Sunday, October 30, 2011

Romney and Cain in Iowa?

A just released poll indicates that Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are in a dead heat among Republicans likely to vote in the January nominating caucus. So, does this automatically mean that its’ a Romney-Cain showdown in Iowa?

Given the less than sterling response from the Republican base about any candidate, I wouldn’t count any Republican candidate out, though Rick Santorum and my personal Republican favorite John Huntsman are far back in the polls. Polls can lie because they rely on the assumption that people are truthful, which isn’t always the case.

Further, Iowa in the last three decades hasn’t exactly had the pulse of America in the caucuses, as I pointed out in Caucus in the Corn available here: A victory by any candidate should not be considered a death blow unless you’ve based your entire campaign upon the state…see Rick Santorum.

Many men have won in Iowa on their way to not becoming the nominee. Furthermore, the caucus is in two months. We’ve seen campaigns fall apart over one scream and a bizarre geography bee by Howard Dean. Campaigns can rise and fall in the next two months. Right now, its’ too close to call.

Bachmann: Tea Party Sinker?

Is Michelle Bachmann sinking the Tea Party? That’s the question as Ned Ryun- head of the Tea Party Group American Majority has written a blog calling on Bachmann to go, amid falling poll numbers, staff shakeups, and other scandals. But are such things damaging to the Tea Party itself?

Not really. Republicans and Democrats run dog candidates all the time, usually in seats they have little chance of winning, and no one questions their strength on the basis of one or two uninspiring candidates.

The Tea Party themselves had this experience previously with Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle among others, who were defeated by more experienced and/or mainstream candidates.

 The Democrats lost Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat to a Republican Scott Brown after running a lackluster Martha Coakley. My overall point is: As long as the message doesn’t get bogged down, the Tea Party will remain a force on the political scene.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In Death, We Celebrate?

The recent deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi have created an interesting question “When do we celebrate a person’s death, if ever? Most Christians would probably say “never” while if you’re a person who had their lives impacted by Bin Laden or Qaddafi than you feel justified by taking to the streets in celebration.

 It would be just as morally wrong of me to stand in judgment and condemnation of people whose shoes I can never stand in. The scenes of Gaddafi’s corpse aired on worldwide newscasts are frankly overkill personally, but some people need those images for personal reasons.

I came to my determination thinking about the hours after the September 11th 2001. Throughout the Arab World, revelers burned American flags and effigies of President Bush in the streets. As Americans, we hated these displays. Therefore, why would we then turn around and celebrate someone else’s death?

 If we’re looking to prove that we’re better than the Bin Ladens and Qaddafi’s of the world than we need to show that were better than the savages. Defeat evil and negativity through good deeds, not by celebrating death.

The Reality of a Reformed Soviet Union

There’s growing concern among Senate Republicans in Washington that Vladimir Putin in seeking greater economic and political cooperation with former Soviet states is actually seeking to recreate the former Soviet Union.

I can’t speak to reality on the ground in Moscow, but I do know that the second coming of the Soviet Union won’t be quite like the first. The world has become a far more global place economically and socially. It isn’t so easy to just divide East-West and keep information out. I talked a little bit about this in Asia’s Censor Problem available in the archives. Russia needs the West as a trading partner for its’ oil and natural gas, so isolation as promoted in Lenin and Stalinist times, isn’t exactly an option.

 I keep hearing about how Russia is going to be rich as the West crumbles. Not necessarily, yes Russia has a large supply of oil and natural gas, but there going to have years of digging to get to the stuff. Furthermore, they’ve failed to diversify their economy so its’ not as fuel based. Until such action occurs, they’ll always be hostage to the commodities market.

If anything, Russia may accomplish Soviet Union-lite.

Herman Cain, Republican Nominee?

That’s the question Christian Science Monitor had earlier this week: Can Herman Cain win the Republican Presidential Nomination?

 Well technically, one could create a scenario where Rick Santorum wins the nomination, but assuming one is moving beyond the notion of “can” and into a probabilistic formulation, as much as I disagree with Herman Cain’s positions, I think he has a chance to win the nomination.

To win the nomination, he has to make it through the Republican primary process. Primary voters are typically more politically aware and ideologically driven than the electorate at large. At the moment, the Republican electorate appears to be quite fired up at the prospect of Herman Cain and the simplicity of his 9-9-9 tax plan.

 There is definitely something to be said for simplifying things in a contest where there are a bunch of men who seem to enjoy tossing around fifty dollar words and accusations about people’s gardeners.

My challenge for Herman Cain is that sound bites on the campaign trail like 9-9-9 are great for getting votes to win the election, but what happens when the reality of Congress smacks him in the face?

Tax reform is required campaign speak, but has often fallen flat in Congress, what makes Cain so different? Barack Obama spoke of hope and change four years ago and we’ve seen what happens when the electoral message meets political reality.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blame Yourselves For Congress

Approval ratings for Congress are more pathetic than ever with 60-70% of Americans disapproving of their job performance. Congress should be blamed for two near government shutdowns, a near miss on debt default, and the constant droning of partisan bickering. But the blame also lies with the very American public who disapproves of Congress at large.

It’s a well known axiom of American politics that turnout is much greater in combined elections (presidential and legislative) than just legislative elections only. The people who turn out in legislative only election years are more politically active and generally more extreme in their views than a general electorate.

Therefore, to an extent, it could be said that the current Congressional gridlock could be blamed on the relative apathy of the general voter that turns out for presidential contests, but can’t be bothered with mid-term elections. If we want a better Congress, we have to prove it through  issue education and voting.

The Problem With Debate Policy

The Republican Presidential debate has produced some interesting sound-bites and late night comic fodder, but has it really produced much in terms of meaningful policy substance.

 I mean its’ great to tell the audience that your not Barack Obama in all, but what has any presidential candidate offered in terms of policy. When I say policy, I mean policy that can be enacted within the first few weeks of a new administration?

 Herman Cain has surged to the front of the pack for the simplicity of his 9-9-9 plan, but does he have the support to enact it within Congress? I’ve heard more talk about Mitt Romney’s gardener than policy substance. America needs substance, not three year olds throwing tantrums.

Debates are not the place for policy substance though…debates are designed to appeal to the base of Republican voters who will be voting in a primary. You have to appease the base as a candidate in primary and then do a spin-job to catch enough of the general electorate to win the actual election, without alienating your base.

