Earlier today I attended the launch of the new Asia Society Policy Institute in New York. Among its speakers were two ambassadors to the U.S., a former Pakistani Prime Minister, several prominent foreign affairs scholars and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Several things were mentioned that provoked further thought but most important was a statement by Kissinger that struck me. He said the power the U.S. had in the 20th century can’t be repeated in the 21st century. One need only look at a newspaper today to see how right he is.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the U.S. and its allies faced off against the USSR and it set of allies while the majority of the world’s nations tried to stay out of the fray. Today the world is different. We don’t have an “enemy” as we did in the Cold War. No foreign sovereign nation today poses an immediate existential threat to us. The lines are blurred thanks to globalization and economics and today an enemy on one issue is a friend on another. Truth be told, the Soviet Union wasn’t an economic threat but solely a military threat. Today though, we are facing countries that aren’t solely military threats but economic threats as well. But these same countries, such as China aren’t true enemies of the type we squared off against just two and a half decades ago.

Now this isn’t to say we are in the clear. The world is different today and we are moving from a unipolar to a multipolar world. No single country will be able to exercise the power the U.S. did in the world following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. True, the U.S. itself will never be able to replicate its 20th century power in this century. Though this doesn’t mean we should become a nonentity and it’s this that I fear we are moving towards under the current administration.
If you want to believe that the Bush Administration damaged our world reputation, fine. Understand though that the Obama Administration is damaging our actual power in the world. Opponents of Obama will cite “leading from behind” in Libya as an example but it shouldn’t be. That was a UN mandated operation that if anything provided our allies such as France with leadership and combat experience and training for their military forces. The U.S. had no reason to be the absolute leader in military operations against Libya as other nations were far more vocal about involvement than we were.

If you want to see the true examples of the damage done by this administration in the realm of foreign policy, then look no further than Syria and the Ukraine. A foreign policy which sets limits, dictates lines for action, and then fails to follow up on them is dangerous. What’s of greater concern is that events in these two countries occurred just months apart, long enough for the Administration to learn from its mistakes. Obviously it didn’t. In either situation, it’s debatable just what the U.S. would’ve been capable of doing. What isn’t debatable is that establishing foolish limits and consequences were set that failed to be acted upon.

Strong words don’t make a strong foreign policy unless others see a country act upon their words. In Syria, the world saw us fail to live up to our threats and we repeated the same mistake just a month ago. This Administration has showed the world the limits of American resolve. Behind our bluster is a country that is losing its weight in the world. The U.S. can’t return to its position of power it held at the end of the 20th century. The world has changed and not only is it impossible but for various reasons we shouldn’t and should embrace shared power. But in no way does that imply that we should willingly surrender what power and recognition we have due to an Administration whose foreign policy is naïve, toothless, and foolishly idealistic.

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel steps aboard the Liaoning, China’s Soviet-era aircraft carrier, one wonders what exactly the captain and crew and other assorted dignitaries will show off to him. China must be proud of their not quite new flagship carrier; it took ten years and a whole heck of a lot of Yuan, one imagines, to bring the former Ukraine vessel up to scratch. The problem is, how much of the embedded weapons systems aboard that ship have an uncomfortable similarity to those made in the USA?

Nearly a year ago, China reacted angrily to a leaked US Science Board report that suggested that Chinese cyber spying had compromised two dozen major US weapons systems and thus gained considerable “combat advantage” for the communist regime’s military. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yangsheng huffily dismissed the report because, in his words, “it both underestimates the Pentagon’s defensive security abilities and the Chinese peoples’ intelligence.” This is hardly a vigorous denial of possible – make that likely – hacking by the Chinese security apparatus. So the question remains, how much of the Liaoning’s weapons systems are, in fact, made in the USA?

National Security requires accelerating technological innovation and, yes, massive investment to ensure America maintains a competitive advantage where such an advantage can mean life or death for its citizens as well as many others around the globe. How does the USA play its cards in East Asia where allies like Japan and South Korea, not to mention Taiwan, are more than a little concerned over China’s geopolitical ambitions? One imagines that Secretary Hagel clearly understands that his visit is political and diplomatic theatre but one hopes that President Reagan’s words to Gorbachev in 1985 – Let me tell you why we don’t trust you – are not far from his mind as he views America’s main rival’s prized navy vessel. Let’s also hope that somewhere else in this Administration, those words are still remembered as well; as unlikely as that may seem.

