The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Strategic Planning: The US in the Persian Gulf

It would be rather unsurprising if the recent history of the United States regarding its foreign policy in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf were not somehow tied to US/China/Russia relations? Of course, I’m speculating a great deal. But there is a plausible connection between the evidence and insider testimony of the Bush Administration’s obsession with the oil-rich region from the very beginning in January 2001.
Such an assertion cannot be proven by the currently available documents. Bush Administration changes, via executive orders, to the Freedom of Information Act may completely submerge the record of US foreign policy deliberations from Bush’s two terms into the labyrinth of bureaucratic boxes on top of boxes of scraps and scraps of paper (and now digital files) akin to the closing scene of the Indiana Jones adventure, Raiders of the Lost Ark. What we do know, from such people as former National Security Council members Richard Clarke (in 2001, the chief of counter-terrorism) and former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil, is complemented by available public records, often filled with more questions that are not known than with what is known. Another source of insight is provided by The Cepia Club’s very, very low-skill, but still informative Project 6–Cepia Games.
Let us look at what we do know, disregarding former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s recent quote that the Iraq War was completely about oil:
First, Richard Clarke, in his memoirs about the first year of the Bush Administration’s lack of concern over terrorism, says that the first real concerns of the Bush National Security Council dealt not with the implied threat of Al Qaeda, but with Saddam Hussein. The were massive unresolved policy issues of Iraq remaining from the 1991 Gulf War. O’Neil concurs with that observation in his memoirs. (Remember, it takes two witnesses according to the US Constitution to convict someone of treason. Two separate witnesses on the administration’s obsession with Iraq should be sufficient for lesser accusations).
Obviously, the Iraq situation was unsatisfactory from the US perspective. Because of UN sanctions, enforced by the US, since 1991 Iraq had not produced all its oil for the world market (except regarding the “Oil for Food [and medicine]” program). Some estimates run at about 20% of Iraq’s existing infrastructure potential were provided. In addition, because of sanctions, Iraq had suffered a deficiency of foreign direct investment or oil profits contributing to increasing its oil production/transhipment potential. By 2001, 10 years of a normal free-market mechanism increasing Iraq’s humongous PROVEN oil reserves had not happened. As long as Saddam Hussein was in power, remained a regional threat (even the reduced threat he was after 1991) and as long as it could never be verified whether Iraq did or did not possess a mass destructive weapons program, no such increase or improvement in Iraq’s oil producing industry would occur. If the mess was resolved, Iraq could at least double its pre-1991 oil production and transhipment capacity, helping the world oil demands.
In early 2001, oil and alternative energy had not yet become the public concern it has eventually become in the last six and a half years. Policy-makers and economist, however, most likely clued in on the issues and concerns–until the oil runs out or is no longer needed to fuel economic growth.
Upon becoming Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney headed an energy task force within the executive branch. Prior to the 2000 Presidential campaign, Cheney had been CEO of Texas-based Haliburton, a large and profitable firm that, to borrow a phrase, did not produce and sell oil; it made producing and selling oil better for others. Almost all of the records–who participated, the agenda, the discussion, and the conclusion–of the task force were and still are withheld from public, and one presumes, media scrutiny.
Seen from the hindsight of history and game-theory, may reveal what would have been the likely the likely topics of concern.
First, under-investment in the world-wide oil production, transportation, and refining capacity since the mid-1980s and the era of “cheap” oil, particularly within the US and its orbit of influence, had not foreseen the incredible needs of energy consumption demanded by the 1990's “globalized economy.” The First World (the US sphere of influence) had lulled its energy strategy into complacency. Second, the former communist world (the communist sphere of Eastern Europe, China, and other communist countries) had suddenly become voracious economies based on markets that began integrating into the world economic matrix, bringing with them 1/3 of the world’s population and their demand for higher living standards that implied “consumer-driven” energy consumption. In addition, the former Soviet Union’s financial-economic reordering had temporarily stalled Russia’s and Central Asia’s contributions to a modernized oil producing infrastructure.
Another main topic of the energy task force might have concerned the developing, undeveloped and underdeveloped “south” of the globe that not only required a larger share of oil consumption. Many of these countries suffered political nightmares of authoritarian rule, civil wars and social upheavals. Most of the world’s known oil reserves (those discovered under the surface of the earth) came from these countries. This manifested the primary problem of adding political/military-economic expense to harvesting the oil. The problem presented by this paradox was also mixed in with the illusion of “cheap oil.” With no real profit to be made from increasing existing capacity, oil-producing nations decided to forgo their own investment of the existing profits into their infrastructure. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations, a near-monopoly of these “southern” tier nations, had to assume it was in their interest to keep capacity low or put into recess excess capacity in order to manipulate a higher price for their often sole developed economic resource. And as narrow-product economies, the oil producing nations leave quite a large proportion of their populations either without votes, or jobs, or occupations (“idle hands without voice in societies make terrorists” theory).