 Candidate websites and voter guides are much better sources of information than these debates, which provide living proof that money doesn’t equal maturity. So for anyone voting in a primary, please only use the debates as a tool in making your decision, otherwise look to be sorely disappointed.

The Curious Reality of Presidential Elections

In presidential systems, there’s this widely held, though ultimately incorrect belief that the presidential contest is more important than the legislative contests.

 Now it is true that the President has a higher profile than most local or national legislators and has the ultimate say over most matters of national policy as Congressional vetoes are rare. But it is the leaders of Congress who ultimately introduce legislation  Though the federal level is important, the local level is basically forgotten in the voting calculus.

Many key local and statewide contests take place during non-presidential years. If we use the “greatest impact on everyday life” as a variable than its’ local elections that matter most because these elect our mayors, alderman, and county board members who have the power to enact ordinances or raise taxes that effect our everyday lives.

 Presidential and Congressional decisions, though important, could take years to filter down to the local level, if they ever do. Given this context, why are presidential elections considered so important?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Congrats to RVCMUN Team

Thrilled that the Rock Valley College MUN team did so well at their conference last weekend. I’ve been talking about them on this blog periodically over the last several months. Thanks guys for not making me eat crow because I don’t particularly like eating crow…its’ oily and tastes like a fifty year old gym sock.

Here’s to hoping that Boston brings bigger and better things. If you attack life like a Model UN conference, life will be full of better things for all you guys.

Both Sides of Iraq

Although, I’m thrilled that President Obama will be bringing many troops home from Iraq by the end of the year, I can also understand the everyday Iraqis apprehension at this plan.

 From the United States side, its’ about time given the public has grown impatient waiting for Iraq to become stable; amid reports of sectarian violence. I don’t think the American people would tolerate another year or five at current troop levels without demanding the Commander in Chief’s ouster. Factoring in the sloth-like state of the economy and the bitter partisanship occurring in Washington these days.

For the Iraqis, they see an army that is under prepared, a questionable government, and a country that still has much rebuilding ahead of it. Meanwhile, Iran wants to influence the on the ground situation in Iraq, and is already doing so according to some sources.

 One can understand why the average Iraqi would not be enthusiastic about the prospect of an Iraq without American boots on the ground. I have a great deal of empathy for the Iraqi people, but the American reality is inescapable.

War is Still Human, Damn It!

Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating report on what could be the future of warfare. Really cool read available here:

Although the article points out many fascinating innovations with robotics and weaponry, I’d like to keep in mind that war is still going to be a largely human enterprise with factors that even our greatest technological advantages can’t account for.

That is perhaps the greatest take-away from the original execution of the Iraq War. Rumsfeld among others was looking towards the future of war, with smaller forces and a greater reliance on technology and contractors.  Eventually, we went back to a more conventional force structure with the added technological components.

I think anything that has the potential to put less soldiers in harms way is a victory for humanity. However, war is a bloody business and there will still be death, no matter how good the technology gets. If one needs a proof of this point, consider the discontent that the NATO night raids in Afghanistan has caused.

The problem with technology is that it is controlled by humans, and humans are not perfect. The technology can and will commit errors if its’ overlords make a mistake in its’ programming, coordinate information, or any number of untold variables. Humans make war, not robots.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I’ve Learned About Blogging

As some of you may know, I just posted my two hundredth blog post on Book Diplomacy. If you can read and understand any of this stuff, may God bless you, my style is a bit of a train wreck at times. That may be my greatest take-away from the first 200 blog posts…here are some other key things I’ve learned…

This stuff doesn’t just appear out of thin air- I spend hours every week on this blog, which was honestly much longer than I was prepared for, at the start.

Never give the impression of insulting Harry Potter- He has the most amazing fan base in the world and they will not hesitate to defend him, if they feel he’s been wronged. One of them was a girl I hope to call my friend someday.

There are places you don’t go- As a blogger, you have to have a conscience. I could come on here and roast certain people, but what does that really prove? It just makes you as a big a jerk as the person you claim to be better then. Just because the platform exists, doesn’t mean you use it.

Have Fun-I get so excited, when I can sit down and write blog stuff because its’ such a departure from the articles I usually read for seminar.

Pakistan: Get Tough With Terrorism

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has once again pleaded with her Pakistani counterparts to get tough on militant havens within its’ borders. How many times have we watched this movie before?

U.S.-Pakistan relations have the tendency to remind me of a bad cable channel that airs the same movie twenty times in a month. The United States will ask Pakistani leaders to clean up terrorism in Pakistan, Pakistan’s leaders will enact largely cosmetic efforts to appease the Americans, and then return to the status quo out of fear of being displaced by the military establishment.

For a civilian leader in Pakistan, this is hell. While you may want to do the right thing and crack down on extremist elements within Pakistan, being too aggressive may lead to your imprisonment and/or death. Not doing anything, angers the United States, whose favor your desperate for.

 The real question is: What is going to stop this from becoming another U.S.-Pakistan dance where both sides offer rhetoric, but little action. Just once, I wish the United States would take meaningful action instead of issuing sternly worded statements for media consumption then backing off when Pakistan plays the strategic ally/nuclear card.

Lessons from Spain’s Battle with the ETA

The Spanish terrorist group ETA, who has been fighting for an independent Basque territory against Spain and France, announced an end to its’ violent terrorist activities that have killed at least 900 people over the last twenty five years. They further called for a political solution to address the legitimate grievances of the Basque people.

 Though some Spaniards are leery because members of  ETA have made similar promises before only to resume terrorist activities at a later point. Let’s assume for a moment that the ETA is genuine in this announcement, Spain has provided a useful blueprint for defeating terrorism.

Spain and France put a great deal of police pressure on elements of the ETA. Further, they’ve allowed pro-Basque independence parties contest seats in municipal elections, giving Basques an alternative to ETA’s terrorism. These parties have garnered greater support over the last few years, starving the ETA of their base of support.

 ETA’s undoing may have been its’ own failure to honor a similar promise to cease violent hostilities in 2006 as it was negotiating with the Spanish government. That overreach is important because it had a large part in discrediting the organization, among its' base population. If a terrorist organization loses its' legitimacy, it's relegated to the fringes of society, or eliminated altogether. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Qaddafi Dead?