In Berlin, which has given us architecture and fascism, artists and nazis, there will now be a cemetery for lesbians. The arrangement between the Lutheran Georgen Parochial cemetery and Safia – an association primarily for elderly lesbians – is for a 30 year lease, enabling “the lesbian community to live together in the afterlife”. The association will refurbish the cemetery in exchange for the lease.

It seems they want in and want us out, so to speak. They want in on that final ritual that defines our lives, regardless of our faith, as we gather in our maker’s name to pay tribute and bid farewell to our loved ones. From Baptism to Burial we seek out and attempt to follow the tenets of Christianity, in this case, and hope we get it right. We now, it seems, have to accept that each of us “constructs” our own theology – as an Episcopal canon solemnly stated on PBS some years back. So suck it in you faithful Berliners, your Lutheran departed at the Georgen Parachoial grounds are now subprime it seems, walled off from the exclusive community of deceased that want you over there and not too close to them please. They live in the afterworld, which may or may not be Heaven and don’t you dare ask! That would be such bad manners.

Let’s be clear that we do discriminate all the time in private and semipublic spaces. And that’s ok, depending on the why and the where: smoking just about anywhere, screaming little kids in a quiet country inn,unruly pets in an apartment building. You may or may not agree with the specifics of individual cases like these but the right to decide who can participate in certain defined spaces is understandable and is a widespread practice. The Georgen Parochial cemetery is about something more, however. One wonders if Safia even considers their new burial ground as Christian. Is faith something you can lease on a 30 year term? Does Safia want in? Or do they want us out?

The Danger of Underestimating Putin

Conspicuously molding himself into a Tsarist-Soviet-Capitalist hybrid, Vladimir Putin is pushing his greedy agenda as far as it can go, and the combined US and EU sanctions are merely a tickle on his grasping hand.

In some ways Russia isn’t what it used to be, and we don’t ever want to see that despotic regime of automatons again, but in other ways Russia is the same icy behemoth dealt with by President Roosevelt on down. Cold, calculating and single-minded. They couldn’t have picked a better leader (lest we forget, he spent his formative years as a KGB agent specializing in grooming agents to infiltrate the US).

Obama’s missteps aside, generations needs to remember what the Soviet Empire was and what the former-Soviet Empire is capable of. The country has changed since the days of glasnost and perestrioka, certainly, but those missiles are still buried in the tundra and its boomer subs still slouch beneath the seas. As a recent Russian news anchor reminded us, they still have the power to turn us into radioactive dust. Younger generations need to be reminded of this, perhaps by a national airing of The Day After.

Today, too many Americans have an image of Russia as a capitalist democracy wrapped in Cyrillic lettering. That’s far from the reality. Its government censors the news to such a point that news isn’t news, it’s propaganda masked as news (which is far more dangerous than simple propaganda).

I’m not saying a full-on US military intervention is the key, because a war with Russia can only end badly for both sides. But limp-wristed sanctions aimed at key Russians that reduce their wealth from $8 billion to $7 billion isn’t going to drop this new Berlin Wall. In fact, that reaction is exactly what Putin bet on when he first moved into the Crimea and staged its elections.

If it was that easy to take Crimea, why not move into the rest of the Ukraine? The only thing stopping him in a bickering boardroom full of aging bureaucrats, dead set at keeping the peace at any cost, even if that means allowing Putin to restore the Soviet Union piece-by-piece.

The Obama Administration nearly spiked the proverbial football when Osama Bin Laden was killed in the Seal Team 6 Raid. Short of dancing in front of the cameras and shouting, the President insinuated that terrorism was, by all accounts, dead and gone. Yet, the Benghazi Attacks through a wrench of sorts into this narrative. Though the Administration scrambled to blame a video against Islam as the main source of the conflict, this could not have been farther from the truth and ultimately the true story was revealed (much to their chagrin). The day our diplomatic personnel were killed in Benghazi, terrorism showed its hand and shouted to the President that though one leader was dead… like cockroaches…their were more waiting to scurry out and do harm to the American people around the world.

