Showing posts from March, 2011

Playing the blame game for US budget stalemate

Business Times - 31 Mar 2011 Playing the blame game for US budget stalemate By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT TENSIONS are rising on Capitol Hill. The political rhetoric is getting ugly. And the suspense is growing: Will US lawmakers be able to work out a budget deal as soon as possible so as to avert a shutdown of the federal government? Now wait a minute. Haven't we seen that movie before? In fact, an earlier version of 'The Coming Government Shutdown' was screened only two weeks ago just before a brief Congressional break. During the last scene, we held our breath as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, after failing to agree on a substantive budget compromise, ended up negotiating a last-minute deal, a so-called 'stopgap' that provided funding for the operations of the federal government until April 8. That stopgap was the second in what some expect to be a series of several short-term deals between the two parties that - in theory, at least - could keep th

Sarkozy Gets the Better of Obama

Published on The National Interest ( Source URL (retrieved on Mar 30, 2011): Sarkozy Gets the Better of Obama |More[1] | March 30, 2011 Leon Hadar [2] President Barack Obama has insisted that unlike his predecessor who launched a unilateral invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military strikes on Libya are part of a “multilateral” operation. It’s true that the Bush administration failed to win the support of the UN Security Council for the plan to depose Saddam Hussein, while the Obama administration persuaded Russia and China not to veto the Council’s resolution approving coercive measures against Muammar Gaddafi. Moreover, at least some members of so-called Old Europe who rejected Bush’s military adventure in Mesopotamia have backed the new adventure in Libya—with France among the principal cheerleaders. In addition, administration officials cite the green light (or at least a yellow light) tha

The US should stay neutral in the Sunni-Shiite conflict PRINT PAGE The U.S. should stay neutral in the Sunni-Shiite conflict By Leon Hadar 5:32 PM 03/24/2011 ADVERTISEMENT Riyadh signaled its intention to maintain stability in the Persian Gulf with the deployment of more than 1,000 Saudi Arabian and 500 United Arab Emirates (UAE) troops to neighboring Bahrain on March 14, under the auspices of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). This intervention is comparable to the numerous deployments of U.S. troops under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS) — Grenada (1983), Panama (1989) and Haiti (1994). Moreover, protecting Bahrain, which provides the U.S. Fifth Fleet with a base and has the freest economy in the Middle East (according to the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom), seems to be compatible with U.S. interests. Some Americans, who view the uprising in Bahrain as a conflict between the majority Shiite population and the ruling Sun

Neither unilateralist nor multilateralist

Business Times - 25 Mar 2011 Neither unilateralist nor multilateralist Mr Obama's policy on Libya is confusing and self-defeating, and will satisfy no one By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT US PRESIDENT Barack Obama and his foreign policy aides have been insisting that, unlike president George W Bush who had launched a unilateral attack against Iraq, the current military operation in Libya is being conducted under a multilateral setting. And, indeed, while the Bush administration failed to win the support of the majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council for his plan to invade Iraq and depose its leader Saddam Hussein, the more limited goal of the enforcing a No-Fly Zone (NFZ) in Libya has been backed by the Security Council. Moreover, the military action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi is not only supported by two leading allies of the US - France and Britain - but has also been given the green light by the Arab League. And, in fact, demonst

Obama Turns Failure into Success in the Middle East Obama Turns Failure into Success in the Middle East by Leon T. Hadar This article appeared in Haaretz on March 22, 2011. At a time when every official is packaging lousy policies as appealing "narratives," it might be appropriate to recall an old master of this game, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who knew how to use a good line to turn a strategic loss into a diplomatic success story. Hence, after years of trying to isolate China's communists while maintaining the fiction that Taiwan represented China, Kissinger recognized the huge costs involved in pursuing that policy and initiated a dialogue with Beijing. The policy of befriending Mao, a bloody tyrant and of divorcing Taiwan, a long-time friend came to be known as the "Opening to China" — recalling Marco Polo's exotic expeditions. In that sense, President Barack Obama's response to th

No-fly zone part of a complex US strategy

Business Times - 22 Mar 2011 No-fly zone part of a complex US strategy Invasion not an option in US-induced campaign for political and economic reform By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT FOLLOWING Friday's United Nations Security Council resolution authorising the use of military force to impose a no-fly zone (NFZ) in Libya, newspaper headlines have been screaming about US missile strikes on Libya, creating the impression that not before long, American troops are going to be deployed to the North African county. In this version of reality, President Barack Obama was following in the footsteps of his predecessor, President George W Bush as he was supposedly drawing the outlines of another 'regime change' a la Afghanistan and Iraq. But if anything, President Obama seems to be embracing the more realist strategic model pursued by Presidents George H W Bush and Bill Clinton in dealing with so-called rogue regimes led by the Muammar Gaddafis of the world. That includes the us

