Failures of U.S. Foreign Policy-1946 to July 2016
After World War II, United States foreign policy often failed to accomplish its objectives and mostly behaved counterproductive. Force replaced diplomacy. Military solutions trampled negotiations. Counter-insurgency produced insurgents. The U.S. identified anti-communism as its principal guide to foreign policy during the Cold War, but similar policies continued after the Soviet Union's collapse and disintegration. As the balance of terror receded, the United States confronted global terrorism, which obligated the unique world power to initiate a new war, the 'war against terrorism.' This war does not recede; it grows, and as it grows, it becomes connected to another war, 'the war against drugs.' In Afghanistan, the U.S. wages a war against the poppy fields, the same war the Soviets initially fought. In Mexico, a border war of drug violence exceeds the terrorist violence within America.
Incoherent behavior has the U.S. 'war on terrorism' serving to breed terrorism. Throughout the Arab world and parts of Islamic Africa, revolutions have encouraged Al Qaeda 'look-alikes.' The U.S. State Department officials seem to watch helplessly as sympathizers to Al Qaeda in Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq gain strength and support, while the U.S. Defense department scrambles to react to inept foreign policies. Too lae! Emergence of the Islamic State (Daesh) in Syria and Iraq has brought U.S. cold war nemesis, Russia, into the battle and pushed President Obma into forming a policy to defeat Daesh.
U.S. foreign policy in Europe during the Cold War has been considered successful. However, a comprehensive review of American foreign policy towards countries in other regions and in different eras, including post Cold War Europe, expose a consistent lack of statesmanship, ineffective methods of diplomacy and a disposition to use military force. Regarded as the winner of the Cold War, the U.S. has subsequently been involved in several hot wars, and been excluded from socio-economic blocs. An ever-enlarging European Union, a Latin America Mercosur, which is composed of more radical and less-friendly regimes to the U.S., and an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (10) plus three (ASEAN +China, Japan, South Korea), are challenging U.S. political hegemony and economic leadership.
If the presentation appears one-sided, it is because U.S. administration policies have been one-sided and have exhibited patterns that caused international catastrophes. Interference in internal affairs of nations and direct American military involvement have not brought peace and stability to the world.
NOTE: This is the update of a previous article, and includes information occurring up to mid-year 2016. All facts have been verified and references appear within the article. There is no bibliography. Due to the lengthy discussion, specific sections can be addressed by using the links below. Individual nations can also be researched.
The European Scene
The Asian Scene
The Middle East
Central America and Caribbean
The European Scene
"The Cold War really began with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917; and it triggered a hot war in 1939 as soon as the British and French squandered the chance to secure a firm military alliance with the Soviet Union."
Michael Jabara Carley. 1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999.
"Our Cold War foreign policy truly began with George F. Kennan's famous article, signed "X," published in Foreign Affairs in July of 1947, in which Kennan argued for a "firm and vigilant containment" of a Soviet Union that was imperially, rather than ideologically, motivated. "
The Coming Anarchy, by Robert D. Kaplan, February 1994 Atlantic
From Cold War to Cold War - Russia from 1946
During the Cold war, antagonists faced one another across European borders, but no military confrontations occurred between them. The U.S. stabilized Western Europe and prevented the Soviet Union from encroaching upon West European territory. Was this necessary? Was the Soviet Union "imperially motivated" or simply fearful? Did the communist state want more than the maintenance of its sphere of influence in East Europe for defensive reasons, a situation the U.S. reluctantly permitted to happen? By late 1980, military burdens and internal policies greatly diminished the power of the Soviet Union. The U.S. achieved its objectives without firing a bullet at its adversary. Nevertheless, the Cold War policies were not completely successful.
The forty year length of the Cold War created political (McCarthyism), social (polarization, crime and drugs) and economic (displacement of resources, budget deficits and inflation) tensions in the United States, especially during the 1960's and 1970's. Two major wars, a still unsettled war in the Koreas and a punishing war in Vietnam did not greatly affect the Soviet Union but caused 33,688 U.S. military deaths in Korea, 47,424 in Vietnam and massive protests within the continental U.S. It is entirely possible that the rigid policies of the Cold War dampened conflicts within the Soviet Union and hindered internal challenges to the communist system from occurring at an earlier time. Deterrence and détente, two key provisions of the Cold War stalemate, were conceived with the belief that conflict meant use of weapons of mass destruction, and use of these weapons meant mutual destruction to both major powers. The philosophies deterred attack but stimulated an arms race throughout the world. After Great Britain and France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel added nuclear weapons to their military arsenals. Other nations, such as North Korea and Iran, have been accused of seeking weapons of mass destruction.
Russia, the principal remaining state of the Soviet Union, has a tepid relationship with the United States, while it increases economic ties with China, India and the European Union. After a decade of economic and social deterioration during Boris Yeltsin's mismanagement, the succeeding on again, off again, on again President Alexander Putin managed to expand an economy that coupled itself with a slight drift back to the former Soviet Union's centralized system. The economic rise and stability of a new Russia did not enhance relations of the former foes; just the opposite, the Bush administration perceived a revitalized Russia as a revitalized challenge to U.S. hegemony. President Bush's policies, which could have been soothed to accommodate Russia, provoked the Bear. A Russian challenge once again threatened United States world leadership, just as it did at the start of 1946. President Obama tried a more conciliatory approach, and, in December 2010, the US Senate ratified a new Russian-American strategic arms reduction treaty. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, pushed a restart button as a symbolic refresh of relations between the two Cold War warriors. However, the switch apparently stuck; hostility prevailed and relations, especially after Russian intevention in Ukraine, has returned to Cold War attitudes.
One feature of the "Cold War" had all principal hot spots located far from the Soviet Union while several, such as Nicaragua, Cuba, and Dominica, washed blood close to U.S. shores. The Cuban Missile Crisis generated fear of nuclear annihilation and pushed Americans into seeking shelter from a possible catastrophe. The post "cold War" period reversed the trend -- beginning with East Germany, the buffer between the Soviet Union and the western states slowly eroded as the Balkan and Baltic states shed communism and alled with NATO. Destruction of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia soon brought NATO forces almost to Russia's borders. Intervening states separated the principal antagonists, but post "Cold War" alliances have brought U.S. influence to Russia's bordering neighbors of Georgia, Poland and Ukraine. Winston Churchill's famous post-war speech with the descriptive phrase, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," has been replaced by the phrase. "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, a missile shield pointed to Russia has ascended across the Continent," A NATO proposal to install anti-ballistic missiles at Poland's eastern frontier, based upon a dubious staement that the missile defense was ncessary to protect the western nations gainst a missile attack by Iran. was countered by a Russian threat to deploy short-range missiles near Poland.
The counterproductive results of the U.S. policies has been a more a more aggressive Bear and renewed strife To protect its borders, Putin's government engineered short wars that detached South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia. Political turmoil in Ukraine forced the conflicting powers to jockey for thrie own control of the situation.
Enhanced by a Bush administration that fortified East European states, a "cool war" between the United States has been started. Another "Cold War" is not predicted, but an independent-minded Russia has shown it will prevent U.S. interests from exercising control in nations close to its borders, and will counter attempts that undermine its economic activities in the Middle East. Putin's Russia has expanded its military and developed new weapons, including testing of new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) - and for good reason - the U.S. commitment to station anti-ballistic missile systems in nations bordering on Russia have been perceived by the Russian President as a disguised threat to his nation.
Rhetoric reached a Cold War pitch after the Obama administration passed the Magnitsky Act, legislation that prevents entry to the U.S. of about 60 Russian official who are accused of having been involved in a wrongful prosecution and alleged murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer who revealed a corruption scheme. For his efforts, Magnitsky was arrested by the same officials he had implicated, and was supposedly beaten to death in prison. In retaliation to the Magnitsky legislation, President Putin signed the Dmitri Yakovlev Act, named for an adopted Russian child who died after being left in a car on a hot day. The law bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
Difficulties continued throughout the 2013 year. Russia Tests Its Nuclear Deterrent as NATO's Missile Defense Shield Advances, October 31, 2013, by Patrick Goodenough.
Three days after a ground-breaking ceremony in Romania marked the beginning of work on the first-ever U.S. land-based missile defense facility in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday repealed a two-year-old executive order setting up a Kremlin working group to develop missile defense cooperation with NATO.
One day earlier, Putin oversaw an unscheduled exercise of Russias nuclear deterrent, incorporating test launches of silo- and sea-based ballistic missiles in central, northern and far-eastern Russia. The Defense Ministry reported a high degree of readiness.
And in the Western hemisphere, two Russian Tupolev Blackjack strategic bombers carried out combat training patrols between Venezuela and Nicaragua a mission similar to one in 2008, which followed an announcement by Putin that Cold War-style long-range flights of strategic bombers which had been halted after the Soviet Unions collapse would resume.
As 2013 came to a close, the gap between the west and Russia became wider. Ukrainian President Yanukovich's decision to abandon an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia provoked mass demonstrations against Russia and opened a new east-west battleground. To support Yanukovich, Russia cut the price of gas exported to Ukraine by thirty percent and purchased $15 billion of the Yankovich government debt. All to no avail.
In February 2014, the Ukrainian capital erupted in protest and forced President Yanukovich to vacate his presidential position. Fearful of losing its de facto control of the Crimea, where its military and navy moved freely, Russia pushed the Russian dominated territory into a March 16, 2014 referendum that separated the Crimea from Ukraine and joined it to the Russian Federation. All this prompted several Executive Orders from President Obama that sanctioned individuals and companies in the Russian Federation.
The Ukraine quickly held Presidential elections, and on 25 May 2014 Petro Poroshenko, the "Chocolate King" was elected President of Ukraine for a five-year term. However, elections were held only in a greatly modified Ukraine -- Russian annexed Crimea did not vote and in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine only 20% of the polling stations opened.
Extreme nationalism by the new Ukrainian government pushed ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine to proclaim a Donetsk Peoples Republic (DNR). We, the people of Donetsk Peoples Republic proclaim the independence of DNR following the results of the referendum held on May 11, and the manifest of the independence of DNR. Following the will of the people of DNR, who wish to restore historical fairness, we ask the Russian Federation to let DNR integrate with Russia. Regardless of claims that Russian soldiers in Donetsk are volunteers, Russia has obviously given military and economic support to the rebellious Republic, which has allowed the Donetsk region to repulse attacks from the Ukraine military. One factor that contradicts the separatist movement is the failure of the mostly Russian cities of Kharkov in the east and Odessa in the south to join the rebellion. The civil war found a September, 2014 truce that has been violated several times but remains on paper while a permanent peace agreement is being negotiated. Meanwhile, at end of year 2014, almost 5000 people have been killed in rebellious eastern Ukraine by the fighting between Kiev's soldiers and the Russian separatists.
The unanswered question is "Why is the United States directly involved in the Ukraine disputes?" Ukraine does not affect any U.S. economic or political interests. If the answer is to protect the sovereignty of a weak nation in its conflict with a powerful foe then the policy has failed -- Ukraine has lost Crimea, is engaged in a civil war and is an economic disappointment.If the answer is to deter Russian expansion then that policy is doomed -- Putin has shown, such as in the Georgia conflict and other previous engagements, that he will react aggressively to any attempt to contain is nation.
With the battles in the Ukraine conflict reduced to a low level and a shaky truce remaining in effect, President Putin turned Russia to a major involvement in the Syrian civil war, clashing again with U.S. interests.New battle lines have formed in Ukraine, Syria and Iran. On the Syrian battlefield, the two foes have taken contradictory positions with Russia aiding Assad's Syrian government and the U.S. still hoping for a moderate opposition to take control. Putin has shown a definite and effective strategy, combining Russian air power with Syrian military to push back Daesh and regain territory. Until Russia entered the conflict, the United States pursued a conerproductive strategy, relying on powelress anti-governmwnt forces to win battles and hoping that the Assad government will fall, while not realizing that the Assad military is the only effective fighting force and it is preferable that it not fall. After Syrian government victorious offensives, the U.S. equipped the Kurdish militia (YPG), a moralized and courageous fighting force that has recovered ground and moved toward Daesh's self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa.The Los Angeles Times exposed the counterproductive U.S. strategy with a report,
In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA, by Nabih Bulos, W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett, March 27, 2016
Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war.
The fighting has intensified over the last two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other while maneuvering through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.
In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.
Russian air support for the Assad government has turned the war so that Daesh is on the defensive and Assad's military is reinvigorated with significant victories and recapture of territory up to Aleppo and past Palmyra. The U.S. welcomes the defeats of Daesh but refuses to accept the success of the Russian mission.
Examine the Ukraine crisis and others of the last decades, and the Cold War starts to create a different image. Although defeated in Vietnam, the United States did not find the winning Soviet bloc increasing its influence in Southeast Asia. Nor did the victory of a Soviet friendly regime in Angola extend Soviet influence in Africa. After the unofficial end of the Cold War, the remaining superpower continued military struggles and interferences throughout the world, which serves up the question: " Did the Cold War occur to contain the Soviet Union or to extend United States hegemony?" The evolution of the Cold War from the year 1945 answers the question.
The Soviet Union, together with Great Britain, occupied parts of Iran in 1941 in order to prevent Nazi Germany's entry into the Persian kingdom. After the end of World War II, Great Britain and the United States removed their troops but the Soviets violated a Potsdam agreement by expanding their military presence and assisting in the formation of two pro-Soviet "People's Democratic Republics" within Iranian territory.
This maneuver had been planned before the of the war, as shown in a Soviet
DECREE OF THE CC CPSU POLITBURO TO MIR BAGIROV CC SECRETARY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF AZERBAIJAN, 'MEASURES TO ORGANIZE A SEPARATIST MOVEMENT IN SOUTHERN AZERBAIJAN AND OTHER PROVINCES OF NORTHERN IRAN, JULY 06, 1945.
Measures to Organize a Separatist Movement in Southern Azerbaijan and Other Provinces in Northern Iran.
1. Consider it advisable to begin preparatory work to form a national autonomous Azerbaijan district [oblast'] with broad powers within the Iranian state.
2. At the same time develop a separatist movement in the provinces of Gilyan, Mazandaran, Gorgan, and Khorasan.
After an official US protest, the United Nations Security Council on January 30, 1946 passed a Resolution that simply requested "Iran and the Soviet Union to resolve their conflict concerning Soviet troops occupying Iranian territory." The Soviets did not veto the Resolution and several months afterward reluctantly completed a withdrawal of forces from Iran.
Separatist movements and disputes over oil concessions in Iran still disturbed relations between Stalin and Truman. U.S. persistence in support of Iran sovereignty helped subdue the separatists and allowed Iran to choose its oil partners. One of the first challenges between the two victors of the war resolved itself by December 1946. What could have been serious contention ended in a mutually agreed solution. It would be many decades before another mutual agreement occurred.
Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain - 1946
On March 5, 1946, the United Kingdom's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, while accepting an honorary degree from Westminster College, placed out front the separation between the western world and Eastern Europe. In Fulton Missouri, the former Prime Minister gave his famous "Iron Curtain" speech to a crowd of 40,000. With the words "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," the Cold War received its initial impetus.
Greece - 1946
The Greece civil war of 1946-49, which pitted the Greek Communist Party that gained power from its participation in the resistance movement against the German occupation against a royalist government that had been restored by plebiscite in 1946, alarmed President Truman. Believing the Soviet Union was involved in assisting the Greek communists, the American president formulated The Truman Doctrine, which permitted military and economic aid to anti-Communist forces in the civil war. Although Communist regimes in Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria supplied arms to the Greek Communist, the Soviet Union refrained from interfering in the conflict. The Truman Doctrine prevented a communist government from taking power in Greece, but the American interference in Greece affairs added to the initial post-war frictions between the East and the West and established a firm path to the Cold War.
Berlin - 1948
The four powers divided Berlin into specific zones of occupation. In early 1948, the western allies--United States, France and Great Britain--discussed the possibility of consolidating their three zones into one federated zone. On June 23, 1948, the ever-wary Soviet Union reacted to the discussion and closed the Berlin border to allied vehicle and rail traffic.
The Soviet Union considered the allied sectors in isolated Berlin as espionage bases and not of strategic value to the allies. A Soviet embargo of the Three Powers' traffic became more than a case of harassment--it tested U.S. intentions in Berlin. The Soviet leaders expected the allies would compromise and evacuate Berlin. It did not happen. The Berlin airlift brought adequate supplies to West Berlin, and forced the Soviet government to halt the blockade after seven months. Allied resolve in the Berlin airlift convinced the Soviet leaders that the West would struggle for each advantage and the adversaries would not easily find rapport. The U.S. successful response to the Soviet embargo moved the Cold War to an "eyeball-to-eyeball" confrontation and initiated a drastic arms race.
The U.S. strengthened its economic and military position by cooperating in European recovery.
Marshall Plan - 1948 to 1960
The Marshall plan provided economic resources for West Europe to recover from the war. It is undoubtedly the finest U.S. foreign policy achievement. Proposed and guided by General George C. Marshall, the plan assured markets for U.S. exports and smoothed the transition from a war economy to a peace economy. It is an example of using U.S. policy in a "win-win" situation that benefits the American people and supplies sustenance to others.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - 1948 to 2016
The U.S. sponsored NATO grew in size and strength and prepared to act all through the Cold War years. Despite opportunities assist East Europeans in their uprisings against Communist governments in Czechoslovakia in 1948, Hungary in 1956, the Czechs again in the Prague spring of 1968 and the Poles in the 70's, NATO refrained from modifying its doctrine of only attacking after being attacked. In the post Cold War era, after the Soviet Union had been humbled and could not retaliate, NATO changed its position from a defensive alliance to an offensive component of U.S. foreign policy. NATO warred against a hapless Yugoslavia in Kosovo. An expanded NATO, which includes East European nations, sent forces to Bosnia and Afghanistan but did not replace or augment U.S. troops in Iraq.
NATO's offensive tactics and far-reaching thrusts provoked a challenge from The European Union (EU). In December 2004, Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, drafted a European security strategy that is based on "effective multilateralism" and use of international agencies. The words are often used in NATO meetings and UN Security Council resolutions. In November 2003, Britain, France and Germany formulated plans to give the European Union a military planning facility that is independent of NATO. The "Big Three" have not made much of an advance to their objective.
The treaty between west European nations, inaugurated as a barrier to Soviet aggression, graduated to new prominence in 2011 with establishment of a "free fly" zone for Libyan insurgents, and aerial attacks on Libya. The spread of NATO actions to several continents redefines NATO as an arm of western political and military policies, and replaces the policy of deterrence against a defunct Soviet Union. Coupling that with the anti-missile system the U.S. and NATO allies propose to deploy in Eastern Europe, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeared on Russian First Channel program Cold Politics (Kholodnaya Politika) and exclaimed that this anti-missile system "is undoubtedly aimed at neutralizing the nuclear rocket capability of Russia." Still treatingthe proposed system as a threat, Putin declared in May 2016 "Now, after the deployment of those anti-missile system elements, well be forced to think about neutralizing developing threats to Russias security. .
Meanwhile, NATO's Parliamentary Assembly "urged alliance members today to stand up to Russia's military assertiveness and to do a better job sharing the burden of collective defense." Taking up the challenge, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on May 27, 2016 appointed former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a special adviser, prompting a response from Russia that the move was a "hostile gesture" and a show meant "to keep Ukraine in the center of attention with its western partners at any cost."
NATO succeeded in preventing a Soviet military action against Western Europe. The same NATO has aggressively promoted U.S. policies in the Balkans and modified its charter to U.S. dictates. NATO now has an international role with troops in Afghanistan and military expansion into East Europe.
The Balkan Wars - Bosnia and Kosovo
The words Balkan wars create images of armies with long muskets and early 20th century colorful uniforms. Despite two World Wars, the creation of two international peace organizations, and several resolutions that resolved the Balkan borders, the area's problems continually revived and persisted. The ferocity of the antagonisms, killings, dislocations, and brutalities committed in the Balkans, and the military involvement of the U.S. and NATO in the disputes, indicate that a capitalist/communist hostility, the most accepted reason for previous disputes, and one that had never resulted in military strife in Europe, might have disguised the real reasons for America's role in the Cold War.
- the assurance of trade and markets,
- the control of a major portion of world resources,
- the need to have all nations conform to a unified economic plan,
- world hegemony by one party, and
- rendering powerless those nations that threaten an emerging New World Order or do not conform to it.
The NATO/Yugoslavia War
NATO's 1999 war against Yugoslavia inflicted more than 1000 casualties to its Serbian population. Physical destruction has been estimated in the range 40 to 100 billion dollars. NATO bombings destroyed all bridges across the Danube River and temporarily paralyzed Serbian infrastructure.
Although the return of the Kosovar refugees to their towns and villages seemed to prove that the ends justified the means, all the results of the Yugoslavia war should be considered: testing of weapons in all types of conditions that caused death and destruction, an acceptance that strong nations may attack weaker nations with the pretext of unfair treatment of their minorities, revival of war as a solution to problems, renewal of an arms race, the loss of sovereignty, and the uncomfortable feeling that no matter where you are in the world, if you don't agree with a specified policy you can become the target of a guided missile.
Because Kosovo contained sites of Serbia's most sacred churches and monasteries, Serbian nationalism located Kosovo as the medieval center of a Serbian empire. In 1389, the Serbs lost the land to the Ottoman Turks in a decisive battle fought in Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds. However, Serbia was unable to reincorporate Kosovo into its territory until 1912, immediately after the first Balkan wars. Kosovo's status as an integral part of Serbia wavered between the two world wars. After World War II, the mostly Albanian populated land became officially attached to Yugoslavia.
As far back as 1939, the Yugoslavian parliament addressed its problems in Kosovo: an Albanian minority showed determination to force out the Serb population and eventually declare independence. Albanian emigration to Kosovo and a high Albanian birthrate slowly shifted the demographics to favor the Albanians. The struggle to achieve independence by a minority that becomes a majority in a province of a nation is not unique. Central government suppression of minority rights during civil strife and the commission of atrocities on warring sides occur in many regions of the world. Basque Spain, Catholic Northern Ireland, Tamil Sri Lanka, Kurdish Turkey and Chechnya Russia have dominant ethnic minorities and rebellious forces, similar to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), that engage governments and provoke retaliation.
Yugoslavia was not a threat to the United States or any European country. So, why did Yugoslavia and its Kosovo province receive extensive attention? Atrocities against Albanians have been cited as the reason for NATO's attack, but the mass excursion of Albanians from Kosovo did not start until the NATO bombings of Kosovo, in which many Kosovars were killed. The Civil war in Kosovo and its atrocities were not unique and negotiations were still a viable path to resolution of the internecine warfare. Milosevich agreed to almost all NATO demands except the stationing of troops in sovereign Serbian territory. Possible reasons for the attack on Yugoslavia:
- Yugoslavia was allied with Russia and afforded Russia access to the Adriatic Sea,
- Yugoslavia's independent foreign policy did not conform to the emerging New World Order,
- Yugoslavia had a socialist oriented economy,
- Yugoslavia had the potential to becoming a powerful nation outside of the western orbit.
- NATO's war against Yugoslavia provided a proving ground for new military strategies that used air power and guided missiles.
Start with the year 2000.
Washington, February 7, 2000About five hundred civilians died in ninety separate incidents as a result of NATO bombing in Yugoslavia...--Human Rights Watch. (NATO estimates were 1500.) Considering the extent of the strife and mayhem, can U.S. policy in the Balkans be considered a success? The Kosovo war had counter-productive results:
- Physical and economic destruction of Yugoslavia: GDP/capita immediately dropped to $2,266 in 2001. By 2005, it rose to $4400 (includes Kosovo.). In 2011, it had returned to a respectable $10,800. For reference, Bosnia had a GDP of $5,200 (2005 est.) and Albania had a GDP of $5,300 (2005 est.). However, a high unemployment of 31.6% (50% in Kosovo) in 2005 remained high at 237%. (CIA Factbook, 2006, 2012).
- The Serbs lost authority in Kosovo: Civil authority in Kosovo was transferred to a United Nations Mission to Kosovo (UNMIK)
- The UN has had to prevent ethnic cleansing of a Serb population that was previously accused of attacking Albanian populations in a civil war and that had been subjected to abuses by Albanian Kosovars for decades. US State Department officials calculated the figure of expelled Serbs at about 100,000 ( R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Statement before House Committee on International Relations, May 18, 2005.). Ian Bancroft,( guardian.co.uk, 5 May 2009) raised the total: "While pockets of protest by Kosovo Serbs have been a constant since Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, these latest confrontations are distinctive for their underlying motivations; with the grievances of the Kosovo Serbs deriving in part from the international community's persistent failure to ensure the safe and sustainable return of about 220,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians expelled from Kosovo since 1999."
- Promotion of the concept that strong nations can attack weaker nations that are judged to treat a province unfairly, a prelude to the attack on Iraq.
- Revival of nationalism, once cited as a cause of World War II.
- Ethnic separation rather then ethnic integration as a guide to national structures, a prelude to the dismemberment of Iraq.
- Renewal of U.S. and Russian hostility, which continues.
- Deterioration of the concept of national sovereignty; as noted in interferences in Iraq, Sudan and possibly Syria and Iran.
- Deterioration of the concept of national sovereignty; noted in later direct interferences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and in indirect interferences with operations of the governments of Sudan and Iran.
In 2005, Montenegro detached itself from Yugoslavia, and in 2010, Kosovo independence received UN legal blessing. The former Yugoslavia has been reduced to Serbia. Walking a fine line between not jeopardizing entrance into the European Union and maintaining Kosovo as a Serbian province (Hong Kong relations with China has been cited as an example), the Serbian government has been reluctant to act too aggressively toward the former Yugoslavian Southern Republic. On 25 Feb 2012, Borislav Stefanovic, the head of the Serbian government team for dialogue with Kosovo, called only Pristina by the Serbian government, tried to put a "good face" on a meeting In Brussels with Kosovo representatives. He stated the
agreement made between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels is fully in accordance with the Constitution and national interests of Serbia. Stefanovic underlined at a press conference that with this agreement Serbia did not recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo-Metohija, nor will ever do. He explained that this agreement protects Serbias sovereignty, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 got international reaffirmation once more and its position on the international scene has been reinforced. He said that Serbia reached the best possible agreement at the moment, which allowed for asymmetric representation of Pristina in regional organisations, with reference to Resolution 1244. In international initiatives, Pristina will be represented without prejudging the elements of statehood, which will not be present either in a symbolic or essential sense.He explained that in the regional representation, beyond the inscription Kosovo there will be an asterisk and the footnote will read "This name does not prejudge the status of Kosovo and is in line with UN Resolution 1244 and the decision of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo's declaration of independence.
The Bosniak/Croat leaders realized in 1991 that the Serb population would not approve a separation from the Yugoslavia Federation. Former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic presented the idealistic view that:
Bosnian unity can be maintained only if Bosnia is organized as a democratic and secular state which stresses the human and political rights of all individuals rather than the rights of national or confessional groups. Only a united Bosnia can be economically viable.
Nevertheless, the March 3, 1992 declaration of independence, in effect, informed the Bosnian Serbs that they would be separated from their fellow Serbs in Yugoslavia and be subservient to a new and unknown Bosnian authority. The Bosniaks and Croats were naive in expecting the Bosnian Serbs, who had major physical, economic and social control of Bosnia, to accept that proposition?
Yugoslavia President Milosevich had permitted Slovenia and Macedonia to become independent and did not overpower Croatia after the Catholic province declared its independence. Milosevich made the most serious compromises that established the Bosnia Federation at a meeting in Dayton, Ohio. The Yugoslavia president locked in the agreement by yielding a narrow strip of territory to Bosnia. The Dayton peace agreements, that halted the war, arranged the map of Bosnia in almost the same manner as it had been divided at the initial start of the war. The Croat/Bosniak Federation covers 51% of the territory and Srpska (Serb Republic) is contained in 49% of the Bosnian nation. During the war, Serbs controlled 70% of the Bosnian Republic.
What happened to Bosnia and Kosovo?
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been divided into a Serbia Republic (Sprska) and a Bosnia Federation that includes Muslim and Croatian regions. The divided nation has a three-member presidency that consists of a representative from each major ethnic group, a Muslim, a Croat and a Serb, which rotates every 8 months. Ethnic identity determines voting patterns.
