Tag Archives: NATO

‘America First’ gives way to alliance-building

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A president of the United States who declares an “America First” foreign policy always must be mindful of a simple fact.

The United States of America cannot shirk its global obligations military, economically and environmentally, which means that the U.S. of A. must honor the alliances it has built over many decades with other nations who depend on our leadership.

President Biden is seeking to reconstruct the trust that his immediate presidential predecessor dismantled repeatedly during his tenure in office.

The term “globalism” has become a four-letter word in some sectors of this country. Whether in offices, or in coffee houses, barber shops or grange halls, we hear Americans dismiss the notion that this nation is part of a much larger — but oddly shrinking — global community.

That is why President Biden returned the nation to the Paris Climate Accords, to the World Health Organization, the Iran nuclear talks and reasserted our role as NATO’s senior partner immediately upon taking office.

It also is why Biden will sit down soon with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and, as he said the other day, “tell him things I want him to hear.”

Joe Biden is operating at the summit level from a position of immense strength. Whereas Biden’s predecessor coddled the likes of Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current president vows a vastly different approach. I do not expect President Biden to shake hands with Kim Jong Un for as long as Kim continues to murder his people.

And someone has to explain to me why such dictator-coddling in any form or fashion produces foreign policies that “put America First.”

It’s a new era dawning on the international stage with President Biden’s first foreign journey. In a way, though, it resembles a return to the way it used to be … which is all right with me.

Yes, it was genocide

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Joe Biden never has struck me as a politician willing to blaze many new trails. Still, as president of the United States, Biden has made a declaration that seemed to scare off every one of his predecessors for the past century.

No U.S. president, Democrat or Republican, has been willing to categorize the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenians as an act of “genocide” … until now.

Biden made the declaration today after talking with Turkish President Tayycip Erdogan, apparently warning the strongman of his intention to do what he did today.

So, you might wonder: Why the presidential reticence?

Turkey is a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was founded after World War II to deter possible aggression from what was called the Soviet Union. Thus, previous U.S. presidents were concerned about offending Turkey, upon which NATO depends as an important military ally.

President Biden has tossed those concerns aside.

The reality is that in 1915, Turkey set about to execute more than 1.5 million Armenians in what only can be described as a form of “ethnic cleansing.” Put another way, they engaged in genocide against an ethnic minority.

According to Yahoo News:

“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday, marking Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. He emphasized the need to recognize and remember such atrocities “so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history.”

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Biden said. “We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.

Biden recognizes as ‘genocide’ the killing of 1.5M Armenians by Ottoman Turks (yahoo.com)

Yes, President Biden is trying to walk along a nuanced line. I get that. It also signals a presidential intention to ensure that human rights remains at the top of our foreign-policy consciousness.

Human rights returns!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has laid the law down on a dictator with whom this nation is bonded through a military alliance.

Biden and Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan have talked. The president told Erdogan that he considers the Ottoman Empire’s extermination of millions of Armenians to be an act of genocide. He intends as well to bring it up when the men meet in a bilateral encounter later this year during the annual meeting of nations that belong to NATO, of which Turkey is a member.

This is a big deal. Why? Because the American presidency has lacked any open discussion of human rights violations for the past four years. Donald Trump chose to ignore these and other international abuses of human dignity during his tenure in the White House. President Biden is returning human rights to the table.

To which I say … yes!

The Hill reports: The White House readout of the call noted the two men would meet this summer but made no mention of discussion about the potential genocide declaration, which Turkey has long lobbied against strenuously. Bloomberg News later reported that Biden informed Erdogan that he plans to recognize the massacre of Armenians as genocide.

Biden, Erdoğan speak amid tensions over Armenian genocide (msn.com)

The world is full of human rights abuses — and abusers. You can spare me the rejoinder about such abuses occurring here at home. I am fully aware of them. As is President Biden. Still, he intends to exert his moral authority as the leader of this great nation to remind others around the world that all humans have inalienable rights that deserve honor and respect.

I welcome the president of the United States engaging in  that critical discussion.

‘America is back’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has made it abundantly clear that the nation he was elected to lead is going to return to the world stage.

There will no more talk of “putting America first” at the expense of our nation’s international alliances.

