HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 18: IRAN: SANCTIONS AND SECRETS. Iran and the bomb. Would you buy a used car from these people?

TWETY THREE KILOTON NUCLEAR EXPLOSION

TWETY THREE KILOTON NUCLEAR EXPLOSION

Hillary states that it was President Obama’s plan to open a dialogue with Iran a country we had no diplomatic contact or communications with since  1979 when the Shah was thrown out by a popular revolution that was subverted by Shiite militants. The Ayatollah Khomeini became leader, an Islamic government installed and the Revolutionary Guards seized the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Since then Iran had involved itself in terrorist activities included bombings by proxies in Beirut, Lebanon, of the U.S. Embassy killing 63 people; the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Americans; the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 U.S. Airmen and the bombing of the Israeli Cultural Center in Buenos Aeries in 1994 killing 85 people. Iran supported Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel and were involved in supplying weapons that killed the troops of the Coalition partners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Further there was evidence they were developing the capability to create and deliver a nuclear bomb. This would set off a nuclear arms race in the Mid-East that could be disastrous for the whole World.
Steps had to be taken to curb Iran. President Obama attempted a diplomatic approach before using force. To that end he wrote personal letters to the present religious leader Ayatollah and Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini who had succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini who had died. The letters went unanswered.
Demonstrations and protests took place over the flawed reelection of President Ahamdinejad, a confrontational and abusive leader. However the protests were violently put down.
Later secret, underground, nuclear facilities were discovered near the City of Qom. This called for greater sanctions than those already in place by the United Nations.
A coalition of States including Russia and China was formed to assert severe sanctions with United Nations approval. Hillary was involved in putting this group together and getting United Nations approval. The economic sanctions were a severe blow to the Iranian economy which was dependent on Oil exports. Also there was no refinery in Iran. This led to severe inflation and economic problems, however, initially, Iran remained defiant.

The Sultan of Oman offered to be a go between in talks between the U.S. and Iran. The Iranians sent a team with demands and preconditions for talks with State Department officers. None of which were acceptable. However the sanctions were crippling Iran financially and their oil exports dribbled to almost nothing. Iranian tankers sat idle in their ports and Iran was effectively excluded from the international oil market.

By 2012 during Ahamdinejad’s second term the economy was in shambles and a new election was held with Saeed Jalili seen as the Ayatollah’s preferred successor.
However eight candidates were picked for the 2013 race and moderates like Rafsanjani were excluded. In televised debates Jalili’s opponents savaged him with criticism on the state of the economy caused by the Ahmadinejad regime during which he had been the chief nuclear negotiator.  He was criticized for stonewalling the U.N. talks that led up to the severe sanctions.

Hassan Rouhani a nuclear negotiator also and the most moderate of the field of candidates won a landslide in June 2013. He made conciliatory steps to the international community. However by this time Hillary was no longer Secretary Of State.
The Omani talks began to heat up and the outlines of the current resolutions began to take shape including halting enrichment and provisions for inspections. The talks were enlarged and merged with other States including Russia and China.
In the end the plans of President Obama for a diplomatic deal on nuclear arms was coming to fruition which was initially  led by Hillary and now John Kerry with the support of the U.N. and other major nations.

What the future holds is anybody’s guess. There is great friction between the Shiites headed by Iran and the Sunni’s headed by Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, a nuclear armed country, is a Sunni Muslim country as is the fourth most populated country in the World, Indonesia. Israel is said to have nuclear weapons.

Further the Iranians in the past have only responded when confronted by over whelming power. Their leaders have continually been dissembling about their intentions while conducting terrorist activities and secretly enriching uranium the precursor for a nuclear bomb.
Can they be trusted on the nuclear agreements or will they look for loopholes to evade the intent and purpose of the nuclear accord now being negotiated? Based on their past record they only respond when confronted with the actual implementation of sanctions severe enough to cripple their economy.
If the coalition imposing the sanctions fractures or weakens they will be building a bomb if the leaders in power are inclined to do so.

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HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 14: THE MIDDLE EAST: THE ROCKY ROAD TO PEACE. (IRAN THE ROAD BLOCK TO PEACE.)

HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 14: THE MIDDLE EAST: THE ROCKY ROAD TO PEACE. (IRAN THE ROAD BLOCK TO PEACE.)

netanyahu and abbas

NETANYAHU AND ABBAS : AT LOGGERHEADS

 

 

 

 

 

Peace in the Mid-East remains an elusive goal in the area once known as Palestine and ruled by Turkey until after WWI.  Palestine was never a nation and was a part of the Turkish Empire along with the country now known as Jordan. After WWI the area was governed by Britain and the Jews were promised a homeland in the area which occurred in 1948.

After the six days war in 1967 The Palestinians gathered in the area known as the West Bank and in Gaza.  Israel is recognized as an independent nation. The Palestinians have never established a nation mostly due to Israeli opposition.

Peace in the area hinges on the fact that Israel has been eroding the areas of the West Bank occupied by the Palestinians with new settlements within the borders established at the end of the 1967 war.