The republics have maintained separate armies. U.S. troops as a part of NATO remained in Bosnia until the end of 2004. On Dec. 2, 2004, a European Union force, consisting of almost the same troops as in NATO, assumed peacekeeping operations. Bosnia's appearance after drastic wars seems to be constituted worse than a pre-war successful diplomacy would have designed it.
It took until the end of 2004, for the Bosnian republics to show some cooperation. More than a million refugees managed to return home, even to villages where they are in the minority, dozens of culprits were sent to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and a common all-Bosnia defense ministry had been established.
The cooperative atmosphere was short lived. Dragan Mikerevic, Bosnian Serb government prime minister, resigned on Dec. 17, 2004, in a protest to what he described as unconstitutional interference in his government's affairs by the country's Western administrator, Paddy Ashdown. High Representative Ashdown had fired nine Serb officials as punishment for the Bosnian Serb Republic's failure to arrest war crimes suspects and for Serb rebuke to the establishment of a common all-Bosnia defense ministry. In March 2005, High Representative Paddy Ashdown abruptly dismissed Croat President Dragan Covic after Covic's indictment for financial corruption, but before his trial took place.
Optimism and spin reconcile Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats living in a single centralized state. The optimism has not been realized.
- The political trend since December 2005 has the Serb Republic (Srpska) developing its own characteristics and the Croat population maintaining a separation from the Bosniak population.
- Although the UN High Commissioner for Refugees cited the figure of one million refugees having returned to homes in Bosnia, the one million figure is misleading: (1) Most returnees are elderly who have no other place to locate. (2) Many refugees have returned temporarily to reclaim property and sell homes before moving to a more acceptable location. (3) Jobs are not available. (4) The minority populations that realize they will be discriminated against in employment and education will eventually leave.
- What advantage is it to the Serb population to unite with ethnicities with whom they fought a vicious war? Enemies might live close without renewing violence, but would they want to unite and relive the experiences? Isn't it more likely Srpska will either remain separate or unite one day with Serbia, which has a compatible population? The Dayton Accords contemplated the latter possibility by constructing Srpska so that it is contiguous, except for the shared Brcko District.
- Former Serbian President Boris Tadic (2004 -2012), indicated that Srpska has a right to join with Serbia if Kosovo becomes an independent state. A November 2007 public opinion poll in Republika Srpska had 77 percent of Bosnian Serbs believing they should break away from Bosnia if Kosovo Albanians secede from Serbia.
- In May 2012, Tomislav Nikolic, a more strident nationalist than the mildly pro-western Boris Tadic, Became president of Serbia. beating Tadic by two to three percentage points.
In 2008, DAN BILEFSKY,December 13, 2008, New York Times summarized the condition of Bosnia:
For the country to progress, leaders on all sides say, the structure established by the Dayton accord must be overhauled. The countrys two entities have their own Parliaments, and there are 10 regional authorities, each with its own police force and education, health and judicial authorities. The result is a Byzantine system of government directed by 160 ministers, a structure that absorbs 50 percent of Bosnias gross domestic product of $15 billion, according to the World Bank.
The Serbian News Agency provided a positive spin to the ongoing friction between Serbs and Bosniaks. Serbianna December 11, 2008:
President Boris Tadic said that Serbia does not support a break up of Bosnia and that, as a guarantor of the Dayton Accords that brought peace to Bosnia, supports Bosnias territorial integrity.
The Economist, Nov 19th 2010, cited a report on Bosnia's continual backward progress.
Even though the rest of the region has moved forward, for Bosnia and Herzegovina the last four years have largely been lost, as the country has stagnated and begun moving backwards. The current trajectoryif left unchangedrisks eventual state dissolution. The international community has lost sight of the dangers and frequently avoids facing the real issues. More robust US engagement with the EU is required to restore reform momentum.
David Rohde, Reuters columnist, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times, writing in The Nation, April 27, 2012:
Today, the economy (Bosnia) is stalled, with half of business activity generated by state-owned companies and unemployment hovering at 25 percent. The country is divided between a Serb entity whose leader talks openly of secession and a Muslim-Croat federation with worrying rifts of its own. And corruption is endemic among senior government officials on all sides.
The years of 2013 and 2014 have not shown any improvements in the economy or relations between the federated states.
World Bulletin/News Desk, 25 December 2014 reports:
Around 200 workers from bankrupt firms in the Tuzla region spent Wednesday night in a sports centre of the nearby town of Srebrenik after starting a protest walk on December 24 across the border towards Croatia, aiming to leave the country because of their hopeless situation, the Balkan Insight reported.
According to the report, they walked about 40 kilometres on Wednesday. They want the cantonal government to provide one-off financial help, sorts out years of unpaid work and pensions and revive their moribund companies.
Hasan Uzicanin, a worker of the Aida footwear company, told Bosnia's Federation Television they had no hope in Bosnia any longer. I have nothing to look for in this country anymore, he said.
Aida is one of a number of partly or wholly state companies in the Tuzla region that is either deeply troubled with debts or has been closed down.
Workers from this company as well as others from the detergent firm, Dita, the steel company or the furniture maker, Konjuh, said they had no other option than to protest.
Tuzla was the birthplace of the February protests that spread to dozens of other towns and cities across Bosnia and Herzegovin, bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets of Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and Bihac.
The unrest resulted in several official buildings being set on fire, including the building of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
As one of the Republics of Yugoslavia, Muslims and Christians lived and worked together in a unified Republic. Now they are separated in a polarized nation, bitter enemies who see no future together. Another hypocritical U.S. policy, which preaches togetherness and cooperation between ethnicities but encourages enmity and isolation. For the Bosniaks, their independence movement has resulted in mass killings and economic deprivation. -- a BBC report has Bosnia with "the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, with six out of 10 young people unable to find a job." The winners have been a small coterie of politiians -- another BBC report has "Bosnian politicians accused of nepotism, corruption and botching privatisations, while picking up salaries aroun d four times the local average."
The year 2016 brought rising tensons in the country's autonomous Serb region. Tens of thousands of Bosnians took to the streets for and against the government in the Serbia Republic (Sprska). Serb nationalists, led by Serb Republic President, Milorad Dodik, want closer ties with Russia, and believe "that the Serbian Republic is a viable, autonomous entity with every right and credentials of being a state." An Alliance for Change reformists seek closer ties with the European Union and see Dodik as a corrupt dictator. They accuse Dodik and his inner circle of enriching themselves while the economy teeters on the brink of financial ruin.
The Bosnia & Herzegovina nation has begun to show signs of slow growth. World Bank forecasts Bosnia & Herzegovinas economic growth will be above 3.0% a year through most of 2016. However, the Federal Office of Statistics, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina reported that the unemployment Rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained at a high 42.36 percent in March, 2016. Another controversial statistic -- Bosnia & Herzegovina slipped two positions to 68th out of 180 countries in the 2016 Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Was NATO support for the independence of Bosnia due to empathy with the Bosniaks or hostility to a Yugoslavia that refusd to join the western world in its extension of political, military, social and economic control over all of Europe. The US-Adriatic Charter which was established in 2003 as "a regional initiative to address common security challenges and enhance the region's Euro-Atlantic integration," and has been approved by the Balkan nations, excpt for Serbia and Kosovo, is an example of NATO's true intentions.
The UN (KFOR) had 18,000 troops in Kosovo in 2004. At the end of 2007, the UN still controlled police and justice functions in Kosovo while NATO maintained order with16,000 troops. By December 2013 the UN mission had been scaled to only 15 total uniformed personnel, 8 military liaison officers, 7 police officers, 116 international civilian personnel, 205 local staff, and 27 UN Volunteers. At the same date, about 5,000 troops from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), remain in Kosovo.
The Recent History
Back in December 12, 2003, the Kosovo parliament voted to invalidate all laws passed during Yugoslavia rule. However, at that time, the top UN official, Harri Holkeri, who holds the ultimate authority in the disputed province, quickly declared parliament's move invalid. (AP, Dec. 12, 2003.)
By mid- 2004, almost one-half of the Serbs living in Kosovo had been forced to leave. Serbia's ethnic presence and Serbian control of Kosovo has been almost eliminated.
Note: The number of Serbs in Kosovo might never have exceeded 200,000.
On Dec. 3, 2004, Kosovo had a national election. UN Development Program Agency, December 29, 2004
Following the unopposed victory in a Dec. 3, 2004 election in Kosovo, which Serbs boycotted, and the election of the former KLA leader, Ramush Haradinaj, as President, Albanians now expect to declare independence and be recognised by the international community. However, Kosovo is still the legal province of Serbia and guaranteed as such by UN Resolution 1244 of 1999. (One problem) is that the new Kosovo Prime Minister has been indicted in Serbia on 108 counts of war crimes committed by his troops against Serb civilians, as well as other offenses. But he is also facing a possible indictment from the U.N. itself. The U.N.'s war crime tribunal, created in the aftermath of the Kosovo war, has already questioned him as part of an investigation into war crimes.
Note: Ramush Haradinaj was indicted for war crimes by The Hague-based United Nations tribunal (ICTY) in 2005. He was forced to leave his post.
May 2004, R. Nicholas Burns, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, in a statement before the House Committee on International Relations:
The economy is a significant challenge for all the people of Kosovo, where unemployment runs at 60 percent or higher. Huge swaths of the economy are outside of formal structures, making them ripe targets for corruption and organized criminal activities. Investment and development are constrained by unreliable basic services that we take for granted, like electricity and telephone systems. Large and inefficient state enterprises are still not privatized and foreign investors are waiting for greater political clarity and decisions on Kosovos sovereignty before investing. The UN, after much delay, promulgated rules on eminent domain and land tenure that will allow privatization and other essential economic programs to move forward. With its status unresolved, however, Kosovo is not eligible for the IMF or World Bank assistance that it so urgently needs to develop a stable economy.
While Serbia argued against it, the Kosovars assumed they will have independence:
PRISTINA, Serbia, Nov 28, 2006 (Reuters) - U.N. police in Kosovo fired tear gas on Tuesday to disperse ethnic Albanians who smashed the windows of parliament and stoned U.N. headquarters, angry at a delay to their demand for independence from Serbia.
United Nations envoy, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari issued a proposal in 2007 that recommended a supervised independence for Kosovo. Russia blocked the adoption of the framework of Martti Ahtisaari's proposal.
At that time, Serbias new constitution declared Kosovo is to be an "inseparable" part of Serbia. However, Agim Ceku, former Prime Minister of the predominantly Albanian Kosovo, replied that Kosovo would unilaterally declare itself independent if the UN does not grant it independence.
Serbian President Boris Tadic mentioned an autonomy that stops short of complete independence for Kosovo, with Kosovo technically a part of Serbia and Serbia controlling foreign policy and armed forces.
BELGRADE, Dec. 16, 2007 (Xinhua) -- Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Sunday he expects that Russia, China and other U.N. Security Council members will support Belgrade's stand that the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo province should continue.
"I will not accept any independence of Kosovo, not only because of the integrity of this country, but also because I am absolutely convinced that such a solution jeopardizes the development and future of the region of the Balkans and the Black Sea region, where there are many problems similar to that of Kosovo," Tadic said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during that era, injected his opinion into the "independence for Kosovo" discussion by proclaiming that "if Kosovo is granted independence, then the Russian population in the Georgian Republic of South Ossetia, should also be granted independence." In 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees, which formally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Nevertheless, Kosovo's politicians prepared for independence:
PRISTINA, Serbia, Dec 26,2007 (Reuters) - Kosovo's two main political parties have agreed to form a coalition government which will lead the breakaway province towards independence from Serbia early next year, party sources said on Wednesday.
On February 17, 2008, the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government proclaimed "independence" from Serbia. Principal EU nations and the U.S. immediately recognized the new status while Russia, China and other nations refused to echo support. The European Union responded by implementation of a mandate to improve the rule of law in Kosovo. "Some 15,000 NATO soldiers and 1,500 UN police officers remained, as well as 400 judges, police officers and security officers belonging to the UN's EULEX mission. The two-year mandate of this mission contained the European Unions largest civilian mission, with about 3,000 people in total when fully staffed."
The International Court of Justice rejected Serbian claims that the move had violated its territorial integrity. Kosovo officials said all doubt about its status had been removed. However, in 2010, Serbia's president insisted his nation will never recognize the secession. A coda to the musical chairs drama has a report In December 2010, by controversial Dick Marty, of the European Council's Parliamentary Assembly committee on legal affairs and human rights, accusing then Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi "of heading a crime ring during and after the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, which killed opponents and trafficked in drugs and organs taken from murdered Serbs."
Serbia's Prime Minister since July 2012, Ivica Dacic, leader of former President Slobodan Milosevich's Socialist Party, refused to formally recognize Kosovos independence, and for good reasons - fear that Kosovos ethnic Albanian-dominated government will move against the 60,000 plus Serbs inside Kosovo who are resisting government authority.
Serbia's Beta news agency, allegedly quoting a document to be sent to the Serb Republics parliament for debate, reported on Dec. 20, 2012, that "Serbia wants for its Serb minority in Kosovo a 'high degree of autonomy' modeled on Spains Catalan region." Kosovo President Thaci's reply, The presence of illegal structures financed by Serbia makes our work very difficult there.
At a hopeful Feb. 6, 2013 meeting between Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Kosovo's young female President Atifete Jahjaga in Brussels, Nikolic reiterated that Serbia would not recognize Kosovo as an independent state, and Ms. Jahjaga declared that Kosovo is an independent state. Local elections, held in Kosovo on November 3, 2013 in which the Serbs of Northern Kosovo participated, appeared to confirm President Atifete Jahjaga's declaration. Violent reactions to the voting did occur in Serb-majority areas of northern Kosovo. After six months of negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, the Brussels Agreement, April 19, 2013, allowed limited autonomous powers for the Serbs in the north of Kosovo in exchange for Serbia agreeing not to block Kosovo's path to eventual membership of the EU.
The Serbs have fought a losing battle in their attempt to halt the Kosovars national aspirations and are fighting a losing battle in trying to prevent encroachment on Serbian institutions, monuments, populations and territory remaining in Kosovo. Due to Russia's alliance with Serbia and its refusal to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, the Russian veto on the Security Council may prevent Kosovo from becoming a UN member. However, for Serbia to enter the European Union, it is likely there will be a demand that Serbia recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state (as of June, 2015, 112 countries reccognize Kosovo as an independent nation). To Serbia's president, the demand "will be a clear signal that Brussels does not want Serbia among its ranks."
The counterproductive element of the Kosovo war and emergence of Kososvo as an independent nation is its drift towad a radical Islam and ssociation of citizens with ISIS.
How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS, NY TImes, by CARLOTTA GALLMAY 21, 2016
...under the watch of American officials Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.
Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.
They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.
In both Bosnia and Kosovo, U.S. policies succeeded in replacing a governing authority with poorly governing authorities, in trading the appearance of repression and incipient "ethnic cleansing" with violence leading to institutionalized "ethnic cleansing" and anarchy, and in complicating problems with war rather than resolving them with negotiation and diplomacy.
From the disintegration of the Austria-Hungary Empire at the end of World War the allies created the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, formally renamed the "Kingdom of Yugoslavia" in 1928. The 1941 Nazi conquest of the kingdom separated it into several states by ethnicity. Post World War II arrangements re-established the Balkan nation as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Because its leader, Marshall Tito, challenged Moscow, the western nations did not challenge Tito. The fall of the Soviet Union abruptly changed western attitude toward its "friend." After NATOs wars, Yugoslavia did not return to the model framed by the integrators and subduers of rash nationalism after World War I. Strangely, the new map of the former Yugoslavia became more identified with the virulent nationalism and ethnic preferences of the Nazi era.
The new Europe rejected the treaties and agreements made by allied leaders after two world wars. The new Europe has a united and powerful Germany, a disintegrated Soviet Union, a divided Czechoslovakia and a fragmented Balkans. The United States (a non-European nation) possesses a military and cultural dominance that solicits cooperation from East European nations, but is becoming less controlling in the Western European nations. It almost seems that Europe has strangely accepted a Nazi vision of Europe: stability enforced by dominance of a single nation and national identity characterized by ethnic identity.
Throughout the post-WWII years, the U.S. maintained good relations with the Western European countries, even with those that had socialist orientation. The United States
- did not confront Portugal when it was governed by the leftist leader Caravalho, but tried to destroy the leftist government of the former Portuguese colony of Angola.
- was undisturbed when leftist regimes in Greece and Spain replaced former rightist regimes that had championed U.S. policies.
- continued friendly relations with Italy despite the fact that the Communists were Italy's major political party and had several opportunities to achieve power.
- resolved its difficulties with DeGaulle, who pursued independent policies that conflicted with U.S. policies.
- did not contend Mitterand's Socialist government that had characteristics, which alarmed the U.S. State Department in other areas of the world.
The U.S. acceptance of European regimes that were unacceptable to the U.S. State Department in other regions of the world was due to lack of American support for attacks on Europeans and fear of retaliation from other Europeans if a European country became a victim of an attack. A touch of cowardice and bully is also apparent - The U.S. has only attacked small and less industrialized Third World nations. Does racism guide U.S. foreign policy?
Although leaders portrayed friendliness, U.S. relations deteriorated with the European countries that did not support the attack on Iraq (France, Germany and Russia). American policies, such as not permitting UN control in Iraq and denying contracts in Iraq to those who have not sent troops, antagonized European allies. The U.S. needed European assistance in its war on terrorism. Instead, the George W. Bush administration pursued alienating, confrontational and controversial relations with major European countries. Charges that the American CIA violated European Union regulations by using European nations to imprison and interrogate suspected Al-Qaeda members captured by the U.S. intensified the anger of European leaders to U.S. policies. After Nicholas Sarkozy became president in France, U.S. and French relations greatly improved. Barack Obama's election rejuvenated relations between the U.S. and the European Community, but became overshadowed by economic problems in both regions. With the U.S. winding down commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, relations between the 'old' and 'new' worlds' became normal until...
On June 9 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) computer analyst Edward Snowden leaked top-secret NSA documents that revealed US surveillance of phone and internet communications. These included NSA monitored phone conversations of 35 world leaders, the most significant being the personal mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After a few angry challenges by European officials, the NSA machinations seem to have left few ripples -- relations between President Obama and western nations remain cordial.
A combination of Europe's economic turmoil, strife with Russia, Great Britain's possibility of leaving the European Union (Brexit) and intra-nation disputes rising from a mass influx of refugees has given rise to far rightist parties who have expanded their base in Greece, France and Switzerland and narrowly missed gaining power in Austria. If this trend continues relations of Europen nations with the United States will be challenge and reconsidered.
The Asian Scene
U.S. foreign policy and military adventures in Asia have been counter-productive. Without resolving controversies in its favor, the U.S. temporarily destroyed the Indo-Chinese countries, allowed repressive regimes to flourish in other countries and stimulated what it wanted to prevent, North Korea's attempt to nuclear developments and China's rapid economic development.
Korean War 1948-1952
In 1948, the United States had no alternative to military intervention in the Korean Civil War. America was obligated to prevent the Korean peninsula from becoming totally controlled by the northern Communists. Although the two Koreas threatened one another, and the stronger North Korea showed itself ready to settle the conflict by military force in 1948, the U.S. had not prepared a constructive Korean policy.
After U.S. troops were trapped in a southern area of the Korean peninsula, commanding General Douglas MacArthur landed troops at Inchon and launched a counterattack. Deemed a suicide venture by military experts, and ignored as an impossibility by the North Korean command, the surprise maneuver doomed the North Korean army and ignited an offensive that cleared the South of enemy forces. Instead of calling a truce, U.S. foreign policy drifted into its first great post-war error--a chilling prelude to a future of military catastrophes--U.S. troops continued into North Korea. This excursion generated a military confrontation with China, an additional 20 to 30 thousand American deaths, many more wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Korean casualties.
The military move across the 37th parallel escalated the Cold War and moved China closer to the Soviet Union orbit. After the truce, Korea remained as it had been in 1948, a divided nation. Uncertainty and war has threatened the Korean peninsula for decades. A strategic foothold on the Asian mainland and the economic progress of South Korea have often been described as the successful components of the Korean policy. The losses in American and Korean lives, the human tragedies due to the lack of reunification, and the escalation of East-West tensions offset the immediate successes.
Korea after 1952
The U.S. need for a strategic foothold on the Asian mainland seems unnecessary and redundant. Many South Koreans, at times, agree with that position.
A January 2005 poll indicated the South Koreans did not regard U.S. troop presence as a benefit to their nation. To the question, "Which country is the most threatening to South Korea?" Research & Research, one of South Korea's largest pollsters, recorded that 39 percent of 800 respondents named the United States. North Korea came in second at 33 percent.
South Korea has become a prosperous country and, with each succeeding year, becomes more competitive with the United States. America's troops in Japan, fortified by nuclear bases in both offensive, are sufficient to deter a North Korean attack, which makes redundant the bases in South Korea that contain a limited number of troops. Meanwhile, U.S. diplomacy and angry actions have not halted North Korea from becoming a nuclear power or prevented China from becoming the dominant nation in Asia.
The Korean War only ended in an armistice, a glorified cease-fire; no peace treaty has been signed and no official termination of hostilities exists. Despite the absence of a formal peace treaty, the peninsula peoples slowly and deliberately cross one another's borders for humanitarian, cultural and tourist purposes. Since 2004 North Korea has wavered in acceptance of South Korean investments and South Korea has wondered if its worth dealing with its frenetic neighbor. Meanwhile, the U.S. continually challenges a hapless North Korea that might be able to cause havoc if attacked, but has insufficient military power to sustain offensive operations against any nation. Tracing the history:
From a REUTERS report, December 30, 2004
SEOUL North and South Korea have agreed to resume telecommunication services stopped half a century ago as South Korean companies start business at the jointly developed industrial park in the communist state, Seoul said on Thursday. KT Corp., South Korea's top fixed-line carrier, would offer landline phone calls and facsimile services for local firms operating at the Kaesong industrial park, just across the heavily militarised border, South Korea's unification ministry said in a statement.
The Kaesong project is the first major joint business venture since the Korean War and South Korean firms are being attracted to the project by cheap labour and land costs. The industrial complex is 10 km (6 miles) north of the heavily fortified border that divides the two Koreas.
In August 2006, about 35 companies began operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where every day, hundreds of workers from South Korea go to work in North Korea, and thousands of workers from North Korea go to jobs in South Korean factories. Due to intermittent skirmishes between the two Koreas, North Korea has often banned the South Korean workers. On Dec 27, 2010, after South Korea conducted war games, the ban was again lifted. By April 2012, despite the constant tensions, the complex grew to 120 South Korean small and medium-sized companies. That growth has been duplicated by a surge in trade between the two antagonists, rising 36% to US$320 million in the first two months of year 2012.
Although continually engaging one another, South and North Korea built a tourism center in 2005 on North Korea's Mount Kumgang. More than 1,000 South Korean tourists welcomed the 2006 New Year on the popular mountain resort. The killing of a South Korean woman, who ventured went beyond the resort's boundaries, interrupted the "sunshine policy" that allowed interchanges between the two Korean nations. South Korea's Hyundai saw their investment of more than $1.5 billion for a hotel, hot springs, shopping mall, and a road inside the North crumble as tourism swiftly diminished. North Korea eventually took sole control of the previously jointly maintained tourist area.
U.S. policy to contain North Korea and alienate that nation from the world's economic system becomes less successful each year. America's ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow has publicly referred to North Korea as a "criminal regime," which is engaged in money laundering, drug running, counterfeiting and other illicit activities. These remarks could be partly true, in the sense that some renegade North Koreans have been shown to be engaged in illicit activities. They could also apply to Mexico and Israel, and other countries whose nationals have been know to engage in all of these activities. The "hermit kingdom" has shown its disdain for the pronouncement by calling it a "declaration of war."
In December 2006, the U.S. administration hit a new low in diplomacy. An AP Report:
(AP) -- The Bush administration wants North Korea's attention, so like a scolding parent it's trying to make it tougher for that country's eccentric leader to buy Ipods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters. The U.S. government's first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government.
But the list of proposed luxury sanctions, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim's swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or even personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis.
The I-pod has become the new symbol of a "swanky life," which of course hardly affects the North Korean economy. The U.S. has about $33,000 in trade with the "hermit kingdom." Meanwhile, trade between North Korea and South Korea has exhibited an increasing trend. Two-way trade between North and South Korea, legalized in 1988, reached $1.1 billion in 2005 (and almost $1.35 billion in 2006). The U.S. continues bullying and threatening North Korea, but nothing changes in North Korea. And the reason is obvious - the U.S. has little support for its policies.
Suzanne Goldenberg in Hanoi, Monday November 20, 2006
President George Bush suffered his most visible diplomatic setback since his party's defeat in mid-term elections yesterday when Asian leaders failed to back Washington's call for robust action against North Korea. Mr. Bush, in Vietnam on his first foreign trip since the elections, had lobbied strenuously for a unified strategy aimed at getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, meeting the Russian, Chinese, South Korean and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
Bush obtained a supportive Security Council Resolution. The action did not impede North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
Ed Helmore in New York, Sunday October 15, 2006
The UN Security Council voted unanimously last night to impose sanctions on North Korea over its apparent nuclear test and declared that the action of the renegade nation was 'a clear threat to international security'. The decision, which came after the US, Britain and France overcame last-minute differences with Russia and China, demands that North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but, following demands by Russia and China, expressly rules out military action against the country.
After North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for economic compensation from the United States and other nations, and after South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il shook hands in Pyongyang on October 2, 2007, Pyongyang claimed aid was arriving too slow and disabling nuclear facilities would also slow. U.S. Secretary of State at that time, Condoleezza Rice, said that the U.S. is not prepared to expand relations with North Korea until its leadership has fully shut down its nuclear weapons program. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill, after returning from North Korea, said, "There were clear differences in opinion between Washington and Pyongyang over the declaration of nuclear materials...resuming six-nation talks this year would be difficult."
Another difficulty was the election of a new South Korean president, Lee Myung-Bak, who was frustrated in expanding relations with North Korea. Prime Minister, Han Seung-soo, followed his president's inclinations by taking a hard line with Pyongyang, which he accused of ignoring agreements, delaying promised humanitarian aid and not taking advantage of the changing political situation. Nine months after the launch of the Lee Myung-bak administration, the North-South cooperation and trust, cultivated with difficulty since the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000 became torn apart..
A stubborn and nationalistic North Korea regime responded by its usual threat -- to close the Kaeseong Industrial Complex, cut off rail transportation and tourism and sever inter-Korean relations. Another 'tit-for-tat' that takes these two nations nowhere.
U.S. initiatives in six party talks, concluded an agreement in February 2007, promised a solution to U.S. and North Korea conflicts and then suddenly stalled. Use of diplomatic and economic incentives included fuel assistance to an energy deficient North Korea, and a 'promise' to remove the pariah state from the 'state terrorism' list in return for North Korea discontinuing giving its nuclear programs.
Bush responded to North Korean's gripe that the U.S. had not, as promised, to remove them from the 'terrorist nation' list, and finally proceeded to do that. Nevertheless, on December 11, 2008, North Korea cited invasion of sovereignty and refused to agree to a written plan prepared to verify its nuclear developments. The 'hermit' nation also denied permission to have environmental samples taken from nuclear facilities, which could be used to measure plutonium production. U.S. officials admitted that most of the announced agreements were not set in ink and were only oral understandings between Undersecretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korean officials.
Result of this dispute: The United States suspended fuel aid shipments to Pyongyang and Pyongyang slowed the disabling of its nuclear program.
The beginning of the year 2010 still lacked an official end of the Korean War, and featured continuous military confrontations. On March 26, 2010, an explosion sank a South Korean patrol vessel and killed 46 of its sailors. North Korea adamantly denied accusations that a torpedo from one of its submarines deliberately hit the ship. On November 23, 2010, North Korea responded to South Korean military maneuvers near Yeonpyeong Island, by shelling the island and killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.
One month later, in a determined show of strength and message of defiance, South Korea's military staged a brief but large drill at a distance of 30 kilometers from the DMZ. Troops fired shells from howitzers and tanks. Attack helicopters and jets dropped bombs in an exercise, which simulated countering a mock North Korean invasion. Despite threats to respond with nuclear devices, the North Koreans behaved conciliatory. This attitude might have been due to an unofficial visit to Pyongyang by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who reported, "that the heated rhetoric reported in the national media doesn't always match the actions of officials." In a National Public Radio interview, Richard said, "You've got to differentiate between their news agency . . . that puts out these very heated, war-like comments almost all the time -- and their officials," Richardson said in the interview that aired on NPR Thursday. When you meet with them, they're much more pragmatic."
