Jul 19 • 21M

Stan R. Mitchell: The view from the front podcast for 7-19-22.

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Every Tuesday and Friday, I discuss military and defense news, as well as some history, motivation, and wisdom. (All from a moderate perspective.) Friday posts are free. Tuesday posts are delayed by one day except for paid subscribers. ($5 mo or $50 per yr; subscribe from Substack.) Please help sustain the show if you enjoy it.
Episode details

Hi friend,

Happy Tuesday!

Hope you had a great weekend. Wanted to say two quick things before we get to the news today.

First, I’m amending a bit how the paid versus free subscriptions work.

I’ve decided I don’t want to keep folks from getting the Tuesday edition, if they’re not paid subscribers. So, Tuesday posts will be available to everyone, but they’ll be delayed by one day unless you’re a paid subscriber.

That way, it will encourage folks to support what we’re doing here if they can, but also doesn’t really penalize you if you can’t make that $5 a month payment. At most, you’re waiting an additional day for the content.

But I do want to keep the option there (and the incentive there) for you to support this effort. Partly, it’s because this is what I’d like to be doing full-time, along with my fiction writing, long-term.

And right now I’m balancing this out with a full-time job, which is preventing me from making this as well (or in-depth) as I’d like.

But also, I’ve seen that most advertising-only efforts can only succeed if you’re like Joe Rogan or some big name. And I’m most certainly not Joe Rogan or some big name.

So to sustain the time I’m putting into this, I’d really appreciate it if you threw a few bucks into the hate and signed up.

But if you can’t, or don’t want to, no sweat. And no pressure. I’m glad to have you listening/reading, because I really do believe keeping up with foreign policy is crucial.

I know most Americans don’t care about foreign policy. It’s complicated, it’s happening over there (we say), and let’s face it, most Americans are terrible at geography.

But foreign policy matters. It can be the difference between whether we foolishly invade Iraq (as we did in 2003), or whether we try the impossible task of making Afghanistan (one of the world’s poorest and least literate countries) a democracy.

Having well-informed voters on both sides of the aisle is important, and this means a lot to me because I’ve been the tip of the spear. I’ve been the young man who carried a weapon into a scary foreign land.

This stuff matters, and it’s not nearly as complicated as we think it is.

I remember thinking how stupid it was we were going to invade Iraq in 2003, when we hadn’t even nabbed Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan or Pakistan yet. Why would we divide our efforts like that? And on such horrible intelligence?

Just as large a question? Why, after toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan with the help of the Northern Alliance and not many troops on the ground, would we suddenly shift to trying to build a thriving democracy in one of the poorest and least literate countries? Especially when Pakistan, our so-called ally, is playing all kinds of cute games and essentially supporting the Taliban behind our backs?

These questions came to me when I didn’t even follow foreign policy 1/10th as much as I do now. They are common sense questions, and it’s a shame more Americans didn’t ask them. Perhaps, we could have saved thousands of lives if we had.

And it’s for these reasons above that I’m beyond passionate about foreign policy matters. And I think historically, if you look at the Vietnam War, or the invasion of Iraq or mission creep in Afghanistan, you’ll see that making a mistake early on in regards to foreign policy leads to disastrous consequences for our country.

So, that’s what I’m trying to do here. I don’t claim to know the answers, but I think we can ask the questions, seeks the answers, and make a difference.

And this concept is why I do all of this from a moderate perspective. I believe with every fiber of my being that we have to pull this country together. We have to stop hating those on the other side of the aisle and we have to stop rewarding the loudest (and most angry) voices on either side.

I’m not sure how we do this (though I have some ideas), but it certainly starts with each of us being nice to our fellow Americans. And understanding what the great Abraham Lincoln said.

Lincoln, who is one of my absolute favorite people to look up to and study, said that a house divided cannot stand.

It’s also worth remembering that Lincoln had approximately one year of schooling. He was self-educated, learning through books and reading that he did. And yet he proved to be one of the wisest leaders we ever had.

I think his example is one we should all follow. So, please, sign up for free at a minimum. And chip in a few bucks if you can.

We start this edition by mentioning the heat wave in Europe.

You’ve probably heard this by now, because it seems to be all over the news, but it’s so hot that runways are melting in the United Kingdom. (See below.)

