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Do we really still need to be in Afghanistan and Syria?

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Do we really still need to be in Afghanistan and Syria

The core of the Republican Party’s foreign policy platform has been shifting back and forth over the decades between hawkish intervention and cautious support for our allies. At times and under certain administrations, the desire to keep a military presence spread around the world made sense, particularly when the Soviet threat was at its peak.

The current administration matches the populist sentiment that after nearly two decades of a wide military presence in danger zones throughout the Middle East, it’s time to bring troops back home. But as Republicans on Capitol Hill warned of the previous administration’s policies on withdrawal, so too are they hesitant to support the current President’s sudden decisions to pull out of Afghanistan and Syria.

This debate has been highlighted in the press as a chasm between the White House and Senate Republicans following a rebuke by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

McConnell issues warning over Syria, Afghanistan troop withdrawals

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/afghanistans-government-losing-its-grip-on-the-country-as-the-taliban-gain-upper-hand-in-peace-talks“Simply put, while it is tempting to retreat to the comfort and security of our own shores, there is still a great deal of work to be done,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate yesterday. “And we know that left untended these conflicts will reverberate in our own cities.”

McConnell’s comments came as he announced that he would unveil an amendment to the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act.”

Unfortunately, both the press and the American public are essentially in the dark when it comes to actual data from the ground. Our continued presence serves purposes we’re never told about, including economic considerations in Afghanistan and disruptive measures in Syria to support Israel. The Islamic State is the scapegoat in both discussions, but the real reasons both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon are hesitant to act so hastily may never be revealed.

Whatever it is, they’re both willing to go against the President at a time when party and government unity are so important. That’s telling.

Syria is the easier of the two to understand. We went there under the Obama administration with the hope of killing two birds with one stone: defeating the Islamic State and subverting the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad. But neither of those reasons are truly valid anymore. Assad isn’t going anywhere thanks to being propped up by Iran and Russia, while the Islamic State’s remnants are too difficult to truly eradicate without incurring great costs. This is why it makes sense to accept one bird down while the other escaped. Mission half accomplished.

The new reason we’re still there is Israel. Syria represents a military gateway through which Iran (and possible Russia) can have military forces within easy striking distance to the Jewish state. Our presence there is a deterrent, but one that the President feels is unnecessary at this stage. Israel can take care of itself on that front, and I have to agree. If anything, pulling out of Syria opens the door for Israel to engage more energetically in Syria, and while it may not be easier than letting American soldiers essentially act as human shields preventing Turkey from wiping out the Kurds, it’s not as important as most are insinuating regarding Israel’s interests.

Afghanistan is a completely different story. Our presence there has been a series of failures for 17 years. There may have been a reason to go there in the first place, but there seems to be no reason for our continued presence. But here’s the thing. Even the Obama administration was reluctant to pull out of Afghanistan after pulling out of Iraq. The difference between the two is that Afghanistan will not crumble to outside forces the way Iraq did. If anything, we’re less needed in Afghanistan than in Syria, Iraq, or pretty much anywhere else in the Middle East.

And yet our presence there persists.

Somebody knows something, but it isn’t us. When to take into account Obama didn’t pull out, the military doesn’t want to pull out, and many Senate Republicans are willing to go against the President, there’s obviously something very interesting happening there.

It may just be a matter of style over substance. Perhaps Republicans on Capitol Hill are ready to pull out as well, just not as hastily as the President is requesting. As with many foreign affairs concerns, it could be years or decades before we hear the full story.

 


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Democrats

Losers all around: Untangling the border bill that benefits literally zero Americans

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Losers all around Untangling the border bill that benefits literally zero Americans

The Senate and House just put a bill on the President’s desk that he intends to sign. This bill will keep the government funded for most of the year and has many components worth discussing within its 1200 pages. For this discussion, let’s look specifically at the border security components because there seems to be losers across the board without a single winner in sight… at least not from this country.

First, let’s look at the two parties.

Democrats lose the political clout that would have come from a bipartisan agreement to fund the border wall. While most on the left see it as a win that they were able to put together a bill that snuck in so many atrocious immigration loopholes (which we’ll cover below), those loopholes will be used to demonstrate how bad their border policy really is.

But it would all be worth it to them if the wall never got built, at least politically speaking for 2020. The wall is President Trump’s post-midterm achievement if he can get a good chunk of it built, so stopping him from doing so would have been a win. There’s still a chance it can be a win for the Democrats if the White House doesn’t play their cards right. The national emergency declaration may or may not get the wall started before the election, so they’ll need to invoke 10 U.S.C. 284 to get it going sooner rather than later.

Of course, the biggest loss for Democrats is their own policies. It may not have the immediate negative impact necessary to affect them in 2020, but it will have a negative impact nonetheless. As drug cartels and criminal illegal immigrants benefit from the insane policies they put in the bill, the only defense the Democrats will have is that a majority of Republicans backed it as well.

Republicans lose because this deal demonstrates their weakness. They were too weak to fight the border wall battle when they had control of the House, Senate, and White House simultaneously. There’s no reason to expect them to have grown a backbone since the midterms, and this bill proves they did not.

They folded on the border wall dollars. They folded on the restrictions placed on the border wall itself. They folded on the number of beds set aside for detained illegal immigrants. They folded on the allowance of what can only be construed as amnesty for future illegal border crossing unaccompanied minor sponsors (it’s a mouthful, but we’ll get into those protections a bit later).