The President seemed to handle the situation in Benghazi well…. And by well I mean horribly. Practically ignoring the situation in the Middle East and failing to acknowledge with any type of sincerity that this was a planned and not spur of the moment attack, President Obama barely recognized that there was anything worth investigating. New inquiries into the attacks by those who are refusing to let the truth die at the hands of a careless president have revealed that the leader of the free world was more than just ignorant of the depth of the problem but may be taking a backseat in seeking justice as well.

Investigators are asking why the President and his minions at the State Department failed to put the Benghazi suspect on the terrorist watch list. The cash for justice program has helped to bring numerous perpetrators of violence and terror to justice and yet, the President has failed to ensure that such a move to the list was taken care of. Sure, it’s not solely his responsibility but a bit of pressure for movement wouldn’t hurt… would it?

For those Americans who have not allowed popular culture and modern distractions move their eyes away from the cover up and denial of the Benghazi attacks and are still interested in finding the truth, there has been movement this week in some important intelligence breaks. Reports are showing that there was concern days before the September 11th attacks that there was a potentially imminent attack in the works and that the United States government was alerted of the embassies concerns. Further, new developments also suggest that US foreign policy may have failed to keep detained an individual that was not only a threat in the past but potentially an active member in the assault planning.

The Benghazi attack on September 11th that killed four Americans was not one that was based off of a movie or a documentary’s potentially inflaming remarks. Though the White House would like us to think this, or tried their best to force feed this narrative down our throats, there is now developing clear and concise evidence that the attack was planned for weeks prior to the attack. The movie was not a consideration for those that planned to harm Americans. It was the fact that Americans are AMERICANS that was the tipping point for this group of depraved and disgusting human beings. It continues to be a denial point for President Obama who will simply not admit he was at best wrong and at worst negligible in handling the situation in advance of murder and chaos.

A new development also suggests that a former detainee at Gitmo was in the vicinity when the attacks occurred. This suggests that not only have we failed the Benghazi victims by not investigating further and openly into why they were killed and avoiding all talk of the true understandings of what happened, but that we have failed the American people by putting political correctness when it comes to dealing with non-citizen terrorists ahead of safety. It is time the politics stopped and the real investigation into Benghazi begins. The fact is the surface has yet to be scratched and no matter how much they try to hide it, let us demand the truth from all those involved… come what may.

John Boehner is on the war path, literally and figuratively. The leader, who went semi-rogue in supporting military actions in Syria, has realized that his support of the President may have just weakened himself, strengthened Obama, and not done much for governmental relations. Speaker Boehner is letting it be known on Capitol Hill and in the media that he is not happy with the cold shoulder he is receiving from the President. With a vote to defund Obamacare looming, the President seems more interested in talks with Russia’s Putin than his own Congress.

This isn’t necessarily a surprising move. The President has had a less than amicable relationship with members of Congress, specifically in the Republican Party. He simply cannot, it seems, lower himself to speak with his underlings in the House and Senate. He would rather parade about the country on speaking engagements, give staged and canned press conferences with no question and answer, or simply ignore the problems of his administration all together. The result is a President that continues to see a strained relationship with Congress and yet, doesn’t seem to care.

The President’s arrogance is mind blowing in many respects. It appears he has taken his role in leadership as one that is completely one sided. There is no negotiation (really), no great deals to be made, and if there are, it all seems to be beneath him. He fails to connect with others and set the images of Presidents past who believed that working together was something that was par for the course (no pun intended). While being principled and standing your ground is one thing, this President seems to get more frustrated and angry with the idea of compromise than actually interested in even feigning that it is occurring. The future of the US could be at stake and the President simply doesn’t care, or wouldn’t care, to hold the meetings and really get something accomplished. Now, if only the mainstream media began to take an interested look in his lack of ability to deem himself worthy of negotiation for the little people that would be great.

