Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 09 Dec 2019 17:52:06 -0800 Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate e7589173230a2065b8d41c15d0903180 Trump's Canny Diplomatic and Psychological Feints on the International Stage for 12/04/2019 Wed, 04 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Three years ago, Donald Trump began a rhetorical offensive targeting the governments of NATO nations that chronically failed to meet their allied defense financial commitments. With bombastic huff, Trump intimated that allies pay their share or America might walk.</p> <p>It's 2019. Few NATO members currently meet the 2% GDP defense commitment. However, several once-laggard NATO nations have increased military spending, and the alliance is stronger for it. The era of blithe freeloading has ended. Cheapskates like Germany pay a price in lost prestige. America not only hasn't walked; it is modernizing its forces.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 04, 2019</p> 623633965e8778592f14b74c0297b5be Hong Kong's Ballots Challenge Chairman Mao's Gun Barrels for 11/27/2019 Wed, 27 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The Hong Kong pro-democracy movement's overwhelming Nov. 24 election victory demonstrates that the city's brave citizens disdain Mao Zedong's political ditties almost as much as they scorn the crooked Chinese Communist Party tyranny the mass-murdering former chairman created.</p> <p>Mao, who fancied himself a poet and philosopher, declared that political power grows from the barrel of a gun. From the Soviet Kremlin to the University of California, Berkeley to Jane Fonda, the global left waved Mao's Little Red Book, applauded his so-called "thoughts" and proclaimed radical Marxism to be humanity's future.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 27, 2019</p> c268f4d84725a59f5fb10dd10be58229 America's Home Front Is a Complex War Zone for 11/20/2019 Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The U.S. home front has become a war zone under persistent attack by adversaries who employ an array of weapons and execute operations exploiting stealth, ambush, naivete and, in many cases, utter stupidity.</p> <p>I'll use the terror threat to make a general point.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 20, 2019</p> e80104c655f5cc92e8790fee0f9edd5b Hong Kong in History's Lens for 11/13/2019 Wed, 13 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>How will historians in 2060 frame the 2019 Hong Kong crisis?</p> <p>"The first battle of the Second Cold War" is one possibility, though Russia's 2014 Crimean invasion deserves that cruel award.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 13, 2019</p> 5f86dc10a25ee327726b28c9a9e33940 The Fort Hood Terror Attack As Bitter History for 11/06/2019 Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Vice President Mike Pence deserves praise for not only remembering the national horror but also personally showing up and speaking out at Fort Hood, Texas, the scene of the Nov. 5, 2009, terrorist massacre that killed 13 American soldiers and citizens.</p> <p>It has been a decade since that terrorist attack on U.S. soil by a self-identified Islamic terrorist and American traitor. Ten years on and only a damnable trickle of mainstream media bother to reflect on this horror. In terms of mainstream printers, TV images and internet pixels, this savage outrage has been ... briefly mentioned, barely touched.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 06, 2019</p> d6b4420ba6c5bf898ec55fa5241bd7ec Al-Baghdadi's Death as Counterterror Information Warfare for 10/30/2019 Wed, 30 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>What a shame Washington political and media elites couldn't briefly halt their uncivil domestic political brawl to applaud a victory over the world's most vicious international terrorist organization, the Islamic State group of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.</p> <p>A more unified and strategically thoughtful reaction to ISIS commander, mass rapist, savage torturer, mass murderer and slaver Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's justified slaying would have magnified the effects of the Pentagon's military operation by sending a clear and powerful message with moral weight and what strategists call "deterrence value" to challenge terrorist propaganda appeals.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 30, 2019</p> a3dc9c36bc0ae539409899b3b6441adb America's Individual-Sanctions Weapon: Economic and Diplomatic Warfare Power With an Information Edge for 10/16/2019 Wed, 16 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>With the goals of halting human rights abuse and deterring corruption, the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department now routinely impose assorted financial, travel and legal sanctions that target specific "perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption" &#8212; individual bad actors and organizations (entities) the thugs and scumbags manipulate.