslim hostility to the United States. It is also one of the reasons for terrorism against the United States. The Israel/Palestinian war affects the military directions of many countries. It could lead to a nuclear war.
The Obama administration efforts have been intensive, contradictory, backtracking and hopeless. From talking tough against Israel’s settlement and occupation policies, the State Department has become compliant and yielding. Israel continues construction of new houses, especially in Jerusalem. Peace was never farther away.
Once, the most prosperous, most beautiful and most hospitable of all of the Middle East countries has been partially destroyed by its indirect relationship to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. U.S. involvement in Lebanon’s affairs never had positive results. In the Eisenhower administration, during a short period of political uncertainty, U.S. marines landed on the Lebanese beaches. They stayed and they left. It was never clear why they had arrived. During the latter stages of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980′s, the U.S. together with other European countries dispatched warships and marines to Lebanon. Although the U.S. claimed it had entered a sovereign country to protect it, U.S. warships responded to spurious attacks on U.S. marines by shelling the Lebanese mountains and killing scores of people. A Lebanese group retaliated by blowing up the marine barracks and killing more than 200 marines. U.S. policy in Lebanon left many killed on both sides. It helped save Arafat’s PLO and enabled him and his organization to move to Tunisia.
Lebanon is probably the most anti-Israel country in the world and, for this reason, despite U.S. protests, Syria maintained, until 2006, a strong presence in Lebanon. U.S. specification of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization has only complicated the situation and strengthened Hezbollah’s representation in the Lebanese parliament. The radical Islamic group holds fourteen seats as part of the Resistance Bloc coalition, which has a total of 35 seats, in Lebanon’s 128-member parliament under . Hezbollah-funded schools and hospitals serve thousands of mostly poor residents in southern Lebanon who favor the party because of its success in forcing Israel to end the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The party’s well-equipped private army has a significant arsenal that includes guns, rockets, a new drone spy plane and sufficient authority to operate almost as an independent government in southern Lebanon.
In 2006, Hezbollah had an opportunity to use its arsenal, but at great cost.
Hezbollah was responsible for violating Israel territory and abducting two of Israel’s soldiers. Israel was responsible for the escalation of the crisis into a full scale war and for the terrible loss of lives. Regardless of Israel’s horrific response, Hezbollah’s border action served to destabilize and destroy parts of Lebanon. To save its reputation, Hezbollah allowed Lebanese to be killed. It has demonstrated its strength did not match its rhetoric, once again exposed the weakness and lack of solidarity of the Arab world and revealed the inability of international institutions to respond to the brutality of Israel’s military. Who received blame for Israel’s destructive actions? Many Lebanese are convinced that the U.S. propelled Israel to war against Hezbollah in order to destroy the Shiite ally of Iran and weaken Iranian influence in the Levant. Condoleeza Rice has been accused of requesting Israel to continue the war, including the dropping of fragmentation bombs after the truce had been signed, but before it went into effect.Lebanon became another powder keg; an arena where U.S. demonstrated its interference has a negative effect.
Contrary to predictions of Civil War and anarchy, Lebanon made a recovery to stability. On May 25, 2008, the Lebanese Parliament elected Army chief Michel Suleiman as Lebanon’s president. Two months later, president Suleiman announced the formation of a new National Unity government. The events proved to be a victory for the United States’ principal foe in Lebanon. As part of the election negotiations, the government agreed to Hezbollah’s demand for effective veto power over major government decisions.
Stability in the Levant has been emphasized by a great improvement of relations between Syria and Lebanon. After having agreed in October 2008 to establish diplomatic ties for the first time since they both gained independence 60 years ago. President Michel Suleiman described relations with Syria as “back to normal” and stressed ” they were built on sincerity and frankness.” Another blow to U.S. policy.An announcement in December 2008 by Lebanon’s defense minister that Russia had offered to give the country 10 MIG-29 fighter jets provides additional evidence of U.S. declining influence in Lebanon.
It seems that Lebanon cannot tolerate more than two years of stability. Hezbollah and its allies demonstrated the power they have achieved during years when U.S. diplomats labored ferociously to diminish the authority of the Party of God. After failing to convince the government to repudiate and not cooperate with a UN investigation into the killing of Rafik al-Hariri, father of present Prime Minister Saad Hariri, on January 12, 2010, Hezbollah and its allies, forced a government collapse, due to the resignation of more than one-third of its ministers. The Hezbollah that U.S. interventions indirectly assisted in creating, continues to strengthen while U.S. influence becomes less effective.
The total failure of U.S. polices in Lebanon achieved fruition when Hezbollah and its allies were able to propose the appointment of a new Lebanese Prime Minister. In late January 2011, Lebanon’s president appointed Hezbollah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as prime minister. A majority of Lebanese lawmakers voted for Mikati to replace acting Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The African countries don’t possess economic and military muscle. For those reasons, the U.S. has generally treated central African countries with benign neglect. In some countries, notably Egypt, South Africa and the earlier Zimbabwe, U.S. policy has been mildly constructive. In addition to endless violent wars, U.S. administrations have waged a “war against drugs,” with equal failures. Africa highlights those failures.
As Mexican cartels take control of drug shipments from South America to the United States, Colombian cartels have begun moving cocaine through West Africa to Europe.
Ousmane Conté, the son of then President Lansana Conté, went to prison for drug trafficking.
Wiki’s exposed cables showed the effects on Mali, and Ghana, where traffickers smuggle drugs through the airport’s “VIP lounge.” D.E.A. cited a case where three men from Mali, accused of plotting to transport tons of cocaine across northwest Africa, were charged under a narco-terrorism statute. The men were linked to both Al Qaeda and its North African affiliate, called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma moved to prosecute and extradite three South American traffickers who were seized with about 1,500 pounds of cocaine, while his attorney general was accused of offering to release them for $2.5 million in bribes.The D.E.A. reported that diplomats at the Liberian Embassy were using official vehicles to transport drugs across the border because they were not getting paid by their war-torn government and “had to fend for themselves.”
The South African policy, that included embargo of many goods, assisted in the termination of Apartheid and a government of reconciliation. In Zimbabwe, the United States did not contend the evolution of the former white led Rhodesia to a majority black led Zimbabwe. The political frameworks of the latter countries, where Nelson Mandela, an ardent communist, became the president of South Africa, and where Mugabe formed a leftist government in Zimbabwe, demonstrate that the U.S. could cooperate with leftist leaders and their government would not imperil U.S. interests. U.S. policies towards the African countries have not assisted them in alleviating their continual poverty, internal wars and economic catastrophes.
REPUBLIC of CONGO
The Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, and previously the Republic of Congo, is an example of the complete cycle of a U.S. policy that ends in desolation.
In 1959, popular revolts and demands for independence from Belgium forced the Belgian government to negotiate with rebellious parties. During elections in 1960, the Congolese National Movement (MNC), directed by Patrice Lumumba, became the country’s strongest party. Lumumba, already recognized as one of Africa’s most vociferous leaders of anti-colonial liberation movements, became Prime Minister of the Congo Republic immediately before the country’s independence on June 30, 1960. He had a difficult task and could not control the many factions that desired the Congo’s resources and riches. His socialist leanings and avowed non-alignment policies prevented him from acquiring the U.S. as an ally. Within one month, Katanga, the Congo’s richest province, with the assistance of the major powers, seceded. On September 14, Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko effectively neutralized the Congo’s institutions and its leaders. The military placed Lumumba under house arrest and protection by the United Nations. After several transfers of his confinement, Patrice Lumumba, and two of his comrades were killed on January 17, 1961. The official reason for his death–accidentally shot while attempting to escape.
The complicity of the United States and the CIA in this unfortunate episode has not been definitely proved. Many informed persons take it for granted that the CIA played a leading role in Lumumba’s demise. In any case, the United States motivated the anti-Lumumba activities by demonstrating its disapproval of Lumumba and by not giving him adequate protection. U.S. total support for Mobutu, who seized power of the Congo in 1965 and reigned for 32 years, hints at U.S. involvement in the Congo’s affairs. After changing the country name to Zaire, Mobutu ruled as a despot. In 1980, he banned all political parties, except his own. Although he created unity among the country’s 200 ethnic groups and nationalized the mining industries, he personally controlled 70% of the country’s wealth, valued at 5 billion dollars. At his death in 1997, he was personally responsible for 80% of Congo debts.
Laurent-Denise Kabila, originally an avowed communist and with a vision similar to Lumumba, forced a dissipated Mobutu from power in early 1997. A physically weakened Kabila inherited a country in ruins that soon found itself in a brutal civil war with insurgents backed by Rwanda and Uganda governments. Kabila was assassinated on 16 January 2001, and his son became head of state. Almost two years later, in December 2002, Joseph Kabila succeeded in obtaining a “peace” agreement between all remaining warring parties, and was able to set up a government of national unity. After 35 years of U.S. involvement in sharing its prosperous affairs and little involvement in relieving its pains, the resource rich Congo, the most promising of the liberated central African countries, is an economic, political and social bankrupt nation.
Twenty-four million citizens have registered to vote in the first nation-wide elections to be held in more than forty years. The electoral process began with approval by referendum of a new constitution on December 18 and 19, 2005. The election of legitimate leaders was scheduled for June, 2006.
However, the DRC has intermittent pockets of conflict. Government soldiers, who were sent to reinforce the eastern part of the nation, have clashed with former Rwandan-backed rebels. Added to the threat of renewed war is the displacement of people from the Goma war, estimated recently by Jan Egeland, U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, at 2.5 million, and also the affects on the population of war related diseases and malnutrition. According to the International Rescue Committee, and reported by the Voice of America on Dec. 9, 2004, more than 1,000 Congolese civilians are dying each day from illness and poor diet. Reports continue into 2006, that the Congo still has a severe humanitarian crisis, with 38,000 people dying each month . The government dismisses the reports and terms them as “a big lie,” whose “figures are very exaggerated.“
December 2006 had the Democratic Republic of Congo begin its road to democracy with Joseph Kabila as the elected president. An advisor to President Joseph Kabila was named head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new National Assembly in a late December ballot that had Kabila associates gaining key parliamentary posts.
The Democratic Republic of Congo road to democracy stalled. The years of U.S. supported Mobutu Sese Seko rule still don;t look good; however the years of Joseph Kabila rule did not proved to be much better. The resource rich nation breeds conflicts and sub-conflicts.
The simmering campaign, which began began as a local insurgency by Rebel leader Laurent Nkundato address grievances of a Tutsi minority, has grown into another civil war that threatens to replace the government of President Joseph Kabila. For a short period, Nkundacontrolled large parts of eastern Congo and gained strength, both militarily and with the people. One view presented Nkunda’s rule as rapacious with looting and killing. However, a more sober UN report claims that the regions under his control show high morale and signs of order, with a caveat that Nkunda received support from the Rwandan government. All of this changed.
The New York Times, Oct. 4, 2010
In January 2009, General Nkunda was arrested. Many of his rebel followers agreed to join government forces. Congo and Rwanda embarked on an unprecedented joint military operation to clear the eastern region of long entrenched fighters. But experienced observers note that all the years of cross-border meddling and intrigue make it extremely difficult to tell whether the new Rwanda-Congo relationship is a genuine and lasting change.
Despite more than 10 years of experience and billions of dollars, the peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most elemental task: protecting civilians. The United Nations’ blue-helmets are considered the last line of defense in eastern Congo, given that the nation’s own army has a long history of abuses, that the police are often invisible or drunk and that the hills are teeming with rebels. Nevertheless, many critics contend that nowhere else in the world has the United Nations invested so much and accomplished so little.
Fifty years after the 1961 killing of elected leader Patrice Lumumba and two his comrades, the turmoil that ensued from the stroke never ceases in the Congo. Reports have over five million people killed in the last decade of strifes, life expectancy down to only 45.8 years and 73% of the population living in poverty.
