Tag: foreign affairs

Iran vs The World

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

From its inception in 550 B.C., the Persian Empire reigned with fervor and might. The Persians carved out their territory that would expand across major parts of Eurasia, keeping the Greeks at bay, as well as other nations in pursuit of their own place in history. Ever since the first establishment of the Persian Nation-State, they have had to fight off other nations and were influenced by them. The biggest change first occurred in 637 A.D. when Persia fell into the hands of the nomadic Arabs at the Battle of Kadisiya which is close to the Euphrates River. Once the Arabs took hold of the Persian Empire, they brought with them Islam and Arabic, which forever changed the Persian language and religion casting out most Zoroastrian practices. Zoroastrianism was not only the main Persian religion of choice, but it is often considered the first monotheistic religion of the world. After a long period of delegation, finding peace under the new regime and identity of the Persian Empire, in 1722 Afghan rebels had a degree of conflict with the Persian Empire, and they pursued the capturing of Isfahan. This seizing of a major city led the way for Russia and Turkey to also plunder their way through Persia, and by 1724 the Russians and Turks split the spoils among their militaries and elite.

By the 1800s to mid-1900s, the British and Americans had tight economic and personal relations with Persia. Although the British and Americans were both there to better petroleum and crude business in their favor, it was only the Brits that were seen as adversaries while the Americans were generally seen in favor by the Persian people. This was surely well-established when many Americans who were living in Persia in the early 1900s fought along the Persians’ and their rights in the Persian Constitutional Revolution from 1905 to 1911.

As quoted in the book, All the Shah’s Men, one person wrote, “…The American contribution to the improvement and, it was felt, the dignity of our impoverished, strife-torn country had gone far beyond their small numbers…Without attempting to force their way of life on people or convert us to their religion, they had learned Persian and started schools, hospitals, and medical dispensaries all over…” They went on to say, “The dedication of these exemplary men and women was not the only reason many Iranians admired the United States. American officials had spoken out to defend Iran’s rights. The United States sharply criticized the 1919 Anglo-Persian Agreement through which Britain acquired colonial powers in Iran.”

“That same year at Versailles, President Woodrow Wilson was the only world leader who supported Iran’s unsuccessful claim for monetary compensation from Britain and Russia for the effects of their occupation during World War I. In the mid-1920s an American envoy in Tehran was able to report that ‘Persians of all classes still have unbounded confidence in America.'” Of course, needless to say, it was also the US President, Woodrow Wilson, who would, unfortunately, lead America out of a more non-interventionist leaning foreign policy, into a hawkish mentality of a pursuit of war and control in the world from WWI to his constant concern for control over the Middle East. To this day, his policies plague American politics creating countless numbers of problems for the US and the world in an onslaught of political blowback.

In 1935, with relations with and influence from Nazi Germany, Persia’s name was changed to ‘Iran.’ This was a cognate of the word ‘Aryan,’ as the Nazis were in pursuit of the origins of the actual Aryan nation of people, and Persia’s leader, Reza Shah, wanted to establish good relations with the growing German powers. Not only was this a means of changing the direction of the Persian nation, but it was also a way of aligning with the Nazis against the British and Russians who had plundered their land for well over a century. This allegiance to Nazi Germany would prove tragic for Iran in WWII, as in 1941, the Anglo-Soviet Allies invaded and ensured the Nazis could not keep reign over the region.

With growing tensions over the following ten years from the British setting up the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also in 1935, Persians’ boiling tempers over increased economic struggles, and the ongoing introduction and implementation of Socialism, after also being struck left and right by the British, Americans, Russians, Turks, Afghans, and others, Iran voted to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The name was then changed to the National Iranian Oil Company. This, then, led to Mohammad Reza Shah officially signing the 1951 declaration that the State was the sole owner of the company, and put Mossadegh as Iran’s Prime Minister.

Mossadegh’s office prompted news outlets around the world to respond and criticize from various perspectives. The British press criticized Mossadegh for being like Robespierre, very Socialistic in a negative way, after Iran essentially stole the company rights. While the US, on the other hand, praised Mossadegh for being like Thomas Jefferson freeing Iran from the British as Jefferson helped to free America from the British. Although, the British interpretation of the events was probably more accurate than the Americans’, both the British and the US colluded together in 1953 to overthrow Mossadegh and return the Shah.

In 1953, the CIA and Britain’s M16 staged a coup in Iran to overthrow Mossadegh because it was clearly evident that he was attempting to allow the Soviets into Iran instead of the Western Allies. The US policy at the time, the Truman Doctrine, stated that the US would come to the aid and defense of any people threatened by Communism. Mossadegh’s introduction of disorder within Iran was eventually the downfall of the Shah and allowed Socialists and Communists to infiltrate Iran ever since.

Iran has been continuously influenced by the outside world in that it has lost most of its military capabilities coming from the 5th largest military power in the world and then losing most of it all by the early 1980s after the Iran-Iraq war. Iran now continues to seek to create nuclear weaponry in order to better negotiate their place in the world and to possibly end many of the sanctions put on them by the US. The US and Iran used to have very good relations and diplomacy prior to the end of the Shah’s reign.