</p> <p>Earlier this year, I was asked if these types of sanctions "ever worked." I had been discussing operations combining elements of power: diplomatic, information, military and economic (DIME). The Treasury wields economic power; the State Department has diplomatic clout. I thought the question was fair, though I had the impression the questioner thought individual sanctions often amounted to Beltway moral posturing. Noble words, sir, but do the operations ever produce laudable deeds?<p>Updated: Wed Oct 16, 2019</p> 6b4e571f25b03b83aecbcb4465339273 Algeria's 'Smile Revolution' Boils Below the Radar for 10/09/2019 Wed, 09 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Algeria's first nationwide protest occurred Friday, Feb. 22, some 16 days after then-President (for life) Abdelaziz Bouteflika's National Liberation Front (FNL) caregivers published a letter announcing the hospitalized stroke victim would run for a fifth term in 2019.</p> <p>By mid-March, even the FNL's hardened, corrupt old guard realized "the Friday protests" opposing Bouteflika and his clique had become a careful but powerful mass insurrection.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 09, 2019</p> f03abf8c0274f20c03af1fda78dd5055 Hong Kong's Protests Shame Red China's Parade -- Does This Mean War? for 10/02/2019 Wed, 02 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>On Oct. 1, the Chinese Communist Party threw itself a celebratory propaganda jubilee trumpeting the 70th anniversary Mao Zedong's civil war victory and his clique's seizure of power on the mainland.</p> <p>The centerpiece of the CCP National Day self-glorification festival was a grandiose parade featuring high-stepping People's Liberation Army troops; armored vehicles; an intercontinental ballistic missile on a mobile launcher; a curious float with a giant winged robot; cheery performers wearing blissful smiles and pastel attire; and a convoy of cult-of-personality floats bearing mega-portraits of Mao and Chinese President Xi Jingping.</p> <p>Xi insistently associates himself with Mao. Xi's visage, Mao's visage &#8212; for Xi, it's a domestic mega-propaganda must.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 02, 2019</p> 57fc386e6e4dfa90c0cdc234f20f2ca8 Invoking the Rio Treaty Diplomatically Attacks Venezuela's Dictatorship for 09/25/2019 Wed, 25 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In 2018, the BBC reported U.N. officials were comparing the Venezuelan refugee problem to the "Mediterranean crisis" spurred by the civil wars in Syria and Libya.</p> <p>The comparison still has unfortunate merit. Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and his regime wage what amounts to a slow war of oppression and starvation on their own people. Thanks to the regime's catastrophic socialist economic policies, life for Venezuelans lacking regime connections is wretched.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 25, 2019</p> 0d622c291508de53d620d3eb82af00c3 Proxies and Proximity: Iranian Drone Attacks on Saudi Oil for 09/18/2019 Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Two previous Iranian-proxy drone attacks on Saudi Arabian petro-targets look suspiciously like rehearsals for the Sept. 14 attacks on the Abqaiq oil production complex and Khurais oil field.</p> <p>The attacks, on May 14 and Aug. 17, 2019, would have provided Iran with intelligence regarding Saudi air surveillance operations while combat-testing the strike and guidance capabilities of its armed drones and cruise missiles. Those attacks should have alerted the Saudis to quickly improve the local air defenses of key oil shipment "chokepoints" like Abqaiq.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 18, 2019</p> 17622b6fa4b24301ebe1e97025bb1df9 Trade War a Weapon Against China's Spy War for 09/11/2019 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In May, I wrote a column arguing China's pervasive spying and influence operation in America has no historical precedent.</p> <p>Beijing literally targets the whole of American society.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 11, 2019</p> e3c62cfac82b888849703b591e953b3f Hong Kong Moves From Protests to Civil Unrest As China Threatens Intervention for 09/04/2019 Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Author and war correspondent Michael Yon reports that one can feel the collective political and emotional change on Hong Kong's streets &#8212; change that may have dire consequences.</span><br></p> <p>At the end of August, I emailed Yon a couple of questions based on an observation he made in a videocast shot some 10 days prior. (See He livestreams via Facebook.) In the video, Yon said Hong Kong's populace showed signs of moving from protest to civil unrest. My questions: <span class="column--highlighted-text">What's the current situation? And will communist China crack down (i.e. armed intervention)?</span><p>Updated: Wed Sep 04, 2019</p> 7ccae1daeabe275d470ee26e00a906ca Protecting American Combat Technology: The Turkish F-35 Saga for 08/28/2019 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The desire to ensure technological reliability and, ultimately, combat superiority, guided the Trump administration's mid-July decision to terminate U.S. plans to sell the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey.</p> <p>Give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan his due. On the global diplomatic stage, Erdogan can display power-player skills diplomats can admire, no matter what they tell reporters. For example, like President Donald Trump, Erdogan uses the perception of tumult and impulsiveness to gain political and diplomatic advantage. Surprise agitates; the unexpected momentarily boggles. Erdogan says something &#8212; anything &#8212; provocative and sensational, waits four beats (or tweets) as adversaries react and semi-credentialed talking idiots pontificate, and then shifts rhetorical fire and nation state-empowered ire to his real diplomatic target.</p> <p>Deep background: The boggle tactic is classic. Sun Tzu and Machiavelli would both endorse it, with the caveat that savvy leaders must concede it has physical and common-sense restraints. Other human beings may initially boggle, but people aren't stupid. To paraphrase Lincoln, boggle diplomacy won't fool all people all the time. Strategic advice to bogglers: Don't let your ego lead you into a dead-end alley.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 28, 2019</p> a10b8b25981dd41c1e1c2fb69c2e8833 Hong Kong Confronts Beijing's Disinformation Tweets for 08/21/2019 Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Riots! Dark forces! Terrorism! American gangsters!</p> <p>The allegations are propaganda smears threatened dictators routinely employ to tar opponents and shift blame.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 21, 2019</p> d82ee627d49dbfc00c77a9cfaeb7bb56 Diplomatically Countering Threats to Arctic Real Estate for 08/14/2019 Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's candid May 6 speech at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Finland startled many in his well-heeled audience.</p> <p>The Arctic Council consists of eight countries that control some Arctic territory (U.S., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Russia) and six Arctic indigenous groups. Greenland is a Danish possession; the island has an immense Arctic Exclusive Economic Zone.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 14, 2019</p> fa1f29d37fe17038d68b556b229e8896 China's Great Oppressor Reality Subverts Its Great Power Aspirations for 08/08/2019 Thu, 08 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Chinese President Xi Jinping boasts his nation will return to great power status before 2049. By great power Xi means return to unrivaled world power status, which his ethnic Han-centered reading of history assumes the Middle Kingdom enjoyed during its imperial golden age. By the way, it is no coincidence that 2049 will mark 100 years of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorial rule in mainland China.</p> <p>2019's Hong Kong protests, however, have exposed Xi's reviving China as a great oppressor operating as an authoritarian, corrupt and brutal political system few human beings would willingly emulate. China's senior communists can boast, but deep down they know their police state is politically brittle, which is why they employ hi-tech surveillance to monitor their citizens and Tiananmen Square-type slaughter if undeterred citizens challenge the CCP's domestic power.</p> <p>The Trump administration's trade war has caught politically challenged China in an awkward economic moment. China's economy no longer roars. Economic growth has stalled.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 08, 2019</p> 4d1a767641412b7937a758989ae0c893 Deep Fakes and the New Age of Deception for 07/31/2019 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Forgeries, malign innuendo, smears, hoaxes and outright lies are primal psychological and emotional weapons. From lovers' quarrels to great-power warfare, they are innate factors in human conflict.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 31, 2019</p> c99bce6348797e608bbbcaa15fb79b13 Fracking Ayatollah Iran's Oil Weapon for 07/24/2019 Wed, 24 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Iran's corrupt religious dictators continue to talk, taunt and act as if their periodic attacks on oil tankers and cyclic threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to commercial and naval vessels still have the power to spike global oil prices, depress stock markets and economically throttle the industrialized nations the ayatollahs despise.</p> <p>But geo-strategically, 2019 isn't 1973, 1990 or even 2014, when oil exporter Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to restrict natural gas sales to the Kremlin's European critics. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 24, 2019</p> c892b28e79c0be4a0cc273e0fa43e201 In Anarchic Somalia, the Global War on Terror Continues for 07/17/2019 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On July 12, al-Shabaab Islamic terrorists attacked a hotel in the Somali seaport of Kismayo. They detonated a suicide car bomb, and then gunmen shot their way into the hotel. The attack left 33 human beings dead and injured at least 50.</p> <p>Do events like this in anarchic Somalia matter beyond the immediate region?<p>Updated: Wed Jul 17, 2019</p>