Tuesday, September 4, 2018

There is a question that foreigners who aspire to be naturalized in the United States

There is a question that foreigners who aspire to be naturalized in the United States must answer: Have you ever been a member of, or in any way associated with (directly or indirectly) the Communist Party?

Whoever answers affirmatively probably sees his way to blocked US citizenship.

That is a relic of the Cold War that the US It remains in force, although its confrontation with the Soviet Union (USSR), or the pulse between the Western and the communist world, has ended three decades ago.

Whether in the thick bureaucracy of Washington, in the danger of nuclear weapons on constant alert or in the darkness of old secret bunkers, they remain in the United States. almost intact vestiges of the global duel of the last century.

"A lot of this is inertia: people got used to the Cold War for several decades, and the abnormal seemed normal," says James Hershberg, a professor of history and international relations at the George Washington University expert in the Cold War, at BBC World.

Next, five cases in which it seems that the US still lived between 1945 and 1989, ignoring the crashing collapse of the USSR:

1. Nuclear posture

There is a briefcase that a soldier moves everywhere the president of the United States goes, almost never more than three meters away, either in the privacy of the White House or on a trip abroad.

That briefcase is called the "black box" and has the codes to launch one or hundreds of nuclear destruction attacks in a matter of minutes.

Former President George W. Bush said in the year 2000 that so many weapons on instantaneous alert were an "unnecessary vestige of the confrontation of the Cold War."

"Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch at any moment is a dangerous relic of the Cold War," agreed his successor, Barack Obama, in 2008.

However, both presidents and the current president, Donald Trump, maintained high levels of alert for a nuclear response to an eventual attack against the United States. or your allies.

They were also kept by Russia.

All this occurs despite the progress made in reducing the nuclear arsenals of the Cold War since the degree of alert for these weapons could have changed.

"The relic is at a bureaucratic level: no one wants to get rid of them," says Gordon Adams, a defense expert who worked for the White House in national security budgets in the 1990s at BBC Mundo.

All this raises another consequence of the Cold War that was never reversed: the great expansion of the power of the US presidency. in relation to the Congress, to which the Constitution entrusts him to decide whether a war should be declared.

2. A giant military force

USA it has by far the largest military expenditure in the world, comparable to the sum of the seven countries that follow it. And it is increasing.

Trump authorized this month a defense budget of US $ 716,000 million for fiscal year 2019, previously approved by Congress.

"America is respected again," Trump said. "With this new authorization we will increase our size and military strength by adding thousands of new recruits to active service."

USA It already has about 1.3 million active servicemen, a part deployed around the world, capable of fighting more than one conflict at a time.

The budget increase responds to a growing sense in Washington that competition with Russia and China is intensifying.

But before that, military spending was also increased due to the attacks of September 11, 2001 led by the Islamic organization al-Qaeda.

Different experts warn that there is a lack of a clear strategy or reason that justifies such expense at present.

"We have a force greater than we need, given the reasonable requirements of national security," says Adams.

"To a certain extent, it is a relic of the kind of conflict that the Cold War focused on, which was force against force," he adds. "The (US) forces were designed with the Cold War in mind."

In his opinion, the lack of change is due to political calculations, military visions and bureaucratic interests: "Have you ever known a bureaucracy that wants to shrink voluntarily?" He asks.

3. Bunkers

USA Dozens of bunkers built during the Cold War to protect their rulers in case of emergency or enemy attack.

One of them is Raven Rock, created from 1948 with a tunnel of almost one kilometer in a mountain of Pennsylvania, to house some 1,400 soldiers and eventually the president himself with all the amenities.

With the end of the Cold War there were recommendations to close it, but after September 11, 2001, the site received new millionaire investments and now houses thousands of officials.

There is another bunker called Mount Weather in Virginia for civilian personnel, and another one in a Colorado mountain known as NORAD and dedicated to US air defense. and Canada, which were also updated after September 11.

"They are definitely vestiges of the Cold War," says Garrett Graff, a journalist and historian who last year presented the book "Raven Rock: the history of the US government's secret plan to save itself - while the rest of us dies. "

"The government has spent a lot of money and time to update them, but keeping these things up to date is a very constant process ... and the government's attention is rarely constant," Graff tells BBC.

He explains that it is difficult to indicate how many of those bunkers were closed and how many are still operational, since the amount built during the Cold War was never revealed either.

By the way, the secrecy of the US government it is considered another inheritance of the old confrontation with the USSR.

4. The embargo on Cuba

When Obama made his historic visit to Cuba as president of the United States. in March 2016, he said solemnly: "I came here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas."

But he failed to get his country to bury the trade embargo imposed in 1962 on the communist island, as he expressly requested by normalizing relations between the two countries.

Lifting the embargo is a decision that can only be adopted by the US Congress, which demands that Cuba change its communist government and cease the repression of opponents.

The end of the embargo has been claimed by UN majority annual resolutions since 1992, is supported by a majority of Americans according to surveys, and even by diplomats from Washington who worked in Havana.

"In no other part of the world does the US maintain a unilateral embargo," the former head of the US interest section warned in April. in Cuba between 1999 and 2002, Vicki Huddleston, in the Los Angeles Times.

Hershberg, the expert at George Washington University, argues that the embargo "is just a surplus Cold War attitude" that follows for reasons of US domestic policy. and the pressure of Cuban exiles in Florida.

5. Filter to communists

The obstacle for members of the Communist Party to become naturalized in the USA. comes from a 1952 rule on immigration and citizenship, called the McCarran-Walter law.

Those who process naturalization must demonstrate "adherence to the Constitution", and one of the requirements for this is that at no time during the last 10 years have they been members of the Communist Party, a lawyer for communism or "the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship ".

Although the law has been modified on different occasions, the section that establishes this ban has been maintained.

"Asking about the membership of the Communist Party comes from an old-fashioned political concern," says Hershberg.

"It's absurd," he adds. "But changing it really requires that legislation be passed, political will, and that is very difficult due to political divisions."

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