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my new op-ed in Haaretz

ניצחון הטכנוקרטים לי-און הדר , וושינגטון 09.04.2012 05:03 מיט רומני הוא כל כך משעמם, שכדור השינה נוטל אותו כשהוא מתקשה להירדם. זוהי אחת הבדיחות שרצות כאן על המועמד הרפובליקאי לנשיאות, שהפרסונה הכמו-רובוטית שלו היתה גורמת אפילו לספוק מ"מסע בין כוכבים" להרגיש אנושי. למבקריו רומני מזכיר בובה מכנית שתוכנתה להיראות ולהתנהג כמו נשיא אמריקאי מהסרטים - פוטוגני, נעים הליכות, איש משפחה ומצליחן - שפולט את כל הקלישאות הפטריוטיות ותמיד מבטיח פתרון לבעיה זו או אחרת. ייתכן שאחת הבעיות של רומני נעוצה במה שמומחים לרובוטיקה מכנים "תיאוריית עמק המוזרות": אנשים מרגישים לא נוח כשהם מסתכלים ברפליקה כמעט מושלמת של בן אדם. הרובוט הכמעט-אנושי מזמין אמפתיה, אך התחושה שמשהו עדיין חסר, מטרידה. רומני, המושל לשעבר של מסצ'וסטס, מצטייר כפוליטיקאי לכל עת, אחד שיודע לשחק את התפקיד אך חסרה לו אותנטיות. בעבר הוא תמך בזכות לביצוע הפלות (כאשר רצה לזכות בתמיכתם של הבוחרים הליברלים בניו-אינגלנד), אך כעת, כשהוא מנסה לקנות את לבם של השמרנים הרפובליקאים, הוא סבור שיש להוציאן אל מחוץ לחוק. כמושל, רומני יזם ת…

Beware of instant narratives

Business Times - 10 Apr 2012


Beware of instant narratives

They're fickle, dictated by vested interests - and hold far from the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

NOT so long ago in the pre-Internet era and at a time when print media reigned supreme, members of the chattering class in the West were looking forward to reading the cover story of the new issue of Time magazine to find out how the political and cultural zeitgeist was shaping up.

Today's young readers and the media in general continue to pay some attention to whom Time chooses as its 'Man' - oops! - ' Person of the Year'. But in mid-20th century America, the magazine had an enormous power to shape the nation's agenda - and, by extension, that of the rest of the world - by constructing the Current Narrative.

Not only did Time's cover stories inform Americans and the entire global village about who was 'in' and who was 'out' in the …

Election fever grips America

Business Times - 06 Apr 2012

PERSPECTIVE
Election fever grips America

Romney's latest primaries victories and Obama's admonition for Republicans make it clear general election campaign is underway, if not in full swing

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IT'S War! Just a few hours before Mitt Romney captured the Republican presidential primaries in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Wisconsin - and was clearly on his way to clenching his party's nomination as its presidential candidate - Democratic President Barack Obama unleashed an overwhelming election-year assault on the Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee.

He accused the Republicans and the man who would challenge him for control of the White House in November of promoting a 'radical agenda' for America's future.

Mr Romney's primaries victories on Tuesday and Mr Obama's harsh admonition for the Republicans - and for Mr Romney's vision of the nation - made it clear that al…

Latest example of a success story

Business Times - 03 Apr 2012


Latest example of a success story

Korea-born doctor's nomination as World Bank chief highlights Asian-Americans' contributions in various fields in the US

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE unexpected nomination of Jim Yong Kim as the next president of the World Bank has been hailed as a welcome departure by the White House from the tradition of appointing professional economists or American political figures to the prestigious position.

Dr Kim is neither an economist nor a politician, but a medical doctor and an anthropologist who is clearly qualified for the job of managing the world's leading development organisation.

A former head of the World Health Organization's HIV/Aids department, Dr Kim will be able to utilise his experience in providing healthcare to developing countries as he tries to promote new thinking on development work in poor countries.

And Dr Kim, who was born in Seoul in 1959 and moved with his family to the United Sta…

Two wonks and a right to become US President

Business Times - 30 Mar 2012

THE BOTTOM LINE
Two wonks and a right to become US President

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AMERICAN comedian Bill Maher describes the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as 'the most boring man in the world'. Romney is so boring, he quips, that 'the paint on the wall looks at him when it dries' and 'Ambien (a drug for the treatment of insomnia) takes him when it cannot fall asleep'.

Well, the comedian may be exaggerating a bit. Mr Romney is probably not the most boring man in the world but he certainly could compete for the title. Indeed, there is something about his robotic persona that makes human beings feel uncomfortable about him. He does look and sound like an automaton that has been programmed to look and talk like an American president who reiterates his love for family, country and God, and promotes this or that plan to solve this or that problem.

