US-Australia Alliance — Rocky Past, Solid Future

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

An important part of the current US Pacific strategy is the US-Australian alliance. Since World War II, both nations have remained allies. On the surface, that alliance appears to be straightforward and reliable from both sides of the alliance. However, while it has been reliable and consistent over time, it has not always been simple, and citizens in both nations have not always viewed it the same way.

 

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and US Pres. Obama Image by US govt., public domain

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and US Pres. Obama
Image by US govt., public domain

 

Both Australia and the US agree that their alliance is important, and while both governments avoid labeling the alliance as being primarily a shared defense against Chinese aggression, both governments work from that assumption in their relations with one another.

The biggest complications in US-Australian relations have generally come from public opinion, as opposed to conflicting policies. One stark example would be World War II.

Australia has only had an independent foreign policy since 1940. Previously, its foreign policy had been controlled by the UK. In spite of this, the Australian and US governments were able to work together very well during the war.

However, many citizens from the two countries did not work together quite so well. When US General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia, at the request of the Australian government, he took over overall command for allied forces for the Southwest Pacific area. MacArthur did a good job in military terms. In public relations terms, he was a disaster.

When Australian troops won important battles under horrible conditions, such as on the infamous Kokoda trail in New Guinea, MacArthur and his staff announced these victories as “AMERICAN (and allies)” victories. This was done loudly on three occasions. The Australian troops deserved the highest praise, but they received mostly criticism from MacArthur and his staff. Also, when joint forces consisting of US, Australian, and New Zealand troops won battles, MacArthur and his staff announced victories as “American” and usually failed to mention the Australians and New Zealanders at all. To make matters worse, thousands of Australian soldiers had been fighting and dying in North African campaigns for many months before the US fully entered the war. With so many young Australian men serving overseas, Australia was very vulnerable to Japanese invasion.

The US merchant marine fleet had already suffered heavy casualties in men, ships, and war materials in the North Atlantic prior to actually declaring war on Japan and its Axis partners. The UK needed fuel and food to survive, as well as millions of tons of war materials to rebuild its army. From the US point of view, committing to defend Australia was a major step requiring a monumental logistical effort. That logistical challenge had to be undertaken without decreasing the flow of supplies to the UK. In light of that difficult situation and Australia’s vulnerability to Japan, members of the Australian government chose not to take issue with MacArthur’s megalomaniacal personality because it assumed that, without a US General in command of the area, the US would be less generous in sending food, weapons, ships, planes, and troops to Australia.

With thousands of US servicemen roaming the streets of Australian cities and spending more money than most Australians could afford to spend, friction between the locals and the US troops increased.

On November 26, 1942, tensions boiled over in Brisbane, resulting in two days of rioting between US troops on one side and Australian troops and civilians on the other. One person was killed, and dozens were seriously injured before military and civilian police were able to regain control. Fortunately, despite the obvious animosity between many of the troops and civilians, the alliance between the US and Australian governments kept right on rolling.

While I have no reason to fear any further rioting between Australians and Americans, the public perceptions of the voters in Australia don’t always seem to be in step with Australia’s foreign policy toward the US. Like the US, Australia is a democracy and opinions change over time. With opinions, foreign policy and defense policies change as well. This is normal for any democracy.

For Americans, it can seem as though Australians don’t hold a favorable view of the US and its citizens. The issue is likely less serious than it may appear from the US point of view.

We Americans should consider that Australians may share the same basic language, but we do not share the same basic culture. For outsiders, Australians often don’t seem to like anyone including other Australians. Australians understand it differently. They simply have very different social norms than Americans do.

What most Australians do share in common with most Americans is an increasing concern over Communist China’s behavior in the South China Sea, and this is reflected in their changing defense policies. Australia is increasing its defense spending and has committed to several major defense programs. Australia is involved in the F-35 fighter program. Like many Americans, cost increases and testing delays have made some Australians wonder about the wisdom of the F-35 program. In spite of whatever rhetoric and soft-speak diplomacy we might hear from Australia, the F-35 program is strong evidence of a shared defense commitment between the US and Australia.

Much of the political rhetoric in Australia is designed with the People’s Republic of China in mind.

Communist China has made a strong career of being easily offended, outraged, and otherwise rabid and irrational whenever anyone from any country says anything that might be even slightly out of step with its dictatorship. China loves to pretend to expect everyone on the planet to cower toward its authority in the same way its own citizens must cower.

So why does Australia care if China gets upset? There are several reasons.

The obvious one is trade. China remains an important trade partner for Australia. For American observers, the less obvious reason is geography. We all know where Australia is on the map, but it’s not easy for Americans and Europeans to quite grasp how important Asia is in the minds of Australians. Australians recognize and accept the importance of their military and economic alliance with the US. They just don’t want it to be the single issue in their foreign policy. The US administration is in an election year, and naturally, the fanfare that accompanies any foreign policy substance is important. The Australians almost always prefer less fanfare.

While maintaining close relations with the US, Australia is also actively seeking better relations and trade with its Asian neighbors.

The Australian Ministry of Defense recently considered purchasing new submarines from Japan. Last month, the final decision was made to purchase French-made submarines. Ten years ago, it would have been politically difficult for any Australian politician to openly discuss the possibility of such a purchase from Japan. The fact that Australia is pursuing a broad foreign policy strategy is in no way a hindrance to US-Australian relations.

The current US-Australian alliance is healthy, and my best guess is that it will continue to improve. Australia will not always provide the political rhetoric that we might hope it would, but its foreign policy agenda for the Pacific region closely resembles the US agenda. This alliance is strong and will remain so in substance, regardless of changing political tides and rhetoric.

Next week, we will look at how US-Vietnamese relations are changing.

US/Asia-Pacific Alliances — Decision Time in Jakarta

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

As part of overall US strategy in the Pacific region, the US is attempting to forge a closer economic and military relationship with Indonesia. The Obama administration made improving ties with Indonesia a major priority when President Obama first took office in 2009. The White House and US State Department have maintained that priority during Obama’s seven years in office.

 

Indonesia Pres. Joko Widodo and US Secy. of State John Kerry (center) Image by US State Dept, public domain

Indonesia Pres. Joko Widodo
and US Secy. of State John Kerry (center)
Image by US State Dept, public domain

 

The White House has always been quick in declaring diplomatic victories following overseas trips by the President as well as after meetings with visiting heads of state and their ministers. In reality, the US-Indonesia “new alliance” remains a work in progress.

With the Philippines, Japan, and to a lesser extent Malaysia, we can clearly measure progress in the formation of a transpacific alliance in response to increased aggression from the People’s Republic of China. It is much more difficult gauge Indonesia’s intentions toward the US, its Pacific neighbors, and Communist China.

To interpret the foreign policy news from Indonesia, we need to consider a few critical facts concerning the Indonesian national identity.

First, like the Philippines and Malaysia, and unlike Japan, Indonesia lacks cultural unity.

Indonesia’s 250 million citizens are quite diverse and, in many areas, quite parochial. The official language is Indonesian, but tribal languages still persist in rural regions. When Indonesian President Joko Widodo wakes up in the morning, he doesn’t need to hear a morning report to know what his priority for the day is. That priority has been the same for every Indonesian President since the country achieved its independence in 1945 – to “unite the people.”

Foreign policy is important to Indonesia, but internal issues remain their day-to-day first priority. This does not mean that we cannot build real cooperation with Indonesia. It means we can’t expect it to be represented the same way in the Indonesian media as it would be in other countries in the region.

Second, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, but it is a secular democratic state.

Over 85% of Indonesians describe themselves as practicing Muslims, but Islam in Indonesia is far less “centralized” and regimented than in Saudi Arabia. The national legal system is secular. Radical Islamic groups do exist, but they lack anything approaching popular support. Indonesia acts independently of their fellow Muslim countries in the Mideast, but the country is never comfortable publicly disregarding “Muslim interests” in favor of US-Indonesia relations. The White House should not expect Indonesia to trumpet US-Indonesian cooperation loudly.

