Blog Posts by David T Jones

  • U.S.-Canada relations: Keystone has cooled an already frosty relationship

    “The United States and Canada are best friends—like it or not.”

    Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline have strained an already fragile relationship. (Reuters/CP)Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline have strained an already fragile relationship. (Reuters/CP)

    Our bilateral relationship is akin to a Ferris wheel (round and round/up and down/where it stops nobody knows).

    But if the sobriquet of “best friends—like it or not” is the paradigm, we are certainly well into the “not” category. Irritations are becoming problems; problems are evolving toward crises.

    Perhaps our relations are more akin to living with bipolar disorder: With careful tending, good meds, and occasional professional psychiatric intervention, we negotiate the rough patches in our relations with no more than grimacing and accentuating the positives. Occasionally, however, the juxtaposition of particularly neuralgic but important substantive issues and mutual senior leadership irritation generates a crisis.

    There is a rolling laundry list of niggling problems, often of the hardy perennial nature, that keep diplomats and bureaucrats busy. Over the years, these have included hanging file folders, magazine advertising, pork bellies, Pacific Coast salmon, softwood lumber—just to

    Read More »from U.S.-Canada relations: Keystone has cooled an already frosty relationship
  • Commander in chief dismisses Netanyahu's address to CongressCommander in chief dismisses Netanyahu's address to Congress

    A metaphorical gauntlet lies in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Thrown by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his speech to a joint session of Congress on Mar. 3, the gauntlet is the challenge of how to address the Iranian nuclear program and prevent the development of nuclear weapons.

    This is not an easy problem; indeed, it may be an impossible one to solve—short of Iranian regime change (and even that sanguine possibility may well not be a solution).

    Indeed, Iranian nukes are a legacy concern. Although not much discussed, Tehran’s interest/commitment to developing nuclear weapons dates to the Shah’s era. Iran has persisted, for nationalist, geopolitical, and military reasons, in manufacturing fissile material, developing the technical mechanical processes and designs to construct a nuclear warhead, and manufacturing missile delivery systems for such warheads.

    Moreover, Iran sees itself both as living in a dangerous neighborhood and wanting to seize leadership

    Read More »from Obama’s Israel-Iran nuclear problem: The United States has nothing but bad choices
  • A voter fills in her ballot as she votes in the U.S. midterm elections November 4, 2014. (Reuters)A voter fills in her ballot as she votes in the U.S. midterm elections November 4, 2014. (Reuters)

    There is that old maxim, “Where you stand is where you sit.”

    And the cry for election “reform” is invariably the province of losers.

    Winners are essentially satisfied with the system as it is working for them. Or, if they didn’t win the most recent election, they view the system as sufficiently congenial that they have a reasonable chance of winning. They view the day of electoral defeat as the first day of the march to victory (just as astute victors/parties recognize the day of victory is the first day in the march to defeat). And losers can be sanguine. Democrat Moe Udall was cited after the 2000 election, “the people have spoken; God damn them.”

    So despite the undeleted Udall expletive, Democrats were confident they could rebound—as they did in 2008 by electing Barack Obama as president. And, historically, there has been no significant, enduring, modern third party movement, other than ivory tower theorizing about proportional representation.

    So those that complain about the

    Read More »from Election reform: Complaints about money and electoral districts are for 'losers'
  • Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honour guard on Feb. 4, 2015. (Reuters)Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honour guard on Feb. 4, 2015. (Reuters)

    Washington is betwixt and between when it comes to constructing a strategy for dealing with Beijing.

    Over the course of my lifetime, the United States has supported Chinese Nationalists during the Chinese Civil War; fought ‘commies’ in Korea; reached a ‘Nixon goes to China’ rapprochement, playing a ‘China card’ against the Cold War USSR; and watched an incredible Chinese economic surge, making Beijing the manufacturer for the world.

    Now Chinese military construction and verbal aggression appear directed at obtaining pre-eminence in East Asia, disconcerting U.S. allies in the region and challenging the United States’ long taken-for-granted hegemony.  

    The U.S. needs a put-China-back-in-the-box foreign policy approach.

    That mentality has resulted in our much-discussed ‘pivot’ on Asia. Unfortunately, it has led us toif not drowning in Pacific complexitiesa pudding without any theme that would equate to coherent, coordinated, allied policy toward dealing with China.


    Read More »from Working with China: U.S. needs to push back against China's growing dominance
  • Pearl Harbor survivors salute during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Reuters)Pearl Harbor survivors salute during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Reuters)

    “… let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…” … Extract from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865.

    From these few words have grown the gigantic U.S. veterans’ affairs industry. Veterans’ benefits have become one of the “third rails” of U.S. federal/social spending that is untouchable with expenditures beyond criticism and budgets always rising. But when personnel costs are now over half of the defense budget and veterans pensions/benefits a significant portion of these, enough is enough.

