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Showing posts from November, 2011

Can you see Brussels and Teheran from Honolulu?

Business Times - 01 Dec 2011


Can you see Brussels and Teheran from Honolulu?

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IN THE same week in November that US President Barack Obama was hosting a summit of East Asian leaders in Honolulu, Hawaii, a new film starring George Clooney as a Honolulu attorney and trustee of his family's ancestral land in Hawaii opened in American movie theatres.

In The Descendants, that is expected to win an Oscar or two, Clooney's character is a descendant of the great-great-grandmother of a Hawaiian princess who married a white banker and passed on a rich chunk of real estate.

Matt King is under pressure from his family to sell it to developers while native Hawaiians urge him to keep the land unspoiled.

President Obama, who (like King) was born and raised in Hawaii and is a product of a mixed marriage, has described himself as 'the first Pacific president' and is facing a similar but more difficult dilemma.

Washington wants to reorient US geostrategy an…

America's Long-Delayed Pacific Century

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Nov 21, 2011): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/americas-long-delayed-pacific-century-6175

America's Long-Delayed Pacific Century

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November 21, 2011
Leon Hadar [2]
When President Bill Clinton was hosting the Leaders Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Seattle in 1993, the Middle East started to feel like old news. Resisting pressure to oust Saddam Hussein and to launch new military campaigns in the Middle East, Clinton promoted a trade-liberalization agenda in East Asia and tried to transform APEC from a "talking shop" into a pillar of an Asia-centric foreign policy.

But when President Barack Obama hosted the leaders of the APEC forum in Honolulu, Hawaii, close to two decades after the Seattle Summit, it felt like a diplomatic Groundhog Day, with U.S. officials insisting once again that the time has come to shift American global priorities from th…

When leaders fail to lead

Business Times - 23 Nov 2011


When leaders fail to lead

America's politicians have not been able to muster the will to make unpopular and painful decisions

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

TO no one's surprise, the US congressional Super Committee ended its effort to put America's fiscal house in order ended with a whimper. The Democratic and Republican members of the special deficit-reduction committee admitted that after three months of work, they had failed to meet the deadline for an agreement on cutting about US$1.2 trillion from the US national debt - which topped US$15 trillion last week. The mountain could not even give birth to a mouse.

In a way, not unlike their counterparts in the eurozone, the members of the America's political class have not been able to muster the will to make the unpopular and painful decisions that require slashing government spending (by eliminating public services) and raising new revenues (by increasing the tax burden), displaying on…

Republicans fighting in the wrong arena

Business Times - 18 Nov 2011


Republicans fighting in the wrong arena

Silly for their candidates to portray Obama as weak in foreign policy and national security

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IT is difficult to decide whether to laugh or cry when listening to the debate on foreign policy among Republican presidential candidates. It's either militarist and pro-war or a display of ignorance of global affairs.

During televised National Journal/CBS debate devoted entirely to foreign policy issues last week, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - most observers expect him to eventually win his party's presidential nomination - and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, sounded as though as they were planning to follow in the footsteps of George W Bush - the last Republican to occupy the White House - and lead America into a new war in the Middle East.

While President Barack Obama is engaged in a delicate balancing act on Iran - using diplomacy to pres…

Don't write off re-election of Obama just yet

Business Times - 16 Nov 2011


Don't write off re-election of Obama just yet

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AT around this time next year, we are going to find out whether or not US President Barack Obama is going to occupy the White House for another four years. Many political experts and historians have almost written him off, pointing out that no incumbent US president won re-elected since 1945 with an unemployment rate of over 7 per cent. If the unemployment rate continues to hover around 9 per cent in 2012, Mr Obama's chances of winning a second term are under 50 per cent.