Indonesia is showing clear signs of growing cooperation against China and growing cooperation with its neighbors, but it has to handle the public relations battle in the way that best suits its government and its people. Indonesia’s neighbors seem to understand this better than the US does. While the US and Japan are always concerned with the public message that is delivered to the People’s Republic of China, we cannot expect Indonesia to pursue a similar public relations strategy in the near future. The good news is that it is quietly willing to increase military cooperation with its neighboring states and the US.

A third fundamental fact concerning Indonesian national identity is that Indonesia sees itself as being the leader of the region.

Indonesia was instrumental in founding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The headquarters for ASEAN is in Jakarta, Indonesia. ASEAN remains a major point of pride for the Indonesian government and people. It is something that they accomplished without the US, the UN, or anyone outside of the region. ASEAN is, in a sense, a symbol of Indonesian power and political identity.

Rather than disregard ASEAN, the US can work with ASEAN on the same issues over which the Obama administration has been trying to gain Indonesian cooperation for the last seven years. The US sees itself as being the leader in improving regional security against growing Communist Chinese aggression in Southeast Asia. The US strategy in the Pacific is based on shared concerns, but it relies heavily on US technology, military expertise, and US cash to improve defense capabilities in the region.

 

US & Indonesian Troops in Joint Training Exercise Image by USMC, public domain

US & Indonesian Troops in Joint Training Exercise
Image by USMC, public domain

 

In the case of Indonesia, the US will have to remain patient and allow that country the opportunity to redefine a US-Indonesian relationship that can fit into its national agenda. If that includes Indonesia being less publicly supportive of US-led initiatives in the area, then so be it. The White House must measure Indonesian policy and actions and ignore Indonesian rhetoric. In Indonesia, the rhetoric will never align with real policy quite the same way as it does in the Philippines or Japan.

A fourth major formative issue in Indonesia’s relations with the US is the People’s Republic of China.

China has lots of cash, and Indonesia needs Chinese trade and investment. We are asking Indonesia to abandon investment and trade from China at a time when the US national debt does not present a bright promising picture of economic perfection. This is not 1960, when the US was able to present a breathtakingly brilliant comparison to the dismal economies of the USSR or Communist China. Like any government, Indonesia cannot ignore its own business sector when conducting foreign relations. When it comes to economics, ASEAN can help bring Indonesia and the US closer in economic terms. Healthier regional and transpacific trade will help allow Indonesia to more confidently decrease economic ties with China.

Deciphering US-Indonesian relations takes some work, but one important positive fact gives reason for optimism. Indonesian democracy is stronger and more stable today than it was ten years ago, and the practice of democracy seems to be growing more complete each year. The Indonesian people know that their democracy is not perfect, but for the majority of Indonesians, expectations for democracy appear to be growing. In assessing the current state of US-Indonesian relations, there are reasons to be optimistic.

One of the greatest forces driving a closer US-Indonesia relationship is China itself.

Communist China has consistently shown itself to be unable to resist using intimidation and brute force when dealing with its Pacific neighbors. In theory, China believes in the “carrot and stick” method of diplomacy, but it has shown itself to be unskilled with the carrot and impatient to use the stick. Until very recently, Indonesia was carefully hedging its diplomatic strategies with regard to China. Recent news reports from Indonesia indicate a reluctance to see the US take a leading role in regional security. Indonesian actions tell a different story.

Indonesia recently (again) warned the People’s Republic of China that Chinese fishing boats illegally fishing in Indonesian waters would be detained. When Indonesia recently attempted to seize a Chinese fishing boat that was illegally fishing in Indonesian waters, the Chinese Coast Guard intervened and prevented the seizure. Indonesia was publicly outraged by the incursion and has filed a formal complaint against the People’s Republic of China. China will ignore the complaint, but in exchange for proudly saving one illegal fishing vessel, it has seriously damaged relations with Indonesia.

If the Obama administration has been somewhat clumsy in its attempts to expand the US-Indonesian alliance, it can at least count on its one sure bet – China enjoys flaunting its increased military ability in the Pacific. It plays well in the government-controlled media in China, but it undermines China’s own foreign policy goals.

In my estimation, relations and economic ties between Indonesia and the US will improve and, more importantly, Indonesia will focus on improving relations with its own neighbors in the region.

Next week we will consider US-Australian relations and the part that Australia plays in regional security in the Pacific.

US-Malaysia Alliance — Stronger Under the Surface

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

A key part of the evolving US strategic response to communist China’s nouveau-imperialist agenda in the Pacific is to strengthen its alliance with democratic Malaysia.

 

Malaysian P.M. Razak and US Secy. of State Kerry Image by US State Dept., public domain

Malaysian P.M. Razak and US Secy. of State Kerry
Image by US State Dept., public domain

 

At first glance, the relationship between the two nations can appear painfully complex and riddled with unresolvable contradictions.

Human rights issues and human trafficking in Malaysia remain the two major sticking points for the US congress in its outlook on Malaysia. On the other side, Malaysia is concerned about the successive US administrations’ bungling in Iraq. In reality, both governments have consistently maintained a clear understanding of each other’s motives, values, and actions.

Since the independence of Malaysia from the United Kingdom in 1957, a majority of Malaysians have considered the US to be Malaysia’s most important and reliable ally.

Overall, the US and Malaysian governments have done a good job in building a strong relationship between the two nations. The two countries don’t always agree on major policy issues, but neither has allowed those differences to prevent friendly cooperation.

The average Malaysian adult probably understands more about the US than the average US citizen understands about Malaysia. For Westerners to understand US-Malaysian relations, it is worth first considering how Malaysians view their own sense of political and cultural identity.

Religion is a big factor in Malaysian culture.

Malaysia is a majority Sunni Muslim nation, and Sunni Islam is the official national religion. However, its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. According to Malaysia’s last national census, 61% of Malaysians identify as practicing Sunni Islam. The rest of Malaysians are 19.8 % Buddhists, 9.2 % Christians, 6.3 % Hindus, 1.3% percent practitioners of traditional Chinese religions, and 0.5% Jews. Understanding Malaysian Muslim’s sense of religion is critical to understanding Malaysian foreign relations.

The Malaysian interpretation of Sunni doctrine is quite different from the Saudi Arabian or Pakistani interpretations.

The fact that Malaysians included freedom of religion in their constitution clearly sets them apart from most Sunni majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, where practice of all religions except Islam is outlawed. Radical Sunni jihadis can be found in Malaysia, but they are a small minority, and they receive far less sympathy in Malaysia than they do in other Islamic nations. However, individual Malaysians choose to define their own personal sense of their Sunni practice, and the net effect is clear. Overall, Malaysians are far better equipped to deal with the non-Muslim segments of their own society and with the larger world beyond Malaysia than are other Islamic nations.

A second major factor in Malaysian culture is its internal diversity.

Malaysia was formed from several different and distinct kingdoms, each with its own unique history and culture. Malaysians have always accepted that their fellow countrymen are not all the same in cultural terms. This seems to have left Malaysians with a fairly cosmopolitan outlook. For a Malaysian, being different is not synonymous with being “bad” or “wrong.” Malaysia’s ability to accept other religions and cultures has had a major influence on its foreign policy.

When the US is in conflict with other Sunni Muslim nations such as Iraq, the Malaysian government feels a need to publicly appear to be uncooperative with the US. In the case of Iraq, Malaysia has publicly disagreed with US foreign policy while quietly maintaining very close relations with the US.

Malaysian Prime Minister Naijib Razak has made it clear that a critical aspect of Malaysia’s response to communist China’s aggression in the South China Seas is to further strengthen Malaysian-US relations.

Razak is now facing new and substantial allegations of financial corruption, but thus far, they have not distracted him from his goal of further strengthening the US-Malaysian ties. On the US side, the US congress remains unhappy with human trafficking and human rights issues in Malaysia, but the White House has chosen to ignore those issues in order to further strengthen the US relationship with Malaysia.

While communist Chinese aggression in the South China Sea is a major factor in US-Malaysian relations, it is not a new factor in the relationship. Malaysia has always been leery of communist China. When other issues such as trade imbalances or the US war in Iraq have caused friction between Malaysia and the US, the “China factor” has been an overriding influence that keeps the two countries close.

