America’s First Energy Plan Falls Flat

The Trump administration’s promises to reform the Environmental Protection Agency, to scale back on environmental laws and regulations, to exit the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and to implement his America’s First Energy Plan, omit any explanation of the legal processes involved. President Donald Trump will be likely be unable to deliver on most, if not all, of his environmental promises in the 46 remaining months in his term because the United States is a democracy, having three branches of government, as well as the fourth estate, and not a private corporation.

In conjunction with these illusory promises, Mr. Trump over and over again touts his ability to stimulate economic growth and job creation in America’s poorest areas. He says he wants to bring the coal industry back. Economically this makes no sense. The bottom line is that investment in the renewable energy sector generates more jobs per dollar spent. Consider that coal mining towns are situated in mountainous regions – the perfect place to retrain unemployed workers to build, install and maintain wind farms.

The bottom line people who will lose from the ill-conceived America’s First Energy Plan are those families who are already suffering economic hardship who believed Mr. Trump’s campaign promises and choose to vote for him believing in a better tomorrow.

What Fuels Trump’s America’s First Energy Plan?

Climate Action Plan

First, the plan involves eliminating the Climate Action Plan, the Waters of the U.S. or Clean Water Rule, and  the U.S. Methane rule limiting emissions from oil and gas installations on federal land.

According to the EPA, “Clean water upstream means cleaner water flowing into rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters… The Clean Water Rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand.”

The Clean Water Rule was promulgated after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the latest science, including a report summarizing more than 1,200 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies showing that small streams and wetlands play an integral role in the health of larger downstream water bodies.

Under the non-delegation doctrine, the EPA was authorized by “enabling legislation” in the Clean Water Act to promulgate regulations. Generating regulations is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); a process that includes publication of the proposed rules along with a notice of proposed rulemaking, a period for comments and participation in the decision making process and, ultimately, adoption and publication of final rules in the Code of Federal Register (CFR).

The Clean Water Rule has been stayed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in In re: Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense Final Rule; “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States, Case Nos. 15-3799/3822/3853/3887 (6th Cir., Oct. 9, 2015), in which the Court held:

“A stay allows for a more deliberate determination whether this exercise of Executive power, enabled by Congress and explicated by the Supreme Court, is proper under the dictates of federal law. A stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new Rule and whether they will survive legal testing. A stay honors the policy of cooperative federalism that informs the Clean Water Act and must attend the shared responsibility for safeguarding the nation’s waters… The Clean Water Rule is hereby STAYED, nationwide, pending further order of the court.”

On February 28th Mr. Trump directed the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess whether Clean Water Rule promotes economic growth and minimizes regulatory uncertainty. This fact-finding directive conflicts with newly confirmed EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s definitive statement that the EPA’s focus on combating climate change had cost jobs and stunted economic growth.

The harsh reality is that the Trump administration is bound by the stay – a stay not issued by a “so called court”. Once that case is decided, the procedures for substantive amendment to or repeal of a rule are the same as for the issuance; a time-intensive process.

Standards to Cut Methane Emissions

After two years of conducting research and complying with the APA, on May 12, 2016, the EPA issued its final Standards to Cut Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector, 40 CFR 60; regulations to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds and toxic air emissions by the oil and natural gas industries.

A year prior the proposed rules were unsuccessfully challenged in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in which New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed the following statement explaining the importance of these standards:

“The oil and gas industry is the country’s largest source of emissions of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Controlling these emissions is essential to combatting climate change. The regulations adopted by EPA in May reflect the ready-availability of proven, effective, and affordable measures for reducing methane emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry. They also fulfill EPA’s legal responsibility under the Clean Air Act to limit the industry’s methane emissions from these sources.

We can no longer afford to disregard the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the threat that it poses to our families, communities, and economy. My office is proud to stand with our fellow coalition members in aggressively defending these important controls on climate change pollution.”

The case was dismissed as premature as the EPA “…has not yet issued a final rule. It has issued only a proposed rule.” Since the issuance of the final rules there have been no legal challenge. But, as in the case of the Clean Water Rule, any effort to change the existing regulations would have to follow the time-consuming administration process.

Climate Action Plan

Second, Mr. Trump wants to eliminate the Climate Action Plan. While neither legislation nor a rule the Climate Action Plan reflects a national policy toward reducing the impact of climate change by cutting carbon pollution that not only causes climate change and but adversely affects public health, and by promoting the conversion to clean energy.  Some of its benchmarks include:

  • Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants;
  • Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;
  • Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings; and
  • Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.

The Department of Energy is responsible for oversight of the Climate Action Plan. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was confirmed on March 2nd as Energy Secretary. Previously, Mr. Perry vowed to close the Department of Energy, he has supported the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline, and called climate change a “contrived phony mess” with efforts to tackle climate change “hysteria.”

In his Senate confirmation hearing, to no great surprise, Mr. Perry made radically different statements. For instance, he testified that, “My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Mr. Perry added that he is “committed to modernizing our nuclear stockpile, promoting and developing American energy in all forms, advancing the department’s critical science and technology mission, and carefully disposing of nuclear waste.” Building-up America’s nuclear weapons arsenal is an unjustifiable waste of taxpayer funds.

Mr. Perry has not issued any statement about the Climate Action Plan.

Shale Oil

Third, Mr. Trump wants to extract $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves. Extracting shale oil involves fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial technique to recover gas and oil from shale rock by drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. The first problem is that fracking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.

The second problems is that fracking releasing carcinogenic chemicals, such as hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids, arsenic, radium and benzene, into our ground water. Four states have been documented as have contaminated ground water supplies: Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

Coal Mining

Fourth, Mr. Trump stated that he plans on reviving coal mining using clean coal technology. Clean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed to mitigate the environmental impact of coal energy generation to remove or reduce pollutant emissions to the atmosphere. The technology is neither green nor clean.

Real Job Growth Lies in the Renewable Energy Sector

The Trump administration should be looking at developing renewable energy sources within the United States. It does not even matter what Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Pruitt and Mr. Perry’s think about climate change as renewable energy generates more jobs and is more cost efficient that anything the Trump administration has touted.

Given inducements these same figures could apply to the rust belt and former coal towns where unemployment runs rampant and hope runs low.

Additionally, since 2008 the price of coal has risen 13% and the price for solar energy has dropped by 80%.

Cronyism

The multifaceted “America First Energy Plan” was most likely spearheaded by the White House’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who in his previous role of Executive Editor of right-wing Breitbart News, became well-known for denying climate change science, despite the fact that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is not only real but a manmade condition that only mankind can remediate, and for spreading conspiratorial views on clean energy. Mr. Bannon stated, without a scintilla of collaborating research, that, “Whether you believe in alternative energy or not, one thing we can tell you for a fact—whether it works or not, that’s all to be seen in the progress of time—it’s up to its neck in crony capitalism. The venture capital guys getting bailed out, the private equity guys getting bailed out, subsidies for these things.”

What is true about Mr. Bannon’s statement is there is cronyism. The America’s First Energy Plan reeks of cronyism favoring the fossil fuel industry. Consider the recently released emails evidencing a preexisting relationship between Mr. Pruitt and the fossil fuel industry.

The Paris Agreement                                          

The Paris Agreement was negotiated by 195 countries and has been ratified by 194 countries. The Paris Agreement falls within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The United States ratified the agreement, which globally came into effect on November 4, 2016. Under the agreement the United States has committed to committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025, and to make “best efforts” to reduce emissions by 28 percent. This necessarily includes a reduction in fossil fuel usage.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the scale and the transformative nature of the change, which will be needed. We have to go to zero carbon emissions by about 2050 if we are going to stay below 2C of warming and that means that we have to leave about 2/3 of the known resources of fossil fuels in the ground,” stated Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Climate Change and Director of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Change.

Ms. Robinson was emphatic that, “We have a responsibility to move in the direction that Paris has given us – well below 2C as far as possible to 1.5C – a world that leaves no one behind. A world that is fair and inclusive … We can do it. And we will have a much better and more equal world if we do.”

During the campaign, Mr. Trump stated that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement, calling the agreement “bad for US business” and alleging that the agreement allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use”.

Myron Ebell, a long-standing climate sceptic who headed Mr. Trump’s EPA transition team, opined that Mr. Trump, “…could do it by executive order tomorrow, or he could wait and do it as part of a larger package. There are multiple ways and I have no idea of the timing,”

Mr. Ebell’s statements run afoul of the Paris Agreement which stipulates that once the agreement came into force, countries that have ratified it have to wait for a minimum of three years before they can exit. The earliest date the United States could exit the Agreement is 2019. When it comes to the Trump administration fact-checking is everything.

The Gag Order

Employees at the EPA were quite vocal in expressing their science-based opinions as announcements were made. What did Mr. Trump do to address their concerns? He issued a gag order resulting in a rogue EPA twitter accounts such as @altUSEPA. This is the United States of America where government is supposed to be translucent and accountable, and where freedom of speech is protected.

Conclusion

The United States is already been deemed degraded in its role as a global leader. In the area of clean energy, China is presently investing more in renewable energy and building more renewable energy capacity than the United States further eroding the United States leadership role. During the campaign, Mr. Trump stated climate change was a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government”. If so, the joke is on Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump must take a big step back and consider that it is his job to insure that the United States remains the geopolitical leader in all areas.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague. She is a contributing editor to Tuck Magazine, E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and the International Policy Digest. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

“An American First Energy Plan”, White House, as found on the www at https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy.

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, June 25, 2013, White House, as found on the www at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/25/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-climate-action-plan.

In re: Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense Final Rule; “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States, Case Nos. 15-3799/3822/3853/3887 (6th Cir. October 9, 2015), as found on the www at http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/15a0246p-06.pdf

In Re: Murray Energy Corporation, Case No. 14-1112 (D.C. Cir. June 9, 2015), as found on the www at http://www.troutmansandersenergyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/280/2015/06/GHG-Challenge-Opinion.pdf.

“Paris Agreement – Status of Ratification,” UN Doc., as found on the www at http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php.

The Clean Water Rule, 80 FR 37054, August 28, 2015.

“What the Clean Water Rule Does”, The United States Environmental Protection Agency, as found on the www at https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule/what-clean-water-rule-does.

Justice, Security and Rule of Law: Trumped in Southeast Asia?

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Authors Note: This analysis is a part of series. The first analysis, “In Deep Waters with China and Russia” was published on June 10, 2016 and the second, “Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You” on July 15, 2016.

U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia in light of President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration is drifting off to sea placing the U.S. in a precarious position of isolationism in a region where China and Russia have been aggressively building alliances and partnerships. Amidst shifting global relationships and allegiances this is not a time for the U.S. to adopt a foreign policy built on isolationism or non-involvement but, rather it is a time to accelerate Southeast Asia foreign policy initiatives.

The tipping point for U.S. allies in Southeast Asia was and is Mr. Trump’s repeated statements that his administration would not support the U.S. joining The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). If ratified, the TPP would be a comprehensive trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the U.S., and Vietnam, representing nearly 40 percent of global GDP and a third of world trade. This has dampened the strength of U.S.’ Southeast Asian foreign relations; weakening ties in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Mr. Trump should well know that cordial foreign relations always follows the money.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership vs. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

Ratification of the TPP must occur by February 2017 by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the entire group’s combined gross domestic product. Unfortunately, this is impossible without a commitment by both the U.S. and Japan. As it stands now, Mr. Trump is unlikely to send the TPP agreement to Congress for confirmation.

Without the TPP, the People’s Republic of China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) initiatives will gain momentum. If realized, the RCEP, would account for 40 percent of global trade and cover three billion people regionally, making it the world’s largest trading block, ahead of even the European Union.

