Ian Bremmer On the War Between States and Corporations
Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer discusses the political and economic impacts of the economic recession, as well as rising economic powers.
Charles Kupchan On How Nations Make Peace
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Charles Kupchan explains the value of engagement with our enemies and the hard work and years of effort needed to make peace.
James K. Glassman on Strategic Communications and U.S. Policy Toward Iran
Glassman argued that Iran is an ideal place for strategic communications and said that everything we do and everything we say should be coordinated to meet the goal of changing the character of the Iranian leadership.
Al Jazeera's video of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak swearing in intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as the first vice president of Egypt in nearly three decades has many clamoring to learn whatever they can about this person who may actually succeed Mubarak.
Suleiman, one of the long-serving national security technocrats in Egypt, has been a key manager of Egypt's lucrative, military-aid lubed relationship with the United States and has been one of the key interlocutors with Israel.
One of the most disappointing encounters I had with Suleiman was during the time he led efforts to patch together a revived "unity government" in Palestine, tying back together Fatah and Hamas that had split in a bloody and violent civil war which resulted in each party governing different parts of Palestine.
Egypt was selected by the Arab League to lead these talks -- and Suleiman became the Egyptian "George Mitchell" for these unity efforts. Fatah and Hamas came close several times to a deal -- but ultimately, the United States privately conveyed to Mubarak and to Suleiman that it didn't want to see the process succeed.
The Saudis who supported a restored unity government in Palestine were highly irritated when Egypt, supposedly brokering a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah actually sabotaged the effort.
Suleiman, intel chief and now Egypt's VP, was America's proxy.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by rc, Feb 02, 12:27AM "Instead of pressuring Mubarak, Obama gave the Cairo speech to try to flatter and cajole Mubarak and the other Arabs. It was a pat... read more
Katulis made the interesting point that America's affinity for Mubarak may be just a hangover from the Cold War, at least in part. He also said that we need to move characterizing our options in the region between simplistic notions of stability vs. freedom. I agree with him.
I put on the table that the Israel-Palestine standoff is one of the drivers of America's strong support for Egypt's government under Mubarak. Representative Nita Lowey concurs with this as reported by Capital J's Ron Kampeas.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by Dan Kervick, Jan 29, 11:51PM I enjoyed the interview with you and Katulis, Steve. I watched it online. This is the first time I have watched Maddow's show si... read more
There is a clear broad tilt in the American and global media against President Mubarak's regime. I have seen statements of support for Mubarak and dismissal of the protests from some Israeli leaders and oddly from John Bolton.
But on another front, former Newsweek chief foreign correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave sent me this interesting reminder about the fall of the Shah in Iran. Just something to remember and consider.
Our institutional memories are apparently non-existent. I did the last interview with the Shah on Nov. 8, 1978.
I told him his friends Henry Kissinger and Al Haig and others had asked me to ask him why he did not suppress the revolution and then drastically reform the regime. He answered he had been betrayed by the US and did not wish to see any more blood.
I did not know how ill he already was but I realized then he was finished. The world liberal media was already fawning over Ayatollah Khomeini giving his daily press conferences in a Paris suburb. A number of them flew back with him to Tehran, hailing him as the great liberator from the Shah's tyranny.
The Shah was an enlightened liberal next to the medieval theocrat the world media was hailing as the liberator of the Shah's brutal dictatorship. And the rest is history. The Ayatollahs executed more people in the first six months than the Shah's regime had done in a whole generation.
Arnaud de Borchgrave
Former US Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV), a good friend of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, was the person Ronald Reagan used to communicate to Marcos that he had to go and that US support was over.
Who will Obama use with Mubarak?
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by Cee, Jan 31, 2:13PM Chomsky: Strategic and Economic Objectives, Not Anti-Islamization, Drives U.S. Policy January 31, 2011 By Noam Chomsky [While man... read more
The #Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President #Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action.
This is important because essentially it's a critique that the US-liked Omar Suleiman, just sworn in as Egypt's first vice president in three decades and the kind of character who would feature well as a star in a John LeCarre Middle East spooks novel, does not constitute "reform."
