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foreign policy

Israel Ambushed and Betrayed, Or Was It Overdue Comeuppance? »

Jan 9 2017

"A shameful anti-Israel ambush", erupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the U.S. abstention at the United Nations that
let resolution 2334 against West Bank settlements pass by a 14-0 vote . "Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council", he added.

Ambush it certainly was not, and his Israel has been no friend to America's efforts toward a two state solution. The Obama administration has been condemning for years every new announcement… Read More »

trade

America’s Second Thoughts on Trade »

Apr 25 2016

In a presidential run like no other, one surprise is the theme adopted by both parties in the persons of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders — that trade and
globalization have damaged the U.S. It's a radical departure from the pro-trade orthodoxy that has been recited by politicians and the major media stretching back decades, and it has triggered a long overdue debate.

Trump launched the subject when he announced that upon gaining the Oval Office he would immediately raise tariffs to China by 45%. Sanders took Michigan, inveighing against “disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America", blaming Detroit's decline on globalization, and mined the same vein in Wisconsin. The others tried… Read More »

exodus

The Migration Crisis, a Firsthand Report from Munich »

Helping a wayfarer make it to Stockholm Sep 24 2015


By our correspondents in Germany, Kenneth and Natalya MacWilliams

Europe is being engulfed. Within Europe, Germany is experiencing the brunt of it. Within Germany, Munich is by far experiencing the brunt of it. Munich can for the moment be called ground zero.

There are many migrant and refugee centers in the greater Munich area. Migrants are first received at a central registration point where they remain for only one or two days while… Read More »

foreign policy

The Twisted Logic of the Iran Debate »

Obama has won but so has Iran Sep 15 2015

To follow the inverted logic of the furious debate over the Iran nuclear deal has been an adventure in Wonderland where Alice learns that down is up and up is down. Opponents argued that we
should hold out for a better deal. After holding fast against six nations for 18 months, surely Iran will be only too obliging to return to the table. Or, why don't we just toughen the sanctions? Never mind that… Read More »

congress

We Send the Brightest to Capitol Hill »

Jul 27 2015


              Beleaguered

Testifying before the House of Representatives in late July on the impending Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry was quizzed by Texas Republican Mike McCaul, who is chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. It went like so:

McCaul: This secret deal… Read More »

foreign policy

Iran: Good Deal or Bad Deal? It’s Both »

Jul 23 2015


The moment the accord with Iran was announced, it was denounced. Even-handed circumspection was not the tenor of the day. What was most bewildering was to listen to those who find the deal disastrous but who are unperturbed by what would result if there is no deal.

The defects emphasized by the detractors are real and worrisome, and conservatives in Congress vow to block the deal when it comes up for vote in… Read More »

foreign policy

Walking the Iran Deal to the Brink »

Jul 1 2015

"Break a leg" said to an actor entering on a stage is the peculiar wish for good luck in theater world. It's not meant literally, of course, which suggests that when one really does break a leg, it's a show in trouble. By that reading, the sight of Secretary of State John Kerry, hobbling about on crutches after his bicycle accident, should have told us that three months of negotiating since the verbal "framework" agreement of April 3rd between Iran… Read More »

trade

Congress Close to Fast-Tracking Giant Pacific Trade Deal »

Jun 9 2015

House Halts Trade Bill: May 25: House Democrats went counter to norms by voting against assistance to those who would lose jobs from trade bill imports, a tactic to guarantee that Democrats would vote against the trade bill itself for lacking this this provision. For the President, who allied with Republicans against unions in a reversal of form — anything to get his trade bill passed — it halts fast-tracking the trade bill in its tracks.
            

