Tag: aid

Bolsonaro Accepts Venezuelan Soldiers Fleeing Country

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

In Venezuela, self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó is failing to ignite a military revolution. As a result, 25 Venezuelan soldiers who side with him fled. They now seek asylum in the Brazilian Embassy in Caracas. Knowing that their lives are at risk for defecting, they had few options. After all, betraying Maduro can carry a life sentence.

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Guaidó Considering Asking US for Military Aid in Venezuela

Rafael Augusto B. L. de Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

It’s been more than three months since Juan Guaidó declared himself the Interim President of Venezuela. He has since tried to end Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship ruling the country with an iron fist. The Venezuelan interim president has been doing his best to ignite a revolution to bring back democracy and dignified life to citizens of his country. At first, he tried to peacefully remove Maduro and his crew from power. But since it didn’t work, he has recently resorted to more violent means.

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It’s Time the United States End its Saudi Arabian Alliance

Shiam Kannan | United States

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is only one more entry in a long list of human rights abuses by the Saudi Arabian Government, which also includes their suppression of religious freedom, sponsorship of terrorism, and complicity in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. However, Khashoggi’s murder is significant because it has brought mass attention to Saudi Arabia’s actions, and has given the United States a window through which to exit its relationship with them. Now is the time to utilize this window and end our partnership with the Saudis. Due to the Saudi Government’s involvement in some of the most abhorrent human rights violations present in the modern era, it is imperative that the United States terminate its friendship with Saudi Arabia if it wants to remain a nation looked up to by the rest of the free world.

Unfortunately, President Trump has refused to censure the Saudi government for its actions and has seemingly taken it for its word that the Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, had nothing to do with the assassination, despite the fact that the CIA has concluded that Salman had indeed ordered the killing. Essentially, Trump’s utilitarian view on foreign affairs has led to his favoring a foreign regime over our own intelligence agencies. President Trump’s cozying up to Saudi Royalty merely punctuates his view of foreign relations as business deals, rather than interactions with moral implications.

However, regardless of the Khashoggi assassination, there are many, many, other reasons why America ought to terminate its alliance with the Saudis, not least of which is the Yemeni Civil War. Over half of all the civilian deaths in Yemen have been due to Saudi airstrikes, and a recent UN report has concluded that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been responsible for recruiting child soldiers, some as young as 8 years old, and even raping civilians. Saudi Arabia indiscriminately conducts bombings throughout Yemen, which have hit targets such as hospitals, funerals, and even refugee camps. And worst of all, Yemen is on its way to experiencing the “world’s worst famine in 100 years” if the Civil War continues. Saudi Arabia, in coordination with the US, is engaging in a blockade of food and supplies to Yemeni civilians. Approximately 12 to 13 million people are at risk of famine in Yemen right now, which could begin as soon as 2 to 3 months from now if the war does not end.

The airstrikes in Yemen are, for the most part, conducted using weapons purchased from the United States. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is America’s number one arms customer, as they give the US billions of dollars in exchange for laser-guided missiles and other destructive technologies. American-made bombs utilized by the Saudis have led to the deaths of many innocent people in Yemen, such as the 40 students on a school bus in Yemen which was bombed by the Saudis earlier this year. Essentially, this means that by selling the Saudis the weapons they want, which they subsequently use to murder Yemeni civilians, the US is just as complicit in their slaughter as the Saudi pilots dropping the armaments. The blood is not merely on Mohammed Bin Salman’s hands, but America’s as well unless it stops providing the Saudi Government with the tools they seek to massacre civilians in Yemen.

Despite all this, then, why is Trump so ardently supportive of the Saudis? One claim he frequently makes is that arms sales to Saudi Arabia boost American jobs in the defense industry. However the American private defense industry, which only accounts for 0.5% of the American labor force, does not rely on Saudi money; rather, its main client is the American military. Only approximately 8,000 workers in the United States make bombs, including the ones sold to Saudi Arabia, and it does not seem like their jobs are dependent on Saudi sales. Nonetheless, even if arms sales to Saudi Arabia are economically beneficial, the benefits are not worth the lives of innocent women and children on America’s conscience.

Another explanation for Trump’s warm relationship with Mohammed Bin Salman is merely the reason why America has been a Saudi ally for over 80 years: oil. Saudi Arabia has a great influence on global oil prices and thus is of great significance to American foreign policy and the US economy. But our addiction to foreign oil has clouded our moral judgment. Khashoggi’s murder should spark a moment of self-reflection at the very least: we should ask ourselves if cheaper gasoline is truly worth the betrayal of every single one of the values we seemingly espouse. We should ask ourselves if cheaper gasoline is worth the assassination of a journalist for exercising his right to a free press. We should ask ourselves if cheaper gasoline is worth the 7,000 civilians killed in Yemen since 2015. And if we reflect deeply enough, we should all be able to realize that the answer is “no.”