Both Israelis and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital either now or in the future. East Jerusalem was heavily populated by Palestinians. However the Israelis have been building new settlements there. Also the Israelis have unilaterally redrawn the boundaries of Jerusalem to exclude Palestinians so Palestinians only constitute  28% of the population now. The city has deep religious significance not only to Jews and Muslims but also Christians.

Israel is presently represented by Bibi Netanyahu as Prime Minister, a conservative, whose  coalition government contains an ultra nationalist faction that  wants all of the Left Bank and Gaza as part of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is led by Mahmoud Abbas  as president . He favors a peaceful resolution to the divisions that separate Israel and Palestine.  However he really doesn’t speak for the Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas does, a group committed to the destruction of Israel. Hillary doesn’t speak about   the people in Gaza as part of the peace process since they are committed to the destruction of Israel by violence.

A two state solution has been proposed whereby the West Bank and Gaza would constitute a new nation based on the 1967 borders.  Abba’s wants all the Jewish settlements in the West Bank abandoned and particularly in Jerusalem which would be the capital of a Palestinian nation.

Hamas is not a party to the negotiations and probably will be discussed in a later chapter.

Hillary as Secretary of State has proposed land swaps to compensate the Palestinians for the land occupied by the new settlements.

Other issues which are not paramount like the right of return for Palestinians to land they once occupied inside Israel. This will probably never happen.

Abbas and Netanyahu in order to reach an agreement on a two state solution within the 1967 borders will have great difficulty getting their constituents to agree to these terms and if they do so without the consent of the diehard factions they  will lose politically. Also Israel wants a peaceful solution and there is no guarantee   this solution would provide peace.

Sovereignty for Palestine would lessen Israel’s control over the borders and armaments could be sent in by outside antagonists like Iran which supports Hamas and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel.

Thus the last peace talks during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State failed and the stalemate continues.

Meanwhile  arch enemy Iran is  creeping towards a nuclear weapon.  Netanyahu believes this calls for a defensive strike by Israel. Also this means an arms race between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran another religious based division in that part of the World.

However the problems between Israel and the Palestinians seem to begin and end in Iran. When the Iranian problem is solved peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is likely to follow.

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HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 13: AFRICA: GUNS OR GROWTH? OR MAYBE BETTER EDUCATION AND FAMILY PLANNING.

January 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Uncategorized 
EDUCATION,PARTICULARLY WOMEN,IS THE FOWARD FOR SUB SAHARAN AFRICA

EDUCATION,PARTICULARLY  OF WOMEN, IS THE WAY FOWARD FOR SUB SAHARAN AFRICA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hard Choice here is will Africa’s future be governed by guns, graft or growth. (Maybe the way forward is through education, particularly of women.)

However there are signs that give rise to the hope that Africa will become a stable, democratic continent. Some of the fastest growing economies in the World exist in Sub-Saharan Africa. (However the population is forecast to double by 2050 so this may cancel out per capita benefits.)

China is a big investor in Sub Saharan resources and raw materials. They also build eye-catching infrastructure like stadiums or roads and ports that help to access the resources they own. Often they turn a blind eye to human rights abuses and human welfare conditions. Also they bring their own labor so their projects don’t provide jobs for the locals. They also are not interested in advancing democracy or good governance.

Graft and corruption is estimated to cost Sub Saharan Africa up to 150 billion a year. Since 2005 the number of elected democracies in Sub Saharan Africa fell from 24 to 19. 

The Congo has long been in the grip of civil war where rape is used as a weapon of war. The government army is undisciplined and untrained. Recently soldier’s pay was diverted by senior officers into their own accounts until a plan was developed to transfer money directly into the accounts of the soldiers. However graft and corruption remains endemic. Schooling and medical care remains sporadic or non existent

South Sudan has oil resources while the North does not but the North has refining and shipping facilities while the South does not. A renewed civil war nearly broke out until a compromise was reached where the South could ship their oil out at a reasonable fee through Northern ports. This was due to the influence of Bishop Elias Taban a former freedom fighter for the South and now a religious leader. However the peace is tenuous and may not hold.

In Sub Sahran Africa tensions remain high between tribes and interest groups often to see who will  control their countries resources.

However the example of Nelson Mandela is clear. A man who started out as a violent freedom fighter and spent 27 years in jail returned to be a non violent leader and overcame apartheid to become president of South Africa. Mandela was an educated man, a lawyer before he went to prison and returned as a non violent leader and activist like Gandhi who also was from South Africa and was a lawyer before he became a national non violent leader in India. whether leaders like these men will arise elsewhere in Sub Saharan Africa remains to be seen.

Hillary is hopeful about Sub Saharan Africa but population increases, unchecked diseases like Malaria, Ebola and HIV Aids remain a menacing threat along with internecine warfare in many countries. Whether Sub Saharan Africa can resolve its problems is an open question and the selling of natural resources alone will not produce a solution. One solution that seems to be on the back burner is education. The more educated the population becomes, particularly the women, then the birth rate tends to fall and the standard of living and the level of social welfare increases.      

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Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 11: RUSSIA: RESET AND REGRESSION. (Hillary’s Jaundiced Eye.)

