Throughout the history of our country since World World War Two, our Presidents have uniformly engaged in building and solidifying multinational alliances, over time, with like-minded nations that promoted democratic capitalism institutions and social justice ideals. They have also been fairly uniformly firm towards major potential adversaries, holding to the motto of “peace through strength” and engaging, again over time, with these nations in mutual economic and military understandings. Despite grievances from the occasional fringe element on both the right and left, this is how Presidents have largely conducted foreign policy since 1941. This is in danger of being turned upside down by President Donald Trump as he chastises our allies, threatens our multinational alliances, embraces our adversaries, and runs summits like an episode of a reality television show.
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The relationship between Israel and Palestine is truly a tale of two realities where, over the decades, people on both sides had their lives prematurely taken from their loved ones. Strong leadership committed to peace and prosperity on both sides for both sides is needed to resolve this dispute as well as the United States leadership returning to the role of Honest Broker instead of its recent overt pro-Israel posture.
On one side you have the Israelis who represent the only vibrant democracy in the region. In this country, everyone, including the Arabs, has equal rights and representation in the Israelis Parliament, the Knesset.
However, the Israelis have a problem trusting their neighbors for good reason. Before it achieved nationhood, its mandate to establish a homeland in Palestine was reduced by roughly two thirds when the British, in the first land for peace deal, called the Palestinian Territories east of the Jordan River Trans Jordan (later just Jordan) and gave it to the Arabs. Not satisfied with two-thirds of the land, the Arabs in the Jewish third of Palestine wanted that too. Giving into Arab protests, the British decided to divide that parcel up in a similar way that they haphazardly partitioned India and Pakistan (whose eastern boundaries would become Bangladesh). This arrangement was doomed to cause future conflict as the future states of Israel and Palestine were born. In the war for independence, Israel, despite the odds, survived increasing its territorial holdings on lands Palestinians abandoned at the leading Arab elites request (thinking they would return after Israel was defeated) or when the Israelis ejected them. Whatever was left was scooped up by Jordan and Egypt in the occupation nobody seems to remember in the history books. In the later Six Day War in 1967, Israel acquired the remainder of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel offered to return all the captured lands in exchange for peace and the Arab countries rejected the overture. Only later when Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 was the Sinai returned. Gaza was also offered back to Egypt but the Egyptians did not want the headache. Jordan probably felt the same way when it did not insist on the return of the West Bank when it made its peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
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When the Gadsden Purchase was completed in 1854, Mexico received $10 million from the United States for the 29,670 square miles of territory, south of Gila River, which the U.S. government added to the New Mexico Territory. At the time, the only military presence in the vast purchase area was the Mexican force stationed at the Tucson presidio. In November 1856, four companies of U.S. dragoons arrived with orders to establish a garrison in the vicinity of Tucson. After scouting the area, they established Fort Buchanan, named for the new president, at the headwaters of Sonoita Creek on the eastern side of the Santa Rita Mountains.
As the troops stationed at Ft. Buchanan chased down outlaws, tried to counter Apache raids and provided protection for the Butterfield stage line, the national political consensus was unraveling due to sectional quarrels over the issues of states’ rights and slavery. Regrettably, President Buchanan and the other national politicians of the day failed to find a peaceful resolution to the sectional crisis. After President Lincoln took office, hostilities erupted in South Carolina in April 1861. As a result, Fort Buchanan was abandoned in July 1861, its troops transferred to places more vital to the war effort. Fortunately for the fragmenting United States, the European powers decided to stay mostly on the sidelines. In America, the Lincoln administration fought a bloody Civil War as slavery and its attendant issues were settled by four years of warfare.