Does Putin Back Hillary?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Democrat standard-bearer Hillary Clinton in happier times. [Credit: thepoliticalcarnival.net]

Perhaps because I’m in Italy, I’ve not been infected by the contagion that has spread more rapidly than the Zika virus: the febrile notion that Russian president Vladimir Putin is subverting our electoral process in an effort to elect Donald J. Trump as president.

Never has such conspiratorial speculation mutated so quickly into received wisdom. Continue reading

Trump and Friends

Donald Trump's recent foreign policy speech reflects our love/hate relationship with our allies. Credit: businessinsider.com

Donald Trump’s recent foreign policy speech reflects our love/hate relationship with our allies. Credit: businessinsider.com

“Who the f*** does he think he is?Who’s the f***ing superpower here?”  — President Bill Clinton after meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu in 1996

Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive standard-bearer, shares former President Clinton’s frustration with America’s allies.  And like Clinton, President Obama and others who have occupied the Oval Office, Trump isn’t sure what to do about it. Continue reading

Cruz Missiles

Ted Cruz, like every other presidential hopeful, vows to destroy the Islamic State. Should we believe him? [Credit: ABC News]

Ted Cruz, like every other presidential hopeful, vows to destroy the Islamic State. Should we believe him? [Credit: ABC News]

Ted Cruz says we don’t have a dog in the Syrian civil war.  He nevertheless wants to carpet bomb the civil war’s leading belligerent, the Islamic State (IS).  Which just might kill some dogs. Continue reading

GOP Debate: Bring Back The CNBC Moderators

GOP Presidential contenders struggled with substantive questions during last week's debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com

GOP Presidential contenders fumbled substantive questions during last week’s debate. [Credit: ibtimes.com]

Donald Trump wants a piece of the Keystone Pipeline.

The issue didn’t come up during last week’s GOP debate, so Trump didn’t have the chance to elaborate on his declaration that he would have approved the project only if the Canadian company forked over 25 percent of its profits.

“I want a piece of the deal,” Trump told Bret Baier of Fox News.  “When I say I want a piece, I’m now representing our country the way I would represent myself.” Continue reading

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Disagreeing Over How To Disagree

Secretary of State John Kerry shook hands with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Sharif on a nuclear agreement earlier this month. But the two don't agree on what they agreed to. [Credit:vocfm.com]

Secretary of State John Kerry shook hands with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Sharif on a nuclear agreement earlier this month. But the two don’t agree on what they agreed to. [Credit:vocfm.com]

The parties to the Iran nuclear agreement don’t agree on what they agreed to.  Congress is struggling to agree on how to express its disagreement with the agreement.

Such is the debased state into which U.S. foreign policy and constitutional governance have descended. Continue reading

Why Are We At War With The Islamic State?

Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia are among the ground troops on whom we rely in our war against the Islamic State. [Credit: Reuters]

Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia are among the ground troops on whom we rely in our war against the Islamic State. Their brutality rivals that of IS. [Credit: Reuters]

[The soldiers] dragged residents up to age 70 from their homes, beating and cursing them with sectarian slurs, Abu Omar [one of the survivors] told Reuters by phone.  He said the fighters took the men’s mobiles and ID cards, then bound their hands, tying Abu Omar to his 12-year-old mentally ill son with rope. They did the same with his two older sons and three brothers.

The men were led a few hundred yards to a field where Abu Omar said more than a hundred others had been gathered.  For about two hours, they were forced to kneel and stare at the ground as the fighters selected their targets and led them to a spot behind a mud wall.

“They took them behind the wall. Less than a minute, then a gunshot,” said Abu Omar. “All we could hear was the gunshots. We couldn’t see.”

This atrocity, which claimed the lives of 72 unarmed people in a village in Iraq’s Diyala Province, was not carried out by the Islamic State (IS). It was perpetrated by our allies in the war against IS — Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia. Continue reading

Tales From The House al Qaeda Built

Turmoil at the Department of Homeland Security, an agency established in response to the 9/11 attacks, continued last night when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire. [Credit: cbc.ca]

Turmoil at the Department of Homeland Security, an agency established in response to the 9/11 attacks, continued last night when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire. [Credit: cbc.ca]

The house al Qaeda built — a sprawling new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, an agency created in response to the September 11 attacks — was supposed to open next year.

It’s just a bit behind schedule.  Its opening is now slated for 2026, 21 years after planning began. Continue reading

President’s Iraq Strategy Avoids Doing Nothing … But How Will It End?

A Libyan rebel for whom we provided air support celebrates in 2011. Today those same rebels have reduced the country to bloody chaos. Will our bombing in Iraq and Syria produce a better result? [Credit: The Guardian]

A Libyan rebel for whom we provided air support celebrates in 2011. Today those same rebels have reduced the country to bloody chaos. Will our bombing in Iraq and Syria produce a better result? [Credit: The Guardian]

The black flag of jihad flies over much of the country.  City after city has fallen to islamist insurgents.  Militants burn houses and attack ethnic minorities and journalists.   The popularly elected government, powerless to stop the onslaught, appeals for outside help.  Fearing that the country is fast becoming a “terrorist hub,” a Western government this week sought to “mobilize the international community” to launch a war against the jihadists.

Iraq?  No.  Libya, a country where we conducted airstrikes in 2011 in support of an odd assortment of ground forces that included more than its share of misfits and fanatics.

If that strategy produced such a miserable result in Libya, can we reasonably expect it to work in Iraq and Syria? Continue reading

Iraq: In Search Of An Organizing Principle

The President has decided to fight jihadists threatening to kill Yazidis with bombs instead of hashtags. But it's not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

Sunni radicals are threatening to massacre an obscure ethnoreligious group known as Yazidis.  The President has decided to fight the jihadists with bombs instead of hashtags. But it’s not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Another August.  Another flirtation with war.  In the psychodrama that is the Obama Presidency, our hero vacillates between war and peace, detachment and intervention, riding out the storm and steering into its teeth.  The rest of us are left to guess whether he will respond to the next humanitarian crisis with bombs or hashtags.  There is, as Mrs. Clinton notes, no “organizing principle” to lend coherence to our foreign policy. Continue reading

President Bush Not To Blame For This Iraq Crisis

 

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here's why they're wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here’s why they’re wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

The Iraq civil war did not start under Obama, it started when Bush, Cheney and the neocons pulled the trigger to invade Iraq … . It was [the] status of force agreement, signed by Bush, that pledged to withdraw all US forces … Given the staggering cost of expense and lives we could not stay there “maybe a hundred years” as McCain said. Nor could we bleed hundreds of billions of dollars there every year. Obama promised to get us out of there, and he rightly did so … To attempt to blame anyone but Bush, Cheney and the neocons for the Iraq disaster is simply revisionism at its finest. —  Excerpted from a comment on my recent post on Iraq.

The Obama presidency’s leading malfeasance lies in its belief that finding someone to blame for a problem is as good as solving it.  So it is little surprise that my recent post on Iraq, in which I argued against US military intervention, would spur comments that former President George W. Bush is to blame for the renewed fighting. Continue reading