Posts Tagged ‘smart diplomacy’
Queen Elizabeth, Viktor Yushchenko,
the Emperor Akihito of Japan,
the mayor of Tampa,
and Hu Jintao,
For educational purposes, here’s the Obama Bow/Grovel Guage for the Common Citizen:
Linked to by MOTUS. Thank you!
Obama greets Cuban strongman with handshake…
‘Castro, he’s shaking hands with Raul Castro!’
CNN Defends: ‘Not to Be Misunderstood’…
CARTER: ‘Hope it will be omen for future’…
RUBIO: ‘Castro regime sponsors terrorism abroad and against their own people’…
Brazil’s senate has formed an Investigative Parliamentary Commission to follow up on reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
The committee, comprising 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has 180 days to investigate claims that the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.
The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission needs more time.
They may also consider providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda.
Over in Mexico, Mexico Summons U.S. Ambassador, Seeking Answers To Spying Claims
Mexico’s foreign ministry says that “alleged espionage activity involving Mexican citizens” is against international law and the charter of the United Nations.
Relations with Mexico have been strained following the Fast and Furious revelations.
As I noted about the French, the Brazilians, especially, should keep quiet about espionage. They have an active intel organization which collects on foreigners and Brazilians in touch with foreigners. Whenever I was in Brazil, we always assumed our phones were tapped and, on occasion, being followed.
Chill, my Latin brothers, chill.
First, the triple currency:
Carlos Eire posts on how Maduro Institutionalizes Cuban-Style Economic Chaos in Caracastan
The Venezuelan currency — the Bolivar — has now been assigned three different values by Maduro’s economic ministers.
The official name for this institutionalized chaos is “Sistema Complementario de Divisas (Sicad)”.
This new “Sicad” system in Caracastan is much more than an open display of the Castronoid obsessios with acronyms for destructive and repressive government programs: it’s an acknowledgment of the existence of a black market. Under “Sicad” the Bolivar will have three distinct exchange rates. Right now, depending on what kind of financial transaction one is making, the Bolivar will be worth 10 cents on a US Dollar, or 6.3 cents on a US Dollar, or 3 cents on a US Dollar. The lowest of these three values is the real value of the Bolivar, for that is the value pegged to the black market, which is euphemistically referred to as the “parallel” market.
The purpose is to obscure the devalued currency’s worth so no one knows its worth.
Spain’s ABC has much more (in Spanish) on the 3-card Monty; the also point out that Argentina’s got the official and the black market rates. Clarín (in Spanish) has more on Argentina’s double currency.
And the lifeline,
Venezuela gets a lifeline from the United States
One government, however, has chosen to toss Mr. Maduro a lifeline: the United States. Last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry took time to meet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, then announced that the Obama administration would like to “find a new way forward” with the Maduro administration and “quickly move to the appointment of ambassadors.” Mr. Kerry even thanked Mr. Maduro for “taking steps toward this encounter” — words that the state-run media trumpeted.
What did Mr. Maduro do to earn this assistance from Mr. Kerry? Since Mr. Chávez’s death in March, the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly used the United States as a foil. He expelled two U.S. military attaches posted at the embassy in Caracas, claiming that they were trying to destabilize the country; he claimed the CIA was provoking violence in order to justify an invasion; and he called President Obama “the big boss of the devils.” A U.S. filmmaker, Timothy Tracy, was arrested and charged with plotting against the government — a ludicrous allegation that was backed with no evidence. Though Mr. Tracy was put on a plane to Miami on the day of the Kerry-Jaua encounter, Mr. Kerry agreed to the meeting before that gesture.
As I mentioned last week, the Tracy kidnapping worked.
Imagine, if you may, this sequence of events:
- Dictator dies
- Dictatorship expels superpower military attaches in March the same day dictator dies
- Dictatorship perpetuates (or at least attempts to perpetuate) itself through electoral fraud
- Superpower ignores election results
- Big OAS pow-wow date looms on the horizon
- Dictatorship kidnaps citizen of superpower
- Behind-the-scenes deal takes place
- To add urgency, the dictatorship places the citizen of the superpower in one of the most dangerous jails in our hemisphere
- Citizen is released and returned
- Superpower’s Secretary of State and dictatorship’s foreign minister get together for photo-op
- Everybody’s happy
You don’t think that’s what happened in the Timothy Tracy case?