Finally, and briefly, there is the problem of one day running out of oil before alternative fuels and methods are found or fully developed to take its place. The energy task force had to at least consider this possibility, if not have privy information as to the real state of world oil reserves, proven and otherwise.
Now, enter China and Russia.
China for a decade now has doubled its oil consumption to fuel its marketizing economy, an economy based on industry, and workers, which both require oil, etc. to fuel its growth and placate its citizens “growth of expectations” of economic development. China has prudently avoided serious trouble in its foreign policy in the oil producing and potential producing countries. Instead of, as the US does, assert its power and dominance over lesser powers, China has coddled, funded, armed, and engaged in “receptive” diplomacy with these keys to its economic future. One such country China has made extensive links with is Iran. Without the US in play, Iran would be the major power in the Persian Gulf basin, site of the world’s largest proven and potential oil reserves. Whether as a access point, directly via the military or indirectly through diplomacy, Iran serves China’s foreign policy purposes very well, and vice versa. Iran has oil (and natural gas, which can now be liquefied and transported). China has investment money. Iran has international problems and a “chilly war” with the US going back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980s in Lebanon. China has weapons to sell. Iran is recognized as a state-sponsor of regional (perhaps global terrorism) and is suspected of developing nuclear weapons. China has a veto in the United Nations Security Council and a growing and capable military. Anyway one looks at it, China and Iran have long-range, direct and indirect, mutual or compatible interest. Both challenge the US, China globally, and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
Since World War II, the US early on recognized the importance of the “greatest prize” in political-economic history presented by dominating the Persian Gulf area and its oil. The Gulf has always held the fate of US wealth and comfort in its tenuous soil. Again, going back to the energy task force, the group must have recognized this as the one most consistent theme of US foreign policy that predates the Cold War, endured it without change (except a higher commitment in 1979 after the loss of Iran as an ally), and also has transcended the demise of communism. China, its relative closeness to the area, geographically, and the developing cooperation and alliance with post-Soviet Russia, must have presented some dilemma to US strategic planners, at some level, at some point, since the late 1990s.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this essay. It would not be surprising if the Bush Administration obsession with Iraq, including the day after 9/11/2001. somehow centered around a strategic way, a wedge, or some other aggressive political/military and economic coup d’etat to upset the balance power of the Persian Gulf, insert itself more firmly, and benefit from direct strategic, permanent control of the Gulf.
Invading Iraq in 2003, when the US was supremely powerful military and morally in the war on terror, and when Iraq was far too weak to resist conventionally, has provided one thing that was lacking prior to the US buildup in late 2002: a military occupation and strike force in the Persian Gulf. At this point, and until removed by America’s own decision or forced out by a war, the US now has strategic permanence in the area. Yes, the US had bases in the area, including Saudi Arabia, going back to World War II, without interruption. However, except for one year in 1991, and until 2003 to the present, the US had no compelling reason to place such an overwhelming political/military vice on the region. Whether over half-hearted allies like Saudi Arabia or over sworn enemies like Iran, the US, by strategic necessity, can justify what amounts to a military-run empire on the very ground which fills the American thirst for greed and gluttony, that is economic supremacy, now over 1/4 of the world’s oil.
While this may be speculative and entirely fanciful as analysis, it is sort of a feasible, and, from the US, an entirely desirable strategic plan. What has the war wrought, regardless of the hindsight strategy set out here? At present, the US is firmly in the Persian Gulf on a political basis from which Chinese and Russian diplomacy cannot maneuver it out. It has a military expeditionary force for all intents permanently blocking Chinese, and, Russian, access to the area. Finally, the US has raised to the old Cold War level of nuclear threats and brinkmanship, with only Russia as a possible and worthy adversary, any attempt to overcome US supremacy.
It just might be that the Chinese and Russians might have wanted to think of it first. Whatever happens from here in the Persian Gulf might define the final act of the era of independent nation-states in human history. The consequences of the situation, or this possible strategy, could be that monumental.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A True "cepia" Enterprise

