Trump jumps the other way in Syrian swamp

President Donald Trump is suddenly jumping up and down about President Assad after the alleged chemical attack in Syria several days ago.

The Federalist: So You Want To Go To War In Syria To Depose Assad. Can You Answer These 14 Questions First?

Recent news reports that the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against its own people have amplified calls for the United States to intervene militarily. The images of victims of the chemical attack, which shock the conscience and grieve the soul, all but cry out for a response. The Russian government claims, quite implausibly, that the attacks were either launched by rebels who oppose Assad or as a false flag effort to make Assad look guilty.

After years of watching former president Barack Obama dither and do nothing on Syria while Russia and Assad seized the initiative following Obama’s disastrous red line comments, many hoped President Donald Trump might be willing to take military action to put an end to Assad’s atrocities.

These calls are understandable given the magnitude of death and destruction wreaked by Assad. But what proponents of military action to depose Assad have not explained is what our clear national security interest is there, what political victory looks like, what our main risks are, and what costs we will be required to pay in order to achieve that victory.

Here are 14 questions that proponents of war in Syria must answer before anyone considers whether military intervention to remove Assad is the best course of action for the American people.

The questions:

1) What national security interest, rather than pure humanitarian interest, is served by the use of American military power to depose Assad’s regime?

2) How will deposing Assad make America safer?

3) What does final political victory in Syria look like (be specific), and how long will it take for that political victory to be achieved? Do you consider victory to be destabilization of Assad, the removal of Assad, the creation of a stable government that can protect itself and its people without additional assistance from the United States, etc.?

4) What military resources (e.g., ground troops), diplomatic resources, and financial resources will be required to achieve this political victory?

5) How long will it take to achieve political victory?

6) What costs, in terms of lives (both military and civilian), dollars, and forgone options elsewhere as a result of resource deployment in Syria, will be required to achieve political victory?

7) What other countries will join the United States in deposing Assad, in terms of military, monetary, or diplomatic resources?

8) Should explicit congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria be required, or should the president take action without congressional approval?

9) What is the risk of wider conflict with Russia, given that nation’s presence and stake in Syria, if the United States chooses to invade and depose Assad, a key Russian ally in the Middle East?

10) If U.S. intervention in Syria does spark a larger war with Russia, what does political victory in that scenario look like, and what costs will it entail?

11) Given that Assad has already demonstrated a willingness to use chemical weapons, how should the United States respond if the Assad regime deploys chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons against the United States?

12) Assuming the Assad regime is successfully removed from power, what type of government structure will be used to replace Assad, who will select that government, and how will that government establish and maintain stability going forward?

13) Given that a change in political power in the United States radically altered the American position in Iraq in 2009, how will you mitigate or address the risk of a similar political dynamic upending your preferred strategy in Syria, either in 2018, 2020, or beyond?

14) What lessons did you learn from America’s failure to achieve and maintain political victory following the removal of governments in Iraq and Libya, and how will you apply those lessons to a potential war in Syria?

Is trump capable of considering 4 let alone 14  questions?

 

 

Some questions about the TPP

Brendon Harre has posted about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and asks a number of questions about aspects of it.

Some questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

I have an open mind regarding international trade.

…broadly I am in favour of free trade reforms if the beneficiaries are spread throughout society.

I am not sure if the TPPA fits into the beneficial category for the ordinary person. I am not sure if trade and democracy are working together like they have in the past or against each other. I have some questions -not just for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also to those that oppose it.

He posts quite a bit of detail so go to his post to see that, but here are his questions.

Trans-Pacific Partnership and Chinese Free Trade Agreement

  • Would someone who is familiar with both the US based Trans-Pacific Partnership and New Zealand’s earlier trade agreement with China explain how they differ and how they fit together?
  • Does the TPPA allow the US to set the global trade rules to benefit its multinational companies?
  • When President Obama says the TPPA will allow the US to set the trade rules for our region is that true?
  • Is the TPPA the best vehicle for New Zealand to avoid being squashed by the fists of China or the United States?
  • Would the World Trade Organisation be a better instrument?
  • Are trade agreements the best tool for achieving non-trade objectives – international peace? In Europe, peace has been the driving force for ever closer unification, but that has led to a governance and economic crisis within the Euro-zone.

Sovereignty

  • Why is that one treaty between the Crown and sovereign peoples -Maori tribes, the adjudicating court is not binding on Parliament, while another treaty -the TPPA the adjudicating court is binding on Parliament?
  • In the future, if New Zealand wants to reassert Parliament’s right to sovereignty over the Investor State Dispute Settlement court -will it be able to -or will New Zealand be like Finland and find it difficult to reclaim lost aspects of sovereignty?

Investor State Dispute Settlement

  • Why do foreign owned companies need to use TPPA-like investor dispute processes against democratic countries which already have the -rule of law?
  • What are these hundreds of cases about?
  • Has the ISDS system gone rogue?
  • If the ISDS system does go rogue what can we do about it? Have an election and throw the buggers out?
  • What safeguards does the TPPA put in place to protect our Parliament and democracy, so it is unimpeded in determining the public interest?
  • Or are we on a slippery slope between democracy and corporate plutocracy?

