Tag Archives: foreign relations

pope francis

Pope Francis Preaches From The Wrong Side Of The Morality Border.

By: Chris Warren.

Pope Francis has done a lot to bring a message of decency and peace to a world that seriously needs it. This blog has said nice things about His Holiness before, and nothing has happened since then to change that sentiment. Still, respect is not blind, nor open-ended. Pope Francis may be infallible in Church matters but for all other things he’s just another guy with an opinion like the rest of us. That’s why l was disappointed and even a little offended when during a visit to Mexico Pope Francis was critical, or more accurately, hypocritical, towards American immigration policy.

Aided and abetted by the Pope, the political left wants to make the issue much more complicated than it really is, but the bottom line goal of building a wall along the US-Mexico border is for the United States to control who comes and goes. It’s not “racist” or “xenophobic” to build a border wall any more than it’s “racist” or “xenophobic” to have a locking door on your house.

A country without a border is not really a country. Pope Francis should know, because there is a very large, centuries-old wall surrounding the Vatican. The Vatican is recognized as an independent sovereign nation where (surprise!) legal immigration is almost impossible. Tourists are welcome to visit, but they better be back on the other side of the gate at closing time. If Francis has a problem with walls & barriers, then he can start by tearing down the one around his own patch of dirt.

What offends me is that Pope Francis stood on the Mexico side literally a few feet from the border and wagged his finger in admonishment at the United States because of American attitudes towards the very controversial but yet very legitimate issue of illegal immigration. And again, I must stress that it’s “controversial” only because the liberal left makes it so.

It was almost as if His Holiness did not want to see that the United States cheerfully takes in millions of legal immigrants every year. As a religious (not political) figure, he has a little more wiggle room to say things. Yet, wiggle room is not a license to forego discretion and context. He knows damn well the USA is more generous and giving than any nation on Earth. When there is any kind of humanitarian crisis or natural disaster anywhere on the globe, no one calls the Vatican for help. They call the United States, and rightly so: The entire world knows Americans can always be depended on to come through.

When Pope Francis visited the United States last fall, I was personally uplifted and encouraged by his being here and he said many words of comfort that touched millions of Americans. Of greater import is what he did not say. I would like to know why he did not go to the American side of the border and give a morality sermon towards Mexico about all the drugs and problems they send over here. Why didn’t he insist that Mexico fix all the internal social dysfunction that motivates illegal border crossings in the first place? Why didn’t Pope Francis tell Mexico, “The Americans have been very, very kind to you. Stop taking advantage of them!”?

I’m not going to be too rough on Pope Francis. In spite of my disagreements with his approach to some issues, I do think he’s a great man and a net-positive for Roman Catholics and the world. But standing literally within earshot of a nation’s border and criticizing that nation’s political process (which, by the way, is the most free and democratic in the world) is in extremely poor taste.

As a Christian and an American, I forgive Pope Francis for his offense. I hope he visits the USA again soon and takes some time to see for himself that a wall may define a country’s physical border, but not the spiritual limits of its generosity and goodwill.

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Operation Mare Nostrum Is The Only Hope.

By: Chris Warren.

Few Americans here at our insulated cocoon between the oceans closely follow international news. Unless one goes well out of their way to keep up, it’s easy to think we’re the center of the universe and the only country with any kind of immigration problem. Far beyond our shores is an immigration situation that is more serious and life-threatening than anything going on in the USA and it deserves the attention of every kind hearted man and woman no matter where they live.

Operation Mare Nostrum (Latin for “our sea”) rescued African refugees who set out on the Mediterranean Sea bound for Europe to escape violence and terrorism in their home countries, particularly Syria and Libya. Italy began the operation in October 2013 after two shipwrecks left over 400 dead. Although no one really knows for sure how many attempted the crossing in the last year, Mare Nostrum has rescued 150,000 souls. One hundred and fifty thousand. In one year. That’s equivalent to the population of a decent sized city. Let that sink in for a moment.

The yearlong rescue mission conducted exclusively by Italy ended on October 31, 2014 because the other European Union nations did not want to help fund it. Italy had absorbed the entire $142 million (US) bill up to now, and they were not willing to go forward paying the tab and doing all the work alone. Mare Nostrum will be replaced by a much smaller scale Operation Triton. Triton will be carried out by Frontex, roughly the European Union equivalent of our United States Border Patrol. Triton is a coastal water security program only; high seas rescues are not within the scope of the mission.

It’s both unfortunate and understandable that operation Mare Nostrum was cut off. Unfortunate because without it thousands of victims will lose their lives in the harsh waves of the Mediterranean. Understandable because there are certain realities that cannot be ignored even if it does involve life and death. One nation cannot be expected to bear the entire burden forever, and there must be some consideration for the great peril the courageous Italian rescuers themselves are placed in while responding to distress calls.

