The Bouncing Ball Of Foreign Affairs

Signals in foreign affairs seem to be going off in all directions these days. One that caught the public by surprise was the American president’s suggestion at the recent G-7 meeting that perhaps Russia should be allowed to rejoin the group. That was quickly shot down, but the effort had been made and soon after, the French president announced that Iran was willing to meet with the Americans at the presidential level. That President Putin and Russia have had a close relationship with Tehran and the timing of the Trump suggestion of returning Russia to a place “under the tent rather than outside” was never connected. Of course, this all became irrelevant when Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, told President Rouhani that there would be no talks until the U.S. ended all sanctions. From an analyst’s standpoint it looked like the great. behind-the-scenes maneuvering had been short circuited.

Next came the announcement from Moscow that U.S. Senator Ron Johnson would not be allowed to visit Russia with the already organized Congressional delegation. Apparently, Senator Johnson’s past, rigorous condemnation of Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine had placed him on the “dangerous” list and he was not welcome. Of course, this set back the perceived evolving Trump/Putin relationship. The next twist came when reports indicated that Putin might receive a personal invitation from Trump to attend the 2020 meeting of the G7 – at the American president’s personally-owned luxury club in Doral, Florida. We’ll just have to see on that one.

The ongoing (and off-going) love affair between President Trump and China’s Chairman Xi Jinping has had its own contretemps over trade issues that also has its own “on again – off again” character. This has the farm lobby in Washington and the agricultural and finance sectors of Beijing’s central government in various forms of near and actual panic. The “order” from the White House, demanding American firms abandon their investments and other business dealings with China was shocking, though that was soon converted into old news when the deputy to Chairman Xi stated his country’s willingness to sit down and talk about this matter. The whole affair has been relegated to the back burner as word was carefully “leaked” from Beijing that this was news to them! Well, maybe it’s better to have “fake news” than no news at all!

Just as the international diplomatic jitterbug dance was seeming to slow down to an understandable jaunt, the media broke through with the excited news that North Korea was developing – or already had developed – missiles that could penetrate current anti-missile systems. The Japanese media heralded this information with headlines of “We told you so,” Their reaction justified previous warnings from Tokyo – both official and unofficial – that the American presidency was moving too fast with their program of emerging sainthood for Kim Jong-un. This soon became old news when American intelligence followed up the original information with the fact that they had determined that the DPRK was building a submarine that could be armed with these new super missiles. Now that really was serious.

Meanwhile back on the supposedly more peaceful, if contentious, environmental front, President Macron of France had decided to vigorously condemn the President of Brazil for allowing vast forest fires to flame out of control. The fact that Brazilian farmers started some of the fires – seeking to clear land to plant more cash crops such as soybeans for export to China – was another complicating factor. The Brazilian President Bolsonaro struck back by taking personally the French attack. Luckily, Macron apparently doesn’t speak Portuguese and Bolsonaro doesn’t speak French, or else the entire matter would not have been printable. At any rate, calming voices have been energized into placing the Brazilian conflagration into some sort of annual event and really not that dangerous to mankind’s need for clean air. That line seems to be working – even if just for the moment.

There is much argument over whether the U.S. major military presence in Afghanistan is taking a back seat to the rise of Iranian-supported terrorist planning and action in Syria. The always prevalent conflicts in places like Sub-Sahara Africa go on apace. The new push by Russian (GRU – directed) covert paramilitary operations in the Central African Republic hearkens back to similar activities of the 1960’s. The French saying of “the more that changes, the more that remains the same” is quite appropriate.  It must really be tough for the various Western ambassadors in these areas to get their own capitals to take any interest. And then there is the crime cartel -sponsored illegal immigration from Central America into the United States – to say nothing of the many other confusing issues emanating from the Middle East and South Asia.

In the end it’s just the world moving at its usual whirlwind pace. Hang on. The ride is fast and bumpy!