Today, Iranian leaders continue to utilize Diversionary War Theory “which states that leaders who are threatened by domestic turmoil occasionally initiate an international conflict in order to shift the nation’s attention away from internal troubles.”  Many of the economic difficulties are not only due to the government seizing companies especially in the oil and natural gas industries, but also the sanctions brought on by the US. So, it is not as obvious that leaders in Iran are attempting to divert the attention of the economic struggles of Iran, rather there is some justification for their anger towards the US.

Iran’s justified anger with the US was initiated by the US’ infiltration and establishment of Mohammad Reza Shah and continued acts of aggression such as severe economic and travel sanctions, and completely encircling Iran with US military bases and battleships. Furthermore, since the US has now backed out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal that was being led by the Obama administration, Trump’s administration will most likely be reimplementing these heavy economic and travel sanctions, along with several others that are surely to assist in the near total destruction of Iran.

This, of course, is not to suggest that Iran is completely innocent. Iran has innumerable cases of human rights violations and a severally corrupt government which allows paying one’s way out of crimes and completely undermining the private sector as the Iranian government has the power to seize and control privately owned companies at near whim.

Overall, Iran has been shaped, influenced, benefited, and harmed by the international community from almost the beginning. The strife caused through interventionist policies of outside nations and States has also prompted internal domestic conflicts and turmoil for Iran. These instances of influence have led to destabilization and the pessimistic future for Iran. Although Iran has done everything they believed possible to leverage their negotiations by building nuclear weapons and attempting a Nuclear Deal with the US, unfortunately it has thus far failed. Iran’s past one hundred years has already been filled with chaos and confusion, surely the next one hundred will be the same as long as countries outside of Iran continue to intervene and act in hostility towards them; and if Iran continues to violate the rights of individuals within their borders, there is no hope for Iran as a country.


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US, Russia, and China Relations – Part 2

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

US-China Relations: China has many trading partners; the US is the largest. As of recently, Trump has proposed possible tariffs to be added to imports from China into the US, which could hurt relations between the two. However, China does hold a significant amount of US Treasury debt, in fact they hold the most for outside of the US countries. This is to say that each of these countries has a significant financial incentive to maintain good relations, yet according to the Cato Institute, there is no formal Fair Trade Agreement between the two.

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is necessary between US and China in order to better relations and trades. This comprehensive set of rules will give confidence to business, especially in areas of intellectual property and technology transfer. China is notorious for not keeping strong regulations on Chinese companies infringing on copyrights and IP. The same FTA could be a good step forward with Russia as well, but many in the US are in fear of Russia becoming more powerful if that were to happen. Nevertheless, contrary to what some believe, free trade benefits the citizenry more than it would the governments’ political elite.

MIT stated, “In 2016 China exported $2.27T, making it the largest exporter in the world. During the last five years, the exports of China have increased at an annualized rate of 1.7%, from $2.04T in 2011 to $2.27T in 2016.” Whereas, “In 2016 China imported $1.23T, making it the 2nd largest importer in the world. During the last five years, the imports of China have decreased at an annualized rate of -2.8%, from $1.39T in 2011 to $1.23T in 2016. The most recent imports are led by Crude Petroleum which represents 8.25% of the total imports of China.” In 2016, the US imported from China around $436B in goods and exported around $122B in goods to China.

The Chinese have ramped up their militarization and continue to press forward into the South China Sea, against the wishes of the UN, the US, and other Western countries. Along with this growth of regional military presence, the US is equally showing a presence in the Sea as a means to attempt to thwart further possible aggression by the Chinese. So, economically, China and the US are tied together in a seemingly eternal marriage of trade, but when it comes to regional hegemony the two clash when it comes to determining who has legitimate authority and power.

This rising tension further perpetuates the idea that an FTA may help ease the stress between the two. Yet, China’s Communist President Xi Jinping has also pushed his Asian continental series of high-speed railways in what he has called “The One Belt, One Road, Initiative.” According to a report at Axios, this is still a part of the Chinese Navy’s military budget and growth, estimated anywhere between $4T and $8T, likened to a modern Silk Road.

Chinese-Russian Relations: China is Russia’s biggest source of import and export. As of 2016, Russia imported around $35.5B from China and exported nearly $30.3B to China. The two, although they share a border, have not had a longstanding good relationship, since the US has increased the US military presence in the Asian Pacific and along the waters of China and Russia, China and Russia have increased cooperation in military drills as a means to show comradery against the US hegemony.

Not only has US military presence irked Russia and China alike, but the US’ threats of tariffs on Chinese goods without an FTA could potentially lead to worsening relations between the US and China while strengthening those between China and Russia. Equally, the economic sanctions on Russia by the US, are probably inadvertently assisting the relations between China and Russia since China is now Russia’s biggest importer and exporter. If indeed it is verified on all levels that Russia mingled in the 2016 US Presidential elections, that could ensure severed ties between the US and Russia, providing more reason for Russia to join forces with China.