The primary reason given by other European Union nations for withholding support for a permanent rescue policy had little to do with money. Rather, E.U. nations claim that if escapees believe they will be saved when things go wrong, they will be encouraged to attempt the dangerous sea crossing. This is seriously flawed reasoning that if not reversed will result in many deaths.

For the the refugees, leaving is a choice that is made for them. They are not going on vacation or looking to freeload off the Europeans. They are trying to escape terror and torture in Africa. The possibility that the Italians will save them (or not) is probably the farthest thing from their minds as they set sail on junky, unsafe, overcrowded boats. If you are stuck in a burning building and the only choices are to either die in the fire or jump out the window, you’re going to take your chances and jump whether the fire department is there to catch you or not. That’s the untenable position the asylum-seekers find themselves in.

The USA has been picking up fleeing Cubans from the Gulf of Mexico for decades in a western version of Mare Nostrum. Refugees intercepted at sea are not automatically brought back to the USA. Under the “wet foot-dry foot rule,” any Cuban refugee who actually makes it to the mainland USA on his own (“dry foot”) is allowed to stay and enter the legal immigration process. This policy is motivated by politics and not humanitarianism in that it applies only to Cubans. Everyone else is returned to a safe haven either in their home countries or elsewhere. No one is left to die in the Gulf.

Finding a definitive answer to the crisis in Africa is almost impossible. One of first solutions usually blurted out is to improve conditions in the other nations so there will be no (or less) reason to escape in the first place. This brings on a whole new plate of troubles: Accusations of imperialism or nation building, costs running into the billions, and very low likelihood of long-term success. One of President George W. Bush’s ultimate goals of the Iraq war was to stabilize the country so that everyday Iraqis would have a respectable standard of living. After decade and a half, billions of dollars, and many Americans and Iraqis killed, the place is in many ways a bigger mess than it was in early days of the Bush administration. The United States got absolutely nothing for the lives and treasure invested. We can argue the details ad nauseam, but the intended end result –a stable, democratic Iraq– is still unfinished business. Nation building never works, and even if it did, the promise of a free & peaceful society many years out is not helpful to doomed souls floating in the water today.

The other option is to keep plucking escapees from the sea and find a way to assimilate them into other cultures. This is more of a band aid than a true fix and has the potential to prove true concerns that a long term rescue policy will acclimate Africans to undertake hazardous sea voyages they might not otherwise attempt. It also gives abusive governments an easy method of getting rid of criminals and troublemakers, thereby dumping the problem on others. Fidel Castro was known to free violent criminals from Cuba’s prisons on the condition that they immediately leave the country.

Italy has honorably carried the burden alone, but this is not solely an Italian problem. European countries should “pay it forward” in recognition of the goodwill they have received in hard times. The modest cost split between several countries is barely a blip on a national budget radar and could even be funded all or in large part with donations of private money.

Forcibly improving the living conditions in Africa is an unattainable goal, and Operation Mare Nostrum as an indefinite rescue operation is also a far from a perfect solution. But it’s nowhere near as imperfect or immoral as purposely leaving tens of thousands of desperate victims to die in the Mediterranean Sea.

Andrew Tahmooressi: From Outrage To Action.

 

By: Chris Warren.

I will be posting my regularly scheduled blog article later this weekend.

For now, unfortunately, the issue of Unites States Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi is now into its second month and has not been resolved. You can read my original blog article on this topic here and the first follow up here.

I define “resolved” as nothing less than Tahmooressi being released from the Mexican prison he is in and sent back to the United States.

This is so beyond acceptable, I didn’t even know where to begin the rant. Then it occurred to me that ranting and yelling at the TV will accomplish absolutely zero.

I am taking further action by asking everyone to contact the Mexican embassy in Washington DC and urge them to end this disaster NOW.

I will even make this easy to do:

For starters, please repost this, spread it around, and get it going.

You can copy and paste the letters below and email the Mexican embassy by clicking here http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua/index.php/en/contact-us

It is also preferred that you print both letters and snail mail them to the Mexican ambassador to the United States. Email is nice, but no one ever tripped over a bag of email.

The Spanish translation was done by a native speaker I personally know and trust. It has been verified for accuracy and protocol.

If you decide to write your own message, DO NOT: threaten, use sarcasm or cultural insults, criticize the Mexican government, or its system of justice, or its officials,  or give ultimatums.

Act respectfully, as if you are asking a very big favor from a powerful person, because that’s exactly what you are doing.

Being a jerk is  not going to solve the problem any faster and may in fact cause it to take longer.

