Friday, July 22, 2005

Columbia's International Relations and Domestic Challenges

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FARC Guerillas Gathered

The first thing I found so amazing was the history of Columbia in the last 20 years. Thanks to our reliable American media I had no idea they were going through so many rapid changes. I am shocked that our media doesn't cover the events in Columbia because, as I discovered, much of what happens in that country affects our own country. Columbia exports more cocaine into the US than any other country, making that country a huge factor in the fight against drugs. The Columbian government can't be blamed for this sort of thing, though, because they are trying to fix it. The US can take a lot of the blame for not giving the Columbian government the proper aid to fix the problem more readily.

The organizations that are involved with drug trade are many of the paramilitary groups in Columbia - they get their money from drug trade. Recently the government has been opening up dialogue with these guerilla groups to find some sort of compromise. So far one of the largest paramilitary groups, the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Columbia) declared a cease-fire and a demobilization of their troops after much debate and bloodshed within the faction. In the 60s the function of this paramilitary group was to defeat guerilla groups that had been in Columbia since the 60s and to defend civilians, but in the 80s they were corrupted and became a guerilla-like organization itself.

Now the Columbian government is offering the same deal of compromise to other factions, such as FARC, who as of yet have not decided to take the compromise.

In Conclusion, Columbia has a lot ahead of them, but they are currently on the right track. The peace process would be realized more rapidly if the United States took more interest in Columbian affairs and seeing it from the Columbian governments point of view (the correct view) rather than our own point of view.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Heritage Foundation - Future of the Coast Guard


US Coast Guard SealPosted by Picasa
At Heritage today we got a presentation by US Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Collins, who spoke on the future of the Coast Guard.

Sometimes it was a little too in depth to really get in to, but overall was a pretty good presentation. After the events of 9/11 the Coast Guard has been doing a lot of refocusing and development. At this time 24% of the US Coast Guard resources are being used for Homeland Security. Their goal is to reduce the risk of maritime security risks, which they feel is necessary and urgent. Today they have a number of strategies they are pursuing, one of which involves better ships and aircraft. Admiral Collins mentioned how many of their ships are "old enough to collect social security." Too often the ships aren't reliable and are in need of repairs. In order to upgrade their current fleet, though, US Coast Guard continues to ask for more funding from the government.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Energy Crisis

Much of the discussion at the Heritage Foundation revolved around the current events with Unocal. The theme of the talk was that the US has poorly managed itself in the oil market and the need to change this is urgent. The fact is that we get most of our oil from hostile, or at least potentially hostile, nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, etc. This is a huge danger to the US. If Saudi Arabia all of sudden decided to cease selling oil to us we could lose 6 billion dollars worth of the oil we consume daily (which is about 20 billion dollars worth). The solution to the problem is to develop relations with those countries who are not hostile to us, such as Venezuela, Russia, and Canada, who has the potential to be the worlds #1 oil producer.

China's already beating us to the punch, though. China's relation with Venezuela continues to thrive, and Venezuela becomes more and more interested in giving China oil in exchange for military technology. China is also working on a good relationship with Canada, which is more than we're doing (we aren't pursuing getting any more oil from then, even though we could).

There are a couple solutions to this problem. One is to get a grip and begin opening the door to other oil suppliers.. Another option is to pursue finding new, more efficient means of power so that we don't have to rely so much on oil (we currently consume 1/4 of the worlds oil).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

China and Unocal

I would have thought the issue of China and Unocal would be dying down a bit by now, but instead teh issue continues to grow larger and larger. The House just had a hearing to discuss the issue. Surprisingly most of the people there were against China buying the oil company.

Here are a few of the key points mentioned;
-Even if not now, at some point these actions by China could be used strategically against us.
-If you assume a perfect market then China buying Unocal is completely safe. But we don't have that assurance.
-Oil can be used as a tool of war to interfere with another countries economy.
-China seems to have a history of obtaining resources (including technology) to further their own military and use as leverage against other countries.
-The nature of the Chinese goverment is not trustworthy.

All these factors combined leads me to believe there is no way we should let the Chinese government buy Unocal. They accuse the US government for interfering in business affairs and interfering with the free market. Let's be realistic here - the Chinese government wouldn't let the US government come close to a Chinese owned company half as important as Unocal. At this rate China won't even have to fight a war against us with guns, they'll already own us. You know there's a problem when much of the US Defense is being supplied by factories in China. Let's keep American owned companies in the hands of Americans.

Touring the Pentagon

Even though it's nothing but a tour of a giant office building, it was still pretty awesome. The part that I enjoyed the best was when we went down a long hallway with quilts and stuff people had made in memory of 9/11. There was one quilt in particular that stuck out in my mind. In the foreground was the American Flag, and in the background stood the outline of the pentagon from the air (in quiltish style of course). But there was something strange about the Pentagon in the quilt, instead of 5 sides it had 8. Unfortunately for the artist the building is not named the Octagon. To her credit, though, it was still a pretty quilt.

