Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Foreign Digest: France, Spain and Morocco

           The French Socialist government has proposed income tax cuts for individuals and corporations.  France's repeal of its own tax increase was a subject of my post, in January of this year: Foreign Updates: Cuba, Ukraine, Tunisia and France

Meanwhile, the French have launched air strikes on the “Islamic State” in Syria, while commencing an investigation of crimes against humanity by the Syrian dictatorial regime of Bashar Assad.  I have posted over the years about French counterterrorism and peacekeeping efforts, especially in its former colonies in Africa.

            With the cooperation of French law enforcement, the two leaders of the leftist Basque terrorist organization were captured across the border from Spain.  I had posted how the separatist terrorists had ceased fire, as they have gradually been defeated by the Spanish, but the capture of their leadership could be the mortal blow to the organization and a significant victory against terrorism. 

           Spain and Morocco, despite their differences over the sovereignty of Spanish enclaves in North Africa, continue to cooperate against Islamist terrorism.  Their joint efforts yielded another series of arrests of militants who intended to engage in violent jihad (Islamic holy war).  The Spanish-Moroccan cooperation is a good example of the increase in intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation since the September 11 Attacks and the start of the global War on Terrorism.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Update: China’s Expanding Claims of the Spratly Islands Inhibits the Freedom of the Seas

           Communist China is now claiming the 12 nautical-mile territorial limit around its artificially-enlarged islands in the Spratlys.  Like the several other foreign states that have staked claims to some of the Spratly Islands, China has garrisoned and fortified several of the islands it claims.  But by enlarging them by several square miles, as I posted earlier this month, they are thus expanding their claim over the potentially oil-rich waters of the South China Sea, as the 12-mile limit is based upon the expanded territory of the islands.   

Indeed, China, because it claims all of the Spratlys, just as it had previously seized the Paracel Islands, the sovereignty of which was disputed with Vietnam, now claims that all the international waters of the South China Sea fall within China’s 200-mile economic exclusionary zone.  Such a claim would not only exclude oil exploration by the neighboring states with competing claims over the territory, but even fishing. 

            China’s claims are reminiscent of the claim by Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi over the entire Gulf of Sidra for Libya.  The United States conducted freedom of navigation missions in the Gulf for many years to deny Libya’s dubious claim to international waters, which most foreign states did not recognize, and also flew fighter jets over it, which the Libyans occasionally attacked.  The effort was successful in denying Libya’s claim and defend the freedom of the seas.  It is necessary now for the U.S. to conduct such operations in the South China Sea in order to defend the freedom of the seas.  Such operations are usually conducted peacefully.  

           The principle of the freedom of the seas, which Americans first asserted successfully against the Barbary Pirates in the early Nineteenth Century, is one of the most significant contributions of the U.S. to mankind.   Freedom of the seas in international waters has enabled travel and commerce for Americans and everyone else around the world.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reauthorize the International Religious Freedom Act

           It is again time for the United States Congress to re-authorize the International Religious Freedom Act, as the act expires otherwise by the end of this month. 

            The International Religious Freedom Act was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support by Congress and signed into law by liberal Democratic President William Jefferson Clinton.  Its purpose is to demonstrate the priority within American foreign policy of supporting religious liberty, as the freedom of religion is fundamental to overall liberty.  American advocacy for religious freedom and the measures the International Religious Freedom Commission recommends against states that violate religious liberty act as a deterrent oppression by foreign governments based upon religious beliefs.  Spreading liberty abroad is in the interest of the U.S., not only because it is morally right, but because states that are free are generally more peaceful and prosperous. 

I have posted over the last few years in support of the previous reauthorization of the International Religious Freedom Act and how the liberal Democratic Obama Administration has not made adequate use of it by leaving key diplomatic posts the law creates unfilled for lengthy periods or by not sufficiently following the recommendations of the International Religious Freedom Commission it established.  See my post from June of this year, Update: The Obama Administration’s Continued Weakness in Promoting Religious Liberty Abroad   President Barack Obama did subsequently nominate an ambassador recently for religious freedom for the Middle East and South Central Asia.   

Congress should reauthorize the International Religious Freedom Act and the President should sign it into law as soon as possible to emphasize American commitment to religious freedom, especially at this time of great religious persecution, particularly in the Middle East.

Foreign Digest: Serbia, Nepal and Russia

Serbia’s Prosecution of War Criminals
Serbia is prosecuting several Bosnian Serbs for the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre, the worst crime against humanity in Europe since the Second World War, in which the Bosnian Serbs, supported by Serbia-dominated Yugoslavia, rounded up and killed thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys during the Bosnian Civil War.

