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Showing posts from August, 2011

Troubled economy in search of a solution

Business Times - 31 Aug 2011


Troubled economy in search of a solution

Despite what was said at Jackson Hole, markets are still waiting for reassuring messages

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IN THE aftermath of the decision by Standard & Poor's (S&P) to downgrade the US credit rating, Wall Street has been waiting for Washington - whether it's the White House or Congress or the Federal Reserve - to do something, or at least say something that would reassure the markets that the economy was getting better. At the very least, they wanted to be told the economy would be getting better in the not-so-distant future.

So it was not surprising that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's speech delivered last Friday at the policy conference held at Jackson Hole, Wyoming was described by pundits as one of those 'much-anticipated' events.

Against the backdrop of the political and legislative stalemate in Washington that has made it close to impossible for the White House …

Obama's right in "leading from behind" in Libya

Business Times - 25 Aug 2011


Obama's right in 'leading from behind' in Libya

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

REPUBLICAN lawmakers and neoconservative pundits have been very critical of President Barack Obama for failing to assert US leadership in the foreign policy arena. In particular, they have blasted his somewhat muddled response to the insurgency in Libya.

For example, Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona who ran for the White House in 2008 seemed to suggest that the US should have led a more muscular military effort in Libya aimed at deposing Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

Indeed, Obama bashers on the political right have been quoting ad nauseam from a New Yorker magazine article authored by Ryan Lizza in which an administration official described Mr Obama's action is Libya as 'leading from behind'. America should lead from the front - not from behind, argue the critics.

But the administration official was trying to contrast Mr Obama's ap…

In the Huffington Post: Deposing Gaddafi 'From Behind'?

Leon T. HadarJournalist and foreign affairs analyst
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Deposing Gaddafi 'From Behind'?
Posted: 8/22/11 05:44 PM ET

Neoconservative critics have blasted President Barack Obama for failing to assert U.S. leadership in the foreign policy arena, with his somewhat muddled response to the anti-Gaddafi insurgency in Libya serving as a case in point. Indeed, the neocons have being quoting ad nauseam from a New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, in which an indentified administration official described Obama's actions in Libya as "leading from behind."

The official was trying to contrast Obama's efforts to depose dictator Muammar Gaddafi in Libya with former President George W. Bush's strategy in Iraq, the argument being that while Obama's predecessor embraced a unilateral, U.S.-led and very costly (money-wise and in American and Iraqi lives) military action in Iraq that, among other things, helped ignite a civil war in Mesopotami…

What's wrong with the US Fatca tax law

Business Times - 23 Aug 2011


What's wrong with the US Fatca tax law

Apart from violating financial privacy laws, the new rules will prove costly for FFIs

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IN RESPONSE to protests from American businesses, the federal government decided to repeal earlier this year a complex and intrusive tax scheme aka '1090' that would have required companies to collect tax identification numbers for any of their suppliers whenever they did more than US$600 of business - that included, for example, out-of-town hotels the company's salesman were staying in - and then send the required paperwork to the Income Revenue Service (IRS).

Demonstrating some common sense, officials and lawmakers in Washington decided to eliminate the '1090' after arriving at the conclusion that the tax rule amounted to the kind of bureaucratic and financial nightmare that would impose unnecessary burdens on American businesses at a time when the government's mai…

my new op-ed in Haaretz אידיאולוגיה ביקום חלופי

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o . i l


עודכן ב- 07:21 19/08/2011
לי-און הדר | אידיאולוגיה ביקום חלופי

מאת לי-און הדר | וושינגטון

תארו לעצמכם יקום חלופי, שבו ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו ומנהיג הרפובליקאים בקונגרס אריק קנטור מחליפים תפקידים.

נתניהו ייהפך לאחד ממנהיגי הרפובליקאים, מחויב לתפישת השוק החופשי ולמדיניות חוץ נצית, שתתמקד בברית ישראלית-אמריקאית, ותומך בשותפות עם הימין הדתי והתנועות הפופוליסטיות, המסתייגות מהאליטות הישנות של השמאל, ומ"האחר", הזר.

