Posts Tagged ‘smart diplomacy’

Venezuela: The kidnapping worked

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

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?

Think again:

John Kerry Meets With Venezuela’s Foreign Minister; Talk Of Improving Relations

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.

Any questions?

UPDATE:
Linked by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


Cuba: US won’t swap 5 spies for Alan Gross

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

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.”

Gross’s supporters

, 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.


10 ways Chavez has presented a national security threat

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Venezuela and Chavez: President Obama Should Read His Intelligence Brief


  • 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.

Romney Condemns Obama View of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as Harmless, while, At the daily White House press briefing, Jay Carney couldn’t even come up with a response to a question about Obama’s remark.

Smart diplomacy: As global leaders gather in Mexico, Obama chews gum

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

At least this time he didn’t wave: As global leaders gather, Obama chews gum

Low rent?

Apparently, despite being surrounded by twenty other world leaders, President Barack Obama “was chewing gum the whole time.”

Nah, Nicorette.

Leaks and islands

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Pundette links to leaks as campaign stratagem,

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.

And where is the president in all this? On his way to Anna Wintour’s house. He’s busy. He’s running for president.

But why? He could be president now if he wanted to be.

Just don’t be late.”


Smart diplomacy: Fast and Furious ‘poisoned’ Mexican public opinion of US – UPDATED

Friday, June 1st, 2012

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.

Mexican Ambassador confirms early citizen journalist reports amidst media spin

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.”

Bob has the three most basic questions about the gun-walking plot:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Fast and Furious

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.


Smart diplomacy: “Polish death camps”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

President Obama Causes Outrage with Reference to ‘Polish Death Camp’

The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”

The White House statement also used the term “Polish death camps,”

For years, Jan Karski’s students at Georgetown University knew he was a great professor; what they didn’t realize was he was also a hero. Fluent in four languages, possessed of a photographic memory, Jan served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale, and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.

Video:


Doug Mataconis,

This is something that someone probably should have noticed beforehand and realized that it was not only historically inaccurate but that it would cause our Polish friends to be upset about something that, even 67 years later is still an open wound for them.

For good reason: According to this paper, in addition to three million Polish Jews,

Documentation remains fragmentary, but today scholars of independent Poland believe that 1.8 to 1.9 million Polish civilians (non-Jews) were victims of German occupation policies and the war. This approximate total includes Poles killed in executions or who died in prisons, forced labor, and concentration camps. It also includes an estimated 225,000 civilian victims of the 1944 Warsaw uprising, more than 50,000 civilians who died during the 1939 invasion and siege of Warsaw, and a relatively small but unknown number of civilians killed during the Allies’ military campaign of 1944-45 to liberate Poland.

The prime minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, demanded an apology.

Nile Gardiner points out that

President Obama has a long track record of insulting the Poles. In 2010 he chose to play golf on the day of the funeral of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the Polish First Lady, and 94 senior officials who perished in the Smolensk air disaster. Eight months earlier he humiliated Warsaw by pulling out of the agreement over Third Site missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The White House said President Barack Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Polish war hero.

Or, as Smitty calls it, “a clown nose-off.”

AND, the media’s too busy paying attention to The (other) Donald,

Oh wait, sorry, the MSM is of course completely ignoring this because Trump talking to Blitzer about Birther crap is obviously of much greater importance to our country than our relationship with our strongest ally on the European continent.

Maybe Obama will send Donald Tusk an iPod; that would make the news.

UPDATE:
Joel Pollak explains WHY ‘POLISH DEATH CAMP’ GAFFE MATTERS: ALL OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY IS DOMESTIC

Obama is more than a leftist; he is also a Chicago politician. And big-city politicians of both parties discover that a cheap and easy way to rally voters from particular communities and interest groups–or at least to prevent a stronger vote for the opposite side–is to express public sympathy with whatever cause those constituencies hold dearest, even if those sympathies tend to contradict each other. Those politicians who care about being caught in the middle will be candid in expressing their own views, while remaining open to the views of others; those who believe they can get away with being all things to all people, or who see the whole exercise as just another way of feeding the voting machines, will fall into the trap that Obama has just sprung on himself.
For Obama, all foreign policy is domestic policy. That is true, to some extent, of all presidents, but especially of this one, whose fundamental ambition is the transformation of American society, and who is running a desperate divide-and-conquer strategy he hopes will enable him to carry that transformative agenda into a second term.

It Wasn’t a “Gaffe”, it was a slap in the face.


Annals of smart diplomacy: Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng leaves U.S. embassy; deal to guarantee his safety may be unraveling, friends say

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Chen Guangcheng leaves U.S. embassy; deal to guarantee his safety may be unraveling, friends say

What initially seemed like a potential victory on the human rights front for the U.S. administration was quickly spiraling Wednesday evening into a worst-case scenario, fuelled by a series of updates blasting out regularly on Twitter. Chen was no longer under American protection, but in a Beijing hospital surrounded by Chinese plainclothes police, and it was uncertain whether Chen had left on his own free will, as U.S. officials maintained, or under coercion.

Hillary

Clinton, who spoke by phone with Chen in what U.S. officials described as an “emotional” conversation, said in a statement that she was “pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng’s stay and departure from the U.S. Embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values.”

Indeed.

Follow-up post here.

Annals of smart diplomacy: Obama calls the Falklands the Maldives UPDATED

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The Latin American media’s having a ball with this one. During a joint press conference with Colombian president Santos, Obama said, “In terms of the Maldives, or the Falklands, whatever your preferred tern, our position is that… ah… that we’re going to remain neutral.”

20:01 into the video,

What’s several thousand miles among friends?

After saying that the US-Colombia free trade agreement will become effective on May 15, and having a photo-op with black Colombian children, Obama returned to the 57 States.

No word on whether Hillary had recovered from her hangover after her night at the Cafe Havana.

UPDATE,
Take her to the Maldives, then! ‘Part of My Job Is to Scout Out Where I May Want to Bring Michelle Back Later for Vacation’

Video, via Gateway Pundit,

UPDATE,
Linked by Public Secrets and Sister Toldjah. Thanks!
Linked by Hot Air. Thanks!

Summit of the Americas update: Hillary ties one on

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

The group photo went OK,

Obama didn’t agree to legalize cocaine and dismissed calls for greater political engagement with Cuba.

Cristina Fernandez didn’t get any US statements on the Falklands, so she left early.

Lucia Newman, who shilled for Castro when she worked for the BBC and is now working for al-Jazeera, says “this may be the last Summit of the Americas” unless Cuba is allowed to participate.

Hugo Chavez is back in Cuba for more radiation, or something.

And the Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Widens.

So what’s a girl to do?

Party hearty!

Yes siree, our Secretary of State had a cold one,

and led the conga line!

You never saw stuffy Condi Rice doing that while on the job, did you?

Smart diplomacy in action!

UPDATE:
You can’t make this up: she was at the Cafe Havana.