Angola became a victim of the Cold War immediately after it achieved independence from Portugal. All of its insurgent groups, identified by acronyms such as MPLA, FLNA and UNITA had alliances with anti-American left wing international organizations. The MPLA had close ties to Moscow and received military training from Cuban forces. UNITA leader, Jonas Savimba, a late entry to the insurgency, considered himself a Maoist and was prepared to organize the country in accord with Mao’s principles. Roberto Holden, an avowed Marxist, commanded the FLNA. After a group of disillusioned military officers led by General Antonio de Spinola, overthrew the Lisbon government and granted independence to Angola on July 14, 1974, the three groups formed a short lived coalition. The alliance broke down, and the MPLA, which emerged as the most powerful group, obtained the government positions of the departing Portuguese. With Agostinho Neto as head of state, the MPLA extended political control over much of the country. The FLNA and UNITA joined forces to combat the MPLA. The U.S. role in the Angola civil war became obvious–spoil MPLA’s nation building plan.
Initially, the U.S. supported the Marxist FLNA. As the MPLA became stronger, the U.S. also funded the Maoist UNITA. The State department ignored MPLA’s business alliances with U.S. oil companies, and its attempts to secure friendly relations with many Western countries and invites to foreign investment. Rather than encourage investment and improve relations, the State department pressured the oil companies to cease operations in Cabinda, Angola’s oil producing region. Neto died in 1979 and Jose Eduardo Santos, the new Prime Minister, favored a mixed economy with an important role for the private sector. The United States made no attempt to improve relations and blocked Angola’s admission to the United Nations. After years, in which the CIA had continually funded the rival groups and promoted a covert program to solicit European and American mercenaries to fight with the FLNA, the U.S., in 1988, offered to normalize relations with Angola. The offer had one condition–a mutual settlement with UNITA. The MPLA agreed, and in that year the MPLA and UNITA negotiated a regional peace agreement. Although UNITA members served in the new Angola government of Unity and Reconciliation, Jonas Savimbi, the UNITA leader, rejected a UN monitored election and retreated back to the provinces. The war resumed after the failure of peace accords the parties had signed in November 1994.
The U.S. had only a negative policy in Angola–remove the Cuban supported group from power. The only replacement, Jonas Savimbi, had a more radical philosophy than the MPLA and yet the U.S. supported him for a long time. The Clinton administration withdrew support for Savimbi but he continued guerrilla tactics against the Angola government until his death in 2002. Primarily due to U.S. support of Jonas Savimbi, Angola is a ruined country and the people have suffered greatly. If Maoist Savimbi had gained power, what would the U.S. have done?
After the country slowly rebuilt itself from 27 years of civil war, the Angolan government budgeted for elevated economic growth in 2005, making the African nation one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. One notable source of funding for Angolan construction projects comes from China, that extended Angola a $2 billion credit line to rebuild roads, railways and bridges destroyed during the war.
Because Jonas Savimbi, originally propped up with U.S. support, passed from the scene, Angola’s mining and oil rich economy has been on a tear. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessed Angola’s economic growth at 14% in 2005 and 5% growth in 2006. This forecast has been lowered to 15% GDP, and if oil prices remain steady, GDP growth should continue into future years.The growth has been much higher, going from $14 billion in 2004 to $84 billion in 2009. Since then it has remained steady.
Somalia is another country that became caught in the East-West struggle. Muhammad Syad Barre, who became the Somalia leader after a bloodless coup in 1969, initially aligned his country with the Soviet Union. Problems with Ethiopia, a close ally of the Soviet Union, moved Syad Barre away from the East bloc and more towards an alignment with the Arab states. After the Ethiopians prevented the ethnic Somali who lived in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia from seizing the region, the U.S. agreed to provide humanitarian and military assistance to Somalia. In return, Somalia granted to the U.S. the naval base at Berbera that had previously been a Soviet naval base. As in other Third World countries, the United States found itself financing a leader whose regime slowly became repressive, corrupt and unpopular. Armed opposition to Barre started in 1988. On June 27, 1991, Siyad Barre, after ruling Somalia for 22 years, fled the country. The fighting that ensued between rival groups caused a societal breakdown that led to periodic famines. U.S. financial and military support had achieved nothing for Somalia.
In December 1992, the UN responded to Somalia’s anarchy and famines by dispatching a “peace-keeping” force that included 2000 U.S. marines. U.S. and UN policies in Somalia became intertwined. Nevertheless, U.S. actions in Somalia must be evaluated separately. And what were these actions? First, it appears that the U.S. humanitarian troops had arrived after the famine had subsided. News reports stated that the U.S. found no famine in the capital, Mogadishu. They expected to find it inland in Baidoa. No famine in Baidoa. The famine had retreated to the villages. Reports from the villages did not disclose famines. The UN and U.S. marines did not go home.
Instead, marines began house to house searches for weapons and caused several casualties in the searches. On June 5, 1993, UN troops attempted to close the radio station commanded by Mohammed Farah Aideed, one of the contenders for Somali leadership. Aideed had credentials. He had been a Somali ambassador and had been elected chairman of the United Somali Congress by a 2/3 vote. He declared his faction to be the legitimate Somalia government. In repelling the attack, Somali militiamen killed 24 Pakistani troops. This action propelled the U.S. forces into a five-month manhunt for Aideed. In the process, the marines engaged in several “shoot outs” with Somali, including the killing of two children who had climbed into marine vehicles and reached for their sunglasses. After 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and their corpses dragged through the Mogadishu streets, the U.S. military left Somalia.
According to the NY Times, December 8, 1993, UN/U.S. forces inflicted 6,000 to 10,000 casualties on the Somali. UN Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni estimated that 2/3 of the casualties were women and children. The Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1993, estimated that only a small fraction of the UN relief efforts benefited Somalia. Foreign business people profited from fast food sales to the UN soldiers, a $9 million sewer system in the UN/U.S. headquarters and helicopter flights for Western officials. Twenty years of U.S. policy in Somalia–anarchy, wasted money, many Somali and American dead.
Somalia finally obtained a new president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who had to go to Nairobi, Kenya in October, 2004 to be sworn into office. The new Transitional Federal Government, consisting of a 275-member parliament was established in October 2004, It also remained in Nairobi and has not established effective governance inside Somalia
Nevertheless, fighting continues.
Fighting between warring factions has continued since the country’s dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Up to one million Somalis have died in the civil war due to fighting, famine and disease, and around two million have fled the country. Mogadishu, the capital, remains divided between tribal leaders with an estimated 60,000 armed men still roaming the streets. Yemen Times. Dec. 29, 2004.
On Dec. 19, 2004 the UN Security Council requested all countries to enforce an arms embargo against Somalia. Subsequently, rival leaders met, and on January 5, 2006, again signed a deal they hope will reunite Somalia, allowing the transitional parliament to assemble in the next 30 days for the first time on Somali soil. This never happened.
Reports had the U.S. secretly supporting Somali warlords in order to prevent Islamic groups from capturing Mogadishu. From out of nowhere, an Islamic group known as the Islamic Courts Union, seized control of much of Somalia, including its capital. In a sharp reversal, and against UN policies, Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia and recaptured Mogadishu. Both Ethiopia and the U.S. have legitimate fears that Somalia could become a major training ground for Al Queda terrorists.
In 2007, Somalia showed it is a victim of Newtonian dynamics, a body set in motion remains in motion. The initial push came from the U.S. 1993 entry into the African nation. The American antagonism to Mohammed Farah Aideed, a nationalist who did not support Al Qaeda and could have pacified Somalia, eventually drove a nation into the arms of Taliban look-alikes, another great success of U.S. foreign policy. Mohammed Farah Aideed’s son, Hussein Farah Aideed has been Somalia’s interior minister in the interim government that has U.S. support. His father would have been proud of him. Nevertheless, at the end of 2007, the new Somalia looked like the old Somalia. Anarchy ruled the nation.
27 December 2007
Somalia’s New Reality: A Strategic Overview
Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein
Events during the weeks following PINR’s December 11 report on Somalia have confirmed its judgment that the country has settled into a chronic condition of statelessness characterized by devolution of the political community to clan-based solidarities, dispersion of power to local warlords and insurgent groups, and resultant multi-faceted conflicts.
With the collapse of Somalia’s internationally-supported Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) after a power struggle between its president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and its then prime minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, ended with the latter’s resignation on October 29, Somalia has lacked even the semblance of the possibility of an effectively functioning government.
Enter The Islamic Courts Union ( ICU), a group of Islamists, who preach Shariah law, were able to form a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, with Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as its leader. The ICU actually, controlled most of southern Somalia and the vast majority of its population, including most major cities including the capital Mogadishu until the end of 2006. However, with obvious U.S. prompting, Ethiopian troops on July. 20, 2006, invaded Somalia and deposed the ICU.
Despite the ICU partial success in stabilizing Somalia and gaining support from its people, the Ethiopians feared the fall of their TFG friends in the TFG clashed with their interests. For the U.S. administration, another fear existed: The Islamic militias would steer Somalia towards a Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalism.
“[Our] first concern, of course, would be to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaida safe haven, doesn’t become a place from which terrorists plot and plan,” President Bush said after learning of the Islamic militias’ takeover in the capital.
The downfall of the The Islamic Courts Union has not uplifted the Somali. Ethiopia, after creating anarchy in Somalia, prepared to move from anarchy to chaos by announcing the withdrawal of all of its forces by early 2009.
A new militia group, the Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents, have aggressively expressed opposition to the peace agreement between the Somali transitional government. A Washington Post report tells the story.
Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post Foreign Service
December 18, 2008;
Yusuf’s government began disintegrating almost from the start two years ago, when it was installed with the might of the Ethiopian army and help from the United States. Yusuf and his Ethiopian backers have faced a relentless insurgency made up of clan militias and, increasingly, a radical Islamist faction known as al-Shabab. The group, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, has in recent months advanced on cities and towns across a swath of southern Somalia and much of Mogadishu. Yusuf’s forces control just a few blocks in the capital.
The Shabab has thrived under the banner of fighting the Ethiopians, whom it views as proxies for the United States. But other than the exit of the Ethiopians and an end to U.S. involvement in Somalia, its goals are unclear.
In December 2008, the US backed Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, resigned.
A moderate Islamist government is headed by Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, a former high school teacher who became president in February 2009. The Sheik represents an unusual Somali political center, a blend of moderate and more strident Islamic beliefs, with the emphasis on religion, not clan.
As of the beginning of 2011, the Shabab ruled much of Somalia. To support the Mogadishu government, the U.S. has shipped tons of weapons to Somalia to keep Sheik Sharif’s government alive. All to no avail. Many of his commanders have ties to the Islamist rebels, and several government officers report that a large share of the American weapons are detoured into rebel hands.
“On Oct. 15, 2010, fighting broke out in central Somalia between two moderate Islamist militias that the United States and others had been counting on, as part of a new strategy, to stave off the Shabab. The fighting was a setback to the efforts to unite various clans and local administrations to push back the insurgents.”
“Somalia’s transitional government, initially considered to be the country’s best chance for stability in years, is faring poorly. Feckless and divided, it is holed up in a hilltop palace in Mogadishu, unable to deliver services, mobilize the people or provide a coherent alternative to the insurgents.”
“The African Union peacekeepers were initially appreciated for standing up to the Shabab. Since then the peacekeepers have made enemies among the populace by shelling crowded neighborhoods in response to insurgent fire and inadvertently killing civilians.”
Amidst the turmoil, Somali developed a new form of income – piracy. Pirates seized 53 vessels worldwide in 2010, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in Kuala Lumpur.All but four were taken by Somali pirates. “More people were taken hostage at sea in 2010 than in any year since records began” in 1991, the organization’s annual report said.
U.S. interference in Somali affairs have not brought stability to the troubled nation.
U.S. policy towards Libya can be regarded as a policy of a country directed against one person– Muhammar Qadhafi. After Qadhafi engineered the Libyan 1968 military revolution, he served as President of the Revolutionary Council from 1969 to 1977, and afterwards as General Secretary of The People’s General Congress. He relinquished his duties as General Secretary of the General people’s Congress in March 1979 but remained as chief of the armed forces and a sometime Head of State. Today, Qadhafi does not hold any official public office and only assumes the title of Revolutionary Leader. Nevertheless, his detractors claim he is still the “unofficial” Head of State of a Libya that has a complete legislative branch with an elected head of government, a cabinet and a Supreme Court. Qadhafi has significant power in Libya, but by framing a policy that considers only his power, the U.S. disregarded other Libyan power blocs.