As most regular readers of this blog, and the increasing number of visitors to our Clubsite at <> already know, "CEPIA" is an acronym for "community ending public ignorance and apathy." The principle theme in our philosophy is defined in a comprehensive essay (in the February 2007 issue of The Cepia Club Strategy Gazette) as "Libertarian Internationalism." "cepia" as action is based on individuals and groups taking personal, peaceful, positive action for constructive change. It means that people must become aware and active in their communities, first of all, to learn about issues from an open-minded and reasonable perspective, and then participate in any capacity or amount of time as part of the "spiritual" solution for the greater whole. LI is the vision of how conflict and disunity can result from "cepia" ideas and motivation in the cause of liberty, freedom, safety, fellowship. The Cepia Club works towards these ends as business earning its own way through self-support in the free market of goods and services so as not to depend on charity or other subsidies to carry out our Values, Vision, and Mission. Our branding is "Connecting People. . ." to the business, individuals, groups, and resources that can be part of a solution to their needs and wants for a better way of life. While a business, and once we learned a harsh lesson in 2006, we act on the principles of the Club's very own "Four Commitments" (see them at the Club homepage at ).
Since the fall of 2006, we have helped a Club Friend, Abe Saleh (a Palestinian and citizen of the US, and a Christian by virtue of his ancestors' faith), establish his business, Holy Creations,LLC. Besides trying to make a modest living from his free enterprise, Abe's inspiration and core personal reasons as an entrepreneur are all "cepia" motivated (and I can vouch for him based on a three year-and-going good and fulfilling friendship). At every step of our service to Abe and Holy Creations, LLC, the Club has proven to itself and others that "cepia" businesses, the LI vision, and our Four Commitments work, work well, and will lead to great things for the Club and my personal purpose in life at this moment.
Here is an introduction letter of mission purpose I wrote for our Club and personal Friend. You may refer to the February article in S.G. about Libertarian Internationalism and our Club 21: Connecting People" business plan from Oct. 2006. This is not intended as sales pitch for Holy Creations, LLC, in this format. It is shared with everyone to see that the Club indeed works, (however modestly). As a disclaimer, the Club is contracted by Holy Creations, LLC, but this is the type of work we do, and will do as much as possible for prime principle of business. We support his vision and hope the CepiaNet will as well.