Libya should be Europe's problem – not America's The Christian Science Monitor - Libya should be Europe's problem – not America's European powers can no longer act as casual bystanders expecting the US to resolve strategic challenges in Libya and the Middle East. Washington should tell Europe to put its own money – and troops, if necessary – where its own strategic interests lie. By Leon T. Hadar posted March 16, 2011 at 11:20 am EDT Washington During his second year in office, French President Nicolas Sarkozy initiated the formation of a Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) as part of a strategy to promote stability and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Under Mr. Sarkozy’s proposed UfM, European, Middle Eastern, and North African countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea would form a loose economic community. It would promote political and economic liberalization and also address immigration

Will Obama trade agenda fizzle out?

Business Times - 15 Mar 2011 Will Obama trade agenda fizzle out? The formula that seemed to be a sure win following the 1994 midterm election may not work this time around By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT THE Republican takeover of the US House of Representatives in last November's midterm elections may have made it more difficult for Congress to reach agreements over how to balance the federal budget. But some free traders in Washington had hoped that the growing power of the pro-business Republicans on Capitol Hill would make it less difficult to get Congress to approve key free trade agreements (FTAs). Indeed, those Republican and a few Democratic proponents of an energetic US effort to liberalise global trade recalled after last year's Congressional races that the success of former Democratic president Bill Clinton in winning Congressional support for several critical free-trade accords - including the permanent normalisation of US trade relationship with China which

US obsession with the M-E will only benefit China

Business Times - 10 Mar 2011 US obsession with the M-E will only benefit China By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT US PRESIDENT Barack Obama's 10-day trip to Asia at the end of last year was seen as an effort by his administration to demonstrate that it was placing its relationship with the rising powers of that region on the top of US foreign policy agenda. Indeed, during most of the eight years that Mr Obama's predecessor had occupied the White House, Asian policymakers and pundits were warning that Bush Administration's post-9/11 focus on the war on terrorism, including the launching of two long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ended up diverting American attention from the remarkable strategic and economic changes taking place in Asia that could have major impact on US economic and military interests. At times it seemed as though the investment of so much time, energy and resources in managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in dealing with Iran's perce

The Postmodern Thinker,4574,428966,00.html? Business Times - 05 Mar 2011 The postmodern thinker International relations scholar and author Parag Khanna talks about geopolitics and identity in the post-post-modern world. By Leon Hadar PARAG Khanna, adventurer-scholar extraordinaire, bestselling author, pundit, former geopolitical adviser to generals (US General Stanley McChrystal) and celebrities (Bono), has some great news for the bearish among us. Or does he? Addressing a packed hall in Washington, DC, on the same evening that President Barack Obama is giving a televised speech, a cool and calm Dr Khanna, sans necktie and any prepared notes, explains that we are already living in the post-post-American World that is not very flat, but actually very messy, chaotic, and unruly. Welcome to the 'New Middle Ages' - or the 'Neomidage'. And that apparently should make us all very, very bullish about the future. Say what? The guy seating next to me

Tea Party serves up a bitter brew for Bernanke

Business Times - 05 Mar 2011 Tea Party serves up a bitter brew for Bernanke By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT IF anyone still had any doubts that the Tea Party movement had become a powerful force on Capitol Hill, he or she would have had to revise the assessment this week. First, the contingency of conservative and libertarian lawmakers who were part of the Tea Party insurgency and who were elected to Congress in last year's mid-term election has forced the Republican leadership to continue playing chicken with the White House over this year's federal budget. Under pressure from the Republicans who now control the House of Representative, the Obama administration and the Democrats had agreed to US$4 billion cuts in spending on a few social and economic programmes in exchange for an agreement by the Republicans to a two-week extension in funding for the federal government. Now Congress will have until March 18 to come up with a budget deal before the government runs out of

Burying Pan Araabism Published on The National Interest ( Source URL (retrieved on Mar 1, 2011): Burying Pan-Arabism |More[1] | March 1, 2011 Leon Hadar [2] The uprisings in the Arab World have generated two competing narratives in Washington. The first has the making of a Middle Eastern End-of-History prototype: The Arab embrace of liberal democracy is another chapter in the historical epoch evolving since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The competing narrative—a derivative of the Clash-of-Civilizations paradigm—raises the specter of political Islamist radicalization along the lines of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Adopting the first narrative generates confidence that democratic reforms may bring to power political players well disposed to the United States and the values it represents. Hence Washington should help accelerate this process through more “e