Monday, May 18, 2015

Connecting the dots

Connecting some dots from last weeks headlines.  First, Secretary Kerry continues to fail any brokering any solutions to situation in Ukraine (Military Times).  I can't imagine Kerry making much of an impression on Putin so its no wonder that Russian Bear bombers continued to mix it up with the Royal Air Force (RAF) near the British nuclear facilities in Scotlan (Telegraph).  Russia may also be emboldened by two other factors.  First is a show-of-force by the US military by staging an exercise in Romania (Military Times).  Romania is still struggling to pull itself out of the post-Warsaw Pact and perhaps Washington feels they would be the next target for Moscow.  But the second factor is perhaps even more emboldening, namely an apparent return to the "pivot to Asia" strategy as the Pentagon announced plans last week to challenge China's claims to artificial islands built by the Chinese in contested waters (Wall Street Journal).  Obama's foreign policy has been an abysmal failure in Syria, Iran and Crimea so there is little reason to believe attempts to challenge China's claims will result in success.  It is especially unlikely given a lame-duck president with less than two years remaining in office.

The issue of foreign policy seem to be low on the talking points for those who would be the next President.  Clinton can hardly afford to touch issues of foreign policy for fear of resurrecting Benghazi. Republican candidates seem to be running on being the anti-Clinton candidate and anti-amnesty candidates but not much else.  Given this theater, Russia and China has little reason be concerned that their actions will unify Washington towards a coherent policy anytime soon.

Nine people, so far, are dead from a fight that broke amongst rival biker gangs in Texas and has resulted in at least 190 people facing charges.  Along with Baltimore riots, New York City riots, the Ferguson riots the US must look like it is an absolute mess to the outside world and that Washington hardly has the wherewithal to spend much time on foreign policy.  And they just might be right.

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