How Will America's Diplomatic Leverage Be Affected by the Economic Rise of Others?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 18, 2008
Oil Refinery in Kansas

The United States relies heavily upon the purchase of foreign oil to supply its energy needs, and there have been clear benefactors of the surge in oil prices. Some have called this transfer of wealth the largest in history.

How will America's diplomatic leverage be affected by the economic rise of others?

Comments

Comments

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 19, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

The wealth transfer is in fact fictitious, on paper only. The cash / wealth never leave U.S. Depository and Fed banks. They just debit one account and credit the other electronically. In fact the U.S. benefits from the rise of oil prices because it siphon more Dollars out of China, Japan, India, the rest of the World oil importing countries and makes it available for U.S. Business and consumer to borrow and develop the economies and industries. Borrowing rates in U.S. are the lowest in the world. The huge Dollar influx to U.S. via Middle East countries is also financing the U.S deficit as well. Whenever the U.S. is in real desperate economic situation ( 2012-2017), it can simply devaluate the Dollar to the point the foreign investors will succumbed to settle at any U.S> prescribed settlement, accept the U.S. Treasury terms of Payments, or take a hike. ALCIADA-ALQAIDA has a big list of disgruntled nephews who are willing to act upon instructions in these countries, just in case the foreign investors wants to play hard ball or not accept U.S. settlement terms. So in fact the rise of oil prices, will give the U.S. a huge leverage, not just diplomatically but existentially to these foreign leaders / nation robbers.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 19, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Economy IS leverage. They greater the disparity between two economies, the farther the fulcrum shifts. The rise of other nations economies will ultimately reduce our influence on them. No longer will monetary reward sway them. But, the more money a country makes, the more likely it is to redress some of the less desirable aspects that we were trying to influence them on anyway. The economy is the manifestation of power. Both are the same when you consider a definition as "The ability to get things done". Since most of our money belongs to China, I wonder how much leverage they have over us? Since, right now, oil is the current currency, how much power and leverage does the Middle East have over us?

So with that ad hoc prelude, and since no one has commented on this thread yet, I'll go ahead and drop my slightly off topic, but somewhat relevent, thoughts on the matter.

A Short Essay Regarding the Nature of Power and How It Acts In and Through America.

Or,

A Rambling Diatribe of Hogwash

Part 1.

Friends,

Human nature and, indeed, all of nature, follows strikingly similar patterns. It is the accumulation and diffusion of power across the spectrum that I speak of. You can see it oft repeated in a myriad of forms. To make the point simple, in ancient (and modern) times a nation would build itself up to a state of concentrated power and then, naturally, expand. When all the sectors of society were reaching peak development; the economical, political, and martial forces were stable and abundant and the collective eyes, satisfied, lifted from their domain, what did they do? They scanned the horizon and set forth their power on the nearest, weakest, state. Is it moral or not? It doesn't matter, to quote Nietzsche:

"[Anything which] is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant ? not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... 'Exploitation'... belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life."

So this is what humans do, patterned after (often unbeknownst to us) the same laws adhered to by all of what is organic, mathematical, psychic, or physical. After all, it is only natural.

You see it when water from on high rushes down low, when electrons course from the point of abundance to the point of scarcity, when hot air moves to colder regions, when the neurons in brain compete, when stronger plants overtake the weaker. Power, in all its forms, seeks collection and diffusion. The age old pattern of yin and yang. When force becomes ample enough to overcome inertia, objects move and energy is expended. Both Miyamoto Musashi and Sun Tzu used natural metaphors like these in their explanations of philosophical and martial arts. It is evident in the laws of supply and demand, of cause and effect.

Such natural patterns create their own counter-currents, often to the detriment of the original force. Power, equally diffused, creates a stasis. If over-extended past the ability for self-containment: it collapses. Think of the different economic bubbles that have risen and imploded. If the system is not carefully controlled to provide support for the extension, the only other option besides dissolution is contraction.

If you're not asleep yet, see part 2 for the relevance to America.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 19, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Part 2 of 3.

We can see this playing out on several levels in America today. For instance, how can a group of ordinary citizens, of only moderate education, sometimes poorly informed, of average incomes, with little coherence in ideologies, ever hope to check the concentrated power of conglomerates of corporations motivated by a single intent? Possessing billions of dollars of capital and millions more of revenue, staffed by (sometimes) highly educated, focused, and determined individuals, they employ the services of tenacious lobbyists, sometimes numbering into the hundreds. They use any machination at their disposal to advance their aims. Sometimes their aim is to do good for many, but considering the predisposition of human nature to hoard wealth and suppress rivals, most of time it is not. Not necessarily "evil" but usually myopic.