A second major factor for Malaysia’s consistency in seeking close relations with the US is Indonesia.

Malaysia’s much larger Indonesian neighbors have consistently resisted close relations with Malaysia. Indonesia serves as a second near-guarantee that Malaysia will remain close to the US, but from the US point of view, it complicates efforts at building a strong regional cooperative response to China’s current imperialist agenda.

In practical terms, the strengthening alliance between the US and Malaysia will manifest itself in increased joint training and an increase in Malaysian military spending. Malaysia’s concern over the US war in Iraq will not derail US-Malaysia relations. The current US administration and the two major candidates for the next presidency will not allow human rights issues in Malaysia to define US-Malaysian relations. The US-Malaysian relationship will continue to appear fragile and complex, while in reality, it will remain strong. Communist Chinese dictator Xi Ping will continue to use intimidation as his primitive and blunt diplomatic tool of choice. Unfortunately for China, Malaysia is listening and taking him seriously.

In our next installment, we will consider the US-Indonesian relationship.

Shifting Sands in the House of Saud

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

Since Fahd ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa’ūd ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia in 1982, relations between the West and Saudi Arabia have been fairly stable, if somewhat complicated.

 

Secy of Defense William Cohen (left) and King Fahd ibn 'Abd al-'Azīz Āl Sa'ūd (right) October 13, 1998 Image by Dept of Defense, public domain

Secy of Defense William Cohen (left)
and King Fahd ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa’ūd (right)
October 13, 1998
Image by Dept of Defense, public domain

 

The Saudi government has remained consistently willing to maintain close diplomatic, business, and military ties with the US and other Western nations. At the same time, it has supported Wahhabi religious leaders in maintaining extremely conservative Sunni religious dominance over Saudi citizens. While the West enabled technological and business modernizations in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government to a great extent allowed the Wahhabi religious leaders to define culture in their country.

Saudi Arabia’s dichotomy of petroleum-fueled modernization versus conservative Wahhabi cultural control has been somewhat baffling to Westerners from democratic nations.

In spite of these constantly conflicting forces, King Fahd managed to maintain a stable balance. From the US point of view, the Saudi Arabian government was one of two allies in the region, Israel being the other. Yet while relations between Riyadh and Washington remained warm, not all Saudis felt that warmth toward the US or the West. In fact, Saudi Arabia, thanks to Wahhabi influence, remained a breeding ground for violent jihadism.

Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 attackers hailed from Saudi Arabia, and wealthy Saudi Arabians have consistently been a leading source for terrorist funding. Yet the oil flowed to the West while Western cash fueled the extended Royal family’s lavish lifestyle. That oil wealth also fueled vast social programs and a bloated civil government that makes our US government seem almost efficient by comparison.

In 1993, King Fahd sent shockwaves through Saudi society when he instituted a sixty person consultative council.

All the members of the council were picked by him. It was nothing like “elected representation,” but by Saudi standards, but it was a huge step forward for Saudi society. Two years later, twenty women were allowed to attend the consultative council. To Westerners, it might seem like a miniscule token step toward liberalization, but to the Wahhabi religious leaders, it was wild heresy.

King Fahd suffered a major stroke in 1995. His brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, acted as his regent and unofficial prime minister. When Fahd died in 2005, Abdullah ascended the throne and continued the balancing act.

 

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud, January 2007 Image by Cherie A. Thurlby, Dept. of Defense, public domain

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud, January 2007
Image by Cherie A. Thurlby,
Dept. of Defense, public domain

 

Like his predecessors, Abdullah was willing to use the Wahhabi establishment to maintain order and enforce their version of Sharia law in his Kingdom, but like every Saudi King, he was leery of their power. He continued to use oil wealth to further drive modernization and hold up vast social welfare programs while simultaneously struggling with the domestic terror issues caused by the radical Wahhabi influence.

Gradually, King Abdullah implemented small steps toward liberalizing Saudi society.

In 2007, he banned the infamous religious police from making arrests and began to institute major judicial reforms. Two years later, Abdullah pushed ahead with reforms and fired most of the senior judges and leaders of the religious police system.

In 2011 the Arab Spring swept across North Africa and the Mid-East. When it reached Saudi Arabia, it was quickly stifled by police action.

To outsiders, it may have appeared to be simple oppression, but inside the kingdom, there was genuine fear that Al Qaeda and their many clones would hijack any Arab Spring. There was also concern that Iranian-backed Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia would agitate on behalf of the Iranian Ayatollahs. King Abdullah responded by announcing increases in social welfare programs in the hope of appeasing many of the potential “Springers.”

In September of 2011, King Abdullah announced that women would be allowed to vote in municipal elections and run for office. While Saudi women were quietly celebrating their newfound empowerment, the Saudi courts sentenced a woman to ten lashes for driving a car. King Abdullah overturned the verdict.

In 2013, while Saudi Arabia continued to struggle to control domestic terrorism by homegrown jihadists, King Abdullah appointed thirty women to the consultative council.

The following year, fearful of Iranian-backed insurgents in Yemen and the simmering unrest of the Shia-backed majority in Bahrain, King Abdullah did an about face in policy and introduced strict anti-terror laws.

The new laws give the police the power to arrest anyone that protests against or speaks against the Saudi government or the Wahhabi religious establishment. The law even prohibits “thoughts” against the government or Wahhabi Islam.

When King Abdullah died in January of 2015, his brother, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, ascended the throne.

 

Saudi Arabian executions graph Image by Runab, wikimedia commons.

Saudi Arabian executions graph
Image by Runab, wikimedia commons.

 

Though Salman had supported King Abdullah’s reforms he was already eighty years old and in declining health. Instead of appointing one of his aging brothers as his acting regent, he appointed his thirty year old son, Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, as deputy crown prince and defense minister. The choice may prove to be an exceptionally bad one.

Unlike his father and uncles, Mohammed bin Salman was educated in Saudi Arabia rather than in the US, and he is not well travelled. He has a reputation for arrogance and ruthlessness.

Salman and his son face the same challenges that King Abdullah faced, but they lack one important resource that King Abdullah and his predecessors always relied on . . . They lack the cash. Oil prices have been down for the last couple of years, and that has forced the Saudi government to reduce the allowances of the extended royal family and to reverse the increases in social welfare programs that helped calm the attempted Saudi Arabian Spring.

The fear in the house of Saud is showing.

The new anti-terrorism laws are being rigorously enforced. Executions are at a two-decade high. There were 150 public beheadings in 2015. In the first week of 2016 alone, there were 47 executions by beheading or firing squad.

 

Human Rights Activist Samar Badawi Image from Int'l Women of Courage Awards 2012, Dept. of State, public domain

Human Rights Activist Samar Badawi
Image from Int’l Women of Courage Awards 2012,
Dept. of State, public domain

 

In addition, popular blogger, Raif Badawi, who urged Saudi society to be more liberal and secular, was imprisoned in 2013 and sentenced to 10 years and 1000 lashes. His lawyer, Wahleed Abu al-Khair, was imprisoned in 2014. Now, Samar Badawi – Raif Badawi’s sister and al-Khair’s former wife – was arrested on January 12, 2016, along with her 2-year-old daughter. A long time human rights advocate, Samar Badawi’s crime was running a Twitter account to raise awareness of al-Khair’s situation. At this rate, the Saudis might have to use any money left over from their campaign in Yemen and their weapons acquisitions to fund new prison construction.

On top of the domestic strain, on January 2, 2016, the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric led to an Iranian mob storming the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Iran and Saudi Arabia then severed diplomatic ties.

The current generation of Saudi leaders is under pressure, and it shows.

The growing influence of Iran in the new Shia government in Iraq, the Iranian-backed rebellion in Yemen, the rise of ISIL in Syria, the increased Russian military presence in Syria, all combine to present what the young Saudis likely perceive to be a menace to their rule and their physical survival. When they add to that the American and Western “accord” with Iran, they may see themselves as being isolated while facing unrest at home and increasing threats by Iran.

So where will the young Royals take Saudi Arabia?

