Archive for the ‘Presidential Candidates’ Category

Is the World On the Brink of Major War?

20 Aug

What on earth is the world coming to?  We now live in a time of war, and rumors of war, and the rumors just keep coming!  A recent article in the magazine Foreign Policy actually postulates what may occur if China and Japan were to fight a naval war over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.  Back when we lived through the Cold War, in a bipolar world, (that means that there were two main superpowers in the world), and most conflicts in the world revolved around the Soviet-American rivalry, the basic calculus was simple:  The two superpowers would keep their allies and satellites in check, and, barring some extraordinarily crazy sparking event, the chances of an actual war between the superpowers would likely not happen due to the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction.  That also meant that if America’s ally Israel got the upper hand over Soviet-allied Egypt and Syria in the latest Middle Eastern War, the Americans would rein in the Israelis before they could march on Cairo or Damascus and trigger possible Soviet intervention.  Similarly, it was fairly certain that the Soviets would convince Syria to not use its stockpile of chemical weapons on Israel for similar fear of an American intervention.  In many ways, the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union kept a lid on many possible conflicts that could have sparked a bigger war.

Well, the Soviet Union is gone now, and we are faced with a multi-polar world.  Make no mistake, the U.S. is still the only legitimate superpower around.  The U.S. can project power literally anywhere in the world with a high degree of certainty of tactical victory.  For example, on a month’s notice in 2001, American and allied forces launched an invasion/liberation of Afghanistan (literally on the other side of the planet from the U.S.), following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  But other, regional powers are flexing their muscles and making threatening noises, and this will continue to be a reality as those regional powers (such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Russia, India, and others), come into conflict with their neighbors.  Notice that several of the nations named above are neighbors with each other, or at least inhabit the same neighborhood.

In August of 2012, a look at the current wars, border conflicts, and potential international problems that are currently being discussed, and reported on in the news:

Israel is openly debating whether or not to attack Iran.  The Iranians, for their part, continue to develop their controversial nuclear program, while simultaneously we hear their leaders call for the destruction of Israel.

–The United States continues to place increased military forces in the regions surrounding Iran, just in case there is an Israeli-Iranian War.  If such a war breaks out, the U.S. will almost certainly be drawn in.

–The ongoing Syrian Civil War is getting bloodier, and the Assad regime may be getting more desperate.  Speculation has arisen over the possibility of Assad using his stockpile of chemical weapons on either the rebels or on the nations that support them, namely Turkey and Jordan.  Of course, Assad could also just use them on Israel, hoping to gain traction with his own people or with other Arab nations.  All of the above-named anti-Assad nations are friends of the U.S., which has made no bones about intervening if Assad were to use his weapons of mass destruction.

Israel is openly preparing for a possible intervention of their own in Syria if they believe that Assad is going to transfer his chemical weapons to his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

Egypt is engaged in a low-level but growing battle to re-assert authority in the Sinai, where Islamic militants are launching more frequent and more deadly attacks on Egyptian, Israeli, and American forces. (The Americans are in the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force & Observers, which has helped keep the peace between Egypt and Israel since the Camp David Accords).

-China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian nations are engaged in name-calling and posturing over the contested Spratly Islands.  China has increasingly asserted authority on the islands, even to the point of setting up a small city on one of them.  The military forces of several nations are in the area.  The main reason for this conflict is the belief that the area is rich in oil and natural gas. The United States is a close ally of the Philippines, and is increasingly establishing strong military and diplomatic ties with Vietnam, and any military conflict over these islands would almost certainly the U.S. against the Chinese.

–Similarly, China and Japan are currently engaged in serious name-calling and worse over their contested islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands, and the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands.  Some respected publications like Foreign Policy are posting articles speculating on the outcome of a possible Sino-Japanese Naval war in 2012.  Of course, the United States is a close ally of Japan, and any military conflict would almost certainly bring the U.S. on the Japanese side.

–American military forces are still heavily engaged against Taliban forces in Afghanistan, while other U.S. assets continue to deploy against al-Qaida and other Islamist forces throughout the world.

–In Yemen, American trainers continue to aid the Yemeni government while occasional U.S. drone attacks take out al-Qaida operatives.  Several terrorist attacks against American targets have originated out of Yemen in recent years.