How can the people check this? They cannot. Not without creating greater cohesion. Enforcing the will of those with concentrated power against a soft and divided opposition is as easy as throwing stones at eggs. So when corporations, or militaries, or religious organizations, abundant with power, apply their focused, sharpened, point against the soft underbelly of an unaware public, they penetrate into the guts of the system, mostly for their gain but often resulting in rupture. When they become more powerful than the governments, they over-ride the intent of democracy, breaking past the barriers of regulation, and turn the system against its own interests. Then we get things like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (and hundreds like it) which, some say, is one of the principal causes of the collapse of our economy today. We get defense contractors embedded in "think tanks" with their war machines and "security companies" (i.e. mercenaries) hoping for sustained conflict, supported by their hawk politicians, who influence our war policy. Energy conglomerates making record profits, impervious to the cries of the people, while ever expanding their grip and influencing our energy policies. Lucrative prison contracts encourage people to meddle in our judicial system. Giant agriculture and manufacturing companies press into our trade policies. Alcohol and pharmaceutical advocates shape our drug policies. Subtract the capitalistic portion from the equation, and you still have powerful groups that want to monopolize moral legislation, cultural confederates that influence immigration, and many others. How many people on the street know what goes on in Congress?

These companies and factions are not inherently the enemy of the people, they are part of the people, all play a part of and add to the quality of the system, but only when allowed to operate within the bounds of moderation. A little bit of aspirin does wonders, too much of it kills. When a group obtains more power than the rest, it becomes a hungry animal seeking to expand. It is hard to blame these groups or companies because they are only doing what human animals do. But just because you understand the nature of wolves doesn't mean you should encourage them to breed in your backyard. Power, left unchecked and unregulated, destroys the system that creates it. Its just like how too many parasites will inadvertently kill their host, too many bunnies will out breed their food source, and a fire will burn itself out when it consumes everything around it. It is sometimes unfortunate, sometimes advantageous, but regardless, it is natural. As with most natural things, it can be studied, harnessed, and ultimately controlled.

On a higher spectrum we can see it in the ever expanding arm of the USA. As factions within our society work to increase and discharge their power, we as a nation are doing the same on the global stage. The parallel is striking. We had the opportunity, created by a plethora of natural resources and opportune location, to amass a large degree of power, which we did. Then, as natural as dogs bark and birds sing, we began to slowly exert our power around us. It is as irresistible as a cookie in the jar is to a kid or a coin in the reach of a thief. It is part of our nature. Are we acting like some of the corporations within us, destroying the very system that allowed us to flourish? Or are we engaged in a healthy pattern of self-sufficiency that buttresses our growth? Is our aim to do good for many, or are we using any machination at our dispose to hoard wealth and suppress our rivals? Probably a bit of both.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 19, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Part 3 of 3.

We have world wide span. But for how long and how far can we continue to expand our interests? Now, as while we pour millions of dollars outward- whether, as some claim, to strengthen the imperialistic grip of our holdings or to do, in the spirit of high morals and camaraderie, genuine good for other nations, our economy is beginning to crumble beneath us. Ruptured by companies with more power than our government. What are the likely outcomes? In concurrence with the laws of the universe,

1. A conscious strengthening of the base, increasing the level of power and creating another cycle of expansion- which is subject to the law of diminishing returns.

2. Contraction and refocus.

3. Becoming temporarily static.

4. Or collapse.

If we are not aware of our own checks and balances as they are now, and the future consequences they will entail, we will be checked by the growing power of other states around us, indeed we already are (China and Japan already has our purse strings and Russia is beginning to reclaim what was once hers) or more likely, we will crumple under the continued pressure and exploitation of powerful corporations.

Do we still have a lot of influence left in us? Of course. Should we use it? I don't know- but I suspect that we are incapable of doing otherwise. Do we still have time to alter some of our less nationally interested legislation? I hope so. Do we as a nation have, most of the time, good intentions and who tries to be the best global partner we can be? I'd like to think so. But good intentions are not enough, if we do not alleviate our ignorance regarding the nature of power, as it swirls around the guts of our system and how it flows through us as a nation onto the world stage, then we are doomed to complete the pattern of ascension and implosion.

Without the ever needed conscientious re-calibration of our system, devoid of the over-influence of corporations and meddling of self-interested factions, we too will collapse.

After all, it's only natural.

Fin.

Epilogue:

Despite the fatalist tone of my little essay, I remain an eternal optimist in the power of the people to elevate ourselves above our lower instincts into higher thoughts. Despite a proclivity for greed, we also have an equally powerful instinct to find common ground and care for our neighbors. Nor am I an anti-capitalist, but only an advocate of moderation. I firmly believe that an educated and compassionate people is always an effective antidote to the more corrosive elements of our society. Even the most powerful factions of our society whether they be corporations or political parties can be, and often are, agents of goodwill if properly motivated. For even the savage wolf can become, with care and attention, a loyal canine and good friend.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Nice essay Kirk, I have really only one point to make on the strength of the US economy, and it's public/private partnerships with the major industrial base of this nation, including the energy sector.

An economy is as only as good as the ethical principals upon which the national interests of the nation are applied by the private sector.

Simply because the private sector is the backbone of economic vitality and strength.

Therin lies the key to influence rising economies to take example from our lessons learned.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 20, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Once upon a time, people in every nation admired America for its freedom, its system of justice, its fair elections and system of government, and its prosperity. The current and previous administrations have succeeded in ruining our reputation, our liberty, our prosperity, and any good will with friendly and not-so-friendly nations around the world, so the question really is, do we have any significant leverage remaining?