Mohammed bin Salman is planning major economic reforms. He will have to implement those reforms while dealing with Saudi Arabia’s expensive support for Sunni (non-ISIL) rebels in Yemen, the war in Yemen, and the brewing opposition at home.

 

King Ibn Saud & President Franklin D. Roosevelt Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, 2-14-1945 Image public domain

King Ibn Saud & President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, 2-14-1945
Image public domain

 

In 1928, King Ibn Saud came to power on the back of a fierce Wahhabi tiger. The house of Saud has never been able to completely dismount from that tiger. Since 1928, governing in Saudi Arabia has required an acrobatic balance of Wahhabi interests versus Saudi national interests. The future of Saudi Arabia depends on how well Mohammed bin Salman can ride that tiger.

 

 

 

 

Germans Thrown Under the Migrant Politics Bus

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

When the crucible of reality proves political ideals to be harmful to the people, political leaders have two choices: they can own up to the issues, or they can suppress evidence in a bid to maintain their power. When leaders choose the latter, the dysfunction inevitably seeps through the cracks of the propaganda containment efforts, and when it does, the political leaders need someone to throw under the bus. In Germany, that “someone” is the German people.

 

Syrian refugees bound for Germany and Central Europe Image by Mstyslav Chernov, wikimedia commons.

Syrian refugees bound for Germany and Central Europe
Image by Mstyslav Chernov, wikimedia commons.

 

German Chancellor Merkel’s willkommenskultur open door policy resulted in 1.1 million North African and Arab refugees flooding into Germany in 2015 – over five times the number anticipated.

Overall, 72% of the migrants are men, 13% are women, and 15% are children. Germany admits it has already lost track of half of these refugees, and that many of them are not Syrian at all. This flood of humanity is not receding with the turn of the calendar year, and the Gatestone Institute predicts that, with family reunifications, the number of migrants in Germany could swell to as many as 7 million.

When we consider the fact that European countries haven’t even integrated with each other over the past thousand years, it’s no surprise that Germany and the rest of Europe are now in the grip of a culture clash. One of the nastiest elements of that culture clash is the spike in crime in the German refugee camps and surrounding areas, particularly in sexual assault rates.

While German officials and media have made frantic efforts to hide this crack in the practical applicability of their ideals, the dark truth came to a head on New Year’s Eve.

Organized groups of predatory “North African and Arab” men surrounded German women and men in New Year’s Eve crowds and sexually assaulted them in a practice known as “taḥarrush gamāʿī,” or taharrush gamea. This “sex game” is an Arab phenomenon first given a name in Egypt in 2004, and it is similar to what is known in the West as a gang rape.

While police recorded refugee-perpetrated sexual assaults and robberies throughout German cities on New Year’s Eve, 1,049 of those reports came from the city of Cologne. (For full police list see Revealed: Full List of 1,049 Victims, Crimes Committed During Cologne New Year’s Sex Assaults.) Over 359 women reported being sexually assaulted in every way from groping, to hands up their skirts and down their pants, to fingers shoved inside them, to all out rape.

The following has been the official response of the German government to the sexual attacks:

  • News of the attacks was suppressed for days until nearly 100 women had come forward and social media had circulated the story.

 

 

  • The Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, advised that women should be more careful. The town would distribute guidelines to prepare women against sexual attacks. One “guideline” recommended by Reker was that women should keep strangers “at arm’s length.”
  • Mayor Reker refuted her own chief of police by insisting the mass, organized attacks had nothing to do with the migrants, although the police chief reported that 14 out of 15 of the attackers were of “North African and Arab” origin.
  • In spite of enormous security camera surveillance, only 30 suspects have been identified, and only two are behind bars. All are North Africans.
  • Flyers have been posted at public facilities with cartoon drawings attempting to educate refugees that they should not assault women.
  • Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger stated, “What happens on the right-wing platforms and in chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women.” (Apparently, he is unfamiliar with the difference between disliking people and raping them.)

And from other quarters . . .

  • The German feminist response has been to say that German born men attack women, too. Blame German born men.
  • One Cologne New Year’s Eve sexual assault victim gave an interview to the news describing her attackers as dark-skinned Arabic speakers. A social media troll then took a clip from the interview and posted it on the Internet, suggesting her account was nothing but anti-Muslim propaganda. The video included her full name and her work place, and it went viral. The woman received threatening phone calls at work and was attacked on Facebook as being “racist” and a “right-winger.”
  • Imam Sami Abu-Musuf of the Al Tawheed mosque in Cologne declared the sex assaults were the women’s own fault for wearing Western clothing and perfume.

The New Year’s Eve attacks are not the first indication that Merkel’s open door policy is creating unforeseen trauma for the German public.

  • Sexual assaults are an “everyday event” at registration centers, including assaults on the staff, and women are sold for 10 Euros a trick inside the camps.
  • Having brought tribal, cultural, and theological divisions with them, warring gangs within camps frequently clash, and Christians and homosexuals suffer brutal attacks. One brawl at a Hamburg registration center involved 200 Syrians and Afghanis. Fifty police vehicles were called in to quell the violence.
  • In response to this violence inside refugee camps, Hamburg, Germany passed a law in October 2015, allowing the government to seize vacant commercial properties for migrant housing.
  • Small towns have awakened to 25% – 50% increases in their populations, with tent cities thrown up at their edges inside of a week. Those towns report increased crime and severely decreased business traffic, as well as residents afraid to leave their homes. Parents have been cautioned to not allow their children outside alone.
  • School gym classes and sports clubs in cities have been canceled as the gymnasiums have been filled with refugees.
  • Women across Europe have been advised to put away their midriff tops and short skirts to avoid “misunderstandings” with the migrants.
  • Groups of migrant women have attacked European women on the beaches for wearing skimpy clothing.
  • Immigrant men have arrived with brides as young as 12 – 14 years old. Some of these child brides already have children of their own. These marriages are not recognized in Germany, and the girls are are being treated as “unaccompanied minors,” to be cared for by the Youth Welfare Office.
  • The gun-control loving societies of Europe are now arming themselves in every way they can. Purchase of air-propelled firearms skyrocketed in Germany after the New Year’s Eve attacks, and rates for gun permits and pepper spray sales are unprecedented. The black market for firearms is booming Germany and the rest of the EU states that are dealing with the migrant crisis.

Rather than face the fact that the overnight influx of 1.1 million North Africans and Arabs has created severe social problems for Germany, German officials are continuing their narrative that the refugees are no different from Germans, and that suggesting they are is both “racist” and “counter to European values.” By insisting that it is inappropriate to imply that diverse African and Middle Eastern cultures might actually be diverse, having different values, mores, and norms from Europeans that would potentially make them incompatible, German officials are missing a few points.

  • Refugees are fleeing from desperate situations. They did not wake up one morning and say, “Hey. I think I want to be German. I want to give up my child brides and accept women and homosexuals as my equals.” Just because they leave North Africa and Syria, it doesn’t mean they want to put on lederhosen and embrace women’s rights, sexual freedom and equality, and German laws.
  • These refugees largely hail from countries where women and children have little or no rights and are, for all intents and purposes, themselves the property of their male relatives. Unless Germany meets this core difference head on and emphasizes to the migrants from their arrival that women are not the property of men, the male refugees will be unlikely to recognize or accept this fact, and the female refugees will be conceptually unable to exercise their freedom. This re-education is essential for integration into Western societies.
  • By hiding and excusing the crimes perpetrated by the migrants, the German government sends the message to the German people that it will not protect them. This shreds the social contract, and vigilantism and radical anti-government organizations prosper.
  • By hiding and excusing the behavior of these migrants, the German government perpetuates racism. It sends the message to both the German people and the migrants that the newcomers are not capable of behaving properly in German society – that they are not the equal of Germans and need special rules.
  • The German government is placing the burden of physical safety onto the public when it insists that women should change their dress and behavior and that parents should restrict their children’s movements to avoid being molested or raped by the large male migrant population. This is a suppression of the civil rights of all German citizens and sets back women’s rights, in particular, a good four hundred years.