Well this wasn’t exactly the news I was expecting to wake up to this morning. Various news outlets have been reporting over the last several hours that Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi has been killed. If confirmed, this would bring an end to forty + years of head games with the international community.

Qaddafi was one of the most colorful world leaders on the global stage from his cadre of Eastern European female bodyguards to his bizarre rambling commentaries like claiming that Obama was his son during one of his last appearances before the United Nations. For all his theatrics and rhetorical grenades, there was another very dark side to Qaddafi.

He was a state sponsor of terrorism, most notably the Pan Am Flight 103 attack over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988. Various sources also linked him to a deal with the AQ Khan Nuclear Network based in Pakistan that would’ve given Libya nuclear materials. These actions suggest that Qaddafi understood a basic axiom of international politics: A small state can be made big through force of action.

Domestically, Qaddafi terrorized his people, killing untold numbers of individuals who dared stand against him, in the most brutal ways known to mankind. To say, I won’t mourn his death is an understatement, but one certainly can’t deny there won’t be another like Muammar Qaddafi .

Small Freedoms

The government of Myanmar (Burma) has been doing something odd lately. They’ve released a number of prisoners of conscience over the last few weeks, whose existence was previously denied by the regime. It has been suggested that political prisoners may be released in batches to gauge Western responses to the move. The fact that some political prisoners are being released is a huge eye opener given that Myanmar once had the most repressive government this side of North Korea.

The new government has sought to forge a degree of trust among the government and Suu Kyi- the most influential opposition figure in Burmese politics. They’ve also agreed to stop censorship and may agree to look at the electoral system reform that could clear Suu Kyis’ National League for Democracy to run for office. Source:

The West has been faked out by the Myanmar government before, so the West would be wise to not wet themselves over this recent turn of seeming goodwill. Lets wait till all the prisoners are released, censorship is repealed for a meaningful period of time, and these little things called democratic elections occur and the results are respected, before we go removing sanctions and opening the doors to the new tastes great less filling Myanmar government. Lots of things sound good here, but we’ve been burned by the tantalizing flame of Myanmar democracy before.

Turkey-Free Europe

Turkey’s ascension to the European Union appears if not dead, in a coma over Turkish actions against Cyprus and some EU member countries resistance to Turkish membership. As an open question: Who needs who here? Turkey has been held up to the Arab world as the ideal model for democracy and freedom, while Europe appears weakened thanks to a debt crisis that threatens to humble even the strongest European economy.

Why would Turkey agree to be dubious part of one community when they could serve as a modernizing model for another community?

Indeed it appears they don’t. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Brittan and France of having neo-colonialist designs in Libya, while accusing a German foundation of funding Kurdish separatist group PKK, per an Economist report available here: Not exactly behavior of a perspective EU member. Of course, their face of modern Arab democracy isn’t exactly sound either.

Although the army is losing government clout, pretrial detention periods for terrorists could be reduced, and the opposition is being consulted on a new constitution to replace the 1980 military coup constitution. More journalists are in jail in Turkey than any other country, violence against women is among the world’s worst, and a renewed Kurdish crackdown has arrested 3000+ including 12 mayors and 6 parliamentarians.

South Sudan: Terror Haven

Another one from the where were you last week file. South Sudan Minister of the Interior Alison Manani Magaya has accused North Sudan of providing support and training camps for the Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) to launch attacks into South Sudan in an effort to destabilize the recently minted country.

He also mentioned some 27 entry points that will be reinforced and cited as poor infrastructure as a reason why so many people have found their way into South Sudan. For the international community, these actions could represent their worst fears as the North appears determined to weaken its’ southern neighbor.

This would be far from unprecedented. All kinds of nefarious things happen in newly democratic countries. Take the collapse of the Soviet Union for example, were still trying to account and secure the vast supplies of nuclear weapons with somewhat mixed results. In order countries, black markets in goods and services have proliferated seemingly overnight.

That terrorists could set up shop in South Sudan is indeed likely because the lack of infrastructure makes movement from place to place easier. Furthermore, the government is new and fragile, if your aim is take down a government…you’d most likely go someplace where institutions are weaker.

For South Sudan, did you really expect the North to give you freedom?

American Troops to Mexico?

I’ve been sitting on this one for several weeks. Texas Governor Rick Perry created waves at a recent town hall in New Hampshire by saying he would consider deploying U.S. troops to Mexico to help fight the gangs---assuming, of course, that Mexico was interested.

This suggestion has not been greeted warmly on either side of the border with the Mexican ambassador calling it a “non starter” while the American public perhaps war weary argues in recent PEW Research polls that the United States should pay less attention to problems overseas.

Although, I’m inclined to agree with many Americans polled by PEW, Mexico isn’t an Iraq or Afghanistan, it shares a highly porous border with many of our Southwestern states and some members of various drug cartels have become increasingly brazen in recent months both in their actions and their complex tunnels that extend into the US in some cases.

 Whether we like it or not, the U.S. government is probably going to have to make a stand eventually because the drug cartels represent a meaningful national security threat against the United States.

The military may be the only ones capable of handling things…if Mexico can’t.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What we’ve Lost

I think it sucks that we’ve lost so many young men and women in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because it feels like they had so much more of everything to give us.

 Their love, their friendship, their laughter, their smiles, all of that has now been silenced save for pictures and the cinemas of our mind.

If I had my wish, war would be a banished tool of barbarians and we’d all live in peace…but alas, this world exists beyond our reach.

 No one ever dies though, as long as we never forget them, not just as soldiers, but as human beings who shared with us their hopes, dreams, joys, and ambitions, and made us better in the process.

Wish you were here.

Getting Real on Afghanistan

I’ve been avoiding a question ever since I started Book Diplomacy that I get quite often “What do I think about Afghanistan”?

I think the Bush administration made the right move in invading Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks. The error which given the circumstances is inexcusable is in failing to understand the history and culture of Afghanistan. If they had studied either they would’ve understood how illogical imposing the Western conception of heavily centralized government on Afghanistan was.

 Afghanistan is a heavy fractionalized, tribal, society that in my view needs something approximating mixed sovereignty-where the centralized authority has authority over things like international affairs, defense, and global trade, while allowing local leaders control over local and regional matters.

We are not going to blast Afghanistan into a modern democratic state, no matter how many guns or bombs we have. Our best hope for victory may be for Afghanistan may be for the average Afghan to say that America left it better than they found it. Right now, I don’t know if anyone can say that given the ramped corruption of the Karzai government and anger over NATO’s night-raids. Opium is the most profitable economic item within the country and there’s a remarkably stubborn insurgency movement there.

 Is Afghanistan better with Karzai and American troops or the Taliban…that question should be fairly easy to answer…but I’m very much afraid what will happen to the good Afghan people when we do leave. Do they form a country or descend into warlordism? The thought keeps world leaders up at night, I’m sure.

Opium Nation

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is responsible for ninety percent of the world’s opium supply, despite improved eradication efforts. Opium cultivation has risen 7% in 2011 over last year and production has increased by 61%. Growers site economic hardship and high prices for opium crops as key reasons for growing poppy crops that eventually become opium.

 Government attempts at eradication are seen as attacks on farmers livelihoods in the absence of a replacement crop that provides a similar revenue stream and has created a source of recruits for the Taliban. Source:

No country wants to be known as a narcotic state, given all the problems opiates bring upon society, but without a meaningful alternative, what does the international community expect? In places like Afghanistan, survival is the name of the game, and if growing and cultivating opium will give you, as a peasant farmer the best chance to survive, why would you change?

 This is a government issue, either search for meaningful crops that provide livelihoods or shut up about opium plants within your country. At the end of the day, its’ all about making a living and surviving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Underwear Bomber

Perhaps illustrative of my above point about Africa being a potential terrorist recruiting ground of the present and future. The “Underwear Bomber” pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom last week for attempting to blow up a jetliner over Detroit, Christmas Day 2010.

Though, I’m certainly not going to shed a tear for the underwear bomber, I think this case speaks to larger problems that we as a country have yet to meaningfully address.

 Despite our best security, he still found a way onto a commercial airliner and could’ve brought down a plane with 250 passengers onboard. This is indicative that even with the world’s greatest security measures, the terrorists can always find a hole.

My larger point, is the terrorist breeding ground that is Africa. Africa is plagued with bad governance, lack of jobs, lack of education, and just a general lack of opportunity. Terrorist groups prey upon the margins of traditional society, exploiting the isolated and giving them something to believe in.

 The “Underwear Bomber” may have failed in his ultimate goal, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean that there are not other disaffected souls around the world, under the sway of terrorist ideology seething at the thought of finishing the Underwear Bombers work and creating their own legacy.

Should the United States move against The LRA?

100 US Special Operations Forces began deploying to Africa in order to assist local military leaders in their quest to capture the brutal Joseph Kony head of the Lords Resistance Army who has killed thousands of civilians, raped women, and abducted children for use as child soldiers.

The soldiers will fan out throughout Uganda, Central African Republic, Congo, and the newly minted South Sudan. Their role is to act in an advisory and intelligence capacity unless forced to defend themselves. This is another example of Barack Obama’s military strategy: smaller numbers of more specialized forces and greater use of targeted drone strikes. The question: Is it the right strategy?


President Obama has defined this mission in terms of America’s national security interest. While that claim is disputed by some, the Pentagon has added “preventing of human suffering due to mass atrocities” to its’ list of priorities outlined in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. The L.R.A. most certainly fits that definition, meaning that such action is indeed warranted. Furthermore, the President was given a 2010 Congressional mandate to deal with the L.R.A.

Obviously, a big military buildup is out of the question given other commitments, but something small and directional is warranted given our human rights stances and the fact that Africa is considered by many experts to be the next terrorist hotspot.

I’m further struck by a lack of alternatives: we shouldn’t sanction an already economically fragile region for 300-400 L.R.A operatives. Doesn’t it make us appear heartless and cruel to let more people die?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good luck to the Rock Valley College MUN

Just wanted to take a few minutes to wish the Rock Valley College Model United Nations Team good luck at their conference in Washington D.C. later this week. You’ve worked hard for months, now all that hard work will pay off in just a few days time. There’s not much else to do from here, you just have to believe in yourselves and everything else will fall into place.

To the young members of the team, this is a positive because it means that someone has high expectations of you. Trust me it beats the alternative. For the more experienced members of the team, drink up the experience, things like this don’t come around too often. To the advisors, have confidence in the people you’ve chosen because they will come through for you, with flying colors.

Serbia’s EU Bid: It’s About Kosovo

While praising many aspects of Serbia’s development in a report released last Tuesday, the European Commission (EC) identified Kosovo as a key issue preventing the launch of membership talks.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia considers the region a breakaway state. Belgrade runs “parallel structures” within Kosovo mostly inhabited by Serbs with governments and courts. The EU itself supports independence and provides support to Pristina government. Serbian president Boris Tadic facing election next year, can’t be seen as weak on EU membership or Kosovo, given the large Serbian population that still live there.

Genocides die hard. Given that the EU and the US have already blocked the idea of a partition. Would the respective governments agree to something of an amnesty program? A set period of time where Serbs within Kosovo will have to decide whether they belong to Kosovo or Serbia. After this period of time, Serbia would renounce all claims to territory within Kosovo are recognize the rights of an independent Kosovo.

 An independent Kosovo is really the bottom line, either Serbia accepts it, or else it never gets the acceptance in the EU that is clearly covets. While resolving Kosovo won’t lock up an EU invite, failure to do so may derail any hope of an invite.

Why Slovakia Said No

Slovakia’s parliament voted against the expansion of the European bailout fund, the EDSF that would’ve gone to bailout Greece. Not only does this vote have consequences for Europe at large, who is struggling to contain a far reaching debt crisis, but also caused the collapse of Slovakia’s coalition government.

The Freedom and Solidarity party failed to support Prime Minister Ivetta Redicova arguing that Slovakian taxpayers should not have to bail out Greece because Slovaks don’t make much more than Greeks on average and furthermore Slovakia implemented austerity measures Greece didn’t. The measure will likely pass on the second vote, with the opposition having accomplished its’ goal of bringing down the government.

There is something to be said in my view for smaller countries not wanting to bail out bigger countries. Smaller countries typically have less money to spend and have instituted austerity measures. Meanwhile, bigger countries because of their size have engaged in a culture of “spend baby spend”!

As time goes by, it’ll be interesting to whether other countries follow Slovakia’s example and say no to the big guys. This was the beauty and miscalculation of the eurozone. It gives everyone an equal voice, but one country, even tiny Slovakia can hold a European powers fate in its’ hands.

The reason Slovakia said no this time, appears domestic…will Europe be this lucky next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Soviet Collapse by Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev gave a far ranging interview where he talks about regretting the collapse of the Soviet state, blaming the United States for not being more supportive of his efforts to reform the Communist system, and worries that Vladimir Putin is dragging Russia backwards into a state of plundered resources…a recap of the interview is available here:

I want to react to his thoughts about The United States not being supportive enough of his economic and political reforms. I have a lot of personal respect for Mikhail Gorbachev not being another Soviet leader who left in a casket, and for making a legitimate attempt to better things for his people, but he’s off base in his criticism of the United States.

Some Russians regard Gorbachev as an agent of the West, implanted to bring down the Soviet system offering him more U.S. support only would’ve leant support to this view. Furthermore, the Soviet system spent sixty years demonizing the United States, how does us supporting you further, help you exactly?

Furthermore, all legitimacy is created domestically. By attempting such radical though necessary reforms in the face of such opposition is bound to create questions of legitimacy and if the Communist party couldn’t be unified than the mechanism of governing has been effectively broken.

The planned economy of the Soviet state was failing and Gorbachev was being attacked from all sides: the old school communists who wanted to preserve the Lenin system, and the liberals who felt that he didn’t go far enough in his reforms. It was his own communist brethren that brought him down because he couldn’t control the elements within the Soviet communist party.

None of these, where the fault of the United States.

United Russia: Communist Blueprint?

United Russia emerged about a decade ago to create a vehicle for then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to become President, following the expiration of Boris Yeltsin’s two terms. It is in this “Support Vladimir Putin” framework that the party has existed. It brought Dmitry Medvedev into the presidency in 2008 and will undoubtedly do the same for Mr. Putin in 2012. The party has been criticized as a “trade union of bureaucrats”, “party of rouges and thieves” and Mikhail Gorbachev called it a “bad copy” of the Communist party that ruled Russia until 1991.

Lets look at some of the realities created by United Russia since its’ founding.

If you mention United Russia to a person outside of the Russian Federation, you’ll get many quizzical expressions, mention Vladimir Putin and your on stronger footing. Vladimir Putin is the face of that party. Therefore, the party largely exists for Putin and advocates of his policy.

 They’ve always made sure to have 2/3 majority of Duma seats necessary to amend the constitution to allow for longer presidential term limits, higher electoral thresholds and spates full of new state regulation that have heavily curtailed free speech and electoral choice within the Russian Federation.

 7% electoral thresholds coupled with United Russia’s media dominance makes opposition virtually impossible.

Let’s see: Highly personalized leadership, state control over media, little meaningful electoral choice…United Russia sure sounds like a copy of the Soviet Communist party.

Viewing Ukraine From Europe

This past Tuesday, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for “criminal abuse” which occurred during her term as Prime Minister.

 The judge in the case described her actions as “using her official powers to criminal ends and, acting consciously, committed actions which clearly exceeded her rights and powers which had heavy consequences.

These consequences included signing entering into a deal for Russian gas that cost the Ukrainian state gas company Naftohaz $190 million while locking in an unfair price for Russian gas for the next ten years.

Many European observers have called the trial politically motivated and declared that the verdict risks having profound implications on the Ukraine-EU relationship.

The question for Europe is how much do you value Ukraine and why? If your looking for Ukraine to provide a containment type barrier to reasserted Russia power than maybe you should look elsewhere given the substantial population of ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine.

 Right now, the signs don’t look so good for a European Ukraine. Yanukovych has turned increasing autocratic and now that he has used the courts to punish a political rival. Ukraine looks far closer to Russia than Europe. Without European integration, Ukraine will have little choice, but to forge closer ties with Russia, a tragedy for European style democracy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

1 For 1000: The Israel-Hamas Prisoner Swap

Israel will be getting their soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit back, but the cost for his release is approximately 1000 Palestinian prisoners. This is very dangerous for Israel and a massive propaganda victory for a Hamas group that has been reeling amid allegations of corruption and Mahmoud Abbas bid at the United Nations for Palestinian statehood.

Although I’m thrilled that Mr. Shalit will be able to return to his family, Israel has basically illustrated that if Hamas holds an Israeli soldier long enough, the Israeli government will bend to public will, and pay a disproportionate price to retrieve him.

Furthermore, Hamas is widely viewed as corrupt among the rank and file Palestinian. Doing this showers Hamas with legitimacy, similar types of actions brought Hamas to power in 2006, as they were the only ones seen as capable of fighting the Israelis.

Even further, the numbers game just doesn’t add up. I realize one enters the very dangerous debate of just how much is a human life worth, but would you sacrifice 1,000 soldiers to save one human life, if this were a military example. Its’ ready made propaganda for Hamas: A thousand Arab souls are equal to one infidel soldier, they’ll say,  in case, they’d be right.

 Just a bad deal all around. Sounds to me like Netanyahu was more concerned about poll numbers and elections than securing the Israeli state.

Criminalize the Female Body

Sports Illustrated in run up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics ran a spread featuring four Olympians: Lindsey Vonn, Hannah Teter, Clair Bidez, and Lacy Schnoor in little more than their underwear.

This spread created a mostly positive reaction, but some internet bloggers spoke out against the overly sexy nature of the photos, a disrespect of the institution of the Olympic games and some even accused the women of cashing in on the moment for a little publicity.

Responding to the criticism, Hannah Teter said "I don't believe in the criminalization of bodies and women having to be ashamed of their bodies. That's just so wrong."

I can’t speak to their ultimate motivations. But lets analyze the facts: we had four adult women with strong athletic bodies, they are obviously very proud of. They made a conscious decision to take part in the shoot.

These women are also highly accomplished: Vonn and Teter have Olympic Gold Medals, while Bidez and Schnoor have carved out amazing careers that send them traveling throughout the world.

What a great message for young women growing up that they can be both sexy and successful.