The answer appears obvious - our diplomatic leverage will decrease as Russian and Asian economic and military power increases, unless we begin to lead by example instead of by intimidation.

Either we face the reality that we need to begin persuading others by our shining example of success rather than threats, or we will be ignored and excluded. To some extent this is already happening. I believe we will continue to offend so long as we disregard the protests of other nations, such as installing unwanted missile shields, excessive numbers of military outposts, excessive borrowing, excessive spending, excessive regulation, excessive taxation, and our unnecessary expansion of military power. Emperors without clothing are good for laughs.

As others have written, Congress and the Executive Branch needs to clean up their act, obey the constitution, cut spending, stop borrowing, and begin thinking and acting in the national interest of American citizens.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Zharkov, your premise does not reflect facts on the ground and the increased multilateral cooperation and effectiveness of US foreign policy as manifest over the last 7.5 years. If you wish to prove it to yourself, there's the entire archive of DoS press releases and statements in reference to back up what I say.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2008/

Please feel free to do some research, you might learn something new.

---

Zharkov wrote:

"Once upon a time, people in every nation admired America for its freedom, its system of justice, its fair elections and system of government, and its prosperity. The current and previous administrations have succeeded in ruining our reputation, our liberty, our prosperity, and any good will with friendly and not-so-friendly nations around the world, so the question really is, do we have any significant leverage remaining?"

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 21, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Without looking at the record links Eric in N.M. pointed to, may I say to Zharkov that all that most likely related or limited to security cooperation most likely.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- No SNP, I was referring in part to the influence the U.S. has with nations, and good relations they are as a result of food and humanitarian aid around the world.

When one of our top commanders declares that the greatest single victory in the war on terror came not on a battlefield, but through disaster relief for the tsunami victims in Indonesia, Sumatra, and the effect it had on our public image with many many Muslims across the globe.

Pakistan's earthquake was another such mind altering effort to save lives.

In both cases, military assets were brought in to deliver aid, but SNP, remember just what America does better than anyone else, and that's feed hungry people.

I don't believe either you or Zharkov really take everything into account, and I can't list in a single post all the positive kinds of influence that makes America essential to a stable and prosperous world, but for those that say our influence is on the wane... think again, because we get a lot of thanks from a lot of folks for doing what we do for the rest of the world.

So use the links, you can see for yourselves ...don't take my word for it, just use the grey matter you were born with. Simple.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 21, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The answer could be: The fact there are more democratic premised countries now shows that this is our leverage. While it is not an immediate tangible, it is in fact the major advantage we do have -- the history of those who were not and their present standings as in South America. Also the present showing of economic limitation in Russia and China in a free manner may uproot some of their gains. Many freedoms are now limited in Russia, while Chinas growth has caused them to accept a certain amount of democratic ideas. Even Religion, which is now openly practiced in both countries and was not prior to globalization, so there are levers via the citizens who like having democratic freedoms that exist now which was not the case twenty years ago.

Unfortunately, our economic strength was premised on consumerism.

Here in TN alone there is a shortcoming in just one county of 14 million in taxes, in one quarter, because people do not have the money to spend. ..The solution they are considering is raising the petrol tax because the price of oil is coming down. American politics at its worse? This situation is reflective of the bottom rung of the ladder of leadership in America reflecting the top and matters because we are not going to be able to continue this trend; therefore, the question is:

How can Americas leadership better prepare for Globalization that will benefit its entire citizen base, our foundation?

This is not an overnight problem which has occurred, but the question is how we can plug into the world economy again to slow down and stop the transfer of wealth. What hurts most is the fact that it takes a millionaire like Pickens to have the guts to bring it to the surface, when we have leadership that should have, that was their job.

Other than dependency on energy, there is an actual need to make America Self sufficient in all aspect again. From Industry and manufacturing to farming, we need to stand on our own again as much as possible. That is what worked and made us strong to begin with and without all the nonsense of complex economics to baffle and create apathy the people, it is the only practical solution now?.

Nationalization is not a dirty word when you put your people first. It is how Russia moved up; it is how China moved into their position. Why should we be different? The reinstitution of tariffs would be a good start and is a sound control element.

Sicilian quote: People respect those who take care of their own more than those who sell out their own.

Sound finite and logical advice.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 21, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in N.M,

No doubt the New and Improved Peace Corp ( Was it called Rapid Civilian Response) that the State Dept put together is a step forward and a stronger foot to step into countries in respectable way. One that the foreign country sovereignty treated with respect and the U.S. rather than harvesting ill will and insurgency, it will harvest appreciation and affection from the foreign Citizens. The question is, can you now still salvage anything and repair the damage; many people in the world were hurts by successive American Administrations in the past 40 years, even Syrians, who never really been mistreated by Americans, on all sides, are bitter at U.S. policies. It will take a big effort and will need large part of State budget; you know the cash is dwindling so that is not very promising.