Begin text:

Holy Creations
149 Hyland Street
Amery, WI 54001

September 19, 2007

Why We Are in Business

Holy Creations, LLC, is a business headquartered in rural Amery, Wisconsin, USA. We aim to create a strong, thriving, growing business enterprise based on marketing, and wholesale and retail sales of superior Fair Trade-certified products imported from Palestine. Our imports are focused first on our label A Taste of the Holy Land Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We have a secondary label, A Touch of the Holy Land, composed of hand-carved woodcraft and skin and hair care products derived from olive trees and fruit.. Holy Creations is determined to provide the highest quality products of every category at the fairest price for producers and affordable prices for customers.
We are confident that in a global era of “massu-factured” products, the manual “sweat and earth” labor efforts of our labels will penetrate US market segments that seek personal and unique value-added skill, care, and craftsmanship in every item. (Olive oil can be identified like a vintage year of fine wine).
Holy Creations, LLC, successfully imports these products because the owner, Abe Saleh, was born in Kuwait and lived a good portion of his life in his ancestral Palestine. Furthermore, his legal citizenship in the United States, which included service in the US Marine Corps, connects a bridge between the Arabic world and the US. Abe’s native knowledge and fluent language skills of both cultures gives Holy Creations, LLC, an advantage over larger, corporate importers.
Abe also believes that in addition to marketability on the quality and price of the imports, Holy Creations, LLC, a small enterprise contributes in small way something far more important and personal, for Abe, his family and his people. By giving small, family owned free enterprises Fair Trade-certified access into the US market, the commerce creates better living standards and prosperity for the Palestinian families now living in extreme poverty with all its unfortunate side-effects.
Real jobs, based on hard work, dedication, skill and fair wages, unlike charity and developmental aid, can empower average people enduring hardship, poverty and conflict a genuine chance for survival, stability and security within their community and with their neighbors. As an individual with a small enterprise of his own, Abe’s business empowers everyone involved with the benefits of liberty, freedom, safety and community. In such ways is peace brought to places that need it the most.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shrouds of War: The US and Iran and the Direction Toward War