War on Coal Continued

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Filed Under Foreign Affairs on Sep 18 

The President’s war on coal and EPA initiatives are beginning to rear their ugly heads once again. In an effort to make the world a cleaner place (though no one else in the world is really attempting this with much success), the President has set his targets on regulating the coal industry in the United States. Specifically, he is putting down regulations on new technologies that would be required of plants to use. This would help, he says, to cut down on carbon gas emissions by setting a threshold of release and capping how much pollution each plant can emit into the atmosphere through a rerouting procedure. The problems of this form of redirection, however, could be extremely problematic.

The new technologies that are being discussed for potential enforcement in Obama Land Rules would require that coal plants reroute the carbon emitted from their plants to an underground region. If it remains underground, there may be some success in helping to protect the air immediately surrounding the plants . However, it is not known completely what the dangers of this technology are and many are warning, they could be severe. If, for some reason, the technology failed and the carbon rose to the surface, there could be dire consequences. Not only would the individuals at the plants be at risk, but anyone near a testing facility could see tremendous harm done to them if it were to explode.

The untested technology has yet to be implemented but it is in the Obama plan for EPA regulations. The truth is that they are not very happy with the nature of the coal industry in the US and are single handedly trying to kill it in its tracks. Union support on the decline, a war to coal in the name of environmental betterment is a sad ploy at harming an industry that is the backbone of this country for some political agenda. The coal industry is on guard and angry by recent developments.

The United States is once again embarrassing itself when it comes to talks about military endeavors and chemical weapons in Syria. Secretary of State Kerry has met with Russian and Syrian representatives regarding the matter and more specifically, focused on a potential deal to transfer the chemical weapons into the hands of international authorities, if found. It appears, however, that the threat of military intervention is no longer convincing enough and Assad is growing in his efforts to challenge and, ultimately, discredit the efforts of the United States.

Officials on Capitol Hill are concerned by the nature of the talks between the three countries. First, there is the obvious role of Russia in the exchange of weapons and diplomatic talks. Putin, a foe of the Administration whether our President is willing to recognize it or not, has been controlling and manipulating the situation from the beginning. From intervening in military policy in the United States (a Russian president DICTATING the course of events in the US is absurd in numerous ways…let alone that he does not like us), to taking an interest in a human rights story (not really but that’s what they have you believe) which is far from his normal demeanor, to actually challenging our policy, Putin is controlling our leaders and for whatever reason it cannot be good.

There is also the fact that the aforementioned Russian official (turned diplomat…?) has insulted the American people and our leadership time and again during the process. Our beliefs, our stances, they are all offensive to him and it is as if he is laughing at us through every inch of this process. Then, of course, there is Assad himself who is now pushing the envelope and making more stipulations and demands of the US in his talks. Knowing that he has Russia backing him has to make him feel good and he is using this to his every advantage. Time will tell how these talks play out and what, if anything, we do in the process. All I know is that we are being laughed at across the globe while others are standing with their jaws wide opened and the President does not seem to mind (or even worse, he doesn’t care).

The Syrian conflict continues to get tense. The President, who backed out of his original “red line” statement to an extent in Sweden this week, is pushing for authorization for a military strike in the region. The decision, which is increasingly unpopular at home and abroad, is drawing criticism and also support from some unlikely of places.

Both John Boehner and John McCain asserted that they believe that the military strike was the right thing to do and in National Security interests, while Rand Paul and others are holding firm in their position against the President’s plan. Democrats, too, are struggling with the decision. The anti-war contingency, still stinging from the conflicts that continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, are finding it hard to keep with the President and explain away their dissidence in the past (of course… that was George W. Bush so at least they have that excuse still).

In an interesting twist, Russian authoritarian Vladmir Putin is weighing in on the conflict. Angry over the recent actions of the United States, and his apparent snub to President Obama in the Edward Snowden case, is causing tensions in the region to grow even more. Putin has promised to send backup and military protection to Syria should the Obama Administration launch an attack on the region. The President has to back track on his promise, creating confusion both on Capitol Hill and in the military community. If he were to take action, he would be upsetting both foe and ally alike. If he were to not do anything, he is reaffirming what Americans have feared: our presence in the world is growing weaker and weaker. Suddenly, the President and his minions on Capitol Hill are realizing that the peace before policy and principle that they touted did not work. I believe there are many across America (and the world) saying: I told you so.

