Roy Moore’s Defeat in Alabama

Republican candidate Roy Moore was defeated in last nights’ U.S. Senate special election in Alabama. In a close race, Democratic candidate Doug Moore won the race by around 20,000 votes. This is going to hurt for the GOP agenda in the Senate, but perhaps it isn’t all bad. I never cared much for Roy Moore as a candidate and I think the GOP establishment was correct in shunning him from the beginning, it was a necessary action of self preservation and honestly President Trump should’ve kept his opinions to himself instead of reluctantly supporting Moore like he did.

 

Roy Moore is an alleged sexual assaulter, rapist, and possible pedophile. Is this really the best the GOP could do? I don’t blame the party establishment as much as I do the Steve Bannon and Breitbart crowd. I always knew that the alt-right, alt-lite, and Steve Bannon type of movements are very similar to the left and they are socially conservative, economic socialists. They believe in protectionism, high tax rates, anti-trust, government regulation, lack of separation between church and state, and government control of personal choices other than abortion. I totally disagree with their ideas and they are the reason Republicans lost an easy Alabama Senate seat. Attorney General Jeff Sessions remains very popular in Alabama and someone like Luther Strange could’ve easily kept the seat and it is rumored that even President Trump predicted that Roy Moore would lose the general election because of his checkered past and explosive personality, which is really saying something when it comes from Donald Trump of all people.

While we don’t know for 100% sure if Roy Moore is in fact guilty of multiple counts of sexual misconduct, we do know other things about him. Even if you put the allegations aside and consider other factors, there is a lot to dislike about him and his views. He is one of the most radically anti-gay politicians in recent history. I understand that some people have religious reservations against associating with gay people but that doesn’t mean you can legislate your morality upon the whole country. There is a reason that we have  separation between church and state. People are free to practice their religion in the United States unless they somehow encroach upon the rights of others and legislating Christian morality on others is an encroachment of other individuals’ rights. In the United States we have freedom of association and if two consenting adults want to make any kind of personal decision such as marriage, they should be allowed to do it because it encompasses their right to liberty. Roy Moore doesn’t believe in the idea of American exceptionalism because we advocate things like equal rights for homosexuals all around the world. He is a disgrace to the idea of freedom. Moore has no respect for the United States constitution and claims that all of our rights come from God. While some people may believe in God and others do not, our rights don’t have anything to with God per se. The Founding Fathers recognized that the rights in the constitution are our natural and inalienable rights that no government can take away from us but it is up to us whether we choose to believe God gives us those rights or any other line of thinking we pursue. Roy Moore’s statement is just an excuse to have religious institutions and ideas interfere with government policy.

Moore believes that trade protectionism is a good idea for the United States to ostensibly “protect” our businesses. No such thing exists and it is obvious from his ideas that he has not studied basic economics. The theory of comparative advantage which has been proven many times over demonstrates that trade protectionism is ultimately a losers game. Moore is strongly anti-abortion which many people are, but I don’t agree with this line of thinking. My view is that American taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for any abortions, birth control, or products that have to do with private sexual activity. It is someone’s independent choice whether they want to have sex or not, or have a baby or not. But they should bear all of the consequences for their actions, never the taxpayer. If some people find abortion morally reprehensible they shouldn’t be forced to pay for it through government payments to Planned Parenthood or pay for insurance benefits for their employees that cover birth control. America is a nation built on individual and economic freedom and based on our current politics, it looks as if we are slipping further and further away from what our Founding Fathers intended. Roy Moore is rumored to admire Vladimir Putin and that is just ridiculous. Vladimir Putin is a quasi-Czarist thug who wants to challenge American global power and remake the world in his vision. He is no friend to the United States and Roy Moore and President Trump should probably get the message.

 

Overall, it was probably good that Roy Moore lost because the GOP can assert that the establishment of the party was against him from the start. Doug Jones will likely lose the election to a Republican when his temporary term ends in two years. This episode has demonstrated that Steve Bannon and the Breitbart crowd’s ideas for the future of Republican politics are wrong and are destined to fail. While Breitbart does some strong reporting, they are basically the socially conservative version of The Huffington Post. The GOP needs to tell Steve Bannon to piss off and get back to the business of actually winning elections and governing effectively. I understand America started becoming a very weird place over the last 8 years of hell under the Obama Administration. The political correctness, the socialist economic policies, and the decline of American military and diplomatic power. I realize that it was hell for a lot of conservatives and liberty minded folks, but people like Roy Moore are definitely not the answer.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

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President Trump’s Failure in Syria

I’ve always been a pessimist when it comes to President Trump and foreign policy. I did agree with some of his sentiments during the campaign and now, but his approach to foreign policy is unlikely to work.

These are some of his sentiments:

  • The United States is no longer respected as the global superpower
  • We are being taken advantage of financially by our allies, especially in Europe
  • China is overtaking us in economic growth, trade, and global pull
  • Russia could be a reliable partner to combat global terrorism
  • The Iraq War in the way it was executed was probably not a good idea
  • We have spent far too much money in the Middle East and Afghanistan and it hasn’t yielded much positive success
  • We should cut down our world police role

 

I agree with some of these ideas but my execution specifics are totally different from President Trump’s and that is reflected in his follies with Russia. The anti-ISIS operations by U.S. Coalition forces in Syria and Iraq are mostly accomplished and ISIS has been obliterated. Russian forces, Iran backed forces, and Syrian government forces did play a role in defeating ISIS but most of their military operations in the region have been focused on preserving the Assad regime rather than defeating ISIS. Most of the victory is due to American Airpower, U.S. special operations forces, and coalition members on the ground. By allowing Russia and Iran to interfere with such a large footprint, the Obama Administration has allowed them to expand their reach and pull. The United States has traditionally been the outside power broker in the Middle East and Russia has started taking over that role due to a lack of American leadership. We have dug ourselves into this hole, so we have no one to blame but ourselves. President Obama didn’t successfully deter Syria from using chemical weapons on its citizens and his administration didn’t attempt to neutralize Russian influence in the Middle East. Additionally, their failure with the flawed Iran deal is paving the road for Iran to develop nuclear weapons and making it very difficult to deter their influence all over the Middle East and beyond.

But this post is about Trump foreign policy rather than Obama’s. President Trump seems to have some sort of fascination with President Vladimir Putin and his operating style. While I won’t go into my opinions of Russia and Putin too much, I will say that he is essentially recreating a Quasi-Czarist Russia with him as Czar for many years. Russian diplomats and leaders are typically mendacious and one of their major policy goals is to irritate and undermine the United States at every turn. Whether it was Czarist Russia, the Soviet Union, or the current Russian Federation they have been focused on trying to build Russia into the only world power. They will likely not be able to succeed due to the rampant corruption, constrained economic environment, and lack of freedom in Russia. The Russians are succeeding on their incremental policy goals, especially in the Middle East because the Trump Administration is continuing the weakness of Obama foreign policy.

The Trump Administration is attempting to build ceasefire zones in Syria and abdicate American leadership in the country to Russia. The Syrian civil war cannot end until there  is a credible political solution to the problem that likely will not include a future for the Assad government. That is a sticking point for Russia and Iran and they will likely not take it standing down. President Trump seems to like quick victories that generate media buzz and he doesn’t like to participate much in activities that involve the long game. President Trump has indicated he will stop arming our allies in Syria to calm tensions with Turkey. This demonstrates that the United States essentially has no policy continuity, has a strategic atrophy, and is an unreliable diplomatic and military partner. This type of behavior by our government has to stop if we are to remain a reliable global partner. He has indicated he will let Syria and Russia handle the problem in Syria, he has not indicated that the U.S. will play any major role after combat operations wind down. Russia doesn’t have the resources to conduct any major improvement projects in Syria, but they do have the ability to provide leadership and security. They will milk that to the maximum to ensure that they become the Middle East powerbroker. They have disrespected the United States on multiple occasions by conducting Syrian peace talks without U.S. representation or consultation.

I see a variety of very negative consequences if President Trump continues down this path of abdicating American global leadership.

  • Russia will become the number 1 power in the Middle East
  • Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, and our other Middle Eastern allies will start to shift away from us to the Russians in order to secure their interests
  • Radical Islamic terrorism will continue and amplify with a vengeance because the Russians don’t have the resources or interest in dealing with that
  • The United States will slowly be pushed out of the region
  • The Middle East will become even less stable and regional crises will increase in intensity and frequency
  • China will also likely become another Middle Eastern power

 

His administration can stop this process by taking a few actions.

  • Making sure the U.S. is part of the peace process to find a political solution to end the Syrian war.
  • Possibly negotiate an agreement that ejects U.S., Russian, and Iranian forces from Syria on a conditions based schedule that focuses on improvements in the political situation.
  • If Russia is unwilling to leave the Middle East, the U.S. may have to use force. A possible solution could be to send American Special Operations Forces to destroy Russian equipment and bases in Syria. Targets could be air defense systems, fighter aircraft, bombers, tanks, and other essential equipment.
  • Leave a residual U.S force near the Syrian border to ensure ISIS or any other terrorist organization does not infiltrate Iraq again.

It is my view that allowing Russia to become the Middle Eastern power is a strategic blunder for the United States and our ability to maintain leadership around the globe. If Russia is in Syria for the long term, our long term influence will quickly decline. If the U.S. destroys Russian equipment and military bases in Syria, Putin will likely blink and move troops out of the Middle East or at least reduce his footprint. Many people might get excited at what I am suggesting and may think it suicidal since Russia is a nuclear power with just as many warheads as us. There is almost no chance that Putin will nuke America because we took out his strategic position in Syria. Putin interfered in Ukraine and Syria because our government blinked and let him. If President Obama immediately reacted with troops in either situation, he would’ve drawn back. Putin is very realistic and pragmatic about what his capabilities are right now. The Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union and the United States can defeat Russia in any conventional or unconventional warfare scenario. Russia will not dare attack if the U.S. continues sustained engagement in the Middle East. The policy should have continuity and should be maintained through future Presidencies. President Obama totally reversed many of President Bush’s policies and that is why we are where we are.

I hope President Trump recognizes his follies and corrects his abdication of American leadership in the Middle East and especially Syria. President Trump needs to educate himself more on foreign policy by reading a couple of books and far more intelligence reports. Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, etc. should be on his reading list.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

 

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Let me start this post off by saying I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! In my opinion, Thanksgiving is the most wonderful holiday of the American tradition. My family immigrated to this great nation and this is one of the many traditions we’ve embraced and integrated into our life in our quest to become true Americans. We enjoy cooking a Thanksgiving feast, chatting with family, and buying all the electronics we’ve been saving up for during the year. It is just a great time to create memories and enjoy the company of family. It is also a time to be truly thankful for all that we have. We are thankful to be Americans, each other, have a comfortable lifestyle, to have all this delicious food among other things.

In my view, gratitude is very important if you wish to be happy and have internal peace. If you go through life expecting things and being a perpetual victim, you will never find happiness. It is very important to always be grateful for all that you do have and thank those around you for being there for you and supporting you. We as Americans have so much to be thankful for. We live in the greatest nation on Earth, we are a part of the greatest civilization in history, we have plenty to eat, we are typically safe and secure from damage to our persons and property, and we are generally free to pursue our own rational self interest. Not many people can say that. So this Thanksgiving and every thanksgiving I hope to build on this tradition of gratitude for all that I have so that I can have internal peace.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

The President’s trip to Asia

These past 10 days, President Trump went on an extended trip to Asia. He visited Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The goal of this trip was to demonstrate to the world and more specifically to the Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region, the United States’ longstanding and unshakable commitment to the region in defense, diplomacy, and trade. President Trump met with many foreign leaders in addition to the leaders of the above mentioned nations. He had meetings with President Vladimir Putin (Russia), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (India), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Australia), and others.

 

Japan:

Overall, I believe this was a good trip that demonstrated to the world that the United States remains committed to the Indo-Pacific region and that we will not be intimidated or pushed out by China’s desire to dominate the region. The Presidents’ relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan seems to be getting stronger and they have developed a solid personal relationship. This is very positive for our foreign policy because Japan has been our long time ally and friend. Sticking by our long time friends is essential to maintaining our foreign policy integrity and demonstrating that we continue to be a reliable international partner. Mr. Abe is a defense hawk and a proponent of cementing a stronger relationship with the United States and we should oblige as it is in our mutual interest. He is also considering allowing Japan to amend their pacifist Constitution to allow for a full fledged Military force rather than their current Self-Defense force structure. There has also been talk of introducing tactical nuclear weapons to hedge against a North Korean or Chinese attack. Japan having a full fledged military force with a nuclear deterrent would be a nightmare scenario for China and that bodes well for American foreign policy. China would be served with a hedge from an emboldened Japan, backed by a resurgent U.S. backing and it would arrest their aggressive foreign and defense policy. There have been talks to formally unite the United States, India, Japan, and Australia into a quadrilateral alliance to arrest China’s rise. This would be a good way to peacefully arrest China’s aggressive actions. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson seem to be moving in this direction. Australia and Japan seem to be very open to the idea, but India is proving to be rather lukewarm in this direction due to a fear of a rebuke from their long time ally Russia and due to questions regarding Australia’s reliability. Managing large alliances is extremely difficult but the U.S. has done it for many decades and President/General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a master in this area, it would be prudent for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to take some pages from the Eisenhower Doctrine and foreign policy portfolio.