By the way, how can you volunteer for this new program, do you have to be a loyal Mossad-CIA agent or it is open to persons or NGO's that are really willing to help. Some info or link will be helpful.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Whether it be through colonialism by by EU nations, or cold war politics, somebody done sombody wrong sometime, and that goes for everyone.

So, when I say "we're all dysfunctional, get over it.", you have a pretty clear understanding of why.

One thing your group might take up by way of internal debate is whether humanity itself can afford to see protracted longstanding and fixated mindests leading to radical extremism, endanger humanity's survival into the 22nd century.

Simply because we've (humanity has) used so many global resources to engage in conflict over the years that we won't have the resources to solve the other global problems like climate change, indemic poverty, disease, famine, mass migrations of people etc.

Until we as humanity resolve to end conflict, with or without the use of force deemed in some cases as nessesary to create the lasing peace neccessary for humanity's long term survival.

This is why I suggested Al-Assad take concrete steps to manifest the same common sense that Ghadaffi did in getting rid of his WMD programs.

Syria will actually be more secure in soverign respect if it chooses this path than if Al-Assad chooses not to see the logic in what I say here. Or what DoS has told him for that matter, which is for all intents exactly what I'm saying here.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP, as to your question regarding the makeup of the Civilian Response Corp, the home page for Dept of State has all the info you'll need, including contact info if you have a question.

This is separate from the Peace corps...separate in that they have different areas of focus.

Humanitarian assistance is just part of the overall effort to stand a nation and people back on its feet after conflict, regardless of who may have been involved in the hostilities.

I think it can be fairly said that when a government deems in necessary for its national interest to help people rebuild their lives, rather than "do unto others, then split" that this is a good thing.

And when there is no one agency with all the tools needed to accomplish the mission, this government turns to the people in the private sector to fill the need.

Doctors, civil engineers, city planners....blueprints for governance perhaps to lend working example....but the recipiant is going to build with what they have to build upon.

Tradition, common values, family, faith...the things that lie at the core of stable society.

We can't impose those things, nor would we. Don't believe everything you think.

Just as some should not believe America will ever convert to Islam, we don't have a problem with peaceful folks honoring life as they see fit.

So long as it is not imposed upon us.

Get it?

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 21, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Eric said: We can't impose those things, nor would we. Don't believe everything you think. Just as some should not believe America will ever convert to Islam, we don't have a problem with peaceful folks honoring life as they see fit. So long as it is not imposed upon us. Get it? Yes, we got it long time ago, most Syrians got it as well, that is you can not talk to Americans or Jews unless it is about profit and money laundering. No, what you need Eric is for Americans to get educated and get it, STOP MEDELING IN OTHER COUNTRIES AND PEOPLE LIVE. No one needs America's help except those that suffered badly from it's evil mischief either from cluster bombs, wiped out economies or a U.S. supported Nation robber dictator rackets regime installed and supported for decades by the CIA and U.S. State Dept.. Well, maybe Syrian President Bashar Assad could use your help as well, for some really odd reason that I can not figure out yet personally. By the way, what kind of response team the U.S. Government will be preparing when oil hit $400pbl and 530 Trillions of worthless derivatives comes crashing in 2012 (3 more years), leaving a lot of hot air and no real assets? When no cash left for Social Security checks, do you know Eric, Nooooooo, not the microchip in the right hand, that too, and Police State; I think they call it Local Civilian Emergency Response. LOL & LOL.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I don't believe even you believes what you write SNP, because that is the nature of propaganda, is it not?

Yeah right, maybe you believe the pabum you are fed, by those who wish you to belive all the ills of the world are American in origin, but you cannot escape the reality of interactive international relations.

Assad and the Bathists haven't done you any favors SNP, that's why you have problems in Syria on a lot of levels.

So don't rail on me personally because of it.

If the Mideast weren't such a dysfunctional mess of your own making over the years, we wouldn't have to intervene every once in awhile, now would we?

Don't like that? Then get a grip and find a better way than you've been persuing, because it isn't working for you obviously.

You spoke of the economic woes of folks in Syria, yet Al-Assad persues WMD programs at what cost to the Syrian people?

At the expense of your prosperity.

At the expense of your security.

At the expense of of everyone else in the region who just want to live in peace.

Yeah, Al-Assad could use my help alright, and I got a suggestion for him.....called Early Retirement.

Or, he can get with the program. And live in peace.

You can thank me later SNP, when you figure this out for yourselves.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 22, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@SNP in Syria

The world stage has shrunk. All of us are packed together now. With the advent of international travel and global communication, no longer can countries live seperate from one another, even if the states are thousands of miles apart. Even if the government of two countries refuse to acknowledge each other, even if the militaries remain far apart from each other's respective boarders, the threads of cultural exchange, business interests, scholarship, and tourism, will effectively sow them together.

I think it's important for countries, Syria and the US both, civilians and governments, to keep their ears open to the voices that cry out to be heard, and not to the exclusion of dissenting opinions, but especially dissenting opinons. In that vein I encourage you to continue posting your thoughts on these subjects. I've read most of your posts and can say that while I don't agree with all of your opinions, you bring up many valid points. Based on these points and the perspective from which you form your opinions, I can see how some of your dislike for America, or maybe just it's current policies, seems quite justified.