The Century Foundation's Michael Wahid Hannanotes that Egypt President Hosni Mubarak's call for the Egyptian military to deploy in and around the robust protesting crowds in Cairo could cut either way.
The military could stand by the President and brutally repress the population or just simply stand and hold hoping the crowds lose momentum with only limited application of force. Alternatively, they could decide that the military's own interests and lifeline to U.S. military aid is better preserved if they escort Mubarak out of the country and play a key role in securing the next political order.
This could be risky though as it opens the question of who will lead next and how "democratic" will the process of selection and affirmation by the people be. This opens the door to Islamic parties and organizations that have the best networks and organization in the country and which have substantial durability given the fact that they have survived in toxic political conditions inside Egypt. According to one source, the Egyptian military has largely purged its ranks of Islamists -- so this may lead to further clashes in Egypt as a rising political Islam movement, which has kept mostly quiet through this turmoil, may appear and could be perceived as a rival rather than a potential partner by the Egyptian military's command staff.
The military -- Despite the scenes that played out in Egypt after the military's deployment yesterday, with the military exercising restraint from violence and engaging in occasional fraternization with protesters, the military's ultimate intentions remain a mystery.This is all the more so following the Egyptian president's truculent response to his people. Was their deployment the first step toward a military-initiated ouster of Mubarak or an effort to crush dissent?
The military played a central role in Friday's events and could be even more important in the coming days, surpassing the more circumscribed role that it has come to occupy within the Egyptian state. The military's day-to-day involvement in political affairs has decreased steadily since the days of Gamal 'Abd al-Nasser, from 1956 to 1970, when Nasser's government was dominated by military figures. Under Mubarak, who took office following the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981, this influence has decreased, aided by the regimes efforts to limit the public profiles of military leaders. Nonetheless, the military remained the silent guarantor of regime stability and has twice been deployed to repress significant political turmoil: in 1977, following the outbreak of "bread riots" over Sadat's decision to cut food subsidies; and in 1986, when a group of central security forces rioted and looted throughout Cairo, demanding increased pay. As memories of these events have receded, many Egyptians and outside analysts have wondered about the military's actual influence and what role it might play if again faced with a challenge to the regime.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by Jerry E. Stephens, Jan 31, 9:52AM Wasn't the question "whither the Egyptian military?" answered on Sunday. The military's stand-in place posture throughout Cairo se... read more
What is going on in Egypt now reminds me of the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, the expulsion of and collapse of Marco in the Philippines, the overthrow of Romania's Ceausescu, and of course the Green Movement in Iran.
The first three dictators fell; the last regime remains in place, and it's not certain yet what will happen in Egypt.
America is finally tuning in -- where most of the Middle East has been tied to Al Jazeera on TV sets and internet portals since the dramatic collapse of Tunisia's totalitarian regime.
The choice slice of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak's address tonight was that the protests we are seeing not only in Cairo, but Alexandria and all over the country were a product of the freedoms that Mubarak had given people.
I'll be chatting about the protests in Egypt and the tough choices for US policymakers with Rachel Maddow tonight -- about 9:30 pm EST.
And then following, I will be the "anchor buddy" for the whole show (if things stay on track) with Ed Schulz of The Ed Show.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by Mark, Jan 29, 5:29PM Posted by Bill Pearlman, Jan 29 2011, 9:40AM "If the Suez canal closes there is not telling how high oil goes. You might want to ... read more
Truth in advertising first. I haven't read the novel, though I really like the graphics of the "O" and the "ears" as well as the brilliant blue of the cover.
Recently, I ventured into a cluster of leading conservatives with whom I had a great social encounter and saw the book in my friend's living room.
Not having read it, I asked the host and others if they enjoyed it -- and the response was "I just couldn't get past the first few dozen pages. I tried twice."
This person also said that Joe Klein's brilliance in Primary Colors is that Klein really had an sympathy and understanding for the tough and miserable life politicians had to lead, an empathy for them. My friend said that he didn't feel that O's author had that same respect for the profession.
I then mentioned that I had been hearing rumors that former McCain chief of staff and co-author of nearly all of McCain's books, Mark Salter, might be the author.
I suggest in this clip with Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown that the US government is more in reactive mode on what is happening in the growing zone of instability in the Middle East than in front of things.
