Showing posts from February, 2011

Obama's road to re-election fraught with obstacles

Business Times - 01 Mar 2011 Obama's road to re-election fraught with obstacles A recent poll shows he runs even with a 'generic' Republican presidential contender By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT HIS public opinion poll numbers look much better than they did last year in the aftermath of the impressive Republicans' wins in the midterm elections. But despite some signs that more Americans now approve of his leadership style and the direction of his policies, US President Barack Obama and his political aides recognise that his road to getting re-elected to a second term are stacked with many obstacles. President Obama's handling of the shooting tragedy in Tuscon, Arizona, including his calls for more civility in American public life, helped him win praise from both Democrats and Republicans and scored many political brownie points with the American public. There have been some signs that the American economy is starting to recover - the stock market seem to be

Clash of ideologies over US deficit

Business Times - 23 Feb 2011 Clash of ideologies over US deficit An agreement needs to be reached by March 4; if not, the federal government will run out of money and will shut down By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT EGYPTIAN supporters of trade union protesters in Wisconsin have been calling Ian's Pizza in Madison, the state capital, to donate pizzas to the public employees who have been demonstrating against Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights. That seems to fit into the political narrative drawn these days by Democratic activists who depict the protesting union workers as part of growing public backlash a la Tahrir Square against Republican-led pressure in state capitals and in Washington to slash the state and federal deficits on the back of financially distressed middle class workers. 'Wisconsin's Tunisia Moment' and 'Is it Madison or Cairo?' have been two of the recent headlines of posts in liberal blog

More work in store for Egypt now

Business Times - 19 Feb 2011 More work in store for Egypt now Following the overthrow of an authoritarian leader, it needs to fire up an underperforming economy By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AS EGYPTIANS and others celebrate the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak, they need to recognise that the overthrow of an authoritarian leader is not a guarantee that his oppressive rule will be replaced with liberal and democratic institutions. In fact, the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952 brought to power a military regime. And it has remained in control - even now, after Mr Mubarak's resignation. Moreover, free and open elections are only one element of a functioning liberal-democratic system that includes among other things, independent political institutions, a free press and the protection of the rights of women and religious minorities. Without a political culture that nourishes and upholds these freedoms and a set of constitutional and legal constraints on the governme

A Budget shaped by political constraints

Business Times - 17 Feb 2011 A Budget shaped by political constraints Obama hopes a compromise will lead to reforms of social programmes and the tax system By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT THERE is one good thing you could say about US President Barack Obama's federal budget proposals in the form of US$3.7 trillion blueprint for 2012 which were released on Monday. The White House's proposals - a revision in the plan for the current fiscal year coupled with a plan for the coming years - include proposals to cut the deficit by US$1.1 trillion through major spending cuts and large tax increases. So as the White House envisions it, the federal deficit would grow under the budget plan from around US$14 trillion today to close to 'only' US$21 trillion in five years. But most experts believe that these numbers reflect over-optimistic forecasts that assume the acceleration of the current economic recovery to be followed by a new economic boom combined with relatively low

In The American Conservative: Don't Play Like It's 1989 Don’t Party Like It’s 1989 Today’s turmoil in the Middle East looks more like the stillborn revolutions of 1848. By Leon Hadar The uprising in Egypt and challenge to the Middle East’s autocratic rulers could have produced a sense of déjà vu for the late German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt. Notwithstanding her reputation as a progressive thinker, Arendt believed that the erosion in the power of Europe’s conservative ruling elites and the strong national states they controlled helped set the stage for rise of totalitarianism and the horrific wars that engulfed Europe in the first part of the 20th century. As Arendt pointed out in her classic study The Origins of Totalitarianism, the inability of these ruling elites in France, Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Slavic states to retain their legitimacy in the face of waves of nationalist convulsions ignited by “the people”—the opening chapter being the uprisings of 1848—led to the

Obama is not Carter - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Obama is not Carter - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Obama's new fruitcake strategy for businesses

Business Times - 11 Feb 2011 It's doubtful his pro-business rhetoric and proposed policies will make much difference By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT US President Barack Obama and America's business executives may have had their differences over the plans to reform the healthcare insurance and the financial regulatory systems. But there is certainly one issue over which they agree. It's all about jobs! Indeed, the very big sign hanging on the front of the US Chamber of Commerce building across Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, not far from the White House, says it all - and in huge letters: 'JOBS'. And considering the main theme of Mr Obama's address to the members of the Chamber of Commerce this week, there is no doubt that he would have liked to hang exactly the same sign in front of the White House. Shared commitment While the heads of the Chamber of Commerce tend to subscribe to the pro-business agenda of the Republican Party - in fact, some of them

more on Egypt

my stuff on the topic on The Huffington Post:

Egypt's fate yet to be sealed

Business Times - 09 Feb 2011 Egypt's fate yet to be sealed By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT IT may be too early to conclude whether the protests in Egypt will amount to a revolution. And it remains to be seen if the 2011 Egyptian Revolution will go the way of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that led to the collapse of the pro-American Shah and to the rise of the Ayatollah's theocracy. Iran then challenged the balance of power in the Middle East and that led to major political and economic developments, including the Iran-Iraq War and a global oil crisis. Perhaps Egypt's continuing political unrest will eventually fizzle out and the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo will only bring about marginal reforms in the country's political and economic system. Such an outcome will allow the military-based regime that has controlled that country since 1952 when a revolution did result in the downfall of the then British-backed monarchy - sans the 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak

Obama's Sputnik spin is way off orbit

Business Times - 03 Feb 2011 PERSPECTIVE Obama's Sputnik spin is way off orbit By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT WHO could fault US President Barack Obama when he used his State of the Union Address last week as an opportunity to call for American economic renewal and for investing in scientific research technological development as well as in the reform of the education system and the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure? After all, he proposed these and other ideas as part of a strategy aimed at unleashing another wave of American innovation and meeting the competitive challenges of globalisation in the 21st century. And Mr Obama should be applauded for challenging the Americans, who are recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, to look towards a better future by setting these ambitious goals that involve cooperation between government and business in investment in clean energy technology and biomedical research and in trying to open n