Seven nations have engaged in both TPP and RCEP negotiations: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The U.S., Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru are TPP-only negotiators. The RCEP-only countries, other than China, are Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

What distinguishes the TPP from the RCEP is that the TPP protects and promotes Rule of Law by requiring member nations to liberalize their economies, and to protect labor rights, the environment, intellectual property, and foreign investments.

Participating in the TPP is a form of soft power and it has been a driving factor in previous presidential administrations to promote democratic values in other countries. With the simmering South China Sea dispute, the use of soft power in Southeast Asia has never been more important.

The South China Sea Dispute

China seeks to complete a “strategic triangle” in the SCS to monitor and control regional maritime activities, to bolster its naval position, and to gain access to much-needed oil and natural gas using advanced deep sea drilling technologies. China has constructed 3,200 acres of man-made islands on reefs, increasing its EEZs by 200 nautical miles or 370 km, and its territorial seas by 12 nautical miles or 22 km, on which it has installed airfields, surveillance systems, and a radar tower. China plans on installing an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, covering the SCS. An ADIZ demarcates a zone outside a country’s national airspace in which aircraft must identify themselves and follow the country’s military instructions.

China’s expansionist and illegal actions in the SCS have been protested by numerous SCS claimants, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, who are supported by the U.S., ASEAN, Australia, Japan and France. The 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in which ASEAN and China agreed upon multilateral risk-reduction and confidence-building measures, requires that territorial and jurisdictional disputes be resolved without resorting to the threat or use of force.

Less than six months ago, a July 12, 2012 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) issued in an action brought by the Philippines to protect its rights in the SCS. The PCA opined that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), in claiming sovereignty over the 95% of the SCS, known as the “nine-dash line”.  Before the decision was even rendered, China stated that it would continue on its expansionist path.

On September 8, 2016, the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heads of state, the leaders of the Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, together with President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang “…reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation in and over-flight in the South China Sea”. China remained committed to its course of action.

The direction ASEAN takes at the 2017 Summit will be under the control of controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the 2017 Chairperson.

“The chair of ASEAN has the power to set the agenda. What [the chair] has been used for historically is to cut things out of the agenda, particularly the South China Sea. And it will be very interesting to see whether the Duterte Administration puts it on the agenda, and I think it will open the door to other claimants to voice their thing,” explained Tim Johnston, Asia program director for International Crisis Group.

The direction to be taken by Mr. Duterte will impact all SCS claimants and, as of right now, Mr. Duterte cannot be expected to promote Rule of Law having relinquished the Philippines’ SCS claim. The first rule of economics is no such thing as a free lunch.  On December 19th, concurrent with Mr. Duterte’s announcement, China offered the Philippines $14.4 million worth of military assistance, without the conditions traditionally attached to U.S.

Most recently, at a December 27th Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony, without mentioning the SCS dispute, Mr. Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the need for dialogue to prevent future armed conflict. U.S. Congresswomen Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) was more pointed, stating that, “The lesson from all this, was that we do not forget the past … but we have to move ahead. For us to all collectively survive in the Asia-Pacific region, we need have to have an understanding of both the roles in the past and the roles in the future.”

The Philippines Vacillating Foreign Relations

The relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. rapidly disintegrated after the 2016 election of Mr. Duterte as President. Mr. Duterte’s anti-drug crusade involving widespread and seemingly indiscriminate extra-judicial killings constitute egregious human rights violations under international law.

Mr. Duterte’s policies initially precipitated a refusal by the U.S. to continue selling the Philippine assault rifles. By mid-December Washington halted all aid based on “…significant concerns around the rule of law and civil liberties in the Philippines.” In 2016, the U.S. provided the Philippines with over $120 million in military aid, a $50 million increase over 2015, and an additional $42 million coming from the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative.

Mr. Duterte responded by stating, “Eat your aid and we will survive. I’ll go to China.”

Despite more than a century of U.S.-Philippine military cooperation, this was followed by a statement that the Philippine’s government was scaling back on routine joint military exercises with the U.S. and that the Philippines would no longer host U.S. military ships patrolling the SCS. Legally, under the April 28, 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the U.S. patrols the SCS to protect the Philippines’ EEZ.  Under the EDCA, the U.S. also rotate troops in the Philippines; builds and operates temporary facilities on Philippine’s bases, for both American and Philippine forces; and gives giving Philippine’s personnel access to American ships and planes. Under the U.S. and Philippines 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the U.S. is be obligated to come to the defence of the Philippines if it is attacked by any foreign power.

Thereafter, Mr. Duterte has vacillated between the U.S., China and Russia.

At the November APEC forum Russia increased Philippines imports to $2.5 billion. In return, the Philippines agreed to hold talks on signing a defense cooperation agreement with Russia. A government decree, signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, stated, “To accept the proposal of the Russian Ministry of Defense, together with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to negotiate an agreement between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Department of National Defense of the Philippines on defense co-operation.”

Mr. Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private November 19th meeting at the APEC forum Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Damage control quickly followed.  On November 30th Philippine’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. refuted rumors that Mr. Duterte’s upcoming visit to Russia was to establish a military relationship. Mr. Yasay stated that the focus was on defense cooperation limited to sharing information on terrorism, drugs and enforcement. It is questionable what information Mr. Duterte plans on sharing with Russia, given that under the EDCA, Philippine’s military personnel have access to U.S. military weapons and equipment and, therefore, the underlying technology.

Mr. Yasay stressed that, “The President has declared we will only have one military alliance and that is with the U.S. We have our Mutual Defense Treaty which the President said he will respect, together with all of the support agreements.”

At this time, the direction Mr. Duterte takes at the 2017 ASEAN summit is anybody’s guess.

Japan’s Multilateral Relationships

Mr. Abe has used every opportunity to engage in peace building with China. In private talks initiated by Mr. Abe with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the November APEC meeting,  Mr. Abe stated, “I want to improve bilateral ties across the board and forge a stable and good relationship by resolving issues in an appropriate manner and from a comprehensive viewpoint.” Mr. Xi responded by stating that he was “impressed with the prime minister’s words. It is important to settle issues properly and increase popular sentiment toward improving ties.”

Understanding that the TPP could help stabilize Southeast Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was the first foreign minister to meet with Mr. Trump post-election. Even if the Trump administration pushes Japan to join RCEP, the long-standing U.S. and Japanese military alliance is not for sale. Both countries have united to respond to provocation by the erratic North Korean demagogue Kim Jong-un and an increasingly militaristic and aggressive China.

Fearing further regional destabilization, in late December Mr. Abe approved a record defence budget, including five new large patrol ships, 200 additional maritime law enforcement staff, and a ballistic missile defence system upgrade.

The increase came as China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier traversed through Japan’s Ryukyu island chain and the East China Sea to the SCS where neared Taiwan, fueling tensions not only in Japan but also Taiwan. According to the Japanese defence ministry the Liaoning is one of a fleet of eight Chinese warships including destroyers and frigates.

The Destabilization of Sino-U.S. Relations

The Liaoning’s passage near Taiwan can be attributed to Mr. Trump foreign policy naiveté. His first major faux pas was recognizing Taiwan in a matter deemed by China to violate the “One-China” policy. The “One-China” policy is accepted by the United Nations, which has denied Taiwan member state status for the reason that it is not a sovereign nation but rather falls under Chinese sovereignty. As a United Nations member nation, the U.S. to bound to the “One China” policy.

That conversation precipitated a Chinese navy ship intercepting and seizing a U.S. naval drone legally deployed from an unarmed naval research ship in international waters for ocean exploration under the guise that it was interfering with other craft.   The real reason for seizing the drone was for Beijing to send a militaristic message to Washington that Mr. Trump has angered China.

Tensions with China were further exacerbated following Mr. Trump’s appointment of Peter Navarro to lead a new presidential office for US trade and industrial policy. Mr. Navarro has published two books that are sharply critical of China; in the first, Mr. Navarro predicts that war between China and the U.S. is inevitable. Mr. Navarro recently stated that, “For more than two decades, I have been telling people that the first thing China would do before trying to take Taiwan would be to take the Spratly Islands. If the world simply ignored that, then Taiwan would be next,” no doubt influencing Mr. Trump’s decision to speak with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Many of Mr. Navarro’s other beliefs, assimilated by Mr. Trump, have been proved faulty.

Beijing responded to the appointment via its state-run newspaper the Global Times in which it was stated that, “The US can no longer push China around today… If Washington dares to provoke China over its core interests, Beijing won’t fear setting up a showdown with the US, pressuring the latter to pay respect to China.”

This was tempered by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, who correctly stated that, “As two major powers with broad mutual interests, cooperation is the only correct choice.”

George Tenet, former CIA director, astutely described the foreign policy reality that for every action “there is an unequal and opposite over-reaction,” a concept Mr. Trump has not yet mastered. Mr. Trump must learn the ‘diplomatic dance’ of maintaining cordial relationships China, and the seduction of soft and hard power China has successfully used in courting many of U.S. allies, indispensable if America intends upon remaining a superpower.

Vietnam

Not willing to concede its SCS claim to Beijing, Vietnam has made vast improvements to its air force capabilities on Spratly Island. After adding 57 acres or 23 hectares of land to Spratly Island, it doubled the single runway to 1,200 meters or 4,000 feet, and doubled the number of aircraft hangars to four, creating a base for maritime surveillance aircraft, transport planes, and combat aircraft. Vietnam fortified several islands with mobile rocket launchers capable of striking Chinese military installations in the SCS.

Fortifications such as the one on Vietnamese-controlled Phan Vinh Island in the South China Sea’s Spratly chain are one method countries in the disputed waters press their claims. Credit: Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images

During a June 1, 2016 visit by Mr. Obama to Hanoi, he not only promoted the TPP but, announced that the lifting of a decades old arms embargo, new commercial agreements worth more than $16 billion, and the posting of Peace Corps volunteers to Vietnam. Mr. Obama successfully requested U.S. access to Vietnam’s sheltered deep-water Cam Ranh Bay military port.

Vietnam is now justifiably concerned about the TPP and ongoing U.S. trade relationship.  Mary Tarnowka, U.S. consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, attempted to provide reassurances that whatever the fate of the TPP, U.S.-Vietnamese economic link “has never been stronger.”

As for continued defense support there has been no comment by the incoming administration which is predicted to maintain its current position on the SCS dispute.

Thailand

Thailand separates the Strait of Malacca from the SCS through which one-third of global trade and two-thirds of all oil and liquefied natural gas pass making it extremely important to Western countries trading with Southeast Asia and conducting Freedom of Navigation patrols. Thailand has remained neutral in the SCS dispute.

After Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a May 2014 military coup, the U.S. froze security and defense aid to Thailand and scaled back on annual military exercises, precipitating a diplomatic hiatus for the reason that junta had failed to honor Rule of Law, including holding a free and fair election. In 2015 the U.S. resumed diplomatic talks with Thailand.

While the U.S. is Thailand’s oldest ally, the junta views China as a noncritical security partner vital to Thailand’s economy. China has seized this opportunity to cultivate political, economic and defense ties, including talks about building military facilities in Thailand to produce small arms, drones, and other security-related equipment. Bangkok is engaged in similar talks with Russia.

Given its geographic location, the Trump administration must consider the negative impact of a failure to implement the TPP on U.S.-Thai relations and regional geopolitics.

Malaysia

On July 20, 2016 U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch filed complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to launder misappropriated funds. The 1MDB was created by the Malaysia government to promote economic development through global partnerships and foreign direct investment, ultimately improving the well-being of the Malaysian people. Instead, 1MDB officials allegedly misappropriated more than $3 billion.

