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Time for Obama to exert trade leadership

Business Times - 22 Jul 2011


Time for Obama to exert trade leadership

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IF YOU are getting depressed following the never-ending bickering in Washington over extending the debt ceiling and cutting the budget deficits, the continuing legislative deadlock over global trade policy is not going to cheer you up.

US President Barack Obama is sending the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval. But officials in the White House are not very optimistic that the lawmakers will approve the trade pacts before they leave for the summer recess next month.

The Obama Administration has integrated the promotion of global trade into its overall economic strategy, arguing that trade agreements with emerging markets like Korea help accelerate the fragile economic recovery while creating new well-paying jobs for American workers.

Many pro-free-trade Republican lawmakers share President Obama's sentiments but are…

New in the National Interest: Syria's House of Borgia

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/syrias-house-borgia-5646

Syria's House of Borgia


June 22, 2011
Leon Hadar
In a geostrategically located region riven by political upheaval and military conflict, providing an arena for competition between great powers, the members of a powerful ruling family had a reputation for ruthlessness and immorality. Their exotic ancestral roots and clannish and secretive modus operandi raised doubts about the legitimacy of their rule and played into the hands of rivals at home and abroad, encouraging family leaders to exercise brute force and deceit in order to maintain their hold on power.

But after years of betraying friends and co-opting adversaries, of switching regional alliances and playing one local competitor against the other while relying on the support of foreign powers, the cunning balancing act performed by this dynasty of political survivors proved to be an ineffective strategy to holding power for the one of its young descendants.

American t…