In fact, during his long career in public service, M…

Bernanke out to prevent repeat of Great Depression

Business Times - 28 Mar 2012


Bernanke out to prevent repeat of Great Depression

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IT is one of the decisions made by the US Federal Reserve in the past that has intrigued contemporary economic historians. The tightening of credit by Marriner Eccles, the head of the Fed in 1936-37 has been blamed for the collapse of the US stock market in 1937 and the ensuing return of the Great Depression - after several years during which the New Deal policies pursued by President Franklin D Roosevelt had been leading the economy towards recovery.

One of the economists who have studied the ramification of that Eccles decision has been former Princeton professor Ben Bernanke who, in his current job as the Fed chairman, seemed to be trying to apply the lessons of his academic research.

Mr Bernanke has stated in the past that he considered Mr Eccles' decision to tighten monetary policy - at the time when the US economy was showing signs of getting out of the depressio…

Disseminating American ideals

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/storyprintfriendly/0,4582,483334,00.html?
Business Times - 24 Mar 2012


Disseminating American ideals

The US should know that the best way to spread its ideals is not by forcing them on other nations, but by perfecting its own political and economic model

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AMERICANS are once again surprised to learn that the rest of humanity doesn't always share their hopes and dreams - or even their basic set of values. Hence, in the aftermath of the massacre in Afghanistan of 16 people in the hands of an American soldier, some pundits have been trying to resolve what they consider to be a paradox of sorts.

While the accidental burning of Qurans by US government employees in Afghanistan last month triggered violent protests outside Nato (North Atlantic Treating Organisation) that took at least 29 lives, the intentional mass murder of Afghan civilians, including nine children in Kandahar on March 11 have led to a few and mostly pe…

my new op-ed on Iran in Haaretz

Home News Diplomacy & Defense


Published 21:49 22.03.12 Latest update 21:49 22.03.12
Gambling on wars
Israel would be wise to learn the lessons of Iraq before it embarks on a risky adventure in Iran.

By Leon Hadar
Tags: Iraq Iran Iran nuclear George Bush
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If there's even a one percent chance that terrorists will attack the United States, American decision-makers have to treat it as a certainty in terms of their response,and mustlaunch a pre-emptive attack against the state or the individuals that may be behind such a terrorist act. That was the main conclusion reached by former U.S. DefenseSecretary Richard Cheney in the aftermath the 9/11 attacks in 2011, according to American journalist Ron Susskind,who termed it the “One Percent Doctrine.”
see the rest

Energy prices, the economy and the election

Business Times - 20 Mar 2012


Energy prices, the economy and the election

Unfortunately for Obama, rising oil prices will cost votes whatever he does

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

WHEN one considers the Federal Reserve's recent outlook, the rise in retail prices, the creation of more new jobs, and the relatively bullish stock market, it is possible for your average American voter to conclude that the US economy is showing some new signs of momentum - or is expanding 'moderately', as the Fed put it. And that could play into the political hands of President Barack Obama.

But former Massachusetts Governor and the leading Republican presidential candidates believe that they have discovered a political-mathematical formula of sorts to help them beat the president in November: The more gas prices go up, the more President Obama's poll numbers go down.

Even President Obama seems to get it. 'As long as gas prices are going up, people are going to feel like I'm not do…

China bashing par for the course in heat of US elections

Business Times - 15 Mar 2012


China bashing par for the course in heat of US elections

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

IT may not have been surprising that on the same day the Republican presidential candidates were taking part in major primary races in Alabama and Mississippi and public opinion polls pointed to more Americans being dissatisfied with the job that the current Democratic White House occupant was doing, US President Barack Obama decided to demonstrate he was getting tough with China.

In a sign that Washington was escalating its trade offensive against Beijing, Mr Obama told reporters that his administration was filing a trade ruling case against China as part of an effort to protect American companies against Chinese restrictions on exporting the rare-earth minerals that are used to build high-tech products such as hybrid car batteries and flat-screen television sets. 'We want our companies building those products right here in America. But to do that, American man…

Recovering US job numbers offer Obama little cheer

Business Times - 13 Mar 2012


Recovering US job numbers offer Obama little cheer

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THAT the American economy added 227,000 jobs in February has to be construed as good news for President Barack Obama as he heads into the general election in November.

While it's true that according to the US Labor Department's jobs report issued last Friday, the unemployment rate remained at 8.3 per cent - and this is the number that the Republicans will be focusing on - the White House has to be content because it is now in a position to assert that the performance of the American economy has been making a slow but steady progress.

It should be recalled that before Mr Obama took office, America had lost 4.4 million jobs. At that time, the unemployment rate was only 6.7 per cent, but the American economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. And the main concern among economists at the time was that unless the trend of long-term unemployment was arrested, the Great Rec…

Will Obama Bow to Netanyahu? (IN TNI)

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on Mar 8, 2012): http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/will-obama-bow-netanyahu-6613
Will Obama Bow to Netanyahu?

