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Archive for October, 2012

I found this reading very interesting because I felt like some of the predictions that were made were made very accurately but others were not. I agree that Nanotechnology leading to breakthroughs. It has captivated the attention of many to the point where there is a lot of money being invested by people today.  I also agree that the higher education of the U.S. has some of the best schools yet I don’t know exactly how I feel about them still getting the attention of other foreign students as much due to the economic problems that we have encountered. I also liked that he mentioned that the U.S. was recognized for its diversity and then gave an example on the presidential election. These aspects of the United States I felt were portrayed accurately but I don’t think the author was close in analyzing the economic downfall the U.S. would go through. The major economic deficit that came about is what is obviously not portraying the U.S. as a leader today. I believe that the economy and the debt that the U.S. is going through today can be changed and improved. There needs to be a set plan and a lot of thinking that must take place before actions are taken. I don’t think that where the U.S. stands in this area today will improve unless a well thought of plan is implemented for the well being of every individual in the country.

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Mitt Romney - Caricature

Mitt Romney – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

After this week’s debate, it will be hard for Romney to shake off the zinger from Obama, that we do not need as many bayonets and horses.  With the projected increase of the military budget to four percent of US GDP ($1 trillion/ year), how can Romney truly claim that he is going to combat the deficit in a meaningful way?  That is exactly the point raised in a post by Thomas E. Ricks of Foreign Policy Magazine.  He cites the opinions of Michael Cummings, an Afghanistan and Iraq wars veteran.

While a debate over the size of the military’s budget is important, I think as a voting population we are ignoring a much bigger question: When did a really smart business person, Mitt Romney, lose his business sense?

When it came to running Bain Capital, creating Staples, or rescuing the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, businessman Romney made tough decisions — especially when it came to cutting costs — to strengthen bottom lines. Yet Romney refuses to apply this same fiscal acumen to the Army, Navy or Air Force.

One of the examples of waste that Cummings presents is the use of all ammunition; the armed forces would use all of the rounds, even if they were not needed.  To those supplying the budgets for things like ammunition, it would appear that all of this ammunition is needed.  Cummings goes on to cite further examples of a lack of budget auditing, failed weapons systems, and overhiring of contractors.

I think this extends to a larger issue, one that is rather taboo in our society.  Why is the military untouchable? Yes, we have American sons and daughters supporting their country abroad, but if we are spending so much of our budgets abroad (and frankly wasting it in a lot of areas), we cannot provide meaningful work for these veterans when they return home from the war.  I think it is wrong that the veterans programs get the axe, while the ongoing military industrial complex goes unchallenged.  Yes, this is an idealist position, and one that is not likely to be supported by the powers that be.  We do not have what it takes to “fight two wars at once,” because we are neglecting the state of our domestic society.

Read the original article here:

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/25/an_afghanistaniraq_vet_says_romney_should_run_the_pentagon_like_bain_capital

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More on Libya

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/us_watched_as_terror_raged_AypAEEA9OK23rPf7Z5BHWO

This article features top members of the U.S. government speaking about the days leading up to the attack on the American Embassy in Libya. Most notably, they state that Predator Drones and other UAVs were present before and during the attack. Reports went out from analysts asking for assets to be dispatched to the area. However, as these reports made it up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bureaucracy happened. I write about this article in reference to the bureaucratic policy model which we’ve been talking about. In this case, AC-130‘s were moved closer to Libya and land based elements also got into position. But due to the fact that there confusion as to what the standard operating procedure would be for this, no plan was put into effect even as the attack was going on.

I don’t mean to make excuses for anyone but I feel as though a devil’s advocate could be useful in reviewing this argument. First, I’d like to ask the question, “Why is this news?” I mean that there has been an large amount of media attention for this one event where four Americans were killed. Aside from one of them being an Ambassador and this being an attack on a U.S. Embassy, why is it such a big deal. I believe that since this is an election year, this story has become all about attempting to pin the blame on someone to score votes rather than bringing the perpetrators to justice. Literally, the article features an interview with one of the ringleaders of the attack. He lives at a hotel in Benghazi and laughs at the ineptitude of U.S. and Libyan authorities. After 9/11, it was about striking back at the people who hurt us, it seems like this has devolved into a blame session. In 2001, there was finger pointing, but not like this.

At one point, the article asks why gunships and fighter jets weren’t dispatched to disperse the crowd. I had to address this comment. You cannot use military aircrafts on civilians. Can you imagine the footage of people in Libya being blown up by incendiary ammunition fired at them from the clouds? It would be a thousand times worse than in Egypt when the riot equipment all said “Made in the U.S.A.

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I watched this final presidential debate three times trying to be as even handed about it as possible. I know that people keep calling for the “hope and change” Obama from 2008 but I realized why we aren’t seeing him. It was easy to rage against the system then because Obama was the challenger. Now he’s “the man.” He’s the one people rage against. In fact, if he walked around saying he wanted to change things, I don’t know that I’d want to vote for him. He’s the president and he want’s to change the system that he’s spent the last four years putting in place? What I’m saying may seem a bit confusing but think of it like, no incumbent is going to say they weren’t doing a good job come election time.

I think the Obama we’re seeing isn’t Candidate Obama; it’s President Obama. The difference being the level of insight into the position. If you’ve ever ran for an office twice, you know that the first time is about changing everything and the second time is about being focused and overcoming the problems that stumped you the last time. That’s what Obama is doing here.

