As costs go ever higher and higher for medical care in the US, medical tourism has become a big business. There are lots of world class clinics in the Caribbean catering to westerners, where for a much reduced cost people can get world class medical care. Iran is trying to boost their medical tourism. Other than increasing cash flow to the country, it’s a great opportunity to show westerners that Iran isn’t all evil.

“Xinhua gushes about "powerful positive energy" after US president showed he is capable of making all the right diplomatic noises” I’m not sure how this comes out. There are many in the Trump administration that want huge trade wars with China. There are many who want to have China as a military adversary. I do know that it can’t hurt for two of the three most powerful countries to meet and get to know each other. With all of the troubles in the world, we could learn a lot about how to conduct foreign policy from China.

As in so many other countries, the internet and social media hinders the government’s ability to hide good news from the citizenry. As Vietnam evolves into a modern country the citizenry knows there are more and better things out there. Their communist government is unable to adapt and when under pressure from those calling for change they resort to the old communist methods of repression. The APEC meeting in Vietnam this week will stretch the government's patience immensely. Protestors will try hard to influence foreign leaders.

The idea that there are a lot of Christians in Israel is a novel idea to most Americans. In the past year hundreds of Israeli Christians have made pilgrimages to holy sites in Lebanon, even though the country is classified an enemy state. Groups of all ages, sometimes up to 50 people, spend a week in Lebanon on trips organized by the Galilee’s Christian clergymen, mostly under the radar.(1 comment)

This isn’t news. I’ve been saying this since the “red line” was first established by Obama over Syria. Ironically Saudi Arabia acknowledges that this attempt failed. The US is still meddling in Syria. What’s important for us is to recognize that the conservative media is finally reporting this. Obviously they liked the strategy, but now that it failed they want to report on it. I have no access to any special “intelligence”. I read about this effort in open source newspapers from Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Iran, etc.(1 comment)

The Kurds have been America’s “whipping boy” for many decades. I don’t understand why they still believe us. Kissinger was the first to pump them up and then pull the plug on them once we didn’t’ need them anymore. We did it again to them after the first Gulf War. We’re doing it again. Despite our efforts in the never ending wars in the Middle East and Africa, we are creating allies and alliances that without our intervention would never have happened. Who would have believed when we started that Iran and Iraq would form a military alliance? Who could have seen the time where Russia would gain huge influence in the Middle East again? The Saudis and the Israelis are partnering up on issues. The King of Saudi Arabia visits Russia for the first time ever. We’ve achieved some regional stability. Just not the stability that we set out to accomplish.

The US seems to be stuck in the Cold War. We see the only way to make allies is to pick a side in a country and arm and train them to defeat the other side. As has been our model for decades we pick someone to lead these countries and of course it’s usually someone that has been educated in the west and is someone we like as opposed to someone that the people of the country like. It has never worked out well. The fall of the Soviet Union taught a lot of lessons to our foes around the world. We defeated them by bankrupting them. Our adversaries realized that “investing” in military hardware was not a bright idea. Fast forward to 2017. Our former adversaries have been concentrating on economic growth. They had discovered that it is easier and more profitable to gain geopolitical influence with economic power than military power. For those who question the concept of trade as a weapon, you just need to look at South Korea and China. South Korea exports a lot of goods to China. When we forced the South Koreans to install the Thaad system in their country, China saw it as a threat. Oddly enough, South Korea’s exports to China were turned off. Huge economic impact on South Korea.…

The growth of ISIS brought troubled youth from around the world to support their cause. Radicalized people from Europe, the US, the Middle East and SE Asia rallied to the cause. Some came for adventure. As some surrender in Syria, many merely came for the money. Others really were radicals. As ISIS breaks up, many will want to return to the countries they came from. Allowing these radicals back into your society is fraught with danger. Indonesia is tackling the issue right now and we should watch and learn from how it works.