“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption. With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people,” stated said Attorney General Lynch.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is reputed to be the “Malaysian Official 1” referenced 36 times in the 136-page lawsuit and is believed to have personally received more than $1 billion of misappropriated funds. Mr. Najib has denied any wrongdoing or personal gain.

The lawsuit, as well as the improbability of U.S. ratification of the TPP, has upturned U.S.-Malaysian foreign relations. China has seized this opportunity.  Chinese investments into had Malaysia fallen by 30 percent in the first half of 2016. On November 1, 2016, Mr. Razak concluded a week-long visit to China with securing infrastructure investments in Malaysia of $32.2 billion, and by signing an agreement for SCS naval cooperation.

Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, and Malaysian PM Najib Razak at a Beijing parade on November 1, 2016. Credit: Xinhua

This is a reversal Mr. Najib’s previous position that Malaysia would not compromise its SCS claims, but hoped that it would be resolved through dialogue and peaceful negotiations; the position advocated by the U.S.

“Kuala Lumpur (has) sought direct engagement rather than confrontation with the Asian powerhouse over the South China Sea disputes,” observed Richard Javad Heydarian, Assistant Professor of International Politics at the Philippines’ De La Salle University.

Conclusion

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently described the current international security environment as “the most complex and diverse array of global threats” he has faced in his 53 year career.

Soft power, which includes virtually everything save military support, is a foreign policy tool which not only attracts other countries but gains their acquiescence on more important issues and reduces threats. With strategic precision, China has deployed soft power in Southeast Asia, gaining support for its dominance in the SCS dispute and diluting the influence of the U.S. and other foreign powers.

“The revisionist powers in each region are cooperating with each other only superficially because they all see potential existential threats from each other,” confirmed Michael Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Trump administration must continue the Obama legacy of not only maintaining but strengthening U.S. relations in Southeast Asia. Mr. Trump must conceptualize the TPP as a necessary form of soft power. If the TPP is not ratified by the U.S., it will damage, or perhaps irreparably reverse, all of the work done thus far in the region.

“If the U.S. is unable to back up its regional role … the regional states have no other choice but to accommodate Beijing,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

If Mr. Trump’s administration fosters increased Southeast Asian dependence on China, then the U.S. risks its regional and global role as the only democratic superpower.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague and contributing editor to Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Green, Michael J., “Is the foundation of the U.S.-led order crumbling?”, November 15, 2016, Center for Strategic and International Studies, as found on the www at https://www.csis.org/analysis/foundation-us-led-order-crumbling.

Lardner, Cynthia, “Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You”, July 15, 2016, as found on the www at http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/07/19/justice-security-rule-law-united-nations-security-council-failed-you/.

Lardner, Cynthia, “In Deep Waters with China and Russia”, June 10, 2016, as found on the www at http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/06/13/deep-waters-china-russia/; and https://issuu.com/nafelosangeles/docs/e_magazine_june_2016_issue_draft_1_.

“‘One Belt, One Road’ An Opportunity for the EU’s Security Strategy”, November 2015, Clingendael, as found on the www at https://www.clingendael.nl/sites/default/files/One_belt_one_road_vdPutten_Verlare_Clingendael_policy_brief_2015.pdf.

“U.S. Seeks to Recover More Than $1 Billion Obtained from Corruption Involving Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund”, U.S. Department of Justice, July 20, 2016, as found on the www at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/united-states-seeks-recover-more-1-billion-obtained-corruption-involving-malaysian-sovereign.

The Transpacific Trade Partnership, Office of the U.S. Trade Partnership, as found on the www at https://ustr.gov/tpp/.

Wen, Wang, and Xiaochen, Chen, “Who Supports China in the South China Sea and Why”, The Diplomat, July 26, 2016, as found on the www at http://thediplomat.com/2016/07/who-supports-china-in-the-south-china-sea-and-why/.

#TPP #SCS #SouthChinaSea #Spratley #Liaoning #SoutheastAsia #Trump #Duterte #Taiwan #Vietnam #Malaysia #Thailand #TPPA #Shinzo #Obama #Philippines #RCEP #SoftPower #ADIZ #EEZ #PCA #ASEAN #Hanabusa #EDCA #Medvedev #Putin #Jinping #APEC #OneChina #Navarro #Clapper #1MDB

Justice, Security and Rule of Law: Our Uncertain and Unstable World

It’s deeply foreboding feeling knowing that world global stability and security are rapidly devolving. Even before the uncanny election of Donald Trump and his unpredictability as the presumed President-Elect, world leaders were already concerned about increased isolationism, a tipping of the economic scale from the West to the East, innumerably proxy wars, nuclear proliferation, and even the outbreak of another war, ostensibly a Third World War.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin’s tsarist extremist and expansionist policy, fueled by his highly effective propaganda machine, the ability to use espionage, cyberwarfare, military force and diplomacy has undermined global security. Russia has and is playing an instrumental role in influencing elections both in the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU), while deflecting attention away from other significant crises and proxy wars, beyond Ukraine and Syria to the Baltic, Balkans and Eastern European Union regions, as well as in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region and the South China Sea.

Concurrently, China has effectively used its financial prowess to expand beyond well beyond Asia, into MENA region and the EU, resulting in reliance upon and possibly allegiance to China.  Simultaneously, China has been fortifying its military.

The rationale is that the more unstable the world, the easier it is for Russia and China to achieve their interdependent objectives.

“Europe and Asia are competing with one another,” opined Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

This has created a potentially volatile and highly insecure world when the reality is, as stated by Mr. Zannier, that “Security is inexplicable linked to peace.”

Uncertainty and Unrest in the Europe

In Europe, democratic leadership is being threatened by Russia. Russia has been instrumental in keeping refugees flowing into Europe. Russia then uses its propaganda machine to feed fears of Islam and fuel the momentum in many countries to follow Great Britain’s lead in exiting EU. Russia is backing pro-Putin political candidates seeking to gain power in Germany, France, and Poland. Pro-Putin leaders are already in power in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, and Serbia.

Moldova is Russia’s latest conquest. On November 14th it was announced that Moldova’s first national presidential election had been won by pro-Russian supporter Igor Dodon. His opponent, Maia Sandu ran as a pro-EU candidate. Moldova, a former Soviet republic, following 1992 Russian military action experienced a breakaway region – Trans-Dniester – which is now considered a demilitarized zone governed by Moldova, Russia and Transnistria.  This, according to Mr. Zannier is a frozen conflict, i.e. a situation in which active armed conflict has ceased without a peace treaty or formal resolution. Trans-Dniester conveniently abuts Ukraine, which has suffered Russian aggressions beyond the illegal annexation of Crimea.

On November 13th France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is expected to run against French President François Hollande in May 2017, made the aberrant comment that ‘there was no reason for Europe to be scared of Russian President Vladimir Putin’, when experts, such as Anne Applebaum, have repeated stated that Mr. Putin is working to destabilize Europe which is facilitated when there is a lack of unity. Ms. Le Pen called the U.S. election a victory against the elite. She supports Brexit, believing that all EU members should be allowed the choice to exit or reconfirm their EU commitment. France’s far-right is known to have ties to the Kremlin.

Significantly, in Germany, one, if not the strongest, EU leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election in 2017 has already been threatened by pro-Putin fringe group the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD). Presently, the AfD had gained representation in ten of the 16 German state parliaments winning several elections this fall against Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party. Germany is especially important to Mr. Putin both historically and based on its location. Germany is a neighbor to countries between its borders and Russia that are largely sympathetic to Mr. Putin.

In Turkey, a key regional nation and a NATO member, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is disenfranchised once again by the EU, and by exclusion from ongoing American supported military action to retake Mosul, Iraq from ISIS and the similar plans to liberate Raqqa, Syria. Given the atrocities, including human rights violations and suppression of a free press, following the failed coup against Mr. Erdoğan, Turkey will be unable for many years, if at all, to show adherence to Rule of Law; a precursor to acceding to the EU. Mr. Erdoğan has warmed up to the Kremlin.

On November 2nd Mr. Zannier acknowledged that there is a, “Disease between Russia and Europe.”

Mr. Zannier confirmed that conflict is appearing in the middle of Europe where the politics are extremely divided. Mr. Zannier cautioned that the “Divisions among key players are creating an accumulation of challenges.”

The OSCE is the world’s largest intelligence agency comprised of 57 participating states in North America, Europe and Asia, including Russia. Given Russia’s membership, it questionable as to how much intelligence is shared by intelligence agencies in other countries, especially the United States, which has the world’s most comprehensive and elite intelligence network.

The OSCE is responsible for monitoring the border between Russia and Ukraine, with both U.S. and Russian monitors providing daily reports. The OSCE has been unable to quell the ongoing Russian aggressions.

“In a way this is worse than the Cold War. At the end of the Cold War there was arms control”, stated Mr. Zannier added that, “Dialogue is difficult in this situation.”

Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Director of its Arms Control Initiative, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, concurred, stating that, “I would have to say that, without question, this is the low point in U.S.-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War.”

The Potential Impact of a Trump Administration

Even before the American presidential election, leaders and political analysts were already on edge. Brexit being a major cause for concern. Despite its NATO membership, the UK’s position on a range of issues has generated deep concern amongst the remaining EU members. Post-election has resulted in a plethora of leaders expressing grave concern that a Trump administration will accelerate issues related denigration of justice, security and adherence Rule of Law – the core precepts of democracy – and pursue a foreign policy based on isolationism.

Patrick Stewart, Senior Fellow and Director, Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, had this to say:

“Among its many implications, Donald Trump’s election as president calls into question the open liberal international order this country has championed and defended for more than seven decades. The edges of that order were already fraying, thanks to disenchantment with the global economy and the return of geopolitical competition, particularly with Russia and China. Trump’s triumph will accelerate its disintegration, by undermining the network of rules, institutions, and alliances that twelve presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, have nurtured since 1945. The results of the election suggest that the main threats to the liberal world order are no longer foreign but domestic.”

This would certainly be the case if a Trump presidency and a Republican Congress opted out of NATO. Mr. Trump is correct in stating that the U.S. is only one of five member nations that is current on NATO dues as acknowledged by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “The United States currently accounts for almost 70% of NATO defence spending, and has rightly called for a more equitable sharing of the burden.”

However, Mr. Stoltenberg correctly pointed out that, “On both sides of the Atlantic leaders have always understood that a stronger, safer and more prosperous Europe means a stronger, safer and more prosperous United States. This partnership between Europe and the United States, embodied in the NATO alliance, remains essential for both.”

International support for Trump has come from those politicians or countries who favor the dismantling of institutions, such as NATO and the EU, and China or who have significant ties to China, Russia or both. Globally many countries have entered into financial agreements with China or its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Elsewhere in World

Elsewhere in the world, the U.S. has relied upon “soft power” to pave the diplomatic path. “Soft power” is a method by which a country amasses influence without coercion or direct payment.  Soft power includes everything from providing disaster relief, developmental aid and the promotion of democratic values. The purpose of dedicated payments is to increase goodwill.

“Under Donald Trump … I would be very concerned about the importance of soft power. It does affect our national security, and it’s a challenge even under ideal circumstances,” stated Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the Philippines newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte has been like the shifting sands. Mr. Duterte was elected shortly after the Philippines won a protracted legal battle in the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China over rights to the oil-rich South China Sea. After his election, the U.S., along with other nations and human rights groups, criticized Mr. Duterte extra-judicial killings of alleged drug lords. His actions prompted the U.S. to halt sales of assault rifles to the Philippines. Now, Mr. Duterte is vacillating between allegiance to the U.S., a long-standing ally, and China. If the Philippines ultimately sides with China, it would potentially making freedom of navigation in and through the South China Sea more difficult and potentially more dangerous for other countries.

