5 months ago

Justice Will Sellers: The necessity of American leadership in a post-COVID world

Thirty years ago, the world seemed like a more stable place.

The United States was at the height of international prowess and had deftly negotiated with almost the entire world to oust Sadam Hussein from Kuwait. President Bush and his foreign policy team had built an international coalition to acknowledge that aggression against another sovereign state would not be tolerated. Even those countries that did not physically participate in the military coalition agreed to refrain from public dissent and allow the United Nations to live up to its charter.

The United States did not engage in appeasement or unilateral military action but initiated a precedent-setting effort that used international resolutions to express the world’s outrage. But unlike most U.N. resolutions, which aren’t worth the paper they are printed upon, the United States simultaneously organized a global military effort to give teeth to the resolutions.

At the same time, in another part of the world, East and West Germany unified. Long the focal point of Cold War tensions, the two Germanys agreed to combine and become a single country. This, too, was no small feat and required a significant amount of fancy footwork to make sure reunification didn’t ruffle the feathers of friend or foe.

A few NATO allies were not at all excited about a unified Germany and its impact on the balance of power in Europe; and, for obvious reasons, several Warsaw Pact allies shared similar concerns. But once Russia, the 800 lb. gorilla of the Warsaw Pact, gave its blessing, reunification could officially begin. Inasmuch as reuniting Germany was akin to the final prisoner exchange at the end of a war, Gorbachev consented to reunification and acknowledged the Cold War was over as the world moved in a vastly different direction.

Rather than dancing upon the grave of Communism, the United States engaged in careful, intentional diplomacy. It would have been tempting to replay the famous Nixon-Khrushchev kitchen debate, engage in triumphalism, and feed the narrative of American jingoistic swagger; but this was not the style of the Bush administration. When the Berlin Wall fell and Eastern Europe began to roll back the Iron Curtain, the Bush team worked behind the scenes to provide aid and comfort to the newly liberated countries, but care was always taken to avoid offending the Russians.

This polite diplomacy allowed the defeated communists to save face and find a new, less aggressive role on the world stage.
Russia had been a longstanding ally of Hussein’s Iraq, supplying it with weapon systems and financing the regime. One might expect that Russia would support Sadam and, perhaps, come to his defense, but Gorbachev chose first to broker a peace deal, which failed, and ultimately supported the conclusions of the U.N. resolutions. Perhaps most importantly, Russia stayed on the sidelines and did nothing to resist coalition forces.

This lack of action was unprecedented and signaled a complete change of tack by Russia. Unlike other Cold War hot spots, the Gulf War did not become a proxy war, but was a global effort; a real “united” United Nations coalition to act as a world police force to enforce the UN Charter militarily.

And it worked. Not only was there diplomatic consensus, but there was also military cohesion. The various and sundry coalition partners and their myriad of commitments and commands worked together, which resulted in Sadam being both isolated by the international community and overwhelmed by a lethal coalition force.

The Gulf War was over almost before it began. The sovereignty of Kuwait was restored, Sadam was humiliated, and it was reasonable to assume his international thuggery was over.

In fact, with the end of the Gulf War and the reunification of Germany, the world community seemed on the brink of a new paradigm in international relations. The United States was the only superpower left standing and reluctant as Americans were to take on a leadership role, the Bush administration was on the cusp of achieving what others had longed for: a stable and peaceful world with international cooperation and a global consensus on the role and implementation of the rule of law.

The world clearly seemed to be moving away from sentimental regionalism and toward a global economy with greater freedoms from governments that appeared to be democratically elected. The communism attributed to Marx and Lenin had died under the weight of a competitive international economy. Even China was developing a hybrid political and economic system that seemed to embrace some facets of capitalism while maintaining state control.

Regrettably, this brave new world that appeared truly transformed was only a mirage. Even though the United States was at the pinnacle of power, its leaders quit before solidifying their gains. As a peace-loving republic, America cashed in her peace dividend before maturity and took a holiday from history.

Too embarrassed to be assertive and advocate for our values, U.S. leadership chose to lead from behind. They assumed to our detriment that if our nation throttled back its role, others would join us. Rather than use our overwhelming might to force change on recalcitrant nations that questioned liberty and freedom, they choose consensus over taking charge—finding the lowest common denominator for action.

Even though past actions indicated otherwise, our leaders choose to bank on the good intentions of other countries with no history of personal freedom or democracy, much less the rule of law. Sadam was still in power, and like any good despot, he refused to accept defeat, consolidated what he had left, and continued to abuse his people with his power.

The U.S. foreign policy apparatus choose to look the other way when China reduced freedoms and clamped down on peaceful protests by killing demonstrators. Perhaps worse of all, Russia was allowed to drift away from true democratic reform and once again embrace autocratic rulers who used the trappings of democracy to gain power and whittle away at citizen self-rule.

Rather than continuing to advocate for American values on the international stage, our leaders were content to be part of a timid chorus rather than standing as a loud voice for reason, practical diplomacy and strength.

The world is safer when America is fully engaged. The international community needs a strong America to provide leadership and, when necessary, to use the overwhelming might of its military. Our foreign policy aims must be clear and focused on self-interest and the significant implications of trade to expand our economy. With enlightened self-interest, America can provide global leadership and peace to the world. The United States can help create a stable world by advocating for a global framework which allows individuals within nation states to pursue their respective political economies, peacefully and under rules of enforceable equity.

Will Sellers is an associate justice on the Supreme Court of Alabama.

6 hours ago

Jim Zeigler considering ‘exploratory’ effort for Alabama governor in 2022

After much speculation, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her intentions to seek another term as governor in 2022 earlier this month.

Despite what were perceived to be controversial positions on pushing the Rebuild Alabama Act that raised the gasoline tax, her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining what could remain open and closed and a failed Mobile Bay/I-10 toll bridge proposal, Ivey is still riding high in polling with strong approve-disapprove numbers.

However, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, whose term as auditor will be over after 2022 and is ineligible to run again because of term limits, told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he was considering a run for governor in 2022.


“I believe it’s very important for Alabama taxpayers, for the state government, for our future to have a viable opponent who has been raising issues and trying to hold the Ivey administration accountable,” he said. “And that is why I am considering myself setting up an exploratory campaign to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Who else is there — who else took the lead in blocking the toll bridge over Mobile Bay? Who else took the lead in blocking Amendment One that would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and have them all appointed by the Governor? Who else took the lead in blocking this prison rental plan that would have had us paying over $3 billion over 30 years and then owning zero equity in the prisons, a terrible business plan?”

“I don’t know,” Zeigler continued. “If not me, then who?”

If Zeigler runs against Ivey in 2022, it would not be the first time the two of their names appeared on a ballot in a race against one another. In Alabama’s 2020 Republican primary, Zeigler took on Ivey in a race for state delegate for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ivey prevailed with 7,182 votes to Zeigler’s 1,729 votes — a margin of 80.6% to 19.4%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”



“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

10 hours ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.


“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

11 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.


The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

12 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.


“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.