Germany is not alone in excusing and covering evidence of crimes committed by North African and Arab migrants.*

Taharrush gamea attacks were first reported in Sweden at the 2014 We Are Sthlm music festival. At that time, Stockholm police were instructed not to reveal the ethnicity or nationality of the attackers for fear of being seen as “racists.” It’s worth noting that Sweden has now changed its open door policy for refugees as of November of 2015, reverting to EU minimum requirements.

Government suppression of evidence of the clash between European and migrant cultural practices and norms not only fails to address the needs of the migrants, but risks creating a severe backlash from citizens of the host countries.

The only hope the West has of successfully assimilating this massive flow of North African and Arab refugees is to demand that the migrants accede to their host countries’ customs and laws without exception. Migrants that break the laws of the host countries must be dealt with swiftly and unapologetically with the protection of citizens being the utmost priority. Social contract demands this from those who govern, but that is only possible when those who govern are willing to be flexible and resourceful enough in modifying their ideals to meet the demands of reality.

Unless Germany develops an open door policy for reality, either the people will turn on the migrants, turn on those whom they elected to provide common security, or both.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

This video statement by Paul Joseph Watson sums up the situation well:

The Rape of Europe

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

*The practice of taharrush gamea reached Finland in 2015 after that country took in a record 32,000 refugees, giving Finland the fourth highest number of refugees per capita in the EU.

According to the deputy chief of police in Helsinki, Ilkka Koskimaki, sexual assault was unknown in Finland prior to the influx of immigrants, making the 14 sexual assaults in 2015 a record year. In response, unarmed groups calling themselves the “Sons of Odin” now patrol the streets in many towns where refugees are housed.

This past New Year’s Eve, staff at the asylum reception centers tipped off police about planned taharrush gamea attacks. In spite of the “massive” police presence sent to control approximately 1000 Iraqi refugees who had gathered in the tunnels around the central railway, security personnel reported unprecedented widespread sexual harassment. Thus far, Finland, unlike many European governments, does not appear to be attempting to cover up the ethnicities or nationalities of the perpetrators.

A Few of Our Sources:

1.  “Germany Registers Record 1.1 Million Asylum Seekers in 2015”  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/1/6/refugees-germany-more-than-1million.html

2.  “Germany: Migrant Crime Wave, Police Capitulate”  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6668/germany-migrant-crime-wave

3.  “Taharrush gamea” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taharrush_gamea

4.  “Revealed: Full List of 1,049 Victims, Crimes Committed During Cologne New Year’s Sex Assaults” http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/01/21/revealed-full-list-of-1049-victims-crimes-committed-during-cologne-new-years-eve-sex-assaults/

5.  “Cologne Mayor: Women Should Be More Careful After Migrant Mass Rapes, Promises ‘Guidance” So They Can “Prepare'” http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/01/05/cologne-mayor-women-careful-migrant-mass-rapes-promises-guidance-can-prepare/

6.  “Germans Battle Refugee Sex Assaults with Signs, Cartoons”  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/01/22/germans-battle-refugee-sex-assaults-with-signs-cartoons.html

7.  “Cologne Assault: Cultural Difference Is No Excuse for Rape”  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/12087780/Cologne-assault-Cultural-difference-is-no-excuse-for-rape.html

8.  “Cologne Sexual Assault Victim Called a Rapist and Harassed After Identifying Her Attackers” http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/13/2770829/

9.  “Muslim Cleric Says Cologne Sex Attacks Were the Victims’ Fault Because They Wore Perfume” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3408033/Muslim-cleric-says-Cologne-sex-attacks-victims-fault-wore-PERFUME.html

10.  “Migrant Crisis: Women Sold for Sex for €10 in German Refugee Camps”  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/migrant-crisis-women-sold-sex-10-german-refugee-camps-1524515

11.  “Inside the ‘Refugee Centers:’ A Worker Speaks” http://newobserveronline.com/inside-the-refugee-centers-a-worker-speaks/

12.  “Horror as Christian Migrant ‘Brutally Beaten with Baton in Refugee Camp'”  http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/613479/Migrant-Refugee-Germany-Camp-Attack-Afghan-Iranian-Christianity-Koran-Syrian-Hamburg

13.  “A Refugee Riot Puts a German Town on Edge”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-refugee-riot-puts-a-german-town-on-edge/2015/10/01/fa9075bc-65f5-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html

14.  “Hamburg to Seize Empty Commercial Properties for Migrant Housing” http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/10/02/hamburg-to-seize-empty-commercial-properties-for-migrant-housing/

15.  “Empathy and Angst in a German City Transformed by Refugees”  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/world/europe/empathy-and-angst-in-a-german-city-transformed-by-migrants.html?_r=1

16.  “Child Refugee Brides as Young as Twelve Ordered to Stay with Men They Were Forced to Marry” http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/614083/Fatema-Alkasem-Child-Refugee-Brides-Netherlands-Paedophilia-EU-European-Union

17.  “Fears Rise Over Child Bride Epidemic as Young Girls Go Missing in Europe”  http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/10/22/syrian-child-brides-seeking-asylum-open-new-front-european-migrant-crisis/

18.  “Germans Stock Up on Weapons for Self Defense”  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7088/germany-weapons

19.  “Refugee Crime Driving Germans to Buy Guns” http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/refugee-crime-driving-germans-to-buy-guns-huge-influx-of-foreigners-has-frightened-many-people_12212015

20.  “Case Study on Middle East & North Africa. Women’s Property Rights in the MENA Region”  http://internationalpropertyrightsindex.org/MENA

21.  “It’s Not Only Germany that Covers Up Mass Sex Attacks by Men…Sweden’s Record is Shameful” http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/its-not-only-germany-that-covers-up-mass-sex-attacks-by-migrant-men-swedens-record-is-shameful/

22.  “Sweden Slams Shut Its Open Door Policy Toward Refugees”  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/24/sweden-asylum-seekers-refugees-policy-reversal

23.  “Unprecedented Sex Harassment in Helsinki at New Year, Finnish Police Report”  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/finland/12088332/Unprecedented-sex-harassment-in-Helsinki-at-New-Year-Finnish-police-report.html

Further reading:

1.  “Germany: Migrants’ Rape Epidemic” http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6527/migrants-rape-germany

2.  “Suspects in Cologne Sex Attacks ‘Claimed to be Syrian Refugees'”  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/12086473/Suspects-in-Cologne-sex-attacks-claimed-to-be-Syrian-refugees.html

3.  “Germany Shuts Its Open Door to Refugees” http://observer.com/2015/11/germany-shuts-its-open-door-to-refugees/

4.  “Is the Refugee Crisis Creating a European Rape Crisis?”  http://www.dailywire.com/news/1120/refugee-crisis-creating-european-rape-crisis-aaron-bandler

Taiwan’s Election is a Communist Rejection

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On January 16, 2016, Taiwan held national elections. The results were clear. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic Progressive Party (“DPP”) chairperson and presidential candidate, won a landslide victory with 56.1% of the votes. Eric Chu of the Kuomintang Party (“KMT”) garnered 30.1% percent of the votes.

 

President-Elect Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen Image by MiNe(sfmine79), wikimedia commons.

President-Elect Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen
Image by MiNe(sfmine79), wikimedia commons.

 

In the same elections, the DPP achieved a clear majority in the legislature, winning 68 of 110 seats. That is enough for the DPP to legally overcome any opposition in the legislature. Whenever a national election results in a landslide, usually at least one of two things is true – either the elections are the single candidate, North Korean style farce, or the voters are unhappy with the status quo. In the case of Taiwan, it is the latter, but there is more to it than that.

Prior to the elections, the Taiwanese public had made it clear that they were tired of the corruption and economic mismanagement that their government had inflicted on them. On January 16, they were largely voting for change.

At the same time, a significant portion of previously steadfast KMT loyalists had lost faith in their party because the KMT had shifted toward overt cooperation with the communist regime in Beijing. The KMT had bet heavily on the benefits of economic cooperation with Communist China. That bet did not pay off.

It is a mystery why the Kuomintang Party ignored the pathetic examples many Western nations have set by trusting Communist China in business and diplomatic dealings. A glance at the last thirty years of US history would have let them know what to expect. They either never took that glance, or they were serving interests other than those of the people of Taiwan.