The U.S. accepted a revolutionary Libya that expelled all foreign forces and closed their bases. It could not accept:
- Libya’s perceived attempts to unite the Arab world against U.S. diplomatic and military presence in the Middle East,
- its initiatives against Israel,
- its nationalization of an economy that displaced foreign interests, and
- its weakening of foreign control of Libya’s oil resources.
Actually, few of these policies followed U.S. perceptions. Libya could not unite the Arab world against the U.S. Except for the oil price rises during the 1970′s, neither Libya nor the Arab world harmed Western economic interests; Libyan policies have had little effect on Israel’s development and the U.S. oil companies were reasonably satisfied with their business relationship in bringing low sulfur Libyan oil to market. Nevertheless, the U.S. adopted aggressive policies towards Libya that escalated the confrontation over the years. The thrust of these polices were to replace Qadhafi and stop Libya’s contribution to terrorism. It is obvious that the first stated policy has failed. The bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and terrorist attacks in the U.S., none of which involved Libya, indicate that Libya’s contribution to the entire terrorism must have been small. The aggressive policy also exposed the error of a supposed belief that U.S. polices are dictated by the East-West conflict. After 1972, Libya had cool relations with the former Soviet Union.
Libya did not deny it had training grounds for recruits that represented a variety of national liberation movements and that it provided financial support to Palestinian liberation organizations. Nevertheless, the Libyan role was a minor counterbalance to the huge U.S. financial and military support of those who repressed liberation movements and, by authoritarian actions, caused international terrorism. Another significant point: Libya gained no economic or material benefit from its support of “liberation” movements. The Libyans declared in 1981 that, to them, it was a matter of principle. For the U.S., intervention has been mostly a matter of safeguarding interests and gaining economic benefits.
Libyans protested U.S. policy in Iran by burning the U.S. embassy in Tripoli in December 1979. On August 19,1981, U.S. jets downed two Libyan air force planes during U.S. maneuvers in the Libyan Gulf of Sidra. On March 25, 1986, U.S. navy planes bombarded civilian targets in Libya’s Gulf. They also attacked a Libyan Coast Guard boat in which all 10 sailors were reported killed. Another attack on a ship resulted in the crew leaving the ship. The Libyans claimed that all 42 men, while swimming to shore, were machine gunned to death.
U.S. intelligence agencies accused Libya of a terrorist attack on the LaBelle disco club in Berlin, Germany. Two U.S. servicemen were among those killed in the attack. President Reagan demanded retribution for the disco club bombing and, on April 14, 1986, the U.S. mounted air attacks on the Libyan mainland. In these attacks, a bombing of Qadhafi’s house killed the leader’s adopted child. In November 2001, a Berlin court convicted three Libyans and one Palestinian in the LaBelle disco club bombing. The attacks on Libya signaled U.S. determination to defend against any terrorist attacks on its citizens. The attacks did not accomplish its purpose. On December 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. One Libyan agent has been convicted in that bombing.
In 1992, U.S. sanctions, some of which were adopted by the UN, prohibited weapons contracts, economic ties and investment by US firms and most travel to Libya. On September 12, 2003, the UN security council lifted the 11-year-old sanctions against Libya. France and the United States abstained, but 13 other member states voted to lift the arms embargo and end the ban on flights to Libya.
Fear, miscalculation, mistrust and an unnecessary aggressiveness guided U.S. policy towards Libya. They exposed the fact that aggressive policies were not only driven by Cold War relations. Hundreds died and the Libyan people suffered from sanctions before the policy achieved an apparent success. On December 19, 2003, Qadhafi agreed to discontinue developments of weapons of mass destruction and permit nuclear arms inspections. After 30 years of failing to align Libya with American interests and after 30 years of havoc due to the conflict, can U.S. policy with Libya be considered a successful policy? Did Libya finally give up on its trust in the Arab world, run out of steam in an endless conflict or adjust to realities of the day and not to U.S. policies? Could a different policy have achieved the same objective thirty years earlier?
March 2011, and an almost defeated rebel force in Libya is revived by the establishment of a NATO no-fly zone, which soon changes into A NATO fly only zone whose panes and missiles pepper Gadhafi’s ground forces. On the day its planes and drones attacked North African ground, NATO decided the outcome of the Libyan rebellion. Scratch out all rebel fighters and the Gadhafi led government remained doomed. A relatively strong Yugoslavian army could not repel NATO aerial attacks and eventually surrendered. How could a deficient Libyan military expect to prevail? A powerful world body took advantage of a major dispute between elements of a nation in order to impose its authority and satisfy its wants. NATO certainly wasn’t ‘t going to permit itself to lose or be involved in a stalemate.
Those who regarded the war as a simple rebellion of oppressed masses against an illegitimate and brutal dictator are as naive as those who believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had to be immediately defeated. Subscribing to Moammar Gadhafi’s removal for imposing his dubious Green philosophy on the nation and for his harsh and autocratic tactics might have been correct. Those are issues, but not the issues. Revelations from the Libyan civil war expose the issues, which are significantly disturbing and demand careful attention:
- The internationalization of only this local conflict, which was not different and less compelling than similar conflicts throughout the world, notably in Syria, Bahrain, Nigeria, and other places.
- Use of an unverified story to justify immediate NATO intervention – prevention of Gadhafi forces from taking violent retribution against the citizens of Benghazi.
- Media failure to accurately report the conflict, and replaced by an unusual and intensive propaganda that favored the rebels.
- Rejection of compromises to resolve the conflict while the nation was being destroyed and many were being killed, a contradiction to NATO’s reasons for entering the conflict.
- NATO impolitely going beyond the original Security Council Resolution to only provide a “no-fly” zone and instead leading the rebel offensive by a cowardly method – bombing a defenseless nation that had had no military means to counter the attacks.
- The constant and one-sided demonizing of leader Gadhafi, while not knowing if antagonists were any better.
- Neglect in examining Libya’s real problems of being a rentier nation that supports its population from principally oil exports, whose supply is limited and whose derived wealth needs careful distribution.
The aftermath of the NATO and rebel victory has not redefined a new Libya and is proving troublesome. One of many reports:
The Telegraph, Apr 2012, By Lauren Gambino
“Four people were killed and 35 others were wounded in Zuwarah,” located 60 miles west of Tripoli, the interim authorities said in a statement published online.But a doctor in Zuwarah reported a higher toll in the western town located near the border of Tunisia. Jawher Belhir said five people were killed and 42 wounded.The NTC also said 10 people were killed and 45 others wounded in the nearby towns of Regdalin and Jamil.
The fighting began over the weekend when former rebels from Zuwarah were detained as they attempted to pass through the town of Jamil. The authorities said they managed to negotiate their release, and after they were let go, armed men from Zuwarah launched an attack.
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Central America and Caribbean
The Monroe Doctrine warned countries outside the Western Hemisphere not to interfere in Latin America affairs. The Western Hemisphere protectorate policy that the United States established in 1821 did not exclude the U.S. from interfering in Latin American affairs. The cold war reinforced the interference. For the entire 19th century and almost the entire 20th century, the Latin American countries stagnated in poverty, illiteracy, corruption and disease. The active intervention in their affairs could not have been beneficial to them.
What could be more damaging to the United States in the 1960′s than to have the Soviet Union gain a foothold close to U.S. shores and create missile bases within firing range of U.S. territory? U.S. foreign policy planners succeeded in accomplishing those situations. Washington did not comprehend diplomacy and compromise and responded to the Castro government’s agrarian reform and expropriation of U.S. properties by imposing a trade embargo. The embargo motivated Cuba to seek economic assistance from the world’s Socialist countries. This further angered the U.S. and Washington severed diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 1961. The U.S. followed the diplomatic break with a U.S. trained invasion force that landed at the ill-fated Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. Ninety invaders from the Cuban exile community died and 1200 were captured. The legacy of the invasion? Castro, fearful of further attacks, succeeded in convincing the Soviet Union to provide a missile umbrella to counter further attacks. U.S. policy brought nuclear missiles close to its shores and the world close to nuclear war.
After settling the dispute by removing U.S. missile bases from Turkey and promising never to attack Cuba, the U.S., either from spite or more likely from not wanting an independent and socialist government to succeed in the Western hemisphere, continued a policy of isolating Cuba from the Latin American community and imposed additional sanctions. The “ups” and “downs” of U.S./Cuba relations couldn’t contain Cuba. The Caribbean country drew closer to the USSR and became a member of COMECON. Cuba provided combat forces for the government of Angola, for the Ethiopian regime in its war in the Ogaden, and for Socialist forces in Yemen. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cuba economy collapsed. The U.S. has taken advantage of this collapse with additional embargoes and attempts at isolation. The perilous condition of the Cuban people approached starvation but did not deter America from its aggressive policy.
The Cuban policy almost brought the U.S. into a nuclear war. It had other damaging consequences:
- An influx of Cuban refugees into Florida displaced black workers and created racial tensions.
- Cuba mixed hardened criminals with refugees during the Mariel sealift and forwarded many criminals to the United States.
- Foreign companies gained advantages over American companies in Cuban investments.
It’s Dec. 31, 2005, and 45 years to the day, Castro remains in power. The Cuban people suffer from American sanctions that are not forecasted to be less astringent in 2006. The success of the U.S. policy–maintaining Cuba in poverty so other nations in the Western hemisphere will see Cuba as an economic and social failure and thus realize that combating the U.S. is futile. Recent trends indicate this strategy has backfired.
Cuba claims its GDP grew by 11.8 percent in 2005. Two “white knights” are contributing to Cuba’s success.
Havana, Dec 29, 2005 (Prensa Latina)
Rising exports and good trade relations with China directly contributed to the current economic performance of the Caribbean island. Nickel, oil and transport investments are in motion with China, together with large credit dealings, and well as with Venezuela, part of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which has become a driving force of the Cuban economy.
Deja Vu!! It’s Dec. 31, 2006, and 46 years to the day, Castro is ill, but still remains in power. The Cuban people suffer from American sanctions that are not forecasted to be less astringent in 2007. The success of the U.S. policy–maintaining Cuba in poverty so other nations in the Western hemisphere will see Cuba as an economic and social failure and thus realize that combating the U.S. is futile. Recent trends indicate this strategy has backfired.
Recognized data published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean states the Cuban economy grew 12.5 percent in 2006. Data from the Office of National Statistics has the Cuban GDP increasing by 7% en 2007. The World Bank’s latest statistics show Cuba GDP, in constant U,S. dollars improving from $2700/capita to $4200/capita in 2008. An ill Fidel Castro handed power to his brother Raoul. No sensational changes in Cuba’ s political or economic directions have occurred.
What benefit have been the sanctions to U.S. foreign policy and to the Cuban people?
On Oct. 17, 2012, the Cuban government announced on Tuesday it will no longer require islanders to apply for an exit visa, eliminating a much-loathed bureaucratic procedure that has been a major impediment for many seeking to travel overseas. – Associated Press
U.S. policy towards Haiti is analogous to U.S. policy towards Iraq–ignore the oppression, act after the damage is done, fail to create viable institutions and watch the new administration drift into catastrophe. Forecasting the future of Iraq might be done by studying Haiti’s past and present.
The U.S. Marines invaded a Haiti wrought with internecine warfare in 1915 and began a 19 year military occupation. The invasion commander, Rear Adm. William Caperton, Jr. categorized the intervention as a means to “protect American and foreign interests.’’ Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler — the first commandant of the new U.S.-created Haitian constabulary — categorized his mission as a “glorified bill-collecting agency.’’
During the1920′s, American presidents Coolidge and Hoover introduced public works programs that energized Haiti’s economy. After the marines left, Haiti drifted back to chaos and corruption that culminated in the election of Francois Duvalier, who declared himself president for life in 1964.
