Archive for the International Category

We Need a Global Police Force

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, International with tags , , on September 5, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

I’ve heard it said so many times now that is has become a cliché: The US is not the world’s police. OK, yes, that’s true. And it should probably remain that way. But doesn’t it seem like the world needs some policing. I am not going to argue that it should be at the hands of the US. But it seems to me that it should be someone.

Some will no doubt argue that this is the role of the UN. And perhaps in some ways that’s true. They do send monitors to elections or “peacekeepers” to ceasefires, but it seems like there should be a more robust police force in the world. Just imagine if the ICC had an actual police department with officers and detectives. And I’m not talking about “Crossing Lines” here. And believe it or not, I’m not trying to be flippant. I really do believe that the world needs some kind of global police force.

The unspoken truth is that the world is really anarchic (as an aside: I really hate that word. Not what it means or anything like that, but it is just such a weird word to say. I guess I am being a little flippant). The countries of the world do whatever the hell they want to. And it seems like they often get away with it. Do you want to make sure that everyone has a decent standard of living and gets free healthcare? Great, do it! Do you want everyone to worship you as a god and punish them with torture and famine if they don’t? OK, I guess you can do that too.

Sure, there are consequences to starving your people or building nuclear weapons. But they don’t seem harsh enough to deter those countries that want to go down that fucked-up road to do that. If I was to torture and kill my family, I wouldn’t be punished by not being able to go to certain stores. And that is essentially what we do to a country like North Korea, for example. We don’t trade with them. And we encourage others not to trade with them. But that doesn’t mean that no one trades with them. China seems to have no problem trading with them. So I guess even crazy murderous psychopaths get to shop at certain stores. That seems fair, right? Fuck no!

People that kill their own families should be punished. Dictators that kill their own people should be punished.

I don’t know if we will make the situation in Syria any better by bombing them. Even if the bombing is “precise” and there are no “boots on the ground.” But at the same time, looking the other way while someone murders their family seems like the wrong thing to do.

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Revolutions

Posted in Domestic, International on March 10, 2011 by Black Pumpkin

Not surprisingly, I have been thinking about revolutions.  Beginning with Tunisia and continuing throughout the Middle East and North Africa, we have seen a lot of political change.  Regimes have fallen, people are demanding more rights and elections.  It is really great to see the power of what people can do when they work together.

Also, it is interesting how the different revolutions are playing out in each country.  The revolts in Tunisia and Egypt have been relatively calm compared to the ones happening in Libya for example.  In Libya, the people have taken up arms and are now fighting against the army.  But in Egypt, the army just stood around for the most part.  Of course, if the army or even the police forces had wanted to they could have caused a lot of havoc by cracking down on the protests.  But for whatever reason (probably because they believed in what the protesters were doing) they just sat on the sidelines and allowed things to unfold.  It was quite something to see.

Unfortunately, in this country, we see people working together but still not getting what they want.  Of course, I am speaking about Wisconsin and the people’s fight to protect the collective bargaining rights of their unions.  The Democrats did what they could (they left the state) but the bill was still passed that took away the collective bargaining rights.  Hopefully they can use some form of direct democracy to get those rights back.

Trying to ban Cluster Bombs

Posted in International, War and Peace with tags on August 1, 2010 by Black Pumpkin

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into effect today.  It requires the signatories to “cease production of cluster munitions, dispose of stockpiles, and clear contaminated areas.”  Of course the US is not a signatory.  What else is new?

Failed States Index

Posted in International with tags , on July 26, 2010 by Black Pumpkin

Every year since at least 2007, Foreign Policy compiles a list of Failed States.  It should come as no surprise that 12 of the top 20 are in Africa.

Here is the list for 2010.

Answering Walt’s Questions

Posted in International on July 24, 2010 by Black Pumpkin

I like Stephen M. Walt.  I don’t know why but I do.  He’s not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination but most of the time, I think to myself, Now that makes sense, when I read his blog on Foreign Policy‘s website.  So I came across the post entitled 5 Big Questions.  So after taking all of his questions and adding a few of my own, here is a list of 10 interesting questions and my answers.

1. Where is the EU project headed?

The EU will become more and more integrated.  There will be caution for the foreseeable future because of the problems with Greece.  But I think in the long run, Europe will move closer and closer together.  There will be hiccups and bumps along the road, but I think the EU is here to stay.

