MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.: A GLOBAL LESSEN FOR OUR VITRIOLIC AND BIGOTED TIMES

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MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.: A GLOBAL LESSEN FOR OUR VITRIOLIC AND BIGOTED TIMES

“For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

By

Harry C. Blaney III (A Personal Note)

There is a lessen to all of us who worry about the direction that humanity is moving and not less what direction America will go in the future. This day we honored a man that indeed did “make America graet” in the yes of all at home and abroad.  America has been the acknowledged leader of Western and other democracies but that is now threaten by the irresponsibility and venomous statements and threats made already by Donald Trump.

Not least on this day we honored an extraordinary man filled with a commitment to equal justice for all, the elimination of racial and economic exploitation and prejudice, and especially committed to democracy and peace. But Trump, with malice afore thought, once again spudded disparaging remarks to a person with a morality that Trump it seems will never understand. Lewis said he did not consider, what many others believe, that Trump is “a legitimate president” and he gave as the reason Russian operatives interfered in the election on Trump’s behalf. Given that and the action of the FBI, Trump won with a profusion of outright lies, and that Hillary Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes, seems to not be a very strange conclusion among a large segment of Americans.

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Trump we all know in this context, is the man who disparaged Sen. McCain as a prisoner of war, a Gold Star family, a disabled reporter, and a host of just good people beyond numbers to count. So his nasty words directed at a good man with great courage who marched with MLKJr into dangers for the sake of justice and racial equality seems sadly no surprise.

I feel this insult and nasty disparagement especially strongly because, in the smallest possible way, I also participated in our civil rights era by going South on Spring break conducting sits-in with fellow students, my Chaplain, and above all bravely by local African-Americans all under the banner of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) led by Rev. King. It was not much but I was beaten with cattle prods by the St. Johns County police trying to sit-in, held in jail with my fellow peaceful protestors and threaten with death by the head of the local KKK inside the jail, the leaders of which were in cohorts with the police. Much worse I add was mete out to the local Blacks over the years.

All the while Trump made sure to discriminate against African- Americans in his New York housing operations. Now we see the same mind set of hate for “the other” coming back and extending to just about any who dare to criticize him or have a different viewpoint.

More on this element when we examine soon Trump’s MLKJr day attacks on our allies and praise and irresponsible national security giveaways to our adversary Vladimir Putin, the brutal killer of innocent babies, woman, and men in Syria and military aggressor in Ukraine on which he offers to lift sanctions. All in a typical day for a unsound Donald Trump.

We welcome your comments!

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AN ASSESSMENT OF 2016 CAMPAIGN AND ITS GLOBAL AND SECURITY IMPLICATIONS

By Harry C. Blaney III

Looking back on this election day there are several basic assessment one can make in terms of the debate and its foreign affairs and national security implications.

The first impression is that there was too little real serious debate about the reality of the challenges we faced around the world and exactly how we should manage our policies and engagement with others. The most serious statements were clearly made by Hillary Clinton which is not surprising given her service as Secretary of State and a one time member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and being in the White House for 8 years. The other assessment sadly is the complete ignorance and even destructive approaches and utterances of Donald Trump which not only exposed his lack of fitness for any serious public office let alone Commander-in-chief, but also that he has already before this election diminished the faith and respect of America abroad among those that have been paying any attention to our presidential campaign.

The second impression is that while not the highlight of most of the debates, foreign affairs was a topic that had more space than in earlier presidential elections when we were not directly at war. Those debates and some key statement by the candidates showed a wide divide between Clinton and Trump. They were wider than ever seen before and bordered in some cases to the absurd –  like building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, praising Putin by Trump, declaring that our defense of our NATO and other allies would depend on their “payments” for defense. Not least in this area was Trump’s praise of the worst dictators on the face of the earth.  Much of this, like his absurd domestic statements, did little to dent his popularity among his adherents but caused fear to most of the world.

The third impression, follows from the second impression, that is we have a massive job of educating our citizens and our students about the world beyond our borders. This is seen most obviously on issues of existential dangers on a global scale like nuclear weapons and climate change.  Here the refusal of Trump and most Republicans to accept that our climate is changing and that it is due to human intervention, but indeed he advocated for policies which will hasten catastrophic impacts on most of the earth’s surface in the lifetime of those living. We have already seen many areas that are paying heavily a price in terms of weather disasters. There are even some U.S. states that are discouraging information to their citizens of the reality of this risk. This must change no mater who wins this election.

The second area of nuclear weapons clearly did not resonate enough with our citizens even as polls showed people concerned about them. Too many ignored the obvious conclusion that Trump would put the entire globe at mortal risk with his threat to use them and our military in a cavalier manner including suggesting that other nations might like to have them! Nuclear nonproliferation has been a keystone in our efforts to make sure these weapons are never used.  His positions could spur unneeded arms races.  His lack of even being attentive to or desiring to learn about hard complex strategic issues and a lack of sane character or temperament which such a large responsibility requires is abundantly manifest.  Further, the media on both these issues and others was clearly derelict to press deeply either Trump or Clinton on these issues or analyze the difference between them.

The basic conclusion is clearly we are near an historical and societal crisis tipping point at home and abroad with this election no matter who will win.  In a world of enormous high risks that need urgent attention the Republicans mindlessly have in effect said they would oppose almost anything that Clinton would propose domestically or in foreign affairs. Should Trump win, we are in for undermining the confidence of our allies including NATO, likely encouraging Putin to press his aggression even harder, giving leeway the most dictatorial and ruthless rulers around the world, alienating our relations with Mexico, and creating a trade war with most of the world. The list goes on.

Clinton, if she would win, will be faced with horrendous set of domestic and international challenges. But at least she knows them, is smart, and is more likely to search cooperatively with other nations and international organizations to seek solutions and reduce strategic risks and cement our alliances. She has a history on human rights especially women and children’s rights which always need attention. We can also expect her attention to the global trend toward even greater inequality which has spurred so much upheavals and conflicts around the world and is unlikely to be a concern in a Trump presidency.

Tonight Americans will be watching their TV, or other devices, with no small amount of tension and much apprehension about the results. But around the world there will be equal fears and doubts about the future of our globe and its prosperity and security over the outcome. Despite all words to the contrary, America remains still the major lead actor for addressing our many critical global challenges. Obama has already proved, despite all the opposition by the Republicans, that America is “great” with his Iran nuclear agreement, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, his nuclear arms limitation New START 2011 treaty agreement, and not least, helping to rescue our global recession from total disaster, and bringing new respect for America around the world. Now the question is who will best follow him and do likewise and hopefully be as wise?

One thing is clear: we can not and should not be estranged from the rest of the world!

Stay tuned, after the election we will do an analysis of what a new administration will look like and its impact at home and abroad, as well as likely our engagement around the world!

We welcome your comments!

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We welcome your comments which can be posted here.

Visit our regularly up-dated Race to the White House section covering quotes, foreign affairs statements and policies of the presidential campaign candidates and parties.

RNS is also on twitter! Be sure to follow us @RNS_CIP 

THE RECENT OPINION OF FOREIGN LEADERS AND MEDIA ON TRUMP: THE IMPACT OF CORROSIVE POLITICS ABROAD

By  Harry C. Blaney III

There are many ways of examining the impact Trump has already made on our allies and our adversaries and rogue leaders abroad. The question Americans must ask is what does this attitude mean for American respect and leadership abroad in a Donald Trump presidency? An insight can be gained by reading the following quotes from foreign media and  leaders.