The political pressure on Iran by the United States seems to imperceptibly increase every day. Since this past spring, the claims and statements about Iran’s influence in the Iraqi civil war have gone up several notches, again very subtly. From the Vice President and the Secretary of State to Multi-National Force spokes people, Iran seems to receive more condemnation, be the cause of “startling” new evidence of their complicity with Shi’a militias in Iraq, supporting Shi’a guerilla/terrorist in Lebanon, and in the diplomatic language of our time, to be developing a “weapons of mass destruction.” It is not something easily quantified, but the disturbed feel, and the leak of military plans in case of war, go toward some climax in the US policy in the Persian Gulf region. Is this replay of Fall 2002/Winter 2003? It is hard to tell. It could be a game of diplomatic chicken between Washington and Tehran, antagonists the past 28 years for dominant influence in the Gulf area, and by default, the real ownership through force of its oil reserves.
Recently, a “leak” in the US government revealed that if ordered to do so, the Combatant Commander for most of the Middle East, Admiral Fallon of Central Command, will be ordered to execute a massive bombing of Iran–around 1200 separate military or military-associated targets, including all nuclear research facilities. The time frame for completing this task is estimated to be around 4 days. If each aircraft flew an estimated sortie of 2 to 2.4 missions each (or much less, as I am only making an amateur guess), accounting for battle damage, maintenance, or outright loss to Iran’s Russian supplied air defense network, it would require on order of 500 combat aircraft and about half that number of support aircraft (Combat Search and Rescue, transports, reconnaissance, and air-to-air refueling aircraft).
The aircraft, some of them land- and sea-based on Carrier Strike Groups Naval or Marine Air Forces, and cruise missile-capable submarines and surface action forces, Army helicopters, and tactical aircraft and strategic bombers of the US Air Force, would need some time to build-up numbers and training for the mission, and create stockpiles, brought in large measure by ocean going ships. These would be hard to conceal if done in any way other than gradually.
It would only take some skill at on-line research to figure out the number of air-related units, including ground and sea personnel, and the air units or personnel themselves, that have been called into active duty. These would come from the Air National Guard and the regular armed forces reserve pools, and active duty deployments rotated overseas.
Intelligence culled from ‘open-sources” would determine from public records how many of these air-related units and equipment have been mobilized, trained in the US or deployed overseas, or reassigned from present duties into the combat chains from the US to the Persian Gulf and points in between on the direct lines of communication. If more are going than coming back, but not necessarily to or from Iraq, then that vital bit of clue might open doors into predicting a rough time schedule. It would take some research on google, references to such excellent military analyst sites like , records in the medical established (getting shots before deployment), hometown newspaper articles and television reports. The open-source intelligence is there. However it would take quite a superhuman effort to do by ones’ self.
Deploying a possible air expeditionary strike force of all the services could have been ongoing for months. Under the cover of a mashkirovka, or grand strategic deception, the Jan. 2007 to the present “surge” of US forces into Iraq would provide almost perfect operational surprise to get the men and women, material, and machines into a rough proximity for bombing Iran on order. An article I read earlier the summer on, (which is kind of inappropriate to mention as I can cite it in a bibliography), had discussed the US Air Forces increasing role in the Iraq campaign. Over the course the winter, the US Navy upped deployment of one Carrier Strike Groups between the end of invasion of Iraq, to three on station as a consistent policy. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US Navy, by design of its operational capabilities, “surged” a total 7 Carrier Strike Groups. Each CSG contains one carrier with Carrier Air Wing, and a mixed assortment of surface craft guided missile cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and a submarine.
Last week, during the first week of September 2007, the US Navy and the Indian Navy (which is quite a formidable force in the Indian Ocean Area) conducted their annual combat simulation exercises. This regular performance of sea power diplomacy provides more timely grand strategic deception of slowly and quietly building the capability in the Middle East for a massive and destructive air and naval campaign to destroy Iran’s ability to resist American political will. But all of this conjecture, while fitting a model, may only prove to be diplomatic pressure applied by armed “assurance” (instead of deterrence) that the US, and any country willing to participate, possess the ability to disconnect Iran’s military from a useful tool of policy into a useless ability to resist. By obliterating critical points (I’ve always believed that hitting Iran’s oil store and limited production facilities for gasoline and other by products is the easiest way to achieve a military policy of crippling Iran politically and economically. It is doubtful that the US would dare to damage any of Iran’s energy facilities. The West, if it came to invasion, would rather take them intact.
As a consideration of strategy, a significant part of Iran’s reserves, including an oil shipping connection at Khark Island, lies extremely close to Iraq by land in the Adaban Region and it is vulnerable from the sea. The main obstacles in seizing by ground assault the territory are marshes and swamps (home of the trench lines of misery and death for around one million Iranian soldiers during the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s). Seizing the territory would be relatively easy for the US Central Command, though not without unexpected difficulty in the invasion. It would inspire a backlash in the Iraqi Shi’a population against the US. The territory would provide a bargaining chip, easily defended against counter-attacks by Iran. To get back its revenue producing region, negotiations would begin over Iran’s nuclear program and support for terrorism. Seizing this territory would not require invasion and occupation of the entire country, just a portion with enough dollar/euro value to attempt to compel Iran to submit. It might lead to new terms for Iran’s participation in regional cooperation, end its nuclear research, and stop its support for guerilla/terrorist around the world. (Seizing territory in a limited war was The Cepia Club’s conclusion in an essay in Oct. 2002 for the Iraq war).
Unfortunately, US aims may be bigger than a limited objective of territory in a quid pro quo exchange. Like Iraq, the current foreign policy makers in the US might have another “big idea” vision of occupying Iran, and then establishing democracy in a country that has functioning, free elections at many levels (although the clerics still hold supreme power). Ominously, the US military confirmed earlier this week that the Israeli Air Force bombed a supposed supply transit dump in eastern Syria through which Iran is supplying Hezbol’ah in Lebanon. War clouds are looming. So what is the strategy?
If the Bush Administration does what authoritarian-minded rulers usually do–when losing one war, escalate and expand it; i.e. start a larger war–then the policy on Iran might already be set and in motion to proceed and succeed while President Bush is still in office. (One must wonder if the military will let him do it, or will they “pocket-veto” the order, which in essence would amount to a political coup. Such a thing happened, allegedly, during the final week of the Nixon Presidency). If the US gets into a larger war with Iran, the only possible winners are also the biggest winners in the world-wide balance of interests: Russia and China. The US can only lose out in the grand scheme in another such a war in Iran as it has already in Iraq. The Cepia Club will comment more later.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Vanik Was Example of Congress's Role in Foreign Policy

