Showing posts from April, 2008

Balance of Power

I attended an interesting discussion on U.S. relationship with Russia and China that was held by the National Interest magazine on Thursday, during which Harry Harding raised an important point (and this is not a direct quote): American officials, lawmakers and pundits tend to portary U.S. policy moves towards China (and other powers) as responses to Chinese (and other powers’) policies. Hence, the focus of foreign policy debates in Washington is on why China is doing this or that, say, why are the Chinese saving too much and not spending enough, as opposed to why America is doing this or that, say, why are Americans spending too much and not saving enough. We supposedly react to their actions. Harding insisted that at the end of the day, U.S. foreign policy is determined by the way that we define it. That definition explains why we feel the need to respond (or not to respond) to what the Chinese (and other powers) are doing. (read the rest here and more here. )

Surprises on the way

The May-November Surprise(s) Posted on April 23rd, 2008 by Leon Hadar Some of my friends in the reality-based community who have been celebrating the alleged (read the rest)

When will the US presidential race really begin?

Business Times - 24 Apr 2008 When will the US presidential race really begin? By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT SENATOR Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania - a crucial 'swing' state in the general presidential election - on Tuesday. Apparently, the margin of victory over her rival, Senator Barack Obama, about 10 per cent, is a number that seemed to have played well in the media-driven game of expectations. Indeed, most pundits had argued on the eve of the primary that Mrs Clinton would need to win by more than 8 per cent in order to gain the momentum she needed in order to continue in her fight for her party's presidential nomination. And she did very well among important demographic groups: women, blue collar workers, Catholics, Jews and older voters. Mrs Clinton achieved her victory in Pennsylvania after facing a younger and more charismatic figure who had enough resources to outspend her during the month-long campaign in a sta

The war and the election

I’m not sure what to make of Hillary’s victory in Pennsylvania. We’ll probably have to wait for the reactions from those superdelegates. Unless the Democrats want to commit electoral suicide, they need to conclude this race sooner than later. In any case, some of the results of the exit polls on CNN and CNBC suggest that Iraq didn’t seem to play a major issue in the campaign. But Simon Jenkins in a report from Washington in the Briish Guardian provides a very original commentary on the impact of the Iraq War, etc. on the election campaign, arguing that the War is the conceptural framework for this presidential race: Americans still do not travel abroad, and rely on television news for their knowledge of foreign places, which they continue to regard with bizarre suspicion. Hence a world view is lumped in with defence and security in a collective paranoia. And a candidate’s stance on foreign policy is a proxy for his or her character. (read the rest)

Next Year in Jerusalem?

Next Year in Jerusalem? Monday, April 21st in Election, Politics by Leon Hadar Bill Kristol is trying to convice the readers of the New York Times on Monday that unlike the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, John McCain “might be called a Zionist,” adding that in this election campaign there is “a clear choice of worldviews here — and not just for Jews, but for all Americans.” (read the rest)

The next big foreign policy idea?

Business Times - 22 Apr 2008 In search of the Next Big Foreign Policy Idea Will a tripolar global system emerge if the US were to lose its global hegemonic position? By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT HISTORIAN Paul Kennedy's 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000' (New York: Random House, 1987), which was published during the final years of the Cold War, succeeded in doing to geo-politics what Mao's Little Red Book had done to the thoughts of the communist Chinese leader. It helped popularise the somewhat esoteric topic of discussion in stuffy gentlemen's clubs in Victorian London or Bismarck's Berlin and turned it into a trendy topic of conversation among more diverse American and international audiences. Rising to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, the heavy 'Rise and Fall' (close to 700 pages) became a book that members of the cool chattering class were required to read (or at

Economic costs of war

Business Times - 18 Apr 2008 Lost opportunities caused by Iraq war The rising war expenditure and its impact on the US economy is coming under scrutiny By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT GROVER Norquist, who heads the Americans for Tax Reform organisation, is an influential Washington activist who promotes the agenda of fiscal conservatives. These folks believe that the US federal government should cut its spending and reduce the tax burden on the American people. Thus, he recently told the New York Times that he decided to jump aboard the team of presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain. Mr McCain 'won, and he's the tax cutter, so I am with him', he explained. But when the Times reporter noted that much of the increase in government spending by the Bush administration has been a result of the rising costs of the war in Iraq, Mr Norquist was quick to dismiss the notion that there was any direct link between the war in Iraq and the economic prob

American Umbrella

According to the Jerusalem Post report on Wednesday’s televised debate, the two Democratic presidential candidates are now committed not only to use U.S. military in retaliation against a possible Iranian nuclear attack on Israel but are also ready to extend the U.S. nuclear umbrella to Israel and the entire Middle East: (read the rest) Follow-up on the topic here.