Communist China’s reactionary response to the DPP’s victory was swift and predictable. The regime in Beijing publicly warned Taiwan that any attempt at declaring independence will result in an immediate, crushing military defeat by the Red Army.

To Westerners, this response might sound a bit severe and childishly undiplomatic, but nobody in Taiwan was surprised. The communists have been demanding the “return” of Taiwan to Communist China since the Chinese Nationalist Army retreated to that island in 1949. Since then, “obey our rule or die” has been Beijing’s standard mantra toward Taiwan.

 

Taiwan, Chinese coast, and that pesky 110 miles of water. Image by CIA, public domain.

Taiwan, Chinese coast, and that
pesky 110 miles of water.
Image by CIA, public domain.

 

One might wonder why, since the Maoist regime in Beijing was so easily able to invade and occupy Tibet, wouldn’t they do the same with Taiwan?

The answer is water – about 110 miles of it. That’s the distance from the mainland shores to the beaches in Taiwan. The Red Army did not require a navy to invade and occupy Tibet. Invading Taiwan, on the other hand, would require a strong enough navy, and China does not quite have that yet. They are working on it. For decades, Communist China has consistently declared its intent to “reunite” Taiwan “by force, if necessary.” So far, the threats have not caused the Taiwanese to surrender their freedom to Beijing. When the KMT decided to move closer to the communist regime the Taiwanese voters threw them out.

So what do the election results mean for Taiwan’s Western Pacific neighbors?

For South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Brunei, it’s good news. All of them have grown weary of Communist China’s increasingly aggressive policy. Taiwan’s increasing acquiescence to Beijing had been a worrying development for them.

What does it mean for the United States of America?

For the moment, the reaction in the US has been quiet relief. In diplomatic terms, here is the official US response:

“We share with the Taiwan people a profound interest in the continuation of cross-Strait peace and stability. We look forward to working with Dr. Tsai and Taiwan’s leaders of all parties to advance our many common interests and further strengthen the unofficial relationship between the United States and the people of Taiwan.”

Leave it to the folks at Foggy Bottom to simultaneously use the terms “profound” and “unofficial” when taking a “stand.” Or would that be a “non-stand?”

Diplomatic ambiguity aside, US leaders, albeit at the pace of a disabled snail, have come to realize that China has, in fact, been telling the truth for the last sixty-six years concerning its aggressive intentions, and that even the government in Beijing occasionally speaks the truth.

Hard core Beijing-lovers in Washington have fallen on hard times. Their cash is still welcome, but they are as out-of-fashion as integrity inside the Washington Beltway. In practical terms, the US government will continue to pretend to believe that fair and friendly cooperation with Communist China is possible. In the meantime, the US will allow a dribble of military aid to flow to Taiwan and the Philippines. Relations with Viet Nam will improve, and the US will send that country token military aid. The cost of the PR photo shoots in Viet Nam heralding in the new cooperation will be greater than the value of the equipment we send them.

In my view, the election results in Taiwan are good news. Let us hope that for the sake of the people of Taiwan, and for the sake of everyone in the Western Pacific, the DPP will use its power to truly represent the democratic will of the people of Taiwan.

 

Venezuelan Political Opera — Calling for a Coup

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

Opera is best enjoyed in an opera hall. Sadly, a majority of the world’s population has only experienced “opera” in the form of national and local governments. The performances are always expensive, the performers are usually shrill, and the opera is rarely satisfying. Government as government, as opposed to government as opera, would be nice, but overall, we humans are not quite there yet. In Venezuela, the government opera just became more contentious.

 

 

The current opera in Venezuela, Nicolas the Great Saves the People, is actually a sequel to the previous opera, which starred part-time clown and full-time dictator Hugo Chavez in his classic, When I Grow Up I Want To Be Like Fidel Castro. Chavez’s inability to sing a convincing tune and his skill at generating poverty combined to create low international ratings for his production.

Chavez, a.k.a. eso hijo de puta, came to power in Venezuela on April 14, 2003, campaigning on the tried and true “defeat poverty with socialism” platform. As promised, he instituted a socialist system in Venezuela similar to Cuba’s, and like Cuba, the socialist reforms led to a steep increase in poverty.

A glance at history explains how a poorly performing clown like Chavez ever took power. The colorful succession of incompetent and corrupt clowns that ruled before him never used Venezuela’s oil wealth to help the people of Venezuela. That made it easy for Chavez to sell the nearly universally discredited socialist revolutionary scam. The fact that he was able to peddle his scam was an indication of how disgusted the voters of Venezuela were with his predecessors.

In true comic opera fashion, Chavez managed to increase poverty while his oil rich nation enjoyed very high oil prices. His disastrous handling of Venezuela’s economy was high drama, breathtaking in concept and scale.

 

 

Finally, in early 2013, Chavez managed one award-worthy scene in his long and disastrous opera. He died.

Officially, he died on March 5, 2013. Unofficially, he died a month or so earlier than the announced date. His death was apparently concealed to allow his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, time to consolidate his position as the new dictator.

Maduro’s qualifications are twofold.

He did a stint as vice president during which, like most vice presidents, he did nothing. He also served as foreign minister for Venezuela. In that role, he managed to leave his distinctive mark. In keeping with dictator Chavez’s basic agenda, Maduro further destroyed relations with most of the New World’s nations while trying to forge closer relationships with Cuba and Libya.

The Cuba-Venezuela relationship can best be defined as, “Thanks for the free oil. You kind of suck, but we won’t tell anybody.” That might not sound like much in the way of international communist fraternal love, but it’s safe to consider the Cuba-Venezuela relationship to be the bright spot in modern Venezuelan foreign policy.

So, how have Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia “La Generalissima” Flores done with their vast power over Venezuela?

As promised, they continued their beloved dead leader’s policies. The results have continued to be disastrous for the people of Venezuela . . . It’s so easy to forget the people when critiquing political opera. In all operas, it’s about the people on the stage. The audience is expected to shut up and like it.

 

Cilia "La Generalissima" Maduro Flores Image by Cancilleria del Ecuador, wikimedia commons.

Cilia “La Generalissima” Maduro Flores
Image by Cancilleria del Ecuador, wikimedia commons.

 

When Chavez did Venezuela a favor by dying, Maduro ignored the constitution of Venezuela by sidestepping the President of the National Assembly and declaring himself President. The Chavez-stacked federal courts backed him.

On April 14, 2013, Maduro won a presidential election. By that time, the Hugo Chavez political opera was wearing thin with the increasingly hungry Venezuelan people. Maduro beat the opposition candidate by approximately 1.5%. There were widespread allegations of vote rigging and voter intimidation that would make polling locations in Philadelphia look friendly by comparison. However, once again, the courts backed Maduro.

Thus far, Maduro has demonstrated that he is not really just a cheap Chavez copy in two ways.

First, he created a “Ministry of Supreme Happiness.” Perhaps he just doesn’t like his North Korean fraternal brother Kim 3.0 always winning the Biggest Jackass award.

Second, Maduro turned up the volume on the anti-USA rhetoric. If anyone was wondering, Venezuela is an economic hellhole, rapidly approaching North Korean standards, because the US government is evil. I halfway agree with the “government is evil” theory, but few Venezuelans think that the US government is running Venezuela.

How few? Last week, elections for the National Assembly resulted in Maduro’s Opera Troupe being knocked out of the majority.

In fact, the opposition now enjoys a supermajority in the National Assembly, which it holds by a single vote. This loss of majority does not bode well for the Maduro Opera. For one thing, the supermajority can rewrite laws and easily override any veto by the president with as little as 60% agreement of the assembly. They can also fire federal judges.

Maduro has responded to this threat to the socialist agenda by testing the waters for a political coup.

On Saturday, December 13, he publicly instructed the military of Venezuela to prepare for a struggle to defend the socialist government. The Opera is getting louder in Caracas, but the tenor sings poorly. In my view the Venezuelan military will not cooperate with Maduro if he attempts to suppress the National Assembly. In fact, if he calls the military to arms, it might well respond by putting a bullet in his head and in the head of his wife Cilia.