To start here at home, I think that Colin Powell,  who served as Secretary of State under Republican President George W. Bush, has said it all about Donald Trump in his recent endorsement of Secretary Hillary Clinton:

“He insults us every day,”…“He has insulted America in one way almost every day,” .. “He has insulted Latino Americans. He has insulted African-Americans. He has insulted women. He has insulted his own party. He has insulted our allies around the world one by one by one. He has insulted veterans.” – Independent

This is from a Republican with the widest experience in national security and diplomacy.

But the impact abroad, as we have seen in earlier posts and in our own media, has been considerable and to the harm of American influence and respect around the world. As we reach the final stage of our presidential campaign, it is worth a new close look at what others, who in their own countries or organizations have responsibility for leading their societies and not least working with America to solve common challenges and risks, think of our candidates.

The most key region that we have worked with and depend on most for our common defense and economic cooperation has been Europe. It is also the place where the idiocy of Trump has been most recognized and displayed, covered in the media and reflected in leaders statements and in polls.

Here are some excerpts from recent foreign Media :

THE FINANCIAL TIMES (UK) ENDORSED HILLARY CLINTON:

“This is a moment for the renewal of American leadership. One candidate has the credentials. Mrs Clinton has served as first lady, senator for New York and US secretary of state. Mr Trump deals in denigration not diplomacy. He has abused allies, threatening to remove east Asia’s nuclear umbrella, sideline Nato and unleash trade wars. Mr Trump casts himself in the role of a western strongman to stand alongside the likes of Mr Putin… Mr Trump has a thin skin and a questionable temperament. For all his many years as a reality TV host, he is simply not ready for prime time. Yet Mrs Clinton has much to prove. To many American voters, Mrs Clinton’s decades of public service mean little. She epitomises a remote, self-serving establishment. Her campaign has lacked inspiration… But she is manifestly more competent than Mr Trump whose braggadocio, divisiveness and meanness are on daily display. Despite her faults, Mrs Clinton is eminently qualified to be the first woman elected to the White House. She has the Financial Times’ endorsement.” Financial Times

THE ECONOMIST (UK) – America’s best hope; Why we would cast our hypothetical vote for Hillary Clinton:

“A QUARTER of Americans born since 1980 believe that democracy is a bad form of government, many more than did so 20 years ago. If the two main parties had set about designing a contest to feed the doubts of young voters, they could not have done better than this year’s presidential campaign. The vote, on November 8th, is now in sight, yet many Americans would willingly undergo the exercise all over again—with two new candidates. Of course that is not on offer: the next president will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

The choice is not hard. The campaign has provided daily evidence that Mr Trump would be a terrible president. He has exploited America’s simmering racial tensions. His experience, temperament and character make him horribly unsuited to being the head of state of the nation that the rest of the democratic world looks to for leadership, the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful armed forces and the person who controls America’s nuclear deterrent.

That alone would stop us from casting a vote, if we had one, for Mr Trump. As it happens, he has a set of policies to go with his personality. A Trump government would cut taxes for the richest while imposing trade protection that would raise prices for the poorest. We disagree with him on the environment, immigration, America’s role in the world and other things besides. His ideas on revenue and spending are an affront to statistics. We would sooner have endorsed Richard Nixon—even had we known how he would later come to grief.

Our vote, then, goes to Hillary Clinton. Those who reject her simply because she is a Clinton, and because they detest the Clinton machine, are not paying attention to the turpitude of the alternative. Although, by itself, that is not much of an endorsement, we go further. Mrs Clinton is a better candidate than she seems and better suited to cope with the awful, broken state of Washington politics than her critics will admit. She also deserves to prevail on her own merits.

Like Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton has ideas we disagree with. Her tax plan is fiddly. Her opposition to the trade deal with Asia that she once championed is disheartening. The scale of these defects, though, is measured in tiny increments compared with what Mr Trump proposes. On plenty of other questions her policies are those of the pragmatic centre of the Democratic Party. She wants to lock up fewer non-violent offenders, expand the provision of early education and introduce paid parental leave. She wants to continue Barack Obama’s efforts to slow global warming. In Britain her ideological home would be the mainstream of the Conservative Party; in Germany she would be a Christian Democrat.

In one sense Mrs Clinton is revolutionary. She would be America’s first female president in the 240 years since independence. This is not a clinching reason to vote for her. But it would be a genuine achievement. In every other sense, however, Mrs Clinton is a self-confessed incrementalist. She believes in the power of small changes compounded over time to bring about larger ones. An inability to sound as if she is offering an overnight transformation is one of the things that makes her a bad campaigner. Presidential nominees are now expected to inspire. Mrs Clinton would have been better-suited to the first half-century of presidential campaigns, when the candidates did not even give public speeches.

However, a prosaic style combined with gradualism and hard work could make for a more successful presidency than her critics allow. In foreign policy, where the president’s power is greatest, Mrs Clinton would look out from the Resolute desk at a world that has inherited some of the risks of the cold war but not its stability. China’s rise and Russia’s decline call for both flexibility and toughness. International institutions, such as the UN, are weak; terrorism is transnational.

So judgment and experience are essential and, despite Republican attempts to tarnish her over an attack in Benghazi in 2012, Mrs Clinton possesses both. As a senator she did solid work on the armed-services committee; as secretary of state she pursued the president’s policies abroad ably. Her view of America has much in common with Mr Obama’s. She rightly argued for involvement early on in Syria. She has a more straightforward view of America’s capacity to do good; her former boss is more alert to the dangers of good intentions. The difference is of degree, though. Mrs Clinton helped lay the foundations for ending the embargo on Cuba, striking a nuclear deal with Iran and reaching agreement with China on global warming. A Clinton presidency would build on this.”The Economist

DER SPIEGEL – Germany’s most read conservative weekly magazine:

“An American reporter explains that the Trump campaign is built on a foundation of religious and racial lenses, rather than on the Constitution. His support from the alt-right, overt racial and religious undertones, and reluctance to conceded if he loses all go against the fabric of American society.”  – Der Spiegel

“[Trump adviser Sam Clovis] shares Trump’s view that American foreign policy needs to strictly prioritize national interests, not the handed-down alliances of the postwar period: ‘We’re not about to spill one drop of blood or spend one more dollar unless we know exactly what the outcome is going to be or at least have some notion of what the predictability is,’ Clovis has told a group of European diplomats and experts…

Jürgen Hardt, the trans-Atlantic coordinator for the German government, believes that ‘even a President Trump would not carelessly jeopardize solid relationships if he is elected.’ Berlin officials believe that Trump would back away from some of his most outrageous demands if he were elected. But they do think that he would focus on the question as to who should carry the future costs of the trans-Atlantic alliance. A Republican victory in the election could be expensive for Germany…”Der Spiegel

LE MONDE – An influential conservative French newspaper:

“There may soon come a time when US world cities have expanded still further and immigration has transformed the US into a country where ‘minorities’ are in the majority. Then the Democrats may be able to do without the working-class Midwest, as they have previously done without poor Southern whites. But that time is not now. This year it’s still too risky for the Clintons’ party to scold all those who react badly to the problems the Democrats created, and to suggest that they seek training or a new career, or relocate. Because, with Trump in the ring, the Democrats can no longer be certain that they are the sole electoral refuge for what remains of a working-class base. Clinton, the personification of a political elite which for over a quarter of a century has led the working-class world towards catastrophe, must therefore take account of people whose economic fate is threatened and who are terrified by the loss of social status. Her CV is unmatched, but in 2016 many Americans seem to want to ditch the whole system and use a stick of dynamite called Donald Trump to do it.”Le Monde

THE GUARDIAN – A British left leaning quality daily newspaper:

“A Trump defeat will be richly deserved. As we have noted previously, he is not a fit and proper person to serve in the White House. His behaviour during a long, raucous and often embarrassingly vulgar campaign made that abundantly plain.  Yet consigning “the Donald” to the rubbish bin of electoral history is easier than getting rid of Trumpism. This is likely to take a lot longer. Trump’s platform was based not on thought-through policies and careful analysis but on prejudice, grievance, ignorance and fear, spiced with opportunism.

