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February 12, 2015

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FOREIGN POLICY in flames? The recent NY Times article detailing the use of the media by ISIS to terrorize the world with their horrific acts brings one to question if we even have any idea what we are doing in foreign policy besides fighting fires. No one is actually giving these horrific acts legitimacy, but they are bringing into question the US logic in it's responses to ISIS. Specifically, how does the US justify a declaration of an all out assault on ISIS, request for the return of boots on the ground to Iraq and the rallying of a few willing partners to join the assault against them? When, at the same time the US turns a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs by the Assad regime against the rebels over the past two years? Assad was on his way to the graveyard clearly in the eyes of the US military when Secretary Kerry teamed with Putin to save Assad. Now Putin is on the march in Ukraine having grabbed Crimea and Assad is joining the fight against ISIS while still committing horrific acts against the rebels. And, the Muslim/Arab population has to wonder what the US policy really is? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? The US liberated Iraq and Afghanistan then abandoned them now returning. We destroyed Qaddafi then left Assad in power acting as if Russia was our ally. Are our friends the Saudi's flooding the world with oil to help chastise Russia and Iran, trying to jump start the world's economy, or are they destroying the US march to oil independence? Now there are elements using this confusion to almost defend ISIS actions.

War is messy and one can question the Chaney-Bush policy of Democracy for all in the Middle East but at least they had a strategy. That strategy has been replaced with inconsistent actions of engagement and withdrawal; threats and apologies; and lectures on who are and are not "Terrorists". Timelines in Iranian negotiations and Assad step downs come and go. Yemen is a target rich zone for drones and then we watch the abandoned embassy sacked.

Meanwhile Latvia where my son has moved from Ukraine now joins Lithuania and Estonia in wondering who is Putin after next? NATO beefs up but Ukraine is left unarmed to fight Russian tanks. We seem to forget that we armed the Afghanistan nationals when Russia invaded and eventually the Afghanistan people drove them out.

I don't have the answers but I was around the planning cycle for long enough to know if you don't have a strategy and a plan to carry it out then you will eventually be confronted with chaos and enemies on all fronts. Isn't that the way WWII started? I'd like to hear a plan. Besides avoiding the word Terrorist and asking for Congressional authorization for limited assets and another time line for withdrawal.

APPLE's Market cap now exceeds the market cap of all the companies in Spain listed on the Spanish exchange. Apple pay is sweeping the nation to the surprise of analysts. The I phone 6 and 6+ continue to take market share in the US and China. Since the death of Steve Job's the critic's have used every in between product release period's to question how Apple can keep innovating without Steve. Tim Cook was just an ordinary CEO. Icahn keeps the pressure on to return cash to shareholders and Apple delivers dividends and share buybacks. But, Apple continues to innovate. Now the critics are confined to worrying about Apple's self cannibalization of the I-pad by the larger screens. And, finally investor's are realizing that Apple is innovating faster than any large company has ever innovated. Apple pay will further imbed the I phone successor's into the world financial system. Even Tim Cook cannot believe the success Apple pay has made with Visa and Master charge putting the Apple pay sign in every ad. Now comes the watch in April. Perhaps not this generation of watch but a follow on will soon monitor your vitals and tell you to go to the doctor or perhaps dial 911 for you. Apple only commands 20% of the mobile phone market but it creates 91% of the mobile phone profits. Apple is moving to control houses, cars and the human exercise routines. Apple is disrupting many, many segments of the world. I think Apple is in good hands in this post Jobs world. Finally, Apple's stock is free to reflect the incredible company that it is. Let the world economy heat up and Apple market cap will soar. $1 Trillion will fly by as the central banks print money worldwide to fund consumer and business purchases of Apple products and services. This is how America is supposed to lead the international community--innovation.

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