In retrospect, considering the nature of the North Korea regime, U.S. intervention in the Korean War saved South Korea sovereignty and benefited the South Korean people. Nevertheless, it is difficult to know if present-day North Korea is belligerent because it genuinely fears a U.S. attack or is belligerent because it has some diabolical purpose. If the latter is true, then what can an aggressive North Korea accomplish without being permanently destroyed by U.S. military power? If the U.S. had a better defined and less confrontational policy, it is possible that it would have achieved what it claims it always wanted; a non-threatening North Korea, a nuclear free Korean peninsula, peace and cooperation and possible unification of the two Koreas.
On a train during December 2011, President Kim Jong II died and his son, Kim Jong Un, soon succeeded him. The year 2012 arrived with hope of great changes in a never changing DPRK and in its relations with the United States. The same confusion, same fear, same belligerency led the 'hermit kingdom' to test a long range missile, under disguise of orbiting a satellite. The test failed, but on December 11, 2012, much to the consternation of the western world, Pyongyang successfully launched a multi-range rocket ino orbit. The year ended with North Korean government officials telling a top U.S. official that "the hermitic Stalinist state would not continue on its path to denuclearization, as promised in 2005, until the United States ends what it sees as America's hostile policy to the DPRK."
The year 2013 opened with a brightened disposition; North Korean authorities lifted the ban on foreigners bringing their cell phones into North Korea and high heel shoes pounded the pavement of Pyongang. The sunshine did not last long. A defiant North Korea announced plans to perform a nuclear test, and on Feb. 12, 2013 defied U.N. protests and conducted its third underground nuclear test, one more step toward building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile - another response to what it perceives as U.S. threats. Following the usual erratic behavior, the on again, off again joint industrial park at Kaesong, a guide for cooperative relations between the two Koreas, re-opened in September after five-months of closure. The 2013 year ended with ominous behavior.
- In May 2013, Kenneth Bae, a Christian pastor of Korean-American nationality was sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison. Bae is alleged to have distributed anti-regime literature, including a National Geographic special on escaping from North Korea.
- During October 2013, North Korea arrested 85 year old US citizen and Korean War veteran Merrill E. Newman for "hostile acts against the state and of being involved in the killing of civilians during the 1950-53 Korean War." Due to his age and "confession," the North released Newman in December 2013..
- During December 2013 North Korea arrested and quickly executed Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Un's uncle, for corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and"wild ambitions." These are words that indicate a challenge to power, which the young Kim evidently won.
The 2014 year started with unusual words of hope. In a New year speech, Kim Jong Un said, "We will join hands with anyone who opts to give priority to the nation and wishes for its reunification, regardless of his or her past, and continue to strive for better inter-Korean relations."He was also quoted as saying, " North Korea would not beg for peace."
The North Korean leader has walked a tight path and unsteady path in trying to make changes that appease his nation's detractors and preserve the fierce national spirit that characterizes North Korea. All to no avail, the U.S. has not changed its policy and continues to take advantage of anything that can undermine Kim.
The release of the Sony film, The Interview, satire on the assassination of a North Korean leader resembling Kim Jong Un, offended North Korea and brought severe hacking to Sony's computer installations. With limited evidence, the CIA fueled the fires of the dispute by accusing the North of the cyber attack and vowed retribution. On January 2, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13687 of January 2, 2015 Imposing Additional Sanctions With Respect To North Korea. The Order expands on existing U.S. sanctions targeting North Korea by authorizing Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to designate as Special Designated Persons (SDNs) any of the following parties:
Agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled entities of the Government of North Korea or the Workers Party of Korea;
Officials of the Government of North Korea or of the Workers Party of Korea;
Parties determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Order; and
Parties determined to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of North Korea or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Order.
The antagonism and turmoil continue and continue. North Korea rails against the constant joint maneuvers of the U.S. and South Korea, rolls out its latest ballistic missile threats and once again, after the South Korean government, on Feb 11, 2016, ordered companies to leave the Kaesong industrial complex, the North expelled all South Korean workers from the Kaesong site and froze the assets of 120 South Korean companies. Continuing its angry and belligerent attitude and guarding its sovereignty, on June 21, 2016, North Korea launched two Musudan intermediate-range mobile-launched missiles, one of which flew for 400 Kms.
The Korean War officially started on June 25, 1950 and an armistice to end hostilities occurred on July 27, 1953. With no signed peace treaty, the combatants are technically still at war. Despite its belligerent attitude and demonstrations of military strength, North Korea, by all appearances, is a weak and ineffectual nation, strengthened by a weak and ineffectual U.S. foreign policy. How else can decades of policies that have not brought beneficial results, be judged?
A foreign policy designed to terminate the armistice and officially end the war, reduce tensions, and prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and long range missile ballistic system has succeeded in prolonging the armistice, maintaining tension and permitting the DPRK to enter the nuclear club. Cold war mentality forces the North's citizens to endure a repressive regime and suffer from sanctions and economic denial. Families divided by a Military Demarcation Line (MDL) have been prevented from seeing one another - a human drama with heartbreaking consequences.
If the United States withdrew its token 28,500 troops from South Korea, gave the North needed fuel and other amenities and demonstrated it had no intentions to overthrow the regime, would the DPRK modify its stance -- halt nuclear pursuits, reduce its belligerent attitude and become more cooperative? If a present policy achieves exactly the opposite of what the policy intends, would the opposite of the failed policy achieve the original intentions?
Vietnamese War 1961-1975
The greatest foreign policy blunder in U.S. history (until the arming of the Afghanistan Mujaheedin and the occupation of Iraq) brought America 47,382 military dead, 10,811 non-combatant deaths, 153,382 wounded, and 10,173 captured. The American military devastated both North and South Vietnam, inflicted 1 million casualties upon their peoples and brought environmental catastrophes to large areas. Washington claimed counter-insurgency as the U.S role in the war. The insurgents countered the arrival of each American counter-insurgent with an increase in insurgent ranks.
Many arguments can be presented for the escalation of the war. One reason is the failure of the United States to adhere to provisions in the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference on the Problem of Restoring Peace in Indo-China, July 21, 1954.
Article 5. The Conference takes note of the clauses in the agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Viet-Nam to the effect that no military base under the control of a foreign State may be established in the regrouping zones of the two parties, the latter having the obligation to see that the zones allotted to them shall not constitute part of any military alliance and shall not be utilized for the resumption of hostilities or in the service of an aggressive policy.
Article 7. The Conference declares that, so far as Vietnam is concerned, the settlement of political problems, effected on the basis of respect for the principles of independence, unity and territorial integrity, shall permit the Vietnamese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of free general elections by secret ballot. In order to ensure that sufficient progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of the national will, general elections shall be held in July 1956, under the supervision of an international commission composed of representatives of the Member States of the International Supervisory Commission, referred to in the agreement on the cessation of hostilities. Consultations will be held on this subject between the competent representative authorities of the two zones from 20 July 1955 onwards.
The United States established military bases in the Vietnam state (South Vietnam) and refused to allow Ho Chi Minh's Vietnam state to participate in the free elections that were scheduled for July 1956.
Those guiding U.S. foreign policy used exaggerations, such as the skeptical Tonkin Bay attack on U.S. warships, which were several thousand miles from home base, by small North Vietnamese speed boats, who were within their claimed boundaries, to justify intervention, and then cited a dubious Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty (SEATO), an organization of several Southeast Asian nations to block communist expansion in Southeast Asia, and forecasted a "domino effect, where Thailand and Malaya would fall into the communist orbit if Ho Chi Minh won," in order to give legitimacy to intervention.
It is known that the U.S. warships, Maddox and Turner Joy were engaged in intelligence gathering off the North Vietnam coast and possibly assisting South Korean commandos in spying activities. The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to the August 7, 1964 Congressional passage by of a Resolution, which " approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander iii Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression," and "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South-east Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom."
After twelve years of killings, turmoil and violence in Vietnam, angry anti-war demonstrations in home US, and continuous bombings of North Vietnam cities and villages, the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, which was intended to establish peace in Vietnam and end the war, halted direct U.S. military involvement, Indirect involvement allowed hostilities to continue until April 30, 1975, when the North Vietnamese entered Saigon and helicopters evacuated the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personnel.
The U.S. realized its policy of a government "without elections" in Vietnam. The North took control of all of Vietnam without any election. This result might have been a blessing for a U.S. administration that had no cognizance of how a demoralized, ill equipped, corrupt and poorly led South Vietnam could govern Vietnam without leaning on U.S. military presence for a long period.
Vietnam after 1975
After its battles with China and Cambodia, (both of which were accused by the U.S. administration as being partners with North Vietnam in the Vietnam War) the united Vietnam is a peaceful country and does not threaten neighbors. It is slowly becoming part of the international investment community, the position that the U.S. envisioned for a united Vietnam when it sent its forces to wage battle in the deltas and jungles of a relatively primitive country.
The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2001 and three years later, the first U.S. scheduled flight since the war ended in 1975, a United Airlines Boeing 747-400 carrying more than 300 passengers, landed at Tan Son Nhat international airport in Ho Chi Minh City . Foreign investors poured US $4.2 billion into projects in Vietnam in 2004. U.S. exports to Vietnam reached $1.2 billion in 2004 and total bilateral trade was almost $6.5 billion. The United States is Vietnams largest overseas market and purchases one-fifth of all Vietnamese exports. In December 2006, the U.S. Congress granted permanent normal trade relations to Vietnam, which ends the Cold War requirement that trade with the communist state is reviewed every year. On Dec. 20, 2006, President Bush signed the bill into law. Since then, relations have been cordial. Vietnam farm raised shrimp are sold in many U.S. supermarkets.
The trade balance has greatly favored Vietnam. The United States Census Bureau reports that for the year 2012, U.S, exports to its former antagonist totaled $4,309 and imports reached $17,488, giving a deficit of $13,179. The beginning months of year 2016 accelerated the pattern; the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in four months the U.S. exported $2.5 billion in goods to Vietnam and imported $13 billion of goods. .
An end of May 2016 visit to Hanoi by President Barck Obama exposed the hypocrisy of U.S. actions toward Vietnam. Although the governmen, which the U.S. battled furiously during the 1960's and early 1970's has not changed, President Obama orderd the arms embargo gainst Vietnam to be lifted, rearming Vietnam and accelerating an arms race. But how could the president resist the warm and effusive greeting by one of Vietnam's most charming and beautiful woman.
What happened to the "domino theory," a theory proposed by U.S. Asian experts, who said if the communists won the war then all of Southeast Asia would come under communist domination? Obviously wrong.
What happened to the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty Organization (SEATO), established on 19 February 1955 and created to block communist expansion in Southeast Asia, which was used as an excuse for U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict? Obviously not a serious venture by Southeast Asian nations of which North American United States is not a geographic partner.
A fraudulent Tonkin Resolution permitted an unnecessary catastrophe to the Vietnam and American people. Neither the U.S. government and its citizens apparently learned from this debacle -- the deceptions that guided the U.S. incursion into Vietnam and the chaos they brought have been repeated constantly in U.S. history.
The destruction in Cambodia started before the end of the Vietnam campaign. By challenging the North Vietnamese military's use of a neutral territory for bringing troops and material to the South, the U.S. carried the war into Cambodia with extensive bombings and military excursions. This "secret" war was the first time after WWII that the U.S. attacked a sovereign country in an undeclared war, an action that set a precedent for future attacks.
After realizing they could not convince Cambodia's ruler, Prince Sihanouk, to take action against the North Vietnamese use of Cambodian jungle paths to bring soldiers and material to the Viet Cong, the CIA engineered Sihanouk's overthrow. The years following this action are one of the saddest of any country's history. Sihanouk, who brought a measure of stability and prosperity to his country during a wartime crisis, wanted to remain neutral. His disposal, exile and replacement by General Lon Nol, who quickly assumed dictator powers, brought violence and civil war to the country. The ultra- radical Khmer Rouge captured the leadership and brought the country to administrative and economic ruin. After the end of the Vietnam War, the united Socialist Republic of Vietnam invaded the country, ostensibly to create order. The war escalated to further civil wars and extended the killings and destruction, which had started with the U.S. policy of replacing Sihanouk.
Cambodia after 1978
In November 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia and established The People's Republic of Kampuchea, a Pro-Soviet state led by the Salvation Front, a group of Cambodian leftists dissatisfied with the Khmer Rouge.
The Khmer Rouge has been defeated. Sihanouk has died. Vietnamese forces have vacated the country. Cambodia has a questionable democratic government/dictatorship and intermittent social stability. The Cambodian People's Party political Party, which controls the military, and the nation and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a former Khmer Rouge member before he escaped to Vietnam 1979 and called for the Vietnamese to overthrow the Khmer Rouge government, have been in control since 1985. Hun Sens' critics accuse him of selling the country to foreigners, of jailing opponents and aiding his family in corruption. No question of Hun Sens' close friendship with Vietnam, the same Vietnam with whom the U.S. fought a disastrous war, and of Hun Sens' antagonism towards Thailand, the same Thailand who assisted the U.S. in its war with Vietnam. For sure, Cambodia is no longer the operating constitutional monarchy of Sihanouk. U.S. policies and military actions have reshaped the former Kampuchea Republic from a constitutional monarchy to military rule to extremist rule to autocratic rule.
America's position in the world has not been changed by Cambodia's flip-flop of governments. Cambodian life has been tragically punished due to careless American policies.
Containment guided the United States' policy towards China. Successive American administrations designed their policies to prevent China from developing into a world economic and military power that could challenge U.S. hegemony. The U.S. attitude towards China has grown from intense hostility without violent intent to a "constructive engagement," that cajoles, insults, accuses and tries everything to get China to do...what? Nobody is sure, and regardless of what the government states or implies, China has done what it wants--border wars with Vietnam and India, incorporating Tibet, controlling its people in a manner in which it feels they should be controlled. Meanwhile China grows economically and militarily more powerful each day. And each day the U.S. perceives China as an increasing threat. The containment of China has raised fears of an eventual conflict that will use the mightiest weapons to achieve victory.
The U.S. concerns with a war on terrorism, establishment of a viable Afghan government and its occupation of Iraq, defused its aggressive stance with China. The Asian dynamo's positive entrance into the world economy and its possibilities for U.S. investment and trade mellowed the "China bashers." America's diplomacy with China jelled into a more mutual arrangement; an accidental result of U.S. intensive attention to Middle East problems. In this mutual cooperation, China has assisted the U.S. attempts to resolve its dispute with North Korea, and the U.S. has assisted China in dampening its dispute with Taiwan. The friendly stance has been buffeted by ill winds - planned joint maneuvers of Chinese and Russian military forces, held on Chinese territory, and continuous friction between China and principal U.S. friend Japan.
Military exercises have been large scale and comprehensive, including army, navy, air force and submarine units, and possibly strategic bombers. The war games are a further step in the "strategic partnership" between Moscow and Beijing, which began after Washington and the European Union imposed arms embargoes on Beijing in the aftermath of the suppression in 1989 of the Chinese pro-democracy movement. Since then, China has become the major purchaser of Russian armaments, including fighter aircraft, missiles, submarines and naval destroyers. The joint exercises indicate Moscow's and Beijing's common interest in countering Washington's unilateral strategy.
China has taken a leading role in the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), while advancing another association of East Asian nations. By establishing Free Trade areas for its members, these associations make it more difficult for U.S. exports to the Pacific area. U.S. trade deficit with China has monotonically increased from only $6 million in 1985 to $295 billion in 2011, and $315 billion in 2012.
At the end of 2012 and continuing into 2013, new confrontations began to appear between China and its neighbors. Beijing became testy in forwarding claims to sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, bringing angry rebuttals from Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. After two small unoccupied Diayou islands were purportedly sold by a private owner to the Japanese government for $26.2 million, a furious China cited historical evidence as having jurisdiction over the barren islands, whose waters may contain oil deposits.
Not wanting to be left out of the engagements and aware of the important rise of Southeast Asia, Washington has shifted its focus from the Middle East to East Asia. With clear warnings from China, telling Australia not to contemplate allowing Australia entry of U.S. troops as a possible force against China, Australia and the United States signed a Treaty of Defense Trade Cooperation. The Treaty allows the United States to have "license free" exports to Australia for:
Mutually determined security and defence projects where the Commonwealth of Australia is the end-user;
Cooperative security and defence research, development, production and support programs; and
Combined military or counter-terrorism operations.
Nothing extraordinary occurred in 2013 to intensify the lukewarm relations between the United States and China. One small consideration could mushroom into a major confrontation -- China's antagonisms toward a Japan that pays homage to its World War II dead and challenges China's claims to uninhabited islands, which could draw the U.S. to defend its partner in The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. One test occurred when Beijing's declaration of air defense identification zone over disputed Pacific provoked an immediate U.S. response - President Obama sent two unarmed B-52 bombers on what the Pentagon called routine runs over the territory. What seemed to be a confrontation has slipped into posturing -- the Chinas Defense Ministry only response was that "it monitored nearly 800 foreign warplanes within the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone during its first month."
U.S. foreign policy with China follows a familiar pattern of an aggressive stance, supporting Taiwan, constantly accusing China of violation of human rights and scolding it for a lack of democracy. China yawns, the world does not care, and U.S. policies provide no leadership.
MYANMAR (Union of Burma)
The United States showed moral courage in attempting to either modify or overthrow an illegitimate military government in Myanmar. Nevertheless, moral imperatives don't move nations, and an amateur U.S. policy toward Myanmar harmed Burma's people and did not bring freedom and democracy to Myanmar, at least not until April 2012, when new elections brought a glimmer of democratic action.
After Myanmar's ruling junta refused to recognize the 1990 overwhelming legislative election victory by the National League for Democracy (NLD), and placed NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, the U.S. Congress passed the Customs and Trade Act, which enabled the president to impose new sanctions against Myanmar. On May 20, 1997, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13047, which took effect on May 21, banning most new U.S. investment in "economic development of resources in Myanmar ." To justify the ban, the president cited a "constant and continuing pattern of severe repression" of the democratic opposition by Burma's ruling junta. In 2003, the U.S. government banned imports from Myanmar. What were the results of U.S. actions against Myanmar?
Due to continuous sanctions against Myanmar and import restrictions of its goods to the U.S., the Myanmar garment industry closed more than 200 of its 400 factories, wages dropped and many workers were either unemployed or forced to take jobs in Thailand until the garment industry recovered. Asian nations, especially China, India and South Korea, the usual suspects, filled the vacuum created by American sanctions. China invested in Myanmar mining and light industry. India imported natural gas and proposed to construct a pipeline from Myanmar to India, a project which has had a few hiccups and still is not fulfilled. South Korea's Daewoo International invested heavily in gas development projects. The previous $470 million/yr garment exports to the United States shifted to orders from Korean and Taiwan merchandisers who then sold the merchandise in Europe
On Nov. 7, 2010, Myanmar citizens went to the polls for the first time since May 1990. The pro-government Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) won 874 of the 1,140 seats, which gave it control of the two national-level assemblies. Surprisingly, a number of ethnic nationality parties fared well in the elections. The Shan Nationalities Democracy Party acquired the third-largest number of seats (57), and the Rakhine, Mon, Chin, Pa-O and Karen parties also gained seats.
Despite UN criticism of the election, the UN envoy to Myanamr, Vijay Nambiar, said "it is clear that political change is taking place in the country. and parliamentary by-elections could now open up "opportunities for broadening the political spectrum."
The UN envoy's prediction came to fruition on April 1, 2012 when well-known dissident Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party, gained 42 seats in a by-election to parliament. Despite the victory, the newly elected lawmakers at first refused to attend the opening session of parliament because wording in their oath of office included safeguarding a constitution they find objectionable. They later relented.
By claiming all its political prisoners will be free by the end of 2013 after granting further amnesties and with prominent achievements in advancing its democracy and improving livelihoods, Myanmar impresses as a model of democratic transition and economic development. Noting Myanmar's economic potential and political stability, delegations from many nations have poured into Myanmar. Rights groups.
Did U.S. drastic polices, engineered 5000 miles from Myanmar, lead to the democratic transition in the southeast Asian nation or did neighboring nations -- China, India, Thailand, South Korea -- provide the economic and social stimulus that permitted relaxation of military rule?
The answer is in the statistics: During a period of sanctions, GDP grew from $10.57 billion in 2004, to $35.23 billion in 2010, the year of democratic transition, a rate of 10-12 percent each year The last three years GDP growth has slowed to 5-6 percent each year. From 2006 to 2010, exports increased from $5.2 billion to $7.6 billion while imports increased from $2.9 billion to $4.2 billion, giving Myanmar a positive and rising trade surplus.
Myanmar continues on a path that resembles democratic action and representative government. November 2015 elections brought the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to gain power and become the country's first civilian administration in half a century. Her party has delayed in finding a solution for the to the violence aginst the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group in western Myanmar described by the United Nations as the most persecuted minority in the world, who have more than 100,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries during the last few years. An al-Jazeera report, May 22, 2016, Rohingya refugee: We were hunted down by mob in Myanmar, tells the story.
Abu Siddiq, a Rohingya refugee living in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, told Al Jazeera that he was forced to flee his home in Myanmar after ethnic Buddhists launched a brutal campaign against his family and community.
"We were beaten, harassed and our houses burned down," Siddiq told Al Jazeera. "We dug trenches, and put dry grass in them to sleep. We soon had no food to eat and were often hunted down."
"With 6,000 people living in a field, we drank water from drains and puddles, there was no food or medical care," he added.
"Four of my children aged, two, three, five and 10 were brutally killed - hacked to death. A Rohingya woman was killed during Ramadan [the Muslim holy month of fasting] which started a riot."
Economic and military interests have dictated U.S. policy towards other Asiatic countries. The U.S. has contributed to the creation of economic powerhouses in Japan and Taiwan in order to create stable and friendly governments that allow the U.S. to maintain military bases. Other countries have not been as fortunate. Indonesia and the Philippines had their years of prosperity turn into near economic collapse, but have recovered. These countries maintained totalitarian and corrupt governments for decades and U.S. support to them generated insurrections, retaliations and violent confrontations. Although still subject to terrorism, Indonesia and the Philippines have started to evolve more stable institutions.
One fear is that the U.S. shift from engagement in the Middle East to engagement in Asia may presage destructive policies, similar to those displayed in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Levant.
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The post WWII policies liberated the Arab countries from foreign domination and enabled their governments to exercise greater control of oil resources. The United States had superior finances and technology for assisting the oil producers and became the favored partner. As energy became the most significant resource to the fast growing Western world, U.S. policy in the Middle East retreated to three words--get the oil. Several powerful oil producing nations remain antagonistic to the United States and the U.S. policy towards the Arab world has been one cause of terrorism. The hypocritical policy has created havoc for some of the area's nations. Lacking any apparent change, it portends a dangerous future.
In 1946, the Soviet Union occupied parts of Northern Iran that had previously been attached to the Soviet Union. Truman demanded a Soviet retreat and succeeded in having the Russian troops removed. This overlooked event signified a basis for cooperation with Moscow. The U.S. government ignored the Soviet acquiescence and headed into the Cold War. The next major Iranian event occurred in 1954 when Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh threatened to nationalize the oil industry. Not to be. Stumbling from his erratic actions. Mossadegh led himself to be overthrown in a coup, admitted by CIA documents as "under CIA direction" and "as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government." Soon the U.S. found its colleague, the anti-Communist Shah Pahlevi, firmly in power. The State Department failed to realize that the Shah considered Iran his personal fiefdom and that the uneven economic progress he brought to Iran did not have the support of the masses, especially those inclined to a more rigid Islam. This lack of foresight proved fatal to the Shah and American interests in Iran.
In 1979, the Iranians deposed the Shah and an Islamic movement, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, gained control. Instead of using diplomacy with the new government and demonstrating restraint, U.S. policy reflected its bias against a regime that did not follow its dictates. Despite Iran's protests, the Carter government, with advice from the ubiquitous Henry Kissinger, allowed the Shah to enter the U.S. for medical treatment. This event provoked Iranian extremists to seize the American embassy and hold U.S. citizens as prisoners. The Shah eventually returned to Panama and died in Egypt. Relations with Iran rapidly declined to a total separation. The U.S. quickly lost any economic and strategic advantages it had established in Iran.
U.S. policy planners could not admit mistakes and their policy towards Iran continued on a destructive path. In Iraq's war against Iran, the U.S. provided arms and support to Saddam Hussein. During the war, Iran and Iraq attempted to prevent external trading by one another and.attacked oil tankers and merchant ships in the Persian Gulf. After Iraq bombed Iran's main oil exporting facility on Khark Island, Iran attacked a Kuwaiti tanker near Bahrain on May 13, 1984, and a Saudi tanker in Saudi waters on May 16.
Kuwait, in 1986, formally petitioned foreign powers to protect its shipping, and the U.S. responded in 1987. The U.S. Navy moved warships into the Persian Gulf to guard the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to protect tanker shipping against possible Iranian aggression. In one aggression in the Persian Gulf, on May 17, 1987, the Iraqi air force bombed the USS Stark, killing 37 and injuring 21 Americans. The U.S. excused the aggression as a mistake.
The Iran/Iraq war, encouraged by U.S. military support to Iraq, caused massive destruction to both countries and to their Kurdish citizens. In a coda to the macabre concerto, on July 3, 1988, the U.S. cruiser Vincennes shot down an Iranian commercial Airbus in Iranian waters, after supposedly mistaking it for an Iranian F-14. Two hundred and ninety civilian passengers, included 66 children, were killed.
After these catastrophes, the U.S. tried to establish friendly relations with Iran and wondered why the Iranians were obstinate.
One major result of the bitter antagonism between the U.S. and Iran has been suspicion of Iranian involvement in terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel. Although lacking definite proof, Iran has been accused of assisting the incipient Lebanese Hezbollah in the 1983 bombing of the Beirut marine barracks in which 241 U.S. military personnel were killed, and involvement in the June 1996 bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which claimed the lives of 19 U.S. servicemen. Two more recent events have impeded any rapprochement between the United States and Iran. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has strengthened the Shi'a majority in that country and made Washington suspicious that Iran will influence its co-religionists to favor Iranian policies. U.S. antagonism, pushed by Israel's fear of Iran, has provoked Iran to pursue nuclear weapons. Words lead to more bitter words and not any positive action. Iran's relations with the U.S. are as strained as the first day that the U.S. assisted the Shah after his downfall. Since Washington might not be able extend its military engagements beyond Iraq, Israel has shown intentions to halt Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. has become attached to Israel's policies and cannot achieve an agreement
In retrospect, the United States had no issues with Iran that could not be resolved by diplomacy. Iran directly supported those it considered being oppressed by Israel and was definitely opposed to the Israeli state. However, arguments that Iran supports international terrorism have never been adequately proved. Iran has no special reason to harm the United States and no capability to do harm without itself being demolished. The Islamic state has no territorial ambitions and, because of the limitations of Shiism in the Moslem world, cannot spread its religious doctrines Actually, Iran has often allied itself with U.S. interests by vigorously opposing the enemies of the United States, contesting Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Afghanistan's Taliban, Soviet Union's communism and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Despite all this assistance to U.S. causes, although the insurgency in Iraq obtains most of its weapons from theft or sales of Russian and some U.S. armaments, and all of its impetus from the U.S. occupation, the U.S., without providing proof, tried to blame Iran for helping Iraqi insurgents. General Petraeus, former Commander of US forces in Iraq , has absolved Iraq of being responsible for insurgent capability. His spokesperson, Col. Steven Boylan, told The Washington Times that Iran is not assisting insurgents in Iraq.
Decades of antagonism between the United States and The Islamic Republic have only reinforced the antagonisms and have propelled the two nations to a collision course. U.S. aggressive attitude and Israel's nuclear capability have propelled Iran's nuclear ambitions. While many, including the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, pleaded for dialogue, President Bush insisted on confrontation.
The more the U.S. prods Iran, the more Iran retaliates, even going so far as having proposed to construct a nuclear weapon. More retaliation translates into more evidence for the U.S. to prove that powerless Iran, which has no real air force, no real navy and no modern army, are a danger and must be confronted. Somehow, the world doesn't seem to consider that U.S. policies towards Iran have been ultra-aggressive - arming Saddam Hussein (remember him?) in his war against Iran, sinking Iranian vessels in Iranian waters, downing an Iranian civilian airliner with a great loss of Iranian life and moving U.S. troops to Iran's border. All these provocations answer the questions - why do the Mullahs despise the U.S. and why do they talk aggressively?