Biden spoke to his fellow G7 leaders this week during a virtual conference and informed them in no uncertain terms that he intends to reverse the direction that his presidential predecessor intended to take the nation.

The nation has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord; the U.S.A. is re-engaging in negotiations with Iran with the aim of preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon; he has affirmed out commitment to NATO; he also has put Russia on notice that he won’t be “pals” with that nation’s strongman leader.

Donald Trump sought to stiff our allies whenever and wherever possible. Joe Biden is not wired that way. He intends to demonstrate his understanding that the world is figuratively shrinking and that the United States intends to reassert its role as the world’s pre-eminent world power.

This is what presidents of the United States have done for the past 100 years. I am one American who supports the tone that President Biden is taking.

Biden reverses course in foreign policy

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has demonstrated a recognition that Donald J. Trump never did … which is that the world is shrinking in a figurative sense and that the United States cannot possibly go it alone on matters that involve the entire planet.

He delivered a foreign policy speech and told the world that the United States is re-engaging its worldwide allies and calling — get a load of this — for greater attention to human rights.

“Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this stronger, more determined and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy – because we have fought for it ourselves,” he said.

You’ll recall how Donald Trump attended a NATO meeting and upbraided our allies in public for not paying more to defend themselves. He sought to shed our traditional role as guarantor of freedom in western Europe. While it is good that our allies have stepped up and are paying more for their own defense, the public scolding from the U.S. commander in chief left our allies with the feeling that they no longer could trust this country to be there for them when threats emerge.

As USA Today reported: Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, warned that the U.S. faces a moment of “accelerating global challenges” – from a pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation – all of which he said will be solved only by nations working together.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said.

‘Diplomacy is back’: Biden promises to restore ties with allies in dramatic foreign policy shift (msn.com)

Exactly, Mr. President. We need our allies. We need our alliances from which we frame our relationships with friends around the world.

I am one American who welcomes our return to the Paris Climate Accord and to the World Health Organization, two issues from which Donald Trump severed U.S. involvement as part of his effort to “put America first.”

Greater reliance on our alliances will not compromise American interests, as President Biden said in his 20-minute speech. Thus, Joe Biden also intends — in a far more nuanced and sophisticated manner — to put America first … but we won’t act alone.

Wish list for next POTUS

I want the next president of the United States to undo the damage done by Donald J. Trump. My to-do wish list is a lengthy one.

And by the way, I hope the next president is Joseph R. Biden Jr.

So, for the record and in no particular order of importance, I want the next president to:

  • Reinstate our participation in key international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear arms deal; the Paris Climate Accords; remaining a part of the World Health Organization.
  • Issue a new executive order reviving the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals for those undocumented immigrants who were brought here illegally as children by their parents.
  • Look Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the eye and tell him he faces severe economic and diplomatic sanctions if he continues to interfere in our electoral process.
  • Restore environmental protections seeking cleaner air and water.
  • Revive our alliances within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • Start working immediately on comprehensive immigration reform. Accordingly, I also want the next president to strengthen border security without erecting a wall along our southern border.
  • Restore policies that welcome gay men and women who want to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
  • Stop the effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and instead work immediately to improve it and make it truly more “affordable” for millions of Americans.
  • Develop a sensible and comprehensive national strategy to fight the pandemic that continues to kill and sicken too many Americans every day.
  • Redeploy resources to developing clean energy.

I am sure there are other initiatives worth pursuing once we get a new president.

My hope remains that the day will arrive next Jan. 20 and not four years after that date.

Still nothing about bounties? Really?

What in the name of national security gives with Donald J. Trump?

The U.S. president gets on the phone with Russian dictator/hitman Vladimir Putin and doesn’t bring up the allegation that Russian intelligence goons put bounties on U.S. service personnel?

Then we hear that Trump wants to remove 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, which would do nothing but tickle Putin’s fancy, given that those troops have been stationed there as part of the front line against potential Russian aggression.

The bounty allegation has legs. Of that I have no doubt. Nor do any serious watchers of U.S.-Russia relations. It is utterly amazing to many of us that Trump has yet to condemn the allegation, pledging to find out whether it’s true or seeking answers from Vladimir Putin.

