Tuesday, December 2, 2014

U.S. Fails in Role As World Diplomatic Leader

For the past 25 years the United States has had the rare opportunity of being the sole, undisputed world power, in the unique position of being able to model and hopefully influence the world's foreign relationships along a more positive, constructive, conflict-free path than previously.  The Cold War had ended, communism had lost appeal, the Soviet Union was disintegrating.  The US had numerous allies, and no real rivals, on the international scene. Optimism abounded, there was talk of a "peace dividend", a " new American Century" laying ahead.  Looking at the world today, it clearly did not happen.  What went wrong, and to what extent does the US bear some responsibility for the condition the world is in today?

While the US clearly can not be blamed for all the conflicts and tragedies that exist currently  in the world, it cannot be disputed that we flubbed our role as a world leader. Our own foreign policy experts from previous decades, in reflecting on the years since 1990, share the belief  that valuable opportunities to create a more peaceful world scene were squandered by inaction, missteps, arrogant actions, and major miscalculations. Much more emphasis in the 1990's was placed by our government on changing international trade agreements with other nations than on setting the framework for a more peaceful world. The trade agreements had a short-term effect of accelerating economic growth and boosting corporate wealth, but also led to a major outsourcing of employment and consequent decline in the economic well-being of the middle class.  Wealth inequity began to mount, in the US as well as throughout much of the world.  The world's key tension spots were left with unresolved conflicts, the long simmering Palestinian-Israel conflict especially begging for resolution, but our leaders continued to tolerate an Israeli occupation of West Bank land designated to be a Palestinian state--a situation that could only erupt in hostility and violence.

Repeated outbursts of violence in the Middle East, between Israel and Palestinians, between rival Muslim sects, and between extremist Muslim groups and foreigners in the area were met on a piecemeal basis, but the core issues were never dealt with in depth.  The attacks of 9-11 changed all that, the US and the West became fully involved militarily, appropriately against al Qaeda, but then shifted their target to Iraq, with the unrealistic stated goal of spreading democracy, and in the process created a much less stable and more conflict-laden Middle East than had existed before.  Our leaders know, or should know, that in today's world peace in a foreign land can not be won and maintained by military means, that "the bad guys" can be killed but when ideological and cultural differences are at the core of the conflict, more "bad guys" will be created in the process, and that nation-building by a foreign power will never succeed in producing a stable local government.  Yet, our leaders seem intent on seeking solutions through military means.

Another prime example of the US's diplomatic failure has emerged this year in the Ukraine, and our previous actions and inactions have played a significant role in the situation exploding now.  The Ukraine has a long history of being a region with strong Russian ties, with its population, its economy, its political ties, whether a part of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, or more recently as an independent nation, all clearly placing it in the Russian sphere of influence.  Since the breakup of the Soviet Union its government has maintained working relationships with both the western European nations and with Russia, but this year the overthrow of the President who was holding to close ties with Russia threatened major change to its remaining a neutral, non-aligned nation.  Since western influences, including our State Department, were instrumental in encouraging Ukraine's move away from Russian influence, Russians saw it as another western move to encircle them and erode their influence.  This they could not tolerate. Their main naval base was on Crimea, the west had already tried to pull the previous Soviet states of Georgia and Moldova away from their influence and into the Western orbit.  The West might talk of a "reset" of relationships towards being more positive, but their actions suggest otherwise--bordering nations pulled into a western military block, long range missile placements positioned near their border, exclusion from pan-European military alliances.  Our wiser diplomats from previous decades (George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, Jack Matlock ((US ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1980's))) warned against such moves, but the warnings were not heeded, with the results that exist in the Ukraine today. All sides to this conflict seem to be seeking a negotiated settlement, not a resolution through violence and warfare.  Let's hope it can emerge.  Unfortunately it is unlikely the US will be leading the pathway towards a diplomatic solution. The history of our nation's past several decades reveals that international diplomacy has not been our strong suit, and has fallen into disuse, with often disastrous and tragic results.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Greatest Threats Facing the US are Not External Enemies, not ISIS, but Major Internal Dysfunctions