Iran's positive qualities, all of which could be beneficial to the U.S., are politely neglected. Note there is no Al-Qaeda in Iran, no terrorists have been Iranians, and no terrorist attacks against U.S. interests have proceeded from Iran. Compare Iran to Saudi Arabia, the breeding ground for terrorists. Iran greatly assisted the U.S. in the initial stages of the reconstruction of Afghanistan, to which the U.S. gave no recognition.
The obvious consequences of the U.S. replacement of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, which was the strengthening of Iran's relations with the new Iraq and the elevation of Iran to a power broker in the region, finally materialized. Well aware of but not admitting the circumlocutory actions of its policies, the Bush administration proceeded to counter the influence it had awarded to Iran by accusing the Islamic Republic of unsettling the region. The U.S. and Israel continued to maintain that Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons as a part of its normal nuclear energy developments. Although Israel threatens military action to neutralize the neutrons, the Bush administration behaved more cautious, only threatening isolation and sanctions. After years of posturing, threatening and cajoling, the fate of U.S. and Iranian relations has been left to President Barack Obama.
Neither sanctions nor foreign pressure have deterred Iran's nuclear programs. After uranium refinement reached 20%, a computer virus labeled Stuxnet halted the program. A German computer consultant predicts the virus will set back the Islamic nation's nuclear developments by two years. This did not materialize. Iran thrusts forward with its controversial nuclear developments and the United States wavered between supporting an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and favoring more diplomacy. President Obama's arguments reflected his dilemma during the 2012 election year; either appear too weak by not confronting the Islamic Republic's delaying tactics or appear too aggressive by not allowing diplomacy to resolve the issue.
By not seizing on positive responses, the U.S. has provoked negative reactions, all detrimental to its interests. The Islamic Republic is well situated politically and economically in Iraq and Afghanistan. A new stage of acceptable relation with Syria and Turkey emerged but became hindered by the Syrian Civil War. Otherwise, from Teheran to Ankara a new coalition of nations could counter American influence and exert independent policies that might reshape the Middle East.
Despite severe economic sanctions and pressure by the international community, Iran continues with its nuclear developments. According to the International Atomic Energy Administration (IEA,) "Iran lost an estimated $40 billion in 2012 in oil export revenues as the West tightened sanctions. The countrys oil production in January 2013 hit a 30 year low."
Statistics are difficult to verify, but it is known that the Iranian currency (Rial) fell, during the first months of 2013, to about 13,000 rials for one dollar, remained stable until mid-September when inflation and speculators reduced it again to 25000 rials to a dollar, all of which forced Iranian families to ration imported goods, including food. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said. The sanctions also appear to be affecting humanitarian operations in the country. Even companies that have obtained the requisite license to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions. Similar to North Korea, sanctions have harmed the populace without modifying Iran's nuclear policies, another in a long line of counterproductive U.S. policies.
A breath of hope for a peaceful solution arose at the end of 2013. At a November 2013 meeting in Geneva, Iran and six world powers ( United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) signed an agreement in which Iran will restrict its nuclear program in exchange for partial relief from sanctions. Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, theguardian.com, 24 November 2013.
The Geneva deal releases just over $4bn in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country's trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts.
Over the next six months it has agreed to:
stop enriching uranium above 5%, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium or convert it to oxide, which makes it harder to enrich further. The medium-enriched uranium, in its hexafluoride gas form, is relatively easy to turn into weapons-grade material, so it is a major proliferation concern.
not to increase its stockpile of low-enrichment uranium.
freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.
not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.
accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities.
With confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEC) that Iran has ceased enriching uranium above five percent, the western nations are committed to dropping $6-7 billion in sanctions in over the next six months.However, the barrier to reconciliation has the west trying to resolve the problems it has from Iran without resolving the problems Iran has from the west. Resolving the latter might lead to a disappearance of the former.
The election of moderate, by Iranian standards, Hassan Rouhani to the presidential office on June 14, 2013.brought a change in attitude between the Obama administration toward Iran. A hopeful Obama has been willing to patiently give diplomacy a chance and with his western counterparts (P5+1 countries) have allowed the slow and tedious negotiations to be extended until June 2015 for concluding a final deal. Optimism for this deal is not high and complicated by remarks from Iran's Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stated on January 7, 2015 that he, "did not oppose the current negotiations with the United States and other world powers over Irans nuclear program, but Iranians need to rely on bright and realistic glimmers of hope, and not on imaginary ones.the Ayatollah has also been quoted a saying, The Americans boldly say that the sanctions will not be removed all at once and immediately, even if Iran compromises. Given these facts, can such an enemy be trusted?
Adding to the confusion is Iran's role in containing advances of the Islamic State in Iraq. No question that Iran has much influence with Shi'ia led Iraq, although the extent of this influence and how much Iran is willing to commit has been more rumor than verified fact. In any event, the U.S. needs Iranian assistance more than Iran needs U.S. involvement, which gives Iran the upper hand.
The International Business Times, December 31, 2014, reports "Iran has entered into a formal agreement with Iraq to help rebuild its depleted military in the face of continued aggression from the Islamic State group, the two governments said Wednesday. Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi met with Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dahqan in Tehran Tuesday to finalize details and sign the agreement."
The Washington Post, December 27, 2014 quoted "A senior Iranian cleric with close ties to Tehrans leadership, who spoke on the condition of anonymity," that "Iran has sent more than 1,000 military advisers to Iraq, as well as elite units, and has conducted airstrikes and spent more than $1 billion on military aid."
Voice of America (VOA News), December 28, 2014 reports that "Iran's Revolutionary Guard says one of its senior officials was killed Saturday while fighting the Islamic State in Iraq. In a statement on its website Sunday, the Guard says that Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi was 'martyred' while serving in an advisory role to the Iraqi Army defending Samarra, a city north of Baghdad."
Are any of these reports accurate or only partially true? News from and about Iran is usually subjected to mistranslation and misinterpretation.
As one example, the Iraqi News website, December 5, 2014 has a headline "We dominate Iraq and Syria, says Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander." The text does not validate the headline.
According to a report published on Thursday, the official website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Sepah News, Jafari (Supreme Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) said in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces meeting that,Irans diplomatic power is not the result of negotiations with the West in the past year, but is the result of the spirit of the Islamic revolution, and the strength of resistance and opposition of its country, pointing out that Iran has been able to demonstrate a large dominant force in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has other websites (Fars News Agency) than Sepah News. Being "able to demonstrate a large dominant force in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen," is different than "We dominate Iraq and Syria." Because no Iranian ground troops have been identified in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain (U.S. forces are active in Yemen and the U.S. fleet has a base in Bahrain), or verification of any excessive material assistance to resistance units in Bahrain and Yemen, Jafari was undoubtedly referring to advances of local Shi'ia in the stated nations being moved by the "spirit of the Islamic revolution," and not in Iraqi News own words, "pointing out that Iran has been able to demonstrate a large dominant force in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen."
After UN, US and EU imposed sanctions cost Iran more than $160bn in oil revenue, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 and EU, a comprehensive agreement based on the April 2015 framework, was announced on Bastille day, July 14, 2015. The agreement enables the Islamic Republic to gain access to more than $100billion in assets frozen overseas and allows it to resume selling oil on international markets and use the global financial system for trade. Iran has agreed to halt uranium enrichment, will limit installing centrifuges to no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges at Natanz for 10 years, and reduce its uranium stockpile by 98% to 300kg (660lbs) for 15 years. By January 2016, Iran had drastically reduced the number of centrifuges installed at Natanz and Fordo, and shipped tonnes of low-enriched uranium to Russia. If Iran violate any aspect of the deal, UN sanctions will automatically "snap back" into place for 10 years. To assure proper monitoring, an additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement gives UN inspectors access to sites anywhere in the country they deem suspicious.
One impediment to Iran for conducting international trade and reviving its economy is that, despite the July nuclear agreement. American law still prohibits U.S. and foreign banks from dealing in dollars with Iran. The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2016, reports that "The Obama administration is preparing to give Iran limited access to U.S. dollars as part of looser sanctions on Tehran, according to congressional staff members and a former American official briefed on the plans."
U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein's secular Iraq had been the reverse of its policy towards clerical Iran. The U.S. supported Iraq in the 1980's, but Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait changed America's attitude. Within one month after the start of the war, U.S. led forces in the Persian Gulf war destroyed Iraq's military and eventually Iraq's economy. U.S. policy built up an intended friend, determined the intended friend was actually an enemy nation, and then saved the enemy nation by destroying it.
Accurate Iraqi casualty figures in the 1991 Gulf War, killed and wounded, have been difficult to verify. Estimates range from tens of thousands to 600,000. The PBS program Frontline broadcast its acceptance of the following figures.
According to "Gulf War Air Power Survey" by Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen, (a report commissioned by the U.S. Air Force; 1993-ISBN 0-16-041950-6), there were an estimated 10-12,000 Iraqi combat deaths in the air campaign and as many as 10,000 casualties in the ground war. This analysis is based on enemy prisoner of war reports. The Iraqi government says 2,300 civilians died during the air campaign.
Did all of this have to happen? By being cordial to Saddam Hussein for many years, the United States reinforced the Iraqi leader's power. State department dispatches indicate that Ambassador Glaspie gave Iraq a "green" light to invade Kuwait, or at least did not apply sufficient pressure to prevent the invasion.
Iraq had legitimate complaints: Kuwait had siphoned oil from the shifting sands of Iraqi territory: Kuwait owed a prostate Iraq some remuneration after having defended Kuwait against a possible Iran incursion: Kuwait walked out of discussions on the complaints and totally rebuffed Iraq. The United States could have arbitrated these complaints or forced the parties to comply with its directives. The U.S. policy makers had options. They chose to be complacent and indirectly paved the path to a punishing war.
The post-war policy continued a ferocious pattern, and U.S. and British planes bombed Iraq for the next twelve years. The bombings destroyed more "command and control" facilities and "radar bases" than Iraq could possibly have had. This senseless and vicious policy transformed Iraq from an emerging country with moderate prosperity into an impoverished country with a starving population. Statistics from a "UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, Mar. 1999:"
- Maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997.
- Low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg) rose from 4% in 1990 to about 25% of registered births in 1997, due mainly to maternal malnutrition.
- Calorie intake fell from 3,120 to 1,093 calories per capita/per day by 1994-95.
- Malnutrition in Iraqi children under five increased from 12% to 23% from 1991-96.
- The World Food Program estimated that access to potable water in 1998 was 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and only 33% in rural areas.
Consider the total population affected by the macabre figures and it is possible that one million Iraqis had their lives shortened by the punishing embargoes and bombing. Future generations will inherit the suffering. What were the purposes of this unstated U.S. policy?
The U.S. continually attempted to overthrow Saddam Hussein and continually failed. Rebellions by the Shiites and Kurds were encouraged and these rebellions reinforced Saddam's retribution and will. The U.S. claimed to protect the rebellious Kurd and Shiite minorities but allowed Turkey to attack the Kurds and didn't prevent Oman, a Persian Gulf sultanate, from terrorizing its Shiite minority.
The reasons for the U.S. policy towards Iraqi have been ambiguous. If the results follow policy, then the results indicate the unstated policy was the opposite of what was believed. The U.S. did not want a new Iraqi government. It wanted a continually unstable, embattled, embargoed and disrupted Iraq. Why? To maintain impotent a potentially strong Middle East country that could contend U.S. policy and arouse others in the region to challenge U.S. major partners.
After Iraq recovered from war and sanctions and entered a path to stability and progress, the combined U.S. and British invasion in 2003 destroyed additional physical plant and interrupted Iraq's return to normalcy. Post-war developments continued the destruction with losses of basic services, widespread looting and crime and inept reconstruction efforts to rebuild infrastructure. The "we had to destroy them in order to save them policy" has brought internal conflicts, sabotage, and aggressive reactions.
The defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime and his capture happened too late. It occurred after an Iranian war, a Gulf war, Iraqi civil wars, sanctions and a joint American and British war against Iraq. The damage had been done. A failed policy did not prevent the damage. War, which is the last resort of inept diplomacy to resolve a problem, cannot undo the damage. The dramatization of the capture of a powerless Saddam Hussein, shriveled up in a dirt hole cannot disguise the facts that he was powerless before the invasion and already in a self-made hole. The United States has not been able to convince the world that the invasion did more than only displace Saddam Hussein and transfer his location.
The principal arguments for the invasion--finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction and being essential for the war on terrorism-- have proven false. U.S. weapons of massive destruction have been used to learn that no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction exist. The war has not diminished terrorism--just the opposite--the battlefield has been changed and enlarged. Radical Islamists, who might have stayed home, found a cause and have entered Iraq. Nevertheless, the percentage of foreign insurgents in the entire insurgency is small. U.S. troops are mainly fighting a home-grown Iraq insurgency that has no visible end.
The attempt to establish a regime in Iraq that is partial to American interests threatened the economic life, cultural awareness and social identity of Iraq. In Vietnam, America's departure did not leave a political vacuum--the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam had an established government and extended its authority. The retreat of American forces from Vietnam did not unleash internecine warfare--a repressive authority together with an allied National Liberation Front stifled opposition. A U.S. departure from Iraq left an untested government and stirred unresolved antagonisms into conflict, as predicted in the 2005 edition of this article. By invading and occupying Iraq, the Bush administration:
- Shifted resources from a legitimate war on terrorism to a wasted war on a sovereign country.
- Shifted a battle against Al Qaeda to a wider battlefield against expanded opponents.
- Inherited the ethnic problems that faced all Iraqi rulers.
- Alienated itself from much of the world community.
- Made all wars legal by its doctrine of pre-emptive strike.
- Polarized American citizens,
- Created economic, military and social quagmires from which America might not escape.
- Caused the death of about 30,000 Iraqi civilians (George W. Bush estimate, Dec. 2005). Many more died later.
- Started a war that initially brought death to 2,016 and combat-related injuries to16,601 U.S. troops (Associated press, Dec. 15, 2005) -- preliminary casualties to the intense insurgency.
December 2005 pronouncements from President George W. Bush shifted the priorities and reasons for the war:
- Although Iraq had no WMD's, Bush claimed the war was bringing democracy and stability to the Middle East. Not said is that Iraq was not ready for democracy and there is no evidence of any increased political stability in the Middle East.
- Progress in 2005 was shown by the drafting of a preliminary constitution and by the parliamentary elections. The U.S. was selective in defining progress. Iraq had elections but weren't making suitable progress.
- The United States was winning the war. The U.S. was not fighting a war. An insurgency was fighting occupation.
- By fighting terrorists in Iraq, the U.S. does not have to fight them at home. These " terrorists" are a small part of the Iraq insurgency and have been manufactured by the occupation of Iraq. It's interesting that President Bush permitted 3000 American soldiers to be killed (almost as many as happened in 9/11) and more than 16,000 to be wounded (much more than happened in 9/11) in Iraq, to "protect" them from being killed or wounded in the U.S. He doesn't mention the more than tens of thousands Iraqis killed during the battles that supposedly protect American citizens. In other words, Iraqis had to be sacrificed so Americans are "protected," even if Bush can't prove that Americans are being protected.
Year 2006 only continued the strife in Iraq with a greater fury,and an admission that the U.S. was not winning the war and, from many quarters, that the strife was a genuine Civil War. This left the U.S. government in a dilemma, and to procrastinate in its decisions. The Shiite Iraqis, trained to be friendly policemen, were attacked by coalition forces as torturers and enemies, while Sunni groups, originally labeled as enemies were treated as both friends and as enemies. Meanwhile almost two million Sunni Iraqis left their homeland and exiled themselves to predominantly Syria and Jordan. Others were ethnically cleansed from neighborhoods they shared with Shiites for centuries.
In the last decade of Saddam Hussein's reign, few Iraqis were being killed, no Iraqis were leaving, no Iraqis were fighting with each other, no Iraqis were being ethnically cleansed. The 2006 year closed with the execution of Iraq's former dictator leader for crimes against humanity.
After insurgent attacks and deaths of U.S. military surged, the Bush administration decided to implement its own surge. During 2007, more than 30,000 fresh U.S. troops arrived in Iraq and concentrated in the more troublesome areas, especially Baghdad. Combining the "surge" with enlisted support of Sunny militias to combat Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a move that incurred the wrath of the Maliki government, casualties in Iraq were severely reduced.
In 2008, the surge demonstrated beneficial effects, but did it matter? Iraq was a destroyed nation and had an estimated four-and-a-half million Iraqis forced from their homes by the violence unleashed by the US-led invasion and occupation. The nation became separated into an autonomous Kurdish region (previously known as Northern Iraq), a southern Basra region region dominated by Shi'a, a western region controlled by Sunni insurgents who allied with U.S. military against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Baghdad that had ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, and a central region that had civil war, insurgent violence and unresolved ownership of contested oil fields.
President Bush left office with contradictory assertions; regrets of the intelligence concerning Iraq and praise for the 'liberation' of Iraq -- as if the faulty intelligence was not obviously false and, even if remotely true, warranted the invasion. At a December 15, 2008 reaffirmation of the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States that governs the withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2011, an Iraqi journalist expressed his displeasure with George W. Bush by throwing two shoes at him -- a revolutionary coda to the musical dance that finally 'shooed' U.S. forces from a destroyed Iraq.
Before the clock sounded the end of 2010, and after a nine-month power struggle, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki named a cabinet. However, key security portfolios were not announced. The Iraqi PM said he will run the defense, interior and national security ministries himself while feuding blocs decide on suitable candidates. U.S. principal opponent at that time, the hard-line Sadrist movement, which jostled for influence ever since being urged by Iran to support Maliki, a one-time foe, claimed eight ministries and sought one of the security positions.
As the U.S. left, so did the Christians. Protected by the Hussein government, the followers of Jesus are now subjected to periodic mayhem of bombings, killings and threats. From the Associated Press, Bushra Juhi And Barbara Surk Dec 31, 2010
BAGHDAD The latest bloody attack on Iraq's Christians was brutal in its simplicity. Militants left a bomb on the doorstep of the home of an elderly Christian couple and rang the doorbell. When Fawzi Rahim, 76, and his 78-year-old wife Janet Mekha answered the doorbell Thursday night, the bomb exploded, killing them, Mekha's brother told The Associated Press on Friday.
The bombing was among a string of seemingly coordinated attacks Thursday evening that targeted at least seven Christian homes in various parts of Baghdad that wounded at least 13 other people, a week after al-Qaeda-linked militants renewed their threats to attack Iraq's Christians.The attacks are the latest since an Oct. 31 siege of a Baghdad church by al-Qaeda killed 68 worshippers, terrifying the minority community, whose numbers have already fallen dramatically in the past seven years of violence in Iraq.
National Catholic Reporter, Sunday, April 8, 2012 , reports that "As a result of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled that secular government and brought to power a coalition led by sectarian Shiite Muslim parties and created a backlash by Sunni Muslim extremists, the Christian community in Iraq -- one of the oldest in the world -- has been reduced by more than half."
Summation of seven years of occupation of the land between the Euphrates and Tigris reveals:
From Iraq War Facts, Results & Statistics as of November 30, 2010 - 4,432 US Soldiers Killed, 31,992 Seriously Wounded
Iraq Body Count Project 107,152 civilian deaths as a result of the conflict and a total of 150,726 civilian and combatant deaths from March 2003 to October 2010
Deborah White, About.com Guide U.S. SPENDING IN IRAQ
About $900 billion of US taxpayers' funds spent or approved for spending through Sept 2010.
Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 million in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.
Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)
UNHCR estimates -- more than 4.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes. Of these, more than 2.7 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2 million have escaped to neighboring states.
A parliamentary election, held in Iraq on 7 March 2010, resulted in a partial victory for the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, which won a total of 91 seats. The State of Law Coalition, led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, was the second largest grouping with 89 seats. Although the parliament opened on 14 June 2010, formation of a new government did not occur until 11 November. The usual suspects returned; Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president, Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister and a disillusioned Ayad Allawi as head of a new security council. Allawi, in an editorial in the Washington Times, Apr 9, 2012, claimed, "Mr. al-Maliki presides over an increasingly Kafkaesque bureaucracy characterized by corruption and brutality, relying on the compromised judiciary as a weapon against political opponents while concealing the crimes of his cronies." Allawi's statement comes after U.S. troops formally left Iraq in accord with the December 2011 schedule and previous al-Maliki supporter, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for the dissolution of the countrys parliament and asked for new elections.
The provocative operations of the al_Maliki government created a bizarre twist with the indictment for murder of Vice-president Tareq al-Hashimi, charged with operating death squads that killed Shia pilgrims, six judges and government officials. Al-Hashemi fled to the autonomous Kurdistan area of Iraq and then entered Qataq on an official visit.
With violence continuing as an almost daily occurrence, disgruntled leaders finally decided to meet and issue an ultimatum to al-Maliki.
Associated Press, April 28, 2012 BAGHDAD Leaders from nearly all of Iraqs top political blocs called Saturday for a solution to a crisis pitting the Shiite-led government against Sunnis and Kurds, saying the dispute threatens the countrys national interests. The statement came after three days of meetings that brought together senior Sunni, Kurdish and even Shiite politicians disgruntled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who was not represented at the talks in Irbil, the capital of Iraqs northern Kurdish region. While no one at the mini-summit demanded that al-Maliki step down, the fact that the discussions included key figures from across Iraqs political spectrum underscored the growing impatience with the Shiite prime minister. Al-Malikis critics accuse him of consolidating power and sidelining both Sunnis and Kurds, touching off a political impasse that has brought government work to a near standstill and threatens to break up Iraq.
Dec 18, 2011, the last U.S. troops in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait. Nine years of war and occupation gained the United States nothing and its enemies much. Al-Qaeda elements found a battleground, caused thousands of casualties to U.S.troops, and found a base of operations from which to declare the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iran, without firing a shot, witnessed an enemy deposed from its border and its influenced imposed upon a new Iraq administration. Oil contracts went to other companies than those from the American continent. America leaves a destroyed Iraqi nation, its own hospitals filled with casualties and the American economy gasping.
One of the more serious consequence of U.S. policy in Iraq is the development of an American psyche which disregards the falsehoods that govern attack on and accepts the concept of pre-emptive strike, regardless of casualties. The U.S. government can originate any reason to attack other countries, suffer losses and not be constrained by public opinion. It is not too early to realize we are not witnessing the rebirth of an Iraqi people, but the final whisper of an Iraqi civilization. A BBC report, which has become an almost daily action, describes the situation.
BBC, 15 September 2013, Iraq violence: Bombs cause mayhem across Iraq.
A fresh wave of bombs has killed more than 40 people across Iraq - mostly targeting Shia areas - officials say. The deadliest was in the city of Hilla, south of the capital Baghdad, where two car bombs at a market killed at least 15 civilians. Other bombs hit Baghdad itself as well as Basra, Nasiriya and Karbala in the south of the country.
Sectarian violence has surged across Iraq in recent months, reaching its highest level since 2008. More than 5,000 people have been killed so far this year in Iraq, 800 of them in August alone, according to the United Nations.
The year 2014 starts with more of the same, much more of the same.
THE NATION, Attacks push Iraq death toll to 26, January 28, 2014 AFP
BAGHDAD : Late night attacks in Arab areas north of Baghdad pushed the overall death toll from violence in Iraq a day earlier to 26, security and medical officials said.
The protracted surge in nationwide unrest, coupled with a deadly standoff in Anbar province between security forces and anti-govt fighters, has left more than 850 people dead so far this month. Violence in Anbar, as well as Baghdad and several areas north of the capital on Sunday left at least 26 people dead and dozens more wounded, officials said on Monday, updating previous tolls.
The deadliest of the violence struck in Abu Ghraib, where eight people were killed in separate incidents - six soldiers were gunned down in a checkpoint attack, while a bombing on a busy road killed two people. Gunmen in Baghdad killed 4 people in two different shootings, including a former Iraqi army general, while militants targeting officials in Baquba and Mosul, two of the countrys most violent cities, left three dead.
Three car bombs in the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk killed four more people, and another car bomb in the town of Mishahda left three dead.
And in Fallujah, which has been out of government hands for several weeks, a mother and her three children were killed when a blast struck their home, a doctor said. It was unclear if heavy artillery of smaller rockets were responsible for the explosion.
The latest bloodshed pushed the overall death toll for the month above 850 - more than three times the toll for January 2013, according to an AFP tally.
And far from being subdued by the 2007 "surge," rejuvenated al-Qaeda elements once again seized Fallajuh and other cities.
DAILY STAR, Iraqi planes, artillery strike Fallujah, January 27, 2014
BAGHDAD: Iraqi government forces battling Al-Qaeda-linked militants intensified airstrikes and artillery fire on the rebel-held city of Fallujah Sunday, and at least seven people were killed, according to hospital officials and tribal leaders. Religious and tribal leaders in the city, 50 km west of Baghdad, said that they feared an imminent assault by the army to expel militants and end a three-week standoff that has driven thousands of people from their homes.
Iraq returned to the front page with the inauguration of the Islamic State Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its takeover of Mosul revealing the true story of the American invasion of Iraq and U.S. propping of a tyrannical and ineffective Nouri Al-Maliki as Prime Minister.
The armed forces of Iraq, trained for years by U.S.military and supported by billions and billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds, capitulated Mosul with no fight to only several hundred ISIS fighters and exposed the corruption and lack of dedication of Iraq soldiers. -
The Independent, January 11, 2015, reports that
The Iraqi army includes 50,000 'ghost soldiers' who do not exist, but their officers receive their salaries fraudulently according to the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
One Iraqi politician told The Independent a year ago that Iraqi officers are not soldiers, they are investors. In the years before the defeat of the army in Mosul in June by a much smaller force from ISIS, Iraqi units never conducted training exercises. At the time of Isiss Mosul offensive, government forces in Mosul were meant to total 60,000 soldiers and federal police but the real figure was probably closer to 20,000.
"Ghost" soldiers may never have existed and just be fictitious names added to the roster, or they may once have existed but been killed or deserted without this being officially noted. In either case, the officer in a unit would keep receiving the salary, though he would have to share it with his superiors. Another scam is for soldiers to kick back part of their salary to their officer in return for staying at home or holding another job but never going near a barracks. Mr Abadis figure of 50,000 is probably only a modest estimate of the numbers of Iraqi soldiers who play no military role.
President Obama reacted to events by promoting the disposal of the incompetent and sectarian Nouri Al-Maliki and authorizing the use of U.S. air power to halt the ISIS offensive. The latter has proved effective, but its sudden need exposed the recklessness and failures of earlier U.S. foreign policy.
Fifteen years after surreptitiously supporting Osama bin Laden in organizing infrastructure for fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States disposed of Saddam Hussein, paving the route for the entrance and strengthening of Al Qaeda and eventually ISIS in Iraq. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda elements had no presence in Iraq; six months later they were prominent throughout Anbar province. Despite vigorous denials from top U.S. officials, the history clearly shows that the George W. Bush administration is responsible for the emergence of ISIS. Not only did U.S. occupation of a weak and dismantled Iraq invite al-Qaeda elements to enter Iraq and challenge U.S. military authority, but President Bush handpicked an Iraqi leader, a corrupt and despotic Nouri al-Maliki, who provoked the Sunni population into finding a terrorist ally to overcome the consolidation of economic and military power for a preferred Shi'a population. A PBS Frontline Report, Oct. 21, 2014 states that, as early as 2007, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq, David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker warned President Bush that Maliki was using his power to consolidate Shi'a power at the expense of the Sunni population and radicalizing the Sunni provinces. The ever mistaken Bush did not listen, and General Petraeus was forced to spend $400 billion in cash to bribe the Sunni tribes, and have the Sons of Iraq take up arms and subdue al-Qaeda, at least until Petraeus left.
The Sunni population feels it has been betrayed by U.S. manipulations and is not too willing to again battle with al-Qaeda elements. Together with a U.S. supported Kurdish Peshmerga, a revived Iraqi military may be able to halt ISIS advances, but Iraq still faces the difficulty of defeating an army of suicidal forces that controlled a vast area of western Iraq at the end of 2015. The new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, claims he will work with disaffected Sunnis and ethnic Kurds., but has received no response that indicates they trust him and are willing to work for a unified Iraq.