VLADIMIR PUTIN

Good Cop badcop act of Putin and Medvedev

Vladimir Putin left office in  May 2008 succeeded as President of Russia by Dimitry  Medvedev. At first it was  assumed that Medvedev was a place holder for  Putin and would follow his policies   of  looking back at the grandeur of the Czars who had a long  history of controlling nations on Russia’s borders , presenting a strong face to the world and exerting Russia’s influence on the world and in particular Western Europe  by energy policies. Putin also limited dissent inside Russia and surrounded himself with fawning oligarchs. Those oligarchs that were critical were stripped of their wealth and either jailed or exiled.  His economy  depended on oil and gas revenue. Russia’s expansionist policies under Putin included the invasion of Georgia and splintering off a part of Georgia.

 Good CoP Medvedev

Good Cop Medvedev

 

However Medvedev appeared to be more forward looking and  showed signs of engaging the West in a positive way.  President Obama first  had a meeting with Medvedev in London in 2009.

He seemed open to working with the west on Afghanistan, reduction of nuclear weapons stocks in  Russia, the United States and also around the World. This was particularly true in the case of Iran. Russia voted in the U.N. for tough sanctions against Iran for their quest for a nuclear arsenal.

Also Medvedev was cooperative in allowing the NATO Allies to transport supplies and troops over a Northern route through Russia and its former satellite states into Afghanistan.  This gave us an alternative to the route through volatile Pakistan.

Medvedev acknowledged the growing threat from an Iran with nuclear weapons although Russia had substantial trade interests with Iran and were even helping Iran build a nuclear reactor.  Yet despite theses interests he  sided with the West in asserting sanctions  against  not only  Iran but North Korea.

President Medvedev was interested in broadening the Russian economy beyond commodities and  wanted to create a Silicon Valley like technological complex in Russia. To that end he even visited Silicon Valley.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was renegotiated and signed under Medvedev.

However Medvedev “decided” not to run for a second term and Putin was elected as President of Russian for a third term . The election was marred by reports of fraud. Demonstrations followed alleging Putin was a thief who stole the election, which Putin suppressed along with media criticism.

Putin declined to attend a G-8 metering at Los Cabos, Mexico and relations turned cool.

The government suppressed NGO’s , dissidents, LBGT people and  began domineering policies toward it’s neighbors. In 2014  it  invaded and annexed Crimea.  It also fomented a crisis in Ukraine when it wanted to sign a trade treaty with  the European Union.

Putin seems to be looking back to the days of the Soviet empire when Russian exerted power over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He envisions a union of these states to compete with the European Union. His policies include dissuading neighboring states from joining the European Union or NATO. Though the economic and security benefits would be substantial to these states and even to Russia if it could ever be convinced to join.

However Putin has not curtailed our access to Afghanistan by the Northern Route for which the West pays Russia up to one billion a year nor has it gone back on sanctions for Iran and North Korea.

However it supports the regime in Syria and is adamant against missile sites in Europe for protection against Iran.

What Putin’s next move will be is any one’s guess?  However sanctions imposed by the West for his actions in the Crimea and Ukraine have had a deleterious effect on the Russian economy and now that oil prices have dropped to near $70 dollars a barrel , below the $82 a barrel he needs to service debt and sustain the economy, his options internally and externally are extremely limited. Political unrest in Russia because of oil  prices  may limit Putin’s power or even lead to his ouster in the 2018 election if it is a free one. However at this point he still retains his popularity. It appears as if Putin and Medvedev have a good cop bad cop routine going on. It will be interesting to see if Medvedev succeeds Putin in 2018 0r after.

Hillary has a jaundiced eye towards Putin for good reason. He is trying to resurrect a vision of some past glory and is failing to deal with present conditions. Even the United States came to realize that we need the cooperation of other countries to effectively  and favorably stabilize   economic and political conditions.

 

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Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 10. Europe: TIES THAT BIND.

November 18, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Europe: TIES THAT BIND, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton 
EUROPEAN UNION

EUROPEAN UNION

This chapter tells about NATO our long standing alliance with western European nations and Canada. She credits it with containing the Soviet Union and when the wall fell NATO was able to expand to include many of the nations of Eastern Europe as well in the alliance.

At present there are 29 member nations in North America and Europe. After 9/11 NATO joined us in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. The treaty states that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all members. This alliance has stood fast from the Cold War to the present day. It is one of the most successful alliances in history.

Our Relationship with Great Britain and France has been long and preceeded the NATO Alliance, they are well aware that more than sixty thousand American Soldiers lie buried in France alone whose lives were lost defending western European liberty and freedom.

The Germans are indebted to us for the Marshall Plan wherein we rebuilt Germany and other countries after the devastation of World War II. Germany eventually became the economic power house it is today.

The European Union is an Economic Alliance that includes 28 member states and more than 500 million people with a common currency and a trade policy of a single market governed by a central governing council based in Brussels Belgium. It was formed over a number of years and treaties and in 2002 a single currency, the Euro, was adopted. Today the European Union has a 16.5 trillion dollar economy.

The Union has held together despite economic stresses and strains. Germany has a favorable balance of trade and a strong  saving propensity so it is the dominant economic power over other countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy who are weaker economically and have to borrow to support their populations. Whether this will cause a modification in the principles of the Union or possibly a break up has yet to be seen. A principle problem is the single currency. Thus economically weaker countries are not in a position to devalue their currency to encourage exports and tourism to solve their problems when they are in financial trouble.