Duvalier’s repressive and authoritarian rule angered the Kennedy administration and the U.S. suspended aid to Haiti in mid-1962. Nothing changed. Duvalier remained in power until his death in 1971. His 19 year old son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, became Haiti’s new leader. Unrest in Haiti continued and, in January 1986, the Reagan administration recommended the dictator’s departure. At the last minute, Jean-Claude decided to remain in Haiti.and his decision provoked violence.
After the United States Department of State cut aid to Haiti on January 31, 1986, the Haitian military forced Jean-Claude Duvalier to depart from Haiti on February 7, 1986. Haiti remained in economic decline and in 1990 the marginated population coalesced to elect liberation-theologian Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti with 67% of the popular vote.
Aristide could not resolve Haiti’s economic and social problems or thwart his powerful opposition. On September 30, 1991, supposedly with CIA approval and U.S. intelligence officers present at army headquarters, Haitian soldiers staged a coup and Gen. Raoul Cedras became de facto leader of the country.
The overthrow of a legally elected democratic government and a perception of oppression that was reinforced by massive amounts of boat refugees aroused progressives in the United States and Black groups, such as the Black Caucus and TransAmerica, to petition the Clinton government for action against the Haitian government. Unlike the Cuban refugees during that era, the Haitian refugees were not permitted easy entry to the United States. The Clinton administration realized it could resolve the refugee problem by ousting the Haitian government and returning Aristide to power.
On July 31, 1994, the UN passed Resolution 940 that allowed the U.S. to lead a multinational force to force the departure of the Haitian military chiefs. At the last minute, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter managed to negotiate the exit of General Raoul Cedras and other Haitian leaders and permit a 28-nation multinational force of 20,000-strong, led by the United States, to enter Haiti. On 15 October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti, and as part of Carter’s negotiated agreement, recovered his presidency.
Aristide’s governing repeated his earlier presidency — chaos, friction and economic decline. The constitution barred Aristide from serving a second term when his term elapsed in 1996 and Rene Preval provided a four year interlude for Aristide. On February 7, 1996, Preval was inaugurated as the President of Haiti. In the next election on November 26, 2000, Aristide was re-elected president and sworn in as Haiti’s president on February 7, 2001. Aristide ran virtually unopposed. Many opposition groups boycotted the election and accused his Lavalas Party of fraud.
Almost ninety years after the U.S. marines invaded Haiti in 1915 to bring stability to Haiti and end its internecine warfare, Haiti is in chaos and internecine warfare.
- Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere; GDP/capita year 2001 of $1860.
- International observers are critical of the election that made Aristide president.
- The opposition refused to recognize Aristide as president and a 15-party opposition alliance, Convergence, announced its own alternative president.
- The Organization of American States (OAS) said 10 Senate seats won by Aristide candidates should have gone to a second round vote.
- Some countries have threatened to withhold aid if the Aristide government does not revise the senate election results.
- The European Union blocked $49 million in aid to Haiti, and $17.7 million intended to help cover the country’s budget deficit was also suspended.
- After mid-September 2003 and into the year 2004 hundreds have been killed in political violence.
Haiti Protests Draw Musicians, Artists – PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer, Dec. 23, 2003.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Some of Haiti’s most famous musicians on Tuesday held a free concert calling for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s resignation while artists painted rainbows over pro-government graffiti. The coalition of more than 1,000 musicians, painters and writers organized the demonstration at the University of Haiti to show solidarity with students who were attacked by Aristide partisans earlier this month. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been in turmoil since Aristide’s Lavalas Family party swept flawed 2000 elections.
“When I was a student here 20 years ago I used to sing against the dictatorship,” said Sweet Mickey singer Michel Martelly, referring to Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier. “Twenty years later nothing’s changed.”
In a repeat of past history Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been ousted and is in exile. UN peacekeepers struggle against anarchy. Haiti is back to 1984. And why? The New York Times. Jan. 29, 2006:
Mr. Curran (former U.S. ambassador) accused the democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute, of trying to undermine the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 Senate elections threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The group’s leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Mr. Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power, said Mr. Curran, whose account is supported in crucial parts by other diplomats and opposition figures.
In February 2006, the Haitian people re-elected former president Rene Preval. The Electoral Council declared Preval did not have a majority, but local and international protests prompted the Electoral Council to reverse its decision and declare Preval the winner. The Haitian people still have not won. During 2006 Haiti drifted into more anarchy and violence. A surge in crime, most notably kidnappings, even of children, has brought severe retaliation by government security forces. The U.S. sponsored 1994 departure of General Raoul Cedras and other Haitian leaders and its forceful actions that promoted a 28-nation multinational force of 20,000-strong, led by the United States, to enter Haiti, might have seemed to be a good idea at the time. The U.S. directed policies have not turned out well for the Haitian people.
Haitian President Rene Preval has called for a fight against corruption and praised the ongoing efforts to stabilize the corrupt country. Prevail said that the country has been in an ongoing chaos and turmoil since former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was exiled in 2004.
The years pass in Haiti, but President Preval’s remarks indicate that nothing changes.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti april 2008— A desperate appeal from the president Wednesday failed to restore order to Haiti’s shattered capital, and bands of looters sacked stores, warehouses and government offices.Gunfire rang out from the wealthy suburbs in the hills to the starving slums below as 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers were unable to halt a frenzy of looting and violence that has grown out of protests over rising food prices.
Many of the protesters are demanding the resignation of the U.S.-backed president, Rene Preval, and on Tuesday U.N. peacekeepers had to fire rubber bullets and tear gas to drive away a mob that tried to storm his palace.He delivered his first public comments Wednesday, nearly a week into the protests. With his job on the line, Preval urged Congress to cut taxes on imported food and appealed to the rioters to go home.
A massive earthquake, which struck Haiti just before on Jan. 12, 2010 demonstrated how U.S. interference has only brought to Haiti a fragile social fabric and an incompetent government. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimated that the total cost of the disaster was between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000.
Police forces usually provide immediate relief to earthquake victims, to rescue those under the rubble and prevent rioting, thievery and looting. The government convenes and tries to chart a path to recovery, and officials circulate among the people to give them confidence. Television and media did not report appearances of police forces and government officials. No trucks, earth moving or heavy equipments were shown – not even a shovel.
The day following the earthquake, the president was located at the airport. In an interview, he only noted his Presidential Palace had been destroyed and he had no place to sleep. Imagine a president cannot find a military barracks, hotel or associate to give him a place to sleep.
Several days later, after leaving a meeting of his government, President Preval’s only words were that he was told the place was not safe and he had to go elsewhere – little about the meeting.
Only private citizens were seen digging for survivors, and when they needed additional assistance only foreign aid workers came to their aid. When CNN, which showed dead bodies being dumped in a field, questioned a Haitian minister about this practice, the minister denied it was happening and didn’t volunteer to see the site. She also could not explain why many bodies were not being identified before being dumped or buried.
Where were the Haitian ambassadors? There didn’t seem to be any effort to coordinate and bring relief from neighboring Dominican Republic. In a CNN interview with the Haitian ambassador to U.S., the diplomat claimed that since he was in Washington he couldn’t know what was happening in Port-au Prince. The ambassador rudely hung up the telephone after being when asked if he contacted his government.
Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Haiti’s Prime Minister questioned why there were a scarce number of heavy tents. The PM response: “We are looking into that. Even President Preval went to look into the matter.” As for the lack of government assistance, the Prime Minister claimed the government depleted its prepared reserves for this type of calamity and needed foreign aid. These “reserves” were not evident on television.
A year after the quake, and despite billions in pledged relief, only 5 percent of the rubble had been cleared, and nearly 1 million people still lived in tents or under tarps, according the international aid agency Oxfam. Government inaction and lack of money have hampered plans to build massive communities to lure people out of the tent cities. Eduardo Marques Almeida, the resident representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, said his organization had had to scuttle various housing projects because there was a lack of suitable land — and multiple ownership claims on some parcels.
Another example of how U.S. foreign policy has been counterproductive. From the Associated Press:
Haiti presidential candidate ‘may pull out’
(AFP) – January 25, 2011
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haitian President Rene Preval’s ruling party candidate Jude Celestin is considering withdrawing from the presidential race, Senator Joseph Lambert, a senior party official, said Tuesday. Celestin could “withdraw his candidature in the next hours,” said Lambert, a senior official with the INITE (Unity in Creole) party, speaking on Radio Metropole. In preliminary results of the November 28 presidential election made public by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), Celestin would face off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat in a second round of voting. However a monitoring team from the Organization of American States (OAS) regional bloc advised the CEP to revise its initial results because of widespread fraud. If the CEP follows the advice of the OAS team, popular singer Michel Martelly would face Manigat in the second round run-off instead of Celestin. Opposition candidates accuse Preval and the CEP of orchestrating massive fraud in favor of Celestin to ensure he made it through to the second round, which has now been delayed.
The United Nations has said it hopes the run-off will be held in mid-February.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Apr 4, 2011
Reuters – Singer Michel Martelly won Haiti’s presidential election with 67.57 percent of the vote, compared with 31.74 percent for rival Mirlande Manigat, according to official preliminary results released on Monday.
Guatemala 1951 to 2004
In 1951, Guatemala elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, a reformer who considered the grievances of the lower and middle classes. By mentioning the words “land reform” and “organizing labor,” Arbenz and his intended policies infuriated the banana companies and U.S. politicians. In 1954, a group of Guatemala exiles, armed and trained by the CIA and commanded by Colonel Carlos Castillos Armas, invaded Guatemala and forced out the legitimately elected president. Since then, Guatemala has been ruled by military dictatorships. With U.S. military and economic assistance, these governments suppressed political activity and provoked those willing to seek political and social change by peaceful means into pursuing the changes by violent confrontations. After a brutal suppression of guerrilla activity, civilian leaders in 1985 returned to govern with the military watching in the wings. In 1996, the Guatemala government signed a peace accord with guerrilla forces and ended a conflict.
After the accords, a trail of evidence and admissions by the Guatemala military began to confirm what many had suspected: The U.S. government had linked itself to a suppression that some claim caused 110,000 Mayan Indian lives, and razed thousands of villages in an effort to destroy a guerrilla force estimated at 2,000 armed rebels. U.S. and Guatemala officials acknowledged that the CIA transferred millions of dollars to the Guatemala military and provided intelligence to their army. Another example of a U.S. policy that went full cycle and during the cycle brought a nation to near self-destruction.
El Salvador 1972-2004
In 1972, a coalition led by Jose Napoleon Duarte, head of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), appeared to win the El Salvador presidential election. Instead of taking office he found himself arrested and exiled by the military. During the following years, a repressive military government maintained power and provoked left-wing guerrilla groups to overthrow an illegitimate government. Partly due to the urgings of the U.S. government, the military junta in January 1980 offered concessions to moderate and leftist groups. Duarte returned from exile to become the country’s leader. Despite social and economic reforms, the military still seemed to rule the nation.
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition of rebel forces, armed itself with a variety of military equipment, including leftover weapons shipped from the battle fields of Vietnam through Nicaragua and to the FMLN. The equipped FMLN declared war on the government. The war had two characteristics–an overt war between military forces and a war against civilian populations. It has been estimated that the latter war claimed the most lives. Right wing death squads terrorized the local villages and assassinated political opponents. In 1980, they killed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a Catholic “liberation” theologian. El Salvador troops violated and massacred four nuns. The wars escalated until the FMLN almost captured the entire country. The government repulsed the offensive and, although a “no-win” situation emerged, the violence continued.
The Reagan administration used counter-insurgency as the reason for interference in El Salvador affairs. Economic and military aid to El Salvador from 1981-1992 amounted to $1 million/day in a country of 5.2 million people, and became contingent on political and social reforms. El Salvador struggled for a democratic face and managed to have elections during that period. Military aid peaked at $197 million in 1984 and economic aid peaked at $462 million in 1987. The U.S. policy of countering insurgency and demanding reforms contradicted actuality. The U.S. did not demand the resolution of the murders of Romero, nuns and political opponents, and did not condemn the burning of villages and many other obvious human rights violations. U.S. troops advised the El Salvador military and secretly engaged in military operations. Amnesty International concluded that the paramilitary death squads received covert financial support and military training from the United States.