So now I ask you this: how would YOU like the relationship between Syria and the US to be? What is your ideal position for both of these great nations to interact with each other? In todays times we can no longer be disengaged from each other completely, so we must have some relations, to some degree. Syria has a major and important impact on the surrounding region and abroad, and the US likewise. If you could call the shots how would you like Syria to handle its regional influence and what actions would you like to see your nation take in the future? What would you like to see the US do?

So tell me, SNP in Syria, what is your perfect picture?

Ronald
|
New York, USA
July 23, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

Global Financial Plate Techtonics

USG will gain diplomatic leverage as Asia and others rise. It will be forced to find new drivers of U.S. policies, in partnership with new economic leaders. Right now, there is a move to take the US economy and the dollar down; but this is a wrong-headed reaction to USG's hegemony. Things will balance out; and true American values will prevail. Optimism rules. Yes. it does!

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 23, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Our leverage is in what Democracy represents...it always will be. Freedom is one heck of a lever... we deal with the tools to provide that freedom. This comes in the form of economics, military, Intelligence, education, diplomacy, networking, and infrastructure. The resulting diplomatic agreements end up helping one when the other is down as in Mexico lowering the price of its oil after Iran caused it to rise.

This is the correct answer.

Syria...umm, why does Syria need a nuclear sub anyway? Did that quietly slip by our wonderful press?

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 23, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Joe in TN

They bought the Nuclear Sub because they have everything else. Syria is well developed country according to ALTHOURA (the Baath Revolution main newspaper, Amen forbid where Syria will be without the revolution). What they are going to do with all that oil cash revenue, keeps Air freighting it to Swiss and British Rothschild private banks, at lease we are getting something of miniscule value for the money. Most likely the Rothschild/Bilderberg puppet in Iran Ahmadinejad is paying for it, rather than slapping a fresh white paint on his Shia cities of filthy mud huts or paying for poor students who can not afford the exorbent tuition of Azad Islamic University. Syria will not want to anger the Rothschild's at this juncture when they are kissing his European puppet Sarkozi hands. But don't worry, you can bet on it, whoever selling it, will give notice of arrival to the Israeli at port of destination so they can take it out, keeps orders for obsolete technologies coming to sellers you know, and for commissions agents (not sure if Baathist revolutionary or Mullah revolutionary) for putting the deal together. Don't be surprised if the commission agent named Khoborovichsky and although Jewish Russian, he lives in Israel. This is how these deals usually consummated with prior understanding of all parties involved.

@ Kirk in KY

We answered this question three times in the past and we did answer your question about what we like to see in Syria and it's relation with U.S. but the blog admin did not publish it, for the third post. I guess he does not want the world to hear these offensive comments (offensive to Ross, Burn and Israelis):

---

First of all, Syrians don't hate America or Americans. We hate what America is doing in the region, giving Israeli and Saudi, even Qatari a free hand to run our National affairs. As said before, we have no problem with millions of Americans living and working in Syria, they are welcome with open arm and will make it easy for businesses, small or corporate, to come in and operate on easier and more preferable terms than what they used to in the U.S. (of course the blog editor did not publish the 2 previous posts which these statements made under).

A perfect picture for U.S-Syrian relations is one that the Israeli, Saudi and Qatari interests are left out of decision making process of U.S. foreign policy and the Americans formulate Syria policy with the whole Middle East picture in mind. Syrian-American relations should be, like in the past, before the Baath Arab Socialist party illegally ceased power from elected body of Government.

Syria should be a country having normal relations, including economic one with the U.S. just as Italy, India, Taiwan or even Communist China does, no less. We should even have free trade agreements and economic cooperation. That will reflect positively on the entire Middle East, all the way to India. As long as Jews are making U.S. policies for the region, they will keep the region retarded. Syrians are not going to be the last country in the world that are called terrorists and backward, living under various sanctions just because it suite Jewish interests, nor will they support any Western/Jewish sanctions or proposed solutions that will denies them rights, including the return of the Syrian Golan Heights and Iskandarun Province. As far as SNP is concerned, barring any resolution, the STATUS QUO is acceptable.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 24, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- SNP, you seem to have an interesting insight into Syrian politics and methodology,. So tell me, in your group's considered opinion, who ordered Harrari's assasination, and who carried it out?

And why?

Little off the topic here, but if gaining influence was a factor in his death, than it is relevant, and the question of who benefits applies.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 24, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ SNP in Syria

Those are some deep thoughts. I hope that our two governments can come together to resolve our current issues, to work and assist each other and the people in reaching our mutually beneficial goals. Thank you for sharing your vision. I hope that you continue to post your thoughts and feelings and I'll be looking forward to reading them.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
July 24, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

The Picture is worth several trillion words....

A major oil refining installation with a setting sun in the background. Maybe if we put the sun up front, and eliminate the oil plant that's blocking it.......

