Category Archives: foreign policy

Applauding Turkey and Brazil (and Russia and China too)

Recent sanctions leveled against Iran seem troublesome, and as some (like Ron Paul) have indicated, seem to be the last or next-to-last step before armed conflict in our relations.  In my case, trying to promote freedom and liberty by constricting it (to a country that would greatly benefit from it) seems counterproductive.  In the case of Iraq, crippling sanctions resulted in the deaths of half a million children and women in the 1990s.  Hardly justifiable.  Sanctions have also failed in North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.  No regime change is apparently imminent in either country.  Instead, some of the poorest and most repressed on the earth become even poorer as their trade with other countries is restricted.  A far better policy would be to follow the Golden Rule, treating other countries as we would want to be treated.  This method would lead to greater peace and prosperity, and would make America the “city on the hill” it aspires to be, rather than the “king of the hill” it sometimes appears to be.

However, there is some good news to be found.  For one, Turkey and Brazil tried to go the third-party enrichment route (Iran’s refusal was reportedly the US’s rationale for issuing the sanctions in the first place), and though they succeeded in getting Iran to agree to having its uranium enriched elsewhere, both countries were informed it was too late, and that the sanctions were going forward.  Both boldly opposed the sanctions.

Russia and China were both interested in softening the sanctions; and soften them they did.  What the UN passed was far from the “crippling sanctions” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to impose.  One of the biggest reasons was that China and Russia insisted on softening the sanctions, or they would not be passed.  I applaud such efforts to reduce the costliness of sanctions on a country that definitely could benefit from trade, especially at this juncture.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, foreign policy, politics, role of government, Ron Paul

Taiwan and Chinese Relations

Taiwanese and Chinese relations are growing closer.  This is an exciting international piece of news!

Since 2008, and the election of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, there have been increasing closeness with regards to transport and trade.  For years, there were tensions, even high tensions, between the China (sometimes called the “mainland”) and Taiwan.  I recall a cruise missile incident about fifteen years ago which seemed scary.  Taiwanese presidents would provoke mainland Chinese anger by intimating that they were independent of mainland China, or that they would like to be so.  The People’s Republic of China has long been bristling at such notions.  President Ma has more of a “building on common beliefs” philosophy with respect to China-Taiwan relations, and it seems to be working well.  He works with the mainland on issues of mutual interest in a way that is innocuous or at least inoffensive to mainland China.

How have the countries grown closer?  Consider trade, for one.

Since 2000, direct trade between the countries was $31 billion.  In 2008, it was $100 billion.  Even with this increase, Taiwanese businesses and entrepreneurs would like even more trade barriers removed.  At this juncture, Taiwan and China are working on a trade agreement (called Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) which would enable even closer ties with fewer trade restrictions and tariffs.

Another difference would be travel.  In 2000, individuals desiring to travel from Taiwan to mainland China had to go through Hong Kong (and vice versa).  This restriction was recently lifted, and direct flights to the mainland are now commonplace.

In a world where the West (Europe and North America) seems increasingly statist and bent on cluelessly spending itself into oblivion, those in the East, especially China and India, seem to be moving in the other direction, at least in some aspects.  These are to be applauded.

I look forward to the day when the doors of the Gospel will be opened in mainland China.  Increasing closeness with Taiwan can only help in this regard.

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Filed under Christianity, fiscal policy, foreign policy, Libertarian, role of government, War

William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone was a British politician and true classical liberal.  He was an ardent supporter of free markets, fiscal discipline, low taxes, and peaceful relations between nations.

His political career spanned many decades, starting in Parliament, serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer (roughly equivalent to Secretary of the Treasury) twice for a total of roughly ten years, and serving as Prime Minister four times for a total of roughly thirteen years.  (Having a career public servant serve as Secretary of the Treasury is certainly not the pattern the United States has followed for the last few decades, as these are in general picked from the financial world, rather than the public sector.)

One of his early aims as Prime Minister was to abolish the income tax.  An early strategy to this end was to expand the income tax to lower income brackets, thinking that this would provoke such a popular uproar that the income tax would no doubt be abolished.  Unfortunately, in this naive perspective he was disappointed, as though it was an unpopular move, it never lead to a complete abolishment of the income tax.  In fact, during times of crisis or military conflict, he temporarily raised the income tax in the name of fiscal discipline and balancing the budget.  One of his great statements, uttered during the Crimean conflict in the 1850s is this: “The expenses of a war are the moral check which it has pleased the Almighty to impose on the ambition and the lust of conquest that are inherent in so many nations.”  Note, for one, the direct and shameless reference to God.  Also note the emphasis on fiscal discipline; at approximately the same time, the United States of America inflated and borrowed to finance the Civil War.

He was a powerful orator, an impressive communicator, even when discussing tame subjects such as the budget.  His career had many small accomplishments such as outlawing a centuries-long practice of flogging citizens during times of peace, as well as large and significant moves which aimed at improving relations between the British Empire and other countries such as Ireland and France.

Late in life, while serving as Prime Minister, he stood in opposition to the members of the Cabinet, all of whom favored an increase in Navy expenses.  He believed that this ran counter to his entire career, and more importantly, the principles of freedom.  In January 1894 Gladstone wrote that he would not “break to pieces the continuous action of my political life, nor trample on the tradition received from every colleague who has ever been my teacher” by supporting naval rearmament.