It’s also leading to melted tires, as you can also see.

So just how hot is it?

In France, it’s a 109 degrees, according to The Washington Post.

Britain was supposed to hit 106 degrees, also according to The Washington Post.

Few homes have air conditioning in Europe, because they don’t typically see this kind of heat. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could manage long with 100-degree heat with no air conditioning.

I’ve done it, in the Mojave Desert training, but it wasn’t fun. And I for sure didn’t sleep much.

I also was much younger, and Axios is reporting that to date, 1,100 people have died in Spain and Portugal alone.

So, the heat wave is a pretty serious event happening in Europe right now.

Moving to Ukraine, news broke that Russia is going to buy hundreds of drones from Iran for use in Ukraine.

On the one hand, this is quite worrying. But on the other, I think Ukrainian air defenses are much better than they were even a few months ago, so I think the impact of these drones will be mitigated to some degree.

Moving away from Ukraine, we haven’t talked about China in a bit, but they’re not too happy with the news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be visiting Taiwan.

You can never tell how upset China really is, since they regularly get upset over things the United States is doing, but this does seem like a pretty big deal.

The Washington Post is reporting that Pelosi will be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Speaker Newt Gingrich did back in 1997.

As a reminder, Taiwan is a roughly 14,000-square-mile island that has nearly 24 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook.

China claims Taiwan, while the people of Taiwan seem to not want to be any part of China.

One thing I looked up is what exactly we’ve said we’d do as a country.

We’re currently operating under the US Taiwan Relations Act of April 1979.

This states that the US “shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and shall maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan (2022).”

But, as a reminder, President Joe Biden has three different times made the wrong comment regarding whether America would defend Taiwan.

My personal view on the topic is the following:

I think Biden making the same mistake three times is not an accident. I think our government is telling allies that he absolutely means it. That this is the stubborn, cranky Biden that means it. The one with the backbone that left Afghanistan no matter what how bad that destroyed his poll numbers.

But while they’re saying this to allies to re-assure them of American commitment to Asia, I think these same administration folks are telling China and the media that the statements are nothing. That Biden is just a gaffe machine and we shouldn’t sweat what he’s saying. That he “mis-spoke.”

Doing this accomplishes a couple of things. First, it keeps China from being pushed over the edge in the short term into attacking Taiwan pre-maturely. At the same time, it buys our country some runway, so that America can continue its pivot and re-alignment to counter the great dragon in the East.

What do you all think? Am I crazy? (Or am I dead on the mark like the time I got lucky predicting a possible solution to breaking up the Russian blockade?)

I welcome any comments below or by email or social media.

Moving away from Asia to the Middle East, I wanted to discuss a column I came across.

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and former U.S. ambassador to Austria, wrote a great column on Israel in The Washington Post that discussed an issue I had read about probably five or ten years ago, but frankly, it had kind of slipped my mind.

I’ll mention the problem that slipped my mind in just a moment, but let me set up the situation first.

Lauder said that despite a strong economy and signed peace treaties with six Arab League nations, that Israel faces a couple of big threats in the years to come.

The first is the potential that Iran could build a nuclear weapon. This is obviously something that a lot of people have been discussing.

But the second thing, which had slipped my mind, is that a growing Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could cause long-term problems for Israel.

Lauder says that if nothing changes, and if Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, it will soon face a serious challenge from the Palestinian population.

His fear, and I quote here, is that, “If it gives Palestinians full citizenship — and therefore full rights — it will no longer be Jewish. If it doesn’t do so, it will no longer be democratic. Either way, Israel, as a Jewish democratic state, will cease to exist.”

So, this will definitely be something to keep an eye on, as well.

All right, enough news. Let’s share some motivation and wisdom.

The first comes from my wife, so I have no idea who to credit for it. But it’s a photo someone had shared on facebook.

That’s it for this edition.

As a reminder, please be kind and try your best to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.

And if you love what you’re reading, throw a couple of bucks in the hat by subscribing below.

The view from the front is a reader-supported publication. The best way to make this work sustainable, and to help improve it, is with a paid subscription. But at the same time, free ones are appreciated, too!

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a motivational/biography book about President Obama, and two realistic war novels: one about World War II and one about Afghanistan.

P.P.S. And here’s a short bio about me and what I’m trying to do with the newsletter.