The El Salvador military realized that the collapse of the USSR meant the end of massive U.S. support. After years of war, the competing groups agreed in 1990 to peace talks. Under the agreement, the FMLN and the El Salvador government disbanded their respective forces and formed a new civilian police force that included National police and FMLN members. In a 1994 election, ARENA, the already established government, retained their power and the FMLN established itself as a legitimate opposition party that could operate without government suppression.
From the U.S. perspective, preventing the fall of an El Salvador government that might have led to government control by a leftist FMLN allied with the Soviet Union, vindicated Washington’s policy. U.S. policy did not prove effective until the country had destroyed itself.
El Salvador has not fully recovered from its civil war. GDP, real growth rate, is estimated at 1.8% (CIA Factbook, 2004 est.). GDP per capita, purchasing power parity is at $4,900 (CIA Factbook 2004 est.) Foreign remittances from emigrant workers support the economy. If the U.S. had been able to mediate the differences, and stop the destructive war much earlier, it could claim a successful policy.
Dominican Republic 1962-2004
U.S. interventions in Dominican Republic affairs have occurred often in the century. In 1962, the heir to Trujillo’s reign, Joaquin Balaguer, was defeated in an election by Dr. Juan Bosch, a leftist reformer. President Lyndon Johnson was occupied with the war in Vietnam and troubled by the Castro government in the Caribbean. He decided he could not afford another Castro type government close to America’s shores. Johnson dispatched U.S. troops to the Dominican Republic and engineered a military coup against the Bosch government. After that incursion, the Dominican Republic sailed on choppy seas of fraudulent elections, corruption, and economic uncertainty. In 1990, the two contestants whose election precipitated the 1962 incursion from the U.S., and who now were octogenarians, returned as contestants in the presidential election. U.S. interference had made its usual full cycle. In the cycle, the Dominicans greatly suffered.
U.S. relations with Panama’s Manuel Antonia Noriega were similar to U.S. relations with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. For years the U.S. governments tolerated Noriega’s authoritarian attitude. President Bush even praised him. When the United States declared drugs as a major threat to American society, and a Florida court indicted Noriega for drug trafficking and money laundering, the U.S. found a reason to remove Noriega from power. Having received mixed signals from the U.S. government over the years and believing that he had could reveal information that exposed the CIA and U.S. involvement in covert activities, Noriega felt immune from attack. His arrogant attitude provoked President Bush. In the absence of cold-war considerations, the United States proceeded with full-scale military intervention against Panama and removed an insignificant leader from power. The invasion exhibited unnecessary brutality. The U.S. military demolished impoverished Panamanian neighborhoods, where Noriega had major support. Many civilians were killed. The American military captured Noriega and the American judicial system convicted him and sentenced him to prison. The legality of all the operations is questionable.
The severity of the invasion of Panama and its aftermath decry a meaningful policy. Previous events indicated that Noriega, rather than assisting the drug trade, had impeded it. By using known narcotics dealers as informants against him at his trial, the prosecution did not make a compelling case. Besides, it is well known that in other countries, principally Mexico, the governments have been in collusion with leading narcotics dealers and the U.S. has not interfered with those governments. Panama’s involvement in drugs could never approach the large-scale involvement of Mexico, nor has the imprisonment of Noriega diminished the drug supply. Noriega may have used his military role in a despotic manner, but he was fair to the poor people of Panama and he was not a threat to the U.S. and the Central American area. The reasons for the U.S. military adventure in Panama are not clear. The most probable reason: to prevent President Bush from being humiliated by an insignificant dictator. U.S. policy towards a small country failed to use diplomacy and degenerated into a brutal military adventure.
What happened to Panama after the capture of Noriega? Here is one report:
Panamanians waited only four years after the invasion before restoring to government the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) that had been closely associated with the Torrijos and Noriega regimes. The 1994 election of PRD Presidential candidate Ernesto Pérez Balladares also displaced Guillermo Endara, a president ushered into office by the U.S. military and besieged during his term by reports of widespread government corruption. Before Endara completed the first year of his presidential tenure, the DEA had accused Endara’s law firm of dealings with several companies belonging to drug traffickers. The U.S. press also revealed Endara’s links to a bank suspected of laundering drug money.
International Relations Center, M a y 1 9 9 5 , Panama: A Test for U.S.-Latin American Foreign Relations, by John Lindsay-Poland
After years of mis-government and economic stagnation, Panama, which has mainly a service economy is showing economic progress. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism, all of which are on the increase as world trade, especially involving China, increases.
After claiming Noriega had a close relationship with the drug trade, an unproven assertion, we learn that “the D.E.A. faced intense pressure in 2010 from Panama, whose right-leaning president, Ricardo Martinelli, demanded that the agency allow him to use its wiretapping program — known as Matador — to spy on leftist political enemies he believed were plotting to kill him.”The United States, worried that Mr. Martinelli, a supermarket magnate, “made no distinction between legitimate security targets and political enemies,” refused the request.A cable asserted that Mr. Martinelli’s cousin helped smuggle tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds through Panama’s main airport every month. Another noted, “There is no reason to believe there will be fewer acts of corruption in this government than in any past government.”
Little Grenada threatened the U.S. mainland as much as City Island threatened New York. The Reagan administration did not favor having the hard-line Marxist, Bernard Coard, replace, in a coup, a moderate Marxist, Maurice Bishop. Citing anarchy, a state of martial law, the construction of an airport by Cuban construction workers that could be used for military flights, and a threat to American students at a Grenada medical school, the U.S. Marines invaded the island on October 25, 1983. President Reagan also told reporters that the Organization of East Caribbean States had requested the intervention. The facts did not entirely support the statements:
- Coups and revolutions have been daily affairs in Latin America.
- The martial law quieted an extreme situation.
- The airport had European financing and was being constructed for tourist purposes.
- The students did not seem disturbed until the Americans invaded. (Some students did express fear).
- The Organization of American States (OAS) “deeply deplored” the invasion.
- The UN Security Council voted 11 to 1 against the attack.
Two dozen Cubans, 18 U.S. military and 45 Grenadines died. When the caskets containing the Cuban dead arrived in Havana, U.S. reporters noted that most of the dead were men in their late fifties and sixties and were obviously not military personnel. Most of the Grenadines died in the U.S. military destruction of a mental hospital. The invasion timing, which was two days after a bomb in Beirut killed 241 Marines, led to a belief that the invasion intended to offset the U.S. failure in Lebanon and display military prowess close to home.
The U.S. assisted in completing the tourist airport. Nevertheless, little has been done for the Grenada economy and the nation remains extremely poor. Grenada expressed its attitude to the U.S. invasion by inviting Fidel Castro to the island 15 years after the invasion. The Cuban leader unveiled a bronze plaque at Port Salines airport terminal that honored the dead Cuban construction workers who had assisted in the airport construction. The plaque hangs besides a plaque that honors the U.S. Agency for International Development, which helped complete the airport the U.S. did not want built.
Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, former proprietor of most of Nicaragua’s industry and resources, mishandled the country’s 1972 earthquake crisis and the international relief funds sent to alleviate the suffering. In an act of sympathy with the plight of the Nicaraguan people, the U.S. suspended military aid to Somoza and paved the way for Commandante Zero and his Sandinista compatriots, known as the FSLN, to seize power in 1979. President Jimmy Carter provided aid to the new administration. Within a year, the policy changed. Fearful that the Sandinistas were allied with Moscow, could spread their influence throughout Central America, and assisted the Salvador rebels Washington suspended aid and became belligerent against an administration it had indirectly assisted in achieving power. Despite the U.S. House of representatives passage of the Boland Act, that prohibited the U.S. from supplying arms to those opposed to the Sandinista regime (Contras), the Reagan administration “covertly” armed the Contras. In an effort to destroy the Nicaragua economy, the CIA mined Nicaragua’s harbors. In June 1986 the World Court sided with a Nicaragua law suit and found the U.S. guilty of violating international law.
The confrontation with Nicaragua escalated during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The Contras, illegally armed with U.S. funds from several sources, including those diverted in the Iran-Contra affair, ventured from bases in Honduras into parts of Nicaragua. They attacked and destroyed, but never held territory or convinced the Nicaraguan people to revolt. The actions had their toll and the Sandinista government wanted to end the bloodshed. The Sandinista government accepted the Arias Plan, devised by the Costa Rican president, and which had the support of Central American countries. Despite U.S. rejections of the plan, the plan was implemented. In 1990, Violeta Barios Chamorro represented an opposition party and defeated Daniel Ortega, the FSLN candidate, in internationally supervised elections. The Nicaragua government and the Contras signed a permanent cease-fire and the Contras demobilized. The Arias Plan brought the democracy and peace to Nicaragua that Washington had claimed as its objectives. Yet, Washington rejected the Arias Plan.
The Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) held power with Arnoldo Aleman as Nicaragua’s president from 1998-2002 and José Bolaños Geyer as president from 2002-2006. Bolaños’ Liberal party became disillusioned with its own president and joined with the opposition Sandinistas to obstruct President Bolaños’ government reforms. The two joined forces also tried to remove Bolaños from office. In an usual twist to Nicaragua’s parody, Daniel Ortega, representing the Sandinista bloc, signed an agreement with Bolaños on Jan. 12, 2005 that permitted the president to finish his term. Meanwhile, former Nicaraguan president, Arnoldo Aleman has been convicted of corruption.
Nicaragua up to 20012:
- Sandinista Daniel Ortega, who received 42.3% of the vote in the 2001 election for president, returned to power as Nicaragua’s president in 2006 with 38.1% of the vote.
- In 2002, the rescued Nicaragua had a GDP/capita of $2500. This has increased to only $2,900 (2005 CIA est.) one of the lowest of Central American countries.
- In 2006, the FSLN had 38 of the 92 seats in Nicaragua’s National Assembly.
The U.S. fortified the Contras in an effort to replace the Sandinista’s and its leader, Daniel Ortega. A less radical Sandinista party returned to power with Ortega as a chief executive. Once again U.S. foreign policy has gone full circle.
Adding insult to injury, in a November 2011 election, the former guerrilla leader who the Reagan administration fought to depose by arming the Contras , cruised to a third-term after drawing broad support for his anti-poverty programs. Ortega gained about 63 percent of the vote, more than double the tally for his closest rival, conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.
Since the 1821 Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has interfered in Latin American politics. Governments have been toppled, leaders eliminated and economic policies steered to assist U.S. interests. In recent decades, the U.S. has been accused of complicity in the overthrow of Guatemala’s liberal nationalist Jacobo Arbenz (1954), Brazil’s leftist Joao Goulart (1964), Chile’s Marxist Salvador Allende(1973) and Bolivia’s nationalist Juan José Torres González (1971), in the prevention of Uruguay’s Frente Amplio Party taking power (1971), in arming El Salvador’s government to prevent El Salvador leftist rebels from taking power (1980′s), in military attacks against Social Democrat Juan Bosch in Dominican Republic (1963), Marxist Fidel Castro in Cuba (since 1960), Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government (1980′s), Grenada’s leftist government (1983) and Panama nationalist Manuel Noriega (1989), and in an intended coup against President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela (2002).
U.S. foreign policy projects the spread of democracy and capitalism to Third world nations. In South America, U.S. policies succeeded in creating turmoil and promoting opposition to its objectives. Almost every South American nation has adopted a course propelled by a left-leaning wind. The 2002 election of Worker’s Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Brazil’s presidency signaled a new Latin American political direction. Lulu’s election in Brazil set the stage for the election of indigenous labor leader Evo Morales to president of Bolivia on the first ballot and for the 53.5% win of Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet for president of the Chile Republic. A 2006 review of South American governments with updates to 2011showed:
Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez controls a government with vast oil riches that eschews distribution of the wealth and favors local rather than global agreements. Chavez continues his socialist revolution but is meeting resistance. A referendum that would have permitted him to to seek re-election indefinitely.did not pass. Chavez attempts to continues his agenda with expropriations of enterprises, most recently an unfinished mall in December 2008, and by confrontations with the U.S. Alliances with U.S. foes Russia and Iran have been extended. An ailing Chavez clings to power, continues seeking close economic ties with Iran and has been able to consolidate power despite negative years of GDP growth.