In fact, in the case of the seven successful re-election bids, the national unemployment rate averaged 5.17 per cent. Only once since 1948 had an incumbent president - Ronald Reagan - been re-elected when the national unemployment rate was over 5.5 per cent. Interestingly enough, not unlike Mr Obama, Reagan's first two years in office were dominated by a stream of bad economic news, with the natio…

America's Asia shift not so soon

Business Times - 12 Nov 2011


America's Asia shift not so soon

As the Iran crisis may keep the US heavily engaged, both militarily and diplomatically, in the Middle East, its 'Pacific Century' will take a long time to come

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

BEFORE US President Barack Obama left Washington for Honolulu, Hawaii, where he is hosting leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum for their annual summit this weekend, American officials reiterated once again renewed US commitment to diplomatic and economic engagement in Asia.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - the first top American envoy to leave for Honolulu to attend the meeting of the regional grouping and who will travel to the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia later this month - has been underscoring what she described the Obama administration's vision of 'America's Pacific Century' in several public addresses and published commentaries.

In fact, trying to convey to US e…

Job numbers no boost for Obama's re-election

Business Times - 11 Nov 2011


Job numbers no boost for Obama's re-election

US October jobless data brought cheer, but may not be good enough to meet job targets

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IS THE American economy showing some indications that it is experiencing a slow but steady recovery? The US jobs report issued by the Labor Department last week suggested that that may be the case. Eighty thousand American jobs were added in October - spread out in health care, hotels and restaurants and other temporary work - which helped to bring down the unemployment rate from 9.1 per cent to 9 per cent, the first decline since July and the lowest unemployment rate since April.

The net gain of 80,000 jobs in October was about 20,000 fewer than had been projected, but revised estimates from August and September showed the economy created 102,000 more jobs than initially thought (suggesting that we could see upward revisions to the October numbers). And heading into positive territory was …

The Revolt of the Political Man

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Nov 9, 2011): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/revolt-political-man-6136
The Revolt of the Political Man

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November 9, 2011
Leon Hadar [2]
Nation-states would have to give up some of their sovereignty to accommodate the forces unleashed by the flow of capital, labor and information, insisted globalization cheerleader Tom Friedman during the height of the booming 1990s.

If a state wanted to attract investment and create an environment conducive to economic growth, its government had to sacrifice some of its freedom to make economic policy, allowing global entities such as capital markets and multinational corporations to direct the government’s monetary and fiscal policies. As Friedman put it, governments needed to be tied in “the golden straightjacket;" otherwise, capital would flee to more capital-friendly economies.

Since it was inconceivable that governments would ask the heads of l…

Overhauling U.S. Policy in the Middle East

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Nov 2, 2011): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/overhauling-us-policy-the-middle-east-6087
Overhauling U.S. Policy in the Middle East

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November 2, 2011
Leon Hadar [2]
The prevailing American narrative about the political upheaval in the Middle East maintains that the collapse of authoritarian regimes in the region would lead to a collision between democratic forces and Islamist movements and that the United States and its allies—including Israel—have an interest in ensuring that the former gain the upper hand in this power struggle.

But the changes emerging from the so-called Arab Spring go beyond a clash between pro-Western movements and Islamist groups. The shifting balance of power in the Middle East—triggered in part by eroding American influence in the region—is bringing to the fore realpolitik concerns that likely will overcome ideological considerations in the new Middle East. The I…

The not-so-super committee

Business Times - 04 Nov 2011


The not-so-super committee

Voters and investors are waiting nervously for Nov 23 to see if the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee succeeds in its task

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ON NOV 23, the members of Congress who are members of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee - AKA the 'super committee' - charged with cutting the US federal budget deficit will have to come up with a plan. They have to reach a minimum target of US$1.2 trillion in reductions.

The six Democrats and six Republicans who were selected by their parties to serve on this bipartisan Congressional panel and who have been meeting since September will have to reach an agreement on reducing the deficit by between US$1.2 trillion and US$1.5 trillion - with most of the spending cuts coming from cumulative alterations in the budgetary baseline over 10 years. Or to put it in simple terms, the lawmakers will have to propose cuts that would amount to about 3 per cent reduction in the a…