Afghanistan, after thirteen years of concerted effort by NATO and the U.S. to create a self-sufficient democratic government free of the Taliban, has been impacted by Russia’s support of the Taliban and is engaging in commercial activity with China, which will ultimately make it less depend on Western aid packages.

Pakistan, another critical country, is also doing business with China. The corrupt Pakistani military is engaging in joint military operations with Russia.

China’s interest in the region is securing the path critical to its $46 billion “One Belt, One Road” trade route, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  CPEC is intended to expand China’s Asian economic and political outreach to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Iran, among others, as well as providing it with access to a sea route for trade. In Pakistan, CPEC runs from Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea to China’s landlocked Xinjiang Province.  In Afghanistan, the Sino-Afghan Special Railway Transportation, part of CPEC, connects China to Afghanistan. For Afghanistan it is a route by which it may sell its copper.

The list simply goes on.

The Illusion of a United Nations Security Council

“When we deal with the larger issues that’s when the United Nations becomes important,” stated Mr. Zannier.

The truth is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will not fulfill the obligations delegated to it by the United Nations Charter. China and Russia, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and France, are the permanent five (P5) UNSC members and have veto power, which Russia and China have misused over and over again.

For many years, there has been a push to amend the United Nations Charter as it relates to the UNSC. Unfortunately, save Kofi Annan, during his tenure as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, who strong criticisms of the United Nations earned him a Nobel Peace Prize while still in office, leaders currently in office fail to speak the truth that change is essential if there is to be world order. It’s those countries who are most affected which ought to be speaking out but, outside of the general complaints expressed during the annual September General Assembly meeting, they remain mute in demanding structural changes fearing any criticism might adversely impact their country’s security or pecuniary interests.

Rather, its former statespersons who have been vocal in the criticism of the United Nations and, in particular, the UNSC. They include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

The current lack of faith and mistrust in international organizations is also being experienced by the International Criminal Court, from which Burundi, Gambia and South Africa’s have withdrawn. It is expected that other African nations will follow suit as their governments feel that African nations have been unjustly singled out by the ICC.  While the ICC has begun the prosecutorial process in two cases involving Russian aggressions, enforcement of any finding of guilt is the responsibility of the state involved or at the discretion of the UNSC, effectually rendering any finding of guilt not worth the paper it’s printed on.

Unity

Mr. Stoltenberg concluded that, “In these uncertain times… above all we need to recognise the value of the partnership between Europe and America. It remains indispensable. So rather than deepening our differences, we need to nurture what unites us, and find the wisdom and foresight to work together for common solutions. Going it alone is not an option, either for Europe or for the United States.”

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist writing for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Lardner, Cynthia, “Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You”, July 15, 2016, as found on the www at http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/07/19/justice-security-rule-law-united-nations-security-council-failed-you/; https://lnkd.in/eYXdrCe; http://justicesecurityandruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2016/07/by-cynthia-m.html; and https://cynthiamlardner.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/justice-security-and-rule-of-law-how-the-united-nations-security-council-has-failed-you/.

Stewart, Patrick, “Goodbye to All That? World Order in the Wake of Trump”, November 9, 2016, Council on Foreign Relations, as found on the www at http://blogs.cfr.org/patrick/2016/11/09/goodbye-to-all-that-world-order-in-the-wake-of-trump/?cid=soc-facebook-in-goodbye_to_all-110916.

Stoltenberg, Jens, “Now is not the time for the US to abandon Nato – nor should its European allies go it alone”, November 12, 2016, The Guardian, as found on the www at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/12/us-must-not-abandon-nato-europe-go-alone-jens-stoltenberg.

Justice, Security and Rule of Law: The Pakistani-India Conflict

india-pakistan-world-cup-fan

Introduction

On July 17, 2014 China and Russia issued a joint statement stating their intention of creating a new world order. That same statement supported India’s long-standing bid to replace one of the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members. July 17th is historically relevant as it is the same day the U.S. joined the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea, a mere hours later Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was downed by Russian mercenaries over Ukraine, followed by the announcement of the inception of the New Development Bank or The BRICS, named for its founders – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. While the intention of creating a new world, one radically different from that envisioned when the United Nations was created in 1948, appears to be well underway, India, which is busy defending its Kashmir region, has been left behind as Russia and China court the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a long-term and strategically-positioned ally of the United States.

The Pakistani Government

Pakistan is essential to curbing terrorist activities by the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other designated terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s military and its notoriously violent intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been training and funding several terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and India. The ISI aids these organisations by harboring terrorists, eradicating perceived enemies or those opposed to their cause, including India, Israel, the U.S., the United Kingdom and other NATO members. Pakistan harbors terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Omar, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Sipah-e-Sahaba.

These groups interfere with NATO operations in Afghanistan; with Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria by providing training, weapons and fighters; and they have engaged in unconventional warfare along the border of India’s Kashmir state. These groups are responsible for the decades long terrorism campaign in Kashmir and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Watch has determined the ISI and Pakistani army actively aid the Taliban by “…soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban’s virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support.”

ISI orchestrates its proxies to exert its influence in Pakistan, as well as in neighboring Afghanistan, Syria and India. The ISI also protected Osama bin-Laden, who lived a mere 100 kilometers outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for years, before being assassinated by U.S. Naval Special Forces on May 2, 2011.

FBI Satellite imagery evidences the existence of several terrorist camps in Pakistan, some of which are jihadist madrasa schools.

The disconnect is that the civilian Pakistani government operates without control over the ISI, and its army.

“[T]he civilian government there [Pakistan] doesn’t control military policy, strategic policy… but the army and the intelligence service do…. and they have denied the obvious, postponed this reckoning for years with so many terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda,” confirmed Chris Alexander, Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan.

Given the opportunity, the Pakistani Taliban would overthrow the Pakistani government and introduce a radical Islamist regime. Pakistani authorities fear that the Afghan Taliban could join forces with the Pakistani Taliban.

The Fragile U.S.-Pakistani Relationship

Following 9.11 Pakistan became a critical partner in the U.S.’s counterattack on al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda’s ally, the Afghan Taliban. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has been a difficult one, at best, owing to the fact that the civilian government exerts little or no control over the ISI and the Pakistani army. Since 2001, the U.S. has provided extensive funding, now subject to conditions, to facilitate a stronger civilian Pakistani government empowered to take measures towards eradicating terrorism and the support of terrorism within its borders. Between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2008 the U.S. provided Pakistan with $11 billion in assistance.

In return, the civilian Pakistani government permits the U.S. to use its airspace; allows overland access to Afghanistan; and, to the extent possible, employs its police and paramilitary organizations to capture al-Qaeda activists.

Nonetheless, as of 2008 Pakistan was “…with the possible exception of Iran, perhaps the world’s most active sponsor of terrorist groups… aiding groups that pose a direct threat to the U.S… Pakistan is probably today’s most active sponsor of terrorism,” opined Daniel Byman, in an analysis published by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Due to a poor return on investment, as well as concerns about differing goals, nuclear proliferation, political instability, and Pakistan’s role as sanctuary for al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, the U.S. has been modified its aid policy.

Thus, the 2009 Kerry-Lugar legislation tripled nonmilitary aid to $1.5 billion per year as a long-term pledge to the people of Pakistan, it delinked military from nonmilitary aid, and conditioned military aid on certification that Pakistani security forces are (1) working to prevent al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating on Pakistani territory; (2) working to deny the Afghan Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan; and (3) refraining from interfering in Pakistan’s political and judicial processes.

At a September 2011 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that, “Pakistani duplicity puts in jeopardy not only the frayed U.S.-Pakistani partnership against terrorism but also the outcome to the decade-old war in Afghanistan.”

In July 2016 Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, met with former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari. They agreed that it is in the interest of peace and stability that Pakistan continue playing its role in the fight against the global threat of terrorism. Mr. Zardari insisted that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism itself and would never support it, while Mr. McCain acknowledged the Pakistani government’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

Afterwards, Sen. McCain wrote in a July 26th article that, “By taking on all terrorist groups operating in its territory, Pakistan will find that the U.S. remains willing and able to assist in this fight and develop an enduring strategic partnership. The sooner the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan get down to the business of fighting their common terrorist enemies together, no matter where they hide, the better off the nations, the region and the world will be.”

On August 29th the U.S. communicated its refusal to subsidize Pakistan’s purchase of 16 used F-16 fighter jets.

Building upon the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, on September 19th U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to discuss the countries’ strong and long-term bilateral partnership. Mr. Kerry reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent any terrorist from using Pakistani territory as a safe haven. Mr. Kerry stressed the need for restraint in nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Kerry commended Mr. Sharif on recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter violent extremism, for 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees, for restoring macroeconomic stability, and for cooperating on climate change priorities.

On October 7th the White House rejected a demand from several legislators that the U.S. Secretary of State designate Pakistan a “terrorist state”.

Competing Claims in the Kashmir Region

As for the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, India, Pakistan, and China have competing claims. While China has never engaged in overt action over the dispute, Pakistan and India have engaged in escalating violence in the Kashmir region along the Pakistani and Indian border. Most recently, in September, India blamed Pakistan-based militant groups for an attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers, the deadliest assault there in years. India retaliated with cross-border “surgical strikes” against suspected militants in Pakistan killing two people.

One of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s diplomats warned that Pakistan would look to China and Russia if the U.S. fails to reconsider its position on the escalating Pak-India Kashmir conflict.

At a September 19th meeting, Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Zardari and Mr. Kerry expressed concern as to the recent violence in Kashmir, and the need for both sides to diplomatically reduce tensions. Mr. Zardari stated that Pakistan wants to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

The next day U.S. State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, issued a statement that the U.S. will not intervene in the Kashmir dispute and asked both the Indian and Pakistan governments resolve it through ‘meaningful dialogue’.

India and China

India could look to neighboring China for support. China will outwardly try to remain neutral. While China and India share a fear of expanding terrorist networks, Pakistan is critical to China’s $46 billion “One Belt, One Road” trade route running from Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea to China’s landlocked Xinjiang Province. This initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was designed to expand China’s Asian economic and political outreach, as well as providing it with access to a sea route for trade.

“The conventional wisdom is that China will intensify support to Islamabad amid rising India-Pakistan tension. China will want to reiterate its commitment to Pakistan and express its strong support, particularly if Beijing starts to worry that India’s more muscular approach towards Pakistan could entail efforts to undercut or even sabotage the China-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project,” stated Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

India has worked to deepen its military cooperation with the U.S. In June the U.S. granted India “major defence partner” status, potentially paving the way for a transfer of U.S. military “dual-use” technologies, used to develop strategic weapons, such as ballistic missiles. The arms deal has a price tag of $9 billion. The deal was not totally one-sided. On August 30th the two countries signed a logistics sharing pact under which their militaries can use each other’s military bases.

Sino-Pakistani Relations 

China has significantly increased defence cooperation with Pakistan. While China already is Pakistan’s primary source of weapons, and responsible for building Pakistan’s nuclear reactors, only recently has China resumed sharing strategic weapons technology; a practice that ceased in the 1990s under U.S. pressure.

On March 9, 2015, Pakistan tested its Shaheen-3 intermediate-range, land-based surface-to-surface ballistic missile. Capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead, the Shaheen-3 has a range of 2750 km- 1700 miles, and a circular error probable of less 40 meters, making it the most accurate ballistic missile of its class in the world.