In short, they folded on nearly everything and put the President in a position where his only viable option was to declare the national emergency. Sadly, it means the GOP not only accomplished nothing since the shutdown began, but also demonstrated the shutdown could have easily been avoided by simply caving then instead of waiting two months to cave.

Now, let’s look at everyone other than the parties themselves.

President Trump loses because this deal makes the shutdown look meaningless. It also exposes him to the wrath of conservatives who are both unhappy with the deal itself and infuriated by the massive overreach the national emergency declaration represents.

The only possible way for him to make it out of this mess with chances still intact for a reelection win are if three very specific things happen:

  1. He has to get a good chunk of the wall built before the election.
  2. Crime and illegal immigration numbers must go down before the election.
  3. Somehow, the negative components of this deal cannot come back to haunt him, though that seems unlikely at this point because the negatives are so numerous and utterly horrendous.

But the worst loss of all for the President is that it will be very hard for him to spin the use of a national emergency and creative appropriations to build a wall when he said literally hundreds of times that Mexico was going to pay for it. Yes, this catchy line helped him win the primaries and possibly even the general election, but it’s turning into such an inaccurate campaign promise that it can’t even be called a broken promise anymore. At this point, it appears to be a bald-faced campaign lie.

Most of all, the American people lose, This will be demonstrated on so many levels over the next couple of years that it will be hard to keep track of every instance that this bill makes us less safe, wastes our money, steals from our prosperity potential, and undercuts our sovereignty.

I’ll let Twitter explain this even further:

And the winner is…

Drug cartels, criminal illegal immigrants, and anyone willing and able to take advantage of Washington DC’s stupidity are the only winners from the border omnibus deal. National emergency declarations cannot take away from how bad this is. In fact, it may make it worse.

 


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Foreign Affairs

As Benjamin Netanyahu meets with world leaders, focus centers on Iran in Syria

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As Benjamin Netanyahu meets with world leaders, focus centers on Iran in Syria

The threat represented by Iran in the war-torn nation of Syria manifests in multiple ways. Other Middle Eastern nations are concerned that if Iran’s military is allowed to get entrenched in Syria, they will have too much direct access to the region in ways that threaten the peace. The United States and western allies are concerned that exerting control over the Syrian regime will turn them into a puppet state that will not solve the problems faced by the Syrian people.

Meanwhile, Israel faces the greatest threat as the nation that wants to wipe them off the map would be next door neighbors if they continue to fortify themselves in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows this all too well and has not been shy about expressing these views to the world. In fact, he did it today in meetings with 60 world leaders and followed up by sharing his perspectives on Twitter.

Iran is not Israel’s problem alone. They are a problem for all freedom-loving countries in the region as well as powers throughout Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. Israel needs our support as well as the support of others who realize the threat Iran poses to us all.

 


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Foreign Affairs

Trump’s Venezuela policy boosts his 2020 chances

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Trumps Venezuela policy boosts his 2020 chances

In a political age where Democrats rely heavily on identity politics to peddle socialism, by way of climate alarmism, their endgame is poised to unravel a particular demographic they have historically successfully dominated: Venezuelan-Americans. Back when Democrats were progressive and not socialist, they upset Cuban Americans with the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, and Cuba suffered since under communism. To this day Cuban Americans are more likely Republican, and several prominent Republicans have Cuban American heritage. Democrats face a similar splinter today that could see Venezuelan-Americans Republican for generations to come. President Trump is doing everything he can to make it happen.

The crisis in Venezuela shows no signs of getting better. Rather the country is on a course towards greater strife and possibly civil war. President Trump has demonstrated compassion with regards to the plight of the Venezuelans, perhaps unmatched in a long lasting humanitarian crisis. In September of 2017, Trump said “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” During the well-received State of the Union, Trump once again expressed compassion for the Venezuelans, vowing that America will never become a socialist nation.

Venezuelan-Americans are not ignorant to the fact that Venezuela was ruined by socialism. And perhaps they are opening their eyes to the Democrats and their allies blatantly endorsing the system that ruined Venezuela. Democrats are afraid of this. The New York Times issued a wake up call on the subject.

Venezuela, not Cuba, now dominates Miami’s political conversation. A television anchor not long ago ended a somber segment with a promise to keep praying for the troubled South American country. Venezuelans in the city have gathered for demonstrations to coincide with protests back home. Even the Miami-Dade County Commission, a local body with no control over foreign policy, voted unanimously to recognize the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.

While Hispanics stereotypically lean Democrat, Hispanics are not as pan-ethnic as one might think, despite having a similar linguistic background. Hence Cuban Americans are more likely Republican. Florida is a notorious swing state Trump needs to win in order to gain a second term in 2020. Republicans put many eggs into the Florida basket in 2018, coming up victorious in the key races. Winning over Venezuelan-Americans could very well tip the scale in Republicans favor for generations.

But many Venezuelan exiles are exasperated to see Democrats opposed to intervening in the alarming humanitarian crisis in their country because of the lingering politics of the past.

It’s not just Jews alarmed by Rep. Omar’s words. Venzuelan-Americans are turned off by them. Democrats are slowly recognizing Maduro support as folly with top leaders such as Pelosi and Biden joining Trump on recognizing Guaidó. Still, will this be enough to keep Venezuelan-Americans blue? Trump’s strong policy on Venezuela is sure to strengthen his support within the community, even if they vote blue ballot down. Trump benefited largely from people who voted for Obama at least once and can similarly win a key demographic in a key state in a key election.

 


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