The goal is to get Tahmooressi home. If that means kissing some ass, then I’m up for it.

Here are the English and Spanish letters: 

His Excellency Eduardo Medina Mora

The Ambassador of Mexico

1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20006 

UNITED STATES

 

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I am a citizen of the United States contacting you regarding the urgent matter of United States Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi.

On March 30, 2014, Sgt. Tahmooressi lost his way driving through southern California in the USA and by mistake drove into Mexico.

He was subsequently arrested by Mexican police for the three firearms he had in his vehicle.

The guns are legal in the United States; Tahmooressi made an honest mistake and meant to break no Mexican laws by entering your country with them. I feel his arrest and detention is unwarranted.

I am appealing to Mexico’s goodwill and traditionally positive relationship between our two nations to strongly request that you use the influence of your position to urge your government to release Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi back to the United States immediately.

Thank you, respectfully,

 

(type your name and contact info here)

*************************************************************

Estimado señor Embajador,

Soy un estadounidense americano contactandolo sobre el urgente problema del sargento estaudonidense llamado Andrew Tahmooressi.

En el dia 30 de marzo del 2014 el sargento Tahmooressi perdio su camino manejando sobre el sur de California en los Estados Unidos y por error entro en territorio Mexicano.

El, erroneamente fue arrestado por las autoridades mexicanas por traer 3 armas de fuego en su vehiculo.

Las armas de fuego estan registradas legalmente en los Estados Unidos; Tahmooressi cometio un error injustamente y nunca fue su intencion burlar las leyes civiles de Mexico por entrar al pais con las armas de fuego. Siento que su arresto es indebido y fuera de lugar.

Estoy apelando con el estado de Mexico y con la estraordinaria posicion que tienen con Estados Unidos para que por favor y con toda influenzia con su posicion puedan liberar al sargento Andrew Tahmooressi de regreso a los Estados Unidos de America immediatamente.

Con todo el respeto, les doy las gracias por su ayuda.

 

(insert your name and contact info here)

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Tahmooressi Is A Victim Of Two Nations.

 

by: Chris Warren.

My May 8 blog article was about the astonishingly disrespectful treatment of Marine Sargent Andrew Tahmooressi by the governments of Mexico and the United States. Tahmooressi made a wrong turn while out with friends in southern California, ended up in Mexico by mistake, and was arrested for the three guns he had in his truck. The firearms were legally owned in the United States but once in Mexico he found himself in a heap of trouble. The original story is available here.

I’m very sad to report that Andrew Tahmooessi’s situation has improved only in that he has been moved to a better prison, keeping in mind that when talking about Mexican prisons, “better” is a relative term.

Andrew_Tahmooressi_t250The State Department and the White House have finally acknowledged –after close to two months of silence– that they are aware of the circumstances around Sgt. Tahmooressi’s imprisonment. Maybe they were too busy granting amnesty to illegal Mexicans who sneak into the USA. Maybe they are wrapped up in spinning excuses to whitewash the murder of an American ambassador and three others in Banghazi, Libya as not such a big deal. Why Tahmooressi was blown off by his own Commander in Chief for so long doesn’t really matter because speculating and casting blame is not going to get the Marine back to the USA any sooner.

We have a Marine jailed in Mexico on baloney charges and a long list of foreign policy screw-ups involving Russia, China, and pretty much everywhere else. I can’t figure out if this is because the Obama administration is either stupid or just doesn’t care. It really is that black and white. There is no other logical explanation. This level of malfeasance cannot possibly be an honest oversight.

Is it really so hard to understand why the world is walking all over us? If you are a Muslim terrorist, how afraid are you of the United States hunting you down if you, oh, say, murder an American ambassador? China and Russia are doing whatever the hell they want with no American response beyond a “pretty please don’t do that”. They’re like teenagers who keep pushing the boundaries of deviant behavior because they know their spineless parents are all noise and no action.

Meanwhile, Tahmooressi’s been sitting in prison for close to two months and still has not even been given a court date. This is normal in Mexico, where there are no juries and no presumption of innocence. The judges set their own docket schedule and have a lot of latitude as to when a case will be tried. Some defendants wait over a year before ever setting foot in a courtroom.

I’ve signed the White House petition even though I’ve never been a believer in “point and click” activism. I’m at a loss as to what meaningful action I can personally take. It’s very difficult for me to believe that between President Obama and John Kerry absolutely nothing more can be done outside of the slow slog of nebulous diplomacy.

A news commentator cautiously proposed the idea that it’s possible there is more to this story than is being reported, implying that Tahmooressi may not be as innocent as he appears and Mexico has a good reason to detain him. Ok, fine. But if Mexico has evidence that Tahmooressi committed a real crime and is holding him for that reason, then they should bring it forward and settle the controversy.