Oblivious to paradox, irony, history or facts, Trumpism projects a distorted vision of American greatness… As general concepts, Trumpism makes an enemy of the “other”, equates nationality with homogeneity, calls honest critics liars and seeks to threaten, jail or harm opponents… Trumpism admires the domestic authoritarianism and international bullying of dictatorships in Russia and China… Trumpism appeals to the worst in people, cynically exploiting and fanning the anger, grievances and prejudices of the economically disadvantaged, the embittered, uneducated and plain ignorant… Fear is the common enemy, but fear is Trumpism’s friend. This phenomenon is not confined to America.

For good or bad, this clock cannot be turned back. Closed borders and closed minds, crude nationalism, trade barriers, xenophobia, religious, racial and sexual discrimination – these are old mistakes and old hatreds that, while still in evidence everywhere, belong to times past. The world is moving forward, not back. In the end, Trumpism and all its ghastly incarnations, dwelling in fear and darkness, will, like Trump himself, be exorcised.”The Guardian

“Some have argued that Trump’s presidential campaign is damaging his brand. But that’s only true if his goal was to return to being a real estate developer/reality TV host after the election.

Imagine a Trump Party that first makes significant inroads in 2018 in congress, and then runs a presidential candidate in 2020 – could this third party candidate restrict Hillary Clinton to just one term? Both Rutherford Hayes and Lyndon Johnson declined to seek renomination. Could a Trump Party make it so difficult for her to govern that she simply throws in the towel?” The Guardian

THE TELEGRAPH – A far right British newspaperpaper:

“The Democrats could have learned from the UK. Crowning any leader without opposition is never a wise thing to do, as Labour found out in 2010. Having been denied the crown once before – in 1994, when Labour leader John Smith died, only to be replaced by Tony Blair – Gordon Brown wasn’t going to allow the same thing to happen again…

Far too late in the day, Labour learned its lesson. Never again will it allow a leadership contest to take place with a solitary candidate (although that is a moot point for the foreseeable future, given its deteriorating poll ratings under Jeremy Corbyn, a deterioration the party may very well find it cannot reverse once he has retired to his Islington allotment).


I
f Clinton wins – and I very much hope she does – I fear she will become the first one-term president since her husband defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. By 2020, of course, the Republicans will, we hope, have recovered from its temporary summer insanity and will nominate someone who is actually capable of entering the Oval Office without offending half the nation and all of the world. The Telegraph


VIEWS OF LEADERS ABROAD:

FIRST THE OUTLIERS FAVORING TRUMP:

Yes, there are leaders who favor Trump and they probably include Vladimir Putin, as reflected in the statements of his followers and the reported US intelligence indicating Russian hacking is directed at the Democrats as is much of the government controlled media with a bias towards Trump and putting down Clinton:

Vladimir Putin – “’Trump’s a colorful person. And well, isn’t he colorful? Colorful. I didn’t make any other kind of characterization about him. But here’s where I will pay close attention, and where I exactly welcome and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?’” – The Guardian

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russian politician loyal to Putin – “Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump. But if they vote for Hillary it’s war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.”

“He (Trump) won’t care about Syria, Libya and Iraq and why an earth should America interfere in these countries? And Ukraine. Who needs Ukraine?…Trump will have a brilliant chance to make relations more peaceful … He’s the only one who can do this,”- Vladimir Zhirinovsky 10/12/2016 – Reuters

“Trump’s statements have been widely reported in the Russian media, which has portrayed Trump as a lonely fighter against a corrupt establishment. (The Russian newscaster Dmitry Kiselev went so far as to argue that Trump should fear assassination at the hands of this establishment.) If, as expected, Trump loses the election, it will simply reinforce the Kremlin’s message that elites, not the electorate, decide who wins the U.S. presidency.

Beyond his domestic audience, Putin is engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of foreign citizens, some of whom turn to the Kremlin-backed RT (formerly Russia Today) as an alternative to CNN or BBC. Allegations of electoral malfeasance in the United States undermine confidence in the Western model of governance. Add to that Trump’s portrait of an unsafe country in an even more unsafe world, and you have a message in perfect conformity with an authoritarian worldview.

We do not fully understand the rationale for Donald Trump’s overt statements of support forPutin. But it is his highly inaccurate portrayal of U.S. politics that has most played into the Kremlin’s designs. Regardless of the election outcome, Putin is one of the big winners of this presidential election.” – Washington Post

“The head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Dmitri Trenin, believes that for the Kremlin, Trump could be a more comfortable dialogue partner than Clinton because he is at least potentially disposed to exchange opinions on issues that are important to Moscow. However, the expert notes that Clinton’s victory does not imply any catastrophe for the Kremlin: the Russian leaders know her well and have an idea of what her team and style of work are going to be.” – Russia Direct

“Russian President Vladimir Putin – unsmiling, forbidding – had the last, long word. He ridiculed journalists who suggest Russia is a threat and has sought to influence the US elections. “It’s nonsense that Donald Trump is the Russian favourite,” although he did add that he thought Mr Trump represents that part of US society that has tired of the elite that has been in power for decades.” – Financial Times, November 2, 2016

NIGEL FARAGE, Former UKIP Leader: “I cannot possibly tell you how you should vote in this election. But you know I get it, I get it. I’m hearing you. But I will say this, if I was an American citizen I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me. In fact, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me,” – Huffington Post

CZECH PRESIDENT MILOS ZEMAN:
“I will not interfere with U.S. internal affairs, I am just saying that if I were an American citizen, I would vote for Donald Trump.”
Bloomberg

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN: – “I am not a Donald Trump campaigner. I never thought I would ever entertain the thought that, of the open options, he (Trump) would be better for Europe and for Hungary.  But I listened to the candidate and I must tell you he made three proposals to combat terrorism. And as a European I could have hardly articulated better what Europe needs.”: He supports  Trump’s proposals to create “the best intelligence-gathering organisation in the world.  The second thing, said this valiant American presidential candidate, is to abandon the policy of exporting democracy. I could not have said it more precisely.  If we keep prioritising democracy over stability in regions where we are unlikely to succeed with that, we will create instability, not democracy.”
Reuters

EGYPT’S ABDEL FATAH AL-SISSI: “There was, however, a notable difference in the way that Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton handled the strongman — one that reveals a substantive and important divide on foreign policy. Mr. Trump’s post-meeting statement heaped uncritical praise on Mr. Sissi, thanking him ‘and the Egyptian people for what they have done in defense of their country’ and promising to invite the coup-maker for an official visit to Washington.