Like John Lilburne and many others, William Ewart Gladstone is a titanic historical liberal figure that modern-day liberals (and conservatives and libertarians and those of all stripes) would do well to look to.

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On President Obama, Moral Source of America’s Authority, and Sacred Trust

I start my long public absence from cyberspace with with two quotes from President Obama:

We must draw on the strength of our values — for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not.  That’s why we must promote our values by living them at home — which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples.  That is who we are.  That is the source, the moral source, of America’s authority.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

The U.S. “is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust…I urge you to choose Chicago. And if you do — if we walk this path together — then I promise you this: The city of Chicago and the United States of America will make the world proud.”

http://www.shallownation.com/2009/10/02/obama-olympics-2016-video-photos-10-2-09-chicago-2016-bid-in-copenhagen/

Interesting, these two quotes, from President Barack Obama.

First, let’s discuss the first of these two.  (Remember that this first speech is to drum up support, of which there was and is plenty on both sides of the aisle before this speech, for an increased military presence in Afghanistan.)  What is the moral source of America’s authority?  Some sort of Lockean social contract?  Some sort of transcendent goodness or truth?  God-given inalienable rights?  It’s not really clear to me what exactly he’s referring to, but in context, it seems at its root, to be a more flowery yet similar argument to what President Bush said, that you are either with us or with the terrorists (see here) in that to oppose this plan is to oppose morality itself, or perhaps the moral source of America’s authority, as if America is necessarily propelled to its current and currently increasing levels of hyperinterventionism because of its moral authority.  (One would wonder, then, was the Founder’s noninterventionism somehow less moral?)

It is also clear that God is not mentioned, even obliquely, as a moral source of America’s authority (lest there be any confusion, let me be clear: this is not limited to Democrats; Republicans are guilty of the same omission; others hypocritically invoke His name while their actions betray Him).

Actions and ideology indicate that this kind of opportunity and justice is more closely related to a notion of positive rights.  In addition, volumes could be spoken of how hypocritical this statement seems on its face, in that to hundreds of millions, if not billions, the very policies America is pursuing domestically and internationally promote the opposition of freedom, justice, opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples.

Now, for quote number two.

Notice the use of “sacred.”  For me, as an active Mormon, and along with many other religionists of all creeds, I reserve this word for my relationship with Deity.  That, alone, is sacred.  Yes, as a Latter-day Saint, since I believe associations may continue into the next world, those also are sacred, but mostly in a theological contrast.  If God is removed from these, the sacred goes away, too.

So what does the use of this word tell us about President Obama, and the ideology which he (and many other Americans) subscribes to?  What, for him, holds the highest importance?  What is sacred to him?

No question that it is important to certainly respect one another, and to value one another’s trust.  But the use of that word “sacred” seems a little over-the-top, at minimum.  Perhaps, you might say, it is just trivial political pandering, begging to get a global economic stimulus into his beloved Chi-town.  But maybe it means something else….

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Steps Forward and Back

I served a mission in south Asia among Chinese people, and so I am interested in the spread of the Gospel to mainland China.

Regarding Mormonism, two recent developments are interesting.

Firstly, from this article, I see that Taiwan is down-sizing from three to two missions.  It is noteworthy that a similar event occurred roughly thirty years ago, when the Kaohsiung mission (which was actually the second created in Taiwan to my knowledge) was down-sized after the creation of the Taichung mission (the third created in Taiwan).

Secondly, there is the well-known story of Utah Governor John Huntsman being enlisted to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China.  Huntsman, an active Mormon to my knowledge, would certainly be a friend to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should they be interested in some sort of assistance from Uncle Sam in facilitating ecclesiastical or humanitarian efforts.

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Good News on China

Reading this article gives me great hope in the future.

To see China investing in Taiwan, and the continuation of increasing ties and connections between the island and the mainland is very positive news indeed.

Why is it such great news?

One reason is the theology that contention is of the devil, and so reconciliation is a move away from the adversary’s ways and tactics and towards the Savior’s ideal of unity.

Another reason is that the closer relations between Taiwan and China become, the less likely a worldwide conflict will stem from their animosity (less than ten years ago, relations were significantly frostier between the two).  Avoiding world war, in my opinion, is always a good thing.

A third is that closer ties between Taiwan and China and the inevitable economic growth to follow is a great example to the rest of us to avoid isolating ourselves from each other, both as individuals and as nation-states.  For instance, are sanctions really that effective at punishing governments we oppose?  Are they moral?

A fourth, and perhaps the most important, is that a greater opening of China to the outside world will eventually result in the preaching of the Gospel on mainland China.  I am a firm believer the day is coming when the Gospel will be proselyted, at some level, in mainland China, and this type of information makes me think the day is increasingly closer.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, foreign policy, LDS Church, Libertarian, Mormonism, Personal, politics, War

Ron Paul on Foreign Policy

I admit I may not agree 100% with Ron Paul on everything.  I may find him to be too harsh at times.  For instance, I have a hard time equating taxation with theft.  To do so is to negate the efficacy of any taxation, or any state, for that matter, funded by coercion of any sort.  I’m not sure what this would do to the Constitution.

With that in mind, I find his recent remarks (see here) on foreign policy enlightening and refreshing.  I cannot for the life of me understand why so few refuse to take this common-sense, historical, and Constitutional approach to foreign policy.  Why is it so hard to comprehend antipathy to a foreign policy hostile to so many?

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