 

South Korea:

President Trump’s relationship with leftist South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-In seems to be gradually improving as well. Their relationship got off to a rocky start due to Mr. Moon’s dovish policy towards North Korea and his inability to even consider a military option to deal with the enemy to the North. Additionally, he caved in to China’s demands on the continuing deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) batteries has also been a sticking point in the relationship. THAAD is a missile defense system being deployed in South Korea to defend against a missile attack by the North. China claims that this would allow South Korea and the U.S. to track their missiles and they have economically punished South Korea for installing the batteries. Mr. Moon  gave in to their demands by stopping the deployment of new batteries. President Trump and the leaders of the DOD didn’t take kindly to this decision. Additionally, President Trump’s fixation with trade deficits has lead to him repeatedly criticize the free trade agreement we have with South Korea. Concerns regarding North Korea seems to be a uniting factor in the relationship but trade and THAAD remain sticking points. It is essential that President Trump continues to focus on maintaining a good relationship with South Korea in order to maintain our 67 year old alliance and avoid pushing the nation towards China or Russia. The relationship is in our strategic national interest and it makes no sense to retrench as President Obama did, that is a recipe for failure. President Trump needs to learn to pick his battles and understand that diplomacy is about listening to other sides’ concerns and be willing to be persuaded. It is all about compromise and the long game, he cannot expect to force other nations to do what he wishes all the time. No politician is willing to risk the domestic backlash that would go along with that type of capitulation.

 

China:

The trip to China was full of flattery for President Trump. The Chinese demonstrated that they really know how to play to their adversaries’ weaknesses. The Chi-coms went all out to flatter President Trump in any way they could and President Trump flattered them right back by complimenting their economic development and having his granddaughter sing songs in Chinese to President Xi Jinping. China ostensibly agrees with us in that they want North Korea to denuclearize. Their true intentions are unknown and sometimes difficult to discern. They simply want power, but no one knows exactly what that entails. North Korea provides them with a good hedge to control South Korea and the U.S. near their borders. At the same time, a rogue North Korea could hurt their citizens via a military incident or cause a major war with the U.S. that would lead to American, South Korean, and possible even Japanese forces arriving at the Yalu River and staying there for a long time. They also made a few small trade concessions and announced a few business deals but as usual it was all talk about shared goals but nothing substantial. President Trump should avoid imagining that the Chinese will ever cede any advantage that leads to long term gain for their nation. China is our prime enemy just like the Soviet Union was. The difference is that the United States and China are interdependent on each other for the movement of capital and people. The Soviets had virtually no economic relationship with us and that made it simpler to destroy them. Hurting China strategically is extremely difficult because we are so interdependent on each other. This is the quagmire we have brought ourselves into via decades of terrible foreign policy. We should never have allowed a communist country like China get access to the U.S. built international system. We did and now we are suffering. President Trump cannot spot reduce trade deficits and even the smallest of countries will not bend to his wishes because they cannot look like weaklings at home. The best way to improve trade, is to expand free trade agreements and free up our economy from the regulatory and tax burdens that our politicians have foisted upon us. He also needs to take an economics course and realize that one of the major reasons for our massive trade deficit is due to our massive federal budget deficits. We as a nation are consuming much more than we are producing and that is a strategy for economic stagnation. If the GOP and his Administration can find the stones to cut spending, the trade deficits will decrease naturally.

