Midwestern Conservative Thought for the 21st Century

1. Next Step with the Israel Embassy

Throughout several past Presidencies, the American people have been fed the promise of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Promises like this have been made by Presidents from both the Republican and Democratic party. During former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, Clinton attacked George H.W. Bush for breaking his promise to the American people that he would move the embassy. President Clinton was never in favor of moving the embassy because he felt it would limit the opportunity to create a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. The cycle repeated [O1] itself in the 2000 Presidential election where George W. Bush chastised his predecessor for promising to move the embassy and never following through with it. Because of this, Bush vowed to start the moving process within a few months if he were to get elected. We continue to see the cycle repeat itself in a 2008 campaign speech, then Senator Barack Obama said, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” The only difference here being that he never ousted his predecessor. Yet as we can deduce, the move never happened. History has shown that this specific topic ends up being another empty campaign promise, up until current President Donald Trump. He too promised to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and in May 2018, that officially happened. With the move came a mass controversy, but why?

The Arab-Israeli conflict is nothing new to the international community, to include the United States, and up until 2017 this community did not officially consider Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. After President Trump officially announced the embassy move, it showed that the U.S. was favoring Israel, something that was trying to be avoided in the past. In addition to this, for decades there were essentially two U.S. embassies in Israel, the legitimate one located in Tel Aviv. As well as the Jerusalem consulate that essentially served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians who claim Jerusalem as their capital in the hopes of one day having an independent state. “Now the U.S. maintains an embassy in one part of the city and a separate consulate less than a mile away, potentially creating confusion about who has ultimate authority.” (Fox News). This would be heightened if President Trump were to give this additional authority to the Ambassador.  All of this can be summed up very simply; the U.S. moving its embassy could cause “significant harm to U.S. credibility as a mediator,” however, that is not the approach that Donald Trump took to this topic; thus the moving of the embassy.

Furthermore, it was announced on June 1st that President Trump is, “considering giving U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over the U.S. outpost that handles Palestinian affairs, five U.S. officials said, a shift that could further dampen Palestinian hopes for an independent state” (Fox News). This news would re-ruffle the Palestinian feathers, however, at the same time ease the minds of the Israelis, which is something President Trump is aware he’s doing. It was also stated that “Trump has departed from traditional U.S. insistence on a “two-state solution” (Fox News). Despite speculation, nothing has been finalized, and these events will continue to unfold in the near future.

Officials have said that it is expected for Ambassador  Friedman to end up having complete authority over the consulate located in Jerusalem (Fox News). While there seems to be no time-table moving forward, there has been no indication showing President Trump won’t give this additional authority to the Ambassador.

2. United States and North Korea

Since the Cold War the tensions between the United States and North Korea have been no secret, this has intensified within the last couple of years. From that moment, the United States has recognized North Korea not as a state, but instead as a rogue regime. Being a rogue regime, they have still wanted a seat at the nuclear table and as the North Korean nuclear program evolved it created more tension between the Kim dynasty and the United States. President Trump has been inadvertently battling against the North Korean dictator for roughly 18 months now where the tensions have been fluctuating like a roller coaster. At times they would sky-rocket and it would feel as though war was the next inevitable step, and at other times Kim Jong Un was backing down to President Trump almost diminishing tensions.There seemed to be progress with North Korea during the Winter Olympics, which were held in South Korea. There was a unified Korean Women’s Hockey team, and Kim Jong Un’s sister attended the games. With what seemed to be progress, it was announced in mid-May that there was going to be a summit between President Trump and Dictator Kim in Singapore; however, it didn’t last long for the two to find themselves in another superiority ‘flexing game.’ Since the announcement, the world has seen two weeks of back and forth negotiations. The timeline is as follows:

  • May 16, North Korea said they ‘may’ back out of the summit due to the accusation of “reckless statements and sinister intentions” (BBC).
  • May 24, President Trump officially cancelled the summit, said there was “tremendous anger and open hostility” (BBC), from North Korea.
  • May 26, North and South Korea met for surprise talks at the DMZ located at the 38th Parallel.
  • June 1, General Kim Yong-chol hand delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un at the White House, where President Trump announced the Summit is back on for June 12 in Singapore.

While all of this was unfolding SOFREP.com, an alternate news organization that writes news using their background in Special Operations, [O11] wrote a piece on May 25th, stating that there were three likely outcomes from all of this: either a new summit will be renegotiated, the two states would fall back into the roller-coaster of tension, or war between the two at some point in the future. Which one of these outcomes seemed to be the most likely? It appeared war was the least likely option, for one reason: history. The United States has not maliciously been in North Korea since the Korean Conflict, and since that time the tension between both parties has always been clear. Showing that there’s no indication of anything different. In addition to this, President Trump has been dealing with North Korea since he took office and has not started a war between the U.S. and North Korea. From the remaining two options provided: a new summit deal, or resort back into the rollercoaster of tension, at the time it appeared the most likely outcome would be that a new summit would be negotiated. From the time President Trump took office there has been a superiority battle, of sorts, between both him and Kim Jong Un. Which could be a potential reason for the constant change in tension between the two. Nothing was new to the negotiation of the summit, as one can see from the timeline one side made a stride for superiority, forcing the other to do the same. Now that both sides have been able to show the other they are serious; the summit will likely resume as originally planned.

