Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’


“The changing triangular relations between the Philippines, the United States and the People’s Republic China: From Obama, Aquino, and Xi and beyond”

 

Amado M. Mendoza, Jr. and Richard Javad Heydarian

Part II

The situation summarized

To sum up, the Philippine government under the incumbent President Benigno Aquino III, soured its relations with China and cozied up further to its American ally, a power supposed to be rapidly implementing a ‘pivot’ (now ‘rebalancing’) to Asia in an ill-disguised attempt to contain the rising regional power.

In truth, a new but different cold war between the United States and China has started (Hendricks 2015) and the Philippines had enlisted as a frontline state.

It is true that relations between the Philippines (PH) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are currently frosty, nay, hostile and troubled even.  Relations between the two countries (unequal in size, assets, power and influence) had not been quite straightforward since the PRC’s creation in October 1949.  The appropriate metaphor is that of a roller-coaster (with the characteristic ups-and-downs).  Furthermore, it would be very difficult to understand the bilateral Philippine-Chinese relations without situating it within a trilateral (or triangular) perspective—that is relations between the United States, the Philippines, and China.  However, as the relations between the Philippines and China changed over the years, it is not always the case that the changes benefited the Philippines in a clear manner.

FM and Mao

While the rather unfriendly (hostile, in fact) between the two during the 1950s up to the early 1970s was understandable (given the Cold War context), warm relations during the Ferdinand E. Marcos presidency (1965-1986) brought unmistakable gains both to the Philippines and China.  The Philippines did not in fact go out on a limb since the United States, the so-called leader of the Free World during the Cold War, already reached out first to Mao Ze-dong, China’s supreme leader, to forge an alliance versus the Soviet Union (a strategic development made possible by the acrimonious Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s).  In an astute move, Marcos leveraged the diplomatic opening to get China to stop supporting the Maoist insurgency (carried out the Communist Party of the Philippines-led New People’s Army) in the Philippines.  The repeating botching by the New People’s Army (NPA) of smuggling operations of firearms and munitions supplied by China also factored in Beijing’s decision to distance itself from the Philippine Maoists (see Allan 1974, Feria 1993, Hamilton-Paterson 1998, and Malay 2005).  On the other hand, China likewise benefited tremendously from this anti-Soviet American initiative since it regained its seat in the powerful United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the one-China policy was adopted by most UN members leading to Taiwan’s loss of UN stature.  China’s good fortune simply demonstrates anew the timeless wisdom of real-politik: that is, “the enemy of your principal enemy is a friend, albeit tactical”.

Cory Aquino

However, President Marcos’ initiatives towards China were reversed by President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992), who tried to extend the US military bases’ stay in the country.  Her successor, President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998) looked east (though to Taiwan[1] and South Korea[2]) when the US-Philippine ties turned frosty after the military bases’ exit in 1991.  However, as China started asserting its sovereignty in the South China Sea (SCS) in the mid-1990s, the Philippines renewed its relations with the US through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) during President Erap Estrada’s short-lived administration (1998-2001).

The relationship took a different, friendlier turn during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidency (2001-2010) when China undertook its so-called ‘charm offensive’.  Concretely, this meant loans, investments, and increased trade and tourist traffic from China to the Philippines.  It was also during this time that a trilateral joint venture (between China, Vietnam, and the Philippines) to conduct a seismic survey of possible offshore oil and natural gas deposits in the SCS was formed.  This joint venture involving three claimant states was made possible by hewing to the late Deng Xiao-ping’s formula of “joint-use-despite-ownership-questions”. However, the relationship between the two countries was soured by the ZTE national broad-band network scandal. It was quite clear that President Arroyo and her conferees, relatives and friends wanted to personally profit from the improvement of the bilateral relationship.  As a result, the ZTE contract and the joint seismic survey were either cancelled and/or allowed to expire as President Arroyo attended to domestic political crises.

