Category Archives: Politics: International

Our Response To Crimea

Here is what John Kerry said we’d do:

Mr. Kerry repeated his warning to Moscow in remarks to a congressional panel on Thursday.

“There will be a response of some kind [to] the referendum itself, and in addition, if there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here,” Mr. Kerry told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

And here’s what we did:

…the Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine, while similar sanctions were imposed on four Ukrainian officials for instigating Sunday’s Crimean referendum.

That is very scary AND serious sanctions indeed!

All this still confuses me.

We support Ukrainians desire to force an elected President out of power – replacing him with one they find more acceptable.  But then we fail to recognize Ukrainians desire to separate from the country to join with Russia.

Pino’s Take On Ukraine

I admit to being ignorant on the history of the Ukraine and have absolutely no understanding of the history of the region or the nation.

However, I have done some investigation.

In recent history Crimea was part of the Soviet Union and was given to Ukraine in 1954 – some say as a gesture of goodwill.  With most of the population of the peninsula considering themselves Russian – it is very reasonable that there is significant desire on the part of the people to want to become part of Russia again.

Recent events in the Ukrainian capital forced the sitting President to flee the country and take up shelter in Russia.  The pro-Russian government has been replaced with a pro-Western government.  There is little doubt that Yanukovitch was corrupt and needed too be out of office.  Less clear to me is that a reasonable course of action given that state of affairs is to protest and forcibly remove a sitting elected official.  Elections, they say, have consequences and the method that a reasonable citizenry use to affect leadership is done at the ballot box.

Add this up and the events begin to make more sense.

Russia sees an ally thrown out by a coup and replaced with a government much less friendly.  They, Russia, feels that their strategic interests are at risk specifically in Crimea.  In an effort to solidify those interests, including the port of the Black Sea fleet, Putin moved into Crimea claiming he was acting in the defense of Russian citizens.

While Putin’s claims of caring for the citizenry of Crimea rings somewhat false given no threatened violence combined with Putin’s clear disregard for human rights, there is a valid point – that the region is historically Russian.

Added to this reality is the fact that I resonate with the argument that the revolt in Kiev was not the best response to a desire to change leadership.

What does this mean for the US?  Well, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone – there is little we can do to influence Putin as it pertains to the peninsula; we most likely have to live with the fact that Crimea will eventually become part of Russia – but given the make-up of the people living there, this is a relatively painless eventuality.

What we need to do is identify where we and the rest of the EU will draw its line as it pertains the rest of Ukraine at large.  And then send troops – to guard that line and train the Ukrainian army.  Additionally, it is time to address the President’s decision to abandon the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Clearly The Bear is stirring and if we want to be taken seriously we need to act in a manner commensurate with a growing Russian threat.


Barack Obama

A little busy here today with karate, dance and what not.

Scrolling through my news feed I found these two headlines:

Obama Warns Russia of “Costs” in Ukraine

And then

Russian Troops Take Over Ukraine’s Crimea Region

From my feed’s perspective, it took Putin 15 hours to regard Obama’s warning as anything but serious.


Obama Deportation Record

ImmigrationPresident Obama Deporting Record Number Of Aliens

The current administration likes to point out that they are strong on immigration enforcement:

Immigration officials announced last week that President Obama has deported more than 1.9 million people since first taking office, more than any other previous administration.

Sounds tough, right?  Nearly 2,000,000 people “gone”.  More than even Bush.


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Minimum Wage – Europe Style

Minimum Wage with without

A quick look at unemployment in Europe with and without minimum wages.

Critique of Barack Obama – UK Style

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

I’m tough on Obama.  I don’t think he likes what America is.  I think that he wants a dramatically more redistributionist state than we have now.

And I don’t think that he has any meaningful experience that would lend itself to being President of these United States of America.

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NAFTA – The Power of Choice


I often use the imagery of a full produce selection at my local grocery store to make the point that freer markets are better than less free markets.  Further, I like too make the point that while there are those Americans considered poor, they have options available to them that the most powerful kings in the world didn’t just 100 years ago – maybe 50.

It’s January here in North America – and yet you can go into nearly every supermarket and put fresh blueberries, raspberries, bananas and tomatoes into your cart.  It’s to the point of trivial.  For example, we just returned from Baltimore where my daughter competed in a dance conference.  As part of the routine, we make “adult punch” for the parents to enjoy after a long and stressful weekend.  Without even blinking an eye I add fresh oranges, mangos, blueberries and apples.

We have such abundance of fruit that in the middle of winter I can use it for such discretionary purposes as flavoring sangria.

Amazing what opening markets can do:

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Obama’s Syria – Red Line And Force

Syrian Flag

So, it’s come down to this:

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says the U.S. is open to a United Nations resolution that does not include the threat of military force against Syria if the government fails to surrender its chemical weapons.

That is what we call Game, Set and Match.