      It is the biggest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Bill Clinton over twenty years ago. That one linked the U.S. with Canada and Mexico. This time it is twelve nations bordering the Pacific,… Read More »

foreign policy

Cracks Develop in the Iran Deal’s Framework »

And only a couple of months to patch them Apr 18 2015


One view of the talks
    Steve Breen, UT San Diego

The ink was hardly dry on the term sheet rushed out by the U.S. before it began to smear. Called a "framework, it was immediately disavowed by Iran's negotiators who felt they'd been framed. That the list was immediately released to the media was… Read More »

foreign affairs

Well Done, Patriots. Iran Now Asks If America Can Be Trusted »

Mar 18 2015

With an end-March deadline looming in the talks with Iran, the 47 Republican senators who signed the letter to Iranian leaders may have accomplished their mission of undermining President Obama's months-long goal of reaching an agreement to suspend Iran's uranium enrichment program. The result could be that Iran will now… Read More »

foreign policy

The Talks with Iran, What Are the Odds? »

Are extensions of the extensions leading anywhere? Feb 24 2015

Congress's resolve to influence any accord with Iran is born of deep skepticism over the negotiations so far. They have watched
the Obama administration and its five partners acquiesce to a succession of extensions in which Iran has yielded little.

With a final agreement nowhere in sight, negotiators had in November 2013 settled for a six-month "interim agreement" so that talks could continue. It gave Iran immediate rollbacks of some sanctions already… Read More »

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the corporatocracy

Congress, Left and Right, Finally Wary of Alarming Trade Pact »

While Obama presses for fast track up-or-down vote Apr 7 2015

It was thought that the trade pact that hopes to tie together twelve Pacific nations would be where the left and right in Congress would finally come together to pass a bill with bipartisan comity. Instead, both sides began to align against it.

If you were a subscriber over a year ago, you hopefully read our analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a huge trade pact that we identified as giving multinational corporations greater powers than the… Read More »

foreign policy

U.S.-Israel Relations at Low Ebb, Where They Should Be »

Mar 25 2015

The right wing media was aghast that Obama didn't call to congratulate BiBi Netanyahu promptly on his re-election. Their commentators relentlessly criticize
Mike Luckovich, Atlanta-Journal Constitution

Obama as weak but they now tell us that the President should have meekly crawled back into Netanyahu's good graces because our presidents come and go, but we have an unbreakable bond with Israel, right or wrong. Former G. W. Bush Press Secretray Dana Perino said he… Read More »

war

Obama’s Got It Wrong About Islamic State »

His closed circle of advisors needs to get out more Mar 15 2015

Politicians and the media have been preoccupied with the President's refusal to label the terrorism threat "radical Islam" in the seeming belief that without getting the semantics just right we won't know whom to shoot at. The enemy calls
itself Islamic State, they've revived a barbarity not seen in centuries, and we know where they are, but a Wall Street Journal editorial says a "war cannot be won against an… Read More »

foreign policy

Arabs Tell U.S., ‘You Do the Fighting’ »

Offer Minimal Support to Obama's Fragile Coalition Sep 18 2014

A media frenzy erupted when President Obama admitted he didn't have a strategy to combat ISIS. The ongoing airstrikes he had ordered in
northern Iraq to hold ISIS forces from annihilating the Yazidi sect, to shield the city of Erbil, to drive ISIS from the Mosul dam could not be called a comprehensive strategy, of course, but they didn't seem to count as anything at all for his critics.

Those demanding that he have a ready strategy to pull from his shirt pocket pointed out that we've known about ISIS — which now refers to itself as Islamic State — for a year or more. Why was the administration so unprepared? It has only gradually taken hold that any strategy needs a coalition, just as the enterprises of both Bush presidents were founded on coalitions, and coalitions can only be built when an emergency… Read More »

the media

Gaza: What the Media Has Failed to Report »

Hardly a mention of the root cause of the war Aug 9 2014

Why does Hamas insanely fire rockets into Israel only to bring havoc on their own people? With a reported 1,900 now dead, nothing can explain away this immorality, to be sure, but American media has done poorly by hardly making an attempt to explore reasons.

Not until a full two weeks into the fight, when the top Hamas leader inside Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said they would not agree to a cease fire until Israel ends
theblockade, did the media awaken to something called a blockade. “We cannot go back to the silent death of… Read More »

foreign policy

Israel May Be Left With Only U.S. As Ally »

World support slipping away Apr 26 2014

Time is not on Israel’s side. The unending occupation, the demeaning checkpoints, the anti-terrorist barriers, the soldiers and tanks even after years of relative calm with West Bank Palestinians, the expansion of settlements usurping those lands with 540,000 Jews now living beyond the 1967 boundary, the increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinian neighbors, all have inspired growing questioning of Israel’s moral integrity.

Added to that, a disturbing indifference to civil rights has eroded good will. Eritrean and Sudanese refugees seeking asylum… Read More »

foreign policy

Middle East Turmoil: An American Foreign Policy Failure? »

Blame is easy. Alternatives not so much Feb 20 2014

Our self-proclaimed experts tell us that U.S. policy in the Middle East is in tatters and President Obama is largely to blame.

Syria is aflame, over 100,000 thought to be dead after three years of civil war. Half a dozen Syrian militia groups now
battle each other and al Qaeda for control. Over a million refugees have poured into Turkey and Jordan, the latter a small country that could collapse under the weight. Turkey is in a turmoil of its own devising, with weeks of demonstrations in Taksim Square in Istanbul followed by its leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his administration coming under investigation for… Read More »

cyberwar

Putin Would Like You to Forget About Russia’s Election Hacks »

Russian leader wipes the slate clean for a reset with Trump Dec 26 2016

It was an adroit public relations ploy by Vladimir Putin, his decision to do nothing in retaliation against President Obama's expulsion of 35 diplomats and a list of other penalties — and to even invite American diplomats' kids to the Kremlin to celebrate the New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas. Angry Obama, peace
loving Putin, if you choose to be fooled. The move was also to dim the memory Russia's serious act of aggression against the United States, its cyber hacks into the American electoral process, attacks aimed only at Democrats, putting a bear claw on the scale to weight it in Trump's favor.

But we'd rather not forgot Russia's actions. They are just the beginning, now that Putin has discovered how easily it was to tamper with American democracy. Let's review how this happened.

whodunit

All 18 government intelligence groups ultimately concluded that it was the Russians who breached the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign computer systems and gave WikiLeaks thousands of emails to release.

But the damage could have been averted were it not for a stunning tale of ineptitude between the FBI and the DNC told… Read More »

foreign policy

Trump: Soft on Putin, Allies Left in the Wind »

Aug 4 2016

Donald Trump's encouraging Russia to find the 30,000
e-mails that were erased from Hillary Clinton's server (per her attorneys) has raised legitimate concern that "there's something going on", a phrase you might remember Trump leveling at President Obama after Orlando.

Forensic technology has convinced U.S. intelligence that the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee e-mails and documents originated with the Russian government. That they expose a corrupt tilt toward Clinton over Sanders by the committee and were released just before the Democratic convention seems beyond coincidence. Is Vladimir Putin, his favorable comments taking advantage of Trump's susceptibility to flattery, trying to influence the election? And has Trump —… Read More »

war

The Rise of ISIS. Who’s to Blame? »

Sorting out the finger-pointing Jan 12 2016

"If we had 10,000 troops left in Iraq there would be no ISIL, and I
hate what Obama did. He gave away everything we fought for. I hate what he did". That was Lindsey Graham in the most recent Republican debate before he bowed out of the race. "I blame Obama for ISIL, not Bush. I miss George W. Bush. I wish he were president right now", he added. He seemed close to tears.

Blaming President Obama for the rise of ISIL has been adopted as doctrine for those on the right, with truth being the casualty. It's a seriously ugly lie emblematic of how craven our politics have become. Rather than mature evaluation that… Read More »

foreign policy

China’s Master Plan: Drive Us Out of “Their” Pacific »

The U.S. has no plan to preserve the open ocean Oct 27 2015

On the first day of September, China staged a military parade of staggering size with 12,000 goose-stepping troops, missile
Chinese sailors on the bridge

carriers, and jet over-flights as the centerpiece of a new 3-day national holiday commemorating the end of World War II. Simultaneously, President Xi Jinping announced a 300,000 reduction in the size of the army. It was, Xi said, a gesture to show that other countries have nothing to fear from a China "loyally committed to the sacred duty of safeguarding world peace”.

But it was the army that got trimmed. Just as with Obama's "pivot" to the Pacific, so is the Pacific China's pivot. “The traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned”,… Read More »

foreign policy

China’s Military Buildup:
It’s Aimed at Us »

Sep 27 2015

China's defense budget has for years grown by double-digit percentages as it transforms itself from a land power — although still left with the world's largest army at 2 million — into a blue water naval power. The West — ever distracted
by the Middle East, Central Asia and now, Ukraine — has been left to watch, to the degree that it has been watching at all. Here's what that transformation has achieved so far:

making waves

China is expected to have a navy of 342 ships by 2020. The U.S. fleet numbers 243 surface and submarine warships. Spread thin… Read More »

foreign policy

War With China: Is It Already Here? »

It begins as China claims international waters as its own Sep 12 2015

China has hit a rough patch. We've been importing about 8% less than last year, so they've devalued the yuan to make their goods cheaper and our goods more expensive. That way we Americans will boost our imports again, and China will buy less of our products. After all, they need our money to build their air force and navy so they can advance their plan to shut us out of the
South China Sea and then the western Pacific. We're only too glad to help.

With our military bases dotting the region and our ships… Read More »

foreign policy

Don’t Believe China Is Looking for a Fight? »

Years of incidents show heightened belligerence Aug 26 2015

The run-in with the Chinese navy described in our companion article was hardly the first encounter the U.S . and neighboring nations have had with China. These confrontations have the potential to easily devolve into military conflict.

Last August a Chinese pilot flew his jet fighter within 20-30 feet of a U.S. Navy patrol plane over international waters 100 miles off China's Hainan Island and flipped over to show the armament under its wings. "Very, very close. Very dangerous,"… Read More »

foreign relations

Mission Accomplished, China Putting Squeeze on U.S. Companies »

A rash of fines for alleged monopolistic practices Nov 6 2014

The enormous Chinese market is irresistible to American multinational corporations. To gain admittance U.S. companies acceded to whatever demands the Chinese imposed, most in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO)
rules, and willingly handed over their technology to the Chinese with little regard as to what the consequences may be for their own future.

When China was admitted to the WTO in 2001, it was no secret that their huge export imbalance was not enough to satisfy their vaulting ambitions. The further plan was and is to replace foreign companies and imports with local production.… Read More »

trade

Corporations Press for Power Grab in Pacific Trade Pact »

Heard of TPP? Your news programs have kept it a secret Feb 6 2014

You weren't supposed to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Behind closed doors the United States and eleven Pacific rim nations have been negotiating a trade pact designed to hand multinational corporations powers greater than their own governments’. It is referred to as "NAFTA on steroids" by those opposed, expected to hand still more jobs to other countries. Yet President Obama has lobbied the Senate for "fast track" treatment to ram it through — an up-or-down show of hands with… Read More »

foreign policy

U.S. Does Israel’s Bidding at the U.N. »

American hypocrisy on flagrant display Dec 5 2012

America preaches to the world that its peoples should be free of oppression and have the right of self-determination, yet in the vote at the United Nations this past week, our country has sided with Israel that the Palestinians should not even have “nonmember observer status” at the international body. Standing out in stark relief, our vote, disagreeing with 138 countries that voted “yes”, gives the lie to what this… Read More »

foreign policy

China Tells Us to Deposit Our Technology at Their Door »

Part 3 of a series on how China robs us blind Nov 6 2012

One of the first things Mitt Romney said he would do on Day One in the Oval Office had he won the election was to “declare China a currency manipulator, allowing me to put tariffs on products where they are stealing American jobs unfairly.”

Actually, while still undervalued and still a problem, the yuan has been allowed to rise against the dollar some 30% since 2005. And the President has imposed tariffs and filed protests with… Read More »

den of thieves

China: We Create It, They Steal It »

Part 2 of a series on how China robs us blind May 12 2012

It has been called “the greatest transfer of wealth in history”. Gen. Keith Alexander of the National Security Agency was referring to the theft by China of American trade secrets and technology with which to jump start their own industries and use their cheap labor to beggar their American counterparts.

Most Americans are probably aware that China steals American software and movies and ships counterfeit knock-offs of designer clothing around the world. Probably less known is how… Read More »

Den of Thieves

Endlessly Mugged by China’s Manipulated Currency, U.S. Did Nothing »

Part 1 of a series. Feb 27 2012

For decades now, first with Japan and to a much greater extent with China, we have allowed globalization and notions of free trade to permit cheating countries to hollow out American industry and contribute to an American future that looks increasingly bleak. It will only worsen on our present course. With China it began with clothing and household goods,… Read More »