United, the People of a nation are stronger than divided. When there is a common cause, or enemy, it can be relatively easy to unite even the most diverse populations. When there are sharp political differences, deep cultural divisions, and irreconcilable grievances, even the strongest of unions face the prospects of secession. The European Union, for example, had managed to unite the highly diverse nations of Europe, which were fierce revivals until the Cold War, as part of an effort to secure the continent’s economic outlook. The so-called Brexit, i.e. Britain’s exist from the EU, amid years of economic hardships has, of course, blunted the EU project.
In the US, the State of Texas has, from time to time, has threatened to secede from the Union. With the American Civil War in mind, secession is prohibited by the US Constitution. The US was formed as a political entity designed to transcend culture and assimilate immigrant populations into a new territory, thus all US citizens have a shared right to all US territory. Most countries, however, were formed out of communities with their own cultures and historic claims to the lands they occupy. As such, the sovereign rights of the Nation come second to the desires of the families and communities that have lived in territories for centuries or more. In their minds, the right to self-govern means the right to secede, which is about to be tested in Spain and Iraq.
Republican efforts to reveal Obamacare share one devastating fault. They all result in the loss of health insurance for around 20 million or more Americans. The latest legislative effort under Republican leadership, the Graham-Cassidy plan, threatens to dramatically curtail federal funding to Medicaid and result in, at least, 21 million Americans going without health insurance. Although Republicans are using opposition to Obamacare as a means to garner support among their base, twenty million is a big number that could represent a big voting block capable of undermining Republican chances on a national level. Even if all 20 million were not compelled to lash out against Republicans, the number of those who would is enough to stir strong emotions among Democrats and moderates.
The greatest defense of the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare, was never the Obama Administration’s constant defense of the legislation, Democratic control of the Federal government, or any of its successes. In fact, Democrats hurt themselves by defending the shortcomings of the legislation. Doing so rallied Republican supporters to repeal Obamacare and discouraged Democratic support who could not rally around a tainted healthcare reform effort with limited successes. Today, Republicans face similar backlash, because they lack a better option. The greatest defense of Obamacare comes from framing repeal as the loss of health coverage. To save themselves from this booby trap, Republicans must either give up on repeal or work with Democrats to further healthcare reform efforts.
The Rohingya Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Hypocrisy: Democracy Requires Government to Transcend Racism
Myanmar, formerly the British colony of Burma, and celebrated Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now the de facto civilian leader of Myanmar, have longed captured the attention of global elites. This attention has largely resulted from the efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi and her prolonged status as a political prison. The daughter of Myanmar’s founding father Aung San, and the employee of UN Secretary General U Thant, Aung San Suu Kyi was positioned perfectly to make tiny Burma’s cause a cause for the International Community. After several false transitions, bloody uprisings, and humanitarian disasters, it finally appeared the ruling military junta was ready to secede power in 2008 and embrace democratization.
In 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat in Parliament. In 2012, her Party, the National League for Democracy won by a landslide. Although banned from holding the Presidency, due to a xenophobic Constitutional clause that prohibits spouses and parents of foreign citizens from holding the position, Suu Kyi chose to maintain an official role in the democratic government by utilizing Htin Kyaw as a puppet President. Not only has her unwillingness to step aside cost Myanmar true democratic leadership, the ongoing need to appease the military means Myanmar has yet to fully democratize. Aung San Suu Kyi’s propaganda, disinformation-laced speech to the UN revealed the true influence of the military over the ill-democratic government and the ugly side of democracy.
The United Nations has offered world leaders and diplomats a forum to express their views on global issues for 72 years. Throughout its long history, the impact of the UN on world affairs has often been overlooked. In recent years, the inability of the International Community to resolve prolonged conflicts, such as the Syrian Civil War and the Korean War, has left many to question the value of the UN. In 2017, one fierce critic of the United Nations, US President Donald Trump, used his time in front of the General Assembly to call for bureaucratic reforms. Reforms to the UN will not, however, do anything to improve its performance as the UN has no real power. All of the power of the UN resides in the individual member states.
The US alone spends roughly $8 billion a year on the UN. It also spends between $50 and 65 billion on the US State Department, which is responsible for America’s diplomatic representation throughout the world. Without the UN, the US would likely have to spend a great deal more on diplomatic and trade infrastructure to achieve the same level of interaction it enjoys with the representatives of other nations. More importantly, the US spends $8 billion on the UN and roughly $60 billion on the US State Department, but around $600 billion on the US military. Even if the UN helps prevent a handful of conflicts between the US and its rivals while helping to diffuse the potential for even more wars, i.e. the need to buildup military forces, it saves money and lives.
War is a course best pursued when an enemy is weakest and least expects an attack. From individual assaults to military campaigns, skilled predators know they must strike when their victims are most unlikely to beat back an attack or escape. Men like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, the military leaders of Myanmar, and the warlords of the Middle East are predators living in a relatively peaceful International Community that ineptly confronts conflict with economic and diplomatic sanctions. The leaders and populations of First World countries, which have enjoyed decades of prolonged peace and stability outside of violent crime, have become perfectly adapted to their environment. They appear to have lost their defenses against predators.
The 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, the 2014 invasion of Crimea, and the clandestine 2014 paramilitary Russian campaign in Eastern Ukraine, among other Russian campaigns, have established a clear M.O. for the Putin government. Russia likes to stage military buildups under misleading pretenses then use any perceived threats or security incidents to rationalize crushing retaliation. This is why Russia’s understated Belarus military games have stoke fears among Baltic states. Putin and his comrades do not care about the economic and diplomatic costs of their policies as their contemporaries in the West and Asia, including China, do. They think more like Kim Jong-Un and the heads of other aggressive, insecure nations.
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