The year 2015, and well into 2016, witnessed victoriies that regained territory from ISIS. Iraq forces, composed of regular army and strong Shia militia groups, mainly the Popular Mobilisation (al-Hashd al-Shaabi), have liberated Tikrit and Ramadi and, in July 2016, pushed ISIS out of Fallajuh. Kurdish militias also regained lands, cut supply routes, and slowly moved toward Mosul. The U.S. air force has greatly assisted Iraq forces to achieve their victories while U.S. arms and advisors are playing a major role in Kurdish advances.
Despite the successes in pushing ISIS out of Iraq, the land between the two rivers remains divided. Even if, and after the demise of the terrorist groups, Iraq faces an emdless battle -- trying to remain a unified nation with Shi'a, Sunni and Kurds battling one another for equal share of the oil, equal economic opportunity, and equal representation in the government.
U.S. policies, which countered Soviet Union influence and the massive entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, will go down in history as one of the greatest blunder of American foreign policies. The policies exhibited a common feature of U.S. foreign policy: combat perceived antagonists by arming eventual enemies.
Although Afghanistan was never considered a part of the Cold war conflict, being that it was outside the U.S. sphere of influence and bordered the Soviet Union, American President Ronald Reagan provided assistance to the Mujaheedin in Afghanistan. The Mujaheedin eventually succeeded in forcing out Soviet troops, but enabled Radical Islam to flourish and Osama Bin Laden to establish terrorist training camps. The result of U.S. policies in Afghanistan: The greatest terrorist attack on U.S. soil with a loss of approximately 3000 lives.
The Soviet Union intervention in the internal conflicts of Afghanistan may have been improper but it did not include economic exploitation or permanent seizure of territory. It had benefits for the United States that the Reagan administration failed to recognize: Radical Islam was being suppressed and poppy production was not permitted. The Soviet Union supplied forces from 1980-1986 to assist Babrak Kamal's Afghan regime to contain internal political frictions, prevent a Civil War from creating anarchy that could undo the economic progress of previous governments, and maintain the status quo in East-West spheres of influence. The Afghan internal politics, the Civil War and the Soviet Union intervention did not directly affect U.S. world hegemony or the Cold War balance of power. The Mujaheedin, whom the U.S. provided arms, material and finances through Pakistan, consisted of a radical Islam that had already shown itself to be hostile to American interests.
The Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in Feb. 1989, and the United States had an opportunity to let the war play out among Afghans. Continued U.S. arms shipments through Pakistan to the Mujaheedin forced the 1992 demise of the Najibullah government, which tried to carry out democratic reforms by creating a coalition government of reconciliation. from this debacle, a reactionary Islamic Taliban gained control of Afghanistan after the civil war caused more than 50,000 additional deaths. The Mujaheedin, characterized as freedom fighters and brought to fighting capability by U.S. arms, destroyed Afghanistan, caused an immense number of deaths, could not compromise among themselves to form a stable government, and became responsible for the Taliban emergence and its control of Afghanistan. The Taliban permitted terrorist groups to train on its territory. These terrorists have brought death to Americans and destruction to U.S. facilities. The most prominent vestige of U.S. intervention in the Afghanistan Civil War was Osama Bin Laden.
The American administration reacted to the the 9/11 terrorist on its territory with appropriate attacks against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and with an overthrow and scattering of the Taliban regime. The battles have not ended and some of the same conditions that promoted the Afghanistan war exist--tribal rivalries, warlords, religious fundamentalism and poppy growing as a principal economic contribution. In effect, the U.S. replaced the Soviet Union in the war in Afghanistan.
In 2004, political trends were positive. Provincial warlords had been severely reduced in power and Taliban supporters were composed of loosely connected insurgents rather than a major fighting force. On December 7, 2004, Afghanistan elected and inaugurated Hamid Karzai was as its first president. Karzai's government initiated a plan that allowed low-ranking Taliban forces to be granted amnesty from prosecution in exchange for surrender of their arms to US troops. Many accepted the deal. Later, President Karzai extended amnesty to top Taliban leader's, including 2nd in command Mullah Mohammad Omar. The Mullah refused the offer.
If a sufficient number of Taliban followers accepted the amnesty offer, the withdrawal of the 18,000 Afghanistan-based American troops would have begun in June 2005. This did not happen. A Jan. 4, 2006 statement said "the insurgency grew stronger in 2005. It has become better organized with better-trained fighters and more advanced weaponry." NATO foreign ministers approved plans to send up to 6,000 soldiers, mostly European and Canadian, into volatile southern Afghanistan.
As the New Year of 2006 rolled in, trends were not positive. In economics, the major Afghan income was still due to about 4,600 tons of opium (320,000 tons of heroin) and 70 drug laboratories in southern Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan that processed opium into heroin. The ominous political and military trends were not well reported. From the British newspaper, The Scotsman, Jan. 13, 2006, Foreign fighters flood into Afghanistan by TIM RIPLEY:
HUNDREDS of foreign Islamic fighters are gathering in Afghanistan ahead of the deployment of 4,000 British troops to the country in the spring. British intelligence sources have told The Scotsman Islamic radicals sympathetic to al-Qaeda see Afghanistan as their new frontline and are starting to shift the focus of their anti-western campaign from Iraq.
The fighters, including Jordanians, Yemenis, Egyptians and Gulf Arabs, stepped up their campaign two months ago with a series of suicide bombings against NATO peacekeepers, United States troops and Afghan government leaders. "Attacks in Afghanistan are now running at more than 500 a month - it's getting as dangerous for westerners as Iraq in some places," said a British officer involved in planning the NATO peacekeeping mission in the south-west of the country.
January to December 2006 news reports verify the Scotsman report. Suicide bombings rose.
General expects militant attacks in Afghanistan to spike by Jason Straziuso, December 31, 2006, Associated Press
Violence rose sharply in Afghanistan in 2006, killing an estimated 4,000 people, the deadliest year since the U.S.-led coalition swept the Taliban from power in 2001.The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan dropped slightly, from 93 in 2005 to 87 in 2006. But the number of casualties suffered by other NATO countries rose sharply.
The year 2007 saw more of the same violence but in more areas and with increased suicide bombings. Because suicide bombings had not been a Taliban weapon, the insurgency in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the insurgency in Afghanistan. Now identified as the neo-Taliban, the radical Islamists established communications and supply-lines in almost all of Afghanistan and opened new fronts against international forces.
The Pakistan-Afghanistan abyss by Paul Rogers
There are now 51,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, but they are still unable to cope with the resurgence. Of these troops, 40,000 are under Nato command in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf): 15,000 from the United States, 25,000 from other Nato countries.
All this is against a background of changing tactics by Taliban militias in response to increased use of firepower by coalition troops. The last weeks of 2007 witnessed one of the largest paramilitary attacks for several of months when fifteen Afghan security guards were killed in an assault on a convoy of fuel-tankers in western Afghanistan, away from what had previously been the most significant areas of Taliban activity in the south and east.
One advance in Afghanistan has been in poppy production.
US General Predicts Record Poppy Haul, Published: 1/2/08, By JASON STRAZIUSO
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The U.S. general in charge of NATO's Afghanistan mission said Wednesday he expects another year of "explosive growth" in the country's poppy fields, a harvest militants will turn into weapons for use against Afghan and NATO troops."
The U.S. General's prediction that "explosive growth in the country's poppy fields means a harvest that militants will turn into weapons for use against Afghan and NATO troops," became true. Violence increased an estimated 50 per cent over 2007, a year in which the violence had already increased by 30 per cent over 2006. In 2008, about 300 NATO soldiers were killed, making 2008 the deadliest year for NATO.
Insurgents staged spectacular attacks in Kabul, including a suicide attack at the luxurious Serena hotel in January 2008, which left eight dead, and a car bombing at the Indian embassy in July, which killed more than 60 people. In April, President Hamid Karzai at a military parade with explosives and gunfire but he escaped the assassination attempt unharmed.
The International Council on Security and Development claimed theTaliban insurgents had established a "permanent presence" in roughly three-quarters of the country . This claim might have led Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of the Canadian mission, to state:" The coming year will bring more violence in Afghanistan than in 2008."
And it has:
Despite the spurious predictions that President Obama's announcement of the beginning of troop withdrawals during 2011 would make the Taliban politely retreat and wait it out, the insurgency grew. AFP reports: "KABUL "More than 10,000 people, about a fifth of them civilians, lost their lives in violence in Afghanistan last year, an AFP count based on official figures and an independent website tally showed Sunday."
The year 2010 featured the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan's against international troops since the start of hostilities. Previously constrained to the South, fighting erupted in Northern provinces and exploded in Pakistan. U.S. pressure shredded the silent agreement by which the Pakistani military did not enter the tribal provinces if the Taliban did not attack Pakistani forces. U.S. drones operated daily in Warizistan and al-Qaeda inspired suicide bombers operated daily throughout Pakistan. If natural forces don't devastate Pakistan, then al-Qaeda will.
January 3, 2011. AfPak Channel Daily Brief on the last days of 2010.
On Christmas day, a female suicide bomber attacked a crowd of hundreds of people from the Salarzai tribe who were waiting to receive food aid from the U.N.'s World Food Program in the northwest Pakistan tribal agency of Bajaur, killing at least 46 and wounding more than 100 (CNN, AP, Guardian, LAT, Reuters, BBC). The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack, which led the WFP to close its offices in Bajaur pending new security arrangements and investigations; WFP officials said the Bajaur operations, which feed 300,000 people, will resume soon (AP, NYT). The day before, some 150 militants simultaneously attacked five security checkpoints in Mohmand agency, killing 11 paramilitary soldiers (CNN, AFP, Reuters, BBC, NYT). Two dozen militants died in subsequent clashes."
Reducing the violence isn't the only challenge. Before violence is subdued, the wars against the drug trade and corruption must be won. Afghanistan remains the producer of about 90 percent of the world's opium, most of which is exported in a world trade of about $65 billion in 2011. The United Nations estimates the Taliban derives $100-400 million dollars a year in revenues from drug production and trafficking. Only a few hundred million dollars; who gathers the other tens of billions?
Could it be corrupt officials?
The New York Times, December 2, 2010 examination of Wikileaks cables showed, "In one astonishing incident in October 2009 the then vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was stopped and questioned in Dubai when he flew into the emirate with $52 million in cash, according to one diplomatic report. Massoud, the younger brother of the legendary anti-Soviet resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was detained by officials from the US and the United Arab Emirates trying to stop money laundering, it says. However, the vice-president was allowed to go on his way without explaining where the money came from."
A cable, sent by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry detailed a colossal scale of capital flight from Afghanistan - often with the cash simply carried out on flights from Kabul to the UAE. "Vast amounts of cash come and go from the country on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Before the 20 August 2009 [presidential] election, $600 million in banking system withdrawals were reported; however in recent months some $200 million."
Couriers are said to usually carry the money on Pamir Airlines, which is jointly owned by Kabul Bank and influential Afghans such as Mahmood Karzai, one of the president's brothers, and Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik warlord who was Hamid Karzai's vice-presidential running mate in the August 2009 election. The cable records that exporting cash is encouraged by the fact that "drug traffickers, corrupt officials, and to a large extent illicit business owners, do not benefit from keeping millions of dollars in Afghanistan and instead are motivated to move value into accounts and investments outside of Afghanistan. Other high-profile Afghans involved in amassing extraordinary wealth in Dubai include Sher Khan Farnood, the chairman of Kabul Bank who was disgraced this summer after corrupt loans at the bank almost brought down Afghanistan's fragile financial system. The document notes that Farnood an enthusiast for high-stakes international poker tournaments was said to own 39 properties on the Palm Jumeirah, a luxury man-made peninsula in Dubai." The cable adds: "Many other notable private individuals and public officials maintain assets (primarily property) outside Afghanistan, suggesting these individuals are extracting as much wealth as possible while conditions permit."That's a part of the big time corruption. The small time corruption paralyzes all Afghans.
Germany's Spiegel Online, January 19, 2009 reports -- "Need a driver's license in Kabul? $180 will get you one within hours and $60,000 will get you out of jail."
A UN study shows that bribery is equal to a quarter of the Afghan GDP."59 percent of Afghanistan citizens point to corruption as the greatest problem facing the country -- that ranks the problem even higher than security (54 percent) and unemployment (chosen by 52 percent of those polled). The study, released on Tuesday, was put together by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and includes the responses of 7,600 people from 1,600 villages questioned between August and October of last year."
The study shows just how omnipresent the payment of bribes has become in everyday life in Afghanistan. In the last 12 months, Afghan citizens have paid $2.5 billion in bribes -- roughly a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. "The Afghans say that it is impossible to obtain a public service without paying a bribe," UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa writes on the organization's Web site. The "cancer of corruption" is "metastatic," he says, and can be found even in the highest echelons of government. Afghans who have had recent contact with government representatives report that, in 40 percent of the cases, they were asked for bribes."
Hopefully, but not expected, is that the new parliament will curtail the drugs, bribes and corruption. Just the opposite might occur. "Afghan officials and losing candidates say the election could have much the opposite effect from what many here had hoped. Seating the new Parliament, they warn, could fuel the insurgency and even the kind of ethnic strife that might lead to civil war." Jamil Karzai, a former member of Parliament and cousin of the president, warned, "Step by step Pashtuns will say we are not represented, the government does not care about us, our people are not in government, and step by step they will join the enemy."
Meanwhile, cables from the U.S. ambassador in Kabul portray Afghan President Hamid Karzai as paranoid, with an "inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building." Similar to Iraq bordering on Iran stirs interest of Iran in Iraq, the sharing of borders stirs Iran interest in Afghanistan.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri called for the consolidation of direct banking relations and an increase in joint ventures by Tehran and Kabul. "We are optimistic that great steps will be taken for resolving the problems and our duty as the government's representatives is to provide a framework for cooperation between the two countries' private sectors so as to facilitate grant of developmental aids (to Afghanistan) in this field," Alishiri said in a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Mostafa Mastour on Saturday.Referring to the two countries' cultural and religious commonalities, he described the development of relations in areas of banking, insurance, customs and standards as among the most important factors in boosting exchanges between Iran and Afghanistan. And earlier this month, Karzai hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who used his brief visit to lob insults at the United States and argue that international forces in Afghanistan would only lead to more civilian deaths. Karzai called Iran with which Afghanistan shares a long land border "our brother nation" with whom it had excellent relations.
Wkileaks related conversations between American and Afghan officials, in which they concluded Iran was greatly increasing its involvement in the eastern neighbor. The cables indicated that "Iran is financing a range of Afghan religious and political leaders, grooming Afghan religious scholars, training Taliban militants and even seeking to influence MPs." A top Hamid Karzai aide revealed to have received sacks of cash from the Iranian government and told a senior US diplomat that all sorts of Afghan officials were on Tehran's payroll, including some people nominated for cabinet positions. Omar Daudzai "also asserted that in addition to financing Afghan religious leaders, Iran had provided salary support for some [Afghan government] deputy ministers and other officials, including 'one or two even in the [presidential] palace'."
The year 2011 proved to be a fateful year.
It started with the highlighting of a usual failure -- the failure of government responsibility to its soldiers.
The New York Times, James Risen, Jan 1, 2011: "Ever since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, suicides among American troops have been soaring, as military personnel become mentally exhausted and traumatized from repeated deployments to combat zones. In 2004, the Army reported that 67 soldiers on active duty committed suicide; by 2009 that number had jumped to 162. The Army has reported 144 suicides in 2010 through November, and officials say it is now beginning to see a sharp rise in suicides among nonactive duty National Guard and Reserve personnel who are not currently deployed."
It soon brought a success -- finally!
On May 2, 2011, Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group located and killed Osama bin Laden, the man who led the U.S. from support for his earlier efforts against the Soviets in Afghanistan to become international enemy #1 for his role in terrorist attacks against U.S. facilities and Americans, including the Trade Center bombings on September 11, 2001. The terrorist leader's Laden's body was buried it at sea.
Despite the death of the Al-Qaeda leader, the trajectory of the U.S./NATO mission in Afghanistan did not change.
As the 2014 date for withdrawal of U.S. troops approached, it became obvious that the U.S./NATO excursion into Afghanistan replayed the Soviet Union's earlier misadventure. President Obama admitted as much in a May Day, 2012 visit to Osama bin Laden's previous sanctuary. Billed as a trip to sign a strategic agreement with the Karzai government, the president revealed that "The agreement calls for the continuing reduction of the U.S. troop level while supporting the growth of 'strong and sustainable' Afghan security forces," and that "the U.S. goal was not to build a country in Americas image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban but to destroy Al Qaeda, while leaving enough time for the nation to stabilize." In other words, the Taliban will have an opportunity to regain power, as long as Al Qaeda remains away, an arrangement that could have been made ten years ago.
The Taliban issued a response to Obama's message.
Tom A. Peter, Special for USA TODAY
KABUL Hours after President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the strategic partnership agreement that will serve as the framework for future relations between their two nations, the Taliban issued its response.
Taliban attackers Wednesday targeted a heavily fortified, private compound in eastern Afghanistan that is mostly occupied by international workers with a car bomb about two hours after Obama delivered a speech at Bagram Air Base about the pact. Three bystanders were killed besides the four terrorists.
"With this attack, we want to send a message to Obama that the Afghans will welcome you with attacks. You don't need to sign agreements, you need to focus on how to get out of this country," said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.
All this follows a series of incidents that demonstrated: (1) The Karzai government is critical of America, (2) The Taliban has proved much stronger in engagements, (3) The U.S. trained Afghan security personnel are using their training to kill NATO soldiers, and (4) Many U.S. soldiers have no regard for Afghan life.
New York Daily News, January 11, 2012, HELEN KENNEDY
The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating a shocking video that appears to show four Marines cracking wise while desecrating the bodies of three dead Taliban terrorists. Dressed in full combat gear and holding their rifles at their sides, the four men stand over the three corpses sprawled out near an overturned wheelbarrow. The warriors start urinating on the bloodied corpses, and cracking locker-room-style jokes. "Have a great day, buddy," one of the chuckling men says in a comic, high-pitched voice as the group defiles the dead. "Golden - like a shower," another jokes.
One of the photos shows a smiling U.S. soldier in the foreground with the body of a dead Taliban fighter behind him. A second U.S. soldier appears to be putting the dead fighters hand on the shoulder of the smiling soldier in the foreground.
In another, U.S. soldiers and Afghan National Police officers are seen holding up the severed legs of a Taliban suicide bomber.
New York Times, March 16, 2012, by By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and HELENE COOPER
...Mr. Karzai lashed out again at the United States, saying he was at the end of the rope over the deaths of Afghan civilians at the hands of NATO forces. He reiterated his call to confine coalition forces to major bases and to speed up the handoff to Afghan troops. He also accused American officials of not cooperating with a delegation he had sent to investigate the killings in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, in southern Afghanistan.
Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2012|By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of slaying eight adults and nine children, could face the death penalty. His attorney says the suspect remembers very little of the incident. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in connection with a nighttime massacre at two remote Afghan villages, after villagers say he burst into the homes of civilians with a pistol, rifle and grenade launcher and indiscriminately shot family members in the head, neck, chest and groin.
McClatchy Newspapers, April 15, 2012, Jonathan S. Landay and Ali Safi
KABUL, Afghanistan Taliban-led insurgents opened a spring offensive Sunday with a wave of coordinated suicide missions, firing at embassies and government offices from seized buildings in Kabul and attacking U.S. bases and police stations in three eastern provinces.
The strikes, which seemed to catch U.S.-led forces and Afghan authorities by surprise, sparked fierce fire fights in Kabul and two other cities that underscored the insurgency's lethality as U.S. combat troops gird for the second phase of a withdrawal due to end in 2014.
"This is the start of the spring operations," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, declared in a cell phone interview with McClatchy. "This is just the beginning."
The violence, which lasted past nightfall in Kabul and Puli Alam, the capital of neighboring Logar province, claimed the lives of at least 26 insurgents and four civilians, Afghan and NATO officials said.
The year 2013 revealed an undefeated Taliban and a contentious President Karzai, who became more critical of the U.S. role in his nation.
During June 2012, after one year of unofficially having a station in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban opened an official office in the Qatari capital. This brash move by the militant group that had consistently refused to meet with the Karzai government gave an address for correspondence and a meeting place for authorized representatives to hold direct peace talks. The moment of sunshine did not last. The next month, due to Karzai government demands that the Taliban remove a sign that identified the locale as office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and refrain from flying the white flag that identified its previous rule in Afghanistan, the Taliban "temporarily" closed its Qatar office, disappeared into the shadows and continued its attacks. A sample:
- At least 48 people, many of them civilians, were killed in western Afghanistan when heavily armed Taliban insurgents, including suicide bombers, stormed government buildings and fought a seven-hour gun battle with security forces.
- More than 90 people were reported wounded in the assault on the city of Farah, capital of Farah province. Police said all nine of the attackers died in the fighting, either in exchanges of fire with security forces or by detonating suicide vests they were wearing.
- A daylight attack, in which all of the attackers were killed before they were able to achieve their goals, penetrated the fortified compound that serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Embassy and NATO-led coalition troops.
- Taliban fighters detonated car bombs at the US consulate in western Afghanistan, triggering a firefight with security forces in an attack that killed at least 19 people, including two Afghan members of the security forces.At least 17 others were injured in the attack in the city of Herat.
- The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack in the Zhari district of Kandahar that killed four US soldiers during a military operation.
- Seven people were killed in an attack claimed by the Taliban on a base operated by Polish and Afghan forces in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials and a Reuters witness said.
- Sky News reported that the Taliban acknowledged it was behind a rocket attack on Bagram Air Base where four soldiers were killed and six others were wounded. A senior defense official confirmed that the four killed were Americans.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has become suspicious of U.S. intentions and angry at U.S. attacks that have caused civilian casualties. Because the U.S. military refuses to consider his dictates and proposes unilateral talks with the Taliban, the Afghan government has repeatedly suspended talks on the Bilateral Security Agreement, which leaves in doubt NATO operations after the U.S. withdraws all combat troops. Specifically referring to a January 2014 attack, in which a U.S. airstrike killed seven children and one woman. Karzai claimed the strike "violated assurances given by President Barack Obama to stop nighttime raids in rural areas," and "reveals that American forces have no respect for Afghan lives".
Another point of contention concerns the Afghan government's release of 72 captured Taliban fighters. The U.S. military accuses these men of having caused deaths of coalition forces and therefore pose a security risk. The Karzai judiciary response is that it does not have sufficient evidence to convict the prisoners.
In his 2014 State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said a small US military force may remain in Afghanistan next year to help in training of Afghan forces.. He promised to declare an end to the 12-year war and allow Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own future after the end of the year.
Six months after a election in which anthropologist and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani was elected president (remains president) and consented to a power sharing arrangement with rival and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah (given title of chief executive), a report by European Union election observers suggests that"more than two million votes or about a quarter of total votes cast came from polling stations with voting irregularities." In addition, "more than 2.3 million votes during the runoff came from polling sites in which more than 95 percent of the votes went to one candidate. Of those, 378,281 votes, or 5 percent of the total, came from polling stations that reported that 100 percent of the votes went just one way."
You never see that, said the EU chief election observer, Mr.. Berman. That is a North Korea situation.
Finally, three months after assuming office, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani presented to the parliament the names of 25 ministers that constitute a unity cabinet. Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described the coalition's official end of its combat mission by declaring "defeat of the US and its allies" in the 13-year-old war. The future will determine if Zabihullah Mujahid is correct but certainly the Taliban is not defeated.
The U.S. Department of defense (http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf) details U.S. casualties in OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, October 7, 2001, and December 31, 2014, as 2,216 deaths and 19,950 wounded.
UN General Assembly report, December 9, 2014, S/2014/876, describes the escalation of violence: "The overall number of 19,469
security incidents documented across the country since the beginning of 2014 through 15 November 2014 constitutes a 10.3 per cent increase over the same period in 2013 with 17,645 incidents.
The U.N. mission in Afghanistan counted 3,188 deaths and 6,429 injuries among civilians from January through November 2014. That represented a 19% increase from the same period a year earlier, U.N. officials said.
Pakistan, who managed a shaky peace with its Taliban population in Waziristan before the NATO entry into Afghanistan, has been drawn deeply into a conflict with its own Taliban.
The South Asia Terrorism Portal at http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm# lists
Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan 2003-2015
Civilians Security Force Personnel Terrorists/Insurgents Total 2003 140 24 25 189 2009 2324 991 8389 11704 2014 1781 533 3182 5496
Hope that civilian deaths and wounded would decline in 2015 were shattered by the United Nations annual report for 2015, which showed 3,545 civilian deaths and 7,457 Afghan wounded.
The most serious Taliban attack occurred on September 27, 2015, when "Taliban fighters battled their way into the center of Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan on Monday and seized the provincial governor's office." Quickly reacting to the military and political defeat, Afghan government forces retook Kunduz within the next week., but not before one of the most serious controversial crimes happened. From The U.S. News and Report, U.S. Changes Story on Deadly Kunduz Strike - An attack on a Doctors Without Borders facility in Afghanistan has led to war crime allegations, but U.S. officials are urging patience, by Paul D. Shinkman Oct. 5, 2015.
America's top general for the war in Afghanistan changed the official U.S. account of an airstrike in Kunduz over the weekend that struck a Doctors Without Borders facility and reportedly killed more than 20 people, including a dozen medical staff members and 10 patients. The Pentagon had previously claimed U.S. forces conducted the airstrike to protect Americans on the ground who had come under fire from the Taliban, which unexpectedly seized large swathes of the key crossroads city last week. The strikes on the hospital were the result of collateral damage, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said over the weekend. Top officials in the Afghan government, however, have indicated Taliban fighters may have been using the hospital as a fighting position, meaning the strike may have been intentional.
The U.S. government ruled the attack an accident, which generated the possibilty that the Afghan military may have wanted the attack and deceived the U.S. air force by misidentifying the hospital.
After 15 years of fighting the Taliban, the situation is not resolved and the killing continues.
By EHSANULLAH AMIRI and JESSICA DONATI
Updated May 31, 2016 1:33 p.m. ET
KABUL, AfghanistanMasked Taliban gunmen killed 10 passengers and abducted 18 traveling on buses toward the Afghan city of Kunduz on Tuesday, officials said, a rare large-scale kidnapping by the militant group.
BY AT EDITOR on JUNE 5, 2016 in ASIA TIMES NEWS & FEATURES, SOUTH ASIA
An Afghan parliament member Sherwali Wardak was killed in an explosion in Kabul province Sunday evening, sources have confirmed.
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 5 (UPI) -- Seven people, including the newly appointed attorney general of Logar Province, were gunned down after an inauguration ceremony at the courthouse Sunday.
By EHSANULLAH AMIRI and JESSICA DONATI
Updated May 31, 2016 1:33 p.m. ET
KABUL, AfghanistanMasked Taliban gunmen killed 10 passengers and abducted 18 traveling on buses toward the Afghan city of Kunduz on Tuesday, officials said, a rare large-scale kidnapping by the militant group.
To relieve criticism directed against him personally, President Obama released a report on civilian deaths due to drone attacks. CNN reported, "President Barack Obama's administration estimated Friday that between 64 and 116 civilians have died during the years 2009-2015 from U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan (ED: Only nations in which U.S. military is not actively engaged.). In the same time span, the administration said between 2,372 and 2,581 militants had been taken out by drones. Calculating the number of deaths caused by U.S. strikes is 'more art than science,' according to one official."
It is doubtful that the new Afghanistan government can either contain corruption or prevent the Taliban from controlling vast areas of the country. The questions previously asked were: Did NATO win a war in Afghanistan and will Afghanistan return to the days after the end of Russian occupation? The answer to the first question has been confirmed and is "no!" The answer to the other question is approaching "yes!" The larger questions are, "By its expansion to Pakistan, has the Afghanistan insurgency become an expanded Asian war, threatening to enter India?" and "Do the continued insurgency in Iraq, the instability in Pakistan, the civil war in Syria and the Taliban resurgence result from common disastrous policies?"
U.S. Middle East policy is driven, rather than guided, by the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Although the U.S. has the military and economic power and opportunities to force an acceptable solution to the strife, its wandering and contradictory policies have not prevented the violence.
The contradictions include acting as a sole arbitrator for bringing peace and then vetoing dozens of UN resolutions that criticized Israel and which, if implemented, might have compelled Israel to end the conflict. After decades of conflicts and debates, the conflict and debate continue. Since Israel's military strength is infinite times that of the Palestinians, the U.S. could serve to equalize the strengths. The U.S. insists the two parties compromise their differences, while knowing that a dominant Israel will not make concessions to a fragile Palestine. Each day Israel becomes stronger and the Palestinians become weaker.