Both China and Russia have worked together in the past. Not only are they regionally close, but politically they are far more similar than the US is with either one of them. The Soviets joined China to fight against the Americans in both the Vietnam and Korean wars. The Chinese also joined the Americans to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, showing the complexity of their relations.

Concluding Statements: The timidly fluid relations among the US, China, and Russia, has been economically lucrative while concurrently the escalating militarization of each of these States has brought the world to attention over the fear of a potential World War far more catastrophic than any in the past. While China is gaining economically, some of their exploitations of trade tariffs and their expansion of military may become their Achilles heel.

As for Russia, sanctions against them only help benefit the elite, while hurting the country overall. The best bet to ensure bettered relations between the US and Russia is by setting up a secure FTA. An FTA should also be established with China in order to maintain good economic and political relations between the US and China. It would then behoove Russia and China to follow suit. The ongoing lingering force of the US military around the world will surely be one of the US’ downfalls, as it blatantly instigates and infuriates countries all over, but it absolutely frustrates both Russia and China especially within their own regions.

The sure way to peace is the age-old tale of continuing in free trade, having Justice systems that provide equality under the law and cease the prowess of global military might or dominance. Countries that normalize positive trade relations between one another will find that the economic incentive is far more valuable than the harms caused by going to war with one another.

Likened to a parable, wars between butchers and candlestick makers leave the town with tarnished knives and a lack of light; but if the butcher and candlestick maker agree to trade instead of fight, their steel is strengthened and their lights shine brightest.


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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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Paul, Lee Only Senators to Vote Against U.S. Support of NATO

By Kenneth Casey | United States

At around 7:00 EST on Tuesday, the Senate voted on a motion that supports continuing U.S. support and funds to NATO by an overwhelming majority of 97-2, with the only two dissents being libertarian-leaning Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee. With all the buzz and craziness going on about Donald Trump’s recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the vote of the two Senators flew under the radar.

This vote comes about 6 hours after President Trump criticized fellow participating countries in NATO for not paying their expected expenses to the treaty whilst relying on the U.S. for expected funding and defense.

Trump’s rhetoric on NATO goes back to when he was running for president. He was often criticizing our involvement in NATO and was one of the only Republican candidates calling for decreased spending within the treaty.

Rand Paul, who as mentioned prior was one of two Senators to vote against the motion, seemed to agree with President Trump on the issue of America’s involvement in NATO. He tweeted out the following:

Paul’s opposition to the expansion of NATO is unsurprising, as the libertarian senator has long expressed disapproval for our involvement in the treaty. Back in March of 2017, Rand objected to the adding membership of Montenegro to the treaty, which promptly led to Senator John McCain of Arizona accusing Rand of “working for Vladimir Putin”. The Senate ended up confirming support of Montenegro’s addition to NATO, with only two Senators objecting: Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Mike Lee commented on the addition of Montenegro to NATO:

“Of course, treaties and alliances with other countries can be beneficial, but the founders of this country understood their seriousness as well as going to war. That is why both of these powers-the power to make and ratify treaties and the power to declare and execute a war- are shared by the legislative and executive branches, and treaty ratification must be achieved by a supermajority in the Senate.”

-Senator Mike Lee of Utah

Unfortunately for libertarians who want the United States’ involvement in NATO to decrease, for both the purpose of cutting foreign aid and being involved in fewer entanglements overseas, Rand Paul and Mike Lee alone don’t have a ton of power in the Senate. 98 other Senators sharing opposing views which favor U.S. alliances and involvement abroad, so the only way for this to change is by electing more libertarian-leaning Senators.


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Italy’s Populist Government Materializes

By James Sweet III | Italy

In Italy, the xenophobic League party, led by Matteo Salvini, has organized a governing coalition with the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement, led by Luigi Di Maio. This new government would be heavily based on Euroskeptism, populism, and skepticism to refugees and immigrants.

Giuseppe Conte, a law professor at Florence University, is going to become the next Prime Minister. With the nation being the third largest economy in the European Union, other members fear for the future for the European Union’s overall economy. Both parties support cuts in taxes while also increasing spending, a harmful move for a nation whose debt has recently soared to become 132% of its total GDP. For comparison, that is the second worst in the European Union, with Greece being the first. 15% of the European Union’s total GDP derives from Italy, and 23% of its debt belongs to the nation.

The two parties have agreed on three major policies: universal basic income, tax cuts, and a lower pension age. The proposed basic income would be €780 a month, which is equivalent to $917. The proposed cuts to taxes would lower the rates to a number between 15% and 20%. Capital Economics predicts that, if these policies were enacted, Italian debt would rise by 150%, relative to their GDP, over the next five years.

Federico Santi, an analyst at Eurasia Group, stated, “their plans on fiscal policy would result in a huge increase in the deficit, a blatant violation of EU deficit rules. If implemented in their current form [these proposals] would still result in an additional €100 billion ($117.8 billion) in additional spending or lower revenue.”

Member nations, like France, are concerned over the new government of Italy, with the Economy Minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, believing the stability of the Eurozone would be at stake. Euroskeptism is rising in the Union, and it’s only time until they reach a breaking point.


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