The general who set up the prison at Guantanamo Bay says it’s about time that we shut it down. It’s interesting to see how much he’s flipped sides on the issue, and how willing he is to admit that the prison was opened out of fear– a fact that everybody should know. The United States was extremely scared after 9/11, and we acted as a nation who’s extremely scared would act by jumping to extremes. We failed to realize that the interrogation strategy largely seems to fail and that there would be negative perceptions of us throughout the world by opening the prison. Hopefully the government will also flip sides on the issue and start to understand exactly why the prison needs to be shut down.
Obama and Kerry struck a deal with the Afghani government to keep US troops in Afghanistan until sometime beyond 2014 last month. There is a slight possibility that the deal won’t actually go through, but it’s looking like it probably will. It seems like a good idea for us to maintain a small ground presence in Afghanistan, but the article cited above indicates that we’ll probably keep roughly 8000 troops in the country, which seems a bit excessive. Luckily the government of Afghanistan seems largely okay with the action, so it shouldn’t be detrimental to our relationship with the country’s government. And it seems like we’ll be using our forces to mostly fend off Al Qaeda and train the Afghani National Forces, which hopefully means the troops will be focused on more defensive actions than offensive actions. While it seems like 8000 troops is a bit excessive, it seems like an overall good thing for the US to keep some troops in Afghanistan for the next year.
The Pakistani government is largely not okay with US drone strikes in their country, as is logical for any country who’s sovereignty is being violated by another country. Especially considering that the United States continues to kill numerous, innocent, Pakistani civilians with these strikes, being outraged makes a lot of sense for the Pakistani government. Even Sharif, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, who very much so wants to maintain good ties with the US and is willing to help out with the Afghanistan peace processes is pretty ticked off at the way we conduct drone strikes. The friction in the relationship certainly can’t be good, and could only be detrimental to the relationship and our ability to conduct peaceful affairs with Pakistan and other states in the Middle East/South Asia. Hopefully the United States will come to their senses soon and realize that constraining the drone program is a good idea. When even the Taliban is mocking us for our drone policy, it’s time to change things.
This article by the Foreign Policy Initiative explains the Asia Pivot pretty well, for those of you who are interested in it but don’t know a lot about it. Effectively, the United States has decided that East and South Asia are the regions with the biggest threats in the world (IE China) and that we need a large military presence there in order to prevent any bad things from happening. I certainly think it’s good that we have military presence throughout the world, but I largely think that the pivot is a bit excessive. We should beef up our military presence in the region a little bit, but not nearly as much as we are right now. Especially since we’re attempting to solve issues with China (and issues between China and Japan over places like the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands) diplomatically, having a massive military presence in the region may make solving these issues more difficult. It’s difficult to want to properly negotiate and agree with another person when you’re staring down the barrel of a gun. Instead of pivoting so much of our forces to the region, why don’t we send some of our soldiers back home? Or even to a place closer to home, like Hawaii, where they can maybe relax a bit, yet still be largely ready for anything that could happen in the Asian Pacific?
Last month, NATO began initiating some cyber defenses in order to defend against potential attacks. This is especially interesting considering how involved the United States is in the organization. Hopefully these new defenses will stay defensive instead of offensive and NATO won’t create or perpetuate a cyber war. Especially considering that a central tenant of the alliance is that if anyone attacks one of the countries involved, all of the countries retaliate. Considering that the new technology (presumably) involves some ability to detect attacks and figure out who started the attack, this could easily escalate to a cyber war, if not a real one, if NATO doesn’t act defensively and stay defensive instead of retaliatory.
The Onion is my favorite parody news site, and they’ve published several articles about drone strikes over the past year. If you’re interested in laughing at the misfortune that is the United States’ drone policy, check them out.
http://www.theonion.com/articles/sweating-obama-admits-drone-strikes-have-been-happ,31219/ — “Sweating Obama Admits Drone Strikes Have Been Happening on Their Own”
http://www.theonion.com/articles/obama-takes-out-romney-with-middebate-drone-attack,30055/ “Obama Takes Out Romney With Mid-Debate Drone Attack”
http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-england-patriots-now-using-drones-to-take-out,34602/ “New England Patriots Now Using Drones To Take Out Offensive Threats”
This is both really cool and really terrifying– the United States has successfully launched a drone from an underwater submarine. The article also indicates that the program only took six years to complete, which is significantly quicker than most new military technologies. I suppose the drone warfare program has continued to grow and still continues to grow. The fact that we have these capabilities unfortunately means that other countries will soon have these capabilities as well. Hopefully the tech won’t be used for too much warfare.