— U.S. drone attacks against al-Qaida and other Islamist targets in Pakistan continue unabated.  One estimate places the number of dead from these attacks since 2004 at over 3,000.

–U.S.-funded allies, actively aided by American air and naval forces (and of course, more drone attacks), provide the military muscle in the Somali government’s war against the Islamist and al-Qaida allied Shabab rebels.  These allies include Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia.

–Following the successful campaign by NATO and other allied nations (Qatar among them), to aid rebels in overthrowing Muammar Gadhafi’s tyrannical regime, several thousand Taureg mercenaries previously employed by Gadhafi went home to northern Mali (with the nice weapons Gadhafi gave them), and commenced to defeat the Malian army and establish a de facto Taureg homeland in northern Mali.  These Taureg (that is the name of their ethnic group) have been infiltrated by the North African branch of al-Qaida and other Islamist groups.  Several other West African nations are contemplating sending a military force to Mali to defeat them.  The United States and other Western nations would likely end up supporting such an intervention with funds, material, and possibly troops.  Oh, and probably drones, as well.

There are a few more international issues that are on the back burner as well, but this list gives a pretty good idea of the precarious situation the world is in right now.  And that is not even mentioning the perpetual worries over Korea!  And, as the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States prepare for their presidential nominating conventions, not a single one of these issues is a major item of discussion for the two presidential candidates.  In fact, a quick look at major news stories in America during the middle of August show a fascination with GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s fitness regimen and his six-pack abs.  The major political story on August 20 involves a Republican Senate candidate’s idiotic remarks about rape and conception.  Hardly any mention was made in the news about the recent coalition deaths in Afghanistan, and certainly no debate over the ongoing war there. 

The world is a deadlier place in 2012 than it seemed in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War.  We are on the brink of not just one possible regional war, but several, all with calamitous effects on the world economy, and on world security.




Mitt Romney Chooses Economic Conservative Paul Ryan as his Running Mate

11 Aug

Paul Ryan, Congressman from Wisconsin, is the latest GOP running mate who is probably an unknown to the majority of the Amerian voting populace.  To policy wonks, Tea Party faithful, and those who follow conservative economic politics, Ryan is well-known and, if you are an economic conservative, quite popular.  However, to the majority of Americans, who right now are probably more attuned to the Olympics, summer camping, and the new NFL season, news of Paul Ryan’s pick is more likely akin to prior news of Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle as running mates.  In other words, a big “Who is that?”

Paul Ryan and his Family (note the Green Bay Packers sweatshirt!)

Paul Ryan and his Family (note the Green Bay Packers sweatshirt!)

So, who IS Paul RyanPaul Ryan is a young (born in 1970) handsome family man (one wife, three kids), who lives in a town where his parents and grandparents are all buried (Janesville, Wisconsin), and he is an avid Green Bay Packers fan. Paul Ryan is also Catholic, which may be a helpful aspect for the Morman Romney.   In Paul Ryan’s Political Career, he has risen quickly through the ranks of the GOP through his work on the budget and his “Roadmap to Prosperity,” an economic blueprint that bears the intellectual handprint of the dean of Conservative economists, Milton Friedman.

In the days and weeks leading up to Mitt Romney’s VP announcement, speculation arose around such Republican luminaries as Condoleeza Rice and Marco Rubio, among others.  Either of those two would have provided Romney with an instant inroad to traditionally Democratic constituencies (African-Americans and Hispanics), but instead he chose a white midwesterner with no foreign policy exprience.  If the world experiences a major crisis in the weeks leading up to the American presidential election, the choice of a domestic economic expert rather than someone experienced in foreign policy, could come back to bite Romney.  It is quite likely that the war in Syria could easily get worse and engulf the U.S. into some sort of military intervention, and/or, an Israeli attack on Iran (which this writer thinks is very likely to occur before the U.S. elections), could highlight the lack of foreign policy experience on the Romney-Paul ticket.

One thing is for certain:  The U.S. Presidential election will be interesting.


$400 haircuts while appealing to the Average Joe

29 Apr

Just wondering how it is that we always seem to have candidates who say they want to appeal to the average voter, and who say that despite their relatively immense wealth, they are really just like the rest of us.