Trump told Axios that he and Putin talked about “other things.” Are you kidding me? Why in the world didn’t he mention the allegation? Why doesn’t he demand Putin to demonstrate he hasn’t done what many of us believe he has allowed?

This information reportedly found its way to Trump’s desk, but Trump continues to deny knowing about it in the moment. He said the intelligence reportedly placed in his daily briefing didn’t add up. What a crock of dookey!

I believe in my gut that Trump has been derelict in his duty as commander in chief. For the president to refuse to confront Vladimir Putin directly on it confirms my belief.

As for the troop withdrawal from Germany, let’s just say that Putin must be dancing one of those Russian jigs in the Kremlin. Trump is reducing the U.S. force commitment by one-third. He chides Germany for failing to pay it’s share of defense and suggests the United States won’t be “suckered” any longer.

The drawdown will cost billions of dollars. The troops will need to be relocated. For what reason? Because the president is angry with Germany over whether it’s paying enough for its own defense? It looks to me as though there is a larger national security issue in play, which involves whether the United States — as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — is doing its part to assure the defense of Europe against possible aggression.

Who is the beneficiary? None other than Vladimir Putin.

Trump vs. NATO colleagues: Oh, the irony of it all

Donald Trump continues to exhibit an astonishing lack of self-awareness. Indeed, the irony of his sudden bolting from an international meeting with military allies reveals that point.

There he was at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in London. He trashed French President Emmanuel Macron, called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” and then became the subject of a hot-mic exchange among NATO leaders who were poking fun at the president.

He left the NATO conference and jetted back to the United States.

What is astonishing in the extreme is that Trump seemed to get mad at the leaders’ laughing at his expense. He has no awareness of the kind of treatment he has leveled on his political foes and, indeed, even at his allies.

He has tossed out insults and epithets at will. He hangs goofy nicknames on those with whom he disagrees. He dishes out innuendo as rapidly as a blackjack dealer.

So he gets chided by his colleagues at a NATO meeting and then flies out of there? What gives with this guy?

He vowed while campaigning for the presidency to get rid of the laughingstock label he said was being hung on the United States. Well, maybe he has done that … by giving other world leaders reason to laugh at him.

‘We’re the laughingstock of the world’

One of the many campaign mantras that Donald Trump would recite repeatedly on his way to winning the presidency in 2016 was that the United States had become “a laughingstock.”

He would bellow from campaign podiums that “We are the laughingstock of the world.” The crowds loved it. He would vow to make the world “respect” this country.

How is it working out? Not so good, I would say, were you to seek my opinion.

Trump’s recent carnival act while attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in London offers a case in point. The president decided he wouldn’t tolerate the snickers and whispered jokes among fellow heads of state at the NATO conference.

So, he bolted. He came home early after canceling a press conference.

Mr. President, the world is laughing now, out loud, in public, in front of us. Donald Trump has turned us into the laughingstock he accused us of being while running for the only public office he ever has sought.

So very sad.

Trump makes a hash of another NATO gathering

Well now, that didn’t go too well.

Donald Trump was one of several heads of state and government attending a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Then he decided he had enough of the treatment he was getting from his fellow world leaders gathered in London. So he left early, canceling an anticipated press conference.

Oh, my.

He started out by having a testy press availability with French President Emanuel Macron, who snapped back at Trump’s assertion that many Islamic State fighters come from France.

He called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Trump said France needs NATO more than the United States and chided the French for not paying more for their defense against potential enemies in Europe.

Other world leaders were heard on a “hot microphone” poking fun at the U.S. president … which I guess was too much for Trump to handle.

He left the meeting early and headed for home.

Goodness, gracious.

Is this how the president of the United States represents us on the world stage? Must we tolerate this kind of petulance? Must this nation be held up as an international laughingstock only because its president doesn’t know how to behave and act like the head of state of the world’s most indispensable nation?

He talks about impeachment constantly during his press sessions. He blasts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi openly while he’s overseas. Trump ridicules the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, hurling a variety of epithets at the man who is performing his constitutionally prescribed duties.

So, another foreign visit has gone badly.

Get to work, Mr. President, on whatever it is you do.