 

Vietnam:

President Trump met with many Asian leaders at the APEC conference (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). He met with President Vladimir Putin here and it was rumored that the U.S. was working with the Russians to end the war in Syria. In a bid to develop a better relationship with Russia, it is possible that he capitulated to their demands and ceded some strategic advantage. U.S. backed forces have done the majority of the anti-ISIS/terrorist missions in Syria, while the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces have been focused on securing Bashar al-Assad’s, Russia’s, and Iran’s long term strategic positions. I’m not totally sure why President Trump believes that we need to have a strong relationship with Russia, but I totally disagree with the notion. Russia is no longer a world power in anything. They still have a formidable military force but a hot war with the United States or even China would lead to the total destruction of the Russian Federation. President Trump seemed to maintain friendly relations with all leaders there, but continued to criticize trade relationships primarily because of the trade deficit issue. On a positive note, he cemented and vocally asserted that the U.S. strategic position is focused on Asia. On Vietnam itself, I dream of a scenario of where the U.S. could convince the country to abandon its nominally communist government and make it an official ally so we can say that we finally won the Vietnam war. It would be a sweet victory for our foreign policy and the more than 58,000 American warriors who died fighting for their country in the jungles of Vietnam. This is more of a dream scenario, but it can be done if we conduct our diplomacy and foreign policy strategy right.

 

The Philippines:

President Trump seemed to develop a friendly relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte while purposefully avoiding thorny areas of discussion such as the alleged extrajudicial killings conducted by the Duterte Administration in the Philippine drug war and sea claims in the South China Sea. Personally, I think being sanctimonious and harassing smaller nations on their humans rights records only breeds indignation towards the United States. We should make our case once, state our position, and move on. Constantly virtue signaling to nations like the Philippines or Vietnam regarding these issues will cause them to move towards Russia and China for backing and that is obviously not in our interests. President Duterte also seems to have moved on from Chinese bullying in the South China Sea due to an insinuation that President Xi threatened war over the disputed areas. The U.S. can use this scenario to make the Philippines turn against China. The United States hasn’t always been the most reliable partner over the past couple of decades, so it will take some principled diplomacy but it will be possible to convince the Filipinos to press their claims to the South China Sea and that Uncle Sam will be behind them 100% if China tries to attack their claims or the country itself. This will be an effective strategy to turn many Asian nations against China’s encroachment. The U.S. needs to build more ships and expand more bases in places in the Philippines. Using events such as China’s bullying should become an exercise in breeding mass resentment against China in all of the Indo-Pacific region. Bringing together all nations in the area against the common cause of hurting China will be very difficult due to interconnected and interdependent economic relationships but it can be done. The United States needs to reposition itself as the dominant economy in the world to breed confidence in these future partners.

 

Overall, it seems to have been a generally strong trip. It will take a lot more than this to convince our partners that the U.S. is once again a reliable and steadfast partner, but I think the process is moving in a positive direction. The United States needs to clearly articulate where we stand to the nations of Asia and let it be known that we will help partners who share our clearly stated values and objectives and we will oppose nations that attempt to step on those values and objectives. This talk needs to be followed with real action in cementing relationships and attracting nations to ally with us and improve their existing relationships with us. It will be extremely hard work and will require principled diplomacy in the mold of Henry Kissinger. If someone really wants to achieve it, it can be achieved.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

Thoughts on U.S. – India ties

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in India yesterday meeting with Sushma Swaraj, India’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of Indian leadership. It looks like he went there with a focus on bolstering ties between the U.S. and India, deepening our security relationship, and putting together a strategy to end the war in Afghanistan with Indian help. It seems that India’s agenda was focused on ensuring Pakistan cuts down their havens for terrorists and possible increases in visas for Indian citizens seeking to work in the U.S.

Sushma Swaraj with Rex Tillerson

Image Credit: Indianexpress.com

I’ve always felt that the United States should cultivate strong ties with India due to both nations being Constitutional Democratic-Republics and having many common interests. Both the U.S. and India are wary of rising Chinese militarism and dominance in Asia as well as the difficulty of dealing with terrorism. India is a fast growing economy with GDP growth clocking in around 6% and they are working to rapidly modernize their military which is either 2nd or 3rd largest in the world with approximately 1.4 million personnel. They have been closing many deals to purchase American, French, and Russian weapons and technology. I’m not thrilled that they’re buying so many Russian weapons but it is to be expected since India was quite friendly with the Soviets during the Cold war. India seems apprehensive to entering into a formal defense partnership with America such as NATO or our alliances with South Korea and Japan because they are ostensibly worried that we may drag them into our wars. I see a fundamental flaw in this thinking because the United States has asked for assistance, air support, and troops during war but never forced or coerced our friends. We spend the majority of the blood and treasure securing our allies, so they reciprocate by sharing some of the costs and helping us with supplies and their own troops. The real reason India may not want to enter into a defense partnership is that they would like to keep their options open and see what happens to American power in the next couple of decades. I also think that they don’t want to effectively end their decades-long relationship with Russia by entering into an official relationship with us. I’m also not sure if the U.S. wants to enter into a full fledged defense relationship with India because that would mean one more mouth to feed and that would effectively destroy our relationship with Pakistan. Recent events have demonstrated that you don’t even need enemies if you have allies like Pakistan. However, we do need Pakistan because we get Military supplies through their country and additionally they provide some intelligence to help us catch and kill terrorists.