Syrian P.
|
Syria
July 24, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- To the best of knowledge, it is an act of god ( KADDAA WAKADDAR). The list of suspects and motives are too many. This confusion is only made worse by the fact that so many extensions of time given to the investigators, so many U.N. officials resigned from the position and left, witnesses gone misteiriousely missing from France and much, much more. It's fishy and irregular. Two things are obvious, based on all above, First, Syria has nothing to do with it, and second, a cover up of true perpetrators is done. It is way too politicized and corrupt so we no longer hold any attention to it.

Hariri was a victim, he did do business with so many shady and criminal elements globally, expropriated land forcefully in Beirut by manipulating / paying up officials to pass laws and bankrupted his country to the tune of 42 Billion Dollars. So much of the cash was paid up for favoritism, kickbacks and bribes, the corruption culture he created is legendary and someone should write a novel and make movies about it. It will make Syrianna pale in comparison and will for sure win an Emi award as well. Hariri did create a lot of millionaires out of petty officials living on $700 salary, not only in Lebanon but many in Syria and France, elsewhere.

The Hariri family, should pursue whatever evidence they may have in local Lebanese court against whomever he had evidence against, using what Lebanese and U.N. investigators uncovered and willing to hand to him. The U.N. will just be a way to distract him from actually getting hand on justice, as already seen, it is the most corrupt organization in the world because the members therein are the top crooks of the earth.

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- LOL, Uuuhhh, what did you say, I could not really understand your comment well, SE HABLA ESPANIOL. But it sounds like we share your hopes as well. We are working hard toward this end in bringing both Governments into an understanding. There are many good Syrians the U.S. Government can work through to bring this end reality into fruition. God Bless your thoughts and kindness.

Moshe
|
District Of Columbia, USA
July 24, 2008

Moshe in Washington, DC writes:

Wow, I guess I am coming into this part of the conversation at a very dangerous point. I will try to tackle the question asked of us all. With other countries gaining power around the world, the US will have to reassess its role amongst the nations. For years after WWII the world was being divided by the power struggle of the West versus the Soviet block. As a result of the battered condition of Europe, and other global players of the time, the US assumed the role of re-builder and proxy to the soviet power push. From that point on -- and this is a dramatic oversimplification -- Europe rebuilt and most of the developing world wrestled with what political ideology to choose from while moving from Autocratic rule to some other form of democracy or socialism. Since the fall of the cold war, and the advent of the information age, Europe and former developing countries have prospered greatly (just look at the Euro in ratio to the dollar). No longer does the U.S. have to be the person to address perceived dangers (e.g. Soviet influence in the area) and addressing world conflict in every region.

The playing field is starting to even out, and, in some cases, leaning more towards new economic and military powers e.g., China and a resurgence of European strength. Additionally, the UN has been given power and the ability to exercise such power. Whether they are doing it affective, that is another question entirely. So, the role of the U.S. is not what it used to be during the cold war era.

Back to my initial statement, the U.S. will have to reassess our view as to what role we will take in the world, and how we can more effectively coexist with the new power shift. What will our definition of freedom be for other countries, and should we push such ideas of civil liberties, and democracy, on cultures that simply don't agree with them? Is the best way to exercise such American ideals simply to be an example? The U.S. isn't perfect, nor is any country for that matter, well, maybe Norway? I hear they were voted happiest place to live in the world. This will be our struggle, to build our own identity and to improve the lives of others around us without messing things up too much. We have shown that we can do it during humanitarian crises, and, quite frankly, we have brokered a few peace agreements here and there. Though, our current situation in the Middle East is simply disastrous.

In closing, our role in the future will have to be more multilateral, and cognizant of the realities that are faced both internally and externally with our allies and those we want to be our allies, which is in fact the rest of the world. Our biggest trouble is that we are a little naive. Walking down the streets of New York, Chicago, or Miami (where I grew up with Abduls, Enriques, and Billys) and seeing individuals co-exist from so many races, religions, and cultures in the world makes us think that everyone can live like that, and should live like that. I hope that this could happen one day, the way to get there is simply a little more difficult. To all my fellow writers on the blog; peace be with you, salam aleikem, shalom aleichem.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 24, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

QUTOE: and should we push such ideas of civil liberties, and democracy, on cultures that simply don't agree with them? Is the best way to exercise such American ideals simply to be an example?

These are NOT just American ideals, they are human values that for what reason would you feel that any civilian population would not want? Our Constitution is an extension of the Magna Carta which duly noted that ALL PEOPLE have certain rights to existence, not pure serfdom and slavery.

What civilian population, not a leadership which gains from established forms of slavery or government restrictions of their populace for individual power, are you talking about?

America, regardless of our situation, will always be a Keystone to democracy. Why do you want to overcomplicate it?

China will become more democratic, it has to. Over the last three years they are starting to have internal political problems with separation of East and West, One side having to live under mandated Marxist rules and not sharing in the wealth of the other. It will lead to conflict sooner or latter. They are doing this to force labor to the factories in the East, where they started hiring Philippine workers years ago. It is not that complicated. They will become more democratic or separate. The cost of energy will give other countries a better manufacturing advantage and their lead will slip sooner or latter. They have people, a ton of people and that is their only advantage provided they can continue to control all elements by proxy of a one leadership party and that has never been accomplished for any length of time in history. China is dependent for food and energy, they cannot even feed their own people and that is why they are in South America now and one of the resons for our cost of foodstuffs growing. They even have a free learn Chinese speaking TV programs initiated in South America. China promotes anti American feelings internally because they do not want to lose the power base they have, yet they are in the fiscal situation they are in due to Americas consumerism.

