Saturday, February 18, 2017

CONNECTING THE DOTS: INTERSECTIONALITY AND WAR

On a slow burn as I write this. A Teach In on Intersectionality in Trump's America had seven speakers, all of whom, with one notable exception,  kept the topic of their talk firmly within American boundaries. This is American Exceptionalism from the left.  It's as if the Vietnam War is still raging but the taxpayers don't know it.  Hey guys, there is a big world out there so it's Trump's World (and Obama's etc). Some quick thoughts from the perspective of feminist international relations..
FAKE NEWS. Fake news means omission, obfuscation as well as downright lies.  Lying about WMDs found in Iraq, the Gulf of Tonkin attack, the Lusitania ...re lies and fake news to make aggressive attacks popular. Omission is not  reporting widely that the US in 2016 alone, went on 26,000 bombing missions over the Middle East. Even 9/11 Commission chiefs complained that not all the facts were provided.
ALT RIGHT  Anti war views were more widely disseminated in the Alt Right blogs than in Clinton's campaign. Presidential Candidate Trump made it a cornerstone of his campaign, coming out publicly as did Sanders, against the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
DIVERSITY Check out the US military for numbers of non whites and poor writes promised an education as a recruitment incident. Poor youth sent to kill other poor youth in imperial wars over oil.  Similar to resource war against Native Americans over the Dakota Pipeline. Uranium on native lands used in depleted uranium weapons and nuclear weapons.
TRAVEL BAN. European countries have closed borders to refugee influx that was triggered by European/US wars in the Middle East and N Africa.
FALSE BINARY: Trump the irrational one vs Obama the rational one. The US media treats Trump like a woman: emotional, defensive, spontaneous, under someone else's influence (Putin), shows weakness (by wanting to 'talk' to Putin, ally with him to defeat ISIS). Needs a palace coup to overthrow him.
BIG POWER ELITES/FOREIGN WARS.  No, I don't like Trump either. But I don't like the NATO aggressive confrontation on Russia's borders, which Trump said he'd head off.
One of the reasons Trump was elected, was to head off nuclear war with Russia!! - See more at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46478.htm#sthash.UNvC9ykz.dpuf

BODY COUNT OF CIVILIAN WOMEN,  CHILDREN AND MEN  IN THE MENA REGION. Nobody knows because nobody is counting.

the liberal/progressive/left is allied with the deep state against democracy. The liberal/progressive/left are lobbying for the impeachment of a president who has committed no impeachable offense. The neoconservatives have stated their preference for a deep state coup against democracy. The media obliges with a constant barrage of lies, innuendos and disinformation. The insouciant American public sits there sucking its thumb. - See more at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46481.htm#sthash.0Lk7zGJ8.dpuf

Friday, February 10, 2017

MY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN TO RAISE $2000 FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 'COMRADES IN LOVE'



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/322934180/comrades-in-lovehttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/322934180/comrades-in-love

THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

Joel in 300 level U25 "American Foreign Policy"  wrote: " I liked the Idea of liberalism and I particularly enjoyed Immanuel Kant’s attachment to peace. I believe it is somewhat in our nature to want peace. However, peace requires the level of cooperation that has not been seen in the South China Sea. Do you think that the South China Sea dispute is a precursor to the troubles the United States is going to face when China becomes stronger and wants more influence?"
I replied:
In international relations policy making, it's always beneficial to see both sides of the equation.  The assumption from the US perspective is that the US has every right to be the main hegemonic presence in the Western Pacific.  The authors this week don't question the assumption. But one has to ask, who has given the US this right? Well to begin with, US allies in the region have. Japan, Vietnam  and the Philippines in particular are receiving military protection from the US. This in realist theory, is called 'bandwaggoning' of weaker nations under the main 'wagon' of the greater power.  Clearly, Japan especially wants protection against China, even though it was Japan which invaded China in WW2 .  In realist international relations, bandwagonning is accepted state behavior. But the hegemonic presence in Western Pacific, through the build up of US naval power under Obama, is threatening to China.  Under realist theory,  China wants to project its power in the China Sea, which is in the Western Pacific,  because in China's view, this is its 'backyard ' which it believes is threatened by the US.  So let's reverse the situation. Imagine if   the island of Grenada in the Caribbean, believes that it needs to join a bandwaggon under the protection of China, because it was invaded (in real life) by the US  in 1982.  China builds up its naval power in and around the Caribbean to protect Grenada. In this scenario, the US would feel threatened by China, all the more so because it regards the Caribbean seas, where Grenada is located,  as its 'backyard.'    
So in the liberalism theory of international relations, the China Sea dispute would be settled bilaterally or  taken to an international tribunal under the auspices of the UN . The  Philippines did the latter (with consent of the US). The difficulty then arose that China didn't accept the ruling against China in the international dispute mechanism in 2016, arguing that the conflict should be settled bilaterally. This is a recognized method by which most international  non-military conflicts such as a territorial claim, are settled today.  
So let's cut to the chase.  Liberalism has failed to find a solution. Realism will prevail and that is where we look at the wider balance of power in the Pacific. For example, let's look at Australia, probably the major  power in the region. Does Australia want the US to go to war with China over a few islands?  Australia has stated firmly it has not going to be  a party in territorial disputes. The South China Sea sits about 5,000 kilometres from Australia. That puts us in the firing line of a war between the United States and China.   The US is Australia's greatest ally and strategic partner while China is its biggest trading partner.In realism, Australia is now the balancing power and it's in the crossfire. Does Trump really want to risk a war in which Australia is in the crossfire?  So to answer your question, no I don't think this flashpoint will escalate UNLESS there is an accident or a deliberate provocation by a rogue element on either side.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THE ALARMIST MALTHUSIAN VIEW

The Malthusian view is that rapid population growth adversely impacts a country's economy, and globally, hinders development. It is an alarmist view that has not yet been proven. What we do know is that population density (resources ratio to people) does not always equate scarcity and crisis. Western Europe is densely populated and has high rates of urbanization, but is reasonably well  able to provide basic necessities to its population.  But this is probably because Western Europe relies on relatively  cheap imported goods produced by cheap labor in non European countries. Ironically, the masses of people in developing countries , precisely the ones whose labor were producing goods for the West,  were seen as a threat by such as t he World Bank, the UN and  American philanthropic foundations, such as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson made aid dependent on population control.I n 1968, the American biologist Paul Ehrlich sounded an alarm with  his bestselling book, The Population Bomb, In 1974, Prime Minister Ghandhi of India imposed a birth control sterilization program. Eight million Indians were sterilized, some say, forcibly or through bribes. In the 1980s, there was a backlash, based on religious grounds in the US. President Reagan Reagan  removed financial support for any programs that involved abortion or sterilization.  In 1994, a UN Population Control Conference in Cairo changed the ideology by declaring that 20-year plan of action, known as the Cairo consensus, which called on countries to recognize that the interests of women  - rather than demographers and politicians - should be at the center of  population strategies. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

A student wrote about the crime of forced prostitution (the so called 'comfort women) by the Japanese government against Korean women in WW2. "The acts of war rape that women have had to endure for the many decades is something that I think is taken too lightly.  So what I mean by that is there is usually no punishment for the crime and if so it's so minor that it doesn't make the statement of it being unacceptable.  My question  is...do you think that there is any forms of punishment that would ever satisfy such a horrible crime? "
I answered "you raise a very interesting question about how a state is punished. The problem is that sometimes, you can't punish a state without punishing its people, as we saw with the sanctions policy against Iraq 1990 to 2003. What 's left is the United Nations International Criminal Court. The International Criminal Court prosecutes individuals who have committed genocide and other major war crimes. Over 120 countries support it. It's been heavily criticized. African countries point out that so far, only leaders of poor countries have been subject to trial by the ICC. Gambia will leave the ICC by 2017. Russia is upset because it's been identified as an aggressor by the ICC for its reunification with Crime through a popular referendum. And the US has simply refused to join the ICC. Analysts think it's  because the US is viewed as an aggressor nation around the world, and the US is afraid that its military leaders and soldiers might be persecuted by the ICC. Publicly, the US says it's because international law can't supersede domestic American traditions and laws."
But sometimes states can be taken to task within the human rights bodies of the United Nations or through the media. For example, the human rights attorney Karen Parker has spoken against Japan for denying compensation to the so called 'comfort women'.  See this http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2016/09/665_185891.html

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

OIL PRICES DROP EFFECT ON SAUDI ARABIA

Good points about the 'blessing' of oil.  But when a country is dependent on one source of income that comes from nature, it's been also called the 'resource curse'. If we take the case of Saudi Arabia, we see that its economy is completely dependent on its production and distribution of oil. SA recognizes this and has tried unsuccessfully to diversify its economy. What happens when the price of oil drops?