While the Administration and the Congress are gearing up for another lengthy battle in the Middle East, this time against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, they seem completely unaware of the domestic dangers that have been growing slowly during the past 20 years but have now reached such massive proportions that they now greatly outweigh the threat posed by any external terrorist group or enemy.  These domestic threats are numerous, out-of-control, and multiplying, and many of them are inter-connected.  With claims of lack of available funding, denials that any problem exists, or political gridlock in Congress paralyzing any attempts to deal with any of these problems in a significant, meaningful way, the government is basically looking the other way, assuming nothing can be done, virtually ignoring their existence, even as the casualties mount.  Meanwhile, ISIS gets the attention, money that was unavailable to deal with urgent domestic needs is immediately found and made available for the overseas targets, not to remedy dire concerns here.

What are the domestic threats that far over-shadow our foreign enemies?  The list could be
exhaustive, lets identify some of the major ones;
1) the proliferation of violence in our cities, towns, neighborhoods, schools, families. Our society has become more violence-ridden, not just through ready gun availability, but through a breakdown in cultural mores and community standards that warrant against violent outbursts. Its not just a matter of criminal behavior, violent outbursts can become epidemic within a society, and the escalation within our own suggests we are moving in that direction.  Daily casualties occur through domestic violence, daily school shutdowns because of violent threats, and no one is immune from the threat of violence.
2) the growing and rampant income inequity is placing undue financial and emotional threat on a sizeable portion of the population.  Unemployment or underemployment can readily lead to emotional breakdown, rage, homelessness, children raised in poverty, and a collapse of the social and governmental support system which is meant to assist with these needs. We are at that state, the desired support networks either don't exist or have collapsed, leaving the needs unmet, even with many of our veterans of military service.  Inexcusable, but still the reality.
3) the mental health of our young people, those in the prime developmental ages of 15 to 30, are especially at risk, as school dropouts, lack of job and career opportunities, ready drug availability and use all interfere with their successful movement through these essential growth and development years. Their anger and alienation adds to societal violence and disruption, with families unable to deal with the behavior of their loved ones, and ultimate time in jail often the only recourse that society can provide.
4) the environment which we have come to so take for granted, both the nature-given physical beauty and resources that surround us, and the physical infrastructure which our forefathers painstakingly developed and left for us to enjoy, is increasingly being destroyed by overuse or misuse, or not being replaced in a timely fashion.  Mankind is capable of accomplishing great advances, but also doing great harm, and both our natural environment and our infrastructure are in great need of more thoughtful attention.
5) the dysfunction in our political system in Washington DC, the obstructionism and gridlock which have blocked our government's ability to deal cooperatively and effectively with the above domestic problems, is perhaps the most damaging of our national threats. At times it is vital that the two political parties and the three branches of government  have some ability to set aside political biases, at least between election years, to resolve pressing needs. This has been virtually impossible since Obama's election. Given a foreign enemy, some agreement can emerge. With domestic needs, partisan politics takes over, and stalemate rules the day. No government can function effectively this way, and the price is felt in the daily life of its citizens.

These threats are all highly dangerous to all of our well-being, yet they are getting very little focus from our government.  Much easier, apparently, to concentrate on a foreign enemy, drop some bombs, try to rally support from other nations to fight an identifiable target.  Our closest enemies, however, are threats emanating from within our own society, more difficult to target, to mobilize resources, to mount effective programs.  But much, much more important to our nation, to our future and that of our descendants. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Written by Keith Shirey