For now, it’s not hard at all for me to accept without question the story of a decorated United States Marine over the stonewalling of a faceless foreign bureaucracy, and for that matter, sadly, the empty assurances of my own country. Once the injustice is fixed, what may never be made right is the leftover issue of why everyone from President Obama on down is so completely gutless and ineffective not only on international relations in general, but also on what should have been the simple matter of getting Tahmooressi out of jail.

I’m gratified that the case finally has the attention of the highest levels of government and I do believe the Marine will ultimately be released. It would have made me very happy to see this matter concluded before the Memorial Day holiday, but the Obama administration has other priorities. Sadly, the purpose of my original article is still in effect: The only acceptable outcome is the unconditional release of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.

Click here to sign the White House petition.

 

Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, The Good Neighbor.

 

By: Chris Warren.

Editor’s note: I usually post a new blog article every Saturday, but due to the urgency of this week’s topic, I am moving my deadline up to Thursday. I hope by Saturday there will be positive news to report. 

I once had a “high maintenance” neighbor who was quick to ask for favors and help yet when any request was made of her would always have a reason why she could not come through. We would regularly mow her lawn, shovel her snow, and in one case lug out several old heavy appliances and muscle the new ones in. An older married couple in the neighborhood was particularly kind to this woman by providing her with free babysitting and handyman services around her house. The benefactor of their generosity repaid them with a weak excuse for not being able to do something as simple as pick up the mail while they were on vacation. This woman was not a horrible person, and not even a bad neighbor. But she had an inconsiderate manner and lack of grace and that made that her the type who no one would purposely choose to live near.

U.S. Marine Corps Sargent Andrew Tahmooressi was in southern California for medical treatment after serving two tours in Afghanistan. During the night of April 1, 2014 he was running a personal errand and by mistake lost his way on a dark road and ended up in Mexico. This might have been the makings of a funny “I should have made a left turn at Albuquerque” style crazy road trip story, but for Tahmooressi and those close to him, it was the beginning of a nightmare that is now in its second month.

What landed Tahmooressi in a Mexican prison was the three guns he had in his truck. He legally owned the firearms in the United States; instead of simply letting him turn around and go back down the road from which he came, the Mexican authorities arrested him for “gun running”.

This is not the first time an American service member has been sucked into the vortex of the Mexican justice system because of simple misunderstandings that could have and should have been quickly resolved at the scene, or at most within a day or two. Mexico seems to have a penchant for drama and goes out of its way to turn any little transgression into an international incident. This is the same Mexico that not only does nothing about thousands of illegal immigrants pouring over its border into the United States every year, but expects the US to give them immunity from deportation, eligibility for public services, and all the trappings and rights enjoyed by everyone who came here by the rules.

That is the logic of our mostly respectable but very one-sided neighbor: Mexican citizens who willfully and deliberately enter the United States in violation of our laws should be given a pass but if an honest American mistakenly wanders out of his own yard, he is given zero consideration, tossed in a notoriously nasty prison, and treated in a way that would give immigration activists a coronary if a Mexican detained in the U.S was given the same deal.

The U.S. State Department and the White House have remained faithful to the effete foreign relations philosophy that has become a hallmark of the Obama administration by being predictably coy about the whole mess, saying only that they are looking into it or some such pablum. As of Monday, May 4, over a month into this horror movie comes alive, a State Department spokesperson would not comment on the matter due to “privacy reasons” or even acknowledge if Secretary of State John Kerry was aware of Sgt. Tahmooressi’s situation.

Fortunately, public pressure is mounting; the White House and Secretary Kerry will not be able to hide behind their spokespeople for much longer. Kerry is scheduled to make a previously planned visit to Mexico on May 21 (and conveniently unavailable to testify before a Congressional hearing on the terror attack in Benghazi, but that’s a separate blog article) and the only acceptable excuse for not bringing  Sgt. Tahmooressi back with him would be because the Marine was already released.

As a goodwill gesture for the mountain of generosity the USA has shown Mexico, freeing Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and returning all his personal possessions including the guns should be a no-brainer. It does not benefit Mexico to keep him and it involves zero cost or effort to let him go. But like my old neighbor who enjoyed the kindness of others and then had the nerve to act put upon when a very simple reciprocation was asked of her, Mexico exists in its own realm of one-way relationships.

The United States is owed a deep apology for this, but simply getting our Marine back would be good enough. I am demanding that the Mexican government immediately and without conditions free Sargent Andrew Tahmooressi, USMC, return his personal property, and assure his safe passage back to American soil.