On Sat., September 1st,
former Congressman Charles Vanik died at the age of 94. A multi-term
representative from Ohio, Vanik, a Democrat, had one significant, but
forgotten and obscure, role in US Cold War foreign policy during the
1970s. It has a relevance for understanding today's problems.

As the US negotiated withdrawal in
Paris with its Communist Vietnamese enemies in 1972, US credibility
with allies and “moral” deterrence against aggressive Soviet
grand strategy hit Cold War lows. By this time, the Soviet Union
neared phase one completion of ten-year a strategic arms buildup, in
nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and a
global-projection “blue water” navy. This arms buildup resulted
directly from its diplomatic humiliation in 1962 during the Cuban
missile crisis, when a Soviet strategic coup to place medium range
nuclear missiles (the only kind it had) failed in light of US
superiority over long-range ICBMs and strategic bombers. The Soviet
move had failed because the US Navy could keep strategic and
conventional reinforcements from reaching Cub,. And because the US
could ultimately cause more damage to the USSR than the Soviets could
cause America if it became a shooting war.

Once the grand strategy failures in
Vietnam had caused internal turmoil in the US, American domestic
support withered for an aggressive response to Soviet moves in South
Asia, Africa, and even Latin America. Like all nations suffering a
lose of credibility, deterrence, influence, trust, consensus due to
futile a long war, the US by the beginning of the 1970s found itself
on the strategic defensive. Until 1981 and a military and diplomatic
endgame began under President Reagan, US foreign policy reacted to
Soviet initatives around the world, from South and East Africa, the
Persian Gulf, Nicaragua, Poland, South Asia to strategic nuclear arms
superiority, and to the political disunity in the European/North
Atlantic alliance.

When he became President in 1969
promising to withdraw from Vietnam, Richard Nixon and his key foreign
policy assistant Henry Kissinger embarked on a policy of detente
(stable relations) with the Soviet Union. The detente was designed
with “linkage” to issues of US national interest. For example,
in exchange for two things the Soviet Union needed most of all by
1971, credits and loans for wheat and consumer goods, President
Nixon would demand something in return, be it a strategic arms
limitation treaty and a on anti-ballisitc missile systems (to avoid a
costly US military modernization) or political cooperation in ending
the Vietnam War. (The Soviet Union was the main supplier of Communist
weapons, food, and consumer products North Vietanm. In fact, as the
negotiations entered their final 7 month climax, the US bombed and
mined North Vietnam's economic infrastructure and harbors, which put
Soviet ships and citizens at risk. The Soviets did not protest, even
at one point carrying out a summit with Nixon).

The key to Nixon's policy was to
“carrot” the Soviets with enticements for things of no or little
military value, and using a “stick” of costly consequences to the
Soviet Union if the the Communist threatened US vital national
interests. One such “stick” involved a nuclear combat alert for
24 hours during the Oct. 1973 Arab-Israeli war when the Soviets
threatened to go to war with Israel. With the “diplomatic”
deterrence on the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1975, the US bought
itself some critical time to sort out the political, economic, social
and military mess created by Vietnam.

By the time that the detente strategy
completely broke down and the Soviet Union no longer felt restrained
in 1976, the US had given itself four vital years to finish
development and near deployment of new weapons which were not
possible until funding could be found after war in Vietnam. ( The
weapons included: MX, the most imposing ICBM the US ever possessed,
and the Trident missile/submarine system) and conventional weapons
superior to Soviet systems (F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, M1 Abrams Main
Battle Tank, and the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle). When the
Soviet Union and its Cuban proxies began to militarily intervene in
Angola, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nicaragua,
Afghanistan, Poland, El Salvador, and elsehwhere, the US had regained
at least credible and capable deterence with the most modern weapons
to match the Soviet military.