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014
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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will consider sending US military advisers into combat in Iraq on a "case-by-case basis," said General Martin Dempsey, American military's top-ranking officer told senators on Tuesday.
Dempsey indicated he had discussed the possibility with the US president, who has so far ruled out sending any ground troops into combat. But Dempsey's remarks cast doubt on Obama's publically stated position.
In a conversation leaked by a NSA private contractor, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said to her friend. the noted psychotherapist Tim Leary, "This guy [Obama] kisses the feet of the military. They got him to 'surge' thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan slaughtering our troops even though he knew it was a lost cause…"
Leary then interrupts Pelosi in the transcript and says "all you need to know is that Obama cowers before the Joint Chiefs and wants to appear to be strong for them. That's why he'll start an endless war against Isis that could cost us a billion a day like in Iraq, just what Dempsey wants."
The psychotherapist then explains to Pelosi that "military uniform fetish syndrome" causes the President to "grow week in the knees while the thinking centers of the brain are deactivated when he sees and hears the military brass advocate endless land wars. It's a terrible disease," exclaims Leary.
"The President doesn't care that the vast majority of the American people don't want another ground war in the Middle East. I understand that he doesn't even know why we're there in the first place. But this "military uniform fetish syndrome" indeed includes the need to appear strong, to be a sort of civilian General Jack D. Ripper," concludes the noted psychotherapist.
"Damn, when you've got hundreds of planes, smart bombs, and cruise missiles, the whole world looks like a target set where you can try out your latest war toys. That's the military mind that controls Obama," interjects the former Speaker.
"The U.S. doesn't need a military coup. It's already happened. Obama treats them as deities, so does the congress, and the public really has no say in what happens the way the political system is set up. Besides, we all worship the uniform, don't we?," asked Leary.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Written by Keith Shirey

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014
image for Limbaugh Hoisted Up On Own Petard
by Eric Fromm

Speaking on Ohio State's new sexual assault policy, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had his own ideas of what consent to sex means.
"How many guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it?" is a thing Limbaugh actually said on "The Rush Limbaugh Show" Monday.
Sunday, OSU announced it would strengthen its sexual assault and harassment guidelines in the wake of a federal investigation.
Limbaugh's interpretation of the policy means both parties must agree to engage in sexual activity every step of the way, which he says, "sucks all the fun out of it."
Limbaugh went on to say that the most enjoyable sex he has had was when he was stoned on OxyCotin. "Of course I didn't know then if the babe said 'no' or not and that was really a friggin blast."
"But the Palm Beach cops and prosecutors brought an end to my fun when they arrested me for getting 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months and destroyed mu sex life. Of course, the basis of my arrest was their politically liberal take on sex. Boy, what a bunch of killjoys," stated the neo-fascist, widely popular radio talk show host, beloved by millions of Americans.
Limbaugh concluded, "One thing's for sure, no man needs to have consent for oral or anal sex because there is no chance of impregnation, as Cardinal Baloney of New York has asserted. Let the liberal-socialists like Sandra Fluke and the Palm Beach sex police think about that that one!" As he spoke, Limbaugh salivated on the cigar in his mouth.
When asked to comment Sandra Fluke responded, "I believe Sigmund Freud and other psychologists have noted that a cigar is a phallic symbol."
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Written by Keith Shirey

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014
image for NFL's Goodell Speaks On New Peterson Revelation

Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson, already facing felony charges in Texas for child abuse, was accused in a separate incident involving another son who was 4 years old. In that case Peterson inflicted a head wound on his son, who was in a car seat, that apparently inflicted a scar, according to a text by Texas Child Protective Services
"Be still n take ya whooping he would have saved the scare (scar). He aight (all right) " said the text.
Peterson, who attended the University of Oklahoma for 3 years, speaks English below the level of recently arrived U.S. immigrants who struggle with the language, as is the case with many NFL former college players.
In the more recent case Peterson beat his son with a piece of wood - a "switch"- that resulted in cuts and bruises to the boy's back, buttocks, legs and pouch of skin holding the testicles known as the scrotum. Peterson has been indicted in that case and faces a potentially stiff legal sentence.
Peterson's playing in NFL games will not be affected by the two cases. Commissioner Roger Goodell said today "Even if a Grand Jury indicts Peterson for felony child abuse in the just revealed older case, he should be able to play on Sundays because we don't want to interfere with the proceedings of the great American legal system."
Commissioner Goodell also stated, "It should also be noted that Adrian is a father who administers corporal punishment in a loving way. If he causes scars and abrasions to helpless four-year-olds, he has no intent of doing so. That would also be true if he accidentally kills a child," said the NFL Commissioner.
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