Relations went downhill since then as China tried to improve its position in the SCS as well to Balkanize the ASEAN regional organization through a judicious carrots-and-sticks strategy.  A first happened in 2012–the non-issuance of an ASEAN Summit statement due to the lack of unity on China’s activities in the South China Sea.

While the Philippines is supposedly praised by the international community for standing up to a more powerful China and entered into an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States in mid-July 2014, it currently is in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis its biggest neighbor.  This is true even if friends located farther away (aside from the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia) are pledging their support, these ‘protestations’ of help has not changed China’s conduct.  Now, things have gone worse as a new Cold War is afoot in the western Pacific Rim, a development that bodes ill for East Asia’s economic health.  In due course, China’s activism had caused the emergence of a firm anti-China regional alliance composed of the United States, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

In this regard, however, the Philippines is not joined by other member-states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Even if Thailand is a treaty ally of the US, it has not ranged itself firmly against China.  Malaysia cannot be expected to join the Philippines firmly since it is also an SCS claimant.  The same is true with Vietnam who is not only also a claimant but shares land borders with China.  It must be recalled that China invaded Vietnam in force in 1979 during what was then called the Third Indochina War.  The same circumspection is also exhibited by the other poorer mainland states such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia—states which had received great largesse from China’s patronage.  The newest state in Southeast Asia—Timor Leste (not yet an ASEAN member) is in the same situation.  After the fall of Suharto, Indonesia has become inward-looking as she tries to consolidate a new democracy.  Singapore can be likened to a businessman and is naturally conservative, more so in its foreign policy and relations.

rp-us-defense-deal-signing-20140428-001

In short, the Philippines really stands alone vis-a-vis China, notwithstanding the case it filed before the ITLOS (International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea).  It will also have to face the consequences of an unfavorable decision (even as it seems the country has not prepared itself for such contingency).  The US may be an ally but she is also mired elsewhere—in the fight against ISIS (aka ISIL and IS), Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, and in many other places—and thus may not be able to assist the Philippines well even if it wants to.  It remains to be seen if the recent (public relations) move of the US Pacific Fleet chief to join a reconnaissance flight is an indication of the US’ firm resolve to stop China’s SCS activism (AP 2015).   It is a question of capacity falling short of will, a matter of “imperial over-stretch”—that the British historian Paul Kennedy warned about in the late 1980s.[3]  The US is scrambling to pivot or rebalance its forces from the Atlantic and other theaters (of operation) to the Asia Pacific region to supposedly maintain freedom of navigation in international waters and airspace.  The US is also encouraging its Northeast Asian allies in the region to help it encircle China—a new encirclement reminiscent of the overall containment strategy directed against the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies as well as China during the Cold War.

Shinzo Abe

Given its own territorial disputes with China, Japan (especially under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) has not only pushed back in the Yellow Sea (in the context of the Chinese-Japanese territorial dispute over the so-called Senkaku or Diaoyu islands).  Tokyo has also offered material assistance to embroiled countries in Southeast Asia.[4]  South Korea meanwhile clinched a deal to supply a squadron of advanced FA-50 multi-role jets to the Philippines with the first delivery of 2 planes expected in December 2015.[5]

Indeed, the strategic environment in East Asia is unfolding, albeit in a rapid fashion.  An appropriate (even if old) theory that could help better understand the new East Asian strategic environment exists.  The Power Transition theory is a theory about the cyclical nature of war, in relation to power (of states) in international relations.   Created by A.F.K. Organski, and originally published in his textbook, World Politics (1958), contemporary power transition theory describes international politics as a hierarchy, with different degrees of power between states. The objective of the theory is to investigate the cyclic condition of wars, and how transition of power in terms of machtpolitik affect the occurrence of these wars.

Organski World Politics

The principal predictive power of the theory is in the likelihood of war and the stability of alliances.  War is most likely, of longest duration and greatest magnitude, when a challenger (a revisionist power; one of the great powers) to the dominant power (the global hegemon) enters into approximate parity with the dominant state and is dissatisfied with the existing system. Similarly, alliances are most stable when the parties to the alliance are satisfied with the system structure. This leads to the view that when the balance of power is unstable (i.e. one or two nations have taken a dominant role in geopolitics), the likelihood of war is greater.