In contrast, Ms. Clinton, while paying tribute to U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on counterterrorism, “emphasized the importance of respect for rule of law and human rights to Egypt’s future progress,” according to her statement. She also “raised concerns about prosecution of Egyptian human rights organizations and activists.” In other words, while Mr. Trump handed a pass to this deeply problematic U.S. ally, Ms. Clinton put him on notice that his abuses will not be ignored if she becomes president.”Washington Post

NETHERLAND’S GEERT WILDERS, head of an extreme right-wing racist Dutch Party:
“I hope [Donald Trump] will be the next US President. Good for America, good for Europe. We need brave leaders” Breibart

NORTH KOREAN STATE MEDIA : “Praising the likely Republican nominee as a ‘wise politician’ and ‘far-sighted presidential candidate .’: ‘In my personal opinion, there are many positive aspects to the Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies’, wrote Han Yong Mook, who introduced himself as a Chinese North Korean scholar.  “Trump said ‘he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North,’ isn’t this fortunate from North Koreans’ perspective?  Yes do it, now … Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this? The day when the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.”NK News

ZIMBABWE’S PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE:
“US lawmakers Chris Coons and Adam Schiff were visiting the southern African country to discuss wildlife trafficking when a request for a meeting with the interior minister turned into a sit down with the president.  According to Coons and Schiff, the discussion turned tense when Mugabe asked why the US insists on sanctioning Zimbabwe. The senators and their delegation listed reasons why the sanctions have remained in place—the US has sanctioned the country since 2002 after reports of election abuse and human rights violations.  After an awkward silence, Mugabe said, ‘Once [Trump] is your president, you’ll wish you’d been friendlier to me,'”  – QZ

FRANCE’S MARINE LE PEN : Ms. Le Pen, who heads up  France’s far right and fascist National Front, called Trump “a free man” and said if she could, she would vote for “anyone but Hillary Clinton,”.Politico

FRAUKE PETRY, German anti-immigration and facist Alternative for Germany party’s leader: [Petry] suggests that a Trump presidency would be an opportunity for lower US-Russian tensions. Petry also believes Germany should have a more “balanced approach” towards Russia. – Washington Post

CHINESE SUPPORT: Trump has many supporters in China. “There are also some Chinese people who want him to win because of the American hype surrounding him. They think Trump is “unreliable,” but that he is more likely to be unreliable to America and the West, and, even if this is inconvenient for China, China will not be the first to be inconvenienced.” – Huanqiu


COMMENTS ON TRUMP AND CLINTON FROM LEADERS ABROAD: Looking at individual leaders abroad, there are clear cries of alarm over the possibility that Trump might become president.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY:

Asked if she would repeat criticism of Mr Trump’s policies on muslims, voiced when she was Home Secretary, Mrs May said: ‘I take a simple view about the way in which I like to see campaigns being conducted; I like them to be conducted in a calm and measured way with proper consideration of the issues.”

Speaking during her trip to India the Prime Minister added: “As to the result of the election, that’s up to the American people and we’ll know that very soon.” – Telegraph

LABOUR PARTY LEADER JEREMY CORBYN: 

Jeremy Corbyn invites Donald Trump for tea and a chat in his local mosque. The Labour leader said he’d like to “help” a hypothetical President Donald, and would invite him to discuss “culture and diversity” in Finsbury Park if he was Prime.

Jeremy Corbyn extended an invitation to Donald Trump tonight, saying if he won the US election, he’d invite him to discuss “culture and diversity” in his local mosque. Mr Corbyn was asked what he’d do if the Donald won the US election and he was elected Prime Minister, during a Labour party leadership debate in Birmingham.

Asked if he would be friendly to President Trump, he raised laughter from the audience, saying: “What I would do is try and help him.” He went on: “I would invite him to come to Finsbury Park, in my constituency, and we could go to a lovely building just around the corner, and we can talk about culture, diversity and history over a cup of tea in the Mosque.”Mirror

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER TIM FARRON:

Mr Farron said: “Donald Trump is not just mad and bad but he’s also dangerous. Why would you wish him luck? … I have never seen anyone so unworthy of the office of the presidency in history…He is a nasty misogynist and woefully under prepared for the immense responsibility that comes with sitting in the Oval Office…I am worried that millions of people will vote for him this week. The party of Abraham Lincoln is now the party of Donald Trump.” – Daily Mail

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON: 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has thrown political tradition aside to make her support for Hillary Clinton clear for all to see.

The popular leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party says in a Sunday Mail column that she “fervently hopes” Clinton will best Republican rival Donald Trump in Tuesday’s U.S. presidential vote.

Sturgeon says Clinton would be “a great president” and that the election of a woman leader in the U.S. would “also mark the shattering of the glass ceiling in terms of equality for women.”

Sturgeon also says Clinton, although not perfect, would be a great role model for women throughout the world. Global News


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL:
One of the most searing statement comes from the NATO Secretary general who make a  rebuttal against Trump. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said the alliance will defend all allies, a response to Mr. Trump’s earlier suggests that the U.S. would examine how much allies spend on defense before coming to their aid.

Stoltenberg said: “We don’t say: If you don’t pay, we won’t protect you,”….“After years of decline in defense spending there is now an increase in defense spending among European allies,” “But this is not something that was caused by the U.S. election campaign.” – Wall Street Journal

GERMAN OFFICIALS IN THE PAST MONTH OR SO:

GERMANY’S  FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER:
An early criticism, from the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier criticizes nationalist leaders, as “they make politics with fear.” Steinmeier added the same applies to Germany’s own nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, supporters of Britain’s exit from the EU and to “the hate preachers, like Donald Trump at the moment in the USA,”  calling Trump a hate preacher.  – DW

An internal analysis by the Finance Ministry in Berlin reportedly argues that a Trump victory would mean “a shrinking gross domestic product, fewer jobs and higher unemployment” — developments which would negatively impact German exporters. Trump’s economic ideas, furthermore, “aren’t feasible,” violate international or US law and could not “provide the foundation for a realistic economic policy.”

The US German Embassy reports also address Trump’s personal attacks on Merkel.  Trump called his opponent “America’s Angela Merkel,” as if a comparison with the German Chancellor qualified as an insult.”Der Spiegel

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We welcome your comments which can be posted here.

Visit our regularly up-dated Race to the White House section covering quotes, foreign affairs statements and policies of the presidential campaign candidates and parties.

RNS is also on twitter! Be sure to follow us @RNS_CIP 

THE FINAL DEBATE: THE LAST DISTORTED WORDS OR MORE TO COME?

By Harry C. Blaney III

Photo Credit via ABC News


The last campaign 2016 debate was, as expected by some, was a horrific mess but it exposed again the terrible reality that Donald Trump is a dangerous man if not likely with an unbalanced and offensive mind too. And that leaves aside even much of his reprehensible words and behavior. Much of the debate was silly and often off subject and not very deep. Wallace was probably among the worst moderators I have ever seen in not pressing on the topic and keeping people talking over each other.

Once again Hillary Clinton showed her firm grasp of some of the key issues that we face in our high risk world with all its complexities. But just fifteen minutes were not enough to give time to dig deeper into so many issues that needed better time and more depth. The Fox moderator Chris Wallace did not help matters in keeping on topic and challenging both candidates to not just say what they wanted to accomplish but also just how. He also let Trump go on despite the rules and interrupt Clinton while not stopping Trump’s interference.

