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Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Obama Pilots Drone Policy Through Political Headwinds

May 28th, 2013

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During the 2004 campaign, Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, made this statement to the New York Times Magazine:

“We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives but they’re a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it … to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day. It’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

Republicans instantly denounced Kerry’s statement as “a pre-9/11 view of the world.” President George W. Bush said at a campaign rally, “Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to a, quote, ‘nuisance,’ and compared it to prostitution and illegal gambling. I couldn’t disagree more. Our goal is not to reduce terrorism to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terrorism by staying on the offensive.”

The Bush-Cheney campaign ran a television ad attacking Kerry for saying that defeating terrorism was “more about law enforcement than a strong military.” The ad concluded, “How can Kerry protect us when he doesn’t understand the threat?”

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How to Talk About Israel’s Recent Strikes in Syria

May 6th, 2013

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Israel carried out several limited strikes in Syria over the weekend, raising the possibility of an expanded Syrian civil war. Here’s how to talk about it:

1. Israel was responding to a real, imminent danger to its security.

U.S. and Israeli sources indicated the Israelis late last week struck a shipment of sophisticated, Iranian-built Fateh-110 missiles bound for the Lebanese terror group Hizbollah. The Syrians also claimed Israel hit the Jamraya military complex outside of Damascus this weekend, which U.S. officials say is Syria’s chemical weapons development center.

If Hizbollah obtained the Fateh-110 missile, the terror group would then be able to accurately deliver a half-ton warhead with a range of 185 miles, which could strike almost all of Israel’s major cities and military bases. Israelis living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other population centers would find themselves in Hizbollah’s crosshairs. These missiles could travel father and hit a target much more accurately than anything currently in Hizbollah’s arsenal. This was a real, imminent danger to Israel, and its leaders acted to mitigate the threat.

Given the serious threat these weapons pose to Israel’s civilian population, we should stand with Israel in its efforts to blunt the threat from Hizbollah.

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Obama Toes the Red Line in Syria

April 26th, 2013

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Syria is a test for President Obama and the New America coalition he brought to power. Can the U.S. fulfill its obligation to be “the world’s indispensable nation” while at the same time avoiding the kind of military quagmire that enrages Democrats?

The Obama Administration did it once before, in Libya. The U.S. had limited interests in Libya. The Obama Administration proved that it could make a limited commitment, using limited resources, for a limited goal. No invasion, no nation-building. Syria, however, is more complicated and more dangerous.

There are two arguments propelling the Obama Administration to intervene in Syria. One is political. President Obama has drawn a “red line” in Syria. The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad appears to have crossed it. Obama said last year, “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

Now the White House has released a finding by the intelligence community asserting “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Assad government has used chemical weapons “on a small scale.” The Syrian regime has called Obama’s bluff. Now what will we do?

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Don’t Forget Canada and Mexico

March 27th, 2013

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This piece was originally published on GE’s “Idea’s Lab” website.

Japan’s recent announcement that it’s seeking to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations has created quite a stir in trade circles.

Adding Japan and its $4 trillion economy to the TPP talks would substantially boost the economic and political importance of any eventual trade deal and create major new export opportunities for the United States and the 10 other TPP countries. But, as Third Way noted in a recent letter to Congressional trade leaders, TPP negotiators also face a huge challenge in assuring that Japan’s strong tradition of shielding its farm, manufacturing, and services sectors doesn’t derail the goal of creating a truly comprehensive, high-standard agreement that broadly opens up Asia-Pacific trade.

Seemingly lost in all the recent buzz about Japan is another important TPP development–the admission of Canada and Mexico to the TPP talks last fall. This less-heralded development is highly significant, particularly for the United States and our producers and workers.

But why? Isn’t the United States already linked to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA? How would the TPP improve things?

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Rethinking How We Value Global Trade

February 20th, 2013

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This piece was originally published in U.S. News & World Report.

In his most recent State of the Union, President Obama touted the fact that American companies like Apple, Ford, and Intel are bringing manufacturing operations back to the United States. This key trend will support good American jobs—while strengthening the manufacturing and innovation ecosystem that’s a vital source of America’s global competitiveness.

Where things are “made” is crucial. But as America pursues important new trade deals in Asia and Europe, it’s also critical that we secure more “value” from our trade.

The iPhone in my pocket was “made” in China. When it was imported into the United States, it was treated by U.S. Customs as a 100 percent Chinese product, and it added somewhere around $230 to America’s $315 billion trade deficit with China.

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The wages of austerity for Nicolas Sarkozy

May 7th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

The wages of austerity is death. Political death.

That’s the lesson of Europe — conveyed most recently by the defeat of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He’s the first French president defeated for reelection in more than 30 years.

In Greece, which also held elections Sunday, the old regime just collapsed. The two governing parties that negotiated Greece’s painful bailout deal saw their support fall by more than half. Who gained? Protest parties of the far left and the far right — including a neo-Nazi party.

What the extremes had in common was opposition to the Greek bailout deal, which imposes tax hikes and wage cuts on a country where unemployment is more than 20 percent.

In 2011 and 2012, governments have been thrown out of power in Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and now France and Greece. Britain’s coalition government also experienced disastrous losses in local elections last week.

Eleven European countries are now in recession — including Britain, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands. The unemployment rate in the 17-nation Euro zone is now 10.9 percent. In Spain and Greece, a majority of young workers are jobless. Read the rest of this entry »