According to Organski:

An even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations; the aggressor will come from a small group of dissatisfied strong countries; and it is the weaker, rather than the stronger; power that is most likely to be the aggressor.

Using Organski’s theory, China can be characterized as a ‘revisionist’ power dissatisfied with the existing balance of forces in the world as well as in Asia.  Meanwhile, the United States is a ‘status quo’ power (or a standpatter) working to preserve its hegemony.  It is joined by other status quo powers like Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Since it does not share US interests and preferences, the Russian Federation under President Vladimir Putin is China’s natural ally.[6]  The same is true with Pyongyang since Seoul is on the opposing side.  India is in a predicament since it shares a land border with China and fought a brief border war with the latter in the 1960s.  Geopolitical realities may force India to either align with China or opt for neutrality in the conflict.

___________________________________________________________________________

Notes:

[1] Taiwan responded to its diplomatic isolation with a ‘carrot-diplomacy’ on its own: ensuring the flow of loans, direct investments, and ODA to friendly countries who are willing to accept the diplomatic fiction called TECO, or Taiwan Economic Cooperation Office, in their respective capitals, which in truth are the equivalent of embassies of duly-recognized states.  Taiwan was able to dispense carrots around the world (the Philippines included) given its economic prosperity and hefty international reserves.  In fact, China’s new economic policy helped by stimulating cross-Strait economic and socio-cultural relations between Beijing and Taipei in a parallel of South Korea’s ‘sunshine policy’ vis-à-vis North Korea.

[2] South Korea joined the ranks of the advanced industrial economies grouped in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the mid-1990s even before she was temporarily convulsed by the shocks generated by the so-called Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s.  The setback in Seoul proved to be short-lived as economic growth was restored in the 2000s albeit on a different basis compared to the growth sparked by the state-capitalist regime initiated by South Korean leader Park Chung-hee in the 1970s and 1980s.

[3] Paul Kennedy. 1987. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Random House/Vintage Books.

[4] In mid-2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to supply ‘grey’ (combat) patrol vessels to the Philippines during a state visit. Please see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/30/shinzo-abe-china-disputes_n_5418205.html and http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/07/26/1014401/japan-pm-manila-state-visit.

[5] Please see http://www.rappler.com/nation/77956-aquino-philippines-fighter-jets.

[6]  Russia had recently agreed to sell its most advanced S-400 missile systems to China.  Please see   <http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/china-and-russia-sign-contract-for-s-400-missile-systems/519010.html&gt;.

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Two great powers with authoritarian or semi-authoritarian political systems should really attend seminars of Dale Carnegie on how to win friends and influence people. Or on how not to help your ‘frenemies’.

I am referring to China and Russia. Due to their heavy-handedness and hard-ball approaches, they manage to augment the ranks of their adversary’s (the US) allies and friends.

China single-handedly pushed the Philippines further into the Americans’ embrace due to its aggressive activism in the South China Sea. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of 2014 is the latest (most likely not the last) agreement strengthening US-Philippine strategic ties. Furthermore, Chinese territorial aggressiveness in Northeast Asia is further driving South Korea and Japan into the ‘tacit’ US-led anti-Chinese front. Japan in fact offered a strategic alliance with the Philippines (obviously versus China) last year after ‘gifting’ the Philippine navy with some nifty and spankingly-new fast craft (an obvious improvement over the decades-old US hand-me-downs). Vietnam and the Philippines cozied up to each other again due to Chinese heavy-handedness.

 

 

 

Sealing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)

Sealing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)

 

 

Elsewhere, Ukraine responded to Russia territorial incursions by firmly siding with the West. Admittedly, Russia was simply a reactor to West-sponsored ouster of a pro-Russian government in Kiyev. However, hardball tactics versus a pro-West successor goverment will only alienate the latter. What it feared–an anti-Russia and pro-West Ukraine–actually came to pass.

