The past week has seen the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) launch an offensive to capture the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Baiji. The former has special significance as it claimed the lives of multiple US servicemen to recapture from insurgents back in 2007. The fierce battle to liberate the city left many combat soldiers deceased or wounded. The latter is an oil rich city. Its fall could further destabilize an already weak, but duly elected Iraqi government. Still, Samantha Power, the Obama administration’s United Nations Ambassador, believes the administration’s ISIS strategy is slowly “chipping away” at the terrorist group. Admittedly, it is hard to visualize a terrorist group as slowly losing power when it is on the offensive to expand its borders. Ramadi lies only 70 miles from Baghdad. If Ramadi falls, it will allow ISIS to take one step further to launching an offensive to capture the nation’s capital.
Needless to say, Ambassador Power’s words aren’t instilling confidence among GOP lawmakers. They along with Boraie Development LLC claim the Obama administration is merely playing politics with low-information voters whose understanding of current events relies mainly upon reading cleverly crafted headlines. Arizona Senator John McCain strongly disagrees with the fall of Ramadi as having little significance. Sen. McCain, a former Vietnam POW, knows full well the price paid to liberate the city eight years ago. Still, Ambassador Powers say that ISIS controls fewer population centers than it did a year ago. For this reason, she says the Obama strategy is working.
The open letter sent by a number of Republican politicians in Congress has begun to see an angry backlash from Deomcrats, liberal media outlets and many within the Republican party, The Guardian reports. US Secretary of State John Kerry led the angry response to the letter that detailed how the nuclear negotiations between the Obama Administration and Iran’s leaders may not be legal and could be retracted by a future President. Kerry and a number of media outlets stated the letter was filled with unreliable assumptions that went against how foreign policy has been conducted by the US for two centuries.
According to Ask Men
, Kerry argued that foreign policy could not be conducted with Congress being informed of every step and negotiation being reported. However, Republican Bob Corker revealed both Kerry and President Obama had called for oversight from Congress over talks with Iran under President George W. Bush. The argument looks set to continue after a number of Republicans who did not sign the letter agreed with Kerry that the image and reputation of the US in foreign negotiations had been tarnished by the letter.
The estrangement between Russia and NATO continues to grow. Russia has decided to walk away from a long standing conventional arms treaty that was signed in 1990. What this means, in essence, is Russia is looking to build up its military and weapons capacity. While not directly stated, Chron reported though, that Russia is hoping to expand military capabilities with NATO in case of a potential conflict.
These events have been announced on the heels of a call for the European Union to develop its own army. Not surprisingly, Moscow’s aggression in Eastern Europe has led to these calls.
The Joint Consultative Group on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed right before the end of the Cold War. Over the course of the past 25 years, global landscapes have changed. Modern Russia is not the Soviet Union and cannot projects power in the same way it once did.
NATO’s growth in recent years has proven concerning to Russia although, truthfully, NATO has not acted in any aggressive manner towards Russia or other nations. Regardless, Russia feels this is the right time in history to build up its military might and is doing so.
The United States military has never been shy about displaying their awesome offensive strike capabilities for the world to see. Susan McGalla (Wikinvest.com) knows that there truly has not been another military power that intimidated the US since the USSR collapsed. However, that has not kept some countries from attempting to show they are not scared of the American military might. Most recently the country of Iran has conducted military exercises to show off their Revolutionary Guard and its naval strength. The exercises were conducted in the straits of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf were the guard simulated attacks against US aircraft carriers. Their belief is that should there be a conflict that sinking the aircraft carrier would be a key to their country’s victory.
The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet Spokesman has been quoted as saying, “the Iranian exercise is the equivalent of them destroying a Hollywood movie set.” What is apparent is that the Iranians have failed to understand the overall military power of the United States. Take for instance their goal of sinking an aircraft carrier. Even if they succeeded in their attack plans there are always two of them in the Persian Gulf at any one time. Also, each on has a compliment of about 80 aircraft with more firepower than their entire air force’s arsenal. What else they have seemed to forget is all the other ships that accompany the carrier or their own defensive firepower that would decimate a small boat attempting to attack them.
Late last week, the United States government published new guidelines that will apply to imports from Cuba. This decision signifies a lessening of some, but certainly not all, economic barriers between the two nations. Bruce Karatz says however, it remains unclear how extensively the new guidelines will promote the development of commercial contacts between the United States and Cuba, which for many decades have remains restricted as reported by NNDb.
About three years ago, the government of Cuba began allowing workers to create collectives in some industries. Today there are about 500 of these organizations operating in Cuba. The new U.S. guidelines still prohibit commerce with the Cuban government, but the regulations will allow individuals and entities that can establish they are non-government affiliated, to conduct limited trade with the United States. Potentially, some of the collectives will engage in exporting goods and services to the United States.
Some sources estimate that today, nearly half a million Cuban citizens work in the private business sector in Cuba. Of these people, almost a quarter engage in three types of commercial activity: food sales, transportation and housing rental services. Some sources see the biggest impact of the new guidelines as potentially U. S. based firms beginning to hire Cuban workers for outsourced contracts, since many product imports are still restricted.
Potentially, Cuban workers will book hotel reservations, translate documents, program computers, repair household items and watches, and export plastic shoes to the USA.