    Today’s 21st-century “Total Army” is in no way comparable to the 1960s draftee armed forces and associated military reserves. Today mobilized reservists are expected to have (roughly) comparable competence to active duty forces. And our active duty forces have no match in the armed forces of any other nation.

    For over a generation, we have not drafted a single U.S.

    Read More »from Support our troops: America's veterans expect the best, but it comes at a steep price
  • After Paris: No more politeness, the time for action is at hand

    Once again alarm bells are ringing throughout the West.

    The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the subsequent huntdown and elimination of the perpetrators indeed gets attention – especially media attention.

    Conservatives are saying the equivalent of “I told you so.” Bluntly, their concerns have proved valid, not racist Islamaphobia.

    Liberals are offering dithering equivalents of “Don’t overreact.” And, as always, there is an undertone intimation that Charlie Hebdo was playing Russian-roulette with its satirical-style provocation of Islamic fanatics with its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The same platitudes are burbled: “Islam is a religion of peace”, poverty/social deprivation has caused these attacks; etc.

    Enough already.

    The time for fibrillation has passed; the time for action is at hand.

    Opposing viewpoint: David Kilgour

    Different cultures are best served by more understanding, not hatred

    First, we must accept that we are at war. A long, brutal war is in

    Read More »from After Paris: No more politeness, the time for action is at hand
  • Revelers celebrate during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. (Reuters)Revelers celebrate during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. (Reuters)

    Having finished our New Year’s celebrations, we have now soberly taken our first steps into the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.

    Many – indeed, most of us – leave 2014 with relief, and view 2015 with trepidation at best.

    But that should not deter us. This forthcoming year is replete with positives. While it would not qualify as “the best of times,” all too often we obsess over the capillaries of the leaves on the trees and ignore the forest. Just think for a moment:

    We are at peace internationally. We have been noting the centennial of the beginning of World War I, but 100 years ago, we were just entering the meat-grinder of ghastly casualties. And 75 years ago, World War II was beginning to warm up slaughterhouses even more massive than in WWI. And 40 years ago, the United States had just extracted itself from the sanguinary frustration of Vietnam. To be sure, there is fighting in the Middle East, but not on the level of Desert Shield/Storm or Iraqi Freedom.

    Read More »from The world in 2015: Entering the new year in peace and prosperity
  • The United States is the Great Satan.

    The Statue of Liberty is a syphilitic whore.

    CIA employees are minions of the devil.

    And the current congressional report professes that CIA tortured and imprisoned the innocent. Even worse than the torture, according to the report conclusions, it was done to no useful effect – that is, all of the excesses were performed without obtaining the type of actionable information sought by interrogators to prevent terrorist attacks or lead to the capture of terrorists.

    If true, a damning indictment, perhaps demanding widespread prosecution of any and all involved, at every political and bureaucratic level from the most lowly testicle-twister to the series of CIA directors that implemented these programs and their political masters.

    But does anybody care? That is, does this change the opinions of any observers regarding what the United States is doing and where and how it is being done? Are global opinions currently at such a nadir regarding the United

    Read More »from CIA torture: The tactics are not surprising or unreasonable in the wake of 9/11
  • It has been all Ferguson all the time.

    Circumstances remind one of the old wry observation, “Little did I know that when I started to drain the swamp that I would be up to my hips in alligators.” Our racial swamp seems to produce multiple generations of angry alligators.

    Rioters in Ferguson, Missouri, chose to riot over a grand jury decision not to indict a (white) police officer for shooting and killing a (black) criminal. The grand jury heard 60 witnesses; it produced hundreds of pages of testimony. Expert criminologists predicted the grand jury would not indict the police officer. In that regard, the grand jury took the hard way out — they could have kicked the case to a formal jury trial and avoided what will probably be personal danger for their decision.

    The rioters, however, translated “justice” into burning and looting properties and automobiles of individuals with no connection to the police officer or the victim. Essentially, they wanted the police officer dead their only

    Read More »from Ferguson: African-Americans are responsible for creating real change in the U.S.
  • Russian bombers repeatedly fly toward the Arctic and Canadian borders.

    Russian bombers plan long flights along the West Coast and to the Gulf of Mexico.

    A Russian naval battle group of four warships (cruiser, destroyer, oiler, and sea-going tug to address breakdowns) visit the waters off Australia.

    Russian armor and infantry – in transparent “disguise”  invade eastern Ukraine after seizing Crimea.

    Except for the final item, this activity is “ho-hum” in politicomilitary terms.

    However, it makes for good propaganda. Presumably, it will generate positive Putin PR in Moscow, ostensibly showing Russian citizens the reach of their armed forces, while distracting from economic exigencies. It can also be used as an adroit scare tactic in Europe and North America to suggest that “The Russians Are Coming” (or at least that we need to increase military spending).

    But really, these are just show-the-flag exercises with little military meaning.

    Essentially, if you have armed forces, you must

    Read More »from Putin flexes his muscles: It's best to ignore the Russian leader's manoeuvring


(73 Stories)