The 2016 Earth Day signing of the “Climate Protection Treaty” at the UN was supposed to symbolize the day when world leaders officially declared war on climate change then Donald Trump was elected and reality caught up with the fantasy of the world’s political elites. By adopting the so-called Paris Agreement, world leaders hoped to address the hazards of human accelerated global warming and climate change before the opportunity to address global warming through emissions cuts is lost. They also hoped to circumvent public opposition by using international law to lock countries into commitments that are likely to cause a number of economic complications.
Trump’s willingness to entertain the Paris Agreement is odd given his domestic policy preference, thus there is only one outcome for the treaty under his leadership. Not only has Trump been a staunch critic of international endeavors, e.g. he is the poster child for anti-globalists, his domestic policies have taken a strong anti-regulation, anti-environmental tone. Even if Trump accepts the Paris Agreement in an effort to bolster his Administration’s diplomatic standing, a policy agenda that seeks to gut the EPA, expand the gas and oil industries, and reduce taxes on industry cannot honor the climate accord. An alternative approach to the framework laid out in the Climate Protection Treaty may, however, be used to garner the support of men like Mr. Trump.
Memorial Day reminds the Americans People that freedom was secured with the blood of others, yet the Free Peoples of the world need to contemplate and appreciate, on a daily basis, the reasons why we enjoy so many freedoms. Thanks to advancements in medicine and military technology, the death tolls of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, were actually far lower than what they could have been. Memorial Day should, therefore, also be about those who died in our wars as well as those who survived with less visible scars. It is important to remember Memorial Day is not just a national holiday dedicated to those who died in America’s wars. It is a day about all those individuals who sacrificed when their Country needed them the most.
That said, it also important to recognize that very few of America’s wars have actually taken place on the US mainland. Outside of minor skirmishes and attacks on US territory, the bulk of America’s war efforts have taken place overseas. While some simply interpret America’s use of force in foreign lands as imperialistic ambition, others see it as the justifiable defense of others. At any rate, war for the US has been as much an issue of national security as international security. Just as America’s war policies have taken on an international flair, so have efforts to avoid armed conflict and the sacrifice of US troops, which is why diplomacy is just as important as defense.
Trump Administration Seeks To Solve Economic Dysfunction by Slashing Public Welfare Funding: the Right Solution?
The Trump Administration’s first budget proposal reflects the partisan priorities of Republicans, which includes reduced taxes and social welfare spending as well as increased defense spending. For communities that rely on defense spending to fuel their local economies, the additional redistribution of tax dollars will help secure jobs and consumer spending. For communities that rely on non-defense government spending, including public assistance to support their unemployed and underpaid populations, Trump’s embrace of the Republican “scarcity mentality” translates into a loss of funding that helps maintain the citizens and businesses residing outside of America’s decreasing number of wealthy communities.
If the 3% growth rate predicted under the Trump budget proposal is achievable, economic growth alone would be enough to help reduce the cost of social welfare spending by decreasing the need. Instead of waging war on social welfare spending, the focus should be on underdeveloped areas. Economic development is the best way to address the needs of the American People and reduce dependency on government programs. One counterargument is public assistance offers greater benefits than low-wage work, which actually highlights a key economic issue: the widespread lack of income growth. Another is that public assistance trains people to be dysfunctional, which has some validity, yet actually supports the need for social welfare spending.
The “Time” article, “Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America” by Massimo Calabresi with reporting by Pratheek Rebala, details the budding research into how the Russian government may have sought to use social media and the internet to manipulate public opinion in the US and elsewhere. Clearly, insights presented in the article can be generalized to any attempt to use propaganda and technology to manipulate public opinion and powerful actors. The lessons learned can also be used to help develop ways to defend against attempts to utilize mass propaganda.
The Calabresi article argues that Russian cyber operatives target influential individuals, i.e. aides to policymakers, national security experts, journalists, and anyone else who might help shape public opinion and public policy. Russian cyber operatives then profile their targets to determine who might be sympathetic to some aspect of their message. They then flood these individuals with messages that reinforce their predisposed opinions and slowly ”train” them to trust in Russian propaganda . These individuals then became an extension of the Russian propaganda machine. Those who do not are discredited and silenced by any means possible.
Donald Trump kicked off his first international excursion as President of the United States with a visit to Saudi Arabia. Although the turbulent Middle East is defined by overlapping rivalries based on sectarian and tribal divisions, the region is strongly polarized between Shiite and Sunni factions. As a US ally and regional power, Saudi Arabia is a prime choice for a Presidential visit, yet Middle Eastern power politics make Trump’s visit a symbol of the issues that drive strife in the region and America’s perceived favoritism of Sunnis.
Where Shiite-dominated regional power Iran represents a sort of Shiite pole in the region, Sunni-dominated regional power Saudi Arabia represents a Sunni pole. Culturally, the Peoples of the Middle East are globalizing alongside the rest of the world, which means Muslims increasingly see Muslims of rival sects and tribes as Muslim brothers and sisters. The powers of the Middle East, however, continue to cling to the rivalries that spawned from the region’s ancient cultural divisions. For this reason, terrorism is never just an issue of good fighting evil in the Middle East as President Trump framed the issue in his speech to the Kingdom.
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