The Godfather's lessons for Iraq

Do you want to know why “Iraqi Units Flee Post, Despite American’s Plea” as the New York Times reported on Wednesday?

US Congress turns its back on Colombia FTA

Business Times - 15 Apr 2008 US Congress turns its back on Colombia FTA Bush administration suffers stinging defeat by the Democrats on the trade deal By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT A US trade association has published an advertisement in several Capitol Hill magazines in recent weeks in which Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is seen hugging Cuba's Fidel Castro while his speech balloon conveys his request: 'Please reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement!' In case you failed to get the message, the ad explains: 'Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez doesn't like the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. He knows that it will strengthen our ties to Latin America, help a key ally and undercut his anti-American agenda.' And if you still didn't get that, the ad then concludes by proclaiming that the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was 'good for America but bad for anti-American dictators'. Yet despite the ad and a related massive public relations and lobbyi

The Future and the Past...

My recent article in the American Conservative: magazine: March 24, 2008 Issue Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative The Guns of April The choices are intervene or intervene. by Leon Hadar April 18, 2009 Pundits warned that the Middle East would present the newly elected president with his first international crisis. Iraqi Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr could revive his forces’ attacks on U.S. troops. The Iranians might try to test the new occupant of the White House. More violence between Israelis and Palestinians could force the president to “do something.” And then there was the prospect of a devastating terrorist attack on the U.S. itself. But as usual, the conventional wisdom was wrong. The leading Middle Eastern players decided to wait for the 44th president to make the first move on their regional chessboard. Instead, the international crisis confronting the new resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue emanated from another part of the former Ottoman Empire, the Balkans. The e

Boycotting Olympics won't change anything

Business Times - 11 Apr 2008 By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT DEMOCRATIC Senator Hillary Clinton, who is hoping to occupy the White House next year, is trying now to win the votes of blue-collar workers in her party's presidential primary in Pennsylvania. And since many of these voters have lost their manufacturing jobs after American companies had decided to relocate their factories to China, Mrs Clinton decided that a bit of China bashing could help her win some brownie points with these voters as she competes with another presidential contender, Senator Barack Obama. So the former first lady is now calling on the current occupant of the White House to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games. 'The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for presidential leadership,' Mrs Clinton said in a statement, suggesting that 'these events unde

When Bernanke utters the 'R' word

Business Times - 08 Apr 2008 When Bernanke utters the 'R' word 'A recession is possible,' he told the somewhat hostile members of the Senate Joint Economic Committee last week By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT YES. US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke actually used the word 'recession' during his Congressional testimony last week. He didn't say that the US economy was in a recession or that it was about to enter into a recession. But he did tell the somewhat hostile members of the Senate Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday that 'a recession is possible', adding that the economy was apparently 'slightly growing at the moment but we think that there's a chance that for the first half as a whole, there might be a slight contraction'. And Mr Bernanke sounded a bit more explicit on the issue - without using the word 'recession' itself - when he told the senators that 'it now appears likely that real gross domestic produc

My recent posts on @TAC

I'm also blogging now on @TAC which provides a forum for the editors and writers of TAC . Here are some of my recent posts: The Next Big Foreign Policy Idea. The Athletic Rodhams. The Economist 's War. And the Media's McCainiacs.

The election and the economy

Business Times - 02 Apr 2008 Democrats have upper hand in presidential race Their approach resonates with call from homeowners, consumers for more govt action By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT IT WAS not so long ago that officials and lawmakers in Washington were joining investors on Wall Street in a warning that the United States was losing its edge in global financial markets. The culprit, they complained, was the US federal government that was placing burdensome regulations, most notably the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation passed by Congress in 2002 in the wake of the Enron and other financial scandals. The critics concluded that government intervention in the financial markets was driving business away from New York, and strengthening other financial centres around the world such as London and Hong Kong. Indeed, exactly a year ago, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) head Chris Cox brought together a group of leading economic figures fro