140 Characters and Global Risk

This number equates to twenty words of seven letters or symbols. Or, twenty-eight words of five letters or symbols. Irrespective of the combination, 140 characters typed in impatience is not conducive to well-thought out communication.

Yet, when in the hands of an ego-maniacal, less informed than needed and thin-skinned man who does not filter his thoughts, it is dangerous. People react to these few words that cannot possibly reflect context and subtlety and, in many cases, should not be typed without much thought and input from expert advisors. It is a bumper sticker approach to policy statements and governance.

But, when these character limits are deployed with national security messages, they are a recipe for disaster. The author has been advised on more than one occasion by another country how troubling these communiques are, most recently by China about his tweet on North Korea.

If this author is intending to govern by tweet with his temperament, this should give every person on the planet pause. But, don’t take my word for it.

On the BBC World News America earlier this week, Ian Bremmer, the founder of the Eurasia Group, an organization who measures risk, said the greatest global risk this year is an independent or retrenching America from the global scene. Bremmer said it would be akin to removing the guard rails on the global highways.

This is the stated posture of the President-elect to look more within. Imagine that concept being executed in the hands of the same less-informed, ego-maniacal and temperamental tweeting man. What could possibly go wrong?


Here are 20 countries take on the US presidential election

President Barack Obama mentioned during his speech at the Democratic National Convention, that the rest of the world sees our presidential election much differently. In their view, the differential between the two candidates is striking, with Hillary Clinton being far more qualified and prepared to be on the global stage as US President.

Don’t take my word for it. Or, President Obama’s. Let’s consider the twenty countries that make up the G20.

In a YouGov/ Handelsblatt Poll of people in the G20 countries a few months ago, nineteen countries favored Clinton, with only Russia favoring Trump. This lone country dissent is even more interesting of late given Trump’s fascination with Russia and its media controlling leader who Trump admires. A link to the article and graphic is below.

In many of these nineteen countries, the difference is not even close. Maybe we in the US are finally catching on to what they see. They see an active First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who has been on the global stage for some time. They see a woman who has advocated for women and girls issues around the globe dating back to the 1990s, and even before in the US. They see a woman who has relationships with many leaders and understands better than her opponents, the subtleties in each country.

They see a person who actually thinks through plans and knows policies. And, the see a woman who respects our commitments to our allies and has the temperament for the job. Her main opponent does not seem to possess these attributes. His thin-skin, large ego, bombastic manner and shallow understanding is offensive and dangerous. I have counted seven retired generals, three former CIA directors and three former Directors of Defense that have formally come out against Trump for his dangerous remarks.

Hillary Clinton is not a perfect candidate. She has been around long enough to warrant fair, but has also received more unfair, criticism. She is protective of her name and message, sometimes to a fault. Yet, she has shown she is a tough cookie, and we need someone who is competent, rational, diplomatic and tough. Plus, party matters  – we cannot back track on climate change action and must address environmental issues; we must improve on the ACA; we must not fall back on civil rights for all; and, we must invest in our country to improve infrastructure and create jobs.



A monkey with a hand grenade – a fable

The Boy Emperor said loudly, “I rule all that I can see” to his generals who were scurrying behind him to keep pace. “Of course, you do your lordship,” said one very subservient military commander. “It is divinely inspired,” said another who wanted to top the obsequiousness of the other general. “Your father’s lineage goes back to the gods themselves.”

“But, I have a question,” the Boy Emperor asked. “Why is my jungle here so sparse and open, while the one to the south of us is lush and full of bananas and grapes? My fellow monkeys deserve to have an abundance of food and foliage.” Another general, not to be outdone by the first two said, “Sire, your followers do not need luxuries. They appreciate what they have and would be spoiled if they had too much.” Another general added, “Plus our surveys show your followers adore you and wish you could be their leader forever. Our monkeys are happy with what they have. They do not want more.”

“However, I have all of these hand grenades and am more powerful than the leaders of the south forest. I am even more powerful than the monkeys who live across the sea,” said the Boy Emperor. “I want to be feared and respected by everyone! I want the lush forest to the south. How did they get so much by the way?”

“Oh, you don’t want to go down that path, as they let business trade freely with others.The leaders do not have as much control as you do. They are a spoiled lot,” said one of the generals. “We even let them do some work with our monkeys in our forest to show them whose way is better. I think together we make bunches and bunches of bananas together for our monkeys.”

The Boy Emperor said, “Well, I will show them. I don’t want them making bananas for our monkeys. If our way is better, let them suffer. I want to throw my grenades at them and let them see who is boss. They will fear me and respect me. Then, I can have their lush forest for our monkeys.” There was silence.

One of the generals who is not quite so subservient finally spoke up. “Sire, yours is obviously the better way. However, we cannot make war on someone who occasionally helps us get more bananas. They need us to see what greatness looks like. Why don’t we just threaten them and see if they will just hand over more bananas? We also have to be mindful of the monkeys across the sea and the monkeys up the road. The monkeys up the road have been on our side, but they may not like us fighting someone unless we have to. Plus, the ones across the sea have many more monkeys than we do. And, I think they have more hand grenades, too.

The Boy Emperor was obviously put out, but heard the last general. “Well, is it OK if I threaten the one across the sea as well? I will tell them I will hurl my hand grenades at them. We have many of them, too. Maybe they will give us some more bananas to honor my greatness. They did this with my father. Am I not great like he is?” The other generals nodded their head in agreement. The less subservient one grinned a sly grin as he knew he may have helped avert a bad war with the monkeys across the sea. Plus, he did not want the monkeys up the road to be less friendly.

The moral of the story is beware of a monkey with a hand grenade. He may just be a young foolish monkey, but it is a hand grenade. And, he appears to be foolish.