The threat in Syria, or rather our involvement, continues to grow on Capitol Hill. The President this week vowed to take the potential for action to the US Congress, where he is hoping to win approval for his actions. Insiders, however, say that with or without approval, the President still plans to take action via bombings or another military route that will not directly deploy a large amount of men on the ground.

The tide in Washington is mixed on whether or not the President will win the approval that he seeks. House Republican Leader Jon Boehner (R-OH) has said that he will support the action, with Democratic ring leader Nancy Pelosi echoing the claims. She asserted that the President did not in fact create the proverbial red line but it was a sense of “humanity” that did that. The threat, then, cannot be ignored and action needs to be taken.

Republicans and Democrats alike are wavering in the stance on Syria, with no one side truly sticking together. Sure, Democrats want to follow their faithful leader into battle (or make that effort at least) but there is still the issue of constituency to deal with. Public sentiment regarding the crisis is strongly favoring the belief that the US should not get involved in the conflict. Many are still war wary from the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, too, leaders are trying to come to terms with how to be so against military involvement in the Middle East in the past decade but now supporting it.

Time will tell where the experts and US fall in their actions. Many, including England’s officials and Russian leaders alike, are encouraging the US to stay out. Whether or not the President listens, however, has yet to be seen. Chances are, though, that he will get his way one way or the other and that off-the-cuff comment he made will have real political and foreign relations policy consequences.

The President of the United States made a promise that action would be taken in Syria if it was found out that chemical weapons had been used upon the population. Recently, it was confirmed publically by current Secretary of State John Kerry that the evidence was no undeniable in that Syria had assuredly been utilizing chemical weapons on its people. Now, the President must make a big decision as to what to do as his stance was made clear that some action would be taken with no explanation as to what.

Currently, the President has not mentioned what the best actions would be in the country. The Commander in Chief has sent four Navy warships to the area but military intervention is questionable at this point. The once anti-war President must wade carefully into this issue, hence why he is seeking the support of allies before making any big moves. Not only could a conflict in Syria with boots on the ground be detrimental (potentially) to foreign policy, it could also mean angering the anti-war left who is fighting to end the conflict in Iraq (though the President would have you believe the fighting is over and terrorism has been defeated).

Republicans, too, are cautious of the issue. They know that coming out in an aggressive stance could cause disaster in the region and in their political stance. The party that has been, rightfully or wrongly, associated with war may have trouble explaining another one to the public. The President’s promise arbitrarily to take action is problematic all around. He made a promise that will make it difficult to escape from and yet, has no real end game. The questions will come as to why now and why there? Why put our boots on the ground in the region and not in Darfur or other regions of the world. Further, it will be a question of when our activity stops and how we can afford another war. It will be a problem politically and may cost more human lives. It is important that everyone be sure before they begin and may we all take note that making promises that we do not know how to keep is the way of this President.

Edward Snowden, the international main of intrigue, has once again found a safe haven from the United States. In an act of direct defiance to the US government, Snowden has been granted refugee status in Russia, allowing him to move relatively unrestricted throughout the country. The man that claims to be an informant of justice and seeker of truth is no in a country that has a long and storied history of dishonesty and restriction.

The irony of Snowden’s choice of refugee locations is not lost on Washington insiders, politicians, and those that have even a most basic understanding of modern political events. Beyond the obvious humor of the location he is now in, there is a deeper problem here that is bubbling to the service. There was a time when the United States was feared, and respected. International leaders may have loathed catering to the demands of the country but they did so for fear of retribution or spent their days trying to figure out how to take it down.