It is interesting that Hillary uses the term “Ties That Bind” rather than ties that unite because we are the principle actor when military problems arise such in the Balkans or Iraq and Afghanistan and many countries feel they do not have to participate or contribute very little. From 1950 to 2000 over ten million Americans were stationed in Germany alone. However France did take a leading role in the Libyan conflict.

There is an uneasy peace between Kosovo and Serbia, but there are still many areas of disagreement over such matters as borders, customs and  freedom of movement. Serbia has yet to consent to Kosovo as an independent nation as it was a part of Serbia until 1999.

Neither state is a part of the European Union or a member of NATO.

The “troubles” in Northern Ireland mostly disappeared and the parties are moving towards greater cooperation. Part of this is due to the diplomatic efforts of President William Clinton and his representative George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.   

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952 and is led by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and his Islamist Party. Turkey is an economic powerhouse which bridges Europe and Asia. It is a laboratory to see whether democracy and secular values can exist alongside an Islamic state.

After WWI Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the modern Turkey state as a secular one. Since then the Turkish military has been the guarantor of Ataturk’s vision of a secular Turkey.

Recently Turkey’s endeavors to become part of the European Union were voted down by the EU. The Erdogan government has been charged with human rights violations of critical journalists and political opponents. However the the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church viewed Erdogan favorably even though the government has yet to return seized church property. Erdogan’s critics see him as creating a theocracy incrementally.

Turkey has long standing animosities with its neighbors Greece and Armenia and internally it has suppressed the Kurdish population.

Turkey is also a leading nation in the Mid-East and it will always play a major role there.

The question remains whether it becomes an Islamist state or a secular state with Islamic leaders.

Hillary has given a general overview of recent relations with Europe and the current status of our relationship which is strong. However critics of the Obama foreign policy argue that his pivot to Asia was at the expense of Europe. European relations were badly damaged by the Bush Administration which often did not consult with European leaders on political moves and viewed cooperative alliances on problems as unnecessary. Rumsfeld called Europe “old Europe” as if their thinking on World affairs was out of date and not needed by the United States. The Obama Administration has made a strong effort to correct this situation by including European leaders in major decisions on foreign policy.   

Europe as a whole has never fully recovered from the recent recession which has put great stress on the European Union and the Euro as a single currency. Whether it survives is a matter of conjecture.

The pivot to Asia was widely misinterpreted as a pivot away from Europe when it was really meant to be a pivot away from the Mid-East. However as current events in 2014 have shown this is not so easily accomplished. The word pivot is too flippant a term as if we were playing basketball on the World court when we are not.

Also Hillary and the Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, are of the opinion that the United States should take action in situations where humanitarian values demand it not just when our own self interest is at stake.

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Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 8. AFGHANISTAN: TO END A WAR. THE DIPLOMATIC APPROACH W/O PAKISTAN?

American officials, quoted by The New York Times, said that members of Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were helping the Taliban with money, military supplies and strategic planning.

American officials, quoted by The New York Times, said that members of Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were helping the Taliban with money, military supplies and strategic planning.

 

 

‘Taliban ‘receives direct support from Pakistan’

Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan receive direct support from the “S”   wing of Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, according to a report published   on Thursday.

LONDON TELEGRAPH  2009

HARD CHOICES: Chapter 8

Richard Holbrooke, before he died, endorsed a bottom up strategy where an effort would be made to reach low level insurgents to renounce their Taliban ties and support the Karzai government as they grew tired of increasing military pressure. He also was in favor of a top down approach in trying convince the diehard leadership of the Taliban their cause was futile and that they should endorse a political solution to their goals rather than a military. The top down approach was the more unlikely as the leadership consisted of fanatical, religious zealots. However Holbrooke felt it was worth trying.

There were requirements that low level or even top level Taliban would have to meet to be part of the peaceful political fabric of Afghanistan. One; they must lay down their arms: two; they had to reject Al Qaeda: three; they had to accept the Afghan constitution. Finally they must accept gender equality and human rights rejecting the prejudices of the past.

Karzai came on board with this policy of trying to engage the Taliban members high and low in negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the insurgency. To that end he appointed a High Peace Council led by former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. He was soon killed by a suicide bomber with explosives hidden in his turban. His son took his place on the council.

The ISI or the Pakistani intelligence service was against Karzai reaching a separate peace with the Taliban which may not include their interests. Karzai also faced opposition from his allies who were former members of the Northern Alliance and not ethnic  Pashtuns as he was as well as the Taliban.    

Despite the opposition the plans went forward and a man named Akbar Muhammad Mansoor who claimed to be a Mullah and Taliban commander appeared. However he turned out o be an imposter.

In 2010 Holbrook managed to get the Pakistanis and the Afghans to agree to a “transit trade agreement” which had been in limbo for years. This would strengthen trade between the two countries and  help stabilize their economies. In July 2010 it was signed with Holbrooke and Hillary present for the signing ceremony by the Afghan and Pakistani Commerce Ministers. Also efforts were made to get the Pakistani leaders to view the Taliban insurgency as a joint responsibility and thus close the safe havens in Pakistan from which the Taliban leadership operated. Holbrooke was of the opinion that there never was going to be a solution to the insurgency without Pakistani support.