Should Ukraine aspire for and gain admission into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after clinching EU membership, the Russian nightmare of a hostile ‘near abroad’ will materialize. That Western sanctions over the Ukraine question are helping push the Russian economy to a crisis is ‘salt on an open wound’.

Strategically, China and Russia will most likely get drawn together. Partnerships within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and with the rest of the BRIC (i.e., India and Brazil) and Venezuela, Bolivia and other Latin American governments with a left-leaning social policy and an anti-US foreign policy orientation will be strengthened or cultivated. Chinese carrots will continue to be available for pariah African states (over such issues as Darfur).

In Asia, China appears to have finessed with its tack with its billion-dollar funded Asian infrastructure bank and the proposed new Silk Road. However, these new carrots are on offer while consolidation (hardening and construction of new and improved infrastructure) proceeds apace in its newly-‘acquired’ SCS territories.

Meanwhile, the US is smelling like a bed of roses. Notwithstanding the partisan blindness of the Republicans and die-hard Tea Party zealots, the US economy is slowly recovering and all other economic indicators are doing quite well. Of course,the 1%-99% divide remains a serious socio-political thorn.

 

 

(Photo from cyprus-mail.com)

(Photo from cyprus-mail.com)

 

 

 

On the global front the US earned a lot of brownie points with the on-going normalization of ties with Cuba. Kudos to Pope Francis for brokering the bilateral preps. On the other hand, the Americans cannot seem to realize their government’s continued support for isolated Israel’s does not help their war effort against international terror.

I will continue to monitor these global developments and post my observations in this page and elsewhere.


 

In my previous piece which I wrote in response to my good friend Ramon Casiple’s “China’s Dilemma,” I argued that it is the United States and the Philippines which actually have a dilemma over Ayungin.

I based my argument on the fact that the US Senate has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), upon which the Philippine claim is based. The US does not recognize such concepts and principles as archipelagic state, archipelagic waters, and exclusive economic zone upon which the Philippine claim is based.

Since Ayungin and other disputed islands and features in the Western Philippine Sea (a part of the larger South China Sea) are not part of the metropolitan territory of the Republic, I foresee difficulties in invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Philippines to explain why the US cannot come immediately to our aid.

 

For the complete article, click on the link below:

 

 

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/88634/commentary–being-a-us-protectorate-weakened-ph-position-vis-a-vis-china-in-dispute


 

Prof. Andrei Tsygankov

Prof. Andrei Tsygankov

 

 

Andrei Tsygankov, a professor of political science and international relations at the San Francisco State University, believes Obama does not have a Russia policy. “That US strategic thinking is impotent;” the world has changed since the end of the Cold War but US thinking has not.

Tsygankov argues that the US cannot return to Cold War strategies of containment and ideological struggle. He believes the proper approach is to help Russia become stronger in a future and a more secure multipolar world. Otherwise, the alternative is a dangerous bipolar world dominated by US and China with Russia firmly on China’s side.

The confluence of events after the end of the Cold War had led to Obama’s current predicament. Russia became so weak and supine the West almost got everything from it thanks to the drunkard Yeltsin.

 

Russian President Boris Yeltsin

Russian President Boris Yeltsin

 

And yet, the West did not give anything of consequence to Russia. Instead, it brought the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an anti-Soviet military alliance that should have disbanded after the Cold War’s end, right up to Russia’s doorsteps and subverted pro-Moscow regimes through the so-called color revolutions.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that post-Yeltsin leaders of a different breed like Putin cannot accept such further diminution of Russian power and the embedding of existential threats at its very borders. Looks like the American have not heard of Napoleon and a guy named Adolf Hitler.

 

China President Xi Ping

China President Xi Ping

 

 

At this point, China found it opportune to repair its relations not only with Russia through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) but also with India. If the US is dreaming of containing China in the East Asian littoral through another containment strategy, the SCO may make it easier said than done. China’s cultivation of Thailand and Myanmar and normalized relations with India can afford it access not only to the Indian Ocean but to new sources of energy.