Some good questions and fuel for discussion on the TPPA.

Details about Brendon’s questions: Some questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Brendon has put his questions to anti-TPPA organiser Barry Coates at The Daily Blog but says he is aiming more at ‘pro-TPP people’:

I wrote an article about the TPP from a centre-left perspective that contained a series of questions. It was directed at both sides. But I mainly want answers from the pro-TPP people because they have done such a poor job answering basic questions.

I think that quite a few anti-TPP people have also done a poor job of answering basic questions too.

Twelve answers from Metiria Turei

Green co-leader Metiria Turei was asked twelve questions by Sarah Stuart (NZ Herald). Here are abbreviated answers.

1. Did the feminist in you rejoice at being allowed to speak at Te Tii last year?

The feminist in me rejoiced about women talking to women and respecting their authority. It was the kuia who make it possible. All I did was ask.

2. How do you think Helen Clark would have felt about it?

3. How do you feel on Waitangi Day?

I love every bit of it. The political challenges and protests are really important. Our country has been built on love and pain and we have to be honest about both.

4. Are you missing Russel yet?

Are you kidding? I have a long list of jobs he needs to do before he goes. I will miss him. He’s a very deep thinker and full of ideas and he’s prepared to have those ideas tested, which is enormously valuable.

5. Do you wish, like him, that you had spent more time with the kids?

It’s my greatest regret about taking this job 13 years ago. I missed out on my daughter’s last half of childhood

6. Your family moved around a lot when you were a child: was that the time you felt at your loneliest?

Probably. It’s difficult having to explain to other kids repeatedly who you are and why you are at their school, making friends and not worrying you might not see them again.

7. What did your parents teach you?

Generosity. No matter how little you have, you have enough to share.

8. What did your parents teach you that you’d never pass on?

I can only think of the naughty things. Like nicking other people’s firewood and the techniques we used to do that. Or sucking the cream from other people’s milk bottles then putting the lid back down. Now I feel very sorry for those people, and embarrassed.

9. You drifted for a few years after school: were you hard on yourself for not achieving over those years?

I was really. But I took this view that to do something, anything, was better than nothing. That if I kept on trying to do things, then something would happen.

10. You were a single mum at 22, and then decided to get a law degree: how did you find the confidence, the time and money?

It wasn’t really about confidence – Piupiu needed her mum to make a better life.

11. Who is your favourite National politician?

I have a lot of time for Nikki Kaye, a young woman doing very well in a very hard place. She’s got a good conscience. Tau [Henare] was my favourite. I enjoyed his caustic, high maintenance company because he is funny as hell

12. Will your time as leader be up soon too?

I believe in staggered succession and that’s the advantage of a co-leadership. We’ll see what happens after the next election.

Detailed responses: Twelve Questions: Metiria Turei

Questions for Len Brown

There are a number of questions that deserve answers from Len Brown. NZ Herald listed some in Top council pair stonewall on key questions arising from affair:

The questions

Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay have yet to answer the following:

• Did [Mr Brown’s actions providing a reference for Bevan Chuang] comply with the Council Code of Conduct, including the Conflicts of Interest Policy and the guidelines of the Office of the Auditor-General?

• Did the mayor seek advice from the chief executive or the Office of the Auditor-General before deciding to provide a reference or act as a referee?

• Did the mayor provide any other references/act as a referee for Ms Chuang on other occasions?

• Has Ms Chuang been contracted by the council in any other capacity, including the New Lynn market?

• What are the rules around council staff having sex in the workplace?

In an online post the Herald asks another question: Len Brown affair: Who sent the text?

In all the questions surrounding the Len Brown affair, one of the unsolved ones is who sent the text to his former mistress telling her not to speak out.

We have journalists working on it right now but have you got any tips how we can find out the owner or track down information?

If you’ve got any information or you can help please get in touch.

Some more questions:

  • Are there other women?

Whale Oil claims there are other women. When John Campbell asked Brown if any more was to come out he said:

We’ll you’ve got a fairly damning allegation there and it can’t get any worse than that.

That’s a fairly evasive answer.

  • How many hours have salaried council staff spent managing the PR on behalf of the mayor on just the specific issue of the Cheung affair in what the mayor claims is a private matter?
  • What did council staff know about what was going on?
  • How many staff aided and abetted Brown’s affair/s?
  • How many of Brown’s campaign team knew and kept it from voters?

UPDATE: Duncan Garner also asks questions in a blog post, some are repeats:

The story is shabby for so many reasons. These are my questions:

  • Is it acceptable for the Mayor to have sex on council property?
  • Is it acceptable for him to masturbate on council property?
  • Did he get free hotel rooms around the city so he could conduct this affair?
  • Did SkyCity give him free hotel rooms?
  • Does that compromise him given they are putting in more pokies and want his support for the International Convention Centre deal? Which he supports.
  • Who sent Bevan Chuang threatening texts from within Len Brown’s campaign team?
  • Did Brown know?
  • Did Brown act according to the Council’s Code of Conduct?