Defeating ISIS or Islamic State was an issue that was more assertions than strategy, limited to saying they will be defeated in battle, or asserting who is tougher or more fearsome. The reality is the President Obama strategy of providing help in terms of air strikes, intelligence, logistics, training, and other assistance without putting too many U.S. troops in to do this job and keeping them away from direct combat. With this strategy, in fact, some real progress has been made by relying on local forces who know the “terrain” better than we ever could.

The salient question is not now whether they will take Mosul but when and how and what will be left and how can we put this shattered place back together and get the people to cooperate no mater their ethnic or religious background. The aftermath is key to long term security and stability of the region. The same is true in Syria. But little time was addressed to this topic. Displaced persons and refugees are a horrendous problem and we and our allies including the Gulf states have not done enough to deal with this problem.

Nor did anyone really address the question of the role of Putin’s Russia now and later in the region. This is a major conundrum for not just for America but our allies and the Islamic states of the region. Here Wallace was weak.

Some of the key takeaway points are below in this debate on foreign and national security issues:

IMMIGRATION

Donald Trump: “I mean, these are unbelievable people that I’ve gotten to know over a period of years whose children have been killed, brutally killed by people that came into the country illegally. You have thousands of mothers and fathers and relatives all over the country. They’re coming in illegally…

One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords, all of the bad ones — we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’re going to get them out; we’re going to secure the border. And once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”

Hillary Clinton: “I don’t want to rip families apart. I don’t want to be sending parents away from children. I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country…

I think that is an idea that is not in keeping with who we are as a nation. I think it’s an idea that would rip our country apart.

I have been for border security for years. I voted for border security in the United States Senate. And my comprehensive immigration reform plan of course includes border security. But I want to put our resources where I think they’re most needed: Getting rid of any violent person. Anybody who should be deported, we should deport them….

And Donald knows a lot about this. He used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower. He underpaid undocumented workers, and when they complained, he basically said what a lot of employers do: “You complain, I’ll get you deported.”

I want to get everybody out of the shadows, get the economy working, and not let employers like Donald exploit undocumented workers, which hurts them, but also hurts American workers.”

RUSSIA

Clinton: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit…that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race.

We have 17 — 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.” 

Trump: She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China, or anybody else.
Clinton: I am not quoting myself.
Trump: She has no idea.
Clinton: I am quoting 17…
Trump: Hillary, you have no idea.
Clinton: … 17 intelligence — do you doubt 17 military and civilian…
Trump: And our country has no idea.
Clinton: … agencies.
Trump: Yeah, I doubt it. I doubt it.
Clinton: Well, he’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us. I find that just absolutely…
Trump: She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way.

Wallace: You condemn their interference?
Trump: Of course I condemn. Of course I — I don’t know Putin. I have no idea.
Wallace: I’m not asking — I’m asking do you condemn?
Trump: I never met Putin. This is not my best friend. But if the United States got along with Russia, wouldn’t be so bad.

ALLIANCES AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS:

Trump: “We’re in very serious trouble, because we have a country with tremendous numbers of nuclear warheads — 1,800, by the way — where they expanded and we didn’t, 1,800 nuclear warheads. And she’s playing chicken.”

Clinton: “I — I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He’s…advocated more countries getting them, Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He said, well, if we have them, why don’t we use them, which I think is terrifying.”

Trump: “As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody in the — we’re defending other countries. We are spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century.

All I said is, we have to renegotiate these agreements, because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and many other places. We cannot continue to afford — she took that as saying nuclear weapons.”

Clinton: “The United States has kept the peace — the United States has kept the peace through our alliances. Donald wants to tear up our alliances. I think it makes the world safer and, frankly, it makes the United States safer. I would work with our allies in Asia, in Europe, in the Middle East, and elsewhere. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to keep the peace.”

Trump: “They have to pay up. We’re protecting people, they have to pay up. And I’m a big fan of NATO. But they have to pay up.

She comes out and said, we love our allies, we think our allies are great. Well, it’s awfully hard to get them to pay up when you have somebody saying we think how great they are.

We have to tell Japan in a very nice way, we have to tell Germany, all of these countries, South Korea, we have to say, you have to help us out.”

TRADE DEALS:

Trump: “So my plan — we’re going to renegotiate trade deals. We’re going to have a lot of free trade. We’re going to have free trade, more free trade than we have right now. But we have horrible deals. Our jobs are being taken out by the deal that her husband signed, NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever.

I am going to renegotiate NAFTA. And if I can’t make a great deal — then we’re going to terminate NAFTA and we’re going to create new deals. We’re going to have trade, but we’re going — we’re going to terminate it, we’re going to make a great trade deal…

Now she wants to sign Trans-Pacific Partnership. And she wants it. She lied when she said she didn’t call it the gold standard in one of the debates. She totally lied. She did call it the gold standard.”

Clinton: “Well, first, let me say, number one, when I saw the final agreement for TPP, I said I was against it. It didn’t meet my test. I’ve had the same test. Does it create jobs, raise incomes, and further our national security? I’m against it now. I’ll be against it after the election. I’ll be against it when I’m president.

There’s only one of us on this stage who’s actually shipped jobs to Mexico, because that’s Donald. He’s shipped jobs to 12 countries, including Mexico…

In fact, the Trump Hotel right here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. So he goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steelworkers, not American steelworkers….

We’re going to have trade agreements that we enforce. That’s why I’m going to have a trade prosecutor for the first time in history. And we’re going to enforce those agreements, and we’re going to look for businesses to help us by buying American products.”

ISIS:

Trump: “Take a look at Syria. Take a look at the migration. Take a look at Libya. Take a look at Iraq. She gave us ISIS, because her and Obama created this huge vacuum, and a small group came out of that huge vacuum because when — we should never have been in Iraq, but once we were there, we should have never got out the way they wanted to get out. She gave us ISIS as sure as you are sitting there. And what happened is now ISIS is in 32 countries. And now I listen how she’s going to get rid of ISIS. She’s going to get rid of nobody.”

Clinton: “Well, I am encouraged that there is an effort led by the Iraqi army, supported by Kurdish forces, and also given the help and advice from the number of special forces and other Americans on the ground.But I will not support putting American soldiers into Iraq as an occupying force…

The goal here is to take back Mosul. It’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqa, which is the ISIS headquarters.

And I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to, frankly, gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track.

Trump: “I have been reading about going after Mosul now for about — how long is it, Hillary, three months? These people have all left. They’ve all left.

The element of surprise. Douglas MacArthur, George Patton spinning in their graves when they see the stupidity of our country….

Iran should write us yet another letter saying thank you very much, because Iran, as I said many years ago, Iran is taking over Iraq, something they’ve wanted to do forever, but we’ve made it so easy for them.”

Clinton: “But what’s really important here is to understand all the interplay. Mosul is a Sunni city. Mosul is on the border of Syria. And, yes, we do need to go after Baghdadi, and — just like we went after bin Laden, while you were doing “Celebrity Apprentice,” and we brought him to justice. We need to go after the leadership.”

Trump: “We don’t know who the rebels are. And when and if — and it’s not going to happen, because you have Russia and you have Iran now. But if they ever did overthrow Assad, you might end up with — as bad as Assad is, and he’s a bad guy, but you may very well end up with worse than Assad.”