3. A New and Improved Army?

At the turn of the 21st Century, the world saw a significant increase [O12] in technological advancements. This was seen most through the lens of the private sector, nevertheless, the military could not escape it. As technology has continues to improve, so do the prototypes that the Department of Defense contracts out for its troops. One of the more recent prototypes has been the ‘Iron-Man suit’ also known as TALOS, and as one may suspect, it gets its name from the suit seen in the Iron Man movies. It is a suit that a Soldier can enter and operate with increased protection. It doesn’t have the ability to do all of the same things that the one from Hollywood can, however, they look similar and ultimately have the same goal. Right away there were significant issues. The weight, battery life, heat and quickness of entering and exiting just to name a few. Since its introduction at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) the suit has slowly faded from the spotlight but continues to be developed.  The next ‘big thing’ was an evolution of the iron man suit, an exoskeleton. This, while it can’t provide additional protection, does offer the ability to do normal human activities at a much higher level. For example, it allows you to jump higher with more ease than normal, as well as run faster. Its inspiration coming from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, where the exoskeleton technology is utilized. With this, along with the iron man suit, the problem then became the cost.

On June 1st, it was released that the Army’s research lab was working on a “third arm” prototype, where it eases the weight of a weapons system allowing for better accuracy for a longer period of time. The prototype is still considered an exoskeleton with how it’s designed. It attaches to the Soldiers body armor in the back and wraps around the body where it then connects to the weapon system and eases the weight of the weapon itself. The prototype is made of carbon fiber and only weighs 4 pounds. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory also stated that this is the third version of the third arm and they are continuing to improve it.

What does this mean for U.S. Soldiers? Will the Department of Defense finally step into the world of exoskeletons and field it to their soldiers, or is this just another idea created by the ‘good idea fairy?’ The military-based website Task and Purpose believes that this is something attainable, “[the] third arm is well on its way to turning science fiction into reality” (The Washington Times). More than likely, the largest determining factor again comes down to cost. The DoD has been known for selecting the ‘lowest bidder’ on its technology, including weapon systems. Though, it appears a price tag has not been announced for the third arm, it can be safely assumed it will not be cheap. The entire system is made from carbon fiber, and a 2’ x 4’ carbon fiber sheet can cost around $175, don’t forget that that is only for the material itself and one can only guess how much production of the third arm costs. The future does not seem bright for advanced technology in the military, not until one of two things happen; either the DoD stops utilizing its lowest-bidder model or the cost of this advanced technology can decrease to a low enough point for the DoD to use its lowest-bidder model.

Works Cited

Ernst, Douglas. “Army Releases Footage of ‘Third Arm’ Prototype Resembling ‘Aliens’-like Tech.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 1 June 2018, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/1/army-releases-footage-of-third-arm-prototype-resem/.

“FLASHBACK: All The Times Past Presidents Promised To Move US Embassy To Jerusalem.” The Daily Caller, The Daily Caller, dailycaller.com/2017/12/06/flashback-all-the-times-past-presidents-promised-to-move-us-embassy-to-jerusalem/.

Hollings, Alex. “Trump Pulled out of the North Korean Summit, Here Are the Likely Outcomes.” SOFREP, 26 May 2018, sofrep.com/103666/trump-pulled-out-of-the-north-korean-summit-here-are-the-likely-outcomes/.

Liptak, Kevin. “Trump Says Singapore Summit with Kim Is Back On.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 June 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/politics/trump-north-korea-letter/index.html.

Press, Associated. “After US Embassy Move, Trump Weighs Jerusalem Consulate Changes.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 1 June 2018, www.foxnews.com/world/2018/06/01/after-us-embassy-move-trump-weighs-jerusalem-consulate-changes.html.

Schallhorn, Kaitlyn. “Why Trump’s Promise to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem Is so Controversial.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 14 May 2018, www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/05/14/why-trumps-promise-to-move-us-embassy-to-jerusalem-is-so-controversial.html.

Systems, Jolt. “JEGS Performance Products 70815: Carbon Fiber Sheet 100% Carbon Fiber | JEGS.” JEGS High Performance, 18 Apr. 2017, www.jegs.com/i/JEGS-Performance-Products/555/70815/10002/-1?CAWELAID=230006180002540447&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=39714413703&CATCI=pla-291420598510&CATARGETID=230006180039220963&cadevice=c&gclid=CjwKCAjw3cPYBRB7EiwAsrc-uUba3pqPGjESEvwZoQlI7cH1m8SQ9FIb4Zf3h-hSTwEe0fPcoWYdBBoCLqsQAvD_BwE.

“US-North Korea: Trump Says Summit with Kim Is Back On.” BBC News, BBC, 1 June 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44339003.

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