The transport erector launcher used to launch the missile is believed to have been sourced by China as it bore similarity to a launcher transferred in 2011 by China to North Korea.

The Shaheen-3 was developed in response to India’s Agni-III. Capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead, the Agni-III has a range of 3,500 km- 5,000 km, and a circular error probable of 40 meters. Since then India has tested two more advanced variants of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Agni-V and Agni-VI. Using multiple independent re-entry vehicles, the AGNI-VI can simultaneously deliver multiple nuclear warheads reaching targets as far 6,000 km away.

In 2015, China introduced 10 MIRV variants of its DF-5 ICBM, which are similar in capability to the Agni-V and Agni-Vi. It is believed that China has shared this technology with Pakistan.

Seeking to match India’s development of second-strike capabilities through land, air and sea-based delivery systems, in 2015, Pakistan’s acquired eight Type 041 diesel-electric attack submarines from China that can be armed with nuclear-capable Babur cruise missiles.

Pakistan and Russia

In 2007 Pakistan and Russia reestablished diplomat ties. While the raison d’être was ostensibly a joint interest in defeating the Taliban, recent events evidence the rationale as being multi-faceted.

In 2014 Moscow lifted a longstanding ban on arms sales to Pakistan. In 2015 the two countries signed a defence deal, including a sale to Pakistan of four Russian Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters to replace Pakistan’s aging U.S.-made AH-1 Cobras.

In 2015 Russian agreed to invest $2 billion to construct a North-South gas pipeline to transfer liquefied natural gas from Pakistani port city Karachi to Lahore, in the Punjab Province. Having an energy shortage, the pipeline could supply 30 percent of the Pakistani population with energy. The first phase is expected to be finished by December 2017.

After an August 8th blast killed at least 70 people at a hospital in Quetta, a city located near the Afghanistan border, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin stated, “We decisively condemn this cynical, inhumane crime… I’d like to reiterate that the Russian side is ready to bolster cooperation with Pakistani partners in the fight against terrorism.”

In September, the Russian and Pakistani armies conducted “mutual special drills in mountainous terrain” in the eastern Punjab province, a neighboring province to Kashmir region.

“Moscow and Islamabad are interested in deepening military-to-military relations,” stated Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan’s ambassador to Moscow.

Russia further invited Pakistan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Russia has expressed a desire in joining CPEC.

The India-Russo Relationship

In 2010, Mr. Putin stated that “Russia is not maintaining military cooperation with Pakistan as it takes into account the concerns of Indian partners.”

Following an October 23, 2013 meeting between India’s then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and Mr. Putin concerning Pakistan, Mr. Putin issued a strongly-worded statement that “states that provide aid, abetment and shelter for such terrorist activities are themselves as guilty as the actual perpetrators of terrorism”.

But, over the last two years things have radically changed. As Russia now considers Pakistan a partner on just about every level, Russo-Indian relations have experienced a downward trend. In 2015, under a pre-existing agreement Russia was to build and finance 12 nuclear power plants in India, Russia unilaterally doubled the number of plants to be built all at a significantly higher cost.

Now, Mr. Putin has grown angry over India’s augmenting its Russian-Indian defense agreement with assistance from the U.S. and other Western nations. That angry was made manifest after Russia announced a three-fold cost increase and a five-year delay in procuring for India’s fourth aircraft carrier, and delays in fulfilling a multibillion-dollar agreement to provide an India with a fifth generation fighter jet.

“By engaging with Pakistan, Russia leaves New Delhi with a hard choice: to honor its strategic commitment to Russia and make concessions or to observe Russian-Pakistani rapprochement, which could potentially erode India’s military advantage,” observed Moscow-based political analyst Dmitriy Frolovskiy.

Nuclear Proliferation

Advances in China, Pakistan and India’s strategic weapons programmes have significantly elevated the danger of nuclear conflict because they threaten “to blur nuclear thresholds and elevate the risk of inadvertent nuclear escalation due to misperception”, according to a June study by the U.S. Strategic Studies Institute.

“Pakistan has rapidly expanded its nuclear arsenal and reportedly developed new tactical nuclear weapons. Not to be outdone, India continues to modernise its nuclear triad,” confirmed Sen. McCain.

In the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, India and Pakistan were the only two unrecognised nuclear powers that are currently expanding their arsenals and delivery systems.

“The nuclear arms race in South Asia has its own logic but China’s growing military sophistication has pushed India and the U.S. closer, which has further cemented the China-Pakistan alliance. This has implications for the nuclear dynamic as well,” observed Harsh V. Pant, professor of international relations at King’s College London.

There are two doctrines which have governed nuclear armament. The oldest is the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) whereby neither country engages in direct military confrontation with the other. Rather, aggressions are taken out in proxy wars staged in other less powerful countries. The second and newer doctrine is that of Mutual Assured Security (MAS), a condition in which neither party has the intention or capability to exercise a unilateral advantage over the other. Neither Pakistan nor India play by these rules as reflected in a 2014 paper released by the Australian Institute of International Affairs:

“The largely-accepted and comforting notion that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) permits stability at higher levels of conflict (even as it facilitates instability at lower levels) does not apply in the India-Pakistan dynamic. The validity of the Stability-Instability Paradox (SIP) rests on a number of assumptions which existed during the Cold War, but are not present in the Indo-Pakistani security environment. The preconditions required in order for the SIP to hold are:

• That the sides involved are rational actors;

• That the side which threatens first-use has unambiguous red lines to prevent the accidental tripping of nuclear thresholds; and

• That there are minimum levels of communication and mutual understanding between the actors so as to minimise chances of miscommunication and misinterpretation.”

The study concluded, “With tactical nuclear weapons and anti-ballistic missile defence technology entering the equation, the nuclear ladder is getting ever-shorter and the region is fast becoming a tinderbox.”

Consider the statement made by Air Marshal Shahid Latif, a retired senior commander in the Pakistan Air Force, which confirmed that “Now, India doesn’t have its safe heavens anymore. It’s all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles. It sends a [very] loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back!”

Conclusion

This growing tensions in the Kashmir region are fueling further regional destabilization and polarization. The U.S. has thus far stated that mutual dialogue is the only viable solution. As for China, its interest in Pakistan and India is pecuniary. While Russia does not share the same interest in Kashmir as it is not a border country, the key to Russian restraint in Pakistan may lie in Russia’s lucrative financial relationships with China, India and Pakistan.

With The BRICS Summit taking place this weekend in India, it is doubtful that the group will do little more than reiterate its position against terrorism. Through diplomatic channels, however, as Beijing has no desire for bordering Kashmir to fall in the hands of Islamic extremists, China may hold the key to pushing both countries to reduce tensions.

A second logical solution would be for India and Pakistan to present their territorial dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, to which both countries are member states.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague focusing on geopolitics. Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Dobbins, James, and Khalilzad, Zalmay, “Pakistan Holds the Key to Peace in Afghanistan”, January 11, 2016, Rand Corp, as found on the www at http://www.rand.org/blog/2016/01/pakistan-holds-the-key-to-peace-in-afghanistan.html.

Frolovskiy, Dmitriy, “What’s Behind Russia’s Rapprochement With Pakistan?”, May 14, 2016, The Diplomat, as found on the www at http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/whats-behind-russias-rapprochement-with-pakistan/.

Jose, Khemta Hannah, “MAD IN SOUTH ASIA: INDIA-PAKISTAN RIVALRY”, February 6, 2014, Australian Institute of International Affairs, as found on the www at http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian_outlook/mad-in-south-asia-india-pakistan-rivalry/.

McCain, John, “America ignores Pakistan at its peril, 2016, July 26 Financial Times, as found on the www at https://www.ft.com/content/d97ccbe8-527e-11e6-9664-e0bdc13c3bef.

“NATO and Afghanistan”, June 14, 2016, NATO, as found on the www at http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_8189.htm.

“Secretary Kerry’s Meeting With Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”, September 20, 2016, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. State Department, as found on the www at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/09/262159.htm.

Williams, Christine, “Pakistan: State Sponsor of Terrorism”, April 7, 2014, Gatestone Institute, as found on the www at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4250/pakistan-sponsor-terrorism.

Why Vladimir Putin Favors Secretary Clinton in the American Presidential Campaign

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While the Trump campaign has vociferously applauded the Kremlin and its alleged support, the reality is that the joke is on Donald Trump.  The other reality is that Moscow would much prefer to deal Secretary Clinton as president.  Secretary Clinton is predictable, based not only on her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 through 2013, but also during her eight years as First Lady from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001.

Mr. Putin has used dark public relations or “Black PR”, a process of destroying the target’s reputation. It started on December 15, 2015 when Mr. Putin issued a statement that stopped short of endorsing Mr. Trump for president, stating, “[Donald Trump is] a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.  It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.  He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that.”

While a recent WikiLeaks dump of 20,000 emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee has caused political sensation, it has never been proven that the documents were obtained from Russian intelligence.  This was followed by July 2016 media reports that the Kremlin had obtained all 31,830 emails sent from a private server by Secretary Clinton’s during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Even though Russian intelligence is considered to be the most capable nation-state cyberespionage and cyberwarfare power, it has not produced a single email. And, one must consider the fact that as Secretary of State, her private and government accounts both during and after her official tenure were actively monitored by U.S. intelligence officials to prevent hacking from ever occurring in the first instance.

“Those who follow Kremlin propaganda understand that it is not necessary for Putin to have Clinton’s e-mails to cause serious damage to a Clinton presidency… The Kremlin knows that repeated lies are eventually taken as truth, so that an unsourced narrative, repeated, will eventually become the “truth.”,” stated Paul Roderick Gregory, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston specializing in Russian politics (Emphasis in Original).

As for Trump, many Russian scholars have depicted him as an undesirable wildcard, vastly unpredictable and not someone Mr. Putin has any intention of working with on sensitive matters affecting global stability and security.   Among the many comments made:

  • A lawmaker in Russia’s upper house of parliament speaking anonymously said a potential Trump presidency, “…sounds very attractive but it could end as a catastrophe for everyone. The problem? He is unpredictable.”
  • “Clearly the conservatives are pro-Trump, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the top people really want Trump. It could be incredibly disruptive. Can you imagine if all the things he has said come true?” I think that there are very few sane politicians of any kind, including Russians, who would actually want a Trump presidency. But they are enjoying the spectacle…,” said Maxim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow with the Kennan Institute.
  • Igor Ivanov, president of the Russian International Affairs Council, stated that a ““newcomer” would be harder to deal with: inconsistent, unpredictable, given to subjective and emotional decisions that can be very hard to rectify later on.”
  • Having a “…flighty and irascible populist who changes his mind three times a day” at the head of a nuclear superpower “may pose danger to the whole world and for Russia in particular,” opined Pavel Demidov, a professor at the Russian state MGIMO University.
  • Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee in the Federation Council, stated that under a Trump presidency, “a certain window of possibilities may naturally appear. But not all those possibilities may be desirable… Trump is not predictable enough.”

Secretary Clinton is predictable.  While it is likely that she will continue many of Obama administration’s policies, she is also equally likely to be influenced by her husband, former President William Clinton.

During the Clinton Administration, the U.S.’s relationship with Russia vastly improved.  President Clinton enjoyed a cordial relationship Boris Yeltsin, with whom he met with on 18 occasions.

As Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton was responsible a “reset” in U.S. relations with then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who served under then President Dmitry Medvedev, at a meeting held in Geneva.

