home Musings, national security Morning Musings, Weekend Edition

Morning Musings, Weekend Edition

  • The GOP wishes the Tea Party movement would simply, go away. Good luck. Another Tea Party group has formed, The Black Conservatives Fund. “The lock that liberals have held on the black vote is slowly but surely breaking,” it says on their site. I’m really looking forward to the mid-term Congressional elections.
  • The Boston Globe II: The headline was great, but so was this important history lesson: “… What’s often forgotten, though, is that the embargo was actually triggered by something concrete: an enormous pile of American assets that Castro seized in the process of nationalizing the Cuban economy. Some of these assets were the vacation homes and bank accounts of wealthy individuals. But the lion’s share of the confiscated property—originally valued at $1.8 billion, which at 6 percent simple interest translates to nearly $7 billion today—was sugar factories, mines, oil refineries, and other business operations belonging to American corporations, among them the Coca-Cola Co., Exxon, and the First National Bank of Boston. A 2009 article in the Inter-American Law Review described Castro’s nationalization of US assets as the “largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government in history.”
  • James Bruno’s book, The Foreign Circus, is climbing on some of Amazon‘s bestseller lists. Bruno is currently outselling Zbigniew Brzezinski and Condoleezza Rice, and Fareed Zakaria. For this reason alone, you should take look. The foreign policy and national security establishment has needed a political shake-up for sometime. Congress has abdicated oversight in this arena to a sideshow. While Yleem and I do not agree 100% with some of what he says, by and large, it is an entertaining, highly informative, and overall great read. Highly recommended.
  • The CIA’s former chief lawyer provides more context on the CIA’s radical Islamist terrorist interrogation program. Read the interview story. It is the closest thing to accuracy as you’ll ever read in this town about this issue. I still want to know though, what classified material did Senate staff allegedly unlawfully remove from a secure facility?  These are the same staffers that are accusing the CIA of breaking the “law.” No Congressional staffer — House or Senate — should get a free pass on breaking the law in order to do their job. Some staffers have lost their jobs for doing less, albeit seemingly similar acts.
  • Then again, Obama signs Ted Cruz’s bill into law (to keep an Iran U.S. hostage taker out of the United States), but the President says he will not enforce it. Meanwhile Sen. Cruz has a bipartisan signing statement of his own.
  • A photo of a private plane in Tehran, Iran supposedly registered to the Bank of Utah is making the rounds on the web. Yes, a Treasury OFAC license is needed. I think the mystery plane will be in the news again soon.
  • Concerns about allowing Israel into the visa waiver program are starting to become a little more public. According to Roll Call newspaper: “Lawmakers and staffers on two House committees are concerned that admitting Israel to a program that eases entry of foreigners into the United States would increase the risk of Israeli espionage, congressional aides say.” What do the counterintelligence people say about this? The official silence says a lot. Israel is not helping itself either. Pressing for the release of Jonathan Pollard, for example, only reinforces a widely held belief that the special relationship has been abused one too many times. However, Israel could help its case by adopting all DHS standards for the Visa Waiver Program; I’ve been told by more than one USG official that this remains one of the major sticking points.
  • According to The Washington Post this morning, “After Russian moves in Ukraine, Eastern Europe shudders, NATO to increase presence.” I understand, the Warsaw Pact is a thing of the past. But does NATO and the rest of Europe even have a political pulse these days? Maybe our colleague Mark Gage is correct. Gage penned an item for this blog earlier this year on NATO that said, in part: “The actions of our allies now will define whether America can afford to stay in the NATO Alliance. We have seen continuing and major defense budget cuts by our allies for two decades now, while the US has continued to borrow more and more to maintain its defense and station troops in Europe to defend our allies … At a time of such serious fiscal challenge here at home, we can no longer afford such free-loading or refusal to accept their responsibilites by our allies. It is time to leave NATO if they will not do the heavy lifting to preserve the peace before it becomes too late.” Read Gage’s complete post, here. For now though, our friends in the former Eastern Bloc, especially the Baltics, need U.S. leadership, even if the rest of Europe just sits back to watch events unfold. 
  • Meanwhile, another Keystone pipeline delay was announced this week … and even if the U.S. could have completed construction this year, it will be too little, too late to make an appreciable political difference in the Ukraine situation.
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