 The war was one of several that resulted from the nationalist policies of Communist Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic that resulted in the breakup of Yugoslavia into its subdivisions, which were mostly ethnically based.  Serbia later became an independent state after the total disintegration of YugoslaviaSerbia, which is seeking greater integration with Europe, hopes to show the European Union through Serbian prosecutions for crimes against humanity from the Yugoslav civil wars that it has reformed itself and is committed to justice and respecting the rights of minorities.  It is hoped that Serbia’s commitment is sincere.

Nepal’s Adoption of a New Constitution
After a long and difficult process, Nepal’s Government has approved a controversial constitution that makes it a federation of seven secular states, based upon ethnic concentrations, each with its own republican legislature, with a parliamentary republican central government.  The Nepalese Constitution is secular, liberal (i.e. it includes safeguards for liberty), inclusive and respectful of the rights of women and various minorities.  Some ethnic groups objected to the drawing of the boundaries of these states or their lack of inclusion, while some Hindus wanted Nepal to declare itself a Hindu state, as it had been a few years ago under its monarchy.  Some of the concerns of the ethnic groups are expected to be addressed soon in constitutional amendments.

Nepal is led by a grand coalition government that includes both liberal, secular republicans and Leninist Communists.  After a civil war in which Maoist Communist rebels made significant territorial gains, the Nepalese Government agreed as part of a peace deal to end the monarchy; it established a republic in 2008.  The secular, liberal republican, Leninist Communist and Maoist Communist parties were unable to gain dominance in parliamentary elections while the Constitution was being drafted.  Despite their divisions, they were nevertheless all able to cooperate, with some support from ethnic parties, in the drafting of the Constitution.

I commend Nepal for its achievement.  May it enjoy peace, liberty, representative government, respect for minorities and prosperity.

Russian Federation’s State Sponsorship of Terrorism
           The Russian Federation’s military is now supporting the tyrannical regime of Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad.  Syria sponsors the Palestinian terrorists Hamas, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorists, Hezbollah, and other terrorists through harboring or financing these organizations.  In addition to its own direct sponsorship efforts, Assad’s Syrian regime acts as a conduit of support for terrorists on behalf of its major ally Iran, the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world.  Thus, Communist Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin’s regime is providing material support to terrorists, which meets the definition of sponsoring terrorism.  Therefore, the United States Department of State should list the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism and the U.S. should subject it to the relevant economic sanctions.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteenth Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

On this fourteenth Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on the United States, it is appropriate to remember the fallen, to commemorate the heroism of the first responders and volunteer rescuers and to be reminded of the evil of the Islamist enemy who perpetrated the massacre. 

It is also right to express gratitude to the military servicemen, law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, elected officials, other public servants and private citizens who have helped prevent another attack on the American homeland the scale of September 11 for the last fourteen years.

This anniversary is particularly noteworthy for the opening of the visitor center at the site of the crash of Flight 93 on September 11, 2011 in Pennsylvania.  The site commemorates the victims of violent jihad (Islamic holy war) and especially those civilians who were the first resistors to Islamist terrorists in the global War on Terrorism.  Their heroic acts saved the lives of others and have inspired many other Americans, including the three who thwarted a terrorist attack on a passenger train in France last month. 

May their example continue to inspire Americans and all good people of the world bravely to resist terrorism and other militant acts of jihad.  May God bless America.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Major Italian Reforms and other Improvements, 2014-1015

In my previous post on Italian news last month, I focused on political reforms.  Other reforms and improvements are the focus of this post.

Since my last update on general Italian news in 2013, the center-left-right Government of the Italian Republic has cut income taxes and created a tax credit for donations to support the arts.  It paid back businesses millions of dollars the State had owed while continuing the crackdown on tax cheating.  The Italian Parliament approved major public works projects to improve infrastructure that will include private funding and capped “golden pensions.”  The Italian Government gained approval by the European Union for the EU to take over from Italy the costly task of rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.  A major labor reform was approved by the Parliament to make it easier for businesses to terminate employees, a measure that has increased the confidence of businessmen to hire more workers, which has already lowered Italy’s relatively high unemployment rate.  These various measures reduce public expenditures or increase revenue or stimulate the Italian economy, which is out of recession and weakly recovering.  

In addition, a large percentage of the leading Italian passenger airline, Alitalia, which is partially owned by the Italian Government, was bought by the airline of the United Arab Emirates to keep Alitalia aloft. 

The 2015 World’s Fair is being hosted by Milan, Italy’s second city, since May until the end of October, with the theme of “Feeding the World, Energy for Life.”  Already more than sixteen million tickets have been sold, which is further boosting Italy’s tourism industry. 