In this March 6, 2009 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presents Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a device with a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations during their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo, File)

Called the “Moscow Spring”, it revitalized the relationship with Russia resulting in a nuclear arms-control treaty and Russia acquiescing to NATO-led military intervention in Libya.  The Geneva meeting also resulted in a tentative agreement to resolve the Syrian War; an agreement the Obama Administration failed to back.

After Mr. Putin was elected a second time in 2012, protesters accused Mr. Putin of having rigged recent elections, Mr. Putin blamed Secretary Clinton, who had called the election results “dishonest and unfair” of giving “a signal” to demonstrators working “with the support of the U.S. State Department” to undermine his presidency. The decisive blow came when the U.S. sanctioned Russia on July 17 2014 based on unlawful aggressions in Ukraine and the shooting down of flight MH17.  In October 2014, Foreign Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that a reset of relations with the U.S. was “impossible”, and that relations had been damaged by “destructive” and “stupid” Western sanctions.

Going forward, what Secretary Clinton has thus far stated that the United States must work with Russia on issues of common interest whenever possible, like arms control, but also partner with allies to limit Russia’s transgressions when needed, as in Ukraine.  The United States should respond by strengthening the NATO alliance and improving the energy security of European states.  At no time, has Secretary Clinton called for further economic sanctions and has made no reference to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

In sum, more than a Trump presidency, the Kremlin may simply be enjoying watching the myriad of problems unfold, many of which seem illusory at best, in the American presidential race.  It is also likely that the propaganda war was not conceptualized to impact the American elections but, to serve as a subterfuge for the Kremlin’s aggressions in the European Union, most notably in Germany.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague writing for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive.  Her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

“Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and U.S.-Russian Relations,” Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, as found on the www at https://history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/clinton-yeltsin.“Berlin’s mayor warns of growing AfD support”, August 21, 2016, DW, as found on the www athttp://www.dw.com/en/berlins-mayor-warns-of-growing-afd-support/a-19491229.

Clinton on the Issues, The Council for Foreign Relations, as found on the www at http://www.cfr.org/campaign2016/hillary-clinton/on-russia.

Gregory, Paul Roderick, “What If Vladimir Putin Has Hillary Clinton’s Emails?”, Forbes, February 12, 2016, as found on the www at http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2016/02/12/vladimir-putin-hillary-clinton-emails/#352c4cf57fe6.

Roth, Andrew, “The Kremlin may savor Trump – but still might prefer Clinton,” August 3, 2016, The Washington Post, as found on the www at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-kremlin-may-savor-trump—-but-still-might-prefer-clinton/2016/08/03/8395275c-58eb-11e6-8b48-0cb344221131_story.html?tid=a_inl.

Healing America’s Racial Divide

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Deep-seated hatreds, prejudices and inequities as to African-Americans have divided the America since the days of slavery.  The United States has never accepted responsibility and atoned for the vestiges of slavery, with prejudice and the disparate treatment of African Americans continuing to this very day despite civil rights legislation dating back to 1964.  For this reason, the United States remains plagued by racial problems. 

Almost every day appears another sad news story about an unarmed black man being unjustly shot or, after the fact, the utter unaccountability in the judicial system, giving rise to an unbridled rage now indiscriminately directed at police officers who are being murdered.  Historical monuments and symbols from the Civil War, which only commemorate “white history” are being desecrated, while similar monuments and symbols as to the suffering endured by African-Americans are sorely lacking. 

Our nation’s leaders – political, religious, educational and civic – at the local, state and federal level must come together to heal a nation that is fractured and hurting.  The means is through the creation of truth commissions.

What Is a Truth Commission?

A truth commission is a bilateral process between individuals, communities and nations.  Truth commissions are founded upon mutual goodwill allowing for open dialogue about past injustices and inequities. A truth commission works toward the releasing of historical hatreds and prejudices so that the process of healing may commence. 

When a truth commission is convened painful stories are shared by both the aggrieved and the offended, even if such grievances are historical in nature.  In all cases, a sincere apology is offered, whether it be for one’s own offenses or the offenses committed by one’s ancestors.  In many cases, reparations are made. 

“Cradle to Prison Pipeline”

The shootings of unarmed black men followed by a lack of accountability or redress in the legal system has become an endemic despite efforts by the United States Department of Justice to make some sense out of the senseless.  The numbers are bleak:  

  • Police killed 102 unarmed black people in 2015, nearly twice each week;
  • Nearly 1 in 3 black persons killed by police in 2015 was unarmed; although the actual number may be higher due to underreporting;
  • 37% of unarmed people killed by police were black in 2015 despite black people representing only 13% of the population:
  • Unarmed black people were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015;
  • Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths resulted in the conviction of the officers involved;
  • The number of blacks killed has included an increase in the number of black female fatalities: and
  • In the first half of 2016, blacks continued to be shot at 2.5 times the rate of whites with less than 10 percent having been unarmed and one-quarter having been previously diagnosed as mentally ill.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror of lynchings in the past.  Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” stated Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, Chair the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

The U.N. working group found that, in 2014, 37 percent of the state and federal prison populations were made up of black males. It suggested that the U.S. implement reforms, including reducing the use of mandatory minimum laws, ending racial profiling and excessive bail, and banning solitary confinement.

There are other salient statistics.  One in five American children live in poverty today, placing the U.S. as having the second highest child poverty rate among developed nations.  Among black children the poverty rate approximates 40 percent.  Ultimately, poverty creates a lack of hope among young black teenagers who have no expectation of living to maturity.  As such, a black male has a one in three probability of being incarcerated.  One out of nine black males will be imprisoned between the ages of 20 and 34.

“This is America’s pipeline to prison — a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and often premature death. Although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil,” according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

“Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America. Indeed, a primary function of any racial caste system is to define the meaning of race in its time. Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen). Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals. That is what it means to be black,” penned Michelle Alexander, who coined the phrase “America’s cradle to prison pipeline”.

Lynchings and Other Vestiges of Slavery

Lynchings occurred as recently as 1950.  Between 1877 and 1950, in 12 southern states, there were 3,969 lynchings, 700 more than research previously indicated, according to civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, who authored a 2015 report, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).

The twelve states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia – have brushed this history under the rug while displaying monikers representative of white supremacy, practices that continue to this day.

The ancestors of many victims, fearing for their own lives, fled to the north.  For instance after a 1912 lynching in Forsyth County, Georgia, white vigilantes distributed leaflets demanding that all black people leave the county or suffer deadly consequences.  By 1920 the county’s black population had plummeted from 1100 to just thirty. This is a form of ethnic cleansing and it was a crime against humanity.

According to the EJI report, “The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s challenged the legality of many of the most racist practices and structures that sustained racial subordination but the movement was not followed by a continued commitment to truth and reconciliation.”

The Necessity for a Truth Commission Uniting America

“It’s difficult to deal emotionally with the history of slavery in America, which is why many whites have chosen not to. Yet it’s imperative that we do, because until we see clearly the line of development leading from slavery to the Civil War to the Ku Klux Klan to the civil rights movement to “benign neglect” to the “prison-industrial complex,” America will continue to misunderstand the real problem. This is not just about how many bullets were shot into Michael Brown. The shots that matter most here are way, way too many to count,” stated spiritualist Marianne Williamson.

The means to deal with this sordid history is through the creation of a truth commissions at the local, state and federal levels to address slavery and ongoing racial injustices and inequities.  Both sides have be willing to come to the table with goodwill and with the hope that they can build a better and more peaceful future for generations to come. 

While there have been a few truth commissions emanating from self-organizing community-based grassroots groups, the entire nation must be part of the process.  Examples of local efforts include the Greensboro, North Carolina Truth and Reconciliation Commission which exposed the truth of a 1979 massacre of anti-racism activists by the Ku Klux Klan, in which the local police were complicit. It collected testimonies from survivors, Klan members and the police.  It culminated in official apologies, public monuments, museum exhibits, a community justice center, a police review board, and anti-racism training for police. 

4-Greensboro_commissioners_recite_pledge_2

There was also the Mississippi Truth Project, involving the racial misconduct of public officials between 1945 and 1975.  It created a safe place where a racially divided community could come together to engage in truth-telling and collective remedial action. 

It is now time for America to collectively engage in a truth commission. 

“This process of reconciliation is messy and challenging. But it is also a source of hope.  Through deep dialogue, truth-telling and taking action to make things as right as possible, we can forge new futures based on the mutual recognition of one another’s humanity.  In this way, we can finally leave our past behind us… To move toward a reconciled America, we have to do the work ourselves,” stated advocate Fania Davis.

Due to the complexity of the issues presented and widespread differences between communities, regions, and states, this must occur at many levels supported by not only the state and the federal governments, but also by religious, educational and civic leaders.

Examples of Truth Commissions

While this seems to be a monumental undertaking, there have been two successful truth commissions at the national level; one in Germany and the other in South Africa.  They are models for the United States to look to for guidance.

In South Africa truth commissions as the harm done by Apartheid were created by peacekeeper and statesman, the late Nelson Mandela.  In 1994, after Mr. Mandela was elected President of South Africa, he convened a Truth and Reconciliation Commission understanding that the greatest healing would come from three considerations: first, that uncovering the truth about atrocities and injuries that occurred during apartheid was a central component of healing; second, that truth would not be able to be found without the co-operation of the perpetrators; and third and lastly, that the hatred and retribution had to begin to end with one side or the other.

South African author Colleen Scott reflected on the post-Apartheid era, “Reconciliation after war and a hideously grotesque pattern of gross violations of human rights is a matter of creating peace in the present, and of sustaining peace in the future…  In and of itself, no Truth Commission can create reconciliation.  Much less can a Truth Commission create peace.  However, they do create conditions which make reconciliation and peaceful coexistence possible… The TRC has made it possible for the citizens of this country to begin to understand why people participated in such grotesque actions, and it has made clear what must be done to prevent such things from happening again…  This was accomplished [by the TRC choosing] to work with a restitutive, rather than a retributive concept of justice.”

In Germany truth commissions successfully redressed the wrongs committed during Hitler’s Nazi reign.  After World War II, Germany fell into a period scholar Lily Gardner Feldman refers to as the “big silence”; their country had been divided and what remained was morally and physically shattered. 

“The country was beyond bankrupt as the gruesome details of the Nazis’ systematic murder of 11 million Jews, Poles, Russians, Roma, homosexuals, and others were exposed,” stated Ms. Feldman. 

Amidst the rubble, some chose to try burying the sordid past while others started a grassroots movement that evolved into a national initiative.  Germany proactively rehabilitated its post-war international reputation by reconciling with Nazi victims and acknowledging the atrocities Germany had committed. 

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stated, “”We Germans will never forget the hand of reconciliation that was extended to us after all the suffering that our country had brought to Europe and the world.” 

To this day, Germany is still paying an estimated $1.1 billion dollars annually in reparation for the damages it caused.

germanreparations

Conclusion

The UN report concluded that “…the United States should consider reparations to African-American descendants of slavery, establish a national human rights commission and publicly acknowledge that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.” 

If Germany can make reparations for over 60 years, then certainly U.S. state and federal lawmakers can come together to devise a plan for not only supporting grassroots truth commissions, but also for reparations.  Reparations can extend beyond monetary payments made to individuals to programs tailored to reduce the “cradle to prison pipeline”, and to the erection of monuments commemorating the black experience from the slavery to the present day.  

For instance, Head Start, an early intervention program created by United States Department of Health and Human Services provides comprehensive center-based early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment conducive to the development of stronger cognitive skills. Head Start only reaches a fraction of impoverished families and extends only to families with children ages three through five.   The program begins too late and ends too soon.  In addition, the program fails to provide essential wrap-around services to the families, such a home visits by social workers and food for the entire family.