קנטור, אחרי שיעלה לישראל ויצטרף להנהגת הליכוד, יעשה בירושלים כמעט בדיוק את מה שיעשה נתניהו האמריקאי בוושינגטון. את תמיכת חברי "מסיבת התה", נוצרים אוונגליסטים ומצביעים לבנים מהשוליים, יחליף קנטור בתמיכת מתנחלי הגדה המערבית, פוליטיקאים חרדים ומצביעים רוסים מנוכרים.

אלא ששני הפוליטיקאים האלה אינם צריכים להחליף מקומות. השניים, החולקים פילוסופיות פוליטיות וכלכליות דומות, מתמודדים במקביל, בשתי המדינות, עם התנגדות חריפה לניסיונותיהם להפוך את האידיאולוגיה שלהם למדיניות.

נתניהו וקנטור, המשקפים את התחושות בקרב תנועותיהם הפוליטיות,…

Reagan-like win unlikely in 2012

Business Times - 17 Aug 2011


Reagan-like win unlikely in 2012

Most voters favour Obama's approach to dealing with deficit

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IN 1964, Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona - charismatic, highly intelligent, a World War II air force pilot and an ultra-conservative politician calling for the dismantling of the welfare state and defeating the Soviet Union - won his party's presidential nomination after beating the head of its liberal wing (Nelson Rockefeller).

Mr Goldwater went on to lose the general election to Democratic president Lyndon Johnson by a huge landslide, with Mr Goldwater carrying only Arizona and five southern states and the Republicans losing many seats in the House of Representatives and Senate.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan, a former Republican governor of California and a former Hollywood movie star - charismatic, telegenic, and an ultra-conservative politician calling for the dismantling of the welfare state and defea…

The Middle East Needs an ASEAN

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Aug 15, 2011): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-middle-east-needs-asean-5755

The Middle East Needs an ASEAN


August 11, 2011
Leon Hadar [2]
During the roaring globalization years of the 1990’s when “Friedmanism”—Tom, not Milton—was all the rage, Israel’s elder statesman was putting fantasy to paper in The New Middle East (Henry Holt, 1992).

Peres, the chief architect of the Oslo Agreement with Yasser Arafat, imagined the birth of a democratic and free-market-oriented region. Israelis and Palestinians would be integrated into a reconstructed Middle East, a regional economic and political superstructure, along the lines of the European Union, providing enduring security and lasting prosperity for “all the nations of the Middle East.”

To borrow Friedman’s favorite metaphors, the “Lexus” was destined to crush the “olive tree” with young Israelis and Arabs surfing the Internet and enjoying th…

S&P is right on the money

Business Times - 13 Aug 2011


S&P is right on the money

Policymaking in Washington has indeed become 'less stable, less effective and less predictable' , given how the Tea Partiers are open to a US govt debt default

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IMAGINE if Standard & Poor's had not issued a downgrade on US government debt last week. Obama administration officials and the same economic pundits that are now blasting the global credit rating agency for lowering its US debt score one notch - from the riskless AAA to AA+ - would be spinning S&P's decision to maintain the triple-A rating as a clear sign that America's financial foundation remains strong, notwithstanding the mounting federal deficit and the just-concluded bruising debate over raising the debt ceiling.

'I think that S&P showed really superb judgment,' US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would have stated on one of the television news shows if S&P had concluded that U…

No Captain America to save the US economy

Business Times - 12 Aug 2011


No Captain America to save the US economy

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ONE of this summer's film hits is the silly but entertaining Captain America: The First Avenger. Based on the comic book superhero, the movie tells of a short and frail young man who is transformed into a super soldier that leads US military forces to victory over Nazi Germans.

In the real world, the US did defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. But that military victory was achieved only after America's political and military leaders had formed a powerful international alliance and deployed the largest military force in human history.

Fast forward to today and Washington's response to the rising threats to the US and global economy seemed to be taking place in a make-believe world. Political paralysis makes it impossible for the White House and Congress to do anything more than establish a Super Committee that should - but probably won't - co…

Published four years ago...