Brazil: Workers Party’s President Lulu da Silva led one of the world’s more dynamic economies. Although previously troubled by party corruption and decreasing popularity, Lulu remained in a commanding position to dictate. He was not blindly followed extreme proposals from either left or right of the political spectrum. In 2010, the Workers party continued in office with Dilma Rousself, a former Marxist becoming the first female president in her country’s history by winning 55% of the vote.
Uruguay: President Tabaré Vasquez arrived in January 2005 with far left credentials and, although pursuing conservative domestic policies, he has become identified with Hugo Chavez’s global policies. The Uruguayan president abruptly resigned from his Socialist party after the party voted in favor of a law that decriminalizes abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. José Alberto Mujica Cordano, a former guerrilla fighter and member of the Broad Front (left-wing coalition) became President of Uruguay.
Argentina: Argentina’s president, Nestor Kirchner, who was replaced by his wife in late 2007, at the Summit of America’s meeting in November, 2005, emphasized his nation’s independence by saying that past American policies “not only generated misery and poverty but also a great social tragedy that added to institutional instability in the region, provoking the fall of democratically elected governments.” Kirchner has aligned his government with the policies of the other Socialist leaning presidents of South America. In the October 2007 general election, Mrs. Kirchner won with one of the widest margins obtained by a candidate since democracy returned in 1983.
Bolivia: Evo Morales, who has titled himself as ”Washington’s nightmare,” achieved a spectacular victory as a populist candidate. Morelos wants to use Bolivia’s extensive gas reserves to benefit the nation’s less fortunate citizens, who inhabit most of the country. In 2007, Bolivia’s highest inflation rate in 12 years and severe resistance to Morale’s attempt to push a new constitution that empowers indigenous communities and allows the state to take over unproductive land holdings, lowered his popularity.
During December, 2008, after the Bolivian president had already kicked out the U.S. ambassador for interfering in the internal affairs of his nation, he addressed a summit of 33 Latin American and Caribbean leaders and said that Latin American nations should expel their US ambassadors until Washington lifts its decades-long embargo against Havana.
Chile: Socialist Michelle Bachelet won the January 15, 2006 run-off for president. Since President Bachelet was not eligible to run for re-election, her ruling coalition needed to choose a candidate for the 2009 presidential race. Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique won the race for President of Chile having in the second round of election. Rather than being a Socialist, the new president is a well-known economist, former Senator and one of Chile’s richest persons.
Ecuador: Leftist Rafael Correa, a leftist candidate and favorite of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez won the presidency with 65% of the final vote and took office on 15 January 2007. The defiant Ecuador president repudiated Ecuador’s national debt during December 2008, calling it “immoral” and tainted by bribes. He pledged to fight creditors in international courts.
In October 2010, Ecuador approached chaos when rebellious police officers protesting against austerity measures blocked airports and roads, occupied the national assembly and besieged the president in a hospital after physically assaulting him.The government called the revolt a coup and declared a one-week state of emergency which put the military in charge of public order and suspended civil liberties. Peru shut its border with Ecuador.
Peru: Former president Alan Garcia won 53.1% of the vote and again became Peru’s president on July 28, 2006. Alan Garcia is the only president of a South American country who is hostile to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. After his approval rating declined to a mere 19 percent, a $3 billion economic stimulus package energized Garcia’s support to 25 percent in November 2008.Having common borders and with similar governments, which are well differentiated from other South American administrations, Peru and Chile are reported to be entering “a new era of dynamism as the two countries agree to strengthen bilateral integration.
The proliferation of Socialist and anti-American governments throughout South America certifies a U.S. weakness and portends an inability of the American government and military to exert control over South American affairs. The failure to adopt the U.S. sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) during a 34-country summit in Mar del Plata, November 2005, indicated that the momentum is towards complete independence from U.S. domination.
The South American Mercosur currently includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and a challenging Venezuela. Mercosur has expansion and leadership problems and is still trying to negotiate mutually satisfactory agricultural agreements with the European Union. Nevertheless, Former Argentine President Kirchner hoped Mercosur would become a South American style common market that has close relations to the European Union.
An economically strong Brazil is showing the way to economic success; despite economic lapses, an oil rich Venezuela and its captivating leader are providing incentives and leading the charge against U.S. domination; and a newly directed Argentina is displaying what can be done when not tied to the dollar and also how to use intellectual oratory to influence populations. The U.S. can still hope and expect that many of the governments will fail in their social and economic endeavors and U.S. capital and advice will still be needed. However, that expectation has a significant impediment – the entry of China into South American affairs.
China breathes strongly in South America. The Asian nation is only in an early stage of replacing the United States as a force, but it exhibits an advantage. The Chinese government has neither interest in its partners’ politics nor their ideologies. It only wants to trade raw materials for its basic manufactured goods. The Chinese can supply manpower and knowledge for building infrastructure but it is reluctant and limited in furnishing capital. The United States operates with strings–it wants assurance of friendly politics and is often concerned with a nation’s ideology, but can supply huge amounts of capital and technology for creating infrastructure. Neither nation seems to be making advances in investment or influence in the South American economies; one reason being is there is a new dealer – Iran. The Islamic nation has been making deals with Venezuela and Bolivia in developments of hydrocarbons.
Will the U.S. realize the counter-productive aspect of its policies towards South America? The United States has a new role with South America nations. These nations are growing and expanding their trade. The U.S. needs Latin American raw materials and Latin America needs U.S. capital and high technology goods. If South American leaders want to establish a regional order that guarantees sovereignty and buffers them from being continually disrupted by U.S. old world disorder, the U.S. can assist in this realization and greatly profit from it. Failure to recognize and take advantage of the changing winds of South America is a sure path to U.S. economic decay.
Viewed totally and over many years, U.S. foreign policy has not exhibited diplomacy. The policies almost always degenerated into military ventures and failed to accomplish political objectives. It seems incredible, but it can be shown that since the end of World War II, U.S. interventions throughout the world resulted in the deaths of more than two million persons apart from the claims of 100,000 to 600,000 deaths and several million internal and external refugees in Iraq. Add the wounded, maimed many more, dislocations, uprooted masses of persons and destroyed infrastructures and economies. The American people have sent their children to die in several fruitless interventions that served no beneficial purposes.Wars have intensified with concurrent actions of rebellions, terrorism, arms dealing and drugs. As NATO troops occupied Afghanistan, opium crops expanded. South of the U.S. border, Mexico gangs violently fight one another for control of cocaine shipments to their Northern neighbor. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is now aninternational syndicate. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the DEA opened new bureaus in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and three Mexican cities to counter“an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism.”
The Cold War served as an excuse for many illegitimate policies. Interventions did not resolve Cold War issues and usually resulted in attacks on powerless countries. Similar provocations occurred after the end of the Cold War. It’s unfortunate that the American people have been unable to fulfill their responsibility and prevent the disasters its government has caused. U.S. foreign policies have had a habit of going full circle – the adversary conditions they intended to change have often returned. As originally predicted in an earlier exposition of this article,the explosive weapons used to quell the adversary have returned to explode at the original place of manufacture.
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updated february, 2013
originally published july, 1999
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U.S. foreign policy: Iraq, Iran and 100 years of failure
TAMPA, November 19, 2012 — An Iraqi diplomat has called upon other Arab oil producers to “use oil as a weapon” against the United States. Fox News reports this as if it should come as a surprise.
“The shocking statement from a democratic government in power only after the U.S. and allies ousted murderous dictator Saddam Hussein in a costly and bloody war laid bare the Middle Eastern nation’s true allegiance,” reports Fox.
The detachment from reality exhibited by news organizations like Fox and Americans in general is stunning. Americans actually believe that Iraqis should be grateful that the United States invaded their country, destroyed their infrastructure, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and made homeless refugees of millions more.
They also believe that after deposing a relatively westernized dictator and putting the Shia majority in power, the resulting government would not seek to retaliate against U.S. support for Israel.
This is by no means an isolated incident. It is a recurring theme. Contrary to official myth, U.S. foreign policy has been a failure for the past 100 years, virtually without exception.
We’re constantly told that the United States has a “special role” in the world, due to its status as sole superpower and the role it has played over the past century “defending freedom.” This is pure delusion.
A small percentage of Americans are vaguely aware that Osama bin Laden did not create Al Qaeda (Arabic for “the base”). It was started in Pakistan by Sheik Abdullah Azzam with CIA support. According to veteran reporter Eric Margolis,
“I know this because I interviewed Azzam numerous times at al-Qaida HQ in Peshawar while covering the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Azzam set up al-Qaida, which means “the base” in Arabic, to help CIA and Saudi-financed Arab volunteers going to fight in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. In those days, the west hailed them as “freedom fighters,” writes Margolis.
This is nothing new. The U.S. government has been creating monsters through military or covert interventions and then wasting blood and treasure fighting them since it first abandoned its noninterventionist foreign policy at the turn of the 20th century.
Most Americans do not realize that both Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were largely the result of previous U.S. foreign policy. As Will Grigg relates,
“Japan had a role in TR’s (Teddy Roosevelt’s) vision for the Pacific. As long as Japan kept Russia in check, did its part to pry open China to Washington’s corporate clients, and didn’t make a play for America’s overseas colony in the Philippines, it could claim dominion over Korea and Manchuria under the terms of a ‘Monroe Doctrine for Asia,’ Roosevelt privately told Baron Kentaro Kaneko, Tokyo’s emissary to the United States. “
It is ironic that FDR’s chief excuse for goading Japan into war was Japan’s attempted conquest of China. Japan was merely pursuing the course a member of FDR’s own family had laid out for them a few decades earlier. That Japan was an expanding empire at all was chiefly the result of U.S. government support and encouragement.
U.S. interventionism similarly backfired in Germany. Had Woodrow Wilson kept faith with voters who reelected him because he “kept us out of the war (WWI),” that conflict would have remained a stalemate. Germany would never have signed the Treaty of Versailles and therefore never would have experienced the economic hardship that led to Hitler’s rise to power.
Intervention to halt the spread of communism has produced similar results. The only truly communist nations left are North Korea and Cuba, whose governments remain in power chiefly because U.S. antagonism rallies support for their oppressive governments. Viet Nam began reforms toward a market economy a mere twelve years after expelling the American invaders.
The United States decided to take a diplomatic approach with China. They have also moved toward a market economy on their own.
The next dragon queued up for slaying is Iran. Supposedly, its government is so irrational that allowing them to acquire a nuclear weapon will result in catastrophe. Everyone forgets just how that government came to power.
In 1953, the CIA and British MI5 overthrew democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, chiefly over his nationalization of the Iranian oil industry. That left the U.S./British-installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in power. The Shah was hated by the Iranian people due to his image as a western puppet and his brutal suppression of dissent.
In 1979, a revolution in Iran ended 2,500 years of continuous monarchy and led to the establishment of an Islamic Republic. Thus, the “radical extremists” that presently govern Iran came to power as a direct consequence of U.S. interventionism.
Proponents of interventionism call these arguments “blaming America first.” I call them cause and effect reasoning and facing reality.
For over 100 years, U.S. presidents continued George Washington’s noninterventionist foreign policy. In their inaugural addresses, they consistently cited this as the reason for America’s freedom and prosperity. (Don’t take my word for it, read them).
Since abandoning noninterventionism during the progressive era, American foreign policy has been one failure after another. It has rendered Americans poorer, more hated around the world and less free at home. It’s time to get back to what worked. We can’t afford the next mistake.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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The Obama administration is preparing to assist the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in fighting Al Qaeda militants in Mali, while at the same time recognizing Syria’s opposition, which is supported by rebels with links to Al Qaeda. Just this morning it was announced that hundreds of U.S. troops are in Turkey as part of a NATO mission, a little after a week after the USS Eisenhower was moved off the coast of Syria. The drone strike program continues despite its effects on innocent civilians and the damage it is doing to America’s reputation.
