A stronger UN National Security Council would head off questions about U.S. intervention in foreign affairs at the pass.
Nature abhors a vacuum and when the UN National Security Council fails to act, the U.S. jumps into the breach – often to disastrous effect. (Photo: Britannica)
Since this is the last Focal Points post, I thought I should write about one of my core foreign policy beliefs. Along with Foreign Policy in Focus and most of those who span the spectrum from liberal to left, one of our most pressing concerns is U.S. intervention in foreign affairs.
It began with the Barbary Wars (1801–1805 and 1815) against Morocco and the independent Ottoman Empire provinces Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis. How we have come full circle — beginning our foreign intervention in Arabic-speaking countries and returning in the 21st century. But the original intervention was to halt piracy of American merchant ships and concomitant hostage-taking, payable to the rulers of those states. It wasn’t to protect our oil interests or to establish a footprint in the Middle East, as today.
Domestic-policy successes such as paid family leave count for little if the U.S. is at war with Russia.
Domestic success is predicated on a certain degree of peace. (Photo: Flickr/CSIS)
Hillary Clinton has some impressive goals for the United States. And it is conceivable that, to whatever extent, she can even achieve them. These include (courtesy of NPR):
Make public college debt-free. Fund universal pre-K. Create a comprehensive background check system and close loopholes. Give the government a role in setting insurance rates. Waive deportation and give undocumented residents a path to legal status. Enact an infrastructure plan that also serves as a stimulus to the economy. Raise capital gains taxes [We will overlook her coziness with Wall Street for the moment.]
The United States never tires of finding ways to needlessly aggravate Russia.
The United States underestimates the awe in which Russia holds U.S. technology. (Photo: American Free Press)
Russia has long been suspicious of United States and NATO missile defense installations in Europe. In what amounts to a tacit admission of how limited missile defense is, the United States insists it is disingenuous for Russians to think the systems are targeted against them. Missile defense doesn’t stand a chance against Russia’s large arsenal; it is intended for a starter nuclear-weapons program like the United States thought Iran was developing at one time. The United States, however, overlooks and chooses to ignore, the awe in which Russia holds the its ability to develop and perfect technology.
Americans’ aversion to taxes blinds them to not only the benefits, but the opportunities that Nordic countries enjoy.
The Nordic countries, such as Finland, may actually be more American than the United States.
Americans tend to think that the Nordic countries’ generous social services programs come at the expense of economic opportunity, partly because of what seem to be high taxes. But that may be a myth. In the Atlantic, Uri Friedman quotes Hillary Clinton, who spouts the conventional wisdom about the differences between the United States and the Nordic countries.
“We are not Denmark. … We are the United States of America. … [W]hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”
Israel’s grandiose demands for more aid from Israel.
The U.S. is offering Israel $40 billion in aid over the next 10 years. Pictured: Israel Defense Forces special operations.
Some Yiddish words will live forever, and chutzpah is one of them. What better word could describe Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for more U.S. aid after he tried to obstruct President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran with a personal appeal to the Senate? But don’t expect aid to Israel to be a campaign topic. Both candidates favor it.
The U.S. and Israel have been bargaining since early July over a proposed ten-year U.S. aid package to Israel. The U.S. is offering Israel $40 billion in aid over that period, an increase of $10 billion a year, which the White House called “the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.” But that amount is not enough for the Israelis, who are demanding more.
After the IMF admitted that neoliberalism was “oversold,” could China help developing countries thrive with an expanded Hong Kong?
The IMF finally acknowledged that neoliberalism’s boom-and-bust cycles stifle growth in developing countries. Pictured: IMF chief Christine Lagarde. (Photo: the Telegraph)
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) June 2016 research report “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” which was described as “a political bombshell … that caused a near-panic among advocates of free market policies” by the Foreign Policy analyst Rick Rowden [Note 1], what ‘capital account liberalization’ brings to developing countries is “the pervasiveness of booms and busts” rather than growth. “In addition to raising the odds of a crash, financial openness has distributional effects, appreciably raising inequality……. There is now strong evidence that inequality can significantly lower both the level and sustainability of growth.” [Note 2]
As China happens to be in the middle of the capital account liberalization process with a view of making its Renminbi (RMB or China Yuan) freely convertible in the international FX market, Beijing would probably adopt a new growth strategy with reference to such an IMF conclusion. In fact, Beijing is facing a new headache after Brexit because its previous plan of using London, alongside Hong Kong (a special administrative region in China), as another major offshore clearing center for RMB may not work out as expected, were the secessions of Scotland and Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom to materialize. To find a Plan B, several Chinese scholars have immediately called for the removal of this clearing center from London to Frankfurt or Brussels. However, the long-term future of European Union (EU) and Euro are also in danger of deformation or even disintegration amid the rampant emergence of localism, racism and protectionism.
The failed Turkish coup provided mainstream Western media with another chance to fall flat on its face.
Burned by coups in the past, Turks prefer even autocratic President Erdogan to military rule. Pictured: Soldiers involved in the Turkish coup surrender. (Photo: Ynet News)
A few days back, Turkey witnessed an unsuccessful military coup. The coup attempted to overthrow the Erdogan government and install military dictatorship.
Amidst all the hysteria and chaos, Turks took to the streets to protect their democratically elected government. As a result, the coup failed, and President Erdogan is still in power.
However, even though the military coup in Turkey failed, it left several questions unanswered.
With no weapons or explosives used, the Nice attack was reminiscent of 911.
Marine Le Pen stands to benefit most from attacks such as in Nice. (Photo: Politico Europe)
In a way, it’s almost worse when Islamic extremists don’t use weapons or explosives in their attack. With 9/11 – the only weapon used were boxcutters –they showed they can do just as much damage with everyday vehicles such as planes and trucks as with semi-automatic rifles (and occasionally, fully automatic), handguns, and explosives.
Russia’s attempts to keep Islamist extremism at bay will only backfire.
By bombing Syrian rebel groups, Russia only creates more extremists. (Photo: Jamestown.org)
The average Westerner can be forgiven for wondering what Russia sees in the Assad regime. We wonder why, along with China, it vetoes UN Security Council resolutions holding the Syrian government accountable for its crimes. We wonder why it bombs all the rebel groups, when — if you’re into bombing — the Assad regime is worse for the country than any of them.