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March 8, 2012
Leon Hadar [2]
Since entering office three years ago, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated that he was familiar with Colson Principle. The idea is named after President Nixon’s general counsel Charles (“Chuck”) Colson, who according to legend had a plaque in his office that would have made even Machiavelli blush with embarrassment: “If you got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

Bibi has indeed turned up the pressure on President Obama during his meetings in Washington this week. With members of the Israel lobby and the Republican presidential candidates adding to the squeeze, Netanyahu has been operating a political remote control that could d…

Romney nomination will favour Obama Romney nomination will favour Obama

Business Times - 08 Mar 2012


Romney nomination will favour Obama

His Wall Street-made wealth and performance during primaries only helped to accentuate his negatives to voters

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

HERE is a central political paradox of this American presidential election season: The more Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gets closer to winning his party's nomination, the less are his chances of beating Democratic President Barack Obama in the general election in November.

The outcome of the 10 Republican presidential primaries on Super Tuesday failed to provide Mr Romney with a breakout moment. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum's victories in the primaries in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota ensures that he will continue to pose a serious challenge to Mr Romney. But after winning seven of the first 12 Republican contests, the Super Tuesday's wins by Mr Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in the states of Virginia, Massachusetts, …

Business Times - 02 Mar 2012 Saving carmakers could save Obama It will be difficult for pro-bankruptcy Romney and Santorum to challenge the pro-b

Business Times - 02 Mar 2012


Saving carmakers could save Obama

It will be difficult for pro-bankruptcy Romney and Santorum to challenge the pro-bailout president in November polls

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AFTER their impressive Congressional victories in 2010, including the taking over of the House of Representatives, Republicans seemed to be on a roll and on their way to the White House in 2012.

Against the backdrop of a very slow economic recovery, an all-time high unemployment rate and exploding budget deficits, Democratic President Barack Obama was seen to be vulnerable.

Mr Obama had been losing support among independent voters who had helped him win the presidency in 2008 and whose backing remains crucial to his re-election in November, and it seemed that he could not even count on his Democratic fans among the young and the educated professionals to get out and vote for him on Election Day.

At the same time, the enthusiastic base of the Republican Party, fired up by the T…

Obama's proposed tax reforms face challenges

Business Times - 28 Feb 2012


Obama's proposed tax reforms face challenges

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

SO what's not to like about President Barack Obama's proposed changes to the US corporate tax structure? After all, both Democrats and Republicans, as well business executives and labour leaders, seem to agree that the current US corporate tax code is useless and riddled with loopholes, breaks and credits that are crafted by Washington lobbyists to favour their powerful clients. At the end of the day, all these loopholes reduce the tax revenues that the federal government is supposed to collect.

Moreover, since the current corporate tax of 35 per cent is higher than in most of the other major industrialised nations, it seems much cheaper to do business in Asia and Europe, placing the US economy at a disadvantage at a time when very few politicians and analysts disagree on the need to increase the global competitive edge of the American economy and ensure that Americ…

'New jobs for jobless' pledge a white lie

Business Times - 23 Feb 2012


'New jobs for jobless' pledge a white lie

US firms look for young, energetic and tech-savvy workers, not those middle-aged ones yet to learn how to surf Internet

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

WE are all familiar with, and occasionally have even uttered one of those common white lies such as 'Thanks so much for that wonderful gift!' or 'You really look great in that dress' or 'Your baby is so cute'. So let me add another one to the list - 'Most of America's unemployed workers will eventually find new jobs'. They won't.

Indeed, this white lie is being articulated by both US President Barack Obama and the leading Republican presidential candidates. While Mr Obama and the Democrats suggest that government-backed program-mes to train unemployed workers would help those who had lost their jobs in the manufacturing industry, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supporters argue that an unregulat…

My take on Robert Kagan's thesis

Business Times - 21 Feb 2012


The reality of America's global power

No great power can retain military superiority with weakening economic superstructure

By LEON HADAR 
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

AS a life-long hypochondriac, I was laughing out loud when reading the tragic-comic inscription on the tombstone located in the cemetery in Key West, Florida: 'I Told You I Was Sick!'

I could imagine the poor guy confronting family and friends and insisting to no avail that what he had was more than just the common cold or the seasonal flu.

'You are not sick,' is the kind of reassuring message that Robert Kagan is sending to the nation's foreign policy hypochondriacs aka 'declinists' in his new non-fiction book The World America Made, contending that America is in tip-top military and economic health and ready to take care of the rest of the world. He recalls that the same kind of hypochondriacs had complained that America was really, really in decline in the aftermath o…