On his first trip to Latin America since taking office, Kerry said he was hopeful that a rapprochement could be achieved. The meeting, which came at Venezuela’s request, took place just hours after Venezuela released from prison an American filmmaker who had been jailed on espionage charges, removing an immediate irritant in the relationship.
Meanwhile, in a speech to the 35-member OAS annual general assembly, Kerry did not mention the developments with Venezuela, but reiterated U.S. concerns that some countries in the hemisphere are backsliding on their commitments to democracy and seeking to weaken OAS institutions that monitor and report on human rights.
Linked by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!
Alan Gross, the American prisoner held in Cuba, won’t be released soon; he was arrested on December 3, 2009, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
US official rejects Cuba’s offer to swap contractor Alan Gross for 5 Cuban spies
Cuba’s offer to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross for five Cuban spies convicted in Miami is not at all acceptable to Washington, a senior State Department official affirmed Monday on the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest.
Asked directly if a Gross-for-spies swap might be possible during President Barack Obama’s next four years in the White House, the official replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
“We reject the notion of linkage,” added the official, who met with several journalists in Miami but asked for anonymity under State Department procedures. “There is no parallel between the two cases.”
The US has put very little pressure on Cuba. Historically, the Communist regime ignores “pressure.”
, called Friday on the U.S. government to send a high-level envoy to Havana and seek release of the ailing humanitarian worker.
The Gross family is also suing both the U.S. Agency for International Development and its contractor DAI, which sent him to Cuba, charging they failed to properly train and prepare him for a mission they likely knew was high-risk and possibly violated Cuban laws.
Neither agency has paid his salary to his wife and family while he has been for three years sharing a small cell with two other prisoners in a Cuban military jail for handing out Internet hardware and software to the small Cuban Jewish community — a USAID project aimed at moving the communist-ruled island nation toward democracy.
Alan Gross, 63, has lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.”
Or, as they say in Cuba, achaques de la edad.
This is what he looked like before his imprisonment,
This is what he looks like now,
The Obama administration’s handling of the Gross case telegraphs a message: Ben Barber
When I served on U.S. aid projects overseas in places such as Yemen, Egypt and Pakistan, I was certain that in case I should be kidnapped or arrested that the U.S. government would stand by me and my colleagues in the field. Failure to do so in the case of Gross sends a devastating signal to thousands of Americans working overseas on U.S.-funded assistance projects.
In fact when I searched the USAID website for evidence it has vigorously tried to help Gross get out of jail, I found only one bland paragraph inside a speech before Congress by the Latin America assistant administrator Mark Feierstein on March 29.
Smart diplomacy, so smart it reminds us of Benghazi.
Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog.
Iran. Venezuela’s military and security relations with Iran show no sign of diminishing; drones, military exchanges, preparation for asymmetric warfare are a few milestones of the anti-American Axis of Unity. In May 2011, the U.S. sanctioned Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA. Many believe that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
- Syria. Chavez backs Syria’s murderous Bashar al-Assad to the hilt.
- Cuba. Chavez’s aid to Cuba’s Castro regime (nominally in exchange for doctors and intelligence personnel) exceeds $5 billion annually—more than double the U.S. assistance budget for all of Latin America—and enables the communist regime to survive and to repress the Cuban people.
- A terrorist haven. Chavez has rolled out the welcome mat to a host of terrorist organizations, includingHezbollah and the Basque ETA.
- A mafia state. Moises Naim writes that “senior Venezuelan government officials double as the heads of important transnational criminal gangs.” The U.S. described Chavez’s defense minister, General Henry Rangel Silva, as a drug kingpin in 2008.
- Higher gas prices. In OPEC, Chavez is a price hawk; he is mismanaging PDVSA—reducing global supply—and expropriates billions from U.S. companies, raising costs to U.S. consumers.
- Narco-terrorism in Colombia. Chavez identifies with and supports the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, whose leader, Timochenko, is believed to operate from a safe haven in Venezuela. Since 1999, the U.S. has invested $7 billion in Colombian democracy and security; Chavez prefers a Colombia ruled by narco-terrorists.
- Militarizing Venezuela. From Russian arms purchases to arming militias, Chavez militarizes Venezuelan society, threatens civil war, and endangers regional security.
- Corruption. With aid packages, oil deals, and cash-filled suitcases, Chavez corrupts freely and widely.