We don't have much of a strategy for dealing with political change in some of the teetering, long in the tooth semi-totalitarian states in the region, and we certainly have virtually no strategy to deal with the clearly emerging trend of a rising, democracy-hugging (at least rhetorically) network of political Islam.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by True religion outlet, Jan 28, 9:16PM "True religion jeans are made with best material and the professional designs. It can make you more comfortable and it suitable fo... read more
A provocative and often controversial voice, Freeman will describe his unique foreign policy realist orientation, and how he thinks American policy has been ill-suited to the demands of a productive regional equilibrium in the Middle East. Ambassador Freeman will discuss what he sees as America's misguided approach on a number of policy issues, including the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Iran and its disputed nuclear program, the future of Iraq, and the general impact of the global "war on terror" on U.S. relations in the world.
Slaughter holds what I consider to be one of the best jobs in government as head of policy planning, the role that "Mr. X", George Kennan, author of the "long telegram", once held. Slaughter, who will be returning at the end of this week to a faculty position at Princeton University, drove the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) process which recently issued its first report.
Join us for live streaming here at 8 am EST.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by True religion outlet, Jan 28, 9:19PM "True religion jeans are made with best material and the professional designs. It can make you more comfortable and it suitable fo... read more
This is a very useful look back at what President Obama stated he wanted to accomplish one year ago. Kudos to the HuffPost's Shahien Nasiripour and Sam Stein for writing it.
On the plus side, President Obama delivered on overhauling financial regulation, reforming federal aid for college students, bringing combat troops home from Iraq, cracking down on Iran and North Korea, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and increasing enforcement of equal-pay laws.
He failed on taxing financial institutions to pay the costs of TARP, failed to add 1.5 million jobs over the last year, failed to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill, failed to improve home values and increase mortgage refinancings, and failed to hold regular meetings with Republican Congressional members. Oh yes, and he failed to reform immigration laws.
He is on the edge of pass/fail, according to the writers, on increased transparency on lobbying and campaign finance, extending Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class but not for the wealthy (isn't this a fail?), and stimulating lending to and tax cuts for small businesses.
There are some incompletes as well -- but best to read the whole thing below. From a release on their piece:
As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver his second formal State of the Union address Tuesday night, it is worth looking back at the ambitious policy promises he made a year ago. According to a Huffington Post analysis of last year's speech, Obama made 18 broad pledges to the country, ranging from economic growth and financial reform to troop withdrawals in Afghanistan. On many of those pledges, analysts say, he delivered. But the main thrust of Obama's speech turned on his vow to generate jobs and jolt the moribund economy back to life -- and there, he came up short.
Obama is not the first president to fall short of his State of the Union promises, which are generally broad blueprints for the chief executive's vision of governance. But the Obama administration's accomplishments and failures of the past year illustrate the daunting challenges facing the country and, to some extent, the overwhelming expectations this White House set for itself.
In 2010, after the end of a bruising yearlong health care fight, Obama followed through on promises to pass a sweeping law overhauling financial regulations and repeal "don't ask, don't tell," the military's ban on openly gay service members. In addition, he largely stuck to the script he set with respect to his foreign-policy agenda.
He will likely be defined, however, by his failure to deliver on the public's top concern -- jobs. Despite promises of bold action, 2010 saw the U.S. economy regain just a small fraction of the jobs lost to the Great Recession, and recovery continues to sputter.
Below is a virtual report card from last year's State of the Union address, which The Huffington Post pulled together from interviews with experts and reviews of government and independently-sourced data. Obama tallied 7.5 promises broadly kept, 7.5 failures and 3 "incompletes." The individual results, in order of when the promises made during the speech, are as follows:
PROMISE: Tax on the biggest financial institutions to recoup the cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and incentivize them to shrink GRADE: Fail
Obama proposed a levy on the nation's biggest banks to repay taxpayers for the cost of TARP and to induce the firms to shrink so that their potential failure would pose less risk to the entire financial system. After the industry objected, the White House dropped the issue.