What does all this mean for Venezuela?

My best guess is that Maduro’s opera is nearly over. The National Assembly will have to contend with every imaginable roadblock by the Maduro gang, but Maduro’s lousy performance has created a substantial well of determination in the Venezuelan people.

Unfortunately for the people of Venezuela, neither the new National Assembly nor Maduro’s eventual replacement will perform any more efficiently than the US Congress or the US President. But they will do a better job than the Chavez-Maduro regime has done. Venezuela will not get much worse.

Venezuelans have seen their darkest hour. Their future will not be a bed of roses, but it will be better, and that matters – to Venezuela and to anyone who cares about its people.

Let the new Opera begin.

Russia Peeks Up Turkey’s Skirts

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On Saturday, October 3, a Russian fighter flown from Syria entered Turkish airspace without Turkey’s permission.

 

Russian SU-27 Flanker aircraft. Image by UK Royal Air Force, wikimedia commons.

Russian SU-27 Flanker aircraft.
Image by UK Royal Air Force, wikimedia commons.

 

Turkey responded by summoning the Russian Ambassador to Turkey to receive a formal complaint from the Turkish government. The US, the UK, and NATO officials reiterated that they will stand by Turkey against any aggression. Naturally, Russia will pretend that the incursion was accidental.

Given the equipment used by Russian fighters, it is unlikely that the incursion was accidental or unknown to the Russian pilot. Given the command and control procedures enforced by the Russian Air Force, it is highly unlikely that the Russian pilot acted without the prior approval of bosses in Moscow.

So why would Russia look to annoy Turkey? It wouldn’t.

The incursion was not meant to insult or annoy the Turkish government. It was almost certainly an intelligence operation. Other Russian aircraft and ships in the area likely were listening to the Turkish reaction. The Russian GRU (military intelligence) will carefully analyze data collected, such as radar and radio signals from Turkey, along with a timeline of the mission. Apparently, the Kremlin felt that the information gained would be worth the minor diplomatic fallout.

Let’s see if Moscow risks the same trick with Israel. I doubt it will. Israel, given its small area, cannot afford to be so patient with aircraft incursions.

Bayard 2016 — Your “I’m Not Them” Candidate

“America” is not a location. It is the unique ideal that government must answer to the people and not the other way around. Americans are not born. Rather, America itself is born anew with each generation that embraces that ideal and shoulders the responsibility for self-governance. Therefore, as a responsible American . . .

I’ll Do It. I’ll Run for President.

MyPhotos Piper Signing FIRELANDS at TFOB

Your Next Commander in Chief, Piper Bayard

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m pretty disappointed in the current presidential frontrunners.

 

Meme 2015 Clinton our lady of perpetual revision

vs.

Meme 2015 Trump like obamacare specifics

It’s always been my contention that if you’re going to complain about how someone does their job, then you’d better be ready to get off your duff and do it yourself. So I will. Yes. I’ll run for president.

Know up front that I refuse to affiliate with any political party. Ultimately, they are all more loyal to themselves than to the American people. The only party I will be a part of as your president is the Inaugural Ball. And since I am a dancer, I would be happy to provide the entertainment for that event in order to save you, the taxpayers, money.

 

MyPhotos 2014 Piper close up Bolder Boulder

Piper in Inaugural Ball attire.

 

As for my campaign, I am not asking for your money. I’m guessing in this economy, you need it. So how will I run? Social media. If Facebook and Twitter can make Betty White an icon among today’s teenagers, it can get me to the White House.

Also, as your president, I won’t spend your millions on my family vacations, and I will continue to shop the clearance sales at Eddie Bauer and Dillard’s. I won’t even take the silver and furniture from the White House with me when I leave. That’s been done.

 

Clinton china with calligraphy menu. Wikimedia commons, public domain.

Clinton china with calligraphy menu.
Wikimedia commons, public domain.

 

Along those lines, I will also not redecorate the White House with your money — unless I find some gaudy animal print lurking in an obscure corner. That will have to go.

The pillars of my platform are personal responsibility, rooting out of corruption, and a good smack upside the head for all whiners who won’t shut up and get busy making this world a better place.

So let’s get the touchy stuff out of the way, shall we?

My ethnicity:

One branch of my family ran another branch of my family down the Trail of Tears, and a third branch married them when they got to the end. That makes my ethnicity unhyphenated American. Check my census form. You’ll find it written there . . . Really.

My gender:

I was born female. I’m still female. I couldn’t care less how anyone else interprets or manages their privates. That’s why they’re called “privates.”

My religion:

Baseball. Baseball is a forward-looking religion with no dogma and lots of hope. We adherents know that, with the last swing of the bat at the end of the season, spring training is just around the corner. People of all faiths are welcome at baseball games as long as they behave and treat their neighbors with respect. If they don’t behave, they will be relocated near the bullpen to be used as targets for pitcher warmups.

 

Yankee Stadium, the Cathedral of my Order. Image by cdelo9032, wikimedia commons.

Yankee Stadium, the Cathedral of my Order.
Image by cdelo9032, wikimedia commons.

My past:

Yes. I have one. It is extensive and colorful. I learned a great deal because the person who is the same at 52 as they are at 22 has wasted 30 years. I’ve made exceptional use of my time. Keep in mind that great things grow in dirt and manure.

As an added bonus, I’m happy to provide you with any and all birth certificates, school records, and fake IDs.

And no, I’ve never kept a private server. But don’t worry. The NSA provides government personnel with cool high tech phones that not only come with effective encryption, but also with a feature that lets you switch back and forth between government and private business in mere seconds.

Snap.

My education:

Yes. I have one of those, too. It ranges from small towns to urban centers, and from the bread and cheese line to law school. In other words, I’ve got both papers and street cred. I’d say “I feel your pain,” but that one’s also been done.

My qualifications:

I am not for sale to banks. I do not borrow money from the Chinese to give to my enemies. My retirement plan is not a Ponzi scheme, and to the best of my knowledge, I have successfully prevented trespassers from living in my home. That puts me ahead of our collective government right there. And no. I have never been president of my local PTA. However, I do manage a successful kingdom on a virtual reality game.

My stand on abortion:

I fully support retroactive abortion for all jihadis and skumbag phone solicitors. However, I favor rehabilitation for any honest phone solicitors who are just trying to make a living like the rest of us.

My stand on gun control:

I am 100% in favor of controlling guns. Aim and make every shot count.

My Vice President:

To save on the Secret Service budget, I will continue the time honored tradition of choosing a vice president who virtually no one would want to see in the Oval Office.

Dick "Darth" Cheney

Dick “Darth” Cheney

 

Joe "The Mouth" Biden

Joe “The Mouth” Biden

 

Best “life insurance policies” any presidents ever had.

Cabinet Appointments:

I don’t give a rat’s touchas about anyone’s race, religion, species, etc. I only care if they are best qualified for the job. I will not sell out my country by pandering to special snowflake organizations and appointing their love children to positions of influence.

My writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” will be my Secretary of Defense. As a 40-year veteran field spook and senior member of the intelligence community, he has the experience and the moxie for the job. And he, like me, loves America more than he loves corporations, power, or money.

 

Image from Amazon, where you, too, can purchase Founding Father action.

Image from Amazon, where you, too, can purchase Founding Father action.

 

Since Holmes can’t be identified, I will stand up a cardboard cutout of George Washington at meetings. Never hurts to have a little Founding Father action in the government process. Holmes will still be in the room, but no one will know if he is the guy in the general’s chair or the guy serving the sandwiches.

Yes. Sandwiches. Refer back to my stand on expenses. They can be paninis, but no steak and lobster bisque at the taxpayers’ expense unless we are hosting foreign dignitaries.

And as for Congress . . .

While I am president, Congress shall make no law that excludes itself. “Leaders” who are not subject to the laws they make are not leaders, they are rulers. There is no place for rulers in America.

Any Representative or Senator who demonstrates behavioral issues stemming from ruler fantasies will be sent to the Slapping Medicine Man.