Romney on the other hand, has a problem with the facts. I listened to his side as closely as I could to hear his thoughts and give him the chance to show me why Obama was wrong. Rhetoric aside, Obama continually shut him down. The part that stands out foremost in my mind was the part about our military size. Romney said the navy and air force are miniscule. However, Obama explained that it’s because the nature of warfare has changed. He was right, we have less battleships because we don’t need that many. Another came when Romney once again spoke about the greatness of the schools in his state. Obama pointed out that it wasn’t his policies that made them that way and that he cut funding to them. Romney also called out the President on not visiting Israel when he toured the middle east post inauguration. Obama said he didn’t need to because he had visited there already as a candidate.

What made it easier for Obama to lay out these zingers is that Romney always says the same things at these debates. Obama does too but at least he seems to try to get better with each debate. Romney says the exact same things every time. It’s predictable. It’s these kinds of things which convince me, who isn’t particularly for either party, that I want to vote for Obama.

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Here are some of my immediate reactions to the third and final presidential debate, which was geared to be a debate about  foreign policy.  However, as it has constantly been a strategy of the Romney campaign, linking the foreign policy to a strong domestic policy is crucial.

Equally as important is what we did not hear.  Both Obama and Romney failed to mention that the crux to the crisis in Syria has been the seriousness of Turkey’s participation.  This country is a member of NATO, and we have certainly not taken article 5 (an attack on one member, is an attack on all members) of the NATO charter as seriously as we did on 9/11.  Frankly, I believe that this just is not the reality.  The US as the pre-eminent member of NATO would not value the collective security of the alliance, so much as their own security.  This extends all the way back to Gaullism, which doubted the US commitment to an attack on Paris being the same as an attack on Washington.

Romney is far off in his blanket statement that the US role in the world just is not as strong as it used to be.  In Southeast Asia, the Obama administration has made huge strides to make the US a stronger partner, and a better alternative than China.  In the Mekong river region, US commitments to strengthening the education systems and economic aid have been well received, and pushed them closer to us than China.  Obama may have benefitted from drawing our attention to this.

Romney’s greatest strength though, was his ability to come off as the stronger candidate in terms of the economy.  Obama’s only response was a rudimentary criticism of his opponent that he shipped jobs overseas.  I thought that Romney’s stance on intellectual property and counterfeiting just could not be topped by Obama. However, this is a stance that is rather idealist, but I think it begged to be said. You can not have an economic partnership based upon rampant cheating.  To the average voter, Romney certainly came off as stronger on China than the current administration.

On the whole, as an undecided voter, I walked away from this debate not feeling strongly about either candidate.  They present similar foreign policy standpoints, one in which the drawdown in Afghanistan during 2014 will be a reality, drone warfare will be rampant, and the US will not commit to “State building” abroad, because it is a costly venture.  For all of their perceived differences, both candidates positions on Iran are quite similar, and both are going to be tough on Iran.

Who won? I would have to say if we went by the closing statements alone, I would say Romney won.  He presented himself (finally) as an alternative to the current administration.  Obama embraced too much of the status quo, of what he has already done, and did not embody the same spirit he did four years ago.  Of course, people are going to disagree with me.  That is why we call this game politics.  It will be interesting to see the polls after the closing of this debate.

-Kiel

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http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/19/new_poll_egyptians_turning_toward_iran_want_nuclear_weapons

This article talks about a poll taken in Egypt which had some disconcerting results. Foremost of which was that there was an overwhelming desire to obtain a nuclear bomb from Iran. Israel was seen as a racist and evil place and the U.S. and Obama and administration was more for Israel than arabs in general. Mitt Romney‘s statements about Obama letting our relations with Israel deteriorate were seen as false. That was of course after many asked who Mitt Romney was. Hillary Clinton actually had fairly positive reviews for some reason. However, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad had garnered a large amount for support. It’s unclear to me as to what specifically caused Egyptians to develop these ideas but it is alarming that they feel this way.

Nuclear proliferation is something to be concerned about. While more than a few countries have the technology today, for the most part, they’re stable. In the future some political scientist will probably come up with some fancy title for Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and then maybe Egypt developing nuclear weapons. For now its unnamed but this trend is seeming very disconcerting. Egypt isn’t fully stable yet and it’s political actors are’t all in favor of peace with the west, much less peace with Israel. This would only seem to add concern over the Iranian nuclear program. They’ve already said they would help other states achieve nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Israel.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/looking-for-fact-checks-during-the-second-presidential-debate/2012/10/16/8519ee54-17a0-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_blog.html#pagebreak

In the campaign season, we often hear facts from both parties that are untrue. They vary in degree to the point where they are baseless lies. The way our electoral system is supposed to work involves the individual voter going out and finding the truth and then using it to make an informed decision. However, in the information age, it would seem to be even more difficult to find what’s the truth. Every side has a fact checker who slants toward their beliefs. However, the link about goes to  Glenn Kesler’s Washington Post site. He fact checks independently of his political beliefs and rates what he finds versus the statements by the candidates with “Pinocchios.” The more of them a statement gets, the more inaccurate it is.

While every politician bends the truth or flat out lies, there comes a point where the truth is what matters. I keep hearing that the debates are a he said she said. I never hear that whoever lied the most loses. Well thanks to this site, I can find out who is telling the truth and whose merely bending it. I don’t want to declare who has been lies more but from what I’ve read, Mitt Romney lies!

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