What is that naive culture deal? I lived in a neighborhood of German, Hebrew, Sicilian and Italians in one block, many speaking their home langue back then, many ashamed they could not speak English -- like 50 years ago. This isn't anything new. America has always been multi cultural, it is who we are.

The question is not about America changing their role of democratic leadership; it is how to navigate for more countries to become democratic and work against those who are not by using all tools available. This does mean considerations economically which can help circumvent the leadership of non democratic countries.

We have a LOT OF WORK to consider and not be pulled in different directions -- there is no middle ground when it comes to human rights when you think about it -- and America, for all our faults, does stand above everyone in human rights.

What human rights do you feel we should delete?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 25, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Common sense is always welcomed Moshe, no danger in that.

Stick around, things are just starting to get interesting.

SNP wrote:

"To the best of knowledge, it is an act of god ( KADDAA WAKADDAR). The list of suspects and motives are too many. This confusion is only made worse by the fact that so many extensions of time given to the investigators, so many U.N. officials resigned from the position and left, witnesses gone misteiriousely missing from France and much, much more. It's fishy and irregular."

Definately a mystery SNP, and perhaps only God knows for sure. But to a logical mind, God is not want to walk around with a suicide vest strapped on. Nor is anyone who acts in his name. So I very much doubt if God has anything to do with it.

I'm remembering something you (or one of your group) said earlier on another thread regarding Lebanon, and while I'm not accusing anyone of involvement, nor can I logicly rule out the possibility of Syrian involvement, whether that be independantly organized with the knowledge of Al-Assad or not.

I do not believe that Syria was the beneficiary either in the short term or long term, and neither were democratic hopes of the Lebanese. Nor were those like the US , French and Israeli governments hoping to see a more destabilized political situation as a result. So who would benifit?

Assuming Hariri was not killed because of a bad debt or personal vendetta, and that he was victim of a political power struggle, then is it not logical that Hizballah was killing two birds with one stone by casting blame on Syria through the timing of the assasination at the same time removing a roadblock to political control of the Lebanese Gov.??

By the way, I also share Kirk's hopes, and yours for better relations. If it seems I get on your case once in awhile, it is the misconceptions standing in the way that I'm addressing. Stick around, you may eventualy realize that America is not out to 'get' Syria, or meddle just because we can.

There are things that have to happen for the region to have a secure future, and Al-Assad knows what is required of him. We'll see if he measures up.

WISEMAN m.
|
Syria
July 25, 2008

Wiseman in Syria writes:

@Joe in Tennessee your ideas are the perfect place for US investment in good relation with the world but ideas must match with actions before it turn into hypocrisy your administration must do a microscopic analysis that tackle with tiny details of their missed chances, process failure, overlapped priorities. hint (freedom dislike arrogance)

joe if you are looking for a chance to help your country be my guest help me spread your freedom in Syria cause we lack it the most

@Moshe in Washington, DC you can play as many games as you wish but all of it cannot change the fact (it will not make ANY difference) you can run but you can't hide WHETHER IT USA or EU OR FRANCE OR RUSSIA OR CHINA even if you made a deal with IRAN simply the closest neighbors to ISRAEL ARE SYRIA, LEBANON, PALESTINIANS, JORDAN i guess you already realized that the principle of weakening my enemy is the best way to win it does not work anymore for two obvious reasons ONE is this practice costs both the US AND ISRAEL bad reputation in the world (LEAD BY EXAMPLE) TWO because this practice helped create the monster of terror (more US & Israelis casualties) and if you want to do a favor for both US & ISRAEL you better find a solution for the dilemma they create it and tied their hands with it because they knew it was bad how they knew it was important for certain period of time (you better off as a free nation but WE still prefer to deal with your corrupt and outdated ILLEGAL government that are not able to offer US anything more than keeping you weak and tied) this FORMULA can give you anything you want with only two exceptions PEACE (security) and credibility personally i do not enjoy life without them

moshe can the US AND ISRAEL STILL AFFORD THAT

I think shalom is more tied to salam than peace

freedom before peace cannot be the opposite

@SNP in Syria I might agree with you to large extent of your thoughts but it's not always America or Israel fault and to give you a grip maybe we don't need the US interference in our own local issues but we also don't need the baath-Assad regime tools(mokhabarat) interference in our own local issues the most. have you ever tried to make your case without the risk of your name is on the baath-Assad regime extermination list??? that in case you have the chance or the tools to do so

@Eric in New Mexico if you own the correct answer for this (why they killed harriri) then you probably know who killed harriri

Moshe
|
District Of Columbia, USA
July 25, 2008

Moshe in Washington, DC writes:

That is quite peculiar; I do not believe I mentioned deleting human rights. I believe I said "What will our definition of freedom be for other countries, and should we push such ideas of civil liberties, and democracy, on cultures that simply don't agree with them? Is the best way to exercise such American ideals simply to be an example?"