In my view, the U.S. and India relationship can be deepened by taking the following steps:

  • Selling more weapons and technology to the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Developing a deeper intelligence sharing relationship.
  • Possibly negotiating to have Indian boots on the ground in Afghanistan alongside American troops in a train, advise, and assist mission. I believe that Secretary Mattis did this last month during his visit to India, but it looks like India is not interested in having Indian troops in Afghanistan. 
  • Negotiating a free trade deal with India that can focus on increasing both trade and investment. The EU is working on a deal with India but it has stalled. This is an opportunity for us to make an offer and close a quick deal.
  • Providing India with the economic knowhow on how to privatize more of their government functions and fix their ailing banking system.
  • Conducting more joint exercises with our Navies, Air Forces, and Infantry troops.
  • Having India start patrolling more in the Indian ocean and teach them how to project force, especially against China.

Of course it isn’t all sunshine and daisies when dealing with India. India has got the second largest population on Earth and naturally they are trying to export as many people as possible to other countries to lighten the load. Naturally, they didn’t take it positively when President Trump said he is looking to decrease the number of H1B’s and Green Cards we issue annually. That is going to be a particular pain point in the relationship. Additionally, India has got a massive bureaucracy which cannot get anything done so closing any official deal will take a while. India’s banking system is also quite weak and on the verge of failure so the government just pumped around $33.6B into the financial system. Corruption is rampant and security has been historically terrible. By most standards India is still very much a third world country but progress has been made over the years, especially since 1991 when they abandoned many socialist policies and opened their economy to free markets. The Tech industry particularly has been a boon for India’s economy. India is developing an educated and English speaking workforce that has their citizens immigrating all over the world,. There are fast growing Indian populations in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and many other places. I appreciate India’s  ability in churning out so many skilled workers (Engineers, Physicians, Scientists, Mathematicians, etc.) and exporting them globally.

 

While there will be challenges to deepening this relationship, I think it is in America’s best interest to pursue closer ties with India.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

Crisis in Iraq

U.S. backed forces in Iraq have been on a tear recently, they’ve liberated the majority of Iraq from ISIS control. Those coalition forces include U.S. Forces (Air Power, Special Operations, and Marines), Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Kurdish Peshmerga Militia, Shiite Militias, and a few other militias. It has been a series of tough ground battles backed by American Air Power, Technology, and Ground Assistance. Now that Iraq’s civil war may finally be coming to an end, divisions are popping up among members of the coalition. Over the past week the Iraqi Army and some Shiite Militias allegedly backed by Iran advanced into Northern Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish territory and they’ve driven away Peshmerga to reassert state control. This happened because the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani declared an independence referendum in September, despite advice from the U.S. and Iraq’s National government not to do so. There is fault on both sides here, but Iraq’s government and its Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi should be ashamed for driving away and stepping on their fellow Iraqis due to some minor problems. What is even more shameful is the fact that Shiite militias backed by Iran were part of the advance into Northern Iraq. Iran has only tried to ruin Iraq for decades and it is ridiculous to think that they could be part of the solution now. I can understand how Iraq’s leadership may be irritated by the Kurdish call for independence during this turbulent period, but to advance into their territory and drive them out is abhorrent behavior.