Hilary in an interview with Pakistani television journalists  stated that she “saw no contradiction in trying to reconcile with those willing to talk and to fight those Taliban who still pursued military action.” (This seems to infer there was a split in the Taliban leadership on these issues.)

Hillary believed that there were persons in the Taliban leadership that wanted to talk. In the fall of 2009 she had received word from the Egyptians that a top aide to Mullah Omar had paid them a visit. Later in 2010 the same aide had approached a German diplomat and the diplomat said the aide was trying to find a way to make direct contact with the U.S. Hillary asked Holbrooke to investigate the possibilities of meeting with the aide whom Holbrooke called A-Rod and who was later identified in the Media as Syed Tayyah Agha. Hobrooke’s deputy Frank Ruggiero was appointed to meet with A-Rod in Munich. The bottom line for the U.S was that the Taliban had to lay down its arms, reject Al Qaeda and agree to equal rights for woman beyond that everything else was on the table. The Taliban top concern was the fate of its fighters and the release of prisoners from Guantanamo and other prisons. We were concerned about Bowie Bergdahl a U.S. Army sergeant being held by the Taliban.

Ruggiero returned to the U.S. to report to Holbrooke which was done apparently in the tap room at the airport. (A secure location?) On December 11, 2010 Holbooke met with Hillary and an aide, Jake Sullivan, in her office. Things were not rosy in Afghanistan but military progress had been made against the Taliban and security was better in Kabul and in key provinces. Aid efforts in support of educational and rebuilding the infrastructure were making progress.

Holbrooke was excited about the opportunities and had many ideas about the way forward when his face turned red and he had to be sent to the hospital where he was diagnosed with an aortic tear from which he died.

Frank Ruggiero took over Holbrooke’s work as acting Special Representative. He went to Kabul to report what had been discussed with the Taliban. A second meeting was arranged with A-Rod and he proved his bona fides by having the Taliban leadership release a statement containing provisions supplied by State. Marc Grossman a retired senior diplomat was selected to take over for Holbrooke

In Mid February 2011 Hillary gave a memorial speech at the Asia Society in New York, which Holbrooke had been chairman at one time, where she announced that beside the military surge and the civilian aid and development push a third diplomatic front had been opened with the Taliban for a political resolution to the insurgency. She announced that this had been her and Holbrooke’s vision from the beginning. She closed the speech calling for other nations in the region to join in the effort. The impact of her speech was to let all others know we were serious about reaching a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

In May 2011 Ruggiero met for a third time with A-Rod. It was five days after Bin Laden had been killed. We wanted the Taliban to renounce all ties with Al Qaeda  and commit to a peace process. The Taliban wanted to open a political office in Qatar. Karzai was against this as it was tantamount to recognizing the Taliban as a political entity with interests in Afghanistan. The discussions with Agha were leaked by leaders in Kabul to the Washington Post and Der Spiegel. Pakistan was enraged because we held secret talks with the Taliban without telling them and also for the killing of Bin Laden on their soil. (This makes you wonder who in Kabul leaked the story and why? Hillary is not naming names. Could it have happened without Karzai’s consent?)

The talks continued in Doha and later the sought after office was left open for discussion as was the prisoner release. ( So far the Taliban has given very little.) Karzai who once approved of the talks reversed himself saying he was not kept informed by Ruggiero and Grossman and wanted his own representative at the talks. This was unacceptable to A-rod and the Taliban pulled out of the talks (This sounds like the Taliban all along wanted to divide us from Kabul and get thier prisoners released while giving up nothing and gaining diplomatic recognition.)

Hillary left office on February 1, 2013 Karzai stepped down as president in September 2014 succeeded by Ashraf Ghani. After  Hillary left office  a Taliban negotiating office was opened in Qatar.

Hillary is philosophical about this saying no negotiated peace is possible without contact with the Taliban. However the real hard choice here is to make Pakistan close the safe havens and cut all ties to the Taliban which was never attempted or done according to this narrative. So the alleged diplomatic approach was severely flawed.

It seems obvious that as long as the Taliban has safe havens in Pakistan and perhaps support from some elements in the Pakistani government they can go on forever. Holbrooke was right there can  be no peace without Pakistan and that means Pakistan must snuff out their relations with the Taliban.

Meanwhile the stalemate continues and the bomb makers are still fully employed.

 

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Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 6. BURMA: THE LADY AND THE GENERALS. Freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and Rapprochement With Burma Myanmar(Burma).

 

Aung Sun Suu Kyi And Than Sein: Not So Cozy.

 aung sung suu kyi and Than Sein; Not Quite So Cozy.

 
Aung Sun Suu Kyi and Barack Obama: Where Are We going With This?
Aung Sun Suu Kyi and Barack Obama: Where Are We going With This?

Aung Sun Suu Kyi and Barack Obama: Where Are We going With This?

