Monthly Archives: June 2021

Election Interference

President Biden’s meeting with President Putin has brought the issue of election interference back into the spotlight.  Although this is a genuine issue, it is not as serious or one-sided as the Democrats claim it is.  Democrats are obsessed with it because they need someone to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 election.  They cannot accept that they lost the election because they ran a bad campaign on issues that did not appeal to the American people.  The Democrats failed to understand that there are millions of Americans who are very unhappy with the policies pursued by Democrats. 

To me, one of the main failures of the Democrats was their policy on immigration.  When I served as a US vice consul in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I felt that one of my main duties in issuing tourist or immigrant visas was to avoid giving visas to people who were going to be a drain on the United States.  Under US law, the US was open to people who could support themselves and make a contribution to the success of the country, but it was not open to people who were going to become a “public charge” by going on welfare after their arrival.  Immigrants also had to have a job or skill that would not displace an American worker.  Many of the people currently being admitted to the US will be public charges, at least for several years.  Adults will have no jobs at first.  Unaccompanied children will have no one to support them for years.  They are unskilled and the jobs they eventually get will probably not be very productive.  Many Americans support generous immigration laws, but current Democratic policies ignore the existing laws and just let people in.  If the US wants more generous immigration laws the Congress should pass them, and the administration should enforce them.  Currently there are restrictive laws and no enforcement. 

Trump recognized that the Democrats had alienated a large part of the electorate by promoting free immigration.  Economically, he wanted to reduce many restrictions on American business, such as taxes and regulations.  Hillary’s main appeal was to intellectuals on the one hand, and to Hispanics and blacks on the other.  She and the Democrats ignored the great American middle, which ended up electing Trump. 

Putin or his henchmen did not do anything that American political players have not done.  Dirty tricks are part of electoral politics.  So, would it be okay if the Republicans did the same thing to the Democrats that Putin did?  What the Russians did may have been somewhat illegal, but it was not egregious.  It was sad that so many silly Americans were influenced by it, but that’s the fault of the American education system, not Putin.  So, the main offence was “foreign” interference.  But Putin over the years he has been in power has certainly seen what he would interpret as American interference in Russian elections and in his other efforts to retain power.  We say we only want fair elections, but Putin sees it as a direct attack on his leadership.  He maintains power by undemocratic means, but he does not share Americans’ attachment to free and fair elections.  There have been very few free and fair elections in the thousand years of Russia’s existence.  We say we are spreading democracy; Putin says we are interfering in his government.  Should the CIA inspire Russian citizens to rise up and assassinate Putin, and if not, where do we draw the line on what is proper or improper in interfering in Russian politics?  He

In an ideal world, Putin would mind his own business, but this is not an ideal world.  The US is not perfect.  Black and brown Americans shout their condemnation of America from the housetops.  Putin quoted American protesters in his meeting with Biden.  In theory, American democracy is strong enough to withstand criticism from Putin and from domestic protesters.  Let’s hope that it is. 

Inflation in Argentina

From an Economist Magazine newsletter:
Argentina releases its monthly report on consumer prices today. High inflation is a persistent problem for the country. In April, the year-on-year figure was a staggering 40.3%.
Food costs play a significant role in Argentina’s inflation, and attempts to reduce them have pushed the government into a bitter battle with the farmers who supply the country’s famous bife. Last month Alberto Fernández, Argentina’s president, slapped a 30-day ban on meat exports. The country is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of beef and Mr Fernández hoped a glut would help freeze domestic prices. His plan temporarily backfired when the cattlemen went on strike, reducing supply, and prices rose. They have since levelled off.
The government must decide whether to extend or re-work the ban to allow some exports. Producers warn that thousands of jobs are at stake if the president does not stop trying to cure the meat market for his own ends.
 
 

Remembering Fallen FSO Colleagues

On Memorial Day I posted a blog remembering the men who were killed in Army artillery battery during the Vietnam War. I thought I should also remember the Foreign Service Officers I Knew who died in the line of duty, although not while I was serving with them. Their names of listed on the State Department Memorial Plaque.

John Patterson was in my A-100 class in Washington for beginning Foreign Service Officers. His first assignment was Mexico. He was killed while he was serving there. The AFSA (American Foreign Service Association) note says:

John S. Patterson served as U.S. vice consul in Hermosillo, Mexico. He was kidnapped by terrorists on March 22, 1974 and later found dead.

Tom Doubleday served with me in Bangkok, Thailand. He died while serving in the American Embassy in Monrovia, Libera. The AFSA note about him says:

Thomas P. Doubleday, Jr., was born in New York City in 1942. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Doubleday joined the Foreign Service in 1965. He served in Bangkok, Saigon, Luanda, Lagos, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Bureau of International Organizational Affairs, the Bureau of African Affairs, the Bureau of Personnel and the Bureau of Refugee Programs.

Doubleday’s final post was as a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. He died of a heart attack on February 8, 1993. During his lifetime, he received the Meritorious Honor Award.