ACCEPTANCE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

Wallace: “Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely — sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?”
Trump: “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time….What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”

Clinton: “So that is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election. You know, President Obama said the other day when you’re whining before the game is even finished…”

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PUTIN’S MAN ZHIRINOVSKY ON TRUMP, WAR AND U.S. ELECTION 2016

By Harry C. Blaney III

The question of Putin and Russian interest and involvement in the U.S. election debate, hacking of Democratic Party e-mails, and interference with US election voting all have been raised recently. They have also been mentioned by former Secretary Hillary Clinton. But more important are reports from U.S. intelligence sources that indeed Russians were involved in all of these activities. The significance of these activities has not been fully appreciated by the American public. The effort of Putin to impact and even change the trajectory of American democratic institutions in ways that will undermine our global leadership, respect and indeed security needs more understanding and attention. This is as serious an issue as any in this election.

A main danger is what we still do not know of how much the Russians have influenced Trump and his staff. There are hints that Trump’s people had advance notice of the WikiLeaks documents which likely had their sources from Russian intelligence.  We know that Donald Trump has praised Putin’s leadership, has said that Putin is a better leader than Obama And Trump has held a grudge against Obama and Clinton as has Putin.

But of greatest importance so far is all the evidence indicates that Putin is more than hoping, but also acting on the theory of an American president who is clearly self-interested, ignorant of the niceties of global strategy and diplomacy, and has displayed total disdain for the importance of deep knowledge or listening to expert advice on critical issues in dealing with national security challenges.

One of the deepest fears from the word of Trump has been his explicit indication that he would act as an authoritarian leader (“lock her up”) and disregard the norms and laws of our nation including ordering an investigation of Clinton which would be against all legal norms.  This is not the only brutal authoritarian leader that Trump has admired and it seems that he thinks that as president these are good examples of himself as a “strong” leader.

Trump, to make it clear, is and would be a danger to our national security at every level and proof of that alone is he admires a ruthless opponent and authoritarian leader that is trying his best to undermine the democratic West, their institutions and defense. As one will see an example from the voice of one of Putin’s supporters below, who clearly wants to help Trump to better manipulate the outcomes of American-Russian conflicts. Indeed it is my view we may more likely have a dangerous armed conflict with Russia under a maniacal Trump than from a highly experienced Clinton who knows the national security issues and risks and acts with real understanding and experience.

The oddest recent development has been the dismaying statement by one of Putin’s colleague who leads a party that supports Putin, the Russian Liberal Democratic Party – a misnomer if there ever was one. The man is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an unrestrained veteran lawmaker known for his wild rhetoric, much in the mold of Trump, who told Reuters in a recent interview that Donald Trump was the only person able to deescalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington.

When you read Zhirinovksy think Putin for these are the words that Putin and or his people put into the mouth of one of his puppets to express their fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency and undermine her candidacy.

Russia Leaders Quotes:

Vladimir Zhirinovksy on Trump:

“Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump. But if they vote for Hillary it’s war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.”

“He (Trump) won’t care about Syria, Libya and Iraq and why an earth should America interfere in these countries? And Ukraine. Who needs Ukraine?…Trump will have a brilliant chance to make relations more peaceful … He’s the only one who can do this,”- Vladimir Zhirinovsky 10/12/2016 – Reuters

In contrast, Zhirinovsky described Clinton as “an evil mother-in law” and said her record as secretary of state under Obama in 2009-2013 showed she was unfit to lead her country.

Zhirinovsky also said about Clinton: “She craves power. Her view is that Hillary is the most important person on the planet, that America is an exceptional country, as Barack Obama said,” ….. “That’s dangerous. She could start a nuclear war.”

In characteristically chauvinistic remarks, Zhirinovsky said Clinton’s gender should also block her from the presidency:

“Most Americans should choose Trump because men have been leading for millions of year. You can’t take the risk of having one of the richest, most powerful countries led by a woman president,”

With regard to lewd comments Trump made about women in 2005 that have damaged his campaign,  Zhirinovsky defended the Republican: “Men all round the world sometimes say such things that are just for their comrades. We must only consider his business (and political) qualities.”

Putin on Trump:

““Trump’s a colorful person. And well, isn’t he colorful? Colorful. I didn’t make any other kind of characterization about him.

“But here’s where I will pay close attention, and where I exactly welcome and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?”” – Putin on Trump 6/18/2016 – The Guardian

Russian Press:

“US intelligence has meddled in elections in other countries on numerous occasions starting with the Italian parliamentary elections of 1948… To my knowledge this is however the first occasion that US intelligence has directly and publicly meddled in a US national election, acting to help one candidate defeat another.”

– Russian media claims US intelligence report blaming Russia for hacking is example of the government helping Hillary Clinton win.  – Alexander Mercouris – theduran.com

Russia media, via RT, also suggests that neither Trump nor Clinton would be Putin’s top choice.

“As for Putin? He has said he’d like to work with a person who can make responsible decisions and implement agreements: “Their last name doesn’t matter.”” Putin has called Trump “colorful,” not “brilliant,” and has mentioned him only twice.

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PRESIDENTIAL SECOND DEBATE: RISING BEYOND THE SORDID AND INTO SUBSTANCE?


By Harry C. Blaney III

The debate on Sunday night October 9th was one of the most depressing debates on record. The personal invective and behavior of Trump and avoidance of any positive elements or real substance made for an ugly debate and loss of time to address many foreign affairs key issues. This debate only confirmed that this format is a disaster and did not permit the candidates to fully address most of the key issues America and our allies face in a landscape filled with complex choices, instability, nuclear weapons and many high risks.

This debate started focusing on Trump’s previous behavior, but the debate made a new low in American politics. Trump brought up sordid elements that debased himself and dominated much of the debate. What it also clearly demonstrated was that Trump is unfit even as a decent human being, let alone fit to be Commander-in-Chief with his finger on the nuclear button.

Moderators permitted Trump especially to use his time and interfered with Clinton’s time to let him do inflammatory and off subject general personal attack statements. These included: Trump threatened to jail Clinton…….he said about e-mails: “You’d be in jail.” About Clinton and Obama, Trump said “Never been so many lies, so much deception….never been anything like this.”

He added “She has tremendous hate in her heart.” He said he would instruct “a Special Prosecutor to look into [her] situation” against Hillary. Trump also invoked extreme religious reference when expressing his shock of Bernie’s support for Clinton as “I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.” How does any of this help American understanding of key issues like nuclear weapons or climate change?

The thought that he might gain the power to send US forces mindlessly into harm’s way and alienating ourselves permanently through reckless actions, which he has already done from the statements of many key leaders around the world (as seen in our post on Voices Beyond Our Borders), is very disturbing. But his behavior in his personal life has already proved that he has no internal moral core, which should be a vital precondition for anyone to head the American government domestically or globally. His actions as well as his words all indicate that the man is either very stupid or mentally unbalanced. The debate only reinforced this judgement.

As for Clinton, on foreign and national security issues, she showed again a command of the issues and the problems the US faces abroad. But there was little time to get into details.

The problem with both the questions and the moderators, Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz from ABC, were that once again they did not get into or demand any real depth on most of these issues. Rather they permitted repeated statements by Trump to avoid any questions of his behavior and his substantive policies. They let Trump ramble on off topic statements while cutting off Clinton. This made the debate a bit more one sided than it would be with some real, fair discipline. They let Trump repeatedly interrupt Clinton even as she talked on serious issues. In sum, the candidates were not challenged or forced to reply to the questions asked except in one case, so we lost much insight about topics of great significance.

Perhaps the greatest cost of this display of utter coarseness and continued show of hate for much the world’s people especially women, Muslims, Latin Americans and beyond has threatened respect for and willingness to follow our leadership. How can anyone who is a true decent leader look to this brute of a man ever and give any respect or believe in his word? That does not and will not happen with Obama and nor for Clinton. Trump’s  dark and brutish gutter talk only deepens fear abroad.  His behavior along with his attacks and false accusations only contributed  to the sense around the world that America itself has lost its way. People of substance abroad are asking how American politics could produce such a man of such abhorrent quality.

Looking at a Few  Key Subjects That Were Raised or Not Raised with Commentary :

General Foreign Policy and Security:

This needs little commentary:

Trump cited “stupidity” of our foreign policy, but refused to give much specifics of how or what he would do.

Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control:

There was almost nothing said on nuclear weapons or arms control. The blame lies with the commentators and the networks that ran this debate that avoided real strategic issues and what direction they would take.

Trump – “But our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old. We’re tired. We’re exhausted in terms of nuclear.”

Clinton – “I think wherever we can cooperate with Russia, that’s fine. And I did as secretary of state. That’s how we got a treaty reducing nuclear weapons [referencing coarsest New START treaty]. It’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

Terrorism, Syria and Domestic Security Policy:

Trump once again took up terrorism as an attack in response to a question about hate statements about Muslims. Trump brought up again “extreme vetting” again citing the example of the refugees from Syria.

Clinton on the other hand made a strong case of accepting Muslims and not discriminating while saying that ISIS would be defeated and Trump played into the hands of terrorists. Clinton defended Syrian refugees while bringing them under tougher vetting.

On the question of Syria, Clinton said the situation was catastrophic and noted in the Aleppo bombing there is Russian determination to destroy Aleppo. She reaffirmed the need for a safe zone, that we need leverage over Russia, and to work with partners on the ground. Regarding the aggressiveness of Russia, she said that she stood up to Putin. She added that we should continue diplomacy and would hold Russia accountable for humanitarian crimes.

Trump did take up ISIS in the context of Syria and other nations like Libya but did little to enlighten onlookers with specifics of how he would address the multiplicity of terrorism threats. He gave the impression that he would be more aggressive without much specifics on how and at what risk or costs.  Clinton did outline how she would deal with ISIS in Syria. She also noted that progress against ISIS was being made in both Syria and Iraq without putting our troops into danger.

Key quotes are:

Donald Trump – “I think Aleppo is a disaster, humanitarian-wise…I think that it basically has fallen”

Hillary Clinton – “I do think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul….I would go after Baghdadi. I would specifically target Baghdadi, because I think our targeting of Al Qaeda leaders – and I was involved in a lot of those operations, highly classified ones – made a difference… I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partner in Syria, as well as Iraq.”

Building The Wall on Mexico’s Border and Relations with Latin America and US Latinos:

The coverage of this topic was, except for building “a strong border,” not deeply addressed and neither were the means and costs addressed except Trump said, as he has in the past, keep illegal immigrants out and send them back.

Donald Trump – “We’re going to have borders in our country, which we don’t have now…We have many criminal illegal aliens. When we want to send them back to their country, their country says we don’t want them. In some cases, they’re murderers, drug lords, drug problems. And they don’t want them. And Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, said that’s OK, we can’t force it into their country. Let me tell you, I’m going to force them right back into their country. They’re murders and some very bad people.”

The Russia-Putin Challenge: NATO, Ukraine, Syria and Defense of Europe and EU Unity:

There was only very short mentions about Russia and Putin. There was no policy or specific approaches discussed or really asked by the unenlightened and unbalanced moderators. Clinton noted broadly she would be tough on Putin’s aggression. Trump, against reports to the contrary, said he had no interests in Russia. Other documents show Russian investors and his staff included a key advisor who helped the Russian-backed Ukrainian President as a political advisor. When Clinton said he could prove this by releasing his taxes, Trump went on an attack against Clinton not related to Russian influence.

International Trade, Global Economic Policy and Global Poverty and Inequality:

Trump again went after TTP and demonstrated he might close much of our trade with large parts of the world. Clinton did not engage in this subject in any specific way. Global poverty and inequality were never mentioned.

Climate Change and other Environmental Issues:

This topic was never really addressed. The only mention was in relation to the issue of the energy industry. Trump said he would support clean energy but clearly was in favor of expanding coal and other fossil fuels. Clinton argued in favor of using natural gas as a transition to reliance on green energy, which would help address the serious problem of climate change.

Asia: North Korea, China, Japan, South China Sea, South-East Asia Pakistan- India Conflict and Africa:

These topics were not asked about by the moderators and the subjects never came up in substance

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The Vice Presidential Debate : The Good, The Bad, And The Very Bad

By Harry C. Blaney III

This debate was in some ways a shame for the commentator who permitted again over talking of the VP candidates especially Pence, and she largely did not question lies and false assertions. The greatest fault of the media has been lack of focus before and after these debates on the substance and meaning of the policies that have a real impact on people’s lives and security. The post debate commentary was strictly the “horse race” rather than on what the policies and statements will mean for the future of our nation. It was a sad example of the lack of  honest oversight by the media.

The good part of this debate is that they did cover international issues. The bad part is they left out climate change, global inequality, and other issues. The really bad was the absence of truth and lack of deep analysis of cost, risks and benefits of proposed policies.

The quotes however provide some insight on how each party and the candidates themselves view the role of America in the world, how exactly they see that world, and finally how they would act if they got in power. The VP debate, while not the main event, still indicates the direction each party would take if they won in November.

It seems clear that like the first debate between Clinton and Trump their divide on realistic assessment, means of solving or not solving problems and challenges is as wide as ever. It also reveals from this perspective how little the Republican candidates know or really understand how to act in the complex, often dangerous and fast moving world we live in.

On the specific foreign affairs and national security issues some short takes:

Nuclear Weapons

Governor Pence: “We need to modernize our nuclear forces and we need an effective American diplomacy that will marshal the resources of nations in the Asian-Pacific rim to put pressure on North Korea, to abandon the nuclear ambitions. It has to remain the policy of the United States of America, the demilitarization of the Korean peninsula… We will go back to the days of peace through strength.”

Senator Kaine: “On the foreign relations committee we just did an extensive sanctions package against North Korea and interestingly enough, the UN did virtually the same package. Often China will use their veto on the security council for that. They are starting to get worried about North Korea as well. So, they supported the sanctions’ passage, even when many of the sanctions are against Chinese financial institutions. So, we are working together with China and we need to. It is competitive and also challenging and we have to be able to cooperate against North Korea. Hillary understands that. She went famously to China and stood up at a human rights meeting and said, against North Korea. “Women’s rights are human rights.” She worked on many important diplomatic deals with China and that is what it will take.”

Clearly once again on the topic of nuclear weapons and associated issues like North Korea and the placement of such weapons in our strategic plans, Gov. Pence seems deeply in the dark. This despite having served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He had a hard time defending past irresponsible quotes on this issue from Trump.  The key issue here is which set of candidates will act in the most careful and responsible way and this debate did not change the view that we have in the GOP team — very dangerous people with little understanding of key security issues.

Illegal Immigration

Pence: “Donald Trump has made a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country. We have been talking it to death for 20 years. Hillary Clinton wants to continue the policy of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities, all of the things driving wages down in this country, senator, and also too often, with criminal aliens in the country, it is bringing heartbreak.

It begins with border security. After we secure the border, not only build a wall, but beneath the ground and in the air, we do internal enforcement. The focus has to be on criminal aliens. We just had a conversation about law enforcement, a conversation about the violence that is the setting our cities. The reality is, there is heartbreaking tragedy that has struck American families because people who came into this country illegally are now involved in criminal and reprise and activity, and we do not have the resources or the will to deport them systematically.

Donald Trump said we are going to move those people out. People have overstayed their visas. We are going to enforce the law of this country and strengthen immigration and customs enforcement with more resources and personnel to be able to do that, and then Donald Trump has made it clear. Once we have done all of those things, then we are going to reform the immigration system that we have in this country.”

Kaine: “Donald Trump believes in deportation nation. You have got to pick your choice. Hillary and I want a bipartisan reform that will keep families together, second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those were violent, third, that will do more border control, and third, write a path to citizenship for those who play by the rules and take criminal background checks. That is our proposal.”

While Pence had a hard time defending the indefeasible lies and policies of Trump he stood clearly on the side of building the “Wall” which would be as an act of total madness and hurt our relations with every Latin American government let alone many of our citizens and undocumented residents. Senator Kaine gave the right answers about how impossible the Trump stance was and how self-defeating.

On Immigration and Refugees:

Pence: “It really does begin with us reforming our immigration system and putting the interest, particularly in the safety and security of the American people, first. Donald Trump wants extreme vetting for people coming in. Donald Trump and I are committed to suspending the Syrian refugee program and programs in immigration around the world that have been compromised by terrorism. Hillary Clinton wants to increase it.

If you’re going to be critical of me, that is fair game. After two Syrian refugees were involved in the attack in Paris that is called “Paris’ 9/11,” you bet I suspended that program. I stand by that decision. If I am vice president, we’re going to put the safety of the American people first.

The director of the FBI said we cannot know for certain who these people coming are.”

Kaine: “As opposed to violating the constitution by blocking people from coming in based on their nationality, we have different views on refugee issues and immigration. Hillary and I want to do enforcement based on “Our people dangerous?” These guys say “All Mexicans are bad.” With regard to refugees, we want to keep people out of they are dangerous. Donald Trump said “Keep them out if they are Muslim.” An appellate court with three public and judges struck down a pence plan and said it was this majority. It was discriminatory.”

Pence stuck to the Republican platform that opposes admitting refugees from Syria. By echoing Trump’s call for ‘extreme vetting,’ the Governor of Indiana demonstrated a shared ignorance in the robust vetting process already in place. Refugees are screened over a period of two years before they’re admitted into the United States. Kaine used the topic as an opportunity to highlight this week’s court ruling against Pence’s proposal to block refugees settling in his home state of Indiana. Overall, this topic is a choice between base fear, a lack of understanding of current refugee vetting, and xenophobia or accepting our share of the burden in assisting the world’s most helpless victims.

Iran, Iraq, and ISIS

Pence: “Other goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran terminally renounced their nuclear ambitions. They have not done so. And when the deal’s period runs out, there is no limitation on weapons. $1.7 billion was used in a ransom payment.

Iraq has been overrun by ISIS. They failed to negotiate. Hillary Clinton has failed to renegotiate the status of forces agreement.

The primary threat today is ISIS. Because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a forces agreement that would have allowed some American combat troops to remain in Iraq and secure the hard-fought gains that the American soldier has won, ISIS was able to be literally conjured up out of the desert and it has overrun vast areas.”

Kaine: “Let me come back to talk about — he does not want to acknowledge that we stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. He does not want to acknowledge that Taylor was part of the team that got Osama bin Laden… She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

I would like to correct — President Bush said we would leave Iraq at the end of 2011. Iraq did not want our troops to stay. They would not give us the [directive] of our troops. If a nation where our troops are serving does not want us to stay, we are not going to stay —

Here is her plan to defeat ISIL. They have to take out their leaders on the battlefield. She will lead the team that will get the head of ISIS. We have got to disrupt the financing networks.

Third, disrupt their ability to recruit on the internet, in their state havens. Fourth, we also have to work with allies to share intelligence. That is the Hillary Clinton plan.”

On these issues Pence was either badly informed or downright lied, following the tradition of his leader. Sen. Kaine corrected these mistruths. But a campaign based on security issues and especially the Iran one on nuclear issues provided such prevarications beyond acceptable. Most well-read people know that it was President Bush who decided to take our troops out when he could not get immunity for our troops.

Russia and Putin

Pence: “Hillary Clinton’s top priority when she became secretary of state was the Russian reset. After the Russian reset, the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea. The small and bullying the leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States to the point where all the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, just withdraws from talk about a cease-fire while that Vladimir Putin puts a missile defense in Syria while he marshaled the forces and begins — look, we have got to lean into this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership that begins by rebuilding our military… The provocations by Russia need to be met by American strength. If Russia continues to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the US needs to be prepared to strike military targets of the Assad regime, to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis taking place in Aleppo.”

“There is a broad range of other things we ought to do as well. We should deploy a missile defense shield to the Czech Republic and Poland, which had Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pulled back on. We have to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they are dealing with a strong American president.”

“What we are dealing with is — there is an old proverb that says the Russian bear never dies, but hibernates. This foreign policy from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has awakened a Russian aggression that first appeared a few years ago with their move into Georgia and Crimea and into the wider Middle East. All we do now is pull out our arms and say, “We are not having talks anymore.” We need to marshal the resources of our allies in the region and end the immediate — we need to act and act now to get people out of harm’s way.”

“Strength. We are going to rebuild our military. This whole Putin thing, look, America is stronger than Russia. Our economy is 16 times larger than the Russian economy. Our political system is superior to the corrupt capital system in Russia it every way.”

“When Donald Trump and I observed in Syria and Iran and Ukraine that the bullying leader of Russia has been stronger on the world stage than this administration is stating facts. That is not an endorsement of Putin.”

Kaine: “Consistent with the UN Security Council resolution passed would be a good idea. Hillary Clinton has the way to stand up to Russia. Donald Trump again and again has praised Vladimir Putin.”

“It is clear she has business dealings with Russia and is very connected to Putin. The trump campaign management team had to be fired a month or so ago because of those shadowy connections.”

“Governor Pence made the odd claim, he said, and arguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than president Obama. Vladimir Putin has run his economy into the ground and he persecutes LGBT folks. If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you got to go back to a fifth grade civics class. That offends me.”

“Vladimir Putin is a dictator. He is not a leader.”

“Anyone who thinks otherwise does not know Russian history and they doesn’t know Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton knows exactly who this guy is. John McCain, I look at that guy and I see KGB. So, how do you deal with him? We do have to deal with Russia in many different ways. There are areas where we can cooperate.”

Here Kaine held clearly the edge and noted the many weakness of Trump’s and Pence’s understanding and indeed especially of Trump’s admiration for Putin. He weakly defended that position at the same time Putin’s forces were bombing and killing hundreds of innocent civilian including woman and children and hospitals in Syria. This was also not addressed or noted by our clueless moderator. Pence had no decent ground on this issue. Kaine seemed to repeat the argument that are going on within the administration but sadly few on any side have any easy answers.

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