Egypt will continue to receive U.S. military aid despite being in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Like the drone strike program, this policy threatens to undermine U.S. credibility among those that would be natural allies. Obama intervened in Libya last year, yet this year saw Libya dominate the news again thanks to an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The administration’s response to the attack highlighted the fiasco that is U.S. foreign policy.
The five instances listed here are only a sampling of this administration’s foreign policy failures. There is little reason to be hopeful that 2013 will bring a sea change.
The most notable foreign policy screw-up of 2012 was the Obama administration’s handling of Libya. In March 2011 the Senate passed S.RES.85, asking the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Shortly thereafter Obama commenced military intervention as part of the NATO operation authorized by the U.N. National Security Council.
Thanks to NATO’s intervention, the rebels defeated Gaddafi’s forces. In October 2011, Gaddafi was killed by his former subjects, and another chapter in the Arab Spring saga had finished.
In September Libya came back into the spotlight after the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was stormed, and U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other members of the American diplomatic mission were killed.
The administration initially claimed the violence and murders were motivated by a trailer for an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. Yet it quickly became clear that something was seriously wrong with the administration’s story about the attack.
Two days after the attack American warships moved into the area as drones hunted for Ambassador Stevens’ murderers. Three days after the attack, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he thought the attack was the result of a terrorist plot, not a protest against a film. That same day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave an account of the attack that differed from the account other U.S. officials had given. Libyan officials, meanwhile, claimed that American diplomats were warned of the attack three days in advance. Despite the White House’s story about spontaneous protests, the assault on the diplomatic compound was looking increasingly like a pre-planned terrorist attack.
The Obama administration took way too long to come clean about the attack. Its inability to communicate the truth swiftly is frightening and indicative of the relationship between intelligence services, the administration, Congress, and the public is in dire need of repair.
The U.S. recently joined dozens of other countries in recognizing the Syrian opposition. This was the same day it listed one rebel group, Jabhat al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization with ties to Al Qaeda.
Although the U.S. has not committed troops to Syria, the administration has hardly been quiet on the issue. The USS Eisenhower was moved off the coast of Syria a few days before Hillary Clinton insisted that Assad step down. Back in October as many as 150 “planners” were sent to Jordan to help with the refugee crisis and prepare to act in case Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. The Syrian government has since looked even more likely to use the weapons, although Defense Secretary Panetta has recently downplayed the chances.
While Assad may well be an unpleasant actor in an unstable region, the administration has been too eager to support his opposition. As bad as Assad may be it is far from obvious that his opponents are saints. As mentioned above, there are Islamic extremists in the opposition’s ranks, some of whom are fighting with weapons that the U.S. sent to Libya to help overthrow Gaddafi.
Assad is being supported by Shiite Hezbollah, and is enjoying additional support from Russia and Iran. The rebels are a mixture of many different groups including Sunni Islamic extremists and Kurdish nationalists. As tragic as the situation may be, the conflict remains one in which the U.S. is destined to anger and provoke unpleasant elements that could haunt us later.
During Libya’s civil war, Gaddafi recruited mercenaries from neighboring countries like Chad. One group that Gaddafi looked to in particular was the Tuaregs. After Gaddafi’s death, many Tuaregs went to northern Mali, where they helped form the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a group that advocates for the independence of the northern region of Mali. Militants with links to Al Qaeda have since pushed them out of the region:
The Tuareg rebels, largely armed by the remnants of deposed Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s arsenal, have since been pushed out by their onetime allies, the Islamists, proving no match for the firepower and determination of the jihadist fighters who now reign uncontested over northern Mali. Some of those Islamists are homegrown members of Ansar Dine, a group that has been supported by Al Qaeda, experts say. Others are believed to be part of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate known by the initials A.Q.I.M. that has a presence throughout the Sahel.
These Islamic extremists are causing unrest in the region and their actions have not gone unnoticed. France and the U.S. have both shown an interest in intervening in Mali, and it now looks as if an international force is being put together to remove Islamic extremists from northern Mali.
In fact, the U.S. has positioned itself as a key player in whatever international force that gets organized. The AP reported last week that American officials were working with the African Union and ECOWAS, going so far as to send “planners” and is considering supporting countries that contribute troops to the effort.
The administration’s failure in Mali has been its inability to leave it alone. Even were one to be inclined to think that a foreign invasion would be able to remove Islamic extremists and establish peace, other nations have already expressed an interest in such an endeavor. If the U.S. were to get more involved then we can only expect the anti-American rhetoric in the region and among Al Qaeda’s ranks to grow stronger. Mali is an example of an annoying tendency this president has exhibited throughout this presidency, his insatiable need to do something in the light of events abroad.
The hypocrisy and stupidity of this administration’s foreign policy is perhaps best illustrated not by its incoherent rhetoric surrounding attacks on diplomats, its support of worrying elements in Assad’s opposition, or its support for intervention in Mali, but by its use of a secretive drone program.
According to the New America Foundation, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed at least 210 and at most 333 people. Yemen has also seen its own share of drone activity, as has the Horn of Africa
The drone strikes are far from popular in the countries affected, are constitutionally unsound, and are not helping in the fight to win hearts and minds.
Obama came into office offering a different foreign policy to his predecessor. Many of us are still waiting to see what the change has been, all while the anti-war movement remains largely silent.
Watch Nick Gillespie’s take down of Samuel L. Jackson’s vomit-inducing call to action, which highlights the violence perpetrated by this administration with glorified toys on foreign soil, below:
One of the most disturbing recent developments is the continued military support the Egyptian government is receiving from the U.S.
The Egyptian government will receive at least 20 F-16s as part of a 2010 $1 billion aid package in the middle of a constitutional crisis that has inspired protests similar to those of early 2011. Lt. Col. Wesley Miller defended the deal:
The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s modernization efforts. Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to regional mission sets.
The current deal is similar to deals the U.S. made with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Indeed, the U.S. supplied many of the weapons used to intimidate and put down Egyptian protesters during the Arab Spring (including F-16s).
The results of the Arab Spring will not be known for some time. Protests against an authoritarian regime have resulted in a democratically elected president who grants himself extra powers and insists on a referendum on a constitution many say is too Islamist. U.S. officials should consider how many Egyptians will view a country that gives military support to the likes of Mubarak and Morsi. It should be considered a huge foreign policy blunder that the U.S. has not halted the sale of F-16s to Egypt or at least renegotiated the conditions of the deal.
Criticism of American foreign policyFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Criticism of United States foreign policy encompasses a wide range of sentiments about its actions and policies over time.
Mentality, role, and intentions of American foreign policy
Allegations of hypocrisy
The US has been criticized for making statements supporting peace and respecting national sovereignty, but military actions such as in Grenada, fomenting a civil war in Colombia to break off Panama, and Iraq run counter to its assertions. The US has advocated free trade but protects local industries with import tariffs on foreign goods such as lumber and agricultural products. The US has advocated concern for human rights but refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US has publicly stated that it is opposed to torture, but has been criticized for condoning it in the School of the Americas. The US has advocated a respect for national sovereignty but supports internal guerrilla movements and paramilitary organizations, such as the Contras in Nicaragua. The US has been criticized for voicing concern about narcotics production in countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela but doesn’t follow through on cutting certain bilateral aid programs. The US has been criticized for not maintaining a consistent policy; it has been accused of denouncing human rights abuses in China while supporting rights violations by Israel.
However, some defenders argue that a policy of rhetoric while doing things counter to the rhetoric was necessary in the sense of realpolitik and helped secure victory against the dangers of tyranny and totalitarianism. Another agrees.
The US is advocating that Iran and North Korea should not develop nuclear weapons, while the US, the only country to have used nuclear weapons in warfare, maintains a nuclear arsenal of 5,113 warheads. However, this double-standard is legitimated by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party. The US has also turned a blind eye to the Israel’s nuclear weapons.
Allegations of arrogance
Some critics have thought the United States became arrogant, particularly after its victory in World War II. Critics such as Andrew Bacevich call on America to have a foreign policy “rooted in humility and realism.” Foreign policy experts such as Zbigniew Brzezinski counsel a policy of self-restraint and not pressing every advantage, and listening to other nations. A government official called the US policy in Iraq “arrogant and stupid,” according to one report.
Allegations of imperialism
According to Newsweek reporter Fareed Zakaria, the Washington establishment has “gotten comfortable with the exercise of American hegemony and treats compromise as treason and negotiations as appeasement” and added “This is not foreign policy; it’s imperial policy.” Allies were critical of a unilateral sensibility to US foreign policy, and showed displeasure by voting against the US in the United Nations in 2001.
Financial role in foreign policy
There are indications that decisions to go to war in Iraq were motivated by oil interests; for example, a British newspaper The Independent reported that the “Bush administration is heavily involved in writing Iraq’s oil law” which would “allow Western oil companies contracts of up to 30 years to pump oil out of Iraq, and the profits would be tax-free.” Whether motivated by oil or not, U.S. policy appears to much of the Arab world to have been motivated by oil. Some critics assert the U.S. decision to build the Panama Canal was motivated largely by business interests despite claims that it’s motivated to “spread democracy” and “end oppression.” Andrew Bacevich suggests policy is directed by “wealthy individuals and institutions.” Some critics say U.S. foreign policy does reflect the will of the people, but blames the people for having a “consumerist mentality” which causes problems. In 1893, a decision to back a plot to overthrow the rulership of Hawaii by president Harrison was motivated by business interests in an effort to prevent a proposed tariff increase on sugar; Hawaii became a state afterwards. There was speculation that the Spanish-American War in 1898 between the U.S. and Spain was motivated by business interests in Cuba.
Lack of vision
Brzezinski criticized the Clinton presidency as having a foreign policy which lacked “discipline and passion” and subjected the U.S. to “eight years of drift.” The short-term election cycle coupled with the inability to stick with long term decisions motivates presidents to focus on acts which will appease the citizenry and avoid difficult long-term choices.
Manipulation of U.S. foreign policy by external forces
A Washington Post reporter wrote that “several less-than-democratic African leaders have skillfully played the anti-terrorism card to earn a relationship with the United States that has helped keep them in power” and suggested, in effect, that foreign dictators could manipulate U.S. policy for their own benefit. It is possible for foreign governments to channel money through PACs to buy influence in Congress.
There is a sense in which America sometimes sees itself as qualitatively different from other countries and therefore cannot be judged by the same standard as other countries; this sense is sometimes termed American exceptionalism. A writer in Time Magazine in 1971 described American exceptionalism as “an almost mystical sense that America had a mission to spread freedom and democracy everywhere.” American exceptionalism is sometimes linked with hypocrisy; for example, the US keeps a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons while urging other nations not to get them, and justifies that it can make an exception to a policy of non-proliferation. When the United States didn’t support an environmental treaty made by many nations in Kyoto or treaties made concerning the Geneva Convention, then critics saw American exceptionalism as counterproductive.
Actions of the United States
Support of dictatorships
The US has been criticized for supporting dictatorships with economic assistance and military hardware. Particular dictatorships have included Musharraf of Pakistan, the Shah of Iran, Museveni of Uganda, the Saudi Royal family, warlords in Somalia,Fulgencio Batista of Cuba, the Al Khalifa family of Bahrain, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Park Chung-hee of South Korea, Generalissimo Franco of Spain, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile
Opposition to independent nationalism
Interference in internal affairs
The United States was criticized for manipulating the internal affairs of foreign nations, including Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, various countries in Africa including Uganda. See also Covert United States foreign regime change actions
Support of Israel
Promotion of democracy
Some critics argue that America’s policy of advocating democracy may be ineffective and even counterproductive. Zbigniew Brzezinski declared that “[t]he coming to power of Hamas is a very good example of excessive pressure for democratization” and argued that George W. Bush‘s attempts to use democracy as an instrument against terrorism were risky and dangerous. Analyst Jessica Tuchman Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agreed that imposing democracy “from scratch” was unwise, and didn’t work. Realist critics such as George F. Kennan argued U.S. responsibility is only to protect its own citizens and that Washington should deal with other governments on that basis alone; they criticize president Woodrow Wilson’s emphasis on democratization and nation-building although it wasn’t mentioned in Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the failure of the League of Nations to enforce international will regarding Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in the 1930s. Realist critics attacked the idealism of Wilson as being ill-suited for weak states created at the Paris Peace Conference. Others, however, criticize the U.S. Senate’s decision not to join the League of Nations which was based on isolationist public sentiment as being one cause for the organization’s ineffectiveness.