America has been regarded as the leader of the free world for the last century for only one reason: our values of liberty, equality, and democracy make us uniquely morally qualified to lead. We cannot maintain this moral authority so long as we remain allies with a government which openly and brazenly shows contempt for the very ideals we stand for. America’s soul should not be sold in exchange for cheap oil. Our ideals are worth more than the extra dollar at the pump, or the extra workers employed at Lockheed Martin. It’s time that we sent a loud-and-clear message to the Saudi Government that its egregious assaults on human rights, dignity, and equality will not be tolerated by the United States. Khashoggi’s murder has given us the perfect opportunity to end this relationship. It is now up to the President and Congress to do it. Let us all hope they make the moral choice.


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Four Easy Ways to Rein in Federal Spending

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

The United States national debt currently stands at over $21 trillion. Such a number seemed improbable just 5 years ago. Despite such a clear lack of funds, Congress merely continues to create more government programs. This lack of fiscal responsibility will only lead the US into serious trouble in the future. With federal spending only increasing, it is now more than ever imperative that our congressmen step back and look at the negative consequences for long term debt.

Maintaining a large debt for a long period of time has several disastrous effects. The greatest danger, naturally, comes during a recession. In this case, foreign governments with U.S. Treasury bonds may not trust the U.S. to repay them. Thus, a foreign state may demand its loaned money back, which the United States may not be able to pay. The U.S.’s inability to pay back the amount could spark tensions, tariffs, embargoes, or even war.  

Rising debt also means that government will raise taxes more to cover the gap between revenue and expenses. By taking steps to fix the issue now, Congress can balance the budget and keep taxes lower. It is time for Congress to become fiscally responsible and limit federal spending. The process is not difficult, and through these four steps, Congress can be back on track towards federal spending sanity.

1. Close Overseas Military Bases

The US operates over 800 military bases around the world. Only 11 other nations have foreign bases, combining for a total of 70. The sheer number of bases is a clear indicator of the U.S.’s global policeman approach to foreign policy. If the government is to exist, it must focus on protecting the life, liberty, and property of its own citizens. 800 foreign bases are in no way essential to do this.

2. Cut Programs with Wasted Federal Spending

The United States, over the past century, has sought to maintain peace and stability around the world by solving regional conflict. However, as a result, the government has created countless programs that seek to promote American values in areas they are least likely to work. Ultimately, these programs are wasteful and unnecessary.

For example, the U.S. government built a natural gas station in Afghanistan for $43 million dollars. Afghans have no way of using this, because they do not have cars that use natural gas for fuel. Even if they did, the vast majority of them would not have the money to buy or use them. This project was illogical in design, but sadly it is only one of many. Cutting down on these ridiculous programs should gain bipartisan support. It also should not be very hard to implement. Thus, it is a great way to rein in spending.

3. Abolish the Post Office

The Post Office system is an incredibly inefficient quasi-business run by the U.S. government. This past year, USPS reported a $2.7 billion loss, while in the fiscal year of 2017, UPS, a private company, had a revenue of over $65.8 billion. These statistics show us that, in this industry at least, the private sector is much more able than the state. The reason for this, of course, is that a private company has an incentive to make money.

A government-run business like the Post Office can never shut down due to bankruptcy. They can simply get more money from the state, increasing debt. On the other hand, if a private business remains unprofitable for long enough, they will go bankrupt. This “drive to survive” of the private sector also leads to innovation and improvements. This keeps a business competitive in its field, as opposed to a state program, which has no incentive to improve. Private companies must constantly improve to retain their customers, while government corporations will always be around no matter the financial loss they are suffering. It’s time to abolish the Post Office and allow more efficient companies to take its place.

4. End Foreign Aid Programs

Foreign aid programs are yet another example of policies that seek to benefit other states at the expense of our own. The U.S. government’s primary concern should be with the well being of its own citizens, and not with that of other nations’.

Tragically, foreign aid programs often fail to work. Many times, regional warlords obtain the money as soon as the U.S. drops it off. Aid rarely reaches those that need it the most, and in fact often helps those that oppress the needy. Private charity must replace foreign aid. Knowing the money they have is both precious and finite, a private charity often makes a greater effort to ensure that aid ends up in the right hands.

The U.S. may achieve all of these proposed solutions to rampant government spending quite easily. As all are common sense methods, they all, save the last, should receive bipartisan support. They also would not require a lot of legislation to implement. The U.S. must make a serious effort to reign in federal spending to avoid a debt crisis, and these four solutions are a great place to start.


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