4:31 PM, Feb 10, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In his weekly newsletter, the boss, just back from the Munich Security Conference, shares his big takeaways:
1. The Europeans are in pretty full-throated appeasement mode, though it's hard to blame them in the total absence of American leadership, which everyone at the conference privately noted and lamented. Even somewhat anti-American European politicians would ask, in private, "Where are you? What is your administration doing?"
In particular, the American reluctance to provide even defensive arms to the Ukrainians makes it far easier for the Europeans to justify what I'd call second-stage appeasement of Putin. The first stage was wishful thinking. We're beyond that now, and the second stage is basically fear--if we arm the Ukrainians, Putin will escalate, and then what will we do? It's not an entirely unreasonable question. But the rather chilling implication is that the entire West is so weak that we're intimidated by Putin's Russia. And the implications of that, both in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world with respect to other bad actors, are scary.
2. Which leads to a second point. Most of the discussion at the conference, apart from silly posturing about climate change and the like, was about Ukraine. But the really big issues for us, I'm even more convinced now than before, are two, and only two: Iran and the defense budget. The good news is that these are two where Congress can play an important role.
On Iran, I had long conversations with Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker, who are working on a proposal to try to ensure Congress has a say on any Iran agreement. I think fighting for that goal is a fight worth having. The insistence on a congressional say is right. It also might scuttle a bad agreement beforehand, if the Iranians knew that Congress would get a say. Even if Obama beats back congressional approval, it would be good to make clear that half the American body politic doesn't agree with a bad Iran deal, and that--if the administration doesn't get an agreement ratified by Congress--such an agreement is only between this administration and Iran, and that neither Congress nor the next administration, especially if it's a Republican one, will feel bound by it.
These are very important principles to establish, both politically in the U.S., and also abroad. One of my strongest conclusions from Munich was how important it is that Republicans stand up to Obama's foreign policy and articulate an alternative U.S. foreign policy. Not just for 2016 and 2017. But now. Because it makes a big difference if allies, waverers, and enemies abroad think Obama's America is the future of America. If it is, they'll make their decisions and accommodations accordingly. If it's not, they might hang on for two more years in the hope of a better American future. So it matters now, what Republicans say, and what votes they cast, on foreign and defense policy.
3. Which leads us to defense. There's a dispute among Republicans in Congress about whether to accept, even embrace, the sequestration cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which constrain federal spending, or whether to bust the caps for defense--and, since you'd need Obama ultimately to sign legislation, in return to accept some increase in domestic spending as well. This now poses--as Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly say in their editorial in this week's issue --a key choice for the GOP. And I think it's an easy choice. Embracing sequestration would mean, politically, that the Obama administration (and the Hillary Clinton campaign) could plausibly say they're more hawkish than Republicans on defense, and that all the GOP talk about a stronger American foreign policy is hollow. It would also send such a signal to the rest of the world. Both would be a disaster. The GOP needs to be the party that stands, seriously and forthrightly, for restoring American defense capabilities. Republicans can also of course make the correct case that we can and should constrain domestic spending while increasing defense spending. But as with Reagan in 1981, if forced to choose between the two goals, defense has to come first. And while there are many complicated legislative twists and turns ahead, I now am even more convinced now than before I left for Munich that the defense budget fight over the next few months is key--and that this really is the moment for the Republican party to speak for American strength, for America's indispensable role in the world, and, yes, for American greatness.
12:00 AM, Jan 10, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
It’s us against them—an American economy on the upswing vs. a global economy that definitely is not. Last year the U.S. economy added almost 3 million jobs, the largest number in fifteen years. The headline unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent, and the so-called U-6 unemployment rate, which includes workers involuntarily working short hours and those too discouraged to look for work, although still too high at 11.2 percent, is at its lowest level since 2008.
'Chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.'
8:23 PM, Oct 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama addressed the growing Ebola crisis today in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
"As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority. This is not just a matter of charity -- although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region," said the commander in chief.
12:04 PM, Oct 3, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Forum at Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, Massachusetts last night, Vice President Joe Bidengave an extensive rundown of foreign policy challenges and crises that the world and the Obama administration are facing today.
1:18 PM, Aug 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The world is exploding, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week. But President Obama is going golfing -- again.
Via the pool report:
Admit it. You all made small-dollar bets that POTUS would be playing golf today. And ... you would be right! We are at the Farm Neck Golf Club at 1:13 pm. and POTUS is hitting the links again.
The White House sends the following: Partners:
2:32 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece of August 6 about “the surge of poisonous anti-Semitism around the world, particularly in Europe,” Andrew Nagorski had the temerity to note that “the president [Obama] has not prominently addressed the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, much less its pervasiveness in the Muslim world.” This is, of course, an understatement.
9:01 AM, Aug 13, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Fresh off a trip to India and Australia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed a group of Marines in San Diego, California Tuesday, and may have delivered a line that will show up in Republican campaign ads this election cycle.
12:00 AM, Jun 21, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
And we thought the bad old days of oil shocks were over. Embargoes, price spikes, gasoline lines in America, a sweater-bedecked president ordering the end of hot water in many facilities, collapsing retail sales as high gasoline and energy prices hit stores as much as a big tax increase would, economic stagflation, or worse. Well, it just might be that we were wrong to believe that danger to our continued prosperity has been removed with the death of theories about “Peak oil.”
11:38 AM, Jun 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Hillary Clinton says that the "American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world." She made the comments in a recent interview:
“Politics is so unpredictable, whoever runs has to recognize that the American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world,” said Clinton.
10:41 AM, Mar 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
These days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has time on its hands.
12:32 PM, Feb 4, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Hard to blame anyone for wanting to get out of Washington and flee to some destination where the air is not polluted by politics. Understandable, then, that as Shane Goldmacher of Government Executive writes:
Remembering Pearl Harbor.9:25 AM, Dec 7, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It has been 72 years and veterans of the attack are in their 90s, some of them taking tourists out to the memorial built over the sunken battleship Arizona, which is still leaking oil. Almost 1,200 men were killed and went down with that ship when a bomb found its magazine and blew it up. Total losses that day were over 2,500 killed, 1,000 wounded. Material losses amounted to 18 ships and nearly 300 airplanes destroyed or severely damaged.
9:15 AM, Sep 23, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
While Germany was engaging in peaceful elections and the United States was watching football – civilized societies being big on democratic rituals and sports – people in other parts of the world were relieving their frustrations in violence.
3:03 PM, Aug 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The United States will "close an unspecified number of embassies around the world" because of "security concerns," AFP reports. The closures will take place on Sunday.
The wire service adds: