Promoting World Affairs

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Times They Are a-Changin’

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

It is really no surprise that if you stop writing a blog about politics for almost three years the world will change. Even with the posts on the front page before this one was published, I could see a list of my favorite podcasts. Now some of those podcasts, particularly from CNN, you have to pay for. I wonder how many people stopped listening? 

Apparently the last post was the debate regarding Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Wow, I had forgotten he won the thing.

Today we have the Arab Spring, the upcoming Presidential Election, the current Republican Primary, Iran’s resolve in obtaining a nuclear weapon, North Korea, European Migration, the crisis in the EU (which I think some posts were pretty much right on the money, despite me being typically anti-EU), the resolution in Myanmar (Burma), to name a few.

In fact, when those posts were last posted, I believe I was watching Gadaffi’s crazy stint in New York City. Now he no longer exists. Tunisia has changed, Egypt is changing, Yemen, Syria, even the confidence of Europe and the United States is shaken. Were the times in 2009, despite the “Great Recession,” a more stable time? Do we have even more uncertainty now than we did back then? Even when I look at my own life, do I have more or less confidence for the future?

2009 to 2012, three years, but boy, what those three years have been. Many probably see them as feeling like a decade, some probably see 2009 as yesterday. Regardless, we are in a different world now, and who knows what the next three years will turn into.

It is an exciting time for those interested in politics, international relations, and global economics. There are a lot of things to discuss, debate, and really just sit back in wonderment as events, some horrific and some not, literally take place before our eyes. 

In the next few posts you can expect my thoughts on the Republican Primary, the upcoming Presidential Election and other issues related to Europe. As I am currently based in the Netherlands I will also try to throw in some Dutch politics for good measure, which is also quite colorful thanks to a Mr. Wilders. 

For those who check this thing from time to time (if you are still there) thanks for hanging in there with me.

For those who are new, welcome, and lets get the debates started again.

Just bad timing

In Foreign Policy, Russia, The United States, Uncategorized on September 17, 2009 at 11:34 am

The big news of the day is that that United States abandoned its plans for establishing a missile defense shield in Europe. The change was expected but the timing was not. Obama is facing a lot of criticism at home for moving to the left, especially regarding health care reform. He has made concessions with the public option, but the Republicans are in full swing and are not shy about rallying the general public and portraying him in a very evil light. We’ve all seen the news footage of the townhall meetings and people screaming at their politicians, even of posters depicting Obama as a Nazi. This will undoubtedly add more fuel to this fire.

Regardless, the abandonment is not entirely a bad idea. Obama has made very clear that his adminsitration has three distinct foreign policy goals. The first is to increase U.S. activity in Afghanistan, as he believes, rightly, that Afghanistan directly threatens U.S. national security. The second is Iran and its nuclear program and the third is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We have established on this forum that the last two are directly linked. Apathy against the United States in the Middle East has more to do with the U.S. failure in pushing Israel to acknowledge an independent Palestinian state than the war in Iraq. If this can be resolved, he can put influential countries, such as Syria, Jordan and Egypt firmly on his side and put more regional pressure on Iran. Regarding Iran, the major stumbling block is of course Russia, who has been very adamant in viewing any attempts by the U.S. to start a Missile Defense program in Europe as a direct threat to its natural security. Therefore, the move to forgo any plans at such a shield has more to do with woing Russia than believing that such a system cannot work.

On the other side of the debate is the belief that in forgoing such a system is to alienate further our key Central European allies, Poland and the Czech Republic, in the face of an aggressive Russia. Admittedly, public support for such a system in these countries has been extremely low, and the European Union has always been very weary at any attempts by the U.S. in having such an influence in these countries, as their relations with Russia would be in jeopardy, a vital source for their vital energy resources.

This is a very bold move by the Obama administration considering the timing. Public support has been waning due to health care reform, and Democrats are putting up a fight concerning Obama’s plans in Afghanistan. It’s the right move to be sure, but it’s just very bad timing.

And the wheel goes round and round

In Foreign Policy, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, The United States, Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 at 5:12 am

Despite pressure from the Obama administration Israel is still planning to build 455 new housing units in the West Bank, according to this report. This move by defense minister Ehud Barak is seen as a slap in the face to Obama’s new hardline approach to the Middle East. Obama rightly believes that the U.S. image in the Middle East, as well as the difficulties the U.S. is facing in deterring Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are directly linked to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. If he can finally secure a two state solution, so it is believed, then many influential states in the Middle East, such as Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, could put more regional pressure on Iran in ending its nuclear ambitions. Unfortunately, as can be referenced in our “Et tu Brute?” post, Obama’s political struggles at home has an additional consequence of undermining his influence abroad.

Ever since its establishment in 1948, Israel has always took a realist approach to its foreign policy, especially regarding the occupied territories. Attacks on Israeli civilians by militant Palestinians has always been returned with a heavy handed response by Israeli troops. Just this past year in fact, after missiles originating from Gaza met Israeli soil, Israeli troops reentered the region, leveling houses one by one. Even the first successful act of peace brokered by Jimmy Carter at Camp David between then Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat was only made possible after Sadat initiated the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and gained considerable amount of territory, before finally being pushed back out of the Sinai by Israeli troops, as a consequence of an Egyptian deal with Syria to push further and leaving their surface-to-air missile umbrella.

Therefore it should be no surprise that Israel is taking advantage of Obama focusing his attention on pushing health care reform through Congress and losing political clout whilst doing it. Indeed, Israel may not be as strategically important to the U.S. as it was during the Cold War, it nevertheless knows politics and how to play the grand game of international relations.

The Obama administration should not tolerate this blatant maneuver to jeopardize the peace process. Though one could argue that failures in ending the Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be contributed to both the Israelis and Palestinians, the United States nevertheless has a substantial opportunity of having a President who was willing to put the conflict on his agenda in the beginning of his Presidency, clearly illustrating the need to end the conflict. But if history has taught us one thing, it is that the prospects of peace usually disintegrates when it is almost achieved. Obama needs to stay focused and use harsh language to criticize any Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, despite any trouble that he is experiencing at home.