Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 19 Oct 2019 17:57:27 -0700 Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate 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> fa460d76bf01ff68f9ce04432472f150 Hong Kong Confronts China With Information Age Political Battles for 07/10/2019 Wed, 10 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In Hong Kong's 2019 civil upheaval, <span class="column--highlighted-text">China's communist dictatorship confronts two intricate information-age political battles.</span></p> <p>One battle is a clash of national narratives, regionally with suspicious neighbors (including Hong Kong) who resist Chinese expansion, globally as the regime's most potent international adversary, the U.S., squeezes Beijing economically and cajoles it politically. For example, the U.S. threatens China with legal action and economic penalties for its pervasive theft of intellectual property. China has yet to effectively counter that verifiable charge.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 10, 2019</p> b8b332314a68cdc770d73c16b433aac3 Turkey's Latest Libyan War Recalls 1911 for 07/03/2019 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, though his military forces are deeply engaged in next-door Syria's ruinous civil war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch a military campaign in another former Turkish Ottoman Empire colonial possession: Libya.</p> <p>Don't dismiss the Ottoman link as a quaint historical reference. Ottoman rule influences contemporary Libyan politics in odd but evident ways. Empire connections have some resonance in 21st-century Turkey. Imperial glory may well have psychological import for the authoritarian Erdogan. His nickname is Sultan Recep.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 03, 2019</p> 9a57b2c37be4ede3c38ed1b96a4cbdf8 Good News for NATO: Turk Voters Reject Erdogan's Ego-Sultan Regime for 06/26/2019 Wed, 26 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If the Istanbul electoral thrashing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received June 23 eventually topples him, Turkey's citizens will prove once again they can protect their democracy from corruption by a hyper-empowered strongman and authoritarian Islamism.</p> <p>Erdogan is on the verge of destroying Turkish democracy. He is also an emerging threat to the integrity of NATO, which means he's a threat to U.S. security. If "security" sounds vague, confront a specific. Sultan Recep (Erdogan's derisive nickname) threatens the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's technological edge, which means he aids and abets America's military enemies.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 26, 2019</p> 5b5c490bc416542de7f7f3b92eca232b Attention Media Hysterics: Iran's Dictatorship Declared War on America 40 Years Ago for 06/19/2019 Wed, 19 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Media hysterics take note. Honest commentary on the Trump administration's 2019 diplomatic, economic and military clash with Iran's vicious dictatorship requires historical context.</p> <p>Here's critical historical Fact One: Since 1979, the year the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his initially broad coalition toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the revolutionary Islamic Iranian regime Khomeini established has been at war with the United States. My sources include Khomeini and his fanatics who commandeered dictatorial power in 1980 after marginalizing non-Islamists in the anti-Shah coalition. Contemporary sources include the disgustingly corrupt clerics and Revolutionary Guard Corps officers who mastermind regime rackets, graft, oppression, war-making and terror operations.</p> <p>In November 1979, Khomeini's thugs seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. These terrorists held American diplomats and Marines hostage for 444 days.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 19, 2019</p> d5c113e41cfe372088e6bd3111108c2e So Far, Trade War 2019 Risks Red Ink, Not Blood for 06/13/2019 Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This summer, the Trump administration is conducting two calculated national security operations in which America's vast, varied and flexible Economic resources serve as the administration's primary big stick.</p> <p>Talk softly while wielding a big stick &#8212; that was Theodore Roosevelt's sound bite dictum. In 2019 we have the Trump administration, and soft-spoken it is not. But that warrants a historical reminder: TR could get loud and large, a bit like DT.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 13, 2019</p> 0e0767c231325d72e389a0bd9f2daeee Westphalia and the South China Sea for 06/05/2019 Wed, 05 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In the 1990s, political theorists, historians and more than a few political leaders debated this question: Had "transnational forces" associated with globalization made the sovereign nation-state a dysfunctional and potentially dangerous political structure?</p> <p>The 21st-century's revival of Great Power competition &#8212; competition between powerful states that value their sovereignty &#8212; indicates borders still matter.</p> <p>The U.S. and communist China are quite powerful. China's disrespect for borders is fundamental to its clash in the South China Sea.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 05, 2019</p>