What malarkey!  When John Edwards spends $400 to get his hair cut by a Hollywood hair stylist (not a barber, but a "stylist") how on earth are we to take him seriously when he blathers on about understanding the problems that poor people suffer?  And compared to him, most folks are poor.

Edwards often recites the story of how his dad was a poor millworker, and they all grew up in poverty.  He made his money as a trial lawyer, so, yes, he did make his money by earning it, unlike the Kennedy and Bush clans.  And, yes, he has the right to spend or waste his money as he sees fit.  But this man is running for President, and he is running with a campaign theme of "help the poor."  I don’t think he gets it.  He is contradicting himself by acting like a rich man with money to burn while at the same time he is bemoaning the state of this nation’s poor.

Bill Clinton, for all of his personal faults, came from basically a middle-class background, and was not a wealthy man until after his presidency was over.  For most of their marriage, his lawyer wife made more money than he did.  The $200,000 presidential salary was the most he had made up to that point in terms of salary.  When  he said that he understood people’s pain, it was believable.  John Edwards can’t get away with that one.  And neither can Romney, nor most of the candidates from either party.

A good column to read on the Edwards haircut issue is written by Leonard Pitts, Jr.  He is a columnist for the Miami Herald, and  he usually writes common sense articles on politics, culture, and life in America.  Read his column on the $400 haircut at


Kucinich-Up Close and Personal

02 Apr

Dennis Kucinich, probably the most liberal/progressive candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, visited Tacoma, Olympia, and Aberdeen (in Washington State), on Friday, March 30, and I had the opportunity to see and hear him speak.

Now, let me say out in front that his politics are a bit far to the left for me on several issues, but I did come away very impressed by his demeanor, intelligence, and his sense of humor.  The event in Aberdeen, held at the Bishop Performing Arts Center at Grays Harbor College, was free to the public.  Between two and three hundred people attended, and, given volume of applause, and the lack of hecklers or even critical questions, (yes, he took unedited questions from the audience!), I assume most in attendance were favorable to his comments and opinions. 

He criticized President Bush, as expected, but some of his harshest comments were directed at his fellow Congressional Democrats!  He basically accused them of being no better than Republicans when it comes to dealing with the War in Iraq.  Kucinich called the debate on the Iraqi "surge" a fake debate, and a waste of time.  He informed the audience of a vote in Congress the day before which basically gave President Bush enough money to carry on the war through July, 2009, well past the end of his presidency.  The next day, I saw that CNN reported on that same information.

All in all, while I don’t think Kucinich has much chance to overtake Hillary, Obama, or Edwards, if we had a vote on intelligence, honesty, and "normal human beingness," he would get my vote.  He speaks his mind, and to heck with whether or not it is politically correct.  He does not pander to his audience, like many office-seekers do, and that will cost him a chance to truly win.  Issues and politics aside, the American people DO need more candidates at all levels who are as open and forthright as Congressman Kucinich.

Oh, and his British-born wife, Elizabeth, also spoke, talking about the 9/10 Forum, a plan to discuss how people viewed the world before the 9/11 attacks.  She is quite striking, a tall redhead who contrasts sharply to her much shorter husband, and it is obvious that she could hold her own in a speaking forum with the other candidates wives (plus Bill, of course).

Links to articles on Kucinich’s visit to Aberdeen, Tacoma, and Olympia:



02 Apr

Welcome to "Politics, Presidents, and Elections..Oh My!", a new blog on, you guessed it, POLITICS!

My goal is to be a fairly unbiased observer and commentator on American politics and government.  So, what do I mean by "unbiased?"  I am not going to rant and rave about how one party is great, and the other party (or parties) are basically the spawn of the devil, or anything like that.  I do have opinions, and you will see those opinions, but I see positives in almost all of the current crop of presidential candidates. I like to think of my writings to be political, but not overly partisan.

So stop on by and check out my postings and comment on them as you wish. 


Roger Lee

p.s.  In case you wondered, the title refers to a comment by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  Her comment was "Lions, and Tigers, and Bears..Oh My"  And, did you know that the original Wizard book was, in addition to being a children’s tale, an allegory to the politics of the Populist Era?