The U.S. policy has strengthened Israel and weakened the Palestinians. The future is ominous. Israel's construction of a barrier wall, supposedly to prevent infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel, doesn't prevent Israeli F-15 bombers from entering Palestinian territory. The barrier's encroachment into Palestinian lands and its encirclement of Palestinian communities and major cities will bring the entire West Bank under Israeli control and decimate Palestinian life.
In effect, since President Jimmy Carter in 1979 negotiated the withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai and the establishment of relations between Egypt and Israel, U.S wandering policies have allowed Israel to expand its territory and occupation, and have served to bring the Palestinian community closer to total destruction.
The hope that the demise of Yasser Arafat would bring agreement between Israel and a new Palestinian Authority (PA) is fading quickly. It is apparent that Israel wants surrender and is dictating the surrender terms to the PA. The fundamental issues remain:
- Israeli settlements in the West Bank
- Israel's denial of compensation to Palestinian refugees.
- Israel's desire of total control of Jerusalem.
Lack of resolution of the fundamental issues have created more difficult issues:
- Terrorism against Israel by Palestinian extremists.
- Construction of a separation wall that will strangle Palestinian economic and social life.
Counter-productive U.S. policies, such as demanding the Palestinian Authority to halt all terrorism before Israel halts settlements, an impossible task for Abu Mazen, drove the Palestinian people to elect the Hamas Authority to a majority in the Palestinian parliament. A U.S. administration that places democracy for the Middle East on the top of its political agenda, refused to recognize the democratically elected Hamas government. To add to the confusion, the Hamas Authority seized all the institutions in Gaza from Fatah; their reason being that Fatah officials had become too corrupt and had created an unmanageable atmosphere. Fatah retreated to the West Bank and established a competing government in the West Bank. This weak government.which represents only one segment of the Palestinian people, has been chosen by the western governments to seek a new peace plan with Israel
Before Bush left office, he wanted to be identified with a successful peace plan. To advance the peace objective, the U.S. president organized a one-day international conference at Annapolis, Maryland on December 12, 2007. The conference had no notable results and subsequent meetings of the Palestinian Authority and Israel have had no agreements nor accomplished anything to advance peace.
The year 2008 ended with the Palestinians and Israelis still at square one, probably no more advanced in settling the issues than they were twenty years ago. A worsened dispute that grows more dangerous each day has, as other domestic and international problems, been ceded to the Obama administration for resolution.
The Obama administration efforts have been intensive, contradictory, backtracking and hopeless. From talking tough against Israel's settlement and occupation policies, the State Department has become compliant and yielding. Israel continues construction of new houses, especially in Jerusalem. Despite State Department "arm twisting" initiatives and Secretary of State John Kerry's personal intervention in securing another peace conference during 2013, peace was never farther away. Nor is it predicted to come.
The year 2014 ended no differently than the year 2013 and the year 2012 and the years..... Allowing Israel to continue settlements that the administration has censured, noting that Israel has done nothing to forward a peace initiative, siding with Israel in all UN Resolutions that condemn Israel's actions, and voting together with only Australia against a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories within three years are continuations of decades of the same policies.
Oppression of the Palestinians brought renewed retaliation against the Israel occupation, which mainly causes more Palestinian casualties in the one-sided conflict. UN Ofiice Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHOA) at https://www.ochaopt.org/content/monthly-figures reports the following deaths and injuries for the year 2015, mostly occurring and accelerating in the last three months of the year.
Palestinian deaths: 169
Palestinian injuries: 15477
Israel deaths: 25
Israel injuries: 301
OCHOA reports, which are words that stimulate no action, demonstrate the hypocrisy of the United States and other members of the United Nations.
13 June 2016, Israeli occupation is the main trigger of humanitarian needs among Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory
18 May 2016, Humanitarian Coordinator calls on Israeli authorities to stop destruction of humanitarian aid and respect international law
11 April 2016, UN releases findings of major survey on internally displaced persons in the Gaza Strip: 75,000 still in need of homes
17 February 2016, Humanitarian Coordinator calls on Israel to halt demolitions in the occupied West Bank immediately and to respect international law
The year 2016 is shaping as the year of hopelessness for the Palestinians. Desperate attacks against Israelis only bring further destruction to Palestinian lives, families and living. For the first four months of year 2016 OCHOA reports:
Palestinian deaths: 63
Palestinian injuries: 1642
Israel deaths: 4
Israel injuries: 92
United States' direct engagement, including military operations, in the conflicts that forced the division of Yugoslavia and the formation of several independent nations, and involvement in securing independence movements in Timor and South Sudan, while doing nothing to enable the Palestinians to have their own state, demonstrates the hypocrisy and pernicious pursuits of U,S. foreign policy. By achieving the opposite of what it claims it fosters, it almost seems that the U.S. does not want a just solution to the problem but rather works to enable Israel to annex and control the entire Palestine area, regardless of the injustices to the Palestinians. The continuing conflict and U.S. impartiality to Israel is cited as a principal reason for Arab and Muslim hostility to the United States. It is also one of the reasons for terrorism against the United States.
Once, the most prosperous, most beautiful and most hospitable of all of the Middle East countries has been partially destroyed by its indirect relationship to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. U.S. involvement in Lebanon's affairs never had positive results. In the Eisenhower administration, during a short period of political uncertainty, U.S. marines landed on the Lebanese beaches. They stayed and they left. It was never clear why they had arrived. During the latter stages of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1980's, the U.S. together with other European countries dispatched warships and marines to Lebanon. Although the U.S. claimed it had entered a sovereign country to protect it, U.S. warships responded to spurious attacks on U.S. marines by shelling the Lebanese mountains and killing scores of people. A Lebanese group retaliated by blowing up the marine barracks and killing more than 200 marines. U.S. policy in Lebanon left many killed on both sides. It helped save Arafat's PLO and enabled him and his organization to move to Tunisia.
Lebanon is probably the most anti-Israel country in the world and, for this reason, despite U.S. protests, Syria maintained, until 2006, a strong presence in Lebanon. U.S. specification of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization has only complicated the situation and strengthened Hezbollah's representation in the Lebanese parliament. The radical Islamic group holds fourteen seats as part of the Resistance Bloc coalition, which has a total of 35 seats, in Lebanon's 128-member parliament under . Hezbollah-funded schools and hospitals serve thousands of mostly poor residents in southern Lebanon who favor the party because of its success in forcing Israel to end the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The party's well-equipped private army has a significant arsenal that includes guns, rockets, a new drone spy plane and sufficient authority to operate almost as an independent government in southern Lebanon.
In 2006, Hezbollah had an opportunity to use its arsenal, but at great cost.
Hezbollah was responsible for violating Israel territory and abducting two of Israel's soldiers. Israel was responsible for the escalation of the crisis into a full scale war and for the terrible loss of lives. Regardless of Israel's horrific response, Hezbollah's border action served to destabilize and destroy parts of Lebanon. To save its reputation, Hezbollah allowed Lebanese to be killed. It has demonstrated its strength did not match its rhetoric, once again exposed the weakness and lack of solidarity of the Arab world and revealed the inability of international institutions to respond to the brutality of Israel's military. Who received blame for Israel's destructive actions? Many Lebanese are convinced that the U.S. propelled Israel to war against Hezbollah in order to destroy the Shiite ally of Iran and weaken Iranian influence in the Levant. Condoleeza Rice has been accused of requesting Israel to continue the war, including the dropping of fragmentation bombs after the truce had been signed, but before it went into effect. Lebanon became another powder keg; an arena where U.S. demonstrated its interference has a negative effect.
Contrary to predictions of Civil War and anarchy, Lebanon made a recovery to stability. On May 25, 2008, the Lebanese Parliament elected Army chief Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's president. Two months later, president Suleiman announced the formation of a new National Unity government. The events proved to be a victory for the United States' principal foe in Lebanon. As part of the election negotiations, the government agreed to Hezbollah's demand for effective veto power over major government decisions.
Stability in the Levant has been emphasized by a great improvement of relations between Syria and Lebanon. After having agreed in October 2008 to establish diplomatic ties for the first time since they both gained independence 60 years ago. President Michel Suleiman described relations with Syria as "back to normal" and stressed " they were built on sincerity and frankness." Another blow to U.S. policy. An announcement in December 2008 by Lebanons defense minister that Russia had offered to give the country 10 MIG-29 fighter jets provides additional evidence of U.S. declining influence in Lebanon.
It seems that Lebanon cannot tolerate more than two years of stability. Hezbollah and its allies demonstrated the power they have achieved during years when U.S. diplomats labored ferociously to diminish the authority of the Party of God. After failing to convince the government to repudiate and not cooperate with a UN investigation into the killing of Rafik al-Hariri, father of present Prime Minister Saad Hariri, on January 12, 2010, Hezbollah and its allies, forced a government collapse, due to the resignation of more than one-third of its ministers. The Hezbollah that U.S. interventions indirectly assisted in creating, continues to strengthen while U.S. influence becomes less effective.
The total failure of U.S. polices in Lebanon achieved fruition when Hezbollah and its allies were able to propose the appointment of a new Lebanese Prime Minister. In late January 2011, Najib Mikati, whom Forbes estimated to be worth $3 billion, making him the richest man in Lebanon, replaced acting Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Saad Hariri departed Lebanon and has been living between Paris and Riyadh. Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned during March 2103 after "a cabinet dispute with Shi'ite group Hezbollah over preparations for a parliamentary election and extending the term of a senior security official. Two weeks later Tamman Salam, eldest son of former Lebanese prime minister, received a majority backing by a combination of the March 14 Alliance, the Progressive Socialist Party and Shi'ia Amal. Nevertheless, conflicts between the Hezbollah-dominated March 8 bloc and the March 14 alliance, led by the Sunni Future Party, prevented the new government from functioning until February 15th 2014,
In May 2013 the parliament voted to put off elections until November 2014 because of security concerns.
In November 2014 Parliament voted to put off elections until 2017.
The Syrian civil war has divided the country. Hezbollah cannot permit Bahar al-Assad to fall while many Sunni Muslims sympathize with the rebel fighters who are trying to oust him. Elements of al-Qaeda have strengthened and claimed responsibility for several suicide bombings against Shiite targets during the first six weeks of the year 2014. REUTERS, OCT. 5, 2014 quotes a Hezbollah operative that "Hundreds of Sunni Muslim insurgents from the Nusra Front attacked at least 10 Hezbollah bases along a mountain range close to the Syrian border, and killed two Hezbollah fighters, in the latest spillover of violence from the civil war next door in Syria.'' "At least 16 dead from Nusra Front, the person said.
Adding to Lebanon's trouble are the care for Syrian refugees. In March 2016, official figures showed about 1.1 milion registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which is almost 25% of Lebanon's population.The desperation of the refugee's was higlighted by the June 13, 2016 suicide of Hassan Rabeh, 25, a member of the Damascus Sima Dance Company, which gained regional fame in 2013 after winning the Arabs Got Talent television contest.in a Facebook post, he cited despair over the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
Despite rhetoric, U.S. diplomacy and policies have not resolved Lebanon's problems, or maybe they have exasperated them.
The African countries don't possess economic and military muscle. For those reasons, the U.S. has generally treated central African countries with benign neglect. In some countries, notably Egypt, South Africa and the earlier Zimbabwe, U.S. policy has been mildly constructive. In addition to endless violent wars, U.S. administrations have waged a "war against drugs," with equal failures. Africa highlights those failures.
The South African policy, that included embargo of many goods, assisted in the termination of Apartheid and a government of reconciliation. In Zimbabwe, the United States did not contend the evolution of the former white led Rhodesia to a majority black led Zimbabwe. The political frameworks of the latter countries, where Nelson Mandela, a one time communist, became the president of South Africa, and where Robert Mugabe formed a leftist government in Zimbabwe, demonstrate that the U.S. can cooperate with leftist leaders and their governments will not imperil U.S. interests. Despite this knowledge, U.S. policies towards the African countries have not assisted them in alleviating their continual poverty, internal wars and economic catastrophes.
REPUBLIC of CONGO
The Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, and previously the Republic of Congo, is an example of the complete cycle of a U.S. policy that ends in desolation.
In 1959, popular revolts and demands for independence from Belgium forced the Belgian government to negotiate with rebellious parties. During elections in 1960, the Congolese National Movement (MNC), directed by Patrice Lumumba, became the country's strongest party. Lumumba, already recognized as one of Africa's most vociferous leaders of anti-colonial liberation movements, became Prime Minister of the Congo Republic immediately before the country's independence on June 30, 1960. He had a difficult task and could not control the many factions that desired the Congo's resources and riches. His socialist leanings and avowed non-alignment policies prevented him from acquiring the U.S. as an ally. Within one month, Katanga, the Congo's richest province, with the assistance of the major powers, seceded. On September 14, Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko effectively neutralized the Congo's institutions and its leaders. The military placed Lumumba under house arrest and protection by the United Nations. After several transfers of his confinement, Patrice Lumumba, and two of his comrades were killed on January 17, 1961. The official reason for his death--accidentally shot while attempting to escape.
The complicity of the United States and the CIA in this unfortunate episode has not been definitely proved. Many informed persons take it for granted that the CIA played a leading role in Lumumba's demise. In any case, the United States motivated the anti-Lumumba activities by demonstrating its disapproval of Lumumba and by not giving him adequate protection. U.S. total support for Mobutu, who seized power of the Congo in 1965 and reigned for 32 years, hints at U.S. involvement in the Congo's affairs. After changing the country name to Zaire, Mobutu ruled as a despot. In 1980, he banned all political parties, except his own. Although he created unity among the country's 200 ethnic groups and nationalized the mining industries, Mobutu personally controlled 70% of the country's wealth, valued at 5 billion dollars. At his death in 1997, he was personally responsible for 80% of Congo debts.
Laurent-Denise Kabila, originally an avowed communist and with a vision similar to Lumumba, forced a dissipated Mobutu from power in early 1997. A physically weakened Kabila inherited a country in ruins that soon found itself in a brutal civil war with insurgents backed by Rwanda and Uganda governments. Kabila was assassinated on 16 January 2001, and his son became head of state. Almost two years later, in December 2002, Joseph Kabila succeeded in obtaining a "peace" agreement between all remaining warring parties, and was able to set up a government of national unity. After 35 years of U.S. involvement in sharing its prosperous affairs and little involvement in relieving its pains, the resource rich Congo, the most promising of the liberated central African countries, is an economic, political and social bankrupt nation.
Twenty-four million citizens registered to vote in the first nation-wide elections to be held in more than forty years. The electoral process began with approval by referendum of a new constitution on December 18 and 19, 2005. The election of legitimate leaders was scheduled for June, 2006.
However, the DRC has intermittent pockets of conflict. Government soldiers, who were sent to reinforce the eastern part of the nation, have clashed with former Rwandan-backed rebels. Added to the threat of continuous war is the displacement of people from the Goma war, estimated by Jan Egeland, U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, at 2.5 million, and also the affects on the population of war related diseases and malnutrition. According to the International Rescue Committee, and reported by the Voice of America on Dec. 9, 2004, more than 1,000 Congolese civilians were dying each day from illness and poor diet. Reports in 2006 claimed the Congo still had a severe humanitarian crisis, with 38,000 people dying each month. The government dismissed the reports and termed them as "a big lie," whose "figures are very exaggerated."
December 2006 had the Democratic Republic of Congo begin its road to democracy with Joseph Kabila as the elected president. An advisor to President Joseph Kabila was named head of the Democratic Republic of Congo's new National Assembly in a late December ballot that had Kabila associates gaining key parliamentary posts.
The Democratic Republic of Congo road to democracy stalled. The years of U.S. supported Mobutu Sese Seko rule still don't look good; however the years of Joseph Kabila rule have not proved to be much better. The resource rich nation breeds conflicts and sub-conflicts.
The simmering campaign, which began began as a local insurgency by Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda to address grievances of a Tutsi minority, grew into another civil war that threatened to replace the government of President Joseph Kabila. For a short period, Nkunda controlled large parts of eastern Congo and gained strength, both militarily and with the people. One view presented Nkunda's rule as rapacious with looting and killing. However, a more sober UN report claims that the regions under his control show high morale and signs of order, with a caveat that Nkunda received support from the Rwandan government. All of this changed.
The New York Times, Oct. 4, 2010
In January 2009, General Nkunda was arrested. Many of his rebel followers agreed to join government forces. Congo and Rwanda embarked on an unprecedented joint military operation to clear the eastern region of long entrenched fighters. But experienced observers note that all the years of cross-border meddling and intrigue make it extremely difficult to tell whether the new Rwanda-Congo relationship is a genuine and lasting change.
Despite more than 10 years of experience and billions of dollars, the peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most elemental task: protecting civilians. The United Nations blue-helmets are considered the last line of defense in eastern Congo, given that the nations own army has a long history of abuses, that the police are often invisible or drunk and that the hills are teeming with rebels. Nevertheless, many critics contend that nowhere else in the world has the United Nations invested so much and accomplished so little.
Fifty years after the 1961 killing of elected leader Patrice Lumumba and two his comrades, the turmoil that ensued from the stroke never ceases in the Congo. Reports have over five million people killed in the last decade of strifes, life expectancy down to only 45.8 years and 73% of the population living in poverty. And the violence continued into 2014.
The people of Kinshasa woke on Dec 30, 2013 to learn that gunmen, supposed but not confirmed followers of religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila. were attacking a military camp, the airport, and the state television. Describing it as "an assault assault carried out by poorly organized youths in civilian clothing who appeared to be making a political statement rather than performing a serious attempt to seize power, government spokesman said 40 of the 70 assailants in the capital had been killed. "We have total control of the situation," he said.
Angola became a victim of the Cold War immediately after it achieved independence from Portugal. All of its insurgent groups, identified by acronyms such as MPLA, FLNA and UNITA had alliances with anti-American and left wing international organizations. The MPLA had close ties to Moscow and received military training from Cuban forces. UNITA leader, Jonas Savimba, a late entry to the insurgency, considered himself a Maoist and was prepared to organize the country in accord with Mao's principles. Roberto Holden, an avowed Marxist, commanded the FLNA. After a group of disillusioned military officers led by General Antonio de Spinola, overthrew the Lisbon government and granted independence to Angola on July 14, 1974, the three groups formed a short lived coalition. The alliance broke down, and the MPLA, which emerged as the most powerful group, obtained the government positions of the departing Portuguese. With Agostinho Neto as head of state, the MPLA extended political control over much of the country. The FLNA and UNITA joined forces to combat the MPLA. The U.S. role in the Angola civil war became obvious--spoil MPLA's nation building plan.
Initially, the U.S. supported the Marxist FLNA. As the MPLA became stronger, the U.S. also funded the Maoist UNITA. The State department ignored MPLA's business alliances with U.S. oil companies, its attempts to secure friendly relations with many Western countries and invitations to foreign investment. Rather than encourage investment and improve relations, the State Department pressured the oil companies to cease operations in Cabinda, Angola's oil producing region. Neto died in 1979 and Jose Eduardo Santos, the new Prime Minister, favored a mixed economy with an important role for the private sector. The United States made no attempt to improve relations and blocked Angola's admission to the United Nations. After years, in which the CIA had continually funded the rival groups and promoted a covert program to solicit European and American mercenaries to fight with the FLNA, the U.S., in 1988, offered to normalize relations with Angola. The offer had one condition--a mutual settlement with UNITA. The MPLA agreed, and in that year the MPLA and UNITA negotiated a regional peace agreement. Although UNITA members served in the new Angola government of Unity and Reconciliation, Jonas Savimbi, the UNITA leader, rejected a UN monitored election and retreated back to the provinces. The war resumed after the failure of peace accords the parties had signed in November 1994.
The U.S. had only a negative policy in Angola--remove the Cuban supported group from power. The only replacement, Jonas Savimbi, had a more radical philosophy than the MPLA and yet the U.S. supported him for a long time. The Clinton administration withdrew support for Savimbi but he continued guerrilla tactics against the Angola government until his death in 2002. Primarily due to U.S. support of Jonas Savimbi, Angola became a ruined country and its people suffered greatly. If Maoist Savimbi had gained power, what would the U.S. have done?
After the country slowly rebuilt itself from 27 years of civil war, the Angolan government budgeted for elevated economic growth in 2005, making the African nation one of the world's fastest-growing economies. One notable source of funding for Angolan construction projects comes from China, that extended Angola a $2 billion credit line to rebuild roads, railways and bridges destroyed during the war.
After Jonas Savimbi, originally propped up with U.S. support, passed from the scene, Angola's mining and oil rich economy accelerated. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessed Angola's economic growth at 14% in 2005 and 5% growth in 2006. This forecast was lowered to 15% GDP, but if oil prices remain steady, GDP growth was predicted to continue into future years.Actually, the growth has been much higher, going from $14 billion in 2004 to $84 billion in 2009. Growing at 7% to 10% a year, the GDP reached $115 billion at the beginning of 2014.
Although most of Africa is in turmoil, only ripples of discontent, claiming corruption, inattention to poverty and suppression of freedoms emerge from the tight control by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979.
Somalia is another country that became caught in the East-West struggle. Muhammad Syad Barre, who became the Somalia leader after a bloodless coup in 1969, initially aligned his country with the Soviet Union. Problems with Ethiopia, a close ally of the Soviet Union, moved Syad Barre away from the East bloc and more towards an alignment with the Arab states. After the Ethiopians prevented the ethnic Somali who lived in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia from seizing that part, the U.S. agreed to provide humanitarian and military assistance to Somalia. In return, Somalia granted to the U.S. the naval base at Berbera that had previously been a Soviet naval base. As in other Third World countries, the United States found itself financing a leader whose regime slowly became repressive, corrupt and unpopular. Armed opposition to Barre started in 1988. On June 27, 1991, Siyad Barre, after ruling Somalia for 22 years, fled the country. The fighting that ensued between rival groups caused a societal breakdown that led to periodic famines. U.S. financial and military support had achieved nothing for Somalia.
In December 1992, the UN responded to Somalia's anarchy and famines by dispatching a "peace-keeping" force that included 2000 U.S. marines. U.S. and UN policies in Somalia became intertwined. Nevertheless, U.S. actions in Somalia must be evaluated separately. And what were these actions? First, it appears that the U.S. humanitarian troops had arrived after the famine had subsided. News reports stated that the U.S. found no famine in the capital, Mogadishu. They expected to find it inland in Baidoa. No famine in Baidoa. The famine had retreated to the villages. Reports from the villages did not disclose famines. The UN and U.S. marines did not go home.
Instead, marines began house to house searches for weapons and caused several casualties in the searches. On June 5, 1993, UN troops attempted to close the radio station commanded by Mohammed Farah Aideed, one of the contenders for Somali leadership. Aideed had credentials. He had been a Somali ambassador and had been elected chairman of the United Somali Congress by a 2/3 vote. He declared his faction to be the legitimate Somalia government. In repelling the attack, Somali militiamen killed 24 Pakistani troops. This action propelled the U.S. forces into a five-month manhunt for Aideed. In the process, the marines engaged in several "shoot outs" with Somali, including the killing of two children who had climbed into marine vehicles and reached for their sunglasses. After 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and their corpses dragged through the Mogadishu streets, the U.S. military left Somalia.
According to the NY Times, December 8, 1993, UN/U.S. forces inflicted 6,000 to 10,000 casualties on the Somali. UN Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni estimated that 2/3 of the casualties were women and children. The Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1993, estimated that only a small fraction of the UN relief efforts benefited Somalia. Foreign business people profited from fast food sales to the UN soldiers, a $9 million sewer system in the UN/U.S. headquarters and helicopter flights for Western officials. Twenty years of U.S. policy in Somalia--anarchy, wasted money, many Somali and American dead.
Somalia finally obtained a new president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who had to go to Nairobi, Kenya in October 2004 to be sworn into office. The new Transitional Federal Government, consisting of a 275-member parliament was established in October 2004, It also remained in Nairobi and was not able to established effective governance inside Somalia
Fighting between warring factions has continued since the countrys dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Up to one million Somalis have died in the civil war due to fighting, famine and disease, and around two million have fled the country. Mogadishu, the capital, remains divided between tribal leaders with an estimated 60,000 armed men still roaming the streets. Yemen Times. Dec. 29, 2004.
On Dec. 19, 2004 the UN Security Council requested all countries to enforce an arms embargo against Somalia. Subsequently, rival leaders met, and on January 5, 2006, again signed a deal they hoped would reunite Somalia, allowing the transitional parliament to assemble in the next 30 days for the first time on Somali soil. This never happened.
Reports had the U.S. secretly supporting Somali warlords in order to prevent Islamic groups from capturing Mogadishu. From out of nowhere, an Islamic group known as the Islamic Courts Union, seized control of much of Somalia, including its capital. In a sharp reversal, and against UN policies, Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia and recaptured Mogadishu. Both Ethiopia and the U.S. had legitimate fears that Somalia could become a major training ground for Al Qaeda terrorists.
In 2007, Somalia showed it is a victim of Newtonian dynamics, a body set in motion remains in motion. The initial push came from the U.S. 1993 entry into the African nation. The American antagonism to Mohammed Farah Aideed, a nationalist who did not support Al Qaeda and could have pacified Somalia, eventually drove a nation into the arms of Taliban look-alikes, another great success of U.S. foreign policy. Mohammed Farah Aideed's son, Hussein Farah Aideed became Somalia's interior minister in the interim government that has U.S. support. His father would have been proud of him. Nevertheless, at the end of 2007, the new Somalia looked like the old Somalia. Anarchy ruled the nation.
27 December 2007
Somalia's New Reality: A Strategic Overview
Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein
Events during the weeks following PINR's December 11 report on Somalia have confirmed its judgment that the country has settled into a chronic condition of statelessness characterized by devolution of the political community to clan-based solidarities, dispersion of power to local warlords and insurgent groups, and resultant multi-faceted conflicts.
With the collapse of Somalia's internationally-supported Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) after a power struggle between its president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and its then prime minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, ended with the latter's resignation on October 29, Somalia has lacked even the semblance of the possibility of an effectively functioning government.
Enter The Islamic Courts Union ( ICU), a group of Islamists, who preach Shariah as law. They were able to form a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, with Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as its leader. The ICU actually, controlled most of southern Somalia and the vast majority of its population, including most major cities including the capital Mogadishu until the end of 2006. However, with obvious U.S. prompting, Ethiopian troops on July. 20, 2006, invaded Somalia and deposed the ICU.
Despite the ICU partial success in stabilizing Somalia and gaining support from its people, the Ethiopians feared the fall of their TFG friends in the TFG clashed with their interests. For the U.S. administration, another fear existed: The Islamic militias would steer Somalia towards a Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalism.
"[Our] first concern, of course, would be to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaida safe haven, doesn't become a place from which terrorists plot and plan," President Bush said after learning of the Islamic militias' takeover in the capital.
The downfall of the The Islamic Courts Union has not uplifted the Somali. Adjacent neighbor Ethiopia, after creating anarchy in Somalia, prepared to move the occupied nation from anarchy to chaos by announcing the withdrawal of all of its forces by early 2009.
The Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents aggressively expressed opposition to the peace agreement between the Somali transitional government. A Washington Post report tells the story.
Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post Foreign Service
December 18, 2008;
Yusuf's government began disintegrating almost from the start two years ago, when it was installed with the might of the Ethiopian army and help from the United States. Yusuf and his Ethiopian backers have faced a relentless insurgency made up of clan militias and, increasingly, a radical Islamist faction known as al-Shabab. The group, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, has in recent months advanced on cities and towns across a swath of southern Somalia and much of Mogadishu. Yusuf's forces control just a few blocks in the capital.
The Shabab has thrived under the banner of fighting the Ethiopians, whom it views as proxies for the United States. But other than the exit of the Ethiopians and an end to U.S. involvement in Somalia, its goals are unclear.
In December 2008, the US backed Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, resigned.
A moderate Islamist government chose Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, a former high school teacher as president in February 2009. The Sheik represents an unusual Somali political center, a blend of moderate and more strident Islamic beliefs, with the emphasis on religion and not on clan relations.
As of the beginning of 2011, the Shabab again ruled much of Somalia. To support the Mogadishu government, the U.S. shipped tons of weapons to Somalia to keep Sheik Sharif's government alive. All to no avail. Many of his commanders had ties to the Islamist rebels, and several government officers reported that a large share of the American weapons were detoured into rebel hands.