You will notice that I did not use the words "human rights." I did, on the other hand, use civil liberties and democracy. Human rights falls into a category known as the peremptory norms of international law, or jus cogens. An international law that has been accepted by nation states and is in line with the Magna Carta. Thus, human rights are not in question here. Democracy and some civil liberties do not fall under such peremptory norms and can thus be accepted or rejected by nation states without ramifications from the international community. I do want to stress that my American ideals cause me to want to see that all nation states accept all civil liberties and democracy -- I personally think these are the best form of government.

However, this sometimes gets in the way of cultural norms of a society, where for thousands of years -- not just hundreds -- cultural norms have created a way of governance that may or may not embrace American or Western ideals in the "packaging" that we provide. I do not want to single out any countries because the topic entails many examples both significant and less significant from locations around the world (including our own practices that have been coming into question). The trick for our diplomacy, if we in fact would like to have other countries adopt our rule of life, is tailoring such ideals to the cultural norms of a given location that embraces historical norms and provides a methodology for translating those norms into embracing civil liberties and a democratic form of governance.

Josh S.
|
New York, USA
July 25, 2008

Josh in New York writes:

Thanks to the State Department for providing this relatively informal conversation starter. I often regret I didn't join the FSO, as the Dean of my college recommended.

This is a quote from President Stephen Grover Cleveland's final State of the Union, called "American Interests in the Cuban Revolution." Read the whole speech.

"It has since been and is now sometimes contended that the independence of the [Cuban] insurgents should be recognized. But imperfect and restricted as the Spanish government of the island may be, no other exists there - unless the will of the military officer in temporary command of a particular district can be dignified as a species of government.

"It is now also suggested that the United States should buy the island - a suggestion possibly worthy of consideration if there were any evidence of a desire or willingness on the part of Spain to entertain such a proposal. It is urged, finally, that, all other methods failing, the existing internecine strife in Cuba should be terminated by our intervention, even at the cost of a war between the United States and Spain - a war which its advocates confidently prophesy could be neither large in its proportions nor doubtful in its issue.

"The correctness of this forecast need be neither affirmed nor denied. The United States has nevertheless a character to maintain as a nation, which plainly dictates that right and not might should be the rule of its conduct. Further, though the United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity, it is in truth the most pacific of powers and desires nothing so much as to live in amity with all the world. Its own ample and diversified domains satisfy all possible longings for territory, preclude all dreams of conquest, and prevent any casting of covetous eyes upon neighboring regions, however attractive."

Let us hope that right, not might, rules our conduct.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 25, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The premise of the question - "Some have called this transfer of wealth the largest in history" - hits the target squarely.

First it was Citibank. Now it's Barclay's and New York City's Chrysler Building skyscraper. Muslim Arabs are buying out collapsing Western banks and businesses and gaining growing international power

In the current issue of The American Interest, Gal Luft, from the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, warned that OPEC's Arab countries could potentially "buy the Bank of America with two months' worth of production and General Motors with six days' worth."

The growing Arab takeover of American businesses continues unhindered. The giant Dow Chemical company and a Kuwaiti company have agreed to set up world headquarters for their joint petrochemical venture in Dearborn, Michigan, which has a high concentration of American Arabs.

The purchase of American banks by foreigners has been blocked in the past by security and political considerations, but the barriers have come down. The latest American symbol to go down the drain is the Anheuser-Busch beer brewer. The Times of London wrote, "The weak dollar and weak economy mean the United States is up for sale. What's next? A hijab on the Statue of Liberty?"

A new American reality: the greatest transfer of income in human history and the rise of a new breed of wealthy autocracies that cripple U.S. hopes of dominating the global system and demands on the U.S. to make fresh compromises in a world where power is rapidly being diversified.

Flynt Leverett, former director of Middle East Affairs on the National Security Council, thinks that "the international economic position of the United States has deteriorated substantially since the new millennium."

Frankly, people are more afraid of the federal government than they are of terrorists. Consider: the dollar is collapsing, the industrial sector is evaporating, jobs are disappearing, personal savings are non-existent, federal spending is completely insane and the combined tax rate is crushing the people, the only thing left the US had going for it was liberty. When liberty is diminished on the pretext of enhancing security, what's left?

If federal and state officials are so afraid of the citizens that they have to surveil all communications continuously, and so greedy that they can't eliminate the gasoline tax even on an emergency basis, then terrorism is the last of our worries. If our government"s version of liberty is to monitor everyone constantly, then we are not living in a free country.

It is shameful that the State Department fails to issue traveler's warnings about government surveillance in America, and fails to criticize the Bush Administration for our loss of privacy and liberty. When the vast investigative power granted by Congress eventually falls into the wrong hands, as it inevitably will because voters make horrible mistakes at times, Americans will no longer have either liberty or security. The first step to a dictatorship is surveillance. Governor Ventura isn't alone in hoping for something to end this madness.

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