At the end of the quilted hallway there was a small memorial with a chapel where the plane had crashed into the Pentagon. The tour guide (a Navy soldier who got stuck doing tours (I'll bet that's not what he signed on for)) mentioned something I found very intruging. You'll see on the Washington Monument that there are different colored bricks, which is because the stone was taken from a number of different quaries (though the stone is the same type). In order to completely cover up the scars of the plane hitting the Pentagon the same stone would have to be taken from the same quarry that was used to build the Pentagon. Under Executive Order by President Bush this quarry, which had been long closed, was reopened in order to quarry the stone and cover up the scars of the plane.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Moral Order is what the Court Orders

This post is my reaction to an article recently written by Robert Bork found at http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006940

Or, if you don't have time to read it, here is an excerpt in which Bork basically summarizes what the article is about.
"Once the justices depart, as most of them have, from the original understanding of the principles of the Constitution, they lack any guidance other than their own attempts at moral philosophy, a task for which they have not even minimal skills. Yet when it rules in the name of the Constitution, whether it rules truly or not, the court is the most powerful branch of government in domestic policy. The combination of absolute power, disdain for the historic Constitution, and philosophical incompetence is lethal."

It is amazing how trashed our justices have become. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, perhaps the most "in tune" with the writings of the US Constitution, is considered by many to be a radical right-wing republican that they want off of the Supreme Court ASAP. Unlike many of the current judges, I think Scalia actually knows what the word "morals" really means.

The almost complete disregard for the US Constitution, which stood for the moral order, is a real problem that continues to grow.

The London Attacks


The bleak scenes from the attacks on London bring back memories of the frightening events of 9/11, though on a much smaller scale. Whether or not the attacks are linked to Al-Qaeda, how will the citizens of the UK react to these attacks on their people? Will there be a massive resurgence of patriotism like the US saw?

It's my opinion that we will not see the same result from these terrorist attacks. England is already fighting a war that the majority of Brits no longer want to be involved in. Sure many people will become more enthusiastic about the war, but I believe the people of the UK will want to take a step backwards like Spain. I think most of them believe that by not being involved in the War on Terror, terrorists will focus their efforts on countries who are involved. If the people of UK take this stance, though, then the terrorists will have won. Indeed, I think the terrorists will be more emboldened, seeing that they have the power to sway a country. If these are Muslim terrorists, though, I sincerely believe we will see more attacks like this in the future, whether or not UK pulls out it's troops. Suicidal "martyrdom" is part of a way of life for Muslims, and it's not something they are going to just discard.

Still, this event will encourage the UK to seek better national security. In many ways, then, this event will prevent further attacks on UK soil, even if it takes the troops out of Iraq. I would certainly like to see Blair stand fast as Bush has, but I'm not sure that he's going to.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Meeting with Rep. Connie Mack Staff


Rep. Connie Mack Posted by Picasa

We had a meeting at Connie Mack's office with a couple of his staff members. One was an expert in terrorism and foreign issues, the other was an expert in domestic issues such as immigration.

It was a good chance to ask questions and figure out what they thought about our topics and many of the current events.

China in Space

The more of these events I attend the more I realize that speakers that actually sound interested in their topic tend to draw in the interest of the crowd. The first panel of speakers did pretty well at keeping the crowd engaged, while the second panel sounded bored of their subject and thus made the crowd bored and put not a few to sleep. The only thing that helped me stay awake was looking every once in a while at the crowd to count how many were sleeping.
The first panel spoke not so much about China in space, but about China's military modernization, and that it was an imminent and scary thing. They are developing new models of almost every mechanized thing in their military. One great stride that they are making is creating space-based military devices.

One of the main things I got out of the second panel was that space-based weaponry has not yet been used. As of now the US is way ahead of China when it comes to satellites in space, etc., but China has great potential to catch up with the US. It's not that the US doesn't have the funding to develop space tech and military tech as fast as China, it's that those in the Pentagon squander the money on other things than developing our military defences.

What do I think of this? I think the US needs to get a grip and realize that China is a real threat, and if we support Taiwan like we promised we would, there could be problems with China much earlier than most think.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Congressman Duncan Hunter


Congressman Hunter and the ASCF Interns Posted by Picasa

Was a really awesome event recognizing the service Congressman Hunter has done for the ASC. It was also to celebrate the 50th year since the founding of ASC.

It was a good experience and really encouraging to see how much support the ASC is getting and the distinguished guests that recognize the potential of the ASC.

Meeting with Bill McCollum

I got quite a bit out of Congressman McCollum's meeting with the interns. He did a good job laying out the focus of the ASC into 4 main categories; the War on Terror, immigration, Latin America, and China.

He is certainly a good man to have on the Board of Directors for the ASC. I hope to see him around more often and be able to work with him on my CRP topic on militant Islam.