2. If China’s power continues to rise, how easy will it be to get Asian states to balance against it?

This may be the most important question of all the questions here.  Clearly, China is a rising superpower in the world.  And the US, while still the only real superpower, is in decline, it will be difficult for the US to stop a rising China alone.  Clearly, the states around China are worried about it becoming too powerful since that could put them at risk.  Unless of course they join China instead of try to act against it.  I really doubt that countries like Japan or South Korea would choose China over the US.  And let us not forget that the EU will be a bigger and bigger player on the world stage.  So its possible that some states would side with the EU over either China or the US.

3. What’s the relationship between US defense spending, the deficit, and America’s economic health and well-being?

I am no economist, but I think that there is a clear relationship between the three.

It used to be that defense was the number two or three item in the budget pie, but alas, it is now number one.  Of course if you add up the spending on Social Security and Medicare, then that becomes number one by far, but separately, defense beats them both.

Defense spending needs to reigned in if we are to have any chance of halting the runaway budget deficit.  Also, the cap on Social Security needs to be removed completely (but that’s a discussion for another time perhaps).  Obama’s budget for FY 2010 has $663.8 billion for defense (that is including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).  But it is not just the money that is important, but what that money signifies.  It is a matter of priorities.  When we prioritize war over education or health or infrastructure then the US loses and so does the rest of the world since they will end up on the other end of our barrels.

4. If the US disengaged from key areas in the Muslim world – most notably Iraq and Afghanistan – would the threat of anti-American terrorism rise or fall?

Some will call it capitulation, but I think that the less we mess with the Middle East, the less we will have to worry about terrorism.  But of course, that means that we need to stop supporting Israel.  This will not happen, but if we are truly going to leave the Middle East alone, then this needs to be on the list.  I think that the Islamic terrorists are attacking us for what we have done in that part of the world (whether it was supporting Israel or deposing the Shah).  We have been meddling with that part of the world for decades now.  So it would be extremely difficult for us to actually disentangle ourselves from it but in order to have clean hands, that is what we need to do.  Islamic terrorists are not attacking countries at random or because “they hate our freedom.”  They attack with a specific intent – to hurt those who have done harm to them in the past.

5. Is the era of US primacy over?  How will the end of post-Cold War primacy affect its grand strategy and foreign policy?

No.  The era of US primacy is clearly not over.  But it is certainly waning.

If nothing else, the end of its Cold-War primacy bolsters the US into thinking that they are truly exceptional and their primacy will continue forever (as if ordained by God).

6. How serious is the threat of nuclear terrorism?

I hate to say it… but I don’t think it is very much of a threat at all.  I think there are many safeguards in place and it is extremely difficult to build a nuclear bomb.  This is not to say that we don’t need to be vigilant about nuclear weapons or terrorism.  I just don’t think it is as big of a deal as some people make it out to be.

7. How will climate change affect global politics?

I hate to say it, but I’m not that optimistic that it will affect it at all.  Obviously I am concerned about global climate change, but I don’t think most of the world leaders really care all that much.  Some of them pay lip service to it, but I don’t think they really care about it.  In the US it is clear that the members of the ruling class only care about the wealthiest among us and the corporations they run.  Since most of the corporations don’t want anything done about climate change, nothing will happen.

8. Will Iraq settle down or fall apart after the US withdraws?  The same question could be asked of Afghanistan but we will leave Iraq sooner.

Iraq will not be “stable” for quite some time, regardless of whether we are in the country or not.  Even today there are bombings that continue between the Sunnis and the Shiites.  So until Iraq has a leader that can reign in the two religious factions, there will be turmoil and killings, but it may be some time before that happens.

9. Will Iran be allowed to continue its nuclear (weapons) program?

Yes.  Unless Israel does something about it.  The US is too stretched thin to do anything but complain.  Israel might do what it did to Iraq and attack their nuclear facilities.  But because Iran knows what Israel did to Iraq (whenever that was), it has brought everything underground (literally).

10. How serious of a threat is North Korea?

This is the foreign policy question that really needs a lot of attention.  North Korea is headed by someone who is clearly crazy and there is no telling what he will do next.  And he has a nuclear bomb.  We need to keep a very watchful eye on North Korea.  And I think we need to get help from China in talking Kim Jong Ill down from the crazy tree.  He needs to give up the nukes and we need to be able to offer assistance in whatever form that might take.

International Women’s Day

Posted in International, Women with tags , on March 8, 2010 by Black Pumpkin

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

And in honor of International Women’s Day I would point you to The Gender Wire, which is a source of news stories from around the world focusing on women and their particular struggles for freedom and equality.

If you like The Gender Wire, then you will probably want to check out the rest of the Inter Press Service.