...timely as ever

and I', not even sure whether the San Diego Union Tribune is still around

Time for 'benign neglect' in Mideast?

By Leon Hadar
August 14, 2007

Muslims and non-Muslims have been fighting over this territory for years, resulting in thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees, as negotiations mediated by foreign governments have failed to resolve the conflict.

But nobody is calling on Washington to launch a new peace initiative. Why? Because we're not talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we're talking about the Armenians and Azeris clashing over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Most Americans know what is happening in the West Bank, thanks to the prominent news coverage the Arab-Israeli conflict receives. For years, pundits have been warning that unless Washington does something to end the bloodshed – revive the “peace process,” send a new special envoy to the Middle East, convene a peace conference – the entire region could unravel, tri…

apropos the London riots

Image

US fiscal, money policy at a dead-end

Business Times - 10 Aug 2011


US fiscal, money policy at a dead-end

Political paralysis in Washington may put pressure on the Fed to help re-energise the economy and cut the jobless rate

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AFTER a week dominated by a series of bad economic reports - ranging from the political deadlock on cutting national debt in Washington to the mounting financial crisis in the euro zone - it sounded like a piece of good economic news that should cheer up officials and investors: US unemployment has dropped.

Indeed, the US Labour Department report indicated that employers added more jobs in July than forecast, with payrolls rising by 117,000 workers after a 46,000 increase in June. Overall, the jobless rate fell to 9.1 per cent in July from 9.2 per cent in June.

But deconstructing these figures made it clear that what they signalled was not going to lift the spirits in Washington or on Wall Street. The-glass-is-half-full spinning of the numbers would be that joble…

It’s Sunny in Nicosia—Why Not in Jerusalem?

Read more: http://takimag.com/article/its_sunny_in_nicosiawhy_not_in_jerusalem/print#ixzz1USTXTl2H

on Takimag

STRATEGY

It’s Sunny in Nicosia—Why Not in Jerusalem?
by Leon Hadar

August 08, 2011



So you feel worn-out by the never-ending “peace process” involving two ethno-religious communities and their competing claims over a disputed territory.

And you are not surprised to learn that the latest round of peace processing has ground to a halt.

But never give up hope—President Dimitris Christofias of Cyprus is under international pressure to deliver a peace blueprint when he and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in October. But ever since UN-sponsored peace talks restarted in September 2008, there has been no evidence of progress. And the “international community” is impatient.

Substitute “Christofias and Eroglu” with “Abbas and Netanyahu,” and you may be forgiven for imagining that you were watching an Arab-Israeli film being dubbed into Greek a…

The outcome of a "robotic" process

Business Times - 04 Aug 2011


The outcome of a 'robotic' process

Compromise deal on debt ceiling plays into the hands of Obama's rivals whose vision may be flawed but is consistent

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

NOW that 'Watson', the artificial intelligence (AI) computer system developed by IBM, has demonstrated in the US television quiz show Jeopardy that a computer working off a database stuffed with millions of documents culled from various sources could beat a human, it might be interesting to find out whether the IBM researchers could come up with an AI computer system that could be as effective in managing bureaucratic organisations that function in the business and political arenas, including the US presidency.

But then it seems that something close to a POTUS computing system already exists - and it's called 'President Barack Obama'. Indeed, if one examines the domestic and foreign policy decisions that have been made by the current White Hou…

Junk grade for Washington over debt mess

Business Times - 02 Aug 2011


Junk grade for Washington over debt mess

The immature way Congress and the White House handled the process shows them both in a most unflattering light

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE credit-rating agencies in New York had put the US government on notice that it might lose its 'AAA' debt grade unless Congress approved the extension of the debt ceiling by today. Now that the White House and the Republican congressional leadership have been able to reach a deal over the debt ceiling coupled with an agreement on a framework for cutting the federal budget deficit, US Treasury bonds will probably not lose their triple-A grade. The holders of these bonds including the Chinese central bank can breathe a sigh of relief - at least until the next political crisis in Washington.

But you don't have to be an analyst in a credit-rating agency to figure out the grade (based on the way they have been handling the budget mess in Washington) that Congress …