Have you noticed how the price of gas has decreased at the pump in the US?  Recently,  oil prices dropped to $45 a barrel, from $70 a barrel and even $100 a barrel when China's demand was at a peak. Why did prices drop? There are a few reasons for this: US oil production doubled and Canadian, Nigerian, Iraqi and Russia kept producing record amounts which oversupplied the market thus  lowering prices. There has been a drop in production investments.  Demand for oil has been stagnating with economic recessions around the world. With sanctions against Iran lifting, now Iranian oil is coming onto an   already oversupplied market.  So is Libyan oil.

The lowering of oil prices has had a profound impact on the Saudi Arabian economy, which pays for 70 percent of its government budget out of its oil revenues. The SA government heavily subsidizes basic necessities (water, food).  The oil crisis  has created a budget deficit of 15 percent.  SA will have to borrow more, also to sustain its vast military  expenditures, weapons purchased from the US and UK, and  its war on Yemen. The new government, led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has proposed a new economic program called Vision 2030 to reduce the importance of oil in the economy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SAUDI ARABIA AND YEMEN AND STRAIT OF BAB EL-MANDEB

Students in my INTL 5625 Middle East class asked, what interest does Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the Middle East,  have in Yemen, the poorest? Why do they fear a Shia leadership? I always check out the geopolitics of the disputed area. Here is a map:
Image result for strait of bab el mandeb


See where the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb is. It's a narrow chokepoint separating Eritrea and Djibouti on the west and Yemen on the east. It's where ME oil flows out to its markets.

The US is backing Saudi Arabia in its war to eliminate the Houthis from Yemeni leadership. Why is Yemen important to the US?

"General Norman Schwarzkopf. In testimony to the U.S. Senate he said, “The Red Sea, with the Suez Canal in the north and the Bab el-Mandeb in the south, is one of the most vital sea lines of communication and a critical shipping link between our Pacific and European allies … Since a significant part of USCENTCOM’s forces would deploy by sea, ensuring these waterways remain open to free world shipping must be a key objective.”
http://susris.com/2015/04/14/the-bab-el-mandeb-maritime-chokepoint/
In other words, the shipping of and access to,  oil. And, there is the fear of Shia Iran taking control of this chokepoint.  Al Quaeda is also operating in the country. From:
The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and it is a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The strait is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Most exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline also pass through Bab el-Mandeb.
An estimated 3.8 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2013 toward Europe, the United States, and Asia, an increase from 2.9 million bbl/d in 2009. Oil shipped through the strait decreased by almost one-third in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and the decline in northbound oil shipments to Europe. Northbound oil shipments increased through Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2013, and more than half of the traffic, about 2.1 million bbl/d, moved northbound to the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline.
The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, limiting tanker traffic to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments. Closure of the Bab el-Mandeb could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal or SUMED Pipeline, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa, adding to transit time and cost. In addition, European and North African southbound oil flows could no longer take the most direct route to Asian markets via the Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandeb.
However, even if you agree that Western control over the access to oil is important and necessary, it is also true that  it is in doubt that the war  Saudi Arabia is waging against  Yemen is illegal under international law.  First of all,  it hasn't been approved by the UN Security Council, and constitutes an invasion.

Second, the humanitarian aspect. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed and their infrastructure destroyed. Famine threatens. The European Parliament has stated in a motion went  that “air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen have killed civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law, which requires all possible steps to be taken to prevent or minimise civilian casualties.”(I wrote about humanitarian law, or the law of the war, previously).

Other condemnation has come from Medecins sans Frontieres and Amnesty International. See this
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/27/un-report-into-saudi-led-strikes-in-yemen-raises-questions-over-uk-role
But Saudi Arabia argues that its war is legal. It says the government of Yemen was deposed and legitimate, and that it requested SA's military support to regain power. This is a scenario similar Iraq requesting US help in fighting ISIS. One government can request another government's military support under humanitarian law; it's considered legal under international law.
But Yemen’s case is far less clear-cut. In fact, the deposed President Hadi had lost control of the military , and the country was in the middle of a civil war for years.
Hadi’s legitimacy was weak. He'd won a 2012 election in which he was the only candidate following the Arab Spring protests of 2012. He extended his own mandate when it was up in 2014.