The Kurds have been very supportive of the United States since the Gulf War in 1991 and were our main partners during and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Kurds have always supported us and been there for us, despite many in the Middle East chastising us. They deserve our support because of all the help they’ve provided us with and because of their continued faith in us as being a force for good in the Middle East. Many Kurds sacrificed their personal security and families when they decided to work with us for the sake of a bright future for Iraq. The Trump Administration made a strategic blunder by not providing support for the Kurds when they were being attacked by their own government and assisted by an enemy militia. President Trump simply made a statement saying that he didn’t want either side to fight with each other and that they should focus on the enemy. That is a very vague statement and it basically left the Kurds to the wolves. I think the United States government lead by President Trump, Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State), General Mattis (Defense Secretary), and General McMaster (National Security Advisor) should’ve reached out to Iraq’s government and cautioned them against becoming too aggressive against the Kurds and they should’ve attempted to create some kind of diplomatic resolution to this issue. The way this was handled was irresponsible and it makes the U.S. look like an unreliable partner. I hope that the Kurds and the Iraqis can reunite for the good of their country and maintain laser sharp focus on continuing the fight against ISIS and building a prosperous Iraq. The Trump Administration should contact Kurdish leadership immediately and assure them that the United States is with them and that we will try to create a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

The Problem with Libertarians and Foreign Policy

While I agree strongly with Libertarians on many things, I cannot bring myself to identify as a Libertarian due to their hostility to the American Military and foreign policy. I can’t really identify myself as anything because my views and convictions are a mixture of various existing ideas and certain contrarian views that I’ve come up with independently. I simply identify as a Capitalist nowadays but I am probably most aligned with Classical Liberals if I had to pick a label. I agree with Libertarians when it comes to individual freedoms, absolute embrace of the free market, the view that income taxation is theft, legalization of most or all drugs, allowing far more school choice or even eliminating the public school system, eliminating entitlement and welfare programs, eliminating the Federal Reserve and most government departments, second amendment rights, and various other issues.

My general view is that any policy that is being considered by government should primarily be concerned with whether that specific policy increases or decreases freedom, if it does the latter it should not be implemented. I believe in having limited government in the fashion our Founders envisioned. I believe in having as near to an invincible national defense apparatus as possible. The overall strategy should comprise military, foreign policy, intelligence services, border security, immigration policy, homeland security, and law enforcement. I believe America must continue to be the premier economic, military, and diplomatic power in the world and should remain the only superpower because we have demonstrated our ability to lead the world into unprecedented security and prosperity. We have committed some aberrations over the years, but overall the world is lucky that the American Republic stands strong and proud to lead. We should have our air, naval, ground, intelligence, and diplomatic presence all over the world to ensure that our interests and the interests of our allies are being secured. In my view, we should seek to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of our enemies which may include global terrorist organizations, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Now many reading this will immediately arrive at the conclusion that I am a Neoconservative or unabashed interventionist. This is not true. I don’t believe that the United States should attempt to export the ideas of individual freedom and democracy all over the world through military means or forceful foreign policy. Our unfortunate policy failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that this strategy is very unlikely to work. We should seek to share and advocate our ideas across the globe and allow sovereign nations and their peoples to make decisions that they feel are right for them. We should take a very long-term view of foreign policy and should refrain from making short-term reactionary decisions as we have in the past. In my view, the U.S. shouldn’t intervene in every single issue across the world but there are certain issues which merit U.S. involvement such as the capture and killing of terrorists, the destruction of global black markets and illicit trade networks, stopping irresponsible regimes from gaining access to WMD’s, and other similar issues. We should ensure that our adversaries fear us and do not try to interfere in or invade other nations because they have not proven themselves responsible enough to lead the world or even their countries. The nations previously mentioned have demonstrated themselves to be mendacious in policy and action and have made it their goal to weaken our nation due to their envy of our power, wealth, and individual freedoms.