Undermining of human rights
President Bush has been criticized for neglecting democracy and human rights by focusing exclusively on an effort to fight terrorism. The US was criticized for alleged prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe, according to Amnesty International. In response, the US government claimed incidents of abuse were isolated incidents which did not reflect U.S. policy.
In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. criticized excessive U.S. spending on military projects, and suggested a linkage between its foreign policy abroad and racism at home. Even in 1971, a Time Magazine essayist wondered why there were 375 major foreign military bases around the world with 3,000 lesser military facilities and concluded “there is no question that the U.S. today has too many troops scattered about in too many places.” In a 2010 defense report, Cordesman criticized out-of-control military spending. Expenditures to fight the War on Terror are vast and seem limitless. The Iraq war was expensive and continues to be a severe drain on U.S. finances. Bacevich thinks the U.S. has a tendency to resort to military means to try to solve diplomatic problems. The Vietnam War was a costly, decade-long military engagement which ended in defeat, and the mainstream view today is that the entire war was a mistake. The dollar cost was $111 billion, or $698 billion in 2009 dollars. Similarly, the second Iraq war was viewed by many[who?] as being a mistake, since there were no weapons of mass destruction found, the war ended in December 2011.
Violation of international law
Some critics[who?] assert the US doesn’t always follow international law. For example, some critics assert the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a proper response to an imminent threat, but an act of aggression which violated international law. For example, Benjamin Ferencz, a chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein for starting aggressive wars—Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq. Critics point out that the United Nations Charter, ratified by the U.S., prohibits members from using force against fellow members except against imminent attack or pursuant to an explicit Security Council authorization. A professor of international law asserted there was no authorization from the UN Security Council which made the invasion “a crime against the peace.” However, US defenders argue there was such an authorization according to UN Security Council Resolution 1441. See also, United States War Crimes. The US has also supported Kosovo’s independence even though it is strictly written in UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that Kosovo cannot be independent and it is stated as a Serbian province. The US has actively supported and intimidated other countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Commitment to foreign aid
Some critics charge that U.S. government aid should be higher given the high levels of Gross domestic product. They claim other countries give more money on a per capita basis, including both government and charitable contributions. By one index which ranked charitable giving as a percentage of GDP, the U.S. ranked 21 of 22 OECD countries by giving 0.17% of GDP to overseas aid, and compared the U.S. to Sweden which gave 1.03% of its GDP, according to different estimates. The U.S. pledged 0.7% of GDP at a global conference in Mexico. According to one estimate, U.S. overseas aid fell 16% from 2005 to 2006. However, since the US grants tax breaks to nonprofits, it subsidizes relief efforts abroad, although other nations also subsidize charitable activity abroad. Most foreign aid (79%) came not from government sources but from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals. According to the Index of Global Philanthropy, the United States is the top donor in absolute amounts.
Kyoto, Japan in 2008. The Kyoto Protocol treaty was an effort by many nations to tackle environmental problems, but the U.S. was criticized for failing to support this effort in 1997.
- Environmental policy. The U.S. has been criticized for failure to support the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Criticism of historical foreign policySee also: Manifest destiny
The U.S. has been criticized for its historical treatment of native Americans. For example, the treatment of Cherokee Indians in the Trail of Tears in which hundreds of Indians died in a forced evacuation from their homes in the southeastern area, along with massacres, displacement of lands, swindles, and breaking treaties. It has been criticized for the war with Mexico in the 1840s which some see as a theft of land. It was the first and only nation to use a nuclear bomb in wartime. It failed to admit Jews fleeing persecution from Europe at the beginning of World War II.
Alienation of allies
There is evidence that many U.S. allies have been alienated by a unilateral approach. Allies signaled dissatisfaction with U.S. policy in a vote at the U.N. Brzezinski counsels listening to allies and exercising self-restraint. During the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, the US opposed Serbia, a country that was not against the US and capitalist ideals during the Cold War and an ally during both World Wars in which the Serbs saved the lives of many American pilots who flew missions over the Balkans. Instead, the US supported Kosovo Albanians and Croatians, both who were never true allies of the US and had even fought against the US during World War 2.
Ineffective public relations
One report suggests that news source Al-jazeera routinely paints the U.S. as evil throughout the Mideast. Other critics have faulted the U.S. public relations effort. As a result of faulty policy and lackluster public relations, the U.S. has a severe image problem in the Mideast, according to Anthony Cordesman. Analyst Mathews said that it appears to much of the Arab world that we went to war in Iraq for oil, whether we did or not. In a 2007 poll by BBC News asking which countries are seen as having a “negative influence in the world,” the survey found that Israel, Iran, United States and North Korea had the most negative influence, while nations such as Canada, Japan and the European Union had the most positive influence.
Ineffective prosecution of war
One estimate is that the second Iraq War along with the so-called War on Terror cost $551 billion, or $597 billion in 2009 dollars. Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich has criticized American profligacy and squandering its wealth. There have been historical criticisms of U.S. warmaking capability; in the War of 1812, the U.S. was unable to conquer Canada despite several attempts and having superior resources; the U.S. Capitol was burned and the settlement ending the war did not bring any major concessions from the British.
Problem areas festering
Critics point to a list of countries or regions where continuing foreign policy problems continue to present problems. These areas include South America, including Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil. There are difficulties with Central American nations such as Honduras. Iraq has continuing troubles. Iran, as well, presents problems with nuclear proliferation. Pakistan is unstable, there is active conflict in Afghanistan. The Mideast in general continues to fester, although relations with India are improving. Policy towards Russia remains uncertain. China presents an economic challenge. There are difficulties in other regions too. In addition, there are problems not confined to particular regions, but regarding new technologies. Cyberspace is a constantly changing technological area with foreign policy repercussions. Climate change is an unresolved foreign policy issue, particularly depending on whether nations can agree to work together to limit possible future risks.
Ineffective strategy to fight terrorism
Critic Cordesman criticized U.S. strategy to combat terrorism as not having enough emphasis on getting Islamic republics to fight terrorism themselves. Sometimes visitors have been misidentified as “terrorists.” Mathews suggests the risk of nuclear terrorism remains unprevented. In 1999 during the Kosovo War, the US supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization that was recognized as such by the US some years before. Right before the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia took place, the US took down the KLA from the list of internationally recognized terrorist organizations in order to justify their aid and help to the KLA.
Historical instances of ineffective policies
Generally during the 19th century, and in early parts of the 20th century, the U.S. pursued a policy of isolationism and generally avoided entanglements with European powers. After World War I, Time Magazine writer John L. Steele thought the U.S. tried to return to an isolationist stance, but that this was unproductive. He wrote: “The anti-internationalist movement reached a peak of influence in the years just before World War II.” But Steele questioned whether this policy was effective; regardless, isolationism ended quickly after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Analysts have wondered whether the U.S. pursued the correct strategy with Japan before World War II; by denying Japan access to precious raw materials, it is possible that U.S. policy triggered the surprise attack and, as a result, the U.S. had to fight a two-front war in both the Far East as well as Europe during World War II. While it may be the case that the Mideast is a difficult region with no easy solutions to avoiding conflict, since this volatile region is at the junction of three continents; still, many analysts think U.S. policy could have been improved substantially. The U.S. waffled; there was no vision; presidents kept changing policy. Public opinion in different regions of the world thinks that, to some extent, the 9/11 attacks were an outgrowth of substandard U.S. policy towards the region. The Vietnam War was a decade-long mistake. The US supported the secession of Kosovo form FR Yugoslavia in 1999 and continued to support its independence since. Such unilateral policies have broken European and international treaties but have been dismissed as unique by the US. Such unilateral secession support has triggered many notable secessionist uprisings in Spain, Belgium, Georgia, Russia, China, among others that have secessionist movements. However, the US has dismissed any similarities between those secessionist movements and Kosovo, a clear contradiction.
Role of internal government structure
Small role of Congress in foreign policy
Critic Robert McMahon thinks Congress has been excluded from foreign policy decision making, and that this is detrimental. Other writers suggest a need for greater Congressional participation.
The presidency of George W. Bush has been attacked by numerous critics from both parties as being particularly incompetent, short-sighted, unthinking, and partisan. Bush’s decision to launch the second Iraq War was criticized extensively; writer John Le Carre criticized it as a “hare-brained adventure.” He was also criticized for advocating a policy of exporting democracy. Brzezinski described Bush’s foreign policy as “a historical failure.” Bush was criticized for being too secret regarding foreign policy and having a cabal subvert the proper foreign policy bureaucracy. Other presidents, too, were criticized. The foreign policy of George H. W. Bush was lackluster, and while he was a “superb crisis manager,” he “missed the opportunity to leave a lasting imprint on U.S. foreign policy because he was not a strategic visionary,” according to Brzezinski. He stopped the first Iraq War too soon without finishing the task of capturing Saddam Hussein. Foreign policy expert Henry Kissinger criticized Jimmy Carter for numerous foreign policy mistakes including a decision to admit the ailing Shah of Iran into the United States for medical treatment, as well as a bungled military mission to try to rescue the hostages in Teheran. Carter waffled from being “both too tough and too soft at the same time.”
Difficulty removing an incompetent president
Since the only way to remove an incompetent president is with the rather difficult policy of impeachment, it is possible for a marginally competent or incompetent president to stay in office for four to eight years and cause great mischief. In recent years, there has been great attention to this issue given the presidency of George W. Bush, but there have been questions raised about the competency of Jimmy Carter in his handling of the Iran hostage crisis.
Presidents may lack experience
Since the constitution requires no prior experience in diplomacy, government, or military service, it is possible to elect presidents with scant foreign policy experience. Clearly the record of past presidents confirms this, and that presidents who have had extensive diplomatic, military, and foreign policy experience have been the exception, not the rule. In recent years, presidents had relatively more experience in such tasks as peanut farming, acting and governing governorships than in international affairs. It has been debated whether voters are sufficiently skillful to assess the foreign policy potential of presidential candidates, since foreign policy experience is only one of a long list of attributes in which voters tend to select candidates. The second Bush was criticized for inexperience in the Washington Post for being “not versed in international relations and not too much interested.”
Lack of control over foreign policy
During the early 19th century, general Andrew Jackson exceeded his authority on numerous times and attacked American Indian tribes as well as invaded the Spanish territory of Florida without official government permission. Jackson was not reprimanded or punished for exceeding his authority. Some accounts blame newspaper journalism called yellow journalism for whipping up virulent pro-war sentiment to help instigate the Spanish-American War. Some critics suggest foreign policy is manipulated by lobbies, such as the pro-Israel lobby, although there is disagreement about the influence of such lobbies. Nevertheless, Brzezinski wants stricter anti-lobbying laws.
Excessive authority of the presidency
In contrast to criticisms that presidential attention is divided into competing tasks, some critics charge that presidents have too much power, and that there is the potential for tyranny or fascism. Some presidents circumvented the national security decision-making process. Critics such as Dana D. Nelson of Vanderbilt in her book Bad for Democracy and columnist David Sirota and Texas law professor Sanford Levinson see a danger in too much executive authority.
Presidents have not only foreign policy responsibilities, but sizeable domestic duties too. In addition, the presidency is the head of a political party. As a result, it is tough for one person to manage disparate tasks, in one view. Critics suggest Reagan was overburdened, which prevented him from doing a good job of oversight regarding the Iran–Contra affair. Brzezinski suggested in Foreign Affairs that President Obama is similarly overburdened. Some suggest a need for permanent non-partisan advisers.
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