Allies are critical – we cannot take our friends for granted

When a German state official was asked a few years ago what are the strengths of America, he noted its military power and its allied relationships. His concern at the time was the lack of respect that the previous president was showing to our allies. Sadly, the current president has made a second mistake in keeping our allies abreast. This cannot happen.

The first mistake was not giving ample heads up to our allies that the US was pulling out of Afghanistan. They were somewhat surprised and, as a result, less prepared to act when the time came. That is poor form.

The second mistake happened this week when Australia canceled a deal with a French entity for submarines to make a better deal with the Americans. No phone call or heads-up was made to the French and they were beyond frustrated. In fact, France pulled their US ambassador in protest. Just three months ago, President Macron said side-be-side with President Biden, America is back.

Allies are critical. With allies on our side, we have been able to build coalitions to do things. Yet, when we lied to our allies about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as pretense for invading Iraq, our allies were left holding the bag as well. A UK investigation faulted President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for misleading the UK people about the WMDs.

The US announced leaving the Paris Climate Change Accord in 2017, an accord that all but three countries had signed. It was an agreement we helped forge, yet our word does not mean as much with fickle presidents. Fortunately, we rejoined the agreement under President Biden. One departure under the last president that got less press is the US pulled out under an eleven country Trans Pacific Partnership to enable Pacific based countries to better compete with China. The other ten countries went on without us.

No deal is perfect. No relationship is perfect.. But, we cannot take our friends for granted. This is especially true when an action may be detrimental. You must talk it through. Thinking of it in terms of married relationships, marriage is hard work. You have to work at it and you cannot take your partner’s love for granted. Our allies may not love us, but the same goes for them. Do not take them for granted.

Thoughts for Thursday

Here are a few random thoughts on a rainy Thursday, with more rain to come in the days ahead.

A retired ambassador said recently, the US strength is more than its military, it is its relationships with allies. What concerns me is we are devaluing our allied relationships. This is echoed by the European Union Chairman Dean Tusk. Tusk said the EU must be more united than ever before to deal with what he called Trump’s “capricious assertiveness”. My question is this how we want to be viewed by our friends?

Another retired ambassador to Israel said while he agreed with the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the US administration made two mistakes. It should have been announced in the context of moving toward a two state solution. In essence, the US placed little obligation on Israel for this move. Also, celebrating the opening on the anniversary of Israel is an insult to Palestinians. This date is not viewed favorably, so the celebration rubbed salt in a wound.

Assuming the role of ambassador for the disenfranchised in the US, a huge opportunity missed occurred during the rushed tax bill which hugely favored companies and the wealthy. I favored some relief on the corporate tax rate, but we went way too far and are negatively impacting our huge and growing debt. The additional opportunity missed I am referencing is not imposing a requirement on companies to provide raises. One way of doing this would have been a concurrent increase in the US minimum wage moving it from $7.25 to a living wage of above $10 per hour. Token one-time bonuses are actually the barest minimum of what could be done with an annual tax break – how about a raise instead? More income to people in need is accretive to the economy.

Finally, I have seen footage of conservative news sources highlighting Venezuela’s problems as an indictment of socialism. While I am a capitalist, I also recognize our country is a mixture of both. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and bankruptcy laws are all forms of socialism. We also have other restrictions to prevent unfettered capitalism. Venezuela’s problems are due to corruption and mismanagement that can be traced even back to the popular Chavez. His successor, Maduro, has shown a level of incompetence that is quite visible to all.

That is all for this Thursday. Please share your thoughts.