So how does Vanik and Congress fit in?
Since the Soviet arms buildup almost ruined its economy, and by
default its agriculture to feed itself, trade credits and goods had
to be obtained. As Nixon and Kissinger negotiated in 1971 and 1972
for strategic arms agreements, the offer of US Import-Export Bank and
other financial assistance was the “carrot.” In order to obtain
these things at better deals, Nixon offered the USSR Most Favored
Nation trading status, which they sorely wanted. In spring of 1972,
Vanik, along with a fellow Democrat in the other chamber, Senator
Henry M. “Scoop” Jackon, introduced an amendment that would
require any nation (but aimed at the Soviet Union) that sought MFN
status to adhere to emigration under US-imposed quotas for its
citizens and allow citizens to freely leave. The prime target for
Vanik and Jackson was for Jewish Soviet citizens to leave the
country, where presumably most would go to Israel.

The negotiations between the Nixon
Administration and the Soviet Union had been worked out and many
parts implemented. (One humorous event happened to be the Soviet
grain negotiators understanding like Wall Street lawyers serious
loopholes in their grain contracts. In the end, the Soviet Union
ended up buying tens of millions of dollars of US grain at a
little-or-no-porfit discount price for American businesses). The
Soviets did in fact allow some emigration, the ceilings of which were
set in private understandings between the Soviet Union and Nixon. The
only requirement for immigration from the USSR was an “exit tax,”
rather justifiably in place to pay for the free education and health
care (such as it was) provided under the Soviet socialist economic
system. It was the bane of the Jackson-Vanik amendment that the
Soviet Union would place such restrictions on anyone emigrating from
the USSR.

When the amendment was finally passed
with a trade bill in 1974, which President Ford signed into law,
Kissinger feared pressuring the Soviets to concede on an issue of an
entirely sovereign internal matter. While it was perhaps of little
consequence that the MFN status failed to become a reality (it is
conjecture to say that the issue entirely derailed detente all by
itself), Kissinger said of US-Soviet relations, “If Jackson
succeeded in souring the relationship, he was almost certain to
reduce rather than increase emigration. (The Jackson-Vanik amendment
did, in fact, exactly that).” (Kissinger, Henry. Years of
. Boston Little, Brown: 1982, p. 987).

The far larger issue in this bit of
history has a relavance to 2007 American politics. Congress always
has had, and as the Jackson-Vanik amendment did show, it can have an
important role in US foreign policy. Sen. Jackson's main motivation
for the emigration amendment was to derail detente since he was, as
manhy old-time Democrats were, a “hawk” on national security.
But even more, Jackson had his sights on the Democratic Presidential
nomination in 1976. As the US sees in the present foreign policy
debate in Congress over the war in Iraq, Congress, on both sides of
the partisan aisle, is prone to play politics on the life and death
matters of war and peace. The 2008 elections, control of both houses
of Conress, and which party will occupy the White House, are clearly
in play in the debate from the beginning in late summer 2002. Perhaps
if Congress exercised its proper policy and funding oversight, and
its checking balance in American government, instead of surrendering
after Sept. 12, 2001, the US might not find itself in the current
predicament of bad war policy, a financial blackhole in the war,
fleeing allies, and confrontational policies in every part of the
world from old enemies (Russia) and new competitors (China).

Can Americans be so cynical of their
fate that they can allow politicians, the professionals of special
interest and personal ambition, to lead US astray for their greed?
Can America find its inspired will to finally find public servants
more worried about good foreign policy, financial responsibility, and
the common good instead of winning elections? If not, America is
doomed, at least in the short-term.

Powered by ScribeFire.