There were judicial reforms enacted by the Parliament of Italy, particularly to clear up the backlog of civil cases.  The Parliament also reformed the bidding process was reformed and also enacted a stronger anti-corruption law, while the Government has continued the policies of previous Governments of seizing assets of the mafia and other organized crime syndicates.  These measures will also help the Italian economy, as they increase investor confidence, in addition to making commerce easier. 

A major anti-terrorism measure was also enacted by the Parliament.  The law makes it a crime to fight alongside jihadists abroad; criminalizes organizing, financing or promoting trips abroad to commit terrorism; includes in its definition of training in terrorism those who train themselves, instead of only those trained by others; includes stiffer penalties for terrorism, recruitment or the incitement of terrorism through the Internet; allows law enforcement to shut down websites that incite terrorism and allows the immediate arrest of anyone with explosives.    

Europe’s Migrant Crisis Disproves a Major Tenet of Isolationism

           Isolationists, those who believe in “non-intervention,” insist that problems in foreign states are only matters of concern for that particular state, or, at most, of that region, and not of concern for the interests of other states which, therefore, ought not to intervene in any manner.  The current crisis of tens of thousands of migrants fleeing wars or oppression in Syria, Libya and elsewhere in North African and the Middle East, which is the highest number in Europe since the Second World War, proves that the problems in those states are affecting other states beyond the region, which, in turn, is affecting the world.

            I have already posted that there have been three million refugees from Syria, for example, which is led by a terrorist tyrant and engaged in a civil war.  A million Syrians have fled to neighboring Jordan alone.  Such a burden on a small state risks its destabilization.  The economic burden on European states, such as Greece and Italy, even only for the rescue operations they conduct and their initial processing of the migrants, has also already been mentioned in some of my posts.  Italy is only weakly recovering from a severe recession while Greece, despite economic improvements under its previous center-right-led Government, is still depressed.  The Northern European states where the migrants settle are being burdened with hosting them.  Thus, Europe’s migrant crisis is affecting its economy and, in turn, the global economy.

            People have a right to seek asylum.  States to where they flee are legally obligated to take them in and hear their pleas and grant them asylum if they merit it.  States also have a moral obligation to rescue people off their shores. 

The refugee crisis creates the opportunity for people, including undesirables, to immigrate illegally for economic reasons, as well as for jihadists to infiltrate.  Human traffickers take advantage of migrants.  The smugglers can be stopped with better policies, but the tide of migrants fleeing war, terrorism and tyranny cannot be stopped. 

            Refugees, as I have mentioned previously, are among a series of international problems that a crisis even in only one particular state can cause.  When that state cannot resolve its problems, it becomes in the interests of other states to intervene, at least to some degree.  There is a broad spectrum of intervention, most of which is short of war, ranging from providing advice or helping to mediate disputes, to humanitarian aid or economic sanctions, to intelligence support or sales of arms or material. 

Indeed, had foreign powers not given into pressure from isolationists and not withdrawn from Libya after the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi or intervened more in Syria and, there would not be such a migrant crisis in the first place.  The premature withdrawal of American and Coalition forces from Iraq contributed to the circumstances that led to the wave of humanity emanating from the Middle East, just as the abandonment of Afghanistan after the Cold War led to the rise of the Taliban and its harboring of the al-Qaeda Islamist terrorists. 

The problems in a few foreign states have become problems for the world.  Now, the world must act, at least to rescue and take in refugees until they can return home, and to work toward solutions in the home states of the migrants in order that these people can return to peaceful, stable and free lands.  

Pennsylvania Liberal Governor Tom Wolf Expands the Ineffective Medicaid Welfare Program

           Pennsylvania’s liberal Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, as expanded Medicaid under United States President Barack Obama’s federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”).  The federal program is so ineffective in covering the costs of healthcare that many doctors already decline to accept Medicaid patients, which often forces them to seek basic healthcare at clinics and hospital emergency rooms that could otherwise be addressed in doctors’ offices.  Expansion of Medicaid will further burden the welfare program.
Wolf’s expansion of Medicaid eliminates the incentives for recipients to work in the previous system approved by conservative Republican Governor Tom Corbett.  Corbett’s plan had subsidized the purchase of private insurance instead of providing more government insurance.  It also had included incentives for better health practices and required some co-payments.  Even the liberal Obama Administration had approved Corbett’s plan. 

Wolf is regarded as the most liberal Governor in the United States.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The United States Congress Must Reject or Block the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Deal

           The United States Congress will soon debate approval of President Barack Obama’s deal between world powers and Iran’s Islamist dictatorship in regard to its nuclear weapons program.  The resolution to disapprove the deal is supported by a large bipartisan majority in both houses in which Republicans are in the majority, but the resolution is likely to be short of the two thirds supermajority necessary to override a threatened presidential veto, as most liberal Democrats in both houses support the deal.

