S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

International relations-balance of business & military

Millenial Change -The United States adopted a new foreign policy style when the current administration took office. It has since been almost unrecognizable to many of us who have watched it with continued interest for the past fifty years. Very international economically, Republicans have adopted a largely "go it alone" military and diplomatic effort.

Who is in charge of international relations - This leaves the multinational business community in charge of very expansive trading policies, and the military in charge of every thing else. Does this signal the reinstatement of the "military industrial complex?" The State Department often appears to have the role of "let's try diplomacy before we go to war." And our traditional alliances with countries, with whom we have been friends for too long to remember, have suffered. And a strong-willed neocon, John Bolton, was given a recess appointment as our U.N. Ambassador. Let's see how the neocon-MI complex is doing these days, with a little news survey of current events - and U.S. reactions - that could be indicators.

Meanwhile there is Darfur - The U.S. is not taking the primary role military in Africa, where our strategic interests seem to be very different than in the Middle East. Peace keeping is left to others. Quoting from the Washington Post,
The Bush administration has settled on the idea of sending up to several hundred NATO advisers to help bolster African Union peacekeeping troops in their efforts to shield villagers in Sudan's Darfur region from fighting between government-backed Arab militias and rebel groups, administration officials said.
The move would include some U.S. troops and mark a significant expansion of U.S. and allied involvement in the conflict. So far, NATO's role has been limited to airlifting African Union forces to the region and providing a few military specialists to help the peacekeeping contingent. . .
"My hunch is, we're watching a bureaucratic slow-roll take place, but the danger is it's happening as the situation on the ground is getting worse," said Susan Rice, who served as an assistant secretary of state for Africa during the Clinton administration and now is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "The administration has been in this knot of having called the situation genocide but then failing to do anything." . . .
One of the factors limiting what can be done, U.S. officials said, is reluctance in NATO to undertake another major commitment on top of the alliance's growing role in securing Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan is a big mission for NATO, which wants to make sure it devotes appropriate priority to it," the administration official said. "Some NATO allies think Darfur could potentially become a distraction in a way that could jeopardize Afghanistan."

Immigration policy and the business sector - Immigrant groups seem to be split over the planned May 1 "A Day Without Immigrants" job and economic boycott. If it is widely adopted this grass roots effort could demonstrate how much business and consumers depend on undocumented workers to maintain cheap prices and high profits. According to the Washington Post,

The coalition of grass-roots organizations that staged huge rallies on behalf of illegal immigrants in recent weeks is torn over an ambitious next step, a massive job and economic boycott that some are calling "A Day Without Immigrants."
Across the country, some groups have expressed enthusiasm for a May 1 action that they hope would paralyze restaurants, hotels, meat-packing plants and construction sites. But others have questioned the strategic value of such a move so soon after the wave of demonstrations, particularly as it would require many illegal immigrants to risk their jobs by skipping yet another workday.
Opinion pieces add to what we know - Mort Zuckerman writes effectively in U.S. News and World Report about the education choices of students resulting in a lack of good jobs for the middle class in the U.S. To quote Zuckerman,
The colliding slogans of the immigration debate-"stop illegal aliens" versus "remember, we are a nation of immigrants"--fail to explain some complicated truths. The first is that America is a different place from 50 years ago. Then, half of American men didn't finish high school and entered the workforce as unskilled laborers. Today, over 90 percent finish high school and shun unskilled, low-wage jobs. Yet our increasingly automated service economy is driven by low-skilled workers. The Department of Labor estimates that we will need 7.7 million more in the next decade alone. At the same time, we are desperately short of skilled professionals in science, medicine, and technology. In fact, the U.S. labor force is skewed. It is predominantly composed of people who possess skills that overqualify them for the lowest-skilled jobs and underqualify them for the highest.
Michael Barone, also writing for U.S. News, adds a couple of good articles to the discussion mix:
What needs to be added to the international relations mix is a greater reliance on vigorous diplomacy in concert with our traditional allies, business being required to be much more accountable to U.S. workers, and a more balanced focus on the trouble spots of the world. Profits, oil and Israel are not the only facts of life in the larger world picture.

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