Programs like Head Start must be re-conceptualized and new programs developed to end inequities and to eradicate the “cradle to jail pipeline”.  Such a program has already been developed in the area of counter-terrorism, where the United States has spearheaded the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative intended to foster environments derailing radicalization.  CVE is premised on widespread community involvement, especially that of religious leaders, supported by governments around the world.  In the African-American community, its religious leaders, who are highly respected by their congregations, can play an integral role in educating their own congregations as well as starting safe and constructive dialogues with white congregations and interfaith groups.

History books need to be rewritten to tell one history.  This has occurred in Europe, where the history books in countries, such as France and Germany, taught differing national accounts of World War II. This is being remediated by a European Council initiative, the European Association of History Educators, referred to as Euro Clio, whose mission statement, in part, reads:

…EUROCLIO has worked in many European countries and beyond on a large variety of issues related to the learning and teaching of history. A special focus has been on countries in political transformation and in particular those with inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. It also worked in regions that have experienced recent violent conflicts such as Former Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Lebanon and the Caucasus. The work has brought together hundreds of historians and history educators to share experiences, to implement innovative learning about the past, discussing also sensitive and controversial issues and therefore creating new and inclusive historical narratives.

There also needs to be education in our schools to derail traditional hatreds and prejudices.  As Nelson Mandela wrote, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

One effort at education, unification and healing is already underway as the Smithsonian Institution prepares to open the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on September 24, 2016. Its website states that “The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.”

The UN report suggested that monuments, markers and memorials be erected to facilitate dialogue, and that “…past injustices and crimes against African-Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.”  Not only must this occur but the call for the removal of or, worse, the desecration of civil war monuments and artifacts, such as the Confederate flag, must come to an end as they are as much as a part of U.S. history, as that which is lacking, no matter how disturbing.  

Former KKK member and white nationalist David Duke just announced that he is running for the United States Congress.  Mr. Duke stated, “Thousands of special-interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera.  The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate — one man in the Congress — who will defend their rights and heritage.”  Mr. Duke would continue to fuel racial tensions rather than heal his home state of Louisiana, let aid the United States in healing.  He is the antithesis of goodwill.

While this paper addressed the African-American experience, truth commissions can also be convened as to other marginalized groups:  Native American, Muslim and migrant populations. 

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Alexander, Michelle, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, 2010, The New Press.

“Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign”, Children’s Defense Fund, as found on the www at http://www.childrensdefense.org/campaigns/cradle-to-prison-pipeline/?referrer=https://www.google.nl/#sthash.Go61YP6w.dpuf.

Davis, Fania, “Truth and reconciliation is coming to America from the grassroots”, February 26, 2015, The Guardian, as found on the www at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/truth-and-reconciliation-is-coming-to-america.

European Association of History Educators, as found on the www at http://euroclio.eu/association/.

Haskins, Ron, and Barnett, W. Steven, “NEW DIRECTIONS FOR AMERICA’S EARLY CHILDHOOD POLICIES1”, 2010, Brookings Institute, as found on the www at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Reports/2010/10/13-investing-in-young-children-haskins/1013_investing_in_young_children_haskins_ch1.PDF.

Holland, Jesse, “U.N. Group Says U.S. Should Consider Reparations”, January 29, 2016, U.S. News and World Report, as found on the www at http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-01-29/un-working-group-suggests-us-work-on-racial-reconciliation.

Lardner, Cynthia, “One Nation Under God:  Divided”, July 18, 2015, as found on the www at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/one-nation-under-god-divided-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary; https://cynthiamlardner.wordpress.com/one-nation-under-god-divided/; and http://cmlardner.blogspot.com/2015/07/one-nation-under-god-divided.html.

Lardner, Cynthia, “Rethinking Ferguson”, June 28, 2015 as found on the www at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rethinking-ferguson-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary.

Mapping Police Violence, as found on the www at http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/.

Scott, Colleen, “Harrowing the Ground so That Others May Build,” 1999, The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as found on the www at https://sites.google.com/site/nitzanscourses/transitional-justice/unit-5-south-africa/trc/harrowring-the-ground.

Stevenson, Bryan, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror”, 2015, Equal Justice Initiative, as found on the www at http://www.eji.org/files/EJI%20Lynching%20in%20America%20SUMMARY.pdf.

Williamson, Marianne, “RACE AND REPENTANCE IN AMERICA”, as found on the www at https://marianne.com/race-and-repentance-in-america/.

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Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You

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By:  Cynthia M. Lardner

In today’s turbulent world “…three core themes come to the fore: justice, security, and rule of law,” stated Dr. Abi Williams, President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, who has previously served under United Nations Secretary Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

When it comes to global justice, security and Rule of Law, the United Nations (U.N.) is the international organization that the world relies upon.  The U.N. was created in 1945 to restore world order after World War II and to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  On July 12, 2016 an issue arose challenging the U.N.’s ability to fulfill its essential purpose.

On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued an opinion in a territorial dispute between People’s Republic of China and the Philippines, commonly referred to as the South China Sea (SCS) Dispute. The sweeping opinion found in favor of the Philippines ruling that China, which had boycotted the proceedings calling them illegal, violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), in claiming sovereignty over the 80% of the SCS, known as the “nine-dash line”, encompassing almost 80% of the SCS. China has militarized the region rich in natural gas deposits.

The PCA held that:

Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.

In advance of the decision, China stated that it would not honor the PCA decision; a tribunal to which it is a member nation. As the PCA has no enforcement authority, enforcement falls on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The conundrum is that China is also a permanent member of the UNSC, which can veto UNSC enforcement of PCA decisions.  Rather that upholding its obligation as a permanent member of the UNSC to honor international law, China, in advance of the opinion, stated it will go to war to protect the “nine-dash line” region, leaving enforcement to the smaller nations in the region and their allies.

This calls into question whether China can ethically maintain its position on the UNSC.

This paper analyzes whether not only China but, also the Russian Federation should be permitted the ongoing privilege of sitting as an UNSC permanent member. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Where there is great power there is great responsibility.”  Russia and China have failed in their responsibility to the other 191 member nations of the U.N.

United Nations Security Council’s Permanent Five

Created by the Rome Statute, to which all 193 U.N. member nations are signatories, the U.N.’s mission, as articulated in its Charter is:

“To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

The U.N. General Assembly, via the U.N. Charter, delegated the sole responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The UNSC is comprised of five permanent member nations, and ten rotating member nations elected by the five permanent members to staggered two-year terms.  At the time of its creation, the world’s five greatest superpowers were afforded the privilege of serving as permanent UNSC members:  the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Russia and China (P5).  There is no provision in the U.N. Charter requiring that designation as a UNSC permanent member ever be reviewed or revisited.

The UNSC is responsible for authorizing U.N. peacekeeping operations.  Chapter VII of U.N. Charter authorizes the UNSC to deploy U.N. peacekeeping operations, including joint operations with allied forces and NATO, into volatile post-conflict settings where the state is unable to maintain security and public order.  Invocation of Chapter VII denotes a legal basis for taking action, and “…is viewed as a statement of firm political resolve reminding the parties to a conflict and the wider U.N. membership of their obligation to honor UNSC decisions.”  Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on 28 April 2006, requires the UNSC to proactively protect civilians in an armed conflict, including taking action against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity

The UNSC is also imbued with the singular responsibility for voting on U.N. member state applications, selecting the Secretary-General, and the creation and oversight of hybrid criminal courts.

The P5 have de facto control over the UNSC by virtue of their exclusive veto power over exercised when any permanent member casts a “negative” vote on not only “substantive” draft resolutions but as to what constitutes a substantive issue.

The veto power extends to the discretionary enforcement of decisions rendered by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, which issues legal advisory opinions and hears cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the PCA.

China and Russia’s Abuses of P5 Power

The P5 has come under a great deal of criticism for failing to deliver justice, provide security, and adhere to Rule of Law, including its responsibility to protect (R2P) from statespersons, such Kofi Annan, the seventh U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Laureate, former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Canadian Foreign Minister Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, calling into question whether the U.N. Charter needs to be amended.

The South China Sea Dispute

Along with the matter decided by the PCA, China has also been engaged in similar territorial SCS disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

It is incomprehensible that China, a P5 member, can flagrantly ignore not only the PCA’s decision, which is final and binding upon the parties, but also UNCLOS, the treaty governing territorial rights.  Rather, than adhere to international law, China is prepared to go to war with the U.S. and other countries over the SCS. Complicating the matter is the joint military build-up by China and Russia in the South China Sea.

An Article VII draft resolution as to the enforcement of the PCA opinion or peacekeeping operations in the SCS would be vetoed by China and Russia.  Given that NATO has already stated it will not become involved in the SCS Dispute, if armed conflict erupts, defense against China and, likely Russia, military superpowers, will be the responsibility of the smaller nations in the region, the United States, France and their allies.

“Only when everyone plays by the same rules can we avoid the mistakes of the past, like when countries challenged one another in contests of strength and will, with disastrous consequences for the region,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Russia, Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula

Russia’s relationship with NATO, its member nations, allies and partners deteriorated following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and military aggressions in Ukraine.  On July 15, 2015, rather than abstain, Russia vetoed a resolution as to its illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, shielding itself from accountability under international law.  Russia President Vladimir Putin recently stated that there will never be any diplomatic discussion of the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia’s aggressions in Ukraine were to have been resolved by the September 5, 2014 Minsk Protocol, confirming Ukraine’s sovereignty, which was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the Lugansk People’s Republic.  Despite being called upon by the international community to implement the Minsk Protocol, including the G20 in April 2016, and at the February 2016 Munich Security Conference, Russia has refused.  As a P5 member, there will never be Article VII action to protect the Ukraine people from ongoing aggressions, including genocide, a war crime.

It is noteworthy that Russia, a P5 member, is not a member nation of the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute, which prosecutes state actors for crimes against humanity, including genocide.

The Birth of Responsibility to Protect

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada, cited the UNSC’s 1999 failure to act under Section VII in Kosovo based on Russia’s veto of U.N. peacekeeping troops to force the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were emotionally and morally sickened by the mass genocide in Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then Secretary Albright asked themselves, “Could we stand by and let people be murdered?”

NATO intervened in what came to be known as “Madeleine’s War”.

As then President Bill Clinton stated, “”It’s to our advantage to have a Europe that is peaceful and prosperous. And there is the compelling humanitarian case: if the U.S. walks away from an atrocity like this where we can have an impact, then these types of situations will spread. The world is full of ethnic struggles, from Ireland to the Middle East to the Balkans. If we can convince people to bridge these tensions, we’ve served our interests as well as our values.”

LlyodAxworthy

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy speaking at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on July 12, 2016

This Kosovo incident gave rise to the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) under which “We [humanity] must be prepared to stop mass atrocities” and where sovereignty is “…not a divine right but an obligation to protect your people,” stated Dr. Axworthy during a July 12, 2016 talk on “Pursuing Justice in a Globalized World:  Reflections on the Commitment of Madeleine K. Albright”.

Since the war, Kosovo has been unable to secure U.N. member state status based on Russia’s veto.

Responsibility to Protect

R2P was later adopted by the U.N. obligating the international community, including the UNSC to prevent and protect individuals from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Yet, both China and Russia have and are engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing; with Russia focused on Jewish populations and China on Tibet.

Russia and China’s Recent P5 Vetoes

At a time when Dr. Axworthy noted that “…human rights in a position of limbo,” Rule of Law has been increasing ignored by the UNSC.