Russia, however, is showing a new trend in modern politics. Though our President has all but apologized for America’s power and standing in the world, in locations like Vietnam and Latin America, and the goal it seemed would be to foster international relations. His “apology tour” as it was dubbed by many in the media and in right of center groups was angering for those on the right and long overdue for some on the left. Yet, the President it seems has weakened our international standing. For Russia to blatantly disregard any desires of the United States and provide refugee status to a wanted criminal who divulged crucial national security information is beyond ridiculous and upsetting. It shows where we are lacking and where this President and our national officials have failed us.

The United States is in a unique position of authority and targeting for terrorist organizations. The beacon of hope, that shining city upon a hill, is the hope, desire, and want of so many less than free individuals around the world. Though controversy remains and our own Constitution continues to be beaten down and stepped on (arguably) by those in power, the essence and the ideal of the American spirit remains a beacon of hope to many. This hope threatens those with ill intentions, demands actions by those that wish ill, and provides a visible goal for terrorists.

The aforementioned is all known, understandably, to anyone willing to pay just a bit of attention to the coverage of world events. No, the United State is not unique in its efforts to combat terrorism and its need to be vigilant (within the confines of the rule of law). In combating the efforts and thwarting terrorists from Iran, Chechnya, Pakistan, and other countries around the world with radical ties, there needs to be a sharing of information between allies and a united (though not necessarily reliant) position on what will occur. Argentina, a country which has seen its share of terrorist attacks, could have helped in providing this information and helping to piece together the complicated web of connections that are terrorism. But, recently and much to the anger of Republicans, the Argentinian cooperation ceased to exist leaving the United States with one less tool in aiding in the fight against external evil.

In 1994, anti-Semitic actions of Iranian influenced groups resulted in the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina. The result was 85 deaths and multiple injuries. Argentina has one of the most open and welcoming climates for Jews in Latin America, making it a target to the anti-Israeli Iran. The United States was hoping to learn more about the attack from the Government Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who appeared ready and willing, even excited, to share his findings regarding Iran’s involvement in the attack. Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, however, chose instead to put an end to this interaction and asserted that Nisman would not be testifying in front of US Congressional committees or sharing information with leaders on Capitol Hill. This is just another setback in the greater war on terror and raises the question of who are allies are in this global fight.

The man behind the NSA scandal is on the run…literally. Edward Snowden has been jumping from location to location and country to country in an attempt to escape the United States government. The man that is an enigma, a hero to some and a villain to others, is running around the world hiding from what could be a problematic fate in the US. His goal is to find asylum and protection as a refugee in a country that will embrace him for his sabotage (or whistleblowing whatever your personal belief).

The problem is not so much the uproar over Snowden’s movement. It is the blatant hypocrisy for which the man stands. The young man who supposedly is a beacon of freedom and revelations on the activities of the NSA is now hiding behind countries that stand for nothing of the sort. From China to Russia, the young expatriate is heading to locations that are known for shutting down media, having closed discussions, and directing scripted discussions among their own citizenry. The irony of his movements is assuredly not lost on him.

The awareness that Snowden brought to a problem is not the issue at hand directly. There is a sound basis for criticizing the reach of the government in this case. While the political parties fight out whether or not he is a hero or villain, with Republican Speaker John Boehner falling solidly on the side of harsh criticism, the real issue is how these other countries are protecting him. With Russia and China both seeming to protect the young man, there is a direct message being sent to the leaders in Washington and, specifically, the Obama Administration: Your opinion doesn’t matter. This may come as a shock to the global President who tries hard to treat well the enemies of this country or stand in line with causes that are detrimental to the United States, but the fact remains that he is not the end all be all when it comes to other leaders. He is simply the leader of the United States, a country that they hate and that they see no real value in at their core. Maybe this will wake our Commander in Chief up to understanding that no matter how hard he tries to appease those who dislike us he will not change their hearts or minds and is only making us weaker in the process. Chances are, however, his ego will remain unchallenged by this blatant disrespect and he will continue the world apology tour he started before his presidency ever began.