"On Oct. 15, 2010, fighting broke out in central Somalia between two moderate Islamist militias that the United States and others had been counting on, as part of a new strategy, to stave off the Shabab. The fighting was a setback to the efforts to unite various clans and local administrations to push back the insurgents."
"Somalias transitional government, initially considered to be the country's best chance for stability in years, is faring poorly. Feckless and divided, it is holed up in a hilltop palace in Mogadishu, unable to deliver services, mobilize the people or provide a coherent alternative to the insurgents."
"The African Union peacekeepers were initially appreciated for standing up to the Shabab. Since then the peacekeepers have made enemies among the populace by shelling crowded neighborhoods in response to insurgent fire and inadvertently killing civilians."
Amidst the turmoil, Somali developed a new form of income - piracy. Pirates seized 53 vessels worldwide in 2010, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in Kuala Lumpur. All but four were taken by Somali pirates. "More people were taken hostage at sea in 2010 than in any year since records began" in 1991, the organization's annual report said.
The year 2014 stared with Mogadishu and southern port city, Kismay finally cleared of the Shabab militia of Islamic extremists. On January 29 2014,troops under African Union command prepared to counter Shabab in south central Somalia.Somalia has now turned a corner, said the new Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. And there is no going back.
Somalia has become an endless killing field. Sudued but not eliminated, al-Shabab, now allied with ISIS, continues to destabilize the Horn of Africa. On July 02, 2016 "two children were killed following a heavy bombardment by al-Shabab militants on the southwestern Somali town of Baidoa, witnesses and officials said Saturday."
U.S. interference in Somali affairs has not brought stability to the troubled nation.
U.S. policy towards Libya can be regarded as a policy of a country directed against one person-- Muhammar Qadhafi. After Qadhafi engineered the Libyan 1968 military revolution, he served as President of the Revolutionary Council from 1969 to 1977, and afterwards as General Secretary of The People's General Congress. Qadhafi relinquished his duties as General Secretary of the General people's Congress in March 1979 but remained as chief of the armed forces and a sometime Head of State. Until his death, Qadhafi did not hold any official public office and only assumed the title of Revolutionary Leader. Nevertheless, his detractors claim he was still the "unofficial" Head of State of a Libya that had a complete legislative branch with an elected head of government, a cabinet and a Supreme Court. Qadhafi had significant power in Libya, but by framing a policy that considered only his power, the U.S. disregarded other Libyan power blocs.
The U.S. accepted a revolutionary Libya that expelled all foreign forces and closed their bases. It could not accept:
- Libya's perceived attempts to unite the Arab world against U.S. diplomatic and military presence in the Middle East,
- its initiatives against Israel,
- its nationalization of an economy that displaced foreign interests, and
- its weakening of foreign control of Libya's oil resources.
Actually, few of these policies followed U.S. perceptions. Libya could not unite the Arab world against the U.S. Except for the oil price rises during the 1970's, neither Libya nor the Arab world harmed Western economic interests; Libyan policies have had little effect on Israel's development and the U.S. oil companies were reasonably satisfied with their business relationship in bringing low sulfur Libyan oil to market. Nevertheless, the U.S. adopted aggressive policies towards Libya that escalated the confrontation over the years. The thrust of these polices were to replace Qadhafi and stop Libya's contribution to terrorism. It is obvious that the first stated policy failed until the people and NATO decided Qadhafi's fate. The bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and terrorist attacks in the U.S., none of which involved Libya, indicate that Libya's contribution to the entire terrorism must have been small. The aggressive policy also exposed the error of a supposed belief that U.S. polices are dictated by the East-West conflict. After 1972, Libya had cool relations with the former Soviet Union.
Libya did not deny it had training grounds for recruits that represented a variety of national liberation movements and that it provided financial support to Palestinian liberation organizations. Nevertheless, the Libyan role was a minor counterbalance to the huge U.S. financial and military support of those who repressed liberation movements and, by authoritarian actions, caused international terrorism. Another significant point: Libya gained no economic or material benefit from its support of "liberation" movements. The Libyans declared in 1981 that, to them, it was a matter of principle. For the U.S., intervention has been mostly a matter of safeguarding interests and gaining economic benefits.
Libyans protested U.S. policy in Iran by burning the U.S. embassy in Tripoli in December 1979. On August 19,1981, U.S. jets downed two Libyan air force planes during U.S. maneuvers in the Libyan Gulf of Sidra. On March 25, 1986, U.S. navy planes bombarded civilian targets in Libya's Gulf. They also attacked a Libyan Coast Guard boat in which all 10 sailors were reported killed. Another attack on a ship resulted in the crew leaving the ship. The Libyans claimed that all 42 men, while swimming to shore, were machine gunned to death.
U.S. intelligence agencies accused Libya of a terrorist attack on the LaBelle disco club in Berlin, Germany. Two U.S. servicemen were among those killed in the attack. President Reagan demanded retribution for the disco club bombing and, on April 14, 1986, the U.S. mounted air attacks on the Libyan mainland. In these attacks, a bombing of Qadhafi's house supposedly killed the leader's adopted child. In November 2001, a Berlin court convicted three Libyans and one Palestinian in the LaBelle disco club bombing. The attacks on Libya signaled U.S. determination to defend against any terrorist attacks on its citizens. The attacks did not accomplish its purpose. On December 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. One Libyan agent has been convicted in that bombing.
In 1992, U.S. sanctions, some of which were adopted by the UN, prohibited weapons contracts, economic ties and investment by US firms and most travel to Libya. On September 12, 2003, the UN security council lifted the 11-year-old sanctions against Libya. France and the United States abstained, but 13 other member states voted to lift the arms embargo and end the ban on flights to Libya.
Fear, miscalculation, mistrust and an unnecessary aggressiveness guided U.S. policy towards Libya. They exposed the fact that aggressive policies were not only driven by Cold War relations. Hundreds died and the Libyan people suffered from sanctions before the policy achieved an apparent success. On December 19, 2003, Qadhafi agreed to discontinue developments of weapons of mass destruction and permit nuclear arms inspections. After 30 years of failing to align Libya with American interests and after 30 years of havoc due to the conflict, could U.S. policy with Libya be considered a successful policy? Did Libya finally give up on its trust in the Arab world, run out of steam in an endless conflict or adjust to realities of the day and not to U.S. policies? Could a different policy have achieved the same objective thirty years earlier?
March 2011, and an almost defeated rebel force in Libya is revived by the establishment of a NATO no-fly zone, which soon changes into A NATO fly only zone whose panes and missiles pepper Gadhafi's ground forces. On the day its planes and drones attacked North African ground, NATO decided the outcome of the Libyan rebellion. Scratch out all rebel fighters and the Gadhafi led government still remained doomed. A relatively strong Yugoslavian army could not repel NATO aerial attacks and eventually surrendered. How could a deficient Libyan military expect to prevail? A powerful world body took advantage of a major dispute between elements of a nation in order to impose its authority and satisfy its wants. NATO certainly wasn't going to permit itself to lose or be involved in a stalemate.
Those who regarded the war as a simple rebellion of oppressed masses against an illegitimate and brutal dictator are as naive as those who believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had to be immediately defeated. Subscribing to Moammar Gadhafi's removal for imposing his dubious Green philosophy on the nation and for his harsh and autocratic tactics might have been correct. Those are issues, but not the issues. Revelations from the Libyan civil war expose the issues, which are significantly disturbing and demand careful attention:
- The internationalization of only this local conflict, which was not different and less compelling than similar conflicts throughout the world, notably in Syria, Bahrain, Nigeria, and other places.
- Use of an unverified story to justify immediate NATO intervention - prevention of Gadhafi forces from taking violent retribution against the citizens of Benghazi.
- Media failure to accurately report the conflict, and replace reporting with an unusual and intensive propaganda that favored the rebels.
- Rejection of compromises to resolve the conflict while the nation was being destroyed and many were being killed, a contradiction to NATO's reasons for entering the conflict.
- NATO impolitely going beyond the original Security Council Resolution to only provide a "no-fly" zone and instead leading the rebel offensive by a cowardly method - bombing a defenseless nation that had had no military means to counter the attacks.
- The constant and one-sided demonizing of leader Gadhafi, while not knowing if antagonists were any better.
- Neglect in examining Libya's real problems of being a rentier nation that supports its population from principally oil exports, whose supply is limited and whose derived wealth needs careful distribution.
The aftermath of the NATO and rebel victory has not redefined a new Libya and is proving troublesome. One of many reports:
The Telegraph, Apr 2012, By Lauren Gambino
"Four people were killed and 35 others were wounded in Zuwarah," located 60 miles west of Tripoli, the interim authorities said in a statement published online. But a doctor in Zuwarah reported a higher toll in the western town located near the border of Tunisia. Jawher Belhir said five people were killed and 42 wounded. The NTC also said 10 people were killed and 45 others wounded in the nearby towns of Regdalin and Jamil.
The fighting began over the weekend when former rebels from Zuwarah were detained as they attempted to pass through the town of Jamil. The authorities said they managed to negotiate their release, and after they were let go, armed men from Zuwarah launched an attack.
At the end of 2013 Libya was still in turmoil - kidnappings, assassinations, murders, tribal conflicts and resignations from the General National Congress continued. Principal focus was on the economy with the hope that a beneficial economy would solve the other internal issues. One problem is that the two are related - Libyan economy is almost totally due to oil production and labor strife together with attacks on oil facilities affect oil production and exports. Militias and labor groups seized a number of key oil terminals on the coast and still controlled them at the end of 2013. The Libya Herald reports that "Separatists in the eastern region have declared independence and formed an autonomous government, known as the Cyrenaica political bureau. They also seized government-controlled oil fields and announced the creation of their own oil company to export crude oil."
Libya's GDP fell by 7 percent during the year 2013. Completed data indicates the GDP to be about 20% below the 2009 level. Nevertheless, optimism prevails. The IMF and the World Bank project real GDP to increase by around 25 percent in 2014. One caveat -- Libya achieves a political settlement between its conflicting parties that brings about internal stability. Due to elevated internal instability and a sudden decline in oil prices, the IMF and World Bank prognostications were off the mark. The Economist estimates that Libya's GDP will shrink by 5.2% in 2014.
Libya has become a basket case that has no basket. It has a government in Tobruk that Libyas Supreme Court in Tripoli has declared illegal. In Tripoli, Libya's former capital, Islamic militias rule. Must be a mirage. The Islamic militias emerged from Tobruk and Benghazi and eventually overthrew Ghaddafi by capturing Tripoli. Now they are in Tripoli and their opposition is in Tobruk.
Of principal interest to the United States are Libya's oil production and the extent of its al-Qaeda elements.
Reuters, Dec 29 2014 answers the first question:
Libya's oil output has shrunk further after blazing oil tanks at a major terminal helped push world oil prices higher and put a strain on the country's dollar currency reserves. Libya is surviving on a mere 128,000 barrels per day from fields connected to the eastern port of Hariga, an oil official said on Monday, while fighting halted the major ports Es Sider and Ras Lanuf.Total oil output, adding offshore fields and Brega output, is about 350,000 bpd - a fraction of the 1.6 million bpd it produced before the 2011 civil war. Some oil is keeping two refineries going, and the official was unable to say how much, if any, was available for export.
Salah al-Suhbi, a member of the foreign affairs committee in the Libyan House of Representatives, answered the other question. The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 10, 2014, quotes Representative al-Suhbi.
the expansion of jihadist groups affiliated to al Qaeda or the Islamic State is posing a threat to the Libyan population and beyond. Mr. al-Suhbi called on the international community to help protect its frontiersthrough assistance and training to its Navy and technologies to control its land borders. Libya is in the middle of a huge arch of [radical Islamist networks] that extends from Iraq all the way to Mali. And its just one hour from Europe, he said. Unless this arch is broken, we are all in big trouble, Europe included.
Local Islamic extremists are also receiving reinforcements from fighters coming from Syria and Yemen and assistance from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb while others are loyal to the Islamic State, the lawmaker said. He added the Jihadis control illegal immigration routes that go through the South and to the coastal cities of Sirte, Sabratha and Zuwarah for human trafficking destined to Europe.
The International New York Times, Jan. 12, 2015 reports, "There are now Islamic State affiliates in each of Libyas three provinces. The group claiming to have seized the hostages (21 Egyptian Christians) identified itself as the Tripolitania Province of the Islamic State, named for the region around the capital, Tripoli, in western Libya. One of several militant groups in Derna, an eastern city known for extremism, swore allegiance to the Islamic State last fall. A few days ago, that affiliate claimed responsibility in the killing of two Tunisian journalists. The third Islamic State affiliate, in the southern province of Fezzan, recently claimed responsibility for killing a dozen soldiers."
The Washington Times - Sunday, July 3, 2016, in an article, CIA caught off guard by Islamic States rise in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya by Rowan Scarborough summarizes the Libyan quagmire.
CIA chieftains were caught off guard by the spiraling Islamic violence in postwar Libya, suddenly realizing that analysts had never brainstormed what the country would look like and that the White House had not asked.
The agency also acknowledged in a classified report that Moammar Gadhafi, Libyas U.S.-deposed dictator, had long suppressed a variety of radical Islamic groups, including al Qaeda, from taking root in his country and endangering North Africa.
Today, absent Gadhafis iron fist since October 2011, Libya is in a civil war and has become a coveted destination for Islamic extremists, including the Islamic State in and around Benghazi. Based in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State boasts its largest franchise in Libya, where it wants to destabilize a fledgling democratic government in the capital of Tripoli and export terrorism. President Obama, who approved the intervention, has called Libya a mess.
Not too noticed is that the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, whom Qadhafi fought for several years, and whom France and The United States backed, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a court in Senegal.
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Central America and Caribbean
The Monroe Doctrine warned countries outside the Western Hemisphere not to interfere in Latin America affairs. The Western Hemisphere protectorate policy that the United States established in 1821 did not exclude the U.S. from interfering in Latin American affairs. The cold war reinforced the interference. For the entire 19th century and almost the entire 20th century, the Latin American countries stagnated in poverty, illiteracy, corruption and disease. The active intervention in their affairs could not have been beneficial to them.
What could be more damaging to the United States in the 1960's than to have the Soviet Union gain a foothold close to U.S. shores and create missile bases within firing range of U.S. territory? U.S. foreign policy planners succeeded in accomplishing those situations. Washington did not comprehend diplomacy and compromise and responded to the Castro government's agrarian reform and expropriation of U.S. properties by imposing a trade embargo. The embargo motivated Cuba to seek economic assistance from the world's Socialist countries. This further angered the U.S.. and Washington severed diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 1961. The U.S. followed the diplomatic break with a U.S. trained invasion force that landed at the ill-fated Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. Ninety invaders from the Cuban exile community died and 1200 were captured. The legacy of the invasion -- Castro, fearful of further attacks, succeeded in convincing the Soviet Union to provide a missile umbrella to counter further attacks. U.S. policy brought nuclear missiles close to its shores and the world close to nuclear war.
After settling the dispute by removing U.S. missile bases from Turkey and promising never to attack Cuba, the U.S., either from spite or more likely from not wanting an independent and socialist government to succeed in the Western hemisphere, continued a policy of isolating Cuba from the Latin American community and imposed additional sanctions. The "ups" and "downs" of U.S./Cuba relations couldn't contain Cuba. The Caribbean country drew closer to the USSR and became a member of COMECON. Cuba provided combat forces for the government of Angola, for the Ethiopian regime in its war in the Ogaden, and for Socialist forces in Yemen. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cuba economy collapsed. The U.S. has taken advantage of this collapse with additional embargoes and attempts at isolation. The perilous condition of the Cuban people approached starvation but did not deter America from its aggressive policy.
The Cuban policy almost brought the U.S. into a nuclear war. It had other damaging consequences:
- An influx of Cuban refugees into Florida displaced African-American workers and created racial tensions.
- Cuba mixed hardened criminals with refugees during the Mariel sealift and forwarded many of its own criminals to the United States.
- Foreign companies gained advantages over American companies in Cuban investments.
Dec. 31, 2005, 45 years to the day of the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro remains in power. The Cuban people suffer from American sanctions that are not forecasted to be less astringent in 2006. The success of the U.S. policy--maintaining Cuba in poverty so other nations in the Western hemisphere will see Cuba as an economic and social failure and thus realize that combating the U.S. is futile. Trends during that year (before Cuba stagnated) indicate the strategy had backfired.
Cuba claims its GDP grew by 11.8 percent in 2005. Two "white knights" are contributing to Cuba's success.
Havana, Dec 29, 2005 (Prensa Latina)
Rising exports and good trade relations with China directly contributed to the current economic performance of the Caribbean island. Nickel, oil and transport investments are in motion with China, together with large credit dealings, and well as with Venezuela, part of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which has become a driving force of the Cuban economy.
Deja Vu!! It's Dec. 31, 2006, 46 years to the day of the Cuban Revolution, Castro is ill, but still remains in power. The Cuban people suffer from American sanctions that are not forecasted to be less astringent in 2007. The success of the U.S. policy--maintaining Cuba in poverty so other nations in the Western hemisphere will see Cuba as an economic and social failure and thus realize that combating the U.S. is futile. Trends of the past year (before Cuba econoimy stagnates) again indicate the strategy has backfired.
Recognized data published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean states the Cuban economy grew 12.5 percent in 2006. Data from the Office of National Statistics has the Cuban GDP increasing by 7% en 2007. The World Bank's latest statistics show Cuba GDP, in constant U,S. dollars improving from $2700/capita to $4200/capita in 2008. An ill Fidel Castro handed power to his brother Raoul. No sensational changes in Cuba' s political or economic directions have occurred.
After 2008, the economy slowed to real growth rates of 2-3%, inflation increased to 5.5% and the balance of trade remained highly negative. Cuba is characterized by a general lower level of economic development. The sanctions have damaged the economy.
"On Oct. 17, 2012, the Cuban government announced on Tuesday it will no longer require islanders to apply for an exit visa, eliminating a much-loathed bureaucratic procedure that has been a major impediment for many seeking to travel overseas. " Associated Press
Sanctions and the Raoul Castro government remained in the beginning of 2014 and pose the question: What benefit have been the sanctions to U.S. foreign policy, to the Cuban people and to provoking changes in the Cuban government?
Finally, after almost 55 years of antagonism and sanctions against the Cuban nation, on Dec. 16 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order that restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana. Adhering to the agreement, Cuba released 53 political prisoners. Cubans may not still obtain total freedom but they can obtain more basic needs. Will this be a one act play or the end of a mighty drama and a the beginning of a new performance ?
The year 2016 has trended toward the latter. Cuba is being overwhelmed with U.S. visitors, the U.S. has approved direct flights beween the two nations, and some Americans are being allowed to build factories in Cuba. Nevertheless, all Obama has said is that "the embargo's going to end." He has not said when.
U.S. policy towards Haiti is analogous to U.S. policy towards Iraq--ignore the oppression, act after the damage is done, fail to create viable institutions and watch the new administration drift into catastrophe.
The U.S. Marines invaded a Haiti wrought with internecine warfare in 1915 and began a 19 year military occupation. The invasion commander, Rear Adm. William Caperton, Jr. categorized the intervention as a means to "protect American and foreign interests. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler -- the first commandant of the new U.S.-created Haitian constabulary -- categorized his mission as a "glorified bill-collecting agency.
During the1920's, American presidents Coolidge and Hoover introduced public works programs that energized Haiti's economy. After the marines left, Haiti drifted back to chaos and corruption that culminated in the election of Francois Duvalier, who declared himself president for life in 1964.
Duvalier's repressive and authoritarian rule angered the Kennedy administration and the U.S. suspended aid to Haiti in mid-1962. Nothing changed. Duvalier remained in power until his death in 1971. His 19 year old son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, became Haiti's new leader. Unrest in Haiti continued and, in January 1986, the Reagan administration recommended the dictator's departure. At the last minute, Jean-Claude decided to remain in Haiti.and his decision provoked violence.
After the United States Department of State cut aid to Haiti on January 31, 1986, the Haitian military forced Jean-Claude Duvalier to depart from Haiti on February 7, 1986. Haiti remained in economic decline and in 1990 the marginated population coalesced to elect liberation-theologian Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti with 67% of the popular vote.
Aristide could not resolve Haiti's economic and social problems or thwart his powerful opposition. On September 30, 1991, supposedly with CIA approval and U.S. intelligence officers present at army headquarters, Haitian soldiers staged a coup and Gen. Raoul Cedras became de facto leader of the country.
The overthrow of a legally elected democratic government and a perception of oppression that was reinforced by massive amounts of boat refugees aroused progressives in the United States and Black groups, such as the Black Caucus and TransAmerica, to petition the Clinton government for action against the Haitian government. Unlike the Cuban refugees during that era, the Haitian refugees were not permitted easy entry to the United States. The Clinton administration realized it could resolve the refugee problem by ousting the Haitian government and returning Aristide to power.
On July 31, 1994, the UN passed Resolution 940 that allowed the U.S. to lead a multinational force to force the departure of the Haitian military chiefs. At the last minute, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter managed to negotiate the exit of General Raoul Cedras and other Haitian leaders and permit a 28-nation multinational force of 20,000-strong, led by the United States, to enter Haiti. On 15 October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti, and as part of Carter's negotiated agreement, recovered his presidency.
Aristide's governing repeated his earlier presidency -- chaos, friction and economic decline. The constitution barred Aristide from serving a second term when his term elapsed in 1996 and on February 7, 1996, Rene Preval was inaugurated as the President of Haiti. In the next election on November 26, 2000, Aristide running virtually unopposed, was again elected president and sworn in as Haiti's president on February 7, 2001. Many opposition groups boycotted the election and accused Aristide's Lavalas Party of fraud.
Almost ninety years after the U.S. marines invaded Haiti in 1915 to bring stability to Haiti and end its internecine warfare, Haiti was again in chaos and internecine warfare.
- Haiti was the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere; GDP/capita year 2001 of $1860.
- International observers were critical of the election that made Aristide president.
- The opposition refused to recognize Aristide as president and a 15-party opposition alliance, Convergence, announced its own alternative president.
- The Organization of American States (OAS) said 10 Senate seats won by Aristide candidates should have gone to a second round vote.
- Some countries threatened to withhold aid if the Aristide government did not revise the senate election results.
- The European Union blocked $49 million in aid to Haiti, and $17.7 million intended to help cover the country's budget deficit was also suspended.
- After mid-September 2003 and into the year 2004 hundreds were killed in political violence.
Haiti Protests Draw Musicians, Artists -- PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer, Dec. 23, 2003.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Some of Haiti's most famous musicians on Tuesday held a free concert calling for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation while artists painted rainbows over pro-government graffiti. The coalition of more than 1,000 musicians, painters and writers organized the demonstration at the University of Haiti to show solidarity with students who were attacked by Aristide partisans earlier this month. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been in turmoil since Aristide's Lavalas Family party swept flawed 2000 elections.
"When I was a student here 20 years ago I used to sing against the dictatorship," said Sweet Mickey singer Michel Martelly, referring to Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier. "Twenty years later nothing's changed."
In a repeat of past history Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been ousted and is in exile. Haiti tentatively returned to anarchy and back to its condition in 1984. Why? The New York Times. Jan. 29, 2006:
Mr. Curran (former U.S. ambassador) accused the democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute, of trying to undermine the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 Senate elections threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The group's leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Mr. Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power, said Mr. Curran, whose account is supported in crucial parts by other diplomats and opposition figures.
In February 2006, the Haitian people re-elected former president Rene Preval. Although the Electoral Council declared Preval did not have a majority, local and international protests prompted the Electoral Council to reverse its decision and declare Preval the winner. The Haitian people still did not win. During 2006 Haiti drifted into more anarchy and violence. A surge in crime, most notably kidnappings, even of children, brought severe retaliation by government security forces.
The U.S. sponsored 1994 departure of General Raoul Cedras and other Haitian leaders and its forceful actions that promoted a 28-nation multinational force of 20,000-strong, led by the United States, to enter Haiti, might have seemed to be a good idea at the time. Nevertheless, the U.S. directed policies have not turned out well for the Haitian people.
Haitian President Rene Preval called for a fight against corruption and praised the ongoing efforts to stabilize the corrupt country. Prevail said that the country has been in an ongoing chaos and turmoil since former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was exiled in 2004.
The years pass in Haiti, but President Preval's remarks indicated that nothing changes.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti april 2008 A desperate appeal from the president Wednesday failed to restore order to Haiti's shattered capital, and bands of looters sacked stores, warehouses and government offices. Gunfire rang out from the wealthy suburbs in the hills to the starving slums below as 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers were unable to halt a frenzy of looting and violence that has grown out of protests over rising food prices.
Many of the protesters are demanding the resignation of the U.S.-backed president, Rene Preval, and on Tuesday U.N. peacekeepers had to fire rubber bullets and tear gas to drive away a mob that tried to storm his palace.He delivered his first public comments Wednesday, nearly a week into the protests. With his job on the line, Preval urged Congress to cut taxes on imported food and appealed to the rioters to go home.
A massive earthquake, which struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010 demonstrated how U.S. interference has only brought to Haiti a fragile social fabric and an incompetent government. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimated that the total cost of the disaster was between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000. The government behaved totally inept.
- Police forces usually provide immediate relief to earthquake victims, to rescue those under the rubble and prevent rioting, thievery and looting -- he government convenes, tries to chart a path to recovery, and officials circulate among the people to give them confidence. Television and media did not report appearances of police forces and government officials. No trucks, earth moving or heavy equipments were shown - not even a shovel.
- The day following the earthquake, the president was located at the airport. In an interview, he only noted his Presidential Palace had been destroyed and he had no place to sleep. Imagine a president cannot find a military barracks, hotel or associate to give him a place to sleep.
- Several days later, after leaving a meeting of his government, President Preval's only words were that he was told the place was not safe and he had to go elsewhere - little about the meeting.
- Only private citizens were seen digging for survivors, and when they needed additional assistance only foreign aid workers came to their aid. When CNN, which showed dead bodies being dumped in a field, questioned a Haitian minister about this practice, the minister denied it was happening and didn't volunteer to see the site. She also could not explain why many bodies were not being identified before being dumped or buried.
- Haitian ambassadors did not seem to be performing any effort to coordinate and bring relief from neighboring Dominican Republic. In a CNN interview with the Haitian ambassador to U.S., the diplomat claimed that since he was in Washington he couldn't know what was happening in Port-au Prince. The ambassador rudely hung up the telephone after being when asked if he contacted his government.
- Christiane Amanpour's interview with Haiti's Prime Minister questioned why there were a scarce number of heavy tents. The PM response: "We are looking into that. Even President Preval went to look into the matter." As for the lack of government assistance, the Prime Minister claimed the government depleted its prepared reserves for this type of calamity and needed foreign aid. These "reserves" were not evident on television.
A year after the quake, and despite billions in pledged relief, only 5 percent of the rubble had been cleared, and nearly 1 million people still lived in tents or under tarps, according the international aid agency Oxfam. Government inaction and lack of money hampered plans to build massive communities to lure people out of the tent cities. Eduardo Marques Almeida, the resident representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, said his organization had had to scuttle various housing projects because there was a lack of suitable land and multiple ownership claims on some parcels.
Another example of how U.S. foreign policy has been counterproductive. From the Associated Press:
Haiti presidential candidate 'may pull out' (AFP) January 25, 2011
PORT-AU-PRINCE Haitian President Rene Preval's ruling party candidate Jude Celestin is considering withdrawing from the presidential race, Senator Joseph Lambert, a senior party official, said Tuesday. Celestin could "withdraw his candidature in the next hours," said Lambert, a senior official with the INITE (Unity in Creole) party, speaking on Radio Metropole. In preliminary results of the November 28 presidential election made public by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), Celestin would face off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat in a second round of voting. However a monitoring team from the Organization of American States (OAS) regional bloc advised the CEP to revise its initial results because of widespread fraud. If the CEP follows the advice of the OAS team, popular singer Michel Martelly would face Manigat in the second round run-off instead of Celestin. Opposition candidates accuse Preval and the CEP of orchestrating massive fraud in favor of Celestin to ensure he made it through to the second round, which has now been delayed.