 

Myanmar, which Hillary chooses to call Burma in this chapter, is a former British colony that lies between two giant countries: China and India. After winning its freedom from Britain after World War II Burma became a military dictatorship. Anug Sun Suu Kyi’s father, a general, was a leader in gaining Burma’s independence after the fall of the Japanese. He was a political leader in the post war era and participated with others in setting up a parliamentary system in Burma. Aung Sun was assassinated in 1947 and a period of turmoil followed until a military dictatorship took power in 1962.

In 1990 democratic elections were held but the results were  overruled by the dictatorship and Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter  of General Aung San, was subjected to house arrest and her party, The National League for Democracy, which she led and had won 392 seats in the parliament out of 489 was banned.

This was the case when Hillary took office as Secretary Of State.

Part of the pivot policy was to bring Burma out of a military dictatorship under the influence of China and establish it as a member of the family of democratic nations. Previously the United States had severed diplomatic ties with Burma and leveled economic sanctions against the dictatorship. Burma remained isolated from the world and became poverty stricken because of that isolation.

Mitch McConnell the Senate Minority Leader had a strong interest in Burma and had led the move for economic sanctions against the country  after democratic reforms were crushed by the military dictatorship. He had also maintained communications with the dissidents including Suu Kyi.

The  military regime had announced new elections to take place in 2010 but few believed they would matter.

U.S. economic sanctions had only made the regime withdraw from the World while impoverishing the country. The Chinese had exploited this void and had expanded its political and economic influence over the country.

On her first trip to Asia the President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudahoyono had indicted he had been in touch with the ruling generals in Burma and that they were looking for ways to establish better relations with the U.S.

To that end Stephen Blake a senior diplomat was dispatched to meet with Than Shwe a senior general in the new city the regime had built in the jungle, Nai Pri Taw. Blake came away convinced that the regime was interested in a dialogue and that some of the leadership was dissatisfied with the isolation from the rest of the World. However he was not optimistic any dramatic developments would happen soon.

In august 2009 Senator Jim Webb met with Than Shwe in Nay Pri Taw. He had three goals, bring an American John Yettaw  home. He had tried to swim across a lake to Suu Kyi’s  house  and was in custody, end Suu Kyi’s house arrest and to meet with Suu Kyi. He got two of his requests he met with Suu Kyi and took John Yettaw home with him.

In September at the U.N Hillary announced the Administration’s objectives before the U.S. could have better relations with Burma. It wanted to see democratic reforms, the end to human rights abuses, the release of political prisoners including Suu Kyi and a serious dialogue with ethnic and minority groups. To this end she would use both engagement and sanctions in the pursuit of these goals.

Little progress was made immediately. In the 2010 elections there was no democratic landslide, the military party still remained in control. However the generals released Suu kyi from house arrest and Than Shwe decided to retire to be replaced by another general Than Sein who had previously been Prime Minister. Than Sein conducted business in civilian clothes and led a civilian government at least in outward appearances. In 2011 he was sworn in and he invited Suu Kyi to dine at his house. He had extended a hand to a person the regime had seen as an enemy. Seeing Than Sein was making gestures towards progress on the issues most repugnant to the U.S, Hillary was able  to appoint Derek Mitchell as Special Representative to Burma a position created by Congress and signed into law by President Bush but never filled.

China had persuaded the generals to allow them to build the Myitsone Dam on the upper Irrawaddy River which was vital to millions of Burmese downstream. Suu Kyi and her party as well as millions of citizens opposed the dam built mainly to supply power to Chinese Provinces while damaging economic life along this major river.

Than Sein addressed parliament and said that the government had the responsibility to respond to the wishes of the people and that therefore construction on the Mysitone Dam would be halted. In addition the government released hundreds of political prisoners and it legalized the formation of labor unions. Further it eased censorship restrictions and eased suppression of ethnic and minorities. It also further released more political prisoners and began discussions with the International Monetary Fund concerning economic reforms. 

In November 2011 Hillary went to Burma and met with Than Sein and other government officials. Her impression was that he was interested in making reforms and allowing the country to become more democratic. Later in Rangoon she met face to face with Suu Kyi for the first time who was optimistic but cautious about the future the same way Hillary felt.

In April Suu Kyi won a seat in parliament along with 40 members of her party. Also in 2012 Suu Kyi travelled to the U.S. for 17 days. In Burma Than Sein continued to make reforms like allowing independent newspapers. In response to these developments the U.S. began easing sanctions.

Burma also chaired the ASEAN conference in 2012 . China and the U.S.  attended

In Novwember 2012 President Obama visited Burma and met with Than Sein and discussed more democratic reforms and later  addressed the students at Yangon Univeristy. He also met with Suu Kyi.

Burma’s move out of isolation and adoption of democratic reforms  are a dramatic result of the Pivot to Asia policy.

The elections scheduled for 2015 are a crucial test for Burma. Will it move forward or retreat. Also Suu Kyi , the leader of the forces for reform is nearly 70 what will happen if she is no longer able to lead?

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Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 5. BEIJING: THE DISSIDENT. The Hard Choice: Humanitarian Acts vs. Real Politik.