Imagine, as an American citizen, going to Iran and being welcomed with open arms. Imagine a government that would allow you to speak freely and openly about political and religious beliefs. Imagine that when visiting Iran you were entering into a country that was so politically open and standard-free that you could actually vote or show allegiance via polling stations during American Presidential election cycles. Too far-fetched? Too unrealistic? Assuredly so but that is not stopping movements by some extreme Iranian Americans who are currently participating in these activities throughout the United States.

It was announced this week that the Islamic Republic of Iran is planning on having nineteen polling stations open in the United States where Iranian Americans can have their say (politically speaking only) in the Iranian Presidential election. The stations are being set up in Texas, California, and other states throughout the country. Though the vote itself is likely to be meaningless, the effort at allowing some sort of polling center is meant to send the far reach of radical Islam into the core of the American way of life.

The idea of having Iranian polling stations throughout the United States is not something that should be taken lightly. It is not an arbitrary vote and allowing it openly and without the appropriate restrictions and current enforcement of US law is appalling. Republican and Democratic leaning individuals alike should be terrified by this move. Paranoia it is not to be wary of Iran increasing its hand into the American populace. Thought the Obama Administration and many liberals are afraid to say it, this country and countries around the world are at war with radical Islam. Voting and polling are just voting and polling until one country wishes the other death and complete annihilation. It is time that the freedom loving nation recognized that Islam in its radical form is a threat and actions like this should be stopped. But, in a government that did not even know that the Boston Bombers attended a mosque founded by a convicted terrorist, this is probably seen as a great thing.

A mother of seven sits in a Mexican jail. She is charged with having smuggled over ten pounds of marijuana onto a bus in Mexico and transporting it for financial gain. By all accounts and alleged reports, the mother is a devoted caretaker of her children, a wife, and a devout Mormon who has a strong faith in God. A supporter of a country from which her roots sprang, this Arizona resident is being used as a tool for the Mexican cartel and it is time that Republicans and Democrats alike stop sugarcoating the Mexican problem. We are in a silent war with Mexico and both sides need to stop denying reality.

Immigration lands on the forefront of political debate, ebbing and flowing with the vigilance of the people and interests of those with political gain to make. There is the concern over how to handle illegal immigrants who cross the border and gain access to the American dream without rightfully deserving it. There are those calls for action from good, law abiding citizens from all walks of life who know the life they fled and want nothing more than to forget it forever. Cartels run the streets and the internal workings of everything from the police to the government are interlinked with these drug pushers.

Just this year, President Obama made a trip to Central America and spoke about the great and budding economy of the region. He avoided discussions of drugs and the American financial fuel that is promoting cartels and the abuses of power. In a diplomatic way, that may be necessary but is ultimately wrong, he showered the region with flowery praises. How quickly we forget the Fast and Furious scandal, the border security issues, and the blatant Police State that has taken strong firm and hold of the country.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence of this woman, with more facts still coming out daily, the need for an awakening of the horrible state of Mexico needs to be addressed and we as Americans need to be ever vigilante of the issues down south. Republican or Democrat, Mexican or American, it is a real problem and we must wake up. This is not the first seedy act of the Mexico and diplomacy be damned, it will not be the last.

How big is the Mexican threat? Should Americans be concerned or is immigration our biggest concern with the country?

There needs to be an admission of failure. Somewhere, someone messed up… and they messed up big time. Whoever denied the extra security at the consulate in Benghazi and whoever chose to pass up the opportunity to aid our officials in the region when they so desperately needed help need to face the music, for lack of better terminology. Mothers have lost their sons, children have lost their fathers, and there is this need to protect politically above all else. It truly is sickening and no where does the division between Republican and Democrat fit in this equation. No where.

I know it will be said that this happens on both sides, and it does. But does that make it right? NO. It is time that the American people became involved and spoke up. We want the answers. We want the truth. We want to know what happened and why. Why is there a man in jail taking blame for the video that was not the cause of the deaths of our American citizens? Why did a memo go through multiple revisions before it reached the public’s ears? Why did we turn our backs when help was needed and the military so desperately wanted to correct the situation?

