Peter Van Buren on the State Department: Meet the New Boss, Same/Worse as the Old Boss?

The rumors of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s demise may finally not be greatly exaggerated.

A marked man, it was only about a month ago the media speculated on how soon United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley would replace Tillerson. Two weeks ago a trial balloon floated up with Mike Pompeo’s name in trail. But a burst of nearly-identical stories over the last few days, spearheaded by the New York Times, signals the end for Tillerson and names Pompeo, currently Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as his successor. What lies ahead?

The unique interplay between the Civil Service (non-diplomats largely stationed in Washington DC) and the Foreign Service (who have primary responsibility in Washington and who staff the embassies and consulates abroad) complicates Secretary of State transitions. Engaging both sides, with their different vested interests, can be tough. And unlike the military, where chains of command and internal procedures are written on checklists, State is a hybrid, half foreign and half domestic, with a structure that either conforms to a new Secretary or is conformed by a new Secretary. State is a vertically-oriented bureaucracy, with layers below the boss’ office waiting for bits of policy to fall so as to inform them of what their own opinions are. One academic referred to this as “neckless government,” a head and a body in need of an active connection.

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Bipartisanship on Jerusalem: Does It Make Us Safer?

Now that some of the dust has settled on President Trump’s yesterday announcement that the US would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, what might we expect? How does Iran fare? Will the Saudis and Jordanians feel the pinch? Will the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner emerge as a major Middle East peacemaker after much work behind the scenes on behalf of Israel? We do our best to sort out conflicting interests and outcomes of this major turn of events in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Ron Paul on Israel’s Capital: Who Decides?

How will President Trump’s announcement that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital affect US policy in the Middle East? How might it affect our security, as the move will most certainly inflame and cause anger in the Muslim world? Is there a silver lining? We cover this complicated issue in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

America’s Cowardly Prison in Cuba

The U.S. government still keeps 41 prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. Incredibly, some of these so-called alien enemy combatants have been imprisoned for up to 15 years without benefit of trial; indeed, without even being charged with a crime. How is this possible in a democracy? What does it say about our country?

I happen to own an old map of Cuba from 1897 that shows Guantánamo Bay, which is along the southeastern coast of Cuba. Here’s a photo of a segment of my old map that shows the Bahia de Guantánamo:

Who could have predicted that when our government, in an imperial land grab, “leased” this base from Cuba in 1903, it would become a century later the site of a loathsome prison for Muslim men snatched mostly from central Asia in a “global war on terror”?

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‘Thank You for Saving My Son From All the Grief and Pain!’

I recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers discussing the moral injury suffered by veterans returning from war. Other speakers included a clinician from the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, a woman Somali veteran and poet, and a panel composed of veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The audience, primarily clinicians working in the field and veterans struggling to make sense of their experiences in war, were enthusiastic and appreciative of the information provided. As is customary at such events, upon the completion of the conference, attendees were asked to complete a feedback form evaluating and commenting upon content, relevance of the information presented, the strengths and weaknesses of the presenters, etc. I am pleased to say that for the most part, the feedback was positive and complimentary. One comment, in particular, I thought quite noteworthy.

"My son is seriously considering joining the Marine Corps, but as a result of hearing the experiences of the veterans both while in the military and afterward, after learning about the prevalence and seriousness of Moral Injury, we are now going to rethink this decision. Thank you for saving my son from all the grief and pain!"

What this attendee’s comment makes clear, I think, is that as parents and their offspring become educated about the realities and perhaps, the likely consequences of military service and war – Post Traumatic Stress (PTS),moral injury, etc. – information that is not readily available, perhaps intentionally so, from the recruiters who frequent our high schools, prospective enlistees and their families become better able to make informed choices.

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Letter to the Editor

Chris writes:

For the last few months I have been battling some cognitive dissonance when making conclusions about the current state of U.S. foreign affairs. Ever since the Ron Paul days of 2008, I have been firm in my conviction that the libertarians are correct in this regard. I think on one hand that despite whatever disasters that may occur after a full military pull-out of all foreign countries, the situation couldn’t possibly be worse than allowing the U.S. government to continue the policy of the last century.

On the other hand, I am not privy to any inside-information. How can I possibly make conclusions about a subject that I have very limited knowledge of? What if Ron Paul himself made it into the White House and decided to continue the current policy because it’s the thing any sane person would do if they had the relevant facts and the ability to make the calls? This could explain the many reversals that we have witnessed from presidents as they transition from candidate-to-president.

While I still ultimately think the right course of action is a complete termination of the interventionist policy and that the politicians are war criminals, I don’t have a strong answer to the second, contradictory premise.

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I respond:

Chris,

Yeah, no, that’s all wrong. Bush was lying when he said he wanted a more humble foreign policy. Obama was telling the truth when he said he wanted to get out of Iraq so as to help shore up the power of the American empire elsewhere. Trump was lying when he said he wanted to abandon “globalism” (the empire). None of them ever truly ran as Ron or Kucinich did as actual anti-imperialists. And so none of them truly had their minds changed about anything. (Trump’s resistance to Afghanistan-alone was still only ever paper-thin.)

Look at what the generals did to lock down stupid Trump:
https://www.apnews.com/4cef63caf6b34cb796bc4c196d47c143

Nothing about preventing the end of the world, just “you like stealing money, right Mr. President? Well, that’s what we do here.”

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