PROMISE: Add 1.5 million jobs in 2010 GRADE: Fail
In discussing how many jobs his economic stimulus plan created, Obama said "we're on track to add another one-and-a-half million jobs to this total by the end of the year." Instead, the economy added 1.1 million jobs. Nearly one in ten American workers is jobless. At 9.4 percent, the unemployment rate has been stuck above 9 percent for 20 consecutive months, the longest such streak since records began in 1948, according to the Labor Department. When Obama took office, the nation's unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent.
PROMISE: Stimulate lending to and cut taxes for small businesses GRADE: Pass/Fail
Obama told Congress he would call for "a new jobs bill tonight." What he delivered was a bill that took $30 billion in TARP funds and redirected it to community banks -- in hopes that they'd lend to small business -- and an abundance of tax breaks. He added that "it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America." The small-business bill was enacted in September, but credit remains tight and hiring is tepid. The tax overhaul for corporations never happened.
Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, January 25, 2011
I am appalled by the recent personal blog written by Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."
In this blog post, dated January 11, 2011, Mr. Falk endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.
Mr. Falk's comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms. I have registered a strong protest with the UN on behalf of the United States. The United States has in the past been critical of Mr. Falk's one-sided and politicized approach to his work for the UN, including his failure to condemn deliberate human rights abuses by Hamas, but these blog comments are in another category altogether.
In my view, Mr. Falk's latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN. I would note that U.S. and many other diplomats walked out in protest in September 2010 when Iranian President Ahmadinejad made similarly slanderous remarks before the UN General Assembly.
The United States is deeply committed to the cause of human rights and believes that cause will be better advanced without Mr. Falk and the distasteful sideshow he has chosen to create.
Ambassador Susan E. Rice
Richard Falk, who has been a celebrated far left voice on Middle East issues, has just sunk his own ship. I agree with Rice that his credibility is so in doubt now that he can't continue to play a role where trust is fundamental from all parties.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by questions, Jan 28, 7:15PM And to close, "I will give an example: Griffin states early on in TNCR that ‘One problem is that at least six of the nineteen men... read more
When Hu Jintao came to the United States in 2006, his visit was seen in China as less-than-perfect. Hu did not receive a State Dinner or the formality and ceremony that accompany it. His speech was allowed to be interrupted by a member of the Falun Gong--a religious sect that is banned in China. The most telling American blunder, however, was the smallest one. When introducing the Chinese national anthem, the American announcer referred to it as the "the national anthem of the Republic of China." The Republic of China is, of course, Taiwan. This musical mistake touched on one of China's most sensitive and contentious foreign policy issues with the United States--the fate of Taiwan.
President Hu recently wrapped up a four day visit to the United States that was widely seen as a success in China. This time, the national anthem was announced correctly and Hu was given a State Dinner in his honor--the first for a Chinese leader in 13 years. However, music again played an interesting role in the Sino-American relationship.
At Hu's State Dinner, following a performance with jazz legend Herbie Hancock, Chinese pianist Lang Lang moved on to a solo piece which he introduced as "a Chinese song called 'My Motherland.'" The song is a patriotic tribute to China and its beauty.
'My Motherland' is also the main theme song of a 1950s Communist propaganda film entitled "The Battle of Triangle Hill." The film follows a group of Chinese soldiers who enter the Korean Peninsula to fight the American Army. Towards the end of the song, the lyrics translate "when the jackals come, they are greeted with a hunting rifle." Given the context of the film, "the jackals" are unmistakably the Americans.
In both of Hu's visits to the US, music seems to have been a point of contention or misunderstanding. It is unclear whether the China-Taiwan national anthem mistake was intentional, just as Lang Lang's choice of music could have overlooked the negative allusion in its lyrics. What is clear, however, is that in both cases, the American audience was mostly unaware of the implications of the mistake.
These examples are instructive of a larger point--Americans don't know much about China. It is the second biggest economy in the world, it has the fastest growing military, and it holds a huge share of the US national debt. That is all potentially scary. Moreover, given the way that the American and Chinese media approach one another, small disagreements or miscalculations could escalate very rapidly.
However, when the United States is making policy, it needs to be based on facts, not feelings. This is not to say that the US shouldn't ask for some clarification about Lang Lang's musical choices, but rather that if we are going to make judgments or arguments about Chinese decisions we should try to understand them before we jump into the debate.
