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Showing posts from April, 2011

in the Washington TimesWeak link in chain of American alliances Wishing for friendship with Pakistan doesn’t make it so:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/29/weak-link-in-chain-of-american-alliances/

OPINIONCOMMENTARYSE

HADAR: Weak link in chain of American alliances
Wishing for friendship with Pakistan doesn’t make it so

By Leon T. Hadar -The Washington Times

Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan's president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the United States, urging him instead to look to Pakistan and China for help in making a deal with the Taliban and rebuilding his country's economy, according to the most recent press reports. Yet despite this, the growing friction between the United States and Pakistan over the release of a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis and the continuing U.S. drone attacks that have resulted in civilian casualties has been described by American officials as one more example of the unavoidable tensions between two "old allies."

Indeed, the George W. Bush administration designated Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally in 2004,…

Straight from the horse's mouth

Business Times - 29 Apr 2011


Straight from the horse's mouth

Bernanke holds his first-ever press conference as Fed head

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

NOT unlike other top players in Washington, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, dressed in a business suit and red tie, was the cool and calm Master of the Spin, massaging the media and staying on message during what could only be described as a historic event: for the first time in the Fed's 97-year history, the head of the US central bank was holding a press conference on Wednesday and answering reporters' questions.

Against the backdrop of high rates of unemployment and rising commodity prices, one could have expected the Fed chairman to be facing a bunch of tough and probing reporters who would be pressing the head of the central bank to explain whether he had failed in carrying out the two central duties of the Fed: maintaining stable prices, and maximum employment.

But not to worry. Unlike many of the somewhat rud…

Donald Trump for president?

Business Times - 27 Apr 2011


Donald Trump for president?

The host of NBC reality show The Apprentice may well defy conventional wisdom and make his way to the White House

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE conventional wisdom in Washington these days is that billionaire Donald Trump will probably not be elected as the next US president. But then, the conventional wisdom once upon a time had it that there was 'no way' that an ageing and not very successful Hollywood actor (Ronald Reagan) or an inexperienced and young African-American politician whose last name rhymed with 'Osama' (Barack Obama) would be occupying the White House.

The safe bet is still against a Trump presidency. But Trump, currently the host of NBC reality show The Apprentice and who startled politicians and pundits when he announced that he was considering running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, has defied the conventional wisdom big time after a recent opinion poll suggested…

Stirring Congress to act as one

Business Times - 20 Apr 2011


Stirring Congress to act as one

S&P admonishes Washington but Moody's cautious optimism makes more sense

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE decision by the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's to lower the outlook on the US credit to 'negative' has been sending shockwaves across Wall Street and Washington. While the US has kept its AAA rating, the downgrade by S&P was a sign that the agency believes that there was a 33 per cent chance that it would have to lower its debt rating on US debt in the next two years.

Currently, US government debt is regarded as one of the safest investments. But if S&P decides to change its rating, that could have huge repercussions for the status of the US and its currency in the global economy.

'More than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, US policymakers have still not agreed on how to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures,' S&a…

US lawmakers preparing for next big fight

Business Times - 14 Apr 2011


US lawmakers preparing for next big fight

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THEY have just signed a deal to cut US$38 billion in federal spending for the rest of this fiscal year and averted a government shutdown - for now, at least. Yet even before the ink is dry on that deal - not to mention the fact that Congress still needs to agree on the federal budget for the next fiscal year - lawmakers in Washington are already gearing up for the next fight.

This one is over whether to raise or not to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Simply put, it would allow the government to borrow more money.