- Destabilization. Chavez backs left-wing leaders and destabilizes weak democracies, as he did inHonduras in 2009 and in Paraguay in 2012.
And let’s not forget that Chavez gave Iran the Astinave port (in Venezuela’s geographic point nearest to the USA and the Panama Canal), and an F-16 so Iran could test its antiaircraft radar systems and become familiar with its capabilities, in preparation for a possible strike.
The New York Times revealed today in a major news article that the well-known Stuxnet malware attack on the Iranian nuclear program was, in fact, an American operation. Most experts had felt that was the most logical conclusion, but it had never been confirmed. The Times report is based on interviews with anonymous sources “because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day,” reporter David Sanger wrote. While this is an acknowledgement of U.S. prowess in cyberwarfare, the revelation is an inexcusable breach of security that seems to be a part of a disturbing trend.
One has to ask: Why is the Obama Administration choosing to continue revealing operational information that is normally not released? This includes the specific units that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden,information from the bin Laden compound, classified information on the bin Laden raid, details of drone operations, and now secrets about cyberwarfare. There is NO good operational reason for doing this. The only “logical” reason is a tight race for presidency. Does this mean that the closer that we get to the election, the more operational secrets will be given away?
The larger reality is that these leaks, designed to highlight the President’s credentials as a tough leader, are trying to mask the fact that Obama has virtually nothing to show on key national security issues. Progress in the big and important issues, such as relations with China and Russia, broadly fending off Iranian nuclear development, and keeping the rogue regime in North Korea inside its box, have all proven elusive for this Administration.
When progress is absent, a desperate Administration may use leaks, even if it harms national security.
Staggeringly desperate, and incredibly stupid.
Speaking of stupid, but pales by comparison to the above,
Barack Obama’s unwelcome Jubilee present to Britain: Washington reaffirms OAS resolution calling for Falklands negotiations with Argentina
This is a clear-cut case of self-determination, and the Obama administration’s continuing support or a negotiated settlement (made abundantly clear by a senior State Department spokeman last week) is a slap in the face for both the Falkland Islanders as well as the British people.
But why? He could be president now if he wanted to be.
The Mexican ambassador to the USA was speaking at a Democrat-sponsored event to promote tighter gun laws in the USA:
Mexican official: Fast and Furious ‘poisoned’ public opinion of US
“Fast and Furious has poisoned the well-spring of public opinion in Mexico as it relates to the cooperation and engagement with the United States,” Sarukhan said.
“It does put a lot of strain on the huge strides that we’ve achieved with two successive administrations in the United States,” he said.
The Mexican ambassador to the United States told a Capitol Hill forum that his government was “kept in the dark” about U.S. government-condoned and abetted “gunwalking” operations, and also questioned the intent behind Operation Fast and Furious, The Los Angeles Times is reporting today. Appearing before “the New Democrat Network…a center-left think tank and advocacy organization, and the New Policy Institute, one of its sister organizations,” Arturo Sarukhan’s claims raise questions as to why major news outlets like The Times are just now getting around to reporting on information raised in this column and on the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog back in January, 2011.
I’m not sure that they were firsts; Bob Owens has been on top of this story for well over a year.
UPDATE: I checked with Bob Owens, who confirmed that they were indeed breaking the story, but also stated, “If it wasn’t for these two guys, we wouldn’t know half of what we know.”
- Who conceived this radical departure from normal law enforcement practices? Who conceived an operation requiring the deaths of hundreds or thousands of Mexican nationals for its success?
- Which Department of Justice officials saw that Operation Fast and Furious needed hundreds or thousands of firearms to be given to the cartels and recovered at the scenes of crimes, knew that the crimes in question were likely to be murders of Mexican nationals or U.S. citizens along the Mexican border where the cartels operate, and approved the operation anyway?
- Knowing that Operation Fast and Furious could be the political and criminal albatross that drives away moderates and Latino voters and destroys his chances of winning a second term, why does President Obama refuse to appoint a special prosecutor or to call for Eric Holder and his direct reports to resign?
Unless and until those questions are unequivocally answered, Mexico-US relations will not improve. Unfortunately, Sarukhan is playing into the hands of the very people who flooded his country with assault weapons.
wasn’t “botched.” It was meant to do everything that it did — except get found out. The goal was to create a climate of opinion that favored gun control, and it’s ironic to see Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) still trying to put it to this use.
Oh, the Dems will continue to do so, for as long as they can get away with it.