-- Jordan D'Amato
Posted by nadine, Jan 27, 4:56AM So Lang Lang said he chose the music because it was familiar to the Chinese? Well, that much is true: "“My Motherland” is still f... read more
This has all been such a fiasco over the years. Some Israeli friends of mine have argued that Palestine couldn't deliver on what it promised -- maybe so, but this shows how far at least some Palestinians were willing to go and how little Israel was willing to give to make this problem history.
Keith Olbermann and his producers made me a fairly regular commentator on politics and foreign policy on his show -- borrowing me now and then from Rachel Maddow who originally brought me into the MSNBC world.
I am going to miss Keith's powerful voice on MSNBC but look forward to his next venture of which there must be one.
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by Kathleen, Jan 25, 12:52PM Keith Ollbermann is about as "anti establishment" on Israeli Palestinian issues as Abe Foxman, Dennis Ross or Terri Gross. Olber... read more
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe as well as Political-Military Affairs and former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt has joined the open letter I have helped organize asking President Obama to support the pending resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning expanding Israeli settlements in Occupied Territories.
Within the UNSC, Russia has emerged as a heavyweight supporter of the Palestinian initiative. Thus far, the US Department of State has not indicated a position on the resolution itself and whether it will support, abstain, or veto the resolution.
Department of State Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both expressed reservations about the UN Security Council being the "venue" for deliberation of this issue.
One prominent neoconservative friend of mine wrote this note to me this morning:
Perhaps you might want to organize UN condemnation of this?
Or is that not such a high priority for you as winning international condemnation of Israel for building apartments for Jewish families in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem?
All best, XXXXX
My friend is correct that Ahmadinejad's statements are disgusting and reprehensible -- and really do deserve push back.
If I had the time to push replay on some of my activities recently, I would have built in more support and a very large salute to the work of US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice who was unwilling to abide by a UN Committee vote that dropped language on sexual orientation being dropped from a resolution on extrajudicial killings.
Ambassador Rice took this to the floor of the United Nations and got the language that Saudi Arabia had worked hard to remove restored. Her work was tremendous -- and I wish I had organized such an open letter supporting her position.
That said, even though I believe that there are serious areas of underperformance by both Israel's and Palestine's political leadership in securing a better and more stable future for both of their peoples -- the expansion of illegal settlements is adding to the toxicity of the situation. Israel wants to feel that it has unconditional support from the United States no matter what options it chooses -- no matter whether it sets a temperature that is conducive to peace talks or not. I don't believe in that kind of unconditional relationship. There are responsibilities that Israel has -- as well as Palestine -- in getting to a new stable equilibrium in their relations.
The consequences of failing at peace talks used to be minor and something that the US and its allies could absorb, but not any longer. The costs of failure are having larger echo effects throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and even globally. Israel and Palestine are, in my view, need to be shoved forward on a constructive track. Thus far, President Obama who outlined early on his administration and in two UN General Assembly speeches a vision for Palestine-Israel that was quite commendable has been timid in moving this game forward.
So, to my friend who wrote the note, the notion that settlement expansion is minor when compared to other atrocious issues is a non-sequitur. I disagree with Hillary Clinton's framing that this ultimately must be an arrangement depending on Israel's and Palestine's political leadership to come to terms with each other. Their mutual incapability, weakness, and irresponsibility with their mutual interests has been long demanding more involvement and direction from key stakeholders.
Settlement expansion is, as interpreted by the US government -- Israel's closest friend and ally -- illegal. We need to fix that. We need a deal on borders and security, as WINEP's David Makovsky and others have been arguing. I think that some of Makovsky's formula for land swaps needs tweaking (here is interactive map) -- but it's an important contribution that could lead the debate out of the endless convulsions over illegal settlement growth.
There is a way forward on borders and security that would obviate the need for such UN Resolutions. So, to my friend and his associates -- why don't we collectively find a way to put Makovsky's and other such proposals into a working discussion with serious political leaders in Israel, Palestine, and across the region?
-- Steve Clemons
Posted by DonS, Jan 24, 2:08PM Abilify is a fairly new anti-psychotic med, so it's a step up in insult from Valium, which is a mere minor tranquilizer. The idea... read more