During mid 2011, Singer Michel Martelly won Haiti's presidential election with 67.57 percent of the vote, compared with 31.74 percent for rival Mirlande Manigat. His presidency has brought relative calm with a steady growth of 7.5% and reduced inflation to 3.5 %. Other economic statistics are difficult to verify, but the 2014 consensus still has Haiti with an employment rate of 40% and 80% of its population living below the poverty line. Despite the progress, Haiti cannot escape the curse of having leaders who refuse to relinquish power and are thoght to be corrupt and inclined to cronyism -- President Martelly failed to hold elections during his five years in office and has been accused of surrounding himself with cronies, some of them criminals. Finally, in February, 2016, the Parliament elected Jocelerme Privert for a 120-day term after Martelly left office without a replacement. The temporary 120 day-term expired and no successor appeared. Haiti is now scheduled to hold two new rounds of voting, one on Oct 9, 2016 and the other on Jan 8, 2017.Hopefully, a new president will be named Jan 30, 2017
Guatemala 1951 to 2004
In 1951, Guatemala elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, a reformer who considered the grievances of the lower and middle classes. By mentioning the words "land reform" and "organizing labor," Arbenz and his intended policies infuriated the banana companies and U.S. politicians. In 1954, a group of Guatemala exiles, armed and trained by the CIA and commanded by Colonel Carlos Castillos Armas, invaded Guatemala and forced out the legitimately elected president. Afterwards, Guatemala was ruled by military dictatorships. With U.S. military and economic assistance, these governments suppressed political activity and provoked those willing to seek political and social change by peaceful means into pursuing the changes by violent confrontations. After a brutal suppression of guerrilla activity, civilian leaders in 1985 returned to govern with the military watching in the wings. In 1996, the Guatemala government signed a peace accord with guerrilla forces and ended a conflict.
After the accords, a trail of evidence and admissions by the Guatemala military began to confirm what many had suspected: The U.S. government had linked itself to a suppression that some claim (not entirely verifiable) caused 110,000 Mayan Indian lives, and razed thousands of villages in an effort to destroy a guerrilla force estimated at 2,000 armed rebels. U.S. and Guatemala officials acknowledged that the CIA transferred millions of dollars to the Guatemala military and provided intelligence to their army.
Justice finally prevailed. In May 2013, former U.S.-backed Guatemala dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was found guilty and sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity; convicted of overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemalas Ixil region.
Another example of a U.S. policy that went full cycle and during the cycle brought a nation to near self-destruction.
El Salvador 1972-2004
In 1972, a coalition led by Jose Napoleon Duarte, head of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), appeared to win the El Salvador presidential election. Instead of taking office he found himself arrested and exiled by the military. During the following years, a repressive military government maintained power and provoked left-wing guerrilla groups to overthrow an illegitimate government. Partly due to the urgings of the U.S. government, the military junta in January 1980 offered concessions to moderate and leftist groups. Duarte returned from exile to become the country's leader. Despite social and economic reforms, the military still seemed to rule the nation.
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition of rebel forces, armed itself with a variety of military equipment, including leftover weapons shipped from the battle fields of Vietnam through Nicaragua to the Liberation Front. The equipped FMLN declared a war on the government that had two prominent characteristics--an overt battle between rebel and military forces and a terrorization of the civilian populations. It has been estimated that the latter claimed the most lives. Right wing death squads terrorized the local villages and assassinated political opponents. In 1980, they killed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a Catholic "liberation" theologian while El Salvador troops violated and massacred four nuns. The wars escalated and the FMLN almost captured the entire country until the government was able to contain the offensive. Although a "no-win" situation emerged, the violence continued.
The Reagan administration used counter-insurgency as the reason for interference in El Salvador affairs. Economic and military aid to El Salvador from 1981-1992 amounted to $1 million/day in a country of 5.2 million people, and became contingent on political and social reforms. El Salvador struggled for a democratic face and managed to have elections during that period. Military aid peaked at $197 million in 1984 and economic aid peaked at $462 million in 1987. The U.S. policy of countering insurgency and demanding reforms contradicted actuality. The U.S. did not demand resolution of the murders of Romero, nuns and political opponents, and did not condemn the burning of villages and many other obvious human rights violations. U.S. troops advised the El Salvador military and secretly engaged in military operations. Amnesty International concluded that the paramilitary death squads received covert financial support and military training from the United States.
The El Salvador military realized that the collapse of the USSR meant the end of massive U.S. support. After years of war, the competing groups agreed in 1990 to peace talks. Under the agreement, the FMLN and the El Salvador government disbanded their respective forces and formed a new civilian police force that included National police and FMLN members. In a 1994 election, ARENA, the already established government, retained their power and the FMLN established itself as a legitimate opposition party that could operate without government suppression.
From the U.S. perspective, preventing the fall of an El Salvador government that might have led to government control by a leftist FMLN allied with the Soviet Union, vindicated Washington's policy. However, U.S. policy did not prove effective until the country had essentially destroyed itself. If the U.S. had been able to mediate the differences, and stop the destructive war much earlier, it could claim a successful policy.
El Salvador slowly recovered from its civil war. GDP real growth rate has been at about 1.5% during the years from 2010 to 2014. GDP per capita, purchasing power parity is at about $6000, the same as in 2008.
Dominican Republic 1962-2004
U.S. interventions in Dominican Republic affairs have occurred often in the century. In 1962, the heir to Trujillo's reign, Joaquin Balaguer, was defeated in an election by Dr. Juan Bosch, a leftist reformer. Because the United States was occupied with the war in Vietnam and troubled by the Castro government in the Caribbean, President Lyndon Johnson decided his nation could not afford another Castro type government close to America's shores. Johnson dispatched U.S. troops to the Dominican Republic and engineered a military coup against the Bosch government. After that incursion, the Dominican Republic sailed on choppy seas of fraudulent elections, corruption, and economic uncertainty. In 1990, the two contestants whose election precipitated the 1962 incursion from the U.S., and who now were octogenarians, returned as contestants in the presidential election. U.S. interference had made its usual full cycle. In the cycle, the Dominicans greatly suffered.
U.S. relations with Panama's Manuel Antonia Noriega were similar to U.S. relations with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. For years the U.S. governments tolerated Noriega's authoritarian attitude. President Bush even praised him. When the United States declared drugs as a major threat to American society, and a Florida court indicted Noriega for drug trafficking and money laundering, the U.S. found a reason to remove Noriega from power. Having received mixed signals from the U.S. government over the years and believing that Bush knew he could reveal information that exposed the CIA and U.S. involvement in covert activities, Noriega felt immune from attack. His arrogant attitude provoked the U.S. President. In the absence of cold-war considerations, the United States proceeded with full-scale military intervention against Panama and removed an insignificant leader from power. The invasion exhibited unnecessary brutality, demolishing impoverished Panamanian neighborhoods, where Noriega had major support and killing many civilians. On the high side, the Pentagon claimed 516 Panamanians were killed during the invasion, and an internal Army memo estimated the number at 1,000. Lower estimates by the United Nations and Americas Watch had 500 and 300 deaths respectively. The American military captured Noriega and the American judicial system convicted him and sentenced him to prison. The legality of all the operations is questionable.
The severity of the invasion of Panama and its aftermath decry a meaningful policy. Previous events indicated that Noriega, rather than assisting the drug trade, had impeded it. By using known narcotics dealers as informants against him at his trial, the prosecution did not make a compelling case. Besides, it is well known that in other countries, principally Mexico, the governments have been in collusion with leading narcotics dealers and the U.S. has not interfered with those governments. Panama's involvement in drugs could never approach the large-scale involvement of Mexico, nor has the imprisonment of Noriega diminished the drug supply. Noriega may have used his military role in a despotic manner, but he was fair to the poor people of Panama and he was not a threat to the U.S. and the Central American area. The reasons for the U.S. military adventure in Panama are not clear. The most probable reason: to prevent President Bush from being humiliated by an insignificant dictator. U.S. policy towards a small country failed to use diplomacy and degenerated into a brutal military adventure.
What happened to Panama after the capture of Noriega? Here is one report:
Panamanians waited only four years after the invasion before restoring to government the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) that had been closely associated with the Torrijos and Noriega regimes. The 1994 election of PRD Presidential candidate Ernesto Pérez Balladares also displaced Guillermo Endara, a president ushered into office by the U.S. military and besieged during his term by reports of widespread government corruption. Before Endara completed the first year of his presidential tenure, the DEA had accused Endara's law firm of dealings with several companies belonging to drug traffickers. The U.S. press also revealed Endara's links to a bank suspected of laundering drug money.
International Relations Center, May 1995, Panama: A Test for U.S.-Latin American Foreign Relations, by John Lindsay-Poland
After claiming Noriega had a close relationship with the drug trade, an unproven assertion, we learn that "the D.E.A. faced intense pressure in 2010 from Panama, whose right-leaning president, Ricardo Martinelli, demanded that the agency allow him to use its wiretapping program known as Matador to spy on leftist political enemies he believed were plotting to kill him." The United States, worried that Mr. Martinelli, a supermarket magnate, made no distinction between legitimate security targets and political enemies, refused the request. A cable asserted that Mr. Martinellis cousin helped smuggle tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds through Panamas main airport every month. Another noted, There is no reason to believe there will be fewer acts of corruption in this government than in any past government.
Little Grenada threatened the U.S. mainland as much as City Island threatens New York. The Reagan administration did not favor having the hard-line Marxist, Bernard Coard, replace, in a coup, a moderate Marxist, Maurice Bishop. Citing anarchy, the state of martial law, construction of an airport by Cuban construction workers that could be used for military flights, and a threat to American students at a Grenada medical school, the U.S. Marines invaded the island on October 25, 1983. President Reagan also told reporters that the Organization of East Caribbean States had requested the intervention. The facts did not entirely support the statements:
- Coups and revolutions have been daily affairs in Latin America.
- The martial law quieted an extreme situation.
- The airport had European financing and was being constructed for tourist purposes.
- The students did not seem disturbed until the Americans invaded. (Some students did express fear).
- The Organization of American States (OAS) "deeply deplored" the invasion.
- The UN Security Council voted 11 to 1 against the attack.
Two dozen Cubans, 18 U.S. military and 45 Grenadines died. When the caskets containing the Cuban dead arrived in Havana, U.S. reporters noted that most of the dead were men in their late fifties and sixties and were obviously not military personnel. Most of the Grenadines died in the U.S. military destruction of a mental hospital. The invasion timing, which was two days after a bomb in Beirut killed 241 Marines, led to a belief that the invasion intended to offset the U.S. failure in Lebanon and display military prowess close to home.
The U.S. assisted in completing the "dangerous" tourist airport. Grenada expressed its attitude to the U.S. invasion by inviting Fidel Castro to the island 15 years after the invasion. The Cuban leader unveiled a bronze plaque at Port Salines airport terminal that honored the dead Cuban construction workers who had assisted in the airport construction. The plaque hangs besides a plaque that honors the U.S. Agency for International Development, which helped complete the airport the U.S. did not want built.
Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, former proprietor of most of Nicaragua's industry and resources, mishandled the country's 1972 earthquake crisis and the international relief funds sent to alleviate the suffering. In an act of sympathy with the plight of the Nicaraguan people, the U.S. suspended military aid to Somoza and paved the way for Commandante Zero and his Sandinista compatriots, known as the FSLN, to seize power in 1979. President Jimmy Carter provided aid to the new administration. Within a year, the policy changed. Fearful that the Sandinistas were allied with Moscow, could spread their influence throughout Central America, and assist the Salvador rebels, Washington suspended aid and became belligerent against an administration it had indirectly assisted in achieving power. Despite the U.S. House of representatives passage of the Boland Act, which prohibited the U.S. from supplying arms to those opposed to the Sandinista regime (Contras), the Reagan administration "covertly" armed the Contras. In an effort to destroy the Nicaragua economy, the CIA mined Nicaragua's harbors. In June 1986 the World Court sided with a Nicaragua law suit and found the U.S. guilty of violating international law.
The confrontation with Nicaragua escalated during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The Contras, illegally armed with U.S. funds from several sources, including those diverted in the Iran-Contra affair, ventured from bases in Honduras into parts of Nicaragua. They attacked and destroyed, but never held territory or convinced the Nicaraguan people to revolt. The actions had their toll and the Sandinista government decided to end the bloodshed by accepting the Arias Plan, devised by the Costa Rican president, and which had the support of Central American countries. Despite U.S. rejections of the plan, the plan was implemented. In 1990, Violeta Barios Chamorro represented an opposition party and defeated Daniel Ortega, the FSLN candidate, in internationally supervised elections. The Nicaragua government and the Contras signed a permanent cease-fire and the Contras demobilized. The Arias Plan brought the democracy and peace to Nicaragua that Washington had claimed as its objectives. Yet, Washington had rejected the Arias Plan.
The Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) held power with Arnoldo Aleman as Nicaragua's president from 1998-2002 and José Bolaños Geyer as president from 2002-2006. Bolaños' Liberal party became disillusioned with its own president and joined with the opposition Sandinistas to obstruct President Bolaños government reforms. The united forces also tried to remove Bolaños from office. In an usual twist to Nicaragua's parody, Daniel Ortega, representing the Sandinista bloc, signed an agreement with Bolaños on Jan. 12, 2005 that permitted the president to finish his term. Meanwhile, former Nicaraguan president, Arnoldo Aleman was convicted of corruption.
Nicaragua up to 20012:
- In 2002, the rescued Nicaragua had a GDP/capita of $2500. This increased to only $2,900 (2005 CIA est.) one of the lowest of Central American countries.
- In 2006, the FSLN had 38 of the 92 seats in Nicaragua's National Assembly.
- Sandinista Daniel Ortega, who received 42.3% of the vote in the 2001 election for president, returned to power as Nicaragua's president in 2006 with 38.1% of the vote.
Adding insult to injury, in a November 2011 election, the former guerrilla leader whom the Reagan administration fought to depose by arming the Contras , cruised to a third-term after drawing broad support for his anti-poverty programs. Ortega gained about 63 percent of the vote, more than double the tally for his closest rival, conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.
The U.S. fortified the Contras in an effort to replace the Sandinista's and its leader, Daniel Ortega. A less radical Sandinista party returned to power with Ortega as a chief executive. Once again U.S. foreign policy has gone full circle.
Since the 1821 Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has interfered in Latin American politics. Governments have been toppled, leaders eliminated and economic policies steered to assist U.S. interests. In recent decades, the U.S. has been accused of complicity in the overthrow of Guatemala's liberal nationalist Jacobo Arbenz (1954), Brazil's leftist Joao Goulart (1964), Chile's Marxist Salvador Allende(1973) and Bolivia's nationalist Juan José Torres González (1971), in the prevention of Uruguay's Frente Amplio Party taking power (1971), in arming El Salvador's government to prevent El Salvador leftist rebels from taking power (1980's), in military attacks against Social Democrat Juan Bosch in Dominican Republic (1963), Marxist Fidel Castro in Cuba (since 1960), Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government (1980's), Grenada's leftist government (1983) and Panama nationalist Manuel Noriega (1989), and in an intended coup against President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela (2002).
U.S. foreign policy projects the spread of democracy and capitalism to Third World nations. In South America, U.S. policies succeeded in creating turmoil and promoting opposition to its objectives. In the 21st century, almost every South American nation has adopted a course propelled by a left-leaning wind. The 2002 election of Worker's Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Brazil's presidency signaled a new Latin American political direction. Lulu's election in Brazil set the stage for the election of indigenous labor leader Evo Morales to president of Bolivia on the first ballot and for the 53.5% win of Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet for president of the Chile Republic. A review of South American governments show a cycle of right to left and shift back to right. The yearts of 20015 qnd 20016 have been troubled years for the leftist governemnts.:
Venezuela: Until his demise, President Hugo Chavez controlled a government with vast oil riches that favored distribution of the wealth local rather than global agreements. The venezuelan leader pursued a socialist revolution but met resistance. A referendum that would have permitted him to to seek re-election indefinitely.did not pass. Chavez attempted to continue his agenda with expropriations of enterprises, including an unfinished mall in December 2008, and by confrontations with the U.S. Alliances with U.S. foes. Russia and Iran. have continued Ed. Until his death in March 2013, the Venezuelan president Chavez sought close economic ties with Iran and was able to consolidate power despite negative years of GDP growth.
After Hugo Chavez's death in 2013, his successor, Nicholas Maduro, found hinself confronted with a misshapen economy and tumbling global oil prices. The result has been an economic crisis and human catastrophe.
The GUARDIAN'S Julian Borger, 22 June 2016 explains What is the story?
Venezuela is suffering the worst economic crisis in its history. Ordinary people in the oil-rich country are regularly going without food. Three-quarter empty supermarkets are being ransacked by angry, hungry mobs. The government has declared a state of emergency, food is now being transported under armed guard, and basic necessities are being rationed. People have to queue for hours and sometimes overnight on their assigned days to receive staples like rice and cooking oil. By IMF figures, it has the worlds worst negative growth rate (-8%), and the worst inflation rate (482%). The unemployment rate is 17% but is expected to climb to near 30% in the coming few years.
As of July 2016, efforts to remove Maduro have been repulsed and with Venezuela sliding into deeper chaos, an unusual situation is occurring. The Guardian also reports that "The crisis may be forcing a thaw in relations with the US, long presented as a bogeyman by Chávez and then Maduro. The US under secretary of state, Thomas Shannon, flew to Caracas this week, following a meeting at the OAS between John Kerry and his counterpart, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Delcy Rodríguez."
Brazil: Workers Party's President Lulu da Silva led one of the world's more dynamic economies. Although previously troubled by party corruption and decreasing popularity, Lulu remained in a commanding position to dictate without allowing himself to blindly following extreme proposals from either left or right of the political spectrum. In 2010, the Workers party continued in office with Dilma Rousself, a former Marxist, becoming the first female president in her country's history by winning 55% of the vote. In a closer vote, Ms. Rouself was reelected in 2014. The year 2016 sees defeat for President Rouself and the Workers Party.
The Brazil Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff, accusing her of of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing public deficit ahead of her re-election in 2014. Vice-President Michel Temer, a 75-year-old law professor of the rival PMDB Party assumes the presidency during Ms Rousseff's trial. One difficult question for the VP and now temporary president: How will he handle corruption investigations of his own Party leaders, including the speakers of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, and the former speaker of the lower chamber, Mr Cunha, who are also involved in scandals?
Scandals and corruption are widespread in Brazil with the two most prominent and largest being.
(1) Mensalao: In this corruption scheme, which was first noted in 2005, "public funds were illegally used to pay members of Congress in exchange for backing the government in crucial votes." After the Supreme Court concluded its trial in 2012, "25 politicians, bankers and businessmen had been convicted, some of whom were top members of the Workers' Party."
(2) Operation Car Wash: A March 2014 investigation revealed that Brazil's biggest construction firms may have overcharged state-oil company Petrobras for building contracts and kickbacked part of the proceeds to Petrobras executives and politicians. Prosecutors also claim that the Workers' Party partly financed its campaigns and expenses through these kickbacks.
Coincidentally with the scandals, Brazil due to a drop in prices for Brazilian commodities, has its worst recession in more than three decades
BBC News, May 31, 2016 In 2015, reports
...the economy shrank by 3.8%, its worst annual performance since 1981.
Inflation reached 10.7% at the end of last year, a 12-year-high.
Unemployment increased to 9% in 2015 and economists predict it could go into double figures in the coming months.
The forecast for 2016 does not look any rosier with GDP expected to decline by 3.8% again and inflation expected to rise.
Uruguay: President Tabaré Vasquez arrived in January 2005 with far left credentials and, although pursuing conservative domestic policies, he became identified with Hugo Chavez's global policies. The Uruguayan president abruptly resigned from his Socialist party after the party voted in favor of a law that decriminalized abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Five years later, José Alberto Mujica Cordano, a former guerrilla fighter and member of the Broad Front (left-wing coalition) became President of Uruguay. Considered the most radical president in the Americas, President José Mujica remained in his small house and donated 90% of his salary to charities. He followed a controversial agenda by legalizing marijuana and gay marriage.
Unable to succeed himself, José Alberto Mujica Cordano passed the presidential office in 2015 to Tabare Ramon Vazquez, the oncologist who held office before him. With its mix of welfare programs and pro-business policies, the far left has steadily increased Uruguay's real GDP from $43B to $70B (Trading Economics estimate.) in its ten years of governing. By mid 2016 a Latin Focus report expects that Uruguay growth will slip to <1%, mainly due to the severe economic problems in its neighboring countries.
Argentina: Argentina's president, Nestor Kirchner, at the Summit of America's meeting in November, 2005, emphasized his nation's independence by saying that past American policies "not only generated misery and poverty but also a great social tragedy that added to institutional instability in the region, provoking the fall of democratically elected governments." Nestor Kirchner aligned his government with the policies of the other Socialist leaning presidents of South America. In the late 2007,In the October 2007 general election, he was replaced by his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Mrs. Kirchner won with one of the widest margins obtained by a candidate since democracy returned to Argentina in 1983. In the October 2011 general election that contained several candidates, she was re-elected in the first round of with 54.1% of the vote.
Mme. President Kirchner's second term has had its critics. Real GDP has been relatively stagnant since January 2012. Charges have the Kirchner government controlling nearly 80% of the Argentine media, the president having increased net worth by almost four times since taking office, and using her firm Hotesur, which manages her hotels for money laundering while avoiding taxes. On Decmber 10, 2015, Argentina voters replaced 12 years of Kirchner rule with businessman-turned-politician Mauricio Macri. In his first 100 days, Macri dismantled currency and capital controls, slashed export taxes, and settled a 15-year dispute with holders of defaulted debt. Macris winning campaign motto:Bring Argentina back into the world.
Bolivia: Evo Morales, who titled himself as ''Washington's nightmare," achieved a spectacular victory as a populist candidate. Morelos wanted to use Bolivia's extensive gas reserves to benefit the nation's less fortunate citizens, who inhabit most of the country. The Bolivian President's popularity declined in 2007 due to Bolivia's highest inflation rate in 12 years and Morale's attempt to push a new constitution that empowers indigenous communities and allows the state to take over unproductive land holdings. During December, 2008, after the Bolivian president had already kicked out the U.S. ambassador for interfering in the internal affairs of his nation, he addressed a summit of 33 Latin American and Caribbean leaders and said that Latin American nations should expel their US ambassadors until Washington lifts its decades-long embargo against Havana.
Evo Morales remains as President of Bolivia. He was elected in 2005, reelected in 2009 and elected again in 2014.
Chile: Socialist Michelle Bachelet won the January 15, 2006 run-off for president. Since President Bachelet was not eligible to run for re-election, her ruling coalition needed to choose a candidate for the 2009 presidential race, and Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique, a well-known economist, former Senator and one of Chile's richest persons. won the race for President of Chile in the second round of election.
Continuing with South American election policies of who ruled before will return to rule again, Socialist Party politician Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria was re-elected President of Chile on 11 March 2014. Not to be outdone by corruption scandals in the other South American nations, prosecutors heve charged the presidents daughter-in-law, Natalia Compagnon, and 12 others in a corruption case that has damaged Ms. Bachelet's popularity. Ms. Compagnon and her business partner, Mauricio Valero, have been accused of issuing false invoices in a scheme to avoid paying about $165,000 in taxes.
Ecuador: Rafael Correa, a leftist candidate and favorite of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez won the presidency with 65% of the final vote and took office on 15 January 2007. The defiant Ecuador president repudiated Ecuador's national debt during December 2008, calling it "immoral" and tainted by bribes. He pledged to fight creditors in international courts. In October 2010, Ecuador approached chaos when rebellious police officers protesting against austerity measures blocked airports and roads, occupied the national assembly and besieged the president in a hospital after physically assaulting him.The government called the revolt a coup and declared a one-week state of emergency which put the military in charge of public order and suspended civil liberties.
Not withstanding, Rafael Correa was re-elected to a second term in 2009, and to a third term in 2013.
Peru: Former pPesident Alan Garcia, the only president of a South American country who was hostile to deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, won 53.1% of the vote and again became Peru's president on July 28, 2006. After his approval rating declined to a mere 19 percent, a $3 billion economic stimulus package energized Garcia's support, which reached 25 percent in November 2008.
Alan Garcia has left and Ollanta Humala, a career army officer, narrowly beat Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, and won a five year term in the June 2011 presidential election. The mystery is how her father's name did not destroy Ms. Fujimori. After all, a three-judge panel sentenced her already jailed father, former President Alberto Fujimori, to an additional eight years in prison and fined him $1 million for steering more than $40 million in public funds to tabloid newspapers that smeared his opponents during his 2000 re-election campaign, This was he fifth conviction for the 76-year-old Fujimori.
The year 2106 witnessed a new Peruvian president, which followed two modern Peruvain traditions; select a leader with a foreign last name and make sure he/she is hostile to Venezuela. Perus new president elect, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, says he will continue demanding that Venezuela respect democratic freedoms.
The previous proliferation of Socialist and anti-American governments throughout South America certified a U.S. weakness and portended an inability of the American government and military to exert control over South American affairs. The failure to adopt the U.S. sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) during a 34-country summit in Mar del Plata, November 2005, indicated that the momentum was towards complete independence from U.S. domination. The pendulum may be swinging more favorably to U.S. interests but, as of July 2016, no dramatic changes in relations have been noted.
An economically strong Brazil, whose economy slowed greatly in 2014 while prices escalated, showed the way to economic success; despite economic lapses, an oil rich Venezuela led the charge against U.S. domination; and a newly directed Argentina displayed what could be done when not tied to the dollar and also how to use intellectual oratory to influence populations until its budget hit a wall and resulted in 25% inflation and a huge drop in its currency. The U.S. hope and expectation that many of the governments will fail in their social and economic endeavors has occurrred. However, the hope that U.S. capital and advice will be needed has a significant impediment - the entry of China into South American affairs.
The year 2014 showed that China breathes strongly in South America. Nothing much has changed in the last two years.
The Asian nation is only in an early stage of replacing the United States as a force, but it exhibits an advantage. The Chinese government has neither interest in its partners' politics nor their ideologies. It only wants to trade raw materials for its basic manufactured goods. The Chinese can supply manpower and knowledge for building infrastructure but it is reluctant and limited in furnishing capital. The United States operates with strings--it wants assurance of friendly politics and is often concerned with a nation's ideology, but can supply huge amounts of capital and technology for creating infrastructure. The year 2015 saw a big increase in Chinese loans to Latin American governments, from $10 billion in 2014 to $29 billion in 2015. CNN Money claims that "China is pumping billions into Latin America, but many of its investments are tanking." The latest scheme is to build a railway across South America, which would link Peru's Pacific coast with Brazil's Atlantic shores. Brazil, China and Peru are in feasibility studies into the railway.
Will the U.S. realize the counter-productive aspect of its policies towards South America?
The United States has a new role with South America nations that are growing and expanding their trade. The U.S. needs Latin American raw materials and Latin America needs U.S. capital and high technology goods. If South American leaders want to establish a regional order that guarantees sovereignty and buffers them from being continually disrupted by U.S. old world disorder, the U.S. can assist in this realization and greatly profit from it. Failure to recognize and take advantage of the changing winds of South America is a step toward U.S. economic decay.
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Viewed totally and over decades, U.S. foreign policy has not exhibited diplomacy. The policies almost always degenerated into military ventures and failed to accomplish political objectives. It seems incredible, but it can be shown that since the end of World War II, U.S. interventions throughout the world resulted in the deaths of more than two million persons apart from the claims of 100,000 to 600,000 deaths and several million internal and external refugees in Iraq. Add the wounded, maimed many more, dislocations, uprooted masses of persons and destroyed infrastructures and economies. The American people have sent their children to die in several fruitless interventions that served no beneficial purposes. Wars have intensified with concurrent actions of rebellions, terrorism, arms dealing and drugs. As NATO troops occupied Afghanistan, opium crops expanded. South of the U.S. border, Mexico gangs violently fight one another for control of cocaine shipments to their Northern neighbor. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has become an international syndicate. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the DEA opened new bureaus in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and three Mexican cities to counter "an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism."
The Cold War served as an excuse for many illegitimate policies. Interventions did not resolve Cold War issues and usually resulted in attacks on powerless countries. Similar provocations occurred after the end of the Cold War. It's unfortunate that the American people have been unable to fulfill their responsibility and prevent the disasters its government has caused. U.S. foreign policies have had a habit of going full circle - the adversary conditions they intended to change have often returned. As originally predicted in an earlier exposition of this article, the explosive weapons used to quell the adversary have returned to explode at the original place of manufacture.
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updated july, 2016
originally published july, 1999
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