Wanting to be Superman

It’s a very human thing to not want to accept that you have a disability. On some level we all believe that we’re Superman…capable of virtually anything until we’re told that we’re not. David Ross, my former speech teacher and fearless leader once brought in a woman who had suffered a stroke to speak with my leadership class. My big takeaway was that the world is not a kind place for people with disabilities. Looking back, she was absolutely correct. There are many clods, jerks, and idiots in this world who are incapable of understanding what having a disability is about.

For the disabled, society makes life no easier. There’s scores of government regulation and bureaucratic red tape that make even getting a base college education difficult, than government studies ponder “Why more disabled people are not college educated”? Most of us have to get up every morning and will ourselves to do something because it often feels like society would like to push us into a corner and play a forgetting game.

But there’s always our hope and there’s always our dreams…because we can dream of something greater than we have today. We have talents and abilities that regular people wish they had. The key is not to wallow in something that never was, and instead seek what could lie before you. There are days where this disability thing definitely sucks…but with support and good friends those days will get fewer and fewer. Aim high and remember that the only expectations that matter are those that you have for yourself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Target Ambassador: The American Decision

Details of a bizarre alleged assassination plot directed at the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States are slowly emerging. As of this writing, it appears as though two Iranian operatives attempted to get a member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination in a few days time in Washington D.C.

That Iran-Saudi Arabia detest each other should be no surprise, the Shiite-Sunni divide over who was meant to succeed the Prophet Mohammad has dated back at least fourteen centuries. In the modern context, Saudi Arabia is seen as pro-Western, while Iran is a fundamentalist Islamic state with links to Hezbollah and Hamas.

What does the United States do about this alleged plot? Is a military confrontation with Iran coming? Slow down war hawks, it was the Saudi Arabian ambassador and therefore I feel like the United States should let the royal family in Saudi Arabia deal with Iran.

Running in there with military forces would appear rash and hot headed, not to mention that we have enough of our own problems. The American public is already steaming over the state of the economy and perceived government inaction, I think if you engage in another military campaign, your fanning the flames of discontent with government.

Pursuing further sanctions against Iran is probably the best bet the Obama administration has at the moment, as Iran cannot go unpunished for a planned assassination on American soil. At this point though, I can’t authorize military action. I’ll keep you posted as events warrant.

Europe verses Eurasia: A Battle of Unions

This post may very well get me a following among conspiracy theorists…my lifelong dream J . Upon completing the below post on a potential Eurasian Union, I had another thought: “What if the purpose of a Eurasian Union is to compete with the European Union?

The European Union was the invention of governments throughout Western Europe to link together countries that had similar views and ideas about democratic governance and free market capitalism. Maybe a Eurasian Union would represent countries that share common views of autocratic governments and heavily controlled state capitalism, which are common throughout Eurasia.

 This would be a tremendous clash of governing cultures and could be seen as a challenge to the European Union. This could also be thought of as a modernized version of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations where East meets West for some sort of showdown.

Before anyone goes awakening the ghosts of the Cold War though, the world has changed dramatically since the days of World War II. Isolation is simply not an economic and cultural reality anymore. Russia is flush with oil and natural resources, but they have a ready and hungry base of customers within Europe.

It makes just as much logical sense for Russia to unite with its’ neighbors as it did for many of the members of the European Union, even if I personally believe that an Eurasian Union will be a mess. My main concern is how does Russia accomplish its’ goals in the Asian neighborhood?

Putin’s Eurasian Union

Current Russian Prime Minister and Future President Vladimir Putin has proposed something of a Eurasian Union that would contain Russia and states that formerly comprised the Soviet Union. I assume that any Eurasian Union would look similar to the European Union except with Russia as the dominant power.

 Putin made these remarks just days before a scheduled trip to China to sign a number of key trade agreements. I’d have to hear more about what Mr. Putin conceptualizes as a “Union” before I render a final judgment, but if he’s thinking of something like the European Union, the idea is a loser.

What if we have a Eurasian debt crisis like the one currently plaguing Europe? Russia is not so economically diverse that they could shoulder the load for large bailouts, meaning the heavy lifting would fall upon Russia, lets see how appealing a Union looks then.

 Furthermore, the region already has numerous problems with human trafficking and organized crime. Creating the kind of borderless society that the EU has would only seek to worsen these problems making it easier for Eurasia’s daughters to disappear into the seedy world of the global sex trade.

The only real advantage that I could see for Russia is a potential increase in influence among the former Soviet states, but even that could be marginal as one gets closer to China. The more I think about it, Russia would be merely the junior partner in any arrangement with China, which could be problematic given Russia’s tendency towards autocratic rule and desire to be the best country on the planet.

I see any Eurasian Union as a chaotic, fractionalized, mess and would plead with Mr. Putin “Just look at Europe.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hamas and Palestinian Statehood

Anyone who expected Hamas to support the bid for Palestinian statehood recently brought to the floor of the United Nations is clueless.

Hamas views the United Nations as an American and Israeli dominated institution, and any effort to gain statehood would be seen as a betrayal to the Hamas conception of a Palestinian state that includes the land that is Israel.

Hamas hasn’t exactly captured the mind of the Palestinian people since taking power in 2006. They’ve taxed many Palestinians to the point of even greater impoverishment, while many Hamas cadres drive around in fancy cars. Hamas is now viewed by many as no better than the Palestinian authority they replaced.

Mahmoud Abbas drive for United Nations statehood has little chance of passing, that is beyond the point. Abbas has dared to try something different. The Middle East peace process has been marred by started and failed negotiations, hot rhetoric of hatred and destruction, and sporadic outbreaks of war that just leads to more death and violence.

This “something different” has won Abbas support because the Palestinian people have grown fatigued with a lifetime of war, with nothing more than words and rockets in return.


Afghanistan’s Triangle Sandwich

Christian Science Monitor posed a very interesting question last week Can United States, Pakistan, and/or India bring peace to Afghanistan?


Although the thought interests me considering the strategic calculations that are going on in the background. Like growing tensions between the United States and Pakistan, the Karzai governments less than friendly recent words directed at elements within Pakistan, and the Afghan governments move to bolster friendly relations with India.

The unfortunate reality is that no one can bring peace to the Afghanistan, but Afghans themselves. If they request international assistance, than we should do everything we can to provide it. We should do everything we can for Afghanistan.

