Focal Points Blog

Hillary Clinton’s Platform Lacks a Firm Footing

hillary-clinton-secretary-of-state-csis

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.]

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Missile Defense in Europe Needlessly Provocative

The United States underestimates the awe in which Russia holds U.S. technology. (Photo: American Free Press)

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.
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Americans Choke on the Term “Welfare State”

The Nordic countries, such as Finland, may actually be more American than the United States.

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.”

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Missing from the Debate: U.S. Aid to Israel

The U.S. is offering Israel $40 billion in aid over the next 10 years. Pictured: Israel Defense  Forces.

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.
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IMF Disavows Neoliberalism

The IMF finally acknowledged that neoliberalism’s boom-and-bust cycles stifle growth in developing countries. Pictured: IMF chief Christine Lagarde. (Photo: the Telegraph)

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.
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Turkey Distances Itself From the U.S. and NATO

President Erdogan is pursuing ethnically narrow, Turkish-chauvinist, domestic and foreign policy. (Photo: Russia Today)

President Erdogan is pursuing ethnically narrow, Turkish-chauvinist, domestic and foreign policy. (Photo: Russia Today)

Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.

Some Background

The aftershocks of the failed military coup in Turkey are resonating. Nearly 2,500 upper level military personnel, including more than 100 generals sacked and many arrested. 6,000 members of the judiciary, who sometimes challenged Tayyip Erdogan’s policies, fired along with 8,000 Turkish policemen. Several hundred people were killed, thousands wounded.

While considerable confusion remains concerning the origins of the recent Turkish coup attempt, the geopolitical outlines of where “post-coup” Turkey is headed are coming into focus. A little background on the flurry of Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives that preceded the recent “coup attempt” are in order. As they were intense suggesting that a shift in Turkey’s political posture was in order. Besides initiating an extensive purge of the Turkish military and judiciary, Turkish President Erdogan appears to be setting Turkish regional political posture on a new direction.
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Turkish Coup Attempt Brought Out the Worst in Western Media

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)

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.
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Islamic Extremism Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen stands to benefit most from attacks such as in Nice. (Photo: Politico Europe)

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.
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Russia Will Regret Its Support for the Assad Regime

By bombing Syrian rebel groups, Russia only creates more extremists. (Photo: Jamestown.org)

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.
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Patience Not a Virtue with the Islamic State

Georgians seek to earn extra money for retirement by peddling uranium. (Photo: Sputnik News)

Georgians seek to earn extra money for retirement by peddling uranium. (Photo: Sputnik News)

In the last six months, two different incidents of the smuggling of nuclear material have been intercepted in Georgia. In the most recent, a group of three Georgians and three Armenians attempted to sell a small amount of uranium, estimated at $27 a pound for the fanciful price of two million dollars. At the Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova explains how poor Georgians and Armenians are.

According to the World Bank, up to 27 percent of the Georgian population and up to 37 percent of Armenians live below the poverty line. The Caucasus are full of men desperate to make money, even if that involves the risk of imprisonment.

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