 

Cui Tiankai

Cui Tiankai

On April 25th Hillary got a call that the blind activist, Chen Guangchen (for Chen’s take on this read.) had escaped home confinement in his native province of Shandung. Further he had journeyed to Beijing with the help of sympathizers in hopes of gaining refuge in the American Embassy.  Chen was known throughout China as the blind, barefoot lawyer who advocated for human rights.  He was self taught and whose most recent endeavor was to file a class action law suit in behalf of people victimized by government repression for forced abortions, forced sterilization and enforcement of the one child policy by economic and other means. The Chinese government reacted to this by sentencing him to jail and later home confinement. He was a cause célèbre  in China.  Now he was seeking asylum in the Embassy.

This request was made at a time when he was on the run from the police with a broken foot and  in hiding somewhere in Beijing outside the Embassy.

How the Chinese government would react to a grant of asylum to a humanitarian hero was unknown.

This was compounded by the fact the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue was scheduled with Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, Hillary and their Chinese   opposites for the discussion of the problems of the Islands in the South China Sea, North Korea and other issues including economic ones  like  intellectual property protection and currency values.  Many months of planning and preparation had gone into the forthcoming discussions.

If the U.S. extended asylum to Chen how would the Chinese react? They could cancel the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary decided to give Chen asylum and to negotiate his fate with the Chinese authorities. Negotiations were tense as the U.S. had often criticized China over human rights to their chagrin and this case could only bring matters to a boiling   point. The Chinese viewed the U.S. as meddling in China’s internal affairs over these issues and they were not matters for discussion by outsiders.

However Chen was well known both inside China and to the World so whatever happened to Chen would get worldwide publicity. Therefore the Chinese were willing to negotiate even after we gave asylum to a man who was an escaped criminal in their eyes.

Chen himself was conflicted as to what he wanted to do. At first the principal Chinese  negotiator Cui Tiankai agreed that Chen would be allowed to study law in Shanghai for two years and then travel to the U.S. to study at NYU on a fellowship.   However Chen first agreed to this resolution and then changed his mind saying he wanted to come to the U.S. right away fearing the Chinese government would renege of the agreement once the world spotlight was turned off.

Hillary and her aides renegotiated the terms to the bemused Cui Tiankai. The  Chinese authorities permitted Chen to come directly  the United States to study at NYU.

The agreement was reached without jeopardizing the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary believes she struck a blow for human rights while saving the conference on major U.S. interests.

The Chinese probably saw it as a way to rid themselves of a sympathetic and troublesome dissident who had the ability to draw World attention to their internal policies.

While it is always good to standup for humanitarian principles the interests of the United States and its people should come first. Thus the strategic and economic interests of the U.S. should have been paramount in this case because they affect millions of people.

Hillary was able along with her subordinates to skillfully and adroitly solve the humanitarian issue without scuttling the Strategic and Economic  Dialogue. Whether this incident colored the discussions she doesn’t say other than in a cursory manner to state  that much progress was made without going into specifics.

She says that the United State’s policy is to create a state of shared prosperity and responsibility with China for peace and security and the only way to do this is though greater openness and freedom.  Internal issues like  the  treatment of Tibet, the Uighur Muslims, internet freedom, the suppression of activists like Chen  are counter to humanitarian principles  and China should deal with them in a transparent manner respectful to the rights of the entities and people involved. Internationally it should work though international institutions to solve problems and conflicts like those in the South China Sea.

At present  Chen  is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute which opposes abortion and gay marriage. Cui Tiankai is the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and Hillary is denying she is running for President.

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Hillary Clinton: Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 4: Uncharted Waters. Hillary One Ups China.

HILLARY WITH FORIEGN MINISTER YANG

HILLARY WITH FORIEGN MINISTER YANG

Hillary With Sate Counselor Dai

HILLARY WITH STATE COUNSELOR DAI

Americans have been to China many times since Nixon and Kissinger went there in 1972 to open relations. Hilary and Bill were students at the time and rented a portable television with rabbit ears to watch the ceremonies. Zhou Enlai and Kissinger negotiated the ground rules

for the two leaders, Nixon and Mao Zedong, to meet.

Since then there have been many diplomatic trips to China including Hillary’s trip in 1995 for the Fourth World Conference on Woman where she spoke as First Lady of the United States. Her speech on the rights of women was censored by the Chinese government by blocking it from broadcast in China.

In June of 1998 she returned to China with her husband who was President at the time. It was an official state visit and Bill Clinton gave a speech on human rights. This after the “incident ” at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Incident is her word probably for diplomatic reasons as the Chinese will read this book closely particularly if she becomes a declared presidential candidate.

Hillary never misses an opportunity to remind us that she is a strong advocate for human rights and in particular women’s rights. We all know this and it will certainly seal the liberal vote in her favor if she runs for president but there are a lot of others out there that are not quite as liberal as her who don’t like her in your face demeanor on these issues whose vote she will need in 2016.Hillary doesn’t seem to remember the old saying “softly, softly catchee monkey.”

Maybe it would be better if she modeled herself on other woman leaders like Angelika Merkel or even Margaret Thatcher, a conservative, who are and were strong effective women because they focused on the politics at hand that affected the entire electorate and not solely on one noble issue that will turn a lot of voters off who believe most people  in the United States are doing well, even if the last recession left many scars we seem to be coming out of  the debacle created by Congress and Wall Street.  