There have been many instances of Russia and China misusing their UNSC veto power in contravention of international law:

  • On June 15, 2009, Russia vetoed action concerning its 2008 Georgian invasion, which culminated in a March 18, 200 treaty on alliance and integration signed between the South Ossetia region of Georgia and Russia on 18 March. This so-called treaty is yet another move by the Russian Federation that hampers ongoing efforts by the international community to strengthen security and stability in the region.  It violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradicts the principles of international law;
  • Between 2012 and 2014, Russia and China have double vetoed four draft U.N. resolution concerning the crisis in Syria, including a referral to the International Criminal Court and the imposition of U.N. sanctions;
  • On July 8, 2015, Russia vetoed taking action with respect to the genocide that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in clear contravention of Security Council Resolution 1674; and
  • Russia vetoed a referral to the International Criminal Court to hold those state actors accountable for having shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight No. MH17 on July 17, 2014.

The U.S. has also used its UNSC veto power in the past, primarily to block resolutions concerning Israel.  However, this is unlikely to reoccur as during 2015 the Obama Administration’s foreign policy position as Israel and Palestine underwent a drastic shift away from favoring Israel.  The U.K. and France have never used their veto power.

“A security council that is fractured into special national interests, abusing the right of the veto; warlords and dictators who kill with impunity to advance their greed for riches or power; and the weakening of resolve in North America and Europe to act in a collective manner, and thus far a confused set of objectives by the emerging states. As Kofi Annan clearly concludes, our level of governance is not up to the task posed by world realities,” stated Dr. Axworthy.

No nation should be allowed to sit on the United Nations Security Council, let alone be afforded permanent status, if it fails to adhere to Rule of Law, minimally, international law.

Selection of the Next Secretary-General

With Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s second term set to expire, the selection process by the UNSC has also been sharply criticized. “The selection of the Secretary-General has previously been a process shrouded in secrecy, and, ultimately, decision-making lies under the almost complete control of the five permanent members” stated Tom Brookes, Programme Office at The Elders Foundation.  While the current selection process has involved an open debate between ten of the 12 individuals under consideration, it has no impact on the selection process.

Hybrid Courts

The UNSC has failed to convene, offer oversight and provide funding of hybrid criminal courts, i.e. courts created to address war crimes or crimes against humanity in any given country. By way of example, according to Ambassador David John Scheffer, the UNSC has not funded The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, commonly known as the Cambodia Tribunal or Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which is relegated to raising funds to cover its annual $3 million operating budget, with funding coming primarily from the U.S.

By the Numbers

In addition to flagrant misuse of their P5 veto power, there are three indices three global indices measuring positive and negative peace, corruption and adherence to Rule of Law which statistically support the restructuring UNSC.

First is the 2016 Global Peace Index, issued by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which empirically ranked 175 independent states and territories based on their levels of peacefulness.  Peacefulness is measured based on two primary components: positive peace or resilience, and negative peace, defined as the presence of violence or fear of violence.  Overall scores are normed on the basis of one to five.

GPI.1

Camilla Schippa speaking on June 24, 2016 at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on the GPI

“We see peace as a measure of conflicts.  And the Global Peace Index found an overall increase in conflict with a widening gap between the most and least peaceful countries,” stated Camilla Schippa, IEP Director of Operations.

The cost to humanity is mindboggling.  Violence costs 13.3% of the world’s GDP or $13.6 trillion dollars.  This breaks down to $1,876 annually or $5.00 per person every single day.

Second, Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in 167 countries.  The four areas measured are bribery, corruption, whistleblowing, and Rule of Law.  The CPI defines Rule of Law as the, “Legal and political systems, structures and practices that condition a government’s actions to protect citizens’ rights and liberties, maintain law and order, and encourage the effective functioning of the country.”

CPI.2015

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world.” stated José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

Third is the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2015 Rule of Law Index® (RLI). According to the WJP, “The rule of law is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity, and equity—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.”  The RLI provides original, impartial data on how the Rule of Law is experienced by the general public in 102 countries. The RLI measures nine variables — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil and criminal justice, informal justice – generating an overall score ranging from .35 to .87.

Russian Federation

Russia’s overall GPI Score was the lowest of the P5: 3.079/5, ranking it 151 out of 163, or in the bottom 10 percent of the countries evaluated. Russia also performed the worst out of the P5 on the CPI, ranking a meager 29 or 119/168.  Thus, it is no surprise that Russia also had the worst P5 score on the RLI:  .47 overall, placing it near the bottom quartile, or 75th out of the 102 nations.

People’s Republic of China

On the GPI, China ranked 120 out of 163, with an overall GPI of 2.288/5.  China also performed poorly on the CPI, ranking 37 or 83/168.  China also fared poorly on the RLI, having a composite score of .48, ranking it 71.

The United States

On the GPI, the U.S. ranked 103 out of 163 nations, with a composite score of 2.154/5.  According to Ms. Schippa, the U.S.’s score was negatively impacted by the number of incarcerated individuals and access to firearms, required, to date, by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The U.S. ranked 76 or 16/168 on the CPI, with its score having steadily improved over the last four years. On the RLI, the U.S.’s composite score was .73 ranking it 13th out of the 102 countries measured.

United Kingdom

On the GPI, the U.K. ranked 47 out of 163, having generated a composite score of 1.830/5.  The U.K.’s CPI was 81 or 10/168.  Great Britain fared well on the RLI, with an overall score of .78 ranking it 12th.

France

France ranked 46 out of the 163 nations measured by the GPI, with an overall score of 1.829/5. On the CPI, France ranked 70 or 23/168.  On the RLI, France’s overall score was .74, placing it 18 out of 102 countries.

The Call for Reform

Kofi Annan astutely reflected that:

Where we collectively realize that we do not live in a zero-sum world where someone’s gain automatically comes at another’s expense. I envision a world where these values are supported by an international architecture, a modernized United Nations that reflects the changing balance of global power brought about by the rise of China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and other emerging countries.

But above all, of a United Nations that serves not only states but foremost peoples — and becomes the forum where governments are held accountable for their behavior toward their own citizens. A forum where the shared values of pluralism, tolerance, solidarity, democracy and dialogue triumph over unilateralism, ultra-nationalism, and over the politics of identity…

You may argue that this is a pipe-dream, that around the world, personal liberty, human rights, and democracy are being eroded — even in countries that have embraced democratic ideals. Let us renew and strengthen this international system. From epidemics to climate change, we need to set our narrow self-interests aside and realize that we are in this world together, for better or for worse. Hitting each other on the head has not done us much good in the past. It is time to move beyond that, to embrace our common humanity and resume our journey towards a fairer, more peaceful world.

Mr. Annan concluded that, “A United Nations for the twenty-first century would have to create new partnerships, respond to the needs of the individuals and stand for the principle that national sovereignty could never be used as a shield for genocide or a gross violation of human rights.”

“Yet the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting on behalf of all the member states, is still dominated by the same five permanent members that were designated all those years ago, being the five great powers that had just won the war. The governments of those five powers have become so used to their exalted status, which is protected by their ability to veto any change in the Charter, that they think of it almost as their natural right, sometimes forgetting that it is above all a responsibility. They assume that the world will continue to respect their authority, and fail to notice that, year by year, that authority is eroding,” stated a release issued by The Elders, a group of former statespersons who comprise a nonpartisan peacekeeping group.

As a result of the criticisms from around the globe, they have been numerous statespersons, commissions and entities calling for reform of the U.N., particularly the UNSC.  For instance, the 14-member Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance Commission convened by The Hague Center for Global Justice consisting of numerous ex-foreign ministers adamantly called for U.N. reform citing a “crisis in global governance.”

The Commission’s findings, “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance”, was launched at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 16 June 2016. Commission Co-Chairs Secretary Albright and Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General.  The Commission called for “…an expansion in Security Council membership and better engagement with nontraditional actors. Specifically, it seeks to create more opportunities for countries, regional organizations, local authorities, and business and civil society groups to contribute to peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building while, at the same time, increasing the council’s representative legitimacy and restraint in the use of the veto, particularly when a state fails in its responsibility to protect its own citizens.”

Secretary Albright warned that continuing failures within the U.N. “risks prolonging and deepening” global crises.

At the launch of the ‘Strengthening the U.N.’ initiative at the 2015 Munich Security Conference, The Elders proposed a model for expanding the UNSC, that the P5 agree a code of conduct on veto restraint, and argued that the UNSC provide greater opportunity for civil society groups to be heard through greater use of informal “Arria formula” meetings.  Arria formula meetings are informal, confidential gatherings which enabling the UNSC to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with individuals, groups or nations outside of the UNSC.

Another group, Uniting for Consensus (UfC), comprised of 111 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, mission is to increase the number of non-permanent UNSC members, from the existing ten rotating seats, to a composition and number reflecting greater regional representation.  In a March 26, 2015 press release the UfC stated:

[W]e could support a UNSC of up to 26 members in total – a Council that is more representative of the international community as a whole while preserving the principles of democracy and accountability to Member States. The legitimacy of the Council depends not only – or even primarily – on its composition, but on its transparency, accountability and effectiveness. It is not just about who takes decisions, but most importantly the inclusive and democratic nature of decision-making.

In 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a 17-member independent panel on U.N. Peace Operations to comprehensively assess the state of current and emerging UN peace operations.  The panel issued 104 page report, containing detailed and voluminous recommendations for change:

At the heart of …peace operations is the message that the United Nations must unite its strengths — of politics, of partnership and of people — to meet those challenges. This means that, where deployed, United Nations peace operations must be mandated and empowered to support the political resolution of threats to international peace and security. To succeed, United Nations peace operations must find a way to strengthen partnership at all levels, namely with regional organizations, with host Governments and with the local population, to overcome deep-rooted conflicts. United Nations peace operations must answer to “We the peoples”, the ultimate beneficiaries of peace and the survivors of conflict. Their perceptions and their assessments, particularly those of women and youth, are the critical barometer of the success, or failure, of United Nations peace operations.

The panel concluded that the U.N. requires “modernized approaches and structures to enable flexible and better United Nations system responses.”  However, the panel failed to state the structures and approaches to which it was referring.  As all substantive action of the U.N. requires UNSC approval, it can only be assumed that the panel was indirectly criticizing the UNSC.

Changes Supported by Sustainable Development Goal 16

On September 25, 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which include 17 Global Goals.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the move as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.  The new agenda is a promise by U.N. leaders to all people everywhere.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, adopted to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

SDG 16 has been broken down to eleven measurable targets. SDG 16.3 is promote Rule of Law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.  SDG 16.6 requires the development of “effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.” This includes, under SDG 16.7, an increase in decision-making at all levels which is responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative, which is tied to SDG 16.8, which seeks to broaden and strengthen participation by developing countries in global governance.  Also relevant is SDG 16.10, which is promote fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

In 2004, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed that for the U.N. Rule of Law is “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires as well measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency”.

SDG 16 cannot be achieved without amending the U.N. Charter to change the powers vested in the UNSC, and the increasing the number of UNSC members, to insure greater regional representation, or even eliminate the P5 or the UNSC in its entirety.

Amending the U.N. Charter

“A true United Nations would rise above the interests of individual countries. It would place the good of the planet and its people above the good of governments. The organization now based in New York cannot do this. Perhaps no world body ever will,” stated Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

The path to a true U.N., involves amending the U.N. Charter.  Following a conference, this requires a majority vote by the General Assembly and a vote by any seven UNSC members.  Despite all of the criticism, there has yet to be a call for a conference to amend the U.N. Charter. There has never been a better time than now for the General Assembly to come together and act to amend the U.N. Charter to insure justice, security, and rule of law for generations to come.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

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