This brings me to many Libertarians and their view of our foreign and defense policy. Many Libertarians agree with left wing talking points such as the view that the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, Drone Strikes against Pakistan, etc. actually caused the increase in the proliferation of global terrorism. They believe the international security situation is currently fraught with risk directly as a result of our foreign policy, which I have criticized on numerous occasions. This view is not based on any semblance of reality and is something that is pushed by the left despite no credible evidence to support it. We have had an issue with radical Islamists since the Thomas Jefferson Administration when we had the First Barbary War. The majority of Islam is not compatible with American values and political institutions and it is damn time that we recognize that reality. I don’t know what the solution is but our foreign policy did not cause this problem. Islamic terrorism and imperialism has tormented India for hundreds of years even before the United States existed. How do the left and Libertarians explain that? Did India have an interventionist foreign policy that lead to the Islamic rape of India? I think not. The reality is that the United States needs to maintain a global presence to eliminate these terrorist recreants on a direct basis and to find unconventional ways to stamp out their funding, ideology, and recruitment channels. Isolationists like Former Congressman Ron Paul are a prime example of people who believe and promote these fallacies. While I greatly respect Dr. Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul, their foreign and defense policy views are not applicable in the real world. We cannot just “bring the troops home” from Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. As soon as we do that there will be massive terrorism proliferation and the possible destruction of semi-stable governments. This will be a massive national security risk to our country and we will have to send the troops back just like when President Obama pulled out of Iraq and we had to send them back. Achieving conventional decisive victory in an unconventional war of this sort is not possible because there are various networks that have to be stamped out and we have to ensure that there are zero havens across the world to plan attacks to hurt our country. The Cold War was an unconventional war and so is the War on terrorism. A total counter-terror strategy will have to be continually executed until the enemy is weakened and finally defeated. Libertarians refer to this as the “warfare state”, as if all terrorism will stop if we just bring home our brave men and women and cut the defense budget. The leaders of various terrorist organizations have publicly and privately said they will not stop attacking us even if we leave their land, stop hitting them with air and drone strikes, and completely abandon our presence in their homelands. They said they will continue to attack us because they despise our way of life and we are “infidels” in their view. Our Defense Secretary James Mattis has said we should take these terrorists’ words at face value and believe that they will do what they say they will. We have not had any major attacks on the homeland in 16 years because our American warriors and allies are with us all around the world to find terrorists in their caves and holes and kill them. Domestic terror or terror-like incidents increased strongly during the Obama Administration due to his inability to admit that we are still at war and his ridiculous immigration and refugee policies that allowed possible terrorists to enter the nation with  inadequate vetting. His pandering to the terrorists was also very encouraging to them. He was one of the main people pushing the disingenuous claims that our foreign and defense policy was leading to more terrorism. He made all those statements whilst simultaneously bombing 7 countries and essentially declaring war on Syria without Congressional permission. While there are many criticisms to be made about the extremely short-term thinking of our foreign policy and the militarization of our diplomacy, it doesn’t mean we can just leave everywhere. Those thoughts are not based in reality. Although there are criticisms to be made about the strategic and tactical failures in the Iraq War, we can never say that we lost the war. The United States and Coalition Military Forces very quickly invaded and took control of Iraq and on that basis it was a strong military victory.

Many Libertarians and leftists say that the United States has been at war or involved in some kind of military operations for most of its existence and use that as a point of criticism. My question is, so what? The world is safe and peaceful because we have been bearing the brunt of continental and global security since our founding. Our country was meant to lead and this is simply evidence of it. I laugh with derision when people in our country and abroad criticize our military budget for being so large and approximately the size of the next 12 nations combined. First of all you need to eliminate salaries and benefits of personnel to arrive at the actual war fighting  budget. Then you consider the fact that many countries, especially Russia, Iran, and China lie about their military budgets, precisely so that the United States will become complacent. You know why our budget is large? We ensure global security. All countries spend money on defense, but our defense budget secures Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Qatar, various African Nations,  etc. from Chinese, Russian, Iranian, North Korean, and terrorist aggression. Our defense budget would shrink rapidly if we stopped securing the majority of the world, but that would weaken our national strength as the only superpower. Our foreign and defense policy lead to victory in WWI, WWII, partial victory in Korea, and most importantly our resounding victory in the Cold War. Without intervention, victory in the Cold War would’ve been impossible. While our nation blundered in Vietnam, that was largely due to abhorrent leadership and policies from Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Defense Secretary McNamara, and General Westmoreland.

The imagination of President George W. Bush and his advisers that we could rapidly turn Iraq into a prosperous Democracy was ridiculous and unworkable. The failure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to ensure that American Personnel were protected from IED and RPG attacks with adequate technology and vehicles was a major disappointment in tactical planning. Additionally, the inability of American leadership to foresee a terrorist insurgency and Iranian interference in the war are disappointing. The United States foots the budget for the majority of global security and we have shown ourselves capable on most occasions of maintaining a prosperous world. We need to grow our economy to ensure we dominate the world with American power as we have since WWII. We need not intervene in the issues of every nation but we must keep a close watch to ensure our interests are secured and that anyone who dares to challenge our Republic is destroyed. We must continue to build constructive partnerships with nations that are interested in working with us and helping them combat terrorism and attempts to bring down semi-stable governments such as the missions our warriors are undertaking all over Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America, and Asia.

 

America is the mightiest Republic upon which the sun ever shone and I sure as hell hope it remains that way. God Bless the Republic of the United States of America.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off