 

 

Furthermore, the ASEAN connectivity projects specially in mainland Southeast Asia will have positive spillover effects for China’s economy.

 

 

Putin can then decide which state will butter the Russian bread. Or could even have both buttering up to the Russian bear. And supply the bread to boot!

 

 

Of course, in some way, an incoherent power is more harmful than one with a carefully crafted strategy.


The Romney-Ryan tandem.


Mitt Romney introduces Paul Ryan to Republican Party faithfuls

Mitt Romney recently announced in Norfolk, Virginia that his vice presidential running mate is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

ABC News reported on the elaborate measures taken by the Romney campaign to keep the decision under wraps until the right moment. The report (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/08/how-mitt-romney-and-paul-ryan-tricked-the-press/) read: “Mitt Romney decided on Paul Ryan on Aug. 1, the day after returning from his trip overseas to the Olympics in London and to Israel and Poland. The candidate and his campaign kept the secret for nine days, according to campaign sources. Romney and Ryan met secretly on August 5th, after the decision had been made and just before Romney submitted to round-the-clock coverage by reporters who had been traveling with him.”

Ryan is known as a fiscal ideologue who is in favor of spending cuts to reduce the government budget deficit.  He is respected within the Republican Party for his economic acumen and is considered by many as a key party leader.  Romney’s choice of Ryan as running mate reportedly energized party activists.

The choice of Ryan is considered by many to reflect the fundamental truth underlying the 2012 US elections: “It’s the economy, stupid!”  Both the Republican and Democratic parties must answer voters’ queries on immediate prospects of the sluggish  US economy beset with unemployment since the start of President Obama’s term.  

Ryan tangled with President Obama repeatedly in the past over proposed budgetary allocations for the Medicare program (the so-called ObamaCare).  The Wisconsin representative believed that Obama’s allocations were not sustainable given substantial US budget deficits.  

Notwithstanding these public deficits, Ryan follows the lead of several Republicans since the late 1970s to propose cuts in tax rates, especially for upper income individuals and corporations.  This suggestion is counter-intuitive and must have some solid theoretical backing.

During the late 1970s, the Western countries dealt with a new phenomenon–‘stagflation’–the coexistence of high prices and stagnant economic growth.   It was theorized previously that these cannot happen simultaneously–that inflation sets in only during full employment and that recession dampens prices.  This was the Keynesian consensus at the time.  

John Maynard Keynes

Keynesians ordinarily prescribed increased government spending (and sometimes tax cuts for ordinary consumers) to get out of economic slowdowns.  For this reason, Keynesians are called demand-side economists.  On the other hand, monetarists or so-called supply-side economists, led by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago, believed the key policy tool is the control of money supply to control inflation, that is, tighter money leads to lower prices.  They also believed that artificial market imperfections such monopolization by trade unions  of labor markets, capital controls, and excessive government regulations should be dealt with since they raise wages, interest rates and overall prices.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman

Supply-side economic policies were adopted by President Ronald Reagan during his first term in the early 1980s.  The situation then was similar to current conditions: tax cuts were proposed for corporations and upper income individuals  amid US deficits.  The reasoning: corporations did not invest as much so the economy could grow because of excessive tax rates and regulations.  The tax cuts were adopted but the deficits did not decrease; in fact, they increased.  

President Ronald Reagan

The clarion call then was deregulation.  Government should stop regulating and interfering in the economy and allow market forces to work freely.  

President George Bush Jr.

However, it was not to be a simple binary choice.  One policy program does not exclude the other.  When the big US financial institutions started to go under in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 housing crisis, the US Congress at the urgent request of President George Bush Jr. approved a $700 billion bail-out program for the Wall Street banks as well as General Motors and Chrysler.  Alienating many within his ‘Main Street’ constituency, President Barack Obama had to maintain the program.  In many instances, Obama was accused of being soft on the banks, considered by many to be responsible for the financial crisis.  The five biggest banks were recently allowed to settle lawsuits over practices that forced millions of American families from their homes(see https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/09-5).

