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Big - and getting bigger and bigger

Business Times - 25 Dec 2008

OBAMA'S STIMULUS PACKAGE
Big - and getting bigger and bigger

Consensus seems to be that long-term consequences can wait; things need fixing now

By LEON HADAR
IN WASHINGTON

BARACK OBAMA will be inaugurated as the next US President on Jan 20. Yet, if you happen to read the headlines in the major American newspapers or watch television news regularly, you would probably conclude that Mr Obama has been occupying the White House for quite a while, as he and his aides have been bombarding the media and the public through statements and leaks with their continuously changing programmes for fixing the American economy - which tend to be confused with the old and new plans proposed by the current president, George W Bush, for, well, fixing the American economy.

The only thing one could be certain about these days is that this American economy is continuing to plunge just as both the departing and arriving presidents are adding billions - no, change that to '…

Obama the Mideast Peace-Maker?

Posted on the World Policy Journal blog

Leon Hadar: Obama the Mideast Peace-Maker?
December 18th, 2008 Posted in Israel, Obama, U.S. Foreign Policy |

Since the publication of my retrospective article on Israel in the fall 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal, a few colleagues have wondered if I considered revising my somewhat “pessimistic outlook” (the way one of my correspondents put it) about the chances of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian with Barack Obama in office. So have I changed my tune?

First, what I was trying to do in my WPJ article was to highlight the gap between the high expectations that many of us seemed to share regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in 1991 (the end of the Cold War, increasing globalization, etc.) with the depressing reality of today’s Holy Land—post-9/11, post-Iraq War, and amidst the present global economic crisis. If anything, my retrospective reflected my sense of realism about the ability and willingness on the part of Israelis…

Fed reaches end of its traditional road

Business Times - 18 Dec 2008

From now, it may resort to other tools such as printing new money

By LEON HADAR
IN WASHINGTON

PUNDITS have been using a variety of dramatic adjectives - 'rare', 'unprecedented', 'extraordinary', 'radical', 'historic' - to describe the Fed's decision on Tuesday to cut its target for the federal funds rate to a range of zero to 0.25 per cent - a record low - from one per cent.

But in a way, in a year that has seen so many 'rare', 'unprecedented', 'extraordinary', 'radical', and 'historic' moves by the US federal government, including the partial and complete nationalisation of several banks and investment houses and the bailing out of many financial institutions, not to mention the long list of fiscal and monetary policies, the decision by the central bank to slash its benchmark interest rate close to zero was not only expected but somewhat anti-climactic, especially when one…

Obama should take the other road to Jerusalem

Business Times - 17 Dec 2008

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IN EARLY 2002, the then US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was exploring ways to restart negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians that had broken down in the aftermath of the second Palestinian Intifadah (uprising).

Mr Powell was arguing that a resolution of the conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land could help lessen anti-Americanism in the Arab world and restore US power in the Middle East which had been challenged on 9/11.

The notion that the road to a more stable and pro-Western Middle East leads through Jerusalem - the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - was very much the accepted wisdom among members of the foreign policy establishment in Washington as well the view of most of US allies who called on President George W Bush to embrace a more activist US diplomatic approach in the Middle East.

But Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as well as the n…

On Sino-American relationship

China Must Be Central to US Global Agenda

by Leon T. Hadar


Leon T. Hadar is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post on December 10, 2008

The major criticism that East Asian officials would make of the outgoing Bush administration's foreign policy would be Washington's focus on the geostrategic problems in the broader Middle East in the past eight years, and the resulting sidelining of China and most of East Asia on the US global agenda. This neglect of China needs to change.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent trips to South Asia (to try to defuse Indo-Pakistani tensions in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorism) and to the Middle East (to attempt to re-energise Israeli-Palestinian negotiations) have been highlighted in leading US newspapers. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's meetings in Beijing, as part of the ongoing Strategic Economic Dialogue, have, however, only b…

New battle for commanding heights

Business Times - 12 Dec 2008


These days, with huge industry bailouts, it seems the US is following in the economic footsteps of Russia and China

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

DURING the height of the globalisation era of the 1990s, political economists Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, published The Commanding Heights: The Battle Between Government and the Marketplace That Is Remaking the Modern World, a treatise on the relationship between the government and the marketplace which became an instant best-seller and was turned into a documentary.

Taking the title from a 1922 speech by the founding father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin - who used the phrase 'commanding heights' to refer to industries in an economy that effectively control and support the others, such as oil, railroads, banking and steel - the authors defined globalisation as a period in economic history when free markets predominate, and governments relinquish control over the 'commanding heigh…

So is Obama going left, right or centre?

Business Times - 10 Dec 2008

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
LEFT-wing activists in the Democratic Party have been critical of the US President-elect's choices for the national security and economic teams whose members would be in charge of managing the policies of the next administration, including the handling of the financial crisis and the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
After all, presidential candidate Obama ran on a platform of 'Change' during both the presidential primaries and the general election. One of the main reasons for his successful challenge during the Democratic primaries to the20candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton, the darling of the Washington establishment and an earlier backer of the Iraq War, was Obama's consistent opposition to the military adventure in Mesopotamia.
Yet, Obama ended up selecting Clinton as his Secretary of State while retaining Republican Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. Where is the promised Change in foreign polic…

Team Obama - can rivals play and win?

Business Times - 03 Dec 2008

Conflicts between his foreign policy stars could delay the changes he has promised

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

SCIENTISTS who study the way our brain processes images describe a condition known as visual agnosia, or the lack of visual knowledge, when one can observe an object through normal visual acuity but cannot make a meaningful perception from this sensation.

It seems that when the visual region of a person's brain is partially damaged, he or she can produce a faithful rendering of an illustration but have no idea what it is. One 'sees' but does not 'know'.

But even if your brain has not been injured recently, you may have experienced a form of visual agnosia when you were watching US President-elect Barack Obama unveiling his national security team.

It was not very difficult to see that Mr Obama has nominated Senator Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, as his secretary of state, and th…