I realize this statement is not popular among many Americans, but it is reality. We invaded in response to a terrorist attack and proceeded to rout the Taliban. That therefore, puts the United States on the hook for providing the average Afghan citizen can use. That said, this should not be without limits. We cannot stay at current levels in Afghanistan forever, the electorate would not allow that.

Pakistan is part of the problem as the military and related organs support various insurgent groups, and I’m not sure that I trust India to not turn Afghanistan into an issue sphere to be lobbed against Pakistan.

Afghanistan peace is best achieved by the people of Afghanistan.

Ten Years in Afghanistan

The United States invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9-11-01 in order to dislodge the Taliban and fight Islamic extremism. Ten years later, the question needs to be asked what has that effort netted us? Almost 2,800 soldiers have been killed from the international coalition that first invaded Afghanistan.

 Furthermore, the Afghan government is the second most corrupt government in the entire world. As American forces make plans to largely withdraw by 2014, the fledgling Afghan army is an uncertain commodity that will be tasked with preventing a civil war in Afghanistan.

I have my doubts that we’ll reach a good conclusion in Afghanistan. Me doesn’t trust that the Islamists aren’t just playing a waiting game, waiting for an American exit before reemerging. And at any rate, I don’t trust Karzai to carry Afghanistan to peace.

The best American hope may be, to revisit a less centralized form of government that I’ve spoken of during my Afghanistan series posted in July, where you have the centralized government in Kabul, but autonomy throughout the various regions of Afghanistan. This type of government is the only sort of government that has succeeded in Afghanistan’s beautiful, yet sad, history.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Change and Explanation

I’ve been writing these vague statements about change on my Facebook including “I’m changing because I have to.” People have misread these statements, but their misread is understandable given my history of bending over backwards to please certain people. It’s been said that I try to hard to get people to like me.

 This current of change I’m going through is quite personal and has nothing to do with specific people. I am trying to get into graduate school and I am quite shy and introverted to the point where I almost never spoke in any undergraduate course.

Really shy people who can’t bear to speak publicly have a shelf life of about five minutes in grad school because participation counts for at least 30% of the grade in seminar settings. Therefore, I had a choice to make: either give up on even attempting graduate school or confront the one thing that scares me more than anything else: public speaking.

 There are days when its’ difficult…no matter how much some people may want change to be quicker, myself included, I can’t just go from super shy introverted person to captain of the debate team in a week. But with time and experience, I’ll be okay.

I like Big Brains and I Cannot Lie

With all due apologies to Sir Mix A-Lot and his big 1990’s hit “Baby Got Back”, he had the equation utterly wrong.

Now sure, the first thing most people notice about a person are their physical traits like hair and eye color, facial shape, height, and yes unfortunately if you’re a girl you may be judged by some men on how you fill out a pair of Daisy Dukes. I assume girls have their own criteria, but as I was born with male chromosomes that will have to wait for another day.

The problem is that many relationships seem to start based on how “hot” a guy or girl is and never beyond the establishing characteristic of hotness.

I’m no angel when it comes to checking out girls. but as you move away from being a teenager and mature a little bit, what you want in a relationship shifts. For me, its’ not just a matter of identifying a specific set of traits like blond hair, blue eyes anymore. Now I’m looking not just for certain physical traits, but certain inner attributes.

 I want a girl who has a brain…this massively beautiful brain that allows her to converse on a range of subjects from NHL hockey to the political and social issues of the day. My prevailing thought is that my future wife is probably a conservative Christian with an iron strong will.

The Real Stuff Steve Jobs Left

With the passing of Steve Jobs yesterday at the age of fifty six, we’ve lost yet another great artist, far too young. Perhaps, it is the nature of extraordinary human genius to be gifted to humanity. For the briefest of moments. Steve Jobs impact on the world is all consuming. He changed the way that we listened to music and searched the Internet through the I-Tunes and I-Phone, altered the movie experience through Pixar and turned Apple into one of the most successful companies in human history.

Jobs ultimate legacy however, rests in something far deeper than the latest technological gadget. Steve Jobs always had a vision and an unrelenting belief that his vision could become reality, even when people told him it was impossible. He believed that in order to change the world, you may have be considered crazy and unreasonable in your ideas and expectations, otherwise nothing changes.

In this life, you got to follow your heart and do what makes you happy because it’s your life, no one else’s. These are some of the many lessons, Mr. Jobs leaves behind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NATO’s Night Moon

The question is simple: Do we continue the NATO practice of nighttime raids against insurgent/terrorist elements in Afghanistan? And if we continue, what sorts of modifications do we make?

I think we should continue the nighttime opperations because there is a lower risk to civilians at night during these opperations and there’s a certain element of surprise attached to the notion that these opperations could take place at anytime day or night, This surprise element could instill a sense of fear inside these terrorists who appear less willing to die than they propagandize.

Where I think the NATO mission has failed to degree is in communicating to the Afghan people the reasoning for these activities. We’ve created largely unnecessary fear and anger among the average Afghan civilian because there’s been a large communication gulf between NATO forces and the Afghan people.

 We run the risk of losing what trust we have among the Afghan people. Many of them do not like terrorists any more than we do, but if we fail to properly explain the what and why of night raids, than we become just a group of occupying bullies.

China’s Russian Interplay

Russia is pumping millions of dollars into the long depressed Vladivostok region, mere hours from the Chinese border in anticipation of the September 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Conference in 2012.

Vladivostok was key military city during the Soviet Union, but when it colllapsed…the military left, taking many of the jobs with it. Now a region once lauded for having a glourious future, is a rusted out shell of its’ former self beseiged by corruption and an influx of Chinese workers, as many Russians leave the region seeking better opportunity.

All of this activity is taking place as fear increases that the region will eventually be lost to China. This is an interesting dynamic as we have a shrinking Russian population and a rising Chinese population that is cramped for space on the mainland. My guess would be that China would seek to expand its’ territorial base any way it could.