Obama weighing alternatives?

Our historical discussion shows that political leaders cannot be held captive by their ideologies.  They may be forced to adopt policies that work, pragmatic policies that is.  Should Romney and Ryan get elected in November 2012, I will be very interested to see if their ideology survives its first brush with reality.

Paul Ryan with his latest budget proposal


Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is considered by most survey respondents so far to be very weak in foreign affairs relative to incumbent President Barack Obama.

He decided to do something about it by travelling to the United Kingdom and Israel; the United Kingdom being the Americans’ closest ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Israel, the most  reliable friend in the volatile Middle East.

Did the visits help?  Based on reports, it looks like they did not.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

When he met British Prime Minister David Cameron, he pointedly asked if London had the capacity to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

What was he thinking?  That he can do a better job, having managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah?

For Mitt’s information, the Summer games are bigger with more events and athletes than the Winter edition.

Some Brits rightfully complained: Hey Mitt, isn’t your plate full enough?  You are already standing for the presidency; you still want to run OUR Olympics?

London Olympics 2012

You think that’s the end of it?

Mitt is just beginning!

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband

When he met Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, Mitt called the latter “Mr. Leader”.  Technically, Mitt was correct because Milliband led the Labour Party.  I am sure however that Milliband want to be called by his Christian, rather than generic, name.

Perhaps, Mitt’s aides heaved a sigh of relief as their jet left Heathrow for Tel Aviv.

Mitt was just warming up.

In Israel, Mitt espoused the thesis that cultural difference was the reason why Israeli GDP was twice that of Palestinian GDP.  

Sub-text: Palestinian culture is inferior to Israeli culture.  Since culture defines a people, then Palestinians are inferior to Israelis.

Romney delivering a speech in Israel

Of course, he won a lot of brownie points with the Israelis but obviously not with the Palestinians.

A survey commissioned by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), the Bar-Ilan University Center for International Communication and the Anti-Defamation League revealed that Israelis generally trust Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney more than current US President Barack Obama, according to the Jerusalem Post.

But Mitt’s remarks might not be a mistake after all because Jewish-Americans and the so-called Israel lobby are formidable political forces in the United States.

The liberal press back home pilloried Mitt as a racist and a bigot and for failing to recognize that continued Israeli occupation of Palestine had adverse effects on Palestinian productivity.  The conservative press, meanwhile, praised him for supposedly telling the truth.

Later, Romney recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a round-about manner.   The Jewish state has long maintained that Jerusalem is its capital city, a claim that is contested by Palestinians and the international community. The claim also runs counter to U.S. policy. Most nations, including the United States, have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Mitt at the Wailing Well, Jerusalem

Romney made Jerusalem a campaign issue.  In his latest ad, the voice-over intoned:  “[A]s President, Barack Obama has never visited Israel and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as its capital, Mitt Romney will be a different kind of president, a strong leader who stands by our allies. He knows America holds a deep and cherished relationship with Israel”.

 

Contemporary Republicans are either prone to gaffes or have strong convictions.

2008 Republican party VP candidate Sarah Palin

My personal favorite remains the party’s 2008 candidate for vice president Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska.

When asked about her foreign affairs acumen, she proudly declared that she had a lot.

Only the Bering Strait separates Alaska from Russia!

 

 

Asked to elaborate, she explained that Alaska is separated only from the Russian Federation by the narrow Bering Strait.

 

The state capital of Alaska is the city of Juneau where Governor Palin held offices, is tucked near the eastern pocket of the Gulf of Alaska and is adjacent to northern British Columbia.  Juneau is hundreds of miles from the Bering Strait.  

 

Her house in Wasilla, Alaska is further inland and does not give one a regular glimpse of the Russian homeland, a requirement she apparently allows one to claim a respectable foreign affairs resume.  If she stayed and held offices in Nome, then perhaps that would do the trick.  Crossing the Bering strait into Russia might also exercise immigration officials on both sides.  

 

And that, folks, may be the sum of Palin’s foreign affairs expertise!