Indeed, with the amount of borrowing the federal government is allowed expected to hit the legal limit as early as next month, President Barack Obama and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are drawing lines in the sand over this next clash. The outcome could have a major impact on the financial markets as well as on the voters who will be choosing the man…

US budget debate points to big ideological divide

Business Times - 12 Apr 2011


US budget debate points to big ideological divide

Voters will probably have to make a major choice between two competing visions in 2012

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE race for a budget deal came down to the wire. Federal funding was slated to run out at midnight on Friday and the government would have shut down if no budget deal had been reached by then. The government of the world's remaining superpower - engaged in at least two full-blown wars and recovering from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression - was going to run out of money. About 800,000 American federal employees would have been out of work; passports wouldn't have been issued; the annual National Cherry Blossom parade scheduled to take place in Washington, DC on Saturday would have been cancelled to the disappointment of close to 100,000 expected spectators.

But the high-stakes game of chicken between Democratic President Barack Obama - represented in the nego…

A Republican walks the walk on cutting the US federal deficit

Business Times - 08 Apr 2011


A Republican walks the walk on cutting the US federal deficit

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AFTER talking and talking about the need to take control of the growing debt, there are signs that at least some politicians in Washington may be getting serious about tackling the issue. One of the Republican Party's rising young stars, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, proposed on Tuesday cutting about US$6 trillion from the US federal deficit over the next 10 years. His plan ignited a major debate on Capitol Hill that could produce a powerful political momentum in Washington towards placing the issue of America's crumbling fiscal house on the top of the legislative and policy agendas, and affecting the outcome of next year's elections.

There is a general consensus in Washington that the mounting deficit threatens long-term US economic security and the standard of living of Americans, and that reducing the deficit would require major cuts in …

Did Trotsky Tweet?

http://www.amconmag.com/blog/did-trotsky-tweet/
Did Trotsky Tweet?
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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, Evgeny Morozov, PublicAffairs, 408 pages
By Leon Hadar | April 5, 2011
Published just a month before Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak was deposed in an Internet-boosted revolt, The Net Delusion might seem a singularly untimely book. But for that reason, it is all the more provocative. Its author, Belarus-born American scholar Evgeny Morozov, set out to challenge the conventional wisdom about the Internet: the notion that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are becoming agents of political change and can help topple authoritarian regimes in countries like, say, Egypt.
Not so, argues Morozov, who is skeptical that cyberspace is conducive to democracy and liberty. He dumps into the recycle bin the Friedmanite axiom—Tom, that is, not Milton—that no government will be able to crush the Internet’s libertarian spirit, an idea first enunciated by John Perry Barl…

Muddling Through in the Middle East Is Not a Substitute for Strategy

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leon-t-hadar/obama-middle-east_b_845030.html

Leon T. HadarJournalist and foreign affairs analyst

Muddling Through in the Middle East Is Not a Substitute for Strategy
Posted: 04/ 5/11 04:03 PM ET

President Barack Obama's response to Libya's civil strife has been hailed as a model of foreign-policy pragmatism. Based on lucid cost-benefit analysis of U.S. interests and values and the resources available to advance them, Obama decided on a "time-limited, scope-limited military action" aimed at averting massacre of civilians in Libya.

There was something refreshing about a U.S. president insisting that the intervention in Libya wasn't the prelude to the making of a grand strategy or to the launching of a new ideological crusade. In contrast to his predecessor, Obama was not trying to remake the Middle East or even pretend that Washington could control developments there.

Instead, Obama was going to make his decisions case by case, evaluating ea…

Obama yet to show vision, courage for right policies

Business Times - 05 Apr 2011


Obama yet to show vision, courage for right policies

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama's response to Libya's civil strife has been hailed as a masterpiece of pragmatism, based on lucid cost-benefit analysis of American interests and values and the resources available to advance them.

From that 'Obama-is-Pragmatic' perspective, the president concluded that core US strategic interests were not at stake in Libya and decided that, together with members of an effective international coalition, Washington would support a 'time-limited, scope-limited military action' aimed at averting the massacre of civilians in Libya.

There was, indeed, something refreshing in a US president who, unlike his predecessor, insisted that the intervention in Libya wasn't the prelude to the making of either a grand strategy or a new ideological crusade that would help Washington control the upheaval in the Middle East. Instead of …