If I was in Kremlin and wanted to keep the Vladivostock region, I’d launch a comprehensive development program there, that incentivizes Russians to move or stay there through jobs. And I’m not talking one off projects either, but jobs that provide meaningful pay and a chance for a future. Otherwise, you might as well surrender the region to China.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The UN’s Congo Problem

The elections are to be held soon in the Congo as of September 21st 2011 and the debate is on as to how much a role the Unitied Nations should play. Congo has of course been ravaged by a brutal series of wars that have exhibited the worst of humanity. The international community is obviously anxious to marginalize their role in these elections (90 percent funding in 06.) This is not without good reason, I mean if the Congo is to stand on its’ own than it needs to have its’ own expeditures for elections and not become just another “international African project.”

But the United Nations needs to step up and deal with the allegations of multiple voter registrations and the scores of election related human rights abuses. This task can be undertaken by merely acknowledging such abuses to the public. Without the acknowledgement of such activity, you run the very real risk of creating another African state with questions of electoral legitimacy. This is most certainly not the outcome the international donor communtity signed up for within the Congo.


Lessons of the Ivory Coast

The swearing in of Alassane Ouattara  as president of the Ivory Coast presents an interesting situation for the United Nations and African Union troops who haven’t exactly had sterling records in dealing with African problems in the past. Ouattara won an election over strongman Gbagbo who refused to accept the resaults.

In the resaulting conflict, Ouattara’s forces routed Gbagbo’s forces in a conflict that was largely dealt with domestically as the African Union and United Nations failed to act in due haste. Still the UN and the French were needed to take back the capital of Abidjan from Gbagbo loyalists.

The resault here is notable because the African Union and the international community backed Ouattara’s claim to the office, something that is far from certain in deliberations over anything African. If such support contines, also a questionable proposition, then there may be hope yet, for a democratic Africa full of hope, not misery.

An unfortunate reality here is that Ouattara is correct in asserting “Domestic problems should be taken care of by domestic forces.” For the future of the African continent, lets’ hope Africans remember this. The international community has let down Africa more times than I care to count. International forces should not relied upon for quick action.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Drug Money Talks?

In my previous post, I praised better intelligence as the reason why the United States has had such success recently at capturing or killing suspected terrorists. In Columbia, their intelligence agency The Administrative Department of Security (DAS) is now accused of passing intelligence documents to associates of noted cocaine dealer Daniel “El Loco” Barrera.

This is the latest scandal for the plagued intelligence agency that is facing a concentrated effort to disband it, following a very public scandal where members of the agency were accused of wiretapping oppisition politicians, Supreme Court justices, and human rights activists. Source:

The above allegations shed a disturbing light on why the Columbian government has had such a difficult time in dealing with the rampent drug cartel problem there. When the cartels are able to gain access to sensitive information, the Columbian government is never going to gain traction in their own drug war. If the security agencies have been corrupted, what hope can there possibly be that democratic mechanisms like the rule of law can mean more than words on paper?

Barack Obama: National Security President?

It sure seems like we’ve been killing a lot of key Al Qaeda figures lately including yesterdays killing of the American born Anwar al-Awlaki. At the risk of inciting a hornets nest, Barack Obama is developing quite a mantle of national security successes that any Republican president would relish being able to run an election campaign upon. No candidate currently in the Republican field can boast anywhere near the national security resume of President Obama.

It strikes one as odd that all these terrorists are suddenly being blown away with precision and regularity over the last few months, while for seven years we fought the vaunted War on Terror and though there were successes, never netted the biggest fish.

 There are two potential explanations. 1. Terrorists are becoming horrendous at hiding out or 2. Our intelligence has gotten much better. The latter explanation is probably much more likely. But this recent spate of success is baffling because many of these terrorists are exactly where people have been screaming they’d be for years.

Maybe there were different priorities within different administrations and I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories and the like. But I don’t grasp how we can put so much emphasis on terrorism in one administration with uncertain results, while in another we’re having a flood of terrorist casualties.

Unfortunately for President Obama, he will either be reelected or dismissed on the strength of the economy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Case Against Chris Christie in 2012

I’m a Democrat admitting that I rather like Chris Christie and his pointed and blunt sound bite comments like when he told people to get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park as Hurricane Irene barred down on New Jersey. I think politics needs more men like Chris Christie who are willing to be blunt as a sledgehammer and tell things the way they are, as opposed to so many others who engage in half-speak and rhetorical exercises to avoid having to say anything meaningful and then blame everyone else when things go south.

Despite my admiration, if I had Mr. Christie’s ear today, I would strongly discourage him from a 2012 Presidential run.

That Republicans are looking for something different should be beyond dispute. This quest has gone on for months. Republicans will get excited about a potential candidate, said candidate enters race, and the excitement flickers out once they get a better look at the candidate. Just last month, the Republicans were clamouring for Texas governor Rick Perry. Well after a bad debate performace, now some are chanting for Chris Christie.

I’m very much afraid that he’ll end up like Perry and Bachmann before him: A hot candidate who fails the eye test when placed onstage. They’ll love ya right up until that first gaff on national television.

Wars of Things

Wars of things and ideas like The War on Drugs or The War on Terror are fundamentally difficult to fight because they involve not just a conventional victory on the battlefield through military or police might, but rather a victory over certain cultures and ideas that propagandize drug use and terrorism. Although the jury is still out on the War on Terror, I consider the War on Drugs though undertaken with good intentions to be a largely failed effort.

A brutal war between warring drug cartel factions holds innocent Mexican citizens hostage on a daily basis and the drug cartels keep finding new and inventive ways to sneak their products into the United States like through the use of large underground tunnels that then funnel the drugs onto American streets. Indeed it feels like there are more drugs in America today than when the actual war started in the late 1980’s.

As for the War on Terror, if we are fighting a war to eliminate all terrorism from the globe then we’re going to lose because terrorism as a practice has existed longer than the United States. It’s not just one ideology or man that spawns terrorism but a diverse range of grievances and justifications and those cannot be killed through gun and bullet…stack bodies high and deep... it won’t matter in the endgame. Terrorist ideas need to be repudiated within their host communities that is the only way that a true victory can ever be claimed.

These wars of ideas have no start or end date and are difficult to battle plan for because whether drug cartel or Islamic extremist, your enemy will adapt to your tactics…there’s greater mobility, changing battlefields, and they have tremendous costs beyond soldiers or border patrol. There are wasted lives and human potential used up by drug addiction and Islamic radicalization, not to mention the domestic resources expended in a cause that may be the noblest idea, but the most impossible undertaking.