There are no simple answers to these questions. And, though I myself am guilty at times, we must step back from viewing this in any way as a political issue. Yes, there will be political fallout. That is a given. Yet, looking at it that way will only cause the muddying of the waters to the point that no one will be able to see the truth. It is time that those who messed up step forward and takes their punishments. That would be the most respectable, most commendable, and most appreciated move of all. Still, though, the consistent shift of blame happens with those with political futures running scared. It is pitiful. It is inexcusable. It is wearing thin.

Bill Ayers, a self-admitted member of the Weather Underground, has recently been thrust in the news once again. A Barack Obama friend, Ayers has been the subject of controversy for the President since the moment that he became a contender for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Republican officials and Clinton supporters alike took note of the man that seemed close to the President and questioned how morality blended into the complex relationship. To this day, he remains a proverbial thorn in the President’s side… or at least he should be seen that way.

Ayers has been on the defensive lately, after the comparison was made between his radical group and the Boston Bombings. He has adamantly denied the juxtaposition of the two incidents, arguing that all that his group participated in was property damage. The cause that the Weather Underground hid behind, arguably, is a cause that may have had validity: ending the Vietnam War. Yet, the group he was tied to chose to create explosive devices and place them at military and police stations, where people would potentially be. During the creation of these explosives, members of the group themselves were killed. This year, this (vile and unrepentant man) was a keynote speaker in a remembrance event for the victims of the Kent State shootings… really?

What is most frustrating and mind-boggling, as well as overwhelmingly moralistically challenging, is not the relationship between the President and this domestic terror. Though that is obviously of concern, what is most problematic is the embracing of such a man in both academic circles and the mainstream culture of this country. A man like Ayers has distanced himself from what he did without truly feeling remorseful of his actions. He has continued to separate himself from what he appears to think he did from what occurred. During the craftsmanship of his group’s plot, individuals did die. It was not simply property damage. He was speaking on behalf of a cause, maybe, but what he chose to do was take violent and radical steps in so doing, not much different than the radical Islamists who put firepower behind their ideological perspective. When we continue to embrace a murderer, an unrepentant man at that, it goes above and beyond politics. It speaks to the heart of a disjointed culture that is becoming morally confused. That is the scariest of propositions.

On September 11, 2012, a terrorist attack occurred at the American consulate in Benghazi. During the attack, US Ambassador Chris Stevens and an additional three Americans doing work in the country were killed, while the Obama Administration and US State Department watched without action. Releases of data and investigations have shown that there were requests from those on the ground for additional support and protection and that fears of an attack were prominent. The Obama Administration, including the President himself, have done their best to avoid discussing the issue and avoided direct answers on whether or not they dropped the ball in this foreign issue. Though the ebb and flow of popularity in this case and foreign security lapse continues, it simply will not go away, much to the President’s dismay.

Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has complicated the issue a bit in recent weeks with her testimony in front of Congress. The question of what she knew and when she knew it has been crucial to many foreign policy focused individuals and those that are interested in finding the answers to questions of responsibility. Secretary Clinton angrily referred to the case and her role in it with confusion and, arguably, an attitude of incoherent anger at why scrutiny has fallen to her. Records show that the Secretary signed off on a memo noting the need for more security, though she has been confusing at best at defining her role.

Some will disagree but it appears that the most intense speculation regarding Benghazi has come in light of electoral politics and how this will play out in future elections. There was, of course, the presidential debate of yesterday where semantics seemed to be at play more than the actual root of causation into the attacks. Now, Secretary Clinton appears to be hedging her bets as to where and when to admit guilt in her failings. A 2016 Presidential run is likely and she has, in many polls, been seen as the front contender for the Democratic nomination. It is likely that she is avoiding straightforward answers as a way to protect this nomination and decrease her potential liability as a candidate, though nothing seems to stop the Clinton Machine.

Only time will tell whether or not the Former Secretary and Senator will be impacted by her role in Benghazi, but, it should. If a US consulate requests aid and is not given it, the answer of why should be expounded upon quite readily. These are individuals doing work that is important to national security and need to be treated with the utmost respect and protection. The fact that we failed these individuals, including Ambassador Stevens, is a slight to American Foreign Policy and must be met head on with a demand for answers, no matter how they may impact future elections.