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The Difficulties in Handling a Melee of Policy Decisions

The Difficulties in Handling a Melee of Policy Decisions

The last three weeks in world politics has been nothing less than a complete disaster of the international community. Since the end of the 2014 World Cup, it appears that anything that President Obama would have considered to be a major issue has appeared as a crisis upon a crisis. Unfortunately, there has been mostly a passive response coming from the White House in challenging this melee of problems. Despite their efforts, there doesn’t seem to be any positive results coming from Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry or any willingness from their political adversaries overseas to discuss an end to any of these conflicts. It seems that any response will be challenged vehemently by supporters from either end of the political spectrum, but in order to discuss these policy issues silence must not become the Golden Rule of navigating policy challenges, even if silence would be welcomed by most people who have been immersed with news of the various disasters on the global stage.

After writing for many years on policy issues in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, I will offer some brief insight in how to address some of these issues facing Mr. Obama. Due to the overarching effect of these issues, they will naturally involve both security and economic challenges. The likely response may be to attack the ideas of a writer or their personal character, but accepting that it has become the norm in recent weeks I wish to address these issues without fail, realizing that the last few generations have suffered more than ourselves and had proceeded to create a time of peace and prosperity coming from their values. They always had the willingness to voice their opinions in the worst of times, valuing disagreements as a healthy part of freedom.

Central America is often taken as a side issue in the debates on immigration and issues with Mexico. Over the last few years, many of America’s immigrants have come from countries often ignored as being just an area between the two great American continents. To the surprise of many experts, thousands of children recently voyaged through Mexico and ended up at the U.S. border. Many of their parents are still alive and these parents sent their kids to the U.S. to live without poverty or violence. Since the beginning of the Great Recession net immigration coming to the U.S. has been quite low, but the shock of thousands of children on the U.S. border has created an ethical dilemma for the United States.

It is clear that a measured and moral response is needed, as children likely do not have any negative intent on harming U.S. society or culture and should not be treated as a threat. Facilities need to be created to process them as individuals and give them basic rights while a dialogue and understanding of the violence that has plagued Central America needs to be acknowledged. With refugees worldwide finding shelter in countries that have a fraction of the means of the United States, the U.S. must accept some obligation to shelter and process these children from Central America. There are no good options, but in many cases fewer options lead to more defined results.

There is a lot to say about this issue and it has been repeated by everyone, so I will say little. The war in Gaza is the latest crisis to affect the Middle East, and with thousands of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan coming from Syria, and likely soon from Iraq, it might be worth finding a method to keep civilians in Gaza away from the war zone. Many Syrian refugees have left or have been removed from fighting in their own country by moving across the border. It has been shown that there is likely little that can be done at this point to stop the conflicts in Syria, Iraq or Gaza, and it would be sensible for the U.S., U.N. and Egypt to provide a safe haven for innocent children and their parents outside of the conflict zone. Egypt, with aid and support from the U.S., U.N., EU and other interested parties should do anything they can to get the children from Gaza outside of the Gaza Strip and into a refugee zone in Egypt. It is unclear what restrictions are preventing Egypt and the negotiating parties from pushing for this temporary remedy, but with both sides justifying their own versions of a prolonged war, this might be the best solution in a part of the world that currently has no solutions.

Economically, Argentina’s recent default on a debt payment was able to pierce through all the other media stories and create some concerns about a new economic crisis in the world economy. While the current Argentine situation pales in comparison to the 2001 crash of Argentina’s economy, the legal conflict surrounding the restructuring and repayment of debt comes with some concerns of an economic contagion affecting Brazil and other emerging markets. Politics and a more confident and better funded Argentine economy might promote some compromise, but the influence the U.S. and its court system has over the Argentine economy may be more of a useful tool for President Kirchner’s popularity than a solution to resolve the debt issue. Argentina will likely distract and delay payments to the bond holders while working with them towards a settlement that they find acceptable and can be digested by her political supporters and Argentina’s dollar starved financial and business community.

As another challenge to the U.S., the BRICS countries have decided to set up their own version of the World Bank and IMF in order to fund governments that do not wish to be economically hindered by the U.S. or EU. While Brazil feels somewhat similar toward U.S. economic control over their country as their neighbors, the economic weight of China over the new financial institution and the political influence of Putin’s Russia might not only pull emerging economies away from U.S. trade and investment, but also might give Putin an economic fire escape from his economic challenges with the EU. Supporting economies with potential like Argentina and Brazil might come easier with a limited acceptance of their economic faults and negotiations without legal deadlines, as sending in the lawyers may turn them on to a new financial institution or hinder trade altogether. Political ammunition is not good for business in many cases, in the end there will be some payment to bond holders, likely in the near future.

The firing of a SA-11 BUK-M1 missile on a civilian airliner has been claimed as a war crime by both sides of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine — more simply it is just a crime. While theories on who was responsible for the firing of the missile abounds, it was accepted by most that it was a missile that downed the airliner, and the effect of the missile was to tear it apart at its cruising height. There are no good options in dealing with an aggressive Russia; unlike Syria or Iran, Russia has the economic, military and political power to challenge any economic or security threat. Seceding parts of Ukraine to Russia makes any side at a negotiation look very weak, and may spawn further annexations of land from Ukraine.

The only playbook that has ever existed in the short independence of Ukraine is to re-assert NATO’s security apparatus in the region and have the willingness to respond to active military challenges with the appropriate amount of force or deterrence. In regions where wars will likely continue, there is no sense in appeasing a situation that only offers bad options. Understanding the strategic motivations of Obama’s adversaries and responding with the appropriate level of economic sanctions and security enforcement is the best worst option. The current lack of influence of the United States on the world stage could not recover all the lost souls in Eastern Ukraine, and without a decisive response from the Obama administration, every conflict will be extended and become more dangerous to U.S. allies and U.S. citizens.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration