Tag Archives: global politics

A Bumper Sticker World

My Comments: A conversation last week with an attorney friend again revealed a world which is far more complicated today than seemed possible just a few short years ago. An expert in family law, he said tens of thousands of new laws have entered the books across these United States in the last three decades. It’s impossible to know the rules we are subjected to as we travel from one state to another. What is OK in Florida may not be OK in Tennessee.

So I understand the frustration of many who argue in favor of a simpler time. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. My solution is to stop worrying about what might have been and instead focus on what might be. That demands some creative thinking and a semblance of recognition about what today really looks like, who the stakeholders are and what steps to take to improve the chances my grandchildren have going forward.

For me, the first step is a willingness to step outside my comfort zone. How far are you willing to step?

Philip Stephens April 23, 2015

It is easier to say that Obama never gets it right than to come up with an alternative strategy.

On one thing everyone lining up for next year’s US presidential race can agree. Barack Obama has led from behind on the global stage. The president has been shy about deploying US might, accommodating of adversaries and reticent about standing up for allies. His successor in the White House, we are to believe, will restore America’s global prestige by standing up to China, facing down Russia and sorting out the Middle East.

An old friend in Washington, a foreign policy veteran of the Reagan administration, calls this a “bumper sticker” view of the world. He is right.

The chatter in an already crowded Republican field is that 2016 will be a “foreign policy election”. Republicans fear that a buoyant economy will narrow the range of domestic targets. National security offers obvious opportunities. The march across Syria and Iraq of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has revived fears of new attacks on the US. Mr. Obama’s proposed deal with Iran falls short of the scrapping of Tehran’s nuclear program. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is menacing America’s European allies.

The 2016 hopefuls are as hawkish as they are inexperienced in foreign affairs. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and the rest all promise to be tough-guy presidents. Even Rand Paul, who once flirted with isolationism, has hardened up the rhetoric. Mr. Bush blames Mr. Obama’s hesitations for the rise of Isis. Mr. Rubio, who marches under the old neoconservative standard of “a new American Century”, would slam the door again on Cuba. They are all against the nuclear deal with Iran.

Republican hawks are not alone. Hillary Clinton served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state. Now she is running for the office he denied her in 2008. Admirers say she too would be more robust. Had she not argued for arming moderate Syrian rebels and for a reset of the reset with Moscow when Mr. Putin started throwing his weight around? Were she to set a “red line” there would be real consequences for those who crossed it. Mrs. Clinton, of course, is under attack from Republicans for the deaths of US diplomats in Benghazi. All the more reason to show her mettle.

Some of the criticisms of Mr. Obama’s approach to global affairs have a point. Most of them miss a bigger one.

In one respect, to say that the president has often been reluctant to throw America’s weight around is simply to describe the circumstance of his election in 2008. He inherited two wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the US was losing both of them. George W Bush had tested to destruction the notion that American military power could remake the Middle East. Mr. Obama’s task was to get the troops home.

The charge against the president that half-sticks is that the imperative to end these military entanglements has encouraged him to be overcautious elsewhere. Officials who have served in the administration say he is slow to weigh the costs of inaction. Power is about perception as well as economic strength and military hardware. It is one thing to draw a tighter definition of America’s national interests; another to forget that if the US steps back in one part of the world, allies and enemies elsewhere draw their own conclusions.

The impact of Mr. Obama’s decision to allow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to cross a red line was felt as much in east Asia as in the Middle East. China’s new assertiveness in the East and South China seas has been grounded in a calculation that the White House wants to avoid confrontation.

It is easier to say that Mr. Obama has never got it right than to come up with a strategy to tilt the balance back in the other direction. Risk-taking is not just about military force. The diplomacy with Iran has been bold. Save in the dreams of diehard neoconservatives, the US lacks the resources and political will for “generational projects” to transform the Middle East.

The Republican contenders do not want to admit that, relatively speaking, the US is weaker. You do not have to be a US declinist to observe the rising economic and military weight of China, India and others. Nor, with the end of the cold war, can foreign policy be framed as a simple fight between good and evil. Not so long ago, Republicans were talking about Islamic State as the big threat. Now the danger comes from Iran. And yet Tehran is a fierce enemy of the jihadis.

The neat lines drawn by the contest with communism have disappeared. The new international disorder is being defined at once by the return of great power rivalry — think of China and Russia — and, paradoxically, by the collapse of the post-imperial state system in the Middle East. The US remains the most powerful nation but, on its own, it is insufficient.

The case for Mr. Obama is that in seeking to deploy economic and diplomatic power, and to leverage US influence through multinational coalitions, he has recognized the complexities of this new landscape. The case against is that he has sometimes gone too far in drawing the limits of US power.

What has been missing is an overarching framework — a set of principles clear and practical enough to deter adversaries and to reassure allies. A grand strategy, in other words, that balances ambition and realism. Republicans used to have a reputation for such thinking. Now they prefer bumper stickers.

Remember Eric Snowdon?

My Comments: The more things stay the same, the more they change. Or at least I think that’s how the saying goes. I’ve had mixed feelings about Eric Snowdon from the beginning, wondering if what he did was not in our best interest as Americans who relish our freedoms. Our knee jerk reaction was to simply throw his ass in jail, assuming he could be caught.

A recent court ruling may not cause him to be exonerated, but will certainly put a different light on his having leaked classified documents to the world for publication.

May 12, 2015 by Elias Isquith

A few weeks ago, HBO broadcast a roundly celebrated interview between comedian John Oliver and Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who became a controversial and world-famous figure after leaking an unknown number of secret U.S. government documents to the press. The interview was funny and wide-ranging, but the overall gist of Oliver’s questions cum critiques was that the Snowden revelations may be historical but have failed to trickle down to the general public. Oliver’s question to Snowden was, rather ironically, whether he was sure anyone was even listening.

Snowden held his own in the Q&A, but now that the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has delivered a watershed ruling finding a key part of the Patriot Act not only unconstitutional but also illegal, one wonders if Snowden doesn’t wish the interview had been conducted just a few weeks later. Because while John Q. Public may still not have much of an idea of what “bulk collection” or “metadata” means, it’s clear that people in power — both in Congress and on the bench — are paying attention, and many of them have found Snowden’s revelations just as disturbing as he.

Recently, Salon spoke about the ruling over the phone with American University Washington College of Law Professor Stephen Vladeck, an expert on the law who focuses on issues involving national security, counterterrorism, the separation of powers and spying. In addition to discussing how the ruling affects Snowden’s legacy, our conversation also touched on the 2nd Circuit’s findings, the NSA reform movement and the likely near-future of the debate over privacy and mass surveillance. Our chat is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

How important is this ruling, really?

I think it’s important in a couple of different respects. I think one of the biggest reasons why it’s important is because up until this point, the phone records program had been repeatedly approved by the super-secret, one-sided Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). Now for the first time, adversarial litigation has prompted the courts to consider very carefully whether Congress really did mean back in 2001 to authorize such a sweeping collection of phone records; and the court unanimously says no. That’s a very big statement, and it’s very important. What happens going forward I think now depends on what Congress does in response.

Why is it that Congress is in the mix here? Why aren’t we going straight to the Supreme Court as the next step?
CONTINUE-READING

The Left Is So Wrong On Trade

flag USMy Comments: When I first heard about the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and understood the broad outlines of the idea, I had no problem with it. Then along came Robert Reich, someone whose intellect I respect, saying it was terrible and should be scuttled. So I started looking a little closer, mindful I didn’t have access to the actual language.

The issue has now given the GOP another imaginary arrow to put down the White House. To my mind, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are a breath of fresh air, but are pandering to their base just like Ted Cruz is pandering to his base. I’ve concluded, as an economist and financial professional, that it will be, on balance, a good thing. Does it have flaws? Most certainly. Should they be fixed? Maybe.

The 21st Century is evolving rapidly, and there will be unintended consequences, but to argue that not advancing the TPP will somehow miraculously result in jobs returning the US is nuts. Maybe some CEOs will make hundreds of millions; so what? My professional gut tells me the left has overlooked the benefits and the real chance to boost economic growth in this country, in a way that has to happen. They are just as fixated on their personal bias as are those on the right.

May 14, 2015 / Froma Harrop

The left’s success in denying President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ugly to behold. The case put forth by a showboating Sen. Elizabeth Warren — that Obama cannot be trusted to make a deal in the interests of American workers — is almost worse than wrong. It is irrelevant.

The Senate Democrats who turned on Obama are playing a 78 rpm record in the age of digital downloads.

Did you hear their ally, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the day after the Senate vote? He denounced TPP for being “patterned after CAFTA and NAFTA.” That’s not so, but never mind.

There’s this skip on the vinyl record that the North American Free Trade Agreement destroyed American manufacturing. To see how wrong that is, simply walk through any Walmart or Target and look for all those “made in Mexico” labels. You won’t find many. But you’ll see “made in China” everywhere.

Many of the jobs that did go to Mexico would have otherwise left for low-wage Asian countries. Even Mexico lost manufacturing work to China.

And what can you say about the close-to-insane obsession with CAFTA? The partners in the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement — five mostly impoverished Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic — had a combined economy equal to that of New Haven, Connecticut.

(By the way, less than 10 percent of the AFL-CIO’s membership is now in manufacturing.)

It’s undeniable that American manufacturing workers have suffered terrible job losses. We could never compete with pennies-an-hour wages. Those low-skilled jobs are not coming back. But we have other things to sell in the global marketplace.

In Washington state, for example, exports of everything from apples to airplanes have soared 40 percent over four years, to total nearly $91 billion in 2014, according to The Seattle Times. About 2 in 5 jobs there are now tied to trade.

Small wonder that Sen. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from neighboring Oregon, has strongly supported fast-track authority.

Some liberals oddly complain that American efforts to strengthen intellectual property laws in trade deals protect the profits of U.S. entertainment and tech companies. What’s wrong with that? Should the fruits of America’s creativity (that’s labor, too) be open to plundering and piracy?

One of TPP’s main goals is to help the higher-wage partners compete with China. (The 12 countries taking part include the likes of Japan, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and New Zealand.) In any case, Congress would get to vote the finished product up or down, so it isn’t as if the public wouldn’t get a say.

But then we have Warren stating with a straight face that handing negotiating authority to Obama would “give Republicans the very tool they need to dismantle Dodd-Frank.”

Huh? Obama swatted down the remark as wild, hypothetical speculation, noting he engaged in a “massive” fight with Wall Street to get the reforms passed. “And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?” he told political writer Matt Bai.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Warren insisted. Yes, in a twisted way, the hard left’s fixation over big corporations has joined the right’s determination to undermine Obama at every pass.

Trade agreements have a thousand moving parts. The U.S. can’t negotiate with the other countries if various domestic interests are pouncing on the details. That’s why every president has been given fast-track authority over the past 80 years or so.

Except Obama.

It sure is hard to be an intelligent leader in this country.

David Cameron’s ‘Little England’ is a Myth

My Thoughts: As you know, I have a bias toward England and a bias away from right wing politics. The re-election of Cameron as Prime Minister at first caused me to envision woe and gloom as the next few years rolled by. It still may, but harsh reality from time to time results in a shift toward rational thinking. I hope this proves to be the case for the land of my birth.

Gideon Rachman May 11, 2015

When Angela Merkel won re-election in 2013, the outside world saw her success as a sign that things were going well in Germany. But David Cameron’s decisive victory in the UK’s election last week is receiving a much more sceptical press overseas. A Washington Post headline proclaimed: “Election may set Britain on a path to becoming Little England”. A New York Times columnist upped the ante by announcing: “The Suicide of Britain”.

Many Europeans, meanwhile, are incredulous and angry that the new Cameron government is now certain to hold a referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU. And the surge of the Scottish National party, and the potential implications for the unity of Britain, is attracting attention across the world.

As one Indian analyst harrumphed to me: “How can the UK still claim to be a major power, when the country is on the brink of falling apart?”

Some British leftwingers share this disillusionment, interpreting their side’s electoral defeat as a sure sign of a deep national malaise. The argument that the UK election has revealed a badly troubled country is easy to make. But it is also wrong.

Of course, a British exit from the EU (Brexit) and a Scottish exit from Britain (Scexit?) are both possibilities. But it is much more likely that in five years’ time, when this new government leaves office, the United Kingdom will still be a united country and will still be a member of the EU. The UK will also continue to be one of the most outward-looking countries in the world and is likely to remain among the fastest-growing economies in the west.

The EU referendum to which Mr Cameron is now committed is certainly a mighty gamble, and one that he has taken largely to appease his own party. The renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership is unlikely to yield more than a fig leaf to allow the government to campaign to stay in the EU.

The strong likelihood is that the Brits will then vote to stay in Europe. There have been four opinion polls on the subject in the past month and they have all shown big majorities for remaining a member of the EU.

Of course, the tortuous process of renegotiation, further chaos in the eurozone, and the referendum campaign itself, could all change minds. Some analysts point out that, in recent years, referendums on the EU have been unexpectedly lost in countries such as France, Ireland and the Netherlands. But those were all decisions on changes to European treaties, which limited the risk of a protest vote. Brexit would be a much more fundamental choice — and the Brits are unlikely to take the risk.

If Britain votes to remain a member of the EU, that will remove a potential trigger that the SNP might pull: to demand another referendum on independence for Scotland.

Last week’s general election results, in which the SNP won all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, has created the impression of an irresistible surge of support for independence. But, even now, only about half of Scots actually voted for the party.

Expressing nationalist sentiment in a general election is a risk-free way of venting emotion. Voting for independence would be quite another matter since it would raise — once again — difficult questions about currency unions and tax revenues.

The economic case for an independent Scotland has, in fact, taken a bad blow in the past year as the oil price has plunged. Such tiresome considerations would come back into focus, if and when Scots were asked to vote for independence. In the next five years, some of the gloss is also likely to come off the SNP since all dominant parties eventually generate an opposition.

One legitimate foreign anxiety about the UK is that, even if the country does not actually break up, it is likely to go through a period of acute introspection as it tackles difficult questions about national identity, the constitution and economic austerity.

The notion, common in Washington, that Mr Cameron’s Britain is a smaller actor on the world political stage is hard to argue with. The House of Commons vote in 2013 to reject military action in Syria increasingly looks like the moment when Britain decided that it was going to turn in its deputy sheriff’s badge and leave the US to play the role of world policeman alone. The Iraq and Afghan wars have sapped Britain’s will for foreign wars and that is reflected in declining defence budgets.

But a willingness to drop bombs on the Middle East is not the only measure of internationalism. And the idea that Mr Cameron’s Britain is turning into a sleepy and cramped Little England is very wide of the mark.

London is now probably the most globalised city in the world. Some 37 per cent of its residents were born overseas. It is a hub for finance, transport, culture, tourism and a host of other industries. And while London is a unique place, Britain as a whole remains a trading nation by instinct, and a magnet for people and capital from all over the world.

Politics may be pushing the country to look inwards. But the more powerful social, technological, demographic and economic forces will continue to put Mr Cameron’s Britain at the forefront of globalisation.

Scarce Skills, Not Scarce Jobs

My Comments: To some extent, this is an extension of the post I had last week about the riots in Baltimore. I’m convinced they happened more for economic reasons than for racial reasons. I accept both are present, but instead of focusing on race relations to effect a solution going forward, the emphasis should be economic.

This is not rocket science; Henry Ford set this in motion about a century ago, yet our politicians, both on left and right, are just now discovering it. To me the rallying cry of some on the right to “Take Back America” suggests that perhaps slavery was good. I’d much rather see Washington spend my tax dollars on education and rebuilding our roads and bridges than worrying what ISIS might or might not do. Time for that once we have our society back on track.

I doubt that few, if any, of the many who rioted in Baltimore would be hired to work in Saudi Arabia, especially without the job skills this ad requires. We complain about lack of jobs in this country and at the same time minimize the money spent on education. Someone is an idiot. Maybe several idiots.

What follows came from Atlantic Magazine and was written by James Bessen Apr 27, 2015

At a large distribution center located north of Boston, a robot lifts a shelf holding merchandise and navigates it through the warehouse to the workstation of an employee who then picks the item needed for an order and places it in a shipping box. Incoming orders are processed by a computer that sends picking requests to sixty-nine robots. Then, the robots deliver storage units to roughly a hundred workers, saving the workers the task of walking through the warehouse to find the items. In other distribution centers, this is work that warehouse workers do.

The distribution center, run by Quiet Logistics—a company that fills orders for sellers of premium-branded apparel, is featured in the 60 Minutes episode “Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?” In the segment, Steve Kroft poses the following question to Bruce Welty, the CEO of Quiet Logistics: “If you had to replace the robots with people, how many people would you have to hire?” Welty estimates that he would have to hire one and a half people for every robot, and that the robots are saving him a lot of money.

Robots have long been a staple of science fiction. “Now they’re finally here,” Kroft tells us, “but instead of serving us, we found that they are competing for our jobs. . . . If you’ve lost your white-collar job to downsizing, or to a worker in India or China, you’re most likely a victim of what economists have called technological unemployment. There is a lot of it going around, with more to come.”

The robots perform tasks that humans previously performed. The fear is that they are replacing human jobs, eliminating work in distribution centers and elsewhere in the economy. It is not hard to imagine that technology might be a major factor causing persistent unemployment today and threatening “more to come.”

Surprisingly, the managers of distribution centers and supply chains see things rather differently: in surveys they report that they can’t hire enough workers, at least not enough workers who have the necessary skills to deal with new technology. “Supply chain” is the term for the systems used to move products from suppliers to customers. Warehouse robots are not the first technology taking over some of the tasks of supply chain workers, nor are they even seen as the most important technology affecting the industry today.

Information technology has been transforming supply chains for decades, often taking over tasks previously performed by shipping clerks and other workers. Systems track items from source to customer, keeping inventories at optimal levels and minimizing shipping time and cost. RFID (radio frequency identification) tags allow items to be tracked automatically, eliminating much clerical work. These technologies allow today’s retail stores to offer a far more varied selection than in the past, often at lower prices, and to respond quickly to changes in demand. They have changed the retail landscape, for example, powering the growth of Walmart, a pioneer in adopting some of these technologies.

Yet although these technologies eliminated some jobs for clerks and warehouse laborers, they also created new jobs by creating new capabilities. However, these new jobs require specialized skills among both the managers and technicians, who typically have college degrees, as well as among the less educated operational occupations. Workers who have these skills, often learned on the job, are actually in short supply.
Moreover, industry experts see the need for skilled workers increasing in the short run and persisting for at least another decade. Working with industry trade associations, academic experts issued a “U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling and Logistics,” arguing that:
Despite the potential of dramatically improved processes and technology for material handling and logistics systems in the coming years, much of the work in the industry will continue to be done by a human workforce in the year 2025. Moreover, other aspects of this [technology], such as mass personalization, will require levels of operational flexibility that can only be handled by a skilled and creative workforce. In other words, people will continue to be vital to the industry in 2025.

As with weaving and other nineteenth-century technologies, automation of some tasks increases the value of the remaining tasks, even as new or deeper skills are needed. But workers with those skills are not readily available, nor do robust labor markets initially provide the right incentives for workers to acquire those skills. The supply chain industry experts contributing to the U.S. Roadmap report say that a key challenge is to “overcome a perception that joining [the industry] might not result in a career with suitable rewards.”

A Bumper Sticker World

My Comments: A conversation this morning with an attorney friend revealed a world which is far more complicated today than seemed possible just a few short years ago. He remarked that tens of thousands of new laws have entered the books across these United States in the last three decades. It’s impossible to know the rules we are subjected to as we travel from one state to another. What is OK in Florida might not be OK in Tennessee.

So I understand the frustration by many on the right that leads them to argue in favor of a simpler time. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. My solution is to stop worrying about what might have been and instead focus on what might be. That demands some creative thinking and a semblance of recognition about what today really looks like, who the stakeholders are and what steps to take to improve the chances my grandchildren will have going forward.

For me, the first step is a willingness to step outside my comfort zone. How far are you willing to step?

Philip Stephens, April 23, 2015

It is easier to say that Obama never gets it right than to come up with an alternative strategy.

There’s one thing on which everyone lining up for next year’s US presidential race can agree. Barack Obama has led from behind on the global stage. The president has been shy about deploying US might, accommodating of adversaries and reticent about standing up for allies. His successor in the White House, we are to believe, will restore America’s global prestige by standing up to China, facing down Russia and sorting out the Middle East. An old friend in Washington, a foreign policy veteran of the Reagan administration, calls this a “bumper sticker” view of the world. He is right.

The chatter in an already crowded Republican field is that 2016 will be a “foreign policy election”. Republicans fear that a buoyant economy will narrow the range of domestic targets. National security offers obvious opportunities. The march across Syria and Iraq of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has revived fears of new attacks on the US. Mr. Obama’s proposed deal with Iran falls short of the scrapping of Tehran’s nuclear program. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is menacing America’s European allies.

The 2016 hopefuls are as hawkish as they are inexperienced in foreign affairs. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and the rest all promise to be tough-guy presidents. Even Rand Paul, who once flirted with isolationism, has hardened up the rhetoric. Mr. Bush blames Mr. Obama’s hesitations for the rise of Isis. Mr. Rubio, who marches under the old neoconservative standard of “a new American Century”, would slam the door again on Cuba. They are all against the nuclear deal with Iran.

Republican hawks are not alone. Hillary Clinton served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state. Now she is running for the office he denied her in 2008. Admirers say she too would be more robust. Had she not argued for arming moderate Syrian rebels and for a reset of the reset with Moscow when Mr. Putin started throwing his weight around? Were she to set a “red line” there would be real consequences for those who crossed it. Mrs. Clinton, of course, is under attack from Republicans for the deaths of US diplomats in Benghazi. All the more reason to show her mettle.

Some of the criticisms of Mr. Obama’s approach to global affairs have a point. Most of them miss a bigger one.

In one respect, to say that the president has often been reluctant to throw America’s weight around is simply to describe the circumstance of his election in 2008. He inherited two wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the US was losing both of them. George W Bush had tested to destruction the notion that American military power could remake the Middle East. Mr. Obama’s task was to get the troops home.

The charge against the president that half-sticks is that the imperative to end these military entanglements has encouraged him to be overcautious elsewhere. Officials who have served in the administration say he is slow to weigh the costs of inaction. Power is about perception as well as economic strength and military hardware. It is one thing to draw a tighter definition of America’s national interests; another to forget that if the US steps back in one part of the world, allies and enemies elsewhere draw their own conclusions.

The impact of Mr. Obama’s decision to allow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to cross a red line was felt as much in east Asia as in the Middle East. China’s new assertiveness in the East and South China seas has been grounded in a calculation that the White House wants to avoid confrontation.

It is easier to say that Mr. Obama has never got it right than to come up with a strategy to tilt the balance back in the other direction. Risk-taking is not just about military force. The diplomacy with Iran has been bold. Save in the dreams of diehard neoconservatives, the US lacks the resources and political will for “generational projects” to transform the Middle East.

The Republican contenders do not want to admit that, relatively speaking, the US is weaker. You do not have to be a US declinist to observe the rising economic and military weight of China, India and others. Nor, with the end of the cold war, can foreign policy be framed as a simple fight between good and evil. Not so long ago, Republicans were talking about Islamic State as the big threat. Now the danger comes from Iran. And yet Tehran is a fierce enemy of the jihadis.

The neat lines drawn by the contest with communism have disappeared. The new international disorder is being defined at once by the return of great power rivalry — think of China and Russia — and, paradoxically, by the collapse of the post-imperial state system in the Middle East. The US remains the most powerful nation but, on its own, it is insufficient.

The case for Mr. Obama is that in seeking to deploy economic and diplomatic power, and to leverage US influence through multinational coalitions, he has recognized the complexities of this new landscape. The case against is that he has sometimes gone too far in drawing the limits of US power.

What has been missing is an overarching framework — a set of principles clear and practical enough to deter adversaries and to reassure allies. A grand strategy, in other words, that balances ambition and realism. Republicans used to have a reputation for such thinking. Now they prefer bumper stickers.

The Middle East, Iraq, and the United States

OK, you’re sick and tired of this issue and want it to go away. But it never does and it may never, at least not in our lifetimes. So I challenge and urge you to read a recent interview and the comments made.

As someone who started life amid bombs raining down from time to time, I’ve been conscious and fearful of armed conflict since my earliest days. As a three year old, I can remember waking up one morning under the dining room table next to my mother. She had decided the table might provide at least some protection if a bomb hit nearby.

As an American citizen since 1959, I’ve been here as VietNam engulfed us and evolved, along with Somalia and Iraq and Afghanistan and all the many “little” conflicts along the way. I didn’t want to go to VietNam but received notice in the fall of 1960 to appear for my draft physicial. I remember driving to Ocala, getting on a bus with a bunch of other 19 year olds and we drove to Jacksonville. But I failed my physical and was given a 1-Y status instead of 1-A. So I’ve not served in the military.

Today we have a bunch of neocons and other ‘conservatives’ pushing for us to go to war with Iran. None of them will see a minute of combat like will the current crop of recruits. They seem to think dropping a few bombs on Iran and sending several hundred special operations troops will cause Irans’ national ambitions to suddenly change and conform to our version of democracy and lifestyle.

The map above is a link to the interview sent to me by my son. It is a compelling summary of how we got to where we are now, who the players are, and how we might move this whole idea forward to benefit all of us.  I urge you to read it, think about what is said and the implications, and not overlook the comments section that follows. Click the map above or click HERE NOW.