 

 

As your president, my first and only loyalty will be to you, my fellow Americans. I have no other mission or interest but to strengthen this country and her people. So let’s all come together and prove that America really is still a country by the people, and for the people, and that our presidency does not simply go to the highest bidder. Tweet, blog, Facebook . . . Hey. It happened for Betty White.

You will find my stand on the issues below. I now open the floor to your comments and questions. One at a time, please. No pushing or name calling in the comments, and don’t say anything you can’t say in front of your mother.

Piper for President —

Doesn’t Take Crap. Doesn’t Dish it Out.

My Stand on the Issues

Foreign Policy

For decades, America has been Simba the Lion masquerading as Pumbaa the Warthog in an effort to “win hearts and minds.” No one respects a lion pretending to be a warthog. America is the most powerful nation the world has ever known. We need to own our strength unapologetically and to behave with dignity and integrity. The hearts and minds will follow. America is a lion with claws, teeth, and courage. It is not a dancing, singing, farting warthog.

The Iran Deal

I swore off Bad Boyfriends before I was old enough to vote. I know what I’m looking at . . . “Ah, baby, come on. I didn’t mean anything with that ‘Death to America’ chant.”

Here’s the “Deal,” Iran. No country whose leaders conduct “Death to America” rallies gets a nuke. My “red line” will not be a dull pink smudge.

“The older I get, the more I like cruise missiles.” ~ Jay Holmes

ISIS

Refer to “Foreign Policy” paragraph above. As you have had your way upon the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and other, so will Holmes and his ilk have their way with you. While we can never obliterate you and your ilk from the face of the earth any more than we can obliterate human insanity from the collective psyche, we can certainly divest you of your territories and minimize you until even your mother doesn’t remember who you are. There will be no half measures. Holmes is coming for you, and Hell is coming with him.

 

Two Part Long Term Middle East Policy

Part One

Energy. Independence.

July 4 is Independence Day. It isn’t Independence As Long As It’s Convenient Day. As long as we need the Middle East, and oil in general, we will continue to pay for that dependence in blood and billions. We need to develop alternative energy sources to stand on our own two energy feet. Our blood and money must not continue being a life support system for an oil industry.

Part Two

There is huge gender disparity throughout the Middle East. The result is a bunch of rutting bucks who have to kill themselves to get laid by something approximating a woman.

Since the Middle East has a dearth of women and an overabundance of men, and Latin American countries have more women than men, I would recruit Latinas to relocate. They would have an excellent mellowing influence on those high strung revolutionaries, and they would foster some fantastic fusion restaurants. See How Latinas Can End Jihad.

Russia

Vlady, the KGB in your eyes had damn sure better spot the USA in mine.

Economy

Tax cuts and cookies for corporations that keep their jobs in America. No tax cuts or cookies for corporations that only keep their paperwork in America.

Immigration

America is our home. I will show the utmost hospitality to those who ring our bell and are willing to wipe the dirt off their feet before they enter.  Trespassers will not be welcomed with open arms and open wallets.

However, it shouldn’t be harder to get into the country legally than spending your life savings on a coyote who rapes you as a prelude to a Death March through a desert, only to find that the multi-billion dollar corporation that lured you with promises of a McMansion and a 40 hour work week is in reality your new master renting you a $1500/month trailer with a leaky roof and no plumbing next to the chicken factory where your slave labor will leave you with hands so damaged inside of three years that you’ll never hold another job. Legal entry should not be a Corruption Obstacle Course.

Bayard 2016 — Your “I’m Not Them” Candidate

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, to be re-released in fall, 2015.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

 

Russia Advances In Syria — What Does It Mean?

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

Stories and concerns are circulating about an escalated Russian military presence in Syria.

Many of the stories focus on the fact that Russia has sent four Sukhoi SU-30SM fighter jets and eight military helicopters to Syria. We know that Russia has also sent antiaircraft batteries. Less noticed, but possibly more important, is the fact that Russia has ramped up construction at an air base near Latakia, Syria. The construction upsurge appears to indicate facilities for a significantly larger military presence than Russia currently has in Syria.

 

Russian Sukhoi SU-30SM fighter. Image by Aktug Ates, wikimedia commons.

Russian Sukhoi SU-30SM fighter.
Image by Aktug Ates, wikimedia commons.

 

So what does this Russian buildup in Syria mean? The US just posed that same question to Russia.

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu on Friday, September 18. This was the first official conversation between their two institutions since February 2014, when the US broke off military discussions with Russia due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The purpose of this recent conversation was to discuss “de-escalating” any possible meetings between Russian and US forces in Syria.

While Russia’s presence in Syria might seem sudden and new, Russia has, in fact, been in Syria for over half a century.

Since the 18th century reign of Catherine the Great, Russia has sought military alliances in the Mediterranean. After over two centuries of effort, Russia’s presence in Syria is the only real, lasting diplomatic success that Russia has ever achieved in the Mediterranean. Small though Syria is, the Assad regime has always been a “Russia project.”

Current Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s dictator father, Hafez al-Assad, became president of Syria in 1971. The Soviets trained Hafez al-Assad both as a pilot and as a president. The Assad One-Party-Many-Secret-Police style of government is a copy of the Soviet model. It is the same model that Putin is doing his best to reinstate in Russia today.

 

Dictator Bashar and wife Asmaa al-Assad in Moscow, March 26, 2008. Image by Ammar Abd Rabbo, wikimedia commons.

Dictator Bashar and wife Asmaa al-Assad
in Moscow, March 26, 2008.
Image by Ammar Abd Rabbo, wikimedia commons.

 

The US and Europe are backing Assad’s enemies in Syria while they struggle to oust the Assad regime.

Russia does not want Assad ousted. The real impacts of Russia’s buildup in Syria will depend on how far Putin is willing to go in backing Assad. However, the recent Russian upgrade still leaves Assad and Russia at a tremendous tactical disadvantage against US and European forces in the area.

Because of this disadvantage, it is unlikely that the Russians will attempt to directly engage with any US or European aircraft that are flying missions in Syria.

The Russians are explaining their buildup in Syria as their attempt to help their ally Assad fight off ISIS.

Since ISIS is also the enemy of the West, then in theory, the West has nothing to worry about from Russian forces in Syria. The equation becomes much more complicated if and when Russian forces engage with Western-backed rebels, which are rebels who oppose both Assad and ISIS. Russia has offered no explanation as to how their forces will differentiate between Syrian rebels and ISIS fighters. They obviously won’t.

From my perspective, the only surprise about the Russian buildup in Syria is that Russia waited so long to go this far.

Russia has a lot to lose in Syria, and it needs Assad or an Assad-clone to remain in power for two major reasons. The first and most obvious reason is for Russia to keep its one Mediterranean naval base. The second and more subtle reason is that a critical part of Putin’s empire rebuilding strategy revolves around maintaining and creating allies. The ally-creation part of Putin’s grand strategy has failed miserably.

Most of Russia’s old Cold War European allies have either joined NATO or are trying to. Even the stubbornly neutral Swedes are considering joining NATO. Beyond Europe, most of Russia’s old allies have come to expect less aid from Russia in the post-Cold War environment. Russia’s popularity has, in most cases, plummeted amongst undeveloped nations around the world.

In the narrow and mostly closed mind of Vladimir Putin, keeping Assad in power has become a critical need for maintaining a facade of Russian relevancy in the 21st century.

This, of course, is more bad news for both the Syrian people and the Russian people. Putin is once again missing an opportunity to move past his Cold War childhood and embrace modern opportunities.

So how will the West respond to Russia in Syria?

The same way we have for the last half-century. The US and Europe will continue to support enemies of the Assad regime without directly confronting Russian troops in Syria. If Russian forces “mistakenly” fire on US or Western aircraft in Syria, the West will then likely upgrade the weaponry of Syrian rebels in order to make life more miserable, and more dangerous, for the Russians in Syria.

It appears that Putin is willing to invest heavily in propping up the Assad regime. As long as Czar Putin is able to maintain his stranglehold over Russia, I would not expect a Russian retreat from Syria in the near future.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, to be re-released in September, 2015.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.