She returned to China as Secretary of State in 2009 with the goal of building a relationship that could withstand the stress points that will and have developed between our two countries as China emerges as a World power.  

She also wanted to engage China and have them work within the multilateral institutions in the area and internationally and encourage China to work within the rules of these organizations in ironing out their differences with other countries.  

She met with her counterparts in the Chinese hierarchy, State Counselor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Their relations were cordial and they sometimes spoke earnestly about their lives and other matters.

However things were different with President Hu and Premiere Wen who were formal in dealing with her and they avoided any frank discussions leaving human rights (Tibet i.e.) and woman’s rights discussions for their subordinates. They also refused to talk about economic, military or diplomatic issues with her except in a formal and general sense

 At the ASEAN conference in Hanoi on July 22, 2010(ASEAN, a political and economic organization consisting  of ten countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and Vietnam.) both China and the U.S Attended.

The ASEAN delegates wanted the territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea discussed on a multiparty basis. China on the other hand wanted to deal with the disputes one to one which would give China the stronger hand. 

Hillary and her team supported the multilateral approach to solving these problems. She gave a speech on this issue and the vote of the delegates went in favor of a multilateral approach much to the chagrin of the Chinese.

Foreign Minister Yang according to Hillary was “livid” over the vote and State Counselor Dai was so upset he suggested that the U.S should “pivot out of here.”

Thus this part of her goal may or may not have encouraged China to work within existing organizations to resolve differences.

The term Uncharted Waters in the chapter title apparently refers to the disputes about the islands in the South China Sea and the territorial waters around them which may be rich in minerals namely oil and gas.

However it also has a larger meaning as to how China will develop either as a quasi rogue nation like Russia  or a member of the alliance of democratic and industrialized nations that work their problems out through established institutions like the World Trade Organization or ASEAN.

NOTE:

(Hillary in Iowa addressing democratic activists at Tom Harkin event 9/14/14.)

 

 

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Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 3. ASIA: THE PIVOT? Too Soon, Or a Prescient Move?

The Obama Administration decided that American Foreign Policy need to be more focused on Asia where half the World’s population lived. With this in mind Hillary’s first trip was to Asia to show the region it was to be a priority with the new administration, militarily, diplomatically and economically.

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

The purpose of her trip, had three goals, visit Japan, South Korea and strengthen and confirm our alliance with them; reach out to Indonesia, a Muslim democracy, an emerging regional power and the home of ASEAN  a political and economic organization consisting  of ten countries ,  Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and Vietnam.  Its goals include regional economic viability, regional peace, social progress and a forum for members to come together to discuss problems; the third goal was to engage China diplomatically and have sufficient military power to back up our position.

Hillary made more trips to Asia for the purpose of advancing Democratic ideals and our power in the area. One was her trip to Myanmar. A closed country beginning  to open up. She met Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest for decades before reforms allowed her to be released and run  for office. She is now a Member of Parliament. Perhaps Myanmar will fall into our camp and not be a satellite of China.

North Korea remained a problem not just for the region but also the rest of the world with its nuclear and missile program. Things seem to have become worse under Kim Jong Un.

Vietnam is another communist country to watch. It may  adopt a market economy like China. Hillary believes a dictatorship and a free economy cannot exist side by side indefinitely and the dictatorship will either yield to democratic reforms or have to tighten control of the economic life of its citizens. That is the great experiment we are witnessing now in China.

The Pivot to Asia has been criticized by our Allies in Europe as too strong a word and suggest we are refocusing on Asia to the detriment of Europe and the Middle East.

Since leaving office Hillary has stated she was a strong advocate for use of force by proxies in Syria. The failure to do so has led to the current situation where ISIS has gained control over territory in Syria and Iraq and is calling itself an Islamic Caliphate.

She also sought to cement ties with India a great democracy nearly equal to China in population which has been abandoning its socialist economy for a more free market economy. Therefore it will be an example for China, if it not has been already, that a free market economy exists best with a democracy. However the Indian economy is not nearly as robust as the Chinese’s economy.

The Pivot to Asia diplomatically and militarily has refocused American attention to the region. However the Obama mission to withdraw from the Mideast has back fired with the rise of ISIS which will call for greater American resources to be expended to counter its expansion.

The purpose of the Pivot policy seems to be that Asia would be on an equal footing with Europe diplomatically and militarily. The fruits of this policy have yet to be seen. China is getting stronger militarily; it is acquiring at least one aircraft carrier, an offensive weapon, and seeks to assert itself in island disputes with Japan and Vietnam. Whether the U.S. can broker a resolution over these disputes remains to be seen.

It also has not seen fit to deal with Kim Long Un with a strong hand. A lot of time and energy was spent in the East while the administration’s most immediate problem was in the Mideast which Obama thought he could withdraw from and allow it to become the sleepy backwater it once was. This was a true failure of diplomatic and military policy. Perhaps the pivot policy will prevent a crisis like that in the Mideast before they get started. Some great thinker once said ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Wonder where he has been. Maybe it has been Hillary constrained to follow the policies set by the Administration beyond her control

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