Described here:

The threat of force was never something the Security Council, where Russia and four other countries have veto power, was going to pass. Nevertheless, the LA Times describes the development as “indication of the White House’s weak hand in the unfolding negotiations between world powers.”  John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have been negotiating a deal for Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons to international control ever since the secretary of state off-handedly identified that as an unlikely diplomatic solution to the situation. The Russians seized on the perceived misstep and the UN resolution will include whatever arrangement Russia and the US manage to strike.

Why is the United States in the role of chemical weapons monitor of the world? Barack Obama insists it wasn’t him that drew the red line for war (a kind of “Who Killed Davey Moore?” moment), it was the world. The president claims international law demands he (on behalf of the world?) act. Yet, in fact, none of the existing international law on chemical weapons applies in this case. The president’s red line is his alone, his arguments to a non-applicable (or even non-existent) international legal regime notwithstanding. The UN does, under its charter, have the authority to act in some way on the human rights violations in Syria, but the Security Council has to act with at least the apathy of its five veto-wielding members, the US, Russia, China, the UK, and France. The Obama Administration’s newfound willingness to drop the non-starter that the threat of force is at the UN should mean it’s ready to meander away from a very much self-made crisis. John Kerry, it seems, has already turned his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, his other pet project.

We elected an “Occupy Wall Street” committee member as President.  It’s really not his fault, rather, it’s ours.


North Carolina Take On Syria

Syria is all the news.  Lot’s of folks don’t know what to do.  And I’m not saying that being from Syria allows greater clarification, but do think that hearing what Triangle residents from Syria have to say is enlightening:

Raleigh, N.C. — While the world weighs a military strike against Syria, the Syrian community in Raleigh is watching, waiting and hoping the world will step in to remove President Bashar Assad.

Khalila Sabra, who works with Syrian refugees, has seen the effects of Syria’s civil war firsthand. She calls Assad a butcher.

“He’s committing genocide, and the world is just standing by and watching it happen,” Sabra said Thursday.

Sabra and the Islamic Association of Raleigh have been gathering medical supplies and donations to send to the refugee camps on Syria’s borders. More than 2 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, and as many as 200,000 people have died in the civil war, she said.

“I would like to see Bashar al Assad removed by any means necessary,” she said. “I know that Americans have grown weary of war because of Afghanistan and Iraq, but our moral compass demands that we do something about Syria.”

Bilal Kanawati, who emigrated to the U.S. from Syria after high school, still has family in Damascus. He said he wasn’t surprised to hear about a chemical attack in his homeland.

“He’s done it before, and I’m sure he will do it again if we don’t stop him,” Kanawati said of Assad.

“It’s not political right now. It’s just to stop the massacres,” he said. “(Assad) is killing several hundreds everyday in Syria and the silence of the world is killing them more because nobody is acting because Syria is not an oil-producing country.”

No surprise that Assad is a butcher.  But no mention of a reasonable replacement either.

Syria – To Bomb Or Not

Syrian Flag

Our “Red Line.”

Obama created such a line when he warned Assad:

“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

“We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”

Obama’s remarks appeared to ratchet up his stance on the matter. Last month, talking about Syrian forces, he told a VFW convention, “They will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.”

I’ve long been more hawkish than dovish, and using force has been an easier proposition for me than for many of my friends.  However, I  like to think that there is a clear reason for such force and that the use of force actually accomplishes that reason.

What has changed for me, however, is the role that I see the United States playing in the world.  In the past, that role was one more sympathetic to seeing the US as the world’s police.  I’ve evolved in that view these past years and am more likely to reserve US military intervention for the direct defense of Americas.

That’s not to say that the “crimes against humanity” argument doesn’t resonate with me, it does – just not as loudly.  The world has been relatively clear that it wants a more balanced approach in the use of force; the United States doesn’t need to stand alone.  We are not living in that place where it was good vs. evil, the USSR vs. The USA.  Then it WAS us and only us.  Now, with the larger existential threat no longer looming, the conditions are such that we are too play a part – not the WHOLE part.

And more and more I’m okay with that.  In fact, as the world is becoming an ever growing economy tied together by trade and prosperity, I am feeling more and more confident in common goals.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, the more I think on it the more I am coming to see actions taken by nations that fall into two categories:

  1. Humanitarian Crisis
  2. War Crime

Those lines may blur some because it’s hard to imagine a humanitarian crisis existing that is technically “legal”.  However, for now, I’ll stay with those definitions.

In this context, Syria, as a whole, has been a glaring example of a Humanitarian Crisis long before chemical weapons were deployed.  The people of Syria have been subjected to suffering orders of magnitude more severe than the recent events surrounding the use of chemical weapons.

Additionally, the use of chemical weapons clearly violates international law.

Obama erred in his Red Line.  He erred in two aspects:

  1. The line he drew is a line best handled by international law bodies.  In this case, the UN.
  2. He failed to consider that should he take action, who would most benefit.

No one denies that gassing your own, or some one else’s, now that I mention it, citizens is horrible.  But it is no less horrible than walking up to them and simply shooting them.  If we wanna keep the days of the United States acting as world police, make that case and position your statements with such tone and tenor.  But enforcing international law?

No way.