            The deal legitimatizes the Iranian government, as well as its nuclear weapons program, which the agreement only temporarily suspends while allowing Iran partially to continue nuclear development that can quickly be converted to weapons development. 

The enforcement provisions of the deal are weak.  The Iranian regime may delay inspections for weeks and is even allowed self-inspection in some cases, while the U.S. is obliged to defend Iran’s program from sabotage.  Undisclosed Iranian nuclear weapons facilities would be oft-limits to inspectors, as would most Iranian military facilities.  There is no requirement under the deal that Iran be investigated for violations of previous nuclear non-proliferation agreements.  Iran has demonstrated its bad faith by already openly violating the terms of the tentative agreement reached earlier this year.

In exchange for the agreement, global economic sanctions on Iran would be suspended and $150 billion of the terrorist-sponsoring regime’s assets would be unfrozen.  Even sanctions on its long-range ballistic missile program would be lifted.  The lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of assets would strengthen the Iranian economy, which has been weakened currently because of the sanctions and the drop in oil prices.  Therefore, if sanctions were to be re-imposed on Iran for violating the deal, they would be less effective, meaning that the Iranian regime would be less deterred from violating the terms of the agreement.  The world powers would be reluctant to declare Iran in violation anyway, even apart from the harm it would cause to their own emerging commerce with Iran, as they have staked their reputations on the success of the deal.  The deal also includes amnesty for a terrorist who murdered scores of innocent civilians. 

Therefore, even if this agreement were successful in temporarily delaying Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which is doubtful, the lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of assets would boost the Islamist Iranian regime and would thus make it necessary to reject it.

Two of Iran’s neighbors, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are particularly either opposed to the deal or worried about its weakness.  The Obama Administration’s pledge of increased weapons for these American allies proves the Administration knows the deal will not adequately safeguard them from Iran’s nuclear program.  The deal would thereby accelerate an arms race in the volatile Middle East.  The deal would certainly boost Iran’s ability to sponsor terrorism, not only in the region, but globally.  The Islamist regime is the worst state sponsor of terrorism in the world, as it believes in spreading its type of Islamism around the world by any means necessary. 

The deal would have to be approved by the Iranian Islamist parliament.  Iranian parliamentary approval is uncertain because of differences in interpretation of the deal and the Iranian supreme leader’s insistence that sanctions be lifted permanently instead of suspended temporarily.  Nevertheless, the deal is scheduled to be debated in the U.S. Congress in the meantime.  

Congress must disapprove the deal and override Obama’s veto.  If it fails to override the veto, Congress must find ways to block the implementation of the agreement.  The U.S. and its allies must continue to find other means to thwart the Iranian nuclear weapons program while providing better support for the Iranian opposition that seeks liberty, respect for human rights, representative government and peace.  

Otherwise, the world will have to be saved from this deal that emboldens the Islamist terrorist-sponsoring Iranian regime from a new conservative Republican President in January of 2017.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Recent Communist Repression, Aggression and Anti-American Militancy

There has recently been another Cuban crackdown on dissidents, with reported arrests of scores of peaceful demonstrators.  After United States President Barack Obama legitimized the Castro Communist dictatorship of Cuba by normalizing relations, demoralized dissidents in Cuba have been marginalized as the Castro regime has not significantly liberalized in any manner in exchange for American diplomatic recognition.  Diplomatic recognition of the Castro dictatorship as the legitimate government of Cuba, despite a lack of liberty or free elections, provides a propaganda boost to the Communist regime by legitimizing it and implies the U.S. regards the dissidents as wrong, or at least that liberty and human rights are not the highest American priority in its policy toward Cuba.  The dissidents seek political and economic freedom for Cuba.  American recognition of the Castro dictatorship has apparently emboldened it to continue its repression.

The Russian Federation has been making incursions from South Ossetia, one of the two breakaway portions of Georgia it controls, into Georgian territory, increasingly expanding the border southward into Georgia, including into ethnic Georgian areas.  Russia invaded the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2008 and maintains a significant troop presence in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which have become Russian puppet states.  As with its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, among other deeds, Communist Dictator Vladimir Putin continues to act aggressively in the face of Western weakness. 

China continues to expand its foothold on the disputed Spratly Islands by reclaiming several square miles of land from the sea in order to build up military installations on the islands that are claimed also by several other Asian states.  

Turkish Communists recently bombed the U.S. consulate in Turkey while Japanese Communists have continued to attack American military installations in Japan