Friday, April 17, 2009

Foreign policy and torture

Foreign Policy's blog discusses the impact of the United States' past and present policies on torture, and the "disavowal" (their words) of the Geneva Conventions.

To review, extra-national terrorists present a unique legal obstacle to the Geneva Conventions, because the Geneva Conventions are written to cover only armed combat between nation-states by uniformed soldiers. Terrorists are neither uniformed, nor (usually) tied to a sovereign.

Nonetheless, at the time this issue arose during the Bush presidency, I felt that the United States should follow the Geneva Conventions anyway, to set an example for other peoples and other nations.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cuba policy criticism round-up

WSJ: Towards a new Cuba policy. It is a good time to acknowledge that neither the U.S. embargo nor engagement by the rest of the world have helped Cubans attain their rights. Sanctions, though ethically justified, can't work unilaterally; treating Cuba as a normal partner is immoral and counterproductive. A new unified approach is needed.

Foreign Policy: Think Again: Engaging Cuba Why dealing with the Castro regime is a fool's errand.

And our own guest blogger, Joe Garzik, provides some historical context regarding the United States' policies vis a vis Cuba.

Old enemies linger?

(reposted with permission; as submitted to New Bern, NC's Sun Journal)

To the Editor:

The Sun Journal’s lead editorial on April 8 urged ending the economic embargo against Cuba, which has been in effect since 1962, and supported restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. Why wasn’t this done years ago? It is an interesting question.

We fought a world war against Germany and Japan in the 1940s, and today they are two of our best nation-friends. We fought a ten-year war with North Vietnam, which today welcomes Americans as tourists. Why can’t we be friends with Cuba? Perhaps history will offer us clues.

In 1961, President John Kennedy invaded Cuba at its Bay of Pigs. The invasion was a failure. In 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. In 1964, our government’s Warren Commission investigated the assassination and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, “acting alone”, killed President Kennedy. However, the American public remained skeptical and suspicious of those findings.

From 1975 to 1978, a U. S. Senate committee, informally called “the Church Committee”, re-investigated the Kennedy assassination and, in 1979, issued its final report. It concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald “probably as a result of a conspiracy”. What? Oswald probably had some help? Who else was involved?

The Church Committee’s interim report published the following: “We have found concrete evidence of at least eight plots involving the C.I.A. to assassinate Fidel Castro from 1960 to 1963.” In 1975, Fidel Castro gave U. S. Senator George McGovern “a list of 24 alleged attempts to assassinate him in which Castro claimed the C.I.A. had been involved”. Therefore, both our government and Fidel Castro agree that our C.I.A. had been trying to kill Castro. Do you think Castro sat idly by and did nothing in return? Wouldn’t he have wanted to assassinate the man trying to assassinate him?

One of the members of the Church Committee was N. C. Senator Robert Morgan. I distinctly remember seeing Senator Morgan on television saying, “Personally, I think Castro got to Kennedy before Kennedy got to Castro.” That is, Senator Morgan believed that Castro was behind the Kennedy assassination!

Much of the Church Committee’s report about the Kennedy assassination still remains classified. What secrets remain under wraps? I do not know, and you do not know; however, it has always been my suspicion that our country intends to punish Castro for the Kennedy assassination until Castro dies. Could this be the reason why our country has never resumed normal diplomatic or economic relations with Cuba? You be the judge.

Joe Garzik
New Bern

Thursday, April 9, 2009

China wins economic war game

According to The Politico, The Pentagon recently sponsored an "economics war game," a first of its kind for the US military. Professors, hedge fund employees, investment bank managers and others played roles as various countries: United States, Russia, China, etc.

Apparently, China won. Their control of so many US dollars was a decisive factor.