Focal Points Blog

Russian Bombing in Syria May Ensure Decades More Rule by Assad

If Russia prevails in shoring up Assad, Putin will leverage that success elsewhere.  (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

If Russia prevails in shoring up Assad, Putin will leverage that success elsewhere.
(Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

With regards to the ceasefire talks that never got off the ground in Geneva last week, AlJazeera’s Luke Coffey writes that “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was never serious about a ceasefire, and neither was his partner in crime Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.”

… the recapture of Aleppo would make it highly unlikely that Assad and his cronies would return to the negotiating table. In Putin’s eyes the world is a zero-sum game and in Syria he is winning … not negotiating.

Read More

Jeffrey Sachs Blames Hillary Clinton for Our National Security Woes

 

Yes, neocons are still around and may have an inside track to the White House once again. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Yes, neocons are still around and may have an inside track to the White House once again. (Photo: Wikimedia)

It’s almost unfathomable how much money Hillary and Bill Clinton have made from giving speeches, mostly to financial companies. While that $153 million (according to CNN) was earned since Bill Clinton’s second presidential term ended, it now almost makes more sense to view Hillary Clinton in the class of tycoons who become politicians, such as Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg.

But it’s not just Hillary Clinton’s speeches to and affiliations with Wall Street that have become a rising crescendo of alarm. At Huffington Post, Jeffrey Sachs, authority on economic development and world poverty, continues to tack left.
Read More

You Too Can Have a Future in Nuclear Destruction

The nuclear-weapons establishment has never flagged when it comes to fanning the flames of deterrence theory. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

The nuclear-weapons establishment has never flagged when it comes to fanning the flames of deterrence theory. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

Recent years have seen a string of scandals among those who command and man nuclear missiles silos. Among them have been cheating on tests and drug use. They are considered symptoms of low morale among those working in a branch of military that is seen as having little to actually do and with no future. Of course, for the rest of us, that’s a plus because it means they are not lighting off their ICBMs (the intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in the silos).
Read More

U.S. Needs to Think Twice Before Reprising the Cold War

Spurred by tensions over Ukraine, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe. (Photo: Public domain)

Spurred by tensions over Ukraine, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe. (Photo: Public domain)

Not long after World War II, newspaper maps began showing Eastern Europe entirely colored in red, and political cartoons showed the red spreading across western Europe. Those who remembered those days were bound to have flashbacks last week. On February 2, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe, more than quadrupling the $789 million currently budgeted for Europe. According to the New York Times, the West will eventually spend a whopping $40 billion on building up Ukraine’s defenses against  possible threats from Russia.

Administration officials said the decision reflects “a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor.” That situation apparently consists of Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago, and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Both regions had longstanding ties to Russia, including a common language. There is no evidence that Russia intends to invade others of its neighbors, yet the same fear mongering that once prompted warnings of the Soviet Union’s intent to take over all of Europe has returned. Ukraine is seemingly the first line of defense.
Read More

Latest Round of Syrian Peace Talks Stumbles Out of the Blocks

Thanks to Russia, Assad isn’t going anywhere. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

Thanks to Russia, Assad isn’t going anywhere. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

Yet again the Syrian conflict has taken the front pages of the western media outlet with the announcement that another UN-sponsored Syrian peace talk is underway in Geneva. The latest round, which began last Friday in Geneva, is an attempt to bring a number of groups to the negotiating table that have nothing in common. The so called the Syrian opposition group, which is supported by the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and other regressive regimes in the region, have indicated that they intend to boycott this round of discussion as well unless their demands are met prior to negotiation despite US’s insistence that they should participate with no condition. Mike Whitney, in his latest piece in Counterpunch, used the situation in eastern Oregon to assess the rationality of these demands under the current circumstance. He explained:

To appreciate how ridiculous these demands are, one would have to imagine a similar scenario taking place in the United States. Let’s say, for example, that Ammon Bundy, the crackpot leader of the armed militia that seized the federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, demanded that the FBI and all other federal agents vamoose while the UN convened negotiations between his representatives and the Obama administration for the establishment of a transitional government that would remove Obama from power after 18 months while rewriting the constitution so it better reflected the far-right political and religious convictions of Bundy and his gaggle of ne’er-do-well followers.

Read More

The Evil Genie U.S. Let Out of Bottle in Iraq Continues His Rampage

U.S. soldiers at the Hands of Victory monument in Baghdad, 2003. (Photo: Wikipedia)

U.S. soldiers at the Hands of Victory monument in Baghdad, 2003. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The word “genie” comes from the Arab jinni. As every child knows, it describes a creature that, when summoned, fulfills your wishes. Doesn’t it seem like the United States played a cruel trick when it further westernized the concept of jinni by uncorking a bottle in Iraq and bidding the unleashed genie to effect regime change. Unfortunately, the genie, given its head by the United States,  had its own ideas and subsequently lit the region on fire.

Read More

The Original Sin That Stained Putin

Few remember the Russian apartment bombings of 1999. (Photo: www.kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons)

Few remember the Russian apartment bombings of 1999. (Photo: www.kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons)

In September 1999, apartment buildings in Moscow, as well as Buynaksk, and Volgodonsk killed almost 300 people and injured 1,000 more. Supposedly, the work of Chechnyan terrorists, they not only paved the way to the Second Chechen War for Russia, but ushered a security-minded candidate, Vladimir Putin, into the presidency. It wasn’t long, though, before the specter of the Russian intelligence service massacring its own people raised its ugly head.
Read More

Nuclear Deterrence: Giving Common Sense a Bad Name

Nuclear deterrence is more likely to lead to nuclear war than prevent it. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Nuclear deterrence is more likely to lead to nuclear war than prevent it.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Our views on nuclear weapons run the gauntlet from guarantor of our national security to theater of the absurd. Those partial to the former paint nuclear weapons as not a weapons system, but a threat that’s not even brandished, but sits on the shelf: “our nuclear deterrent.” To most, the concept of deterrence makes perfect sense. Even a child instinctively understands the basic principle: you need something to brandish in a bully’s face to make him back off.
Read More

Still Lots to Choke on About HRC’s 2002 AUMF Vote

Hillary Clinton was also, and may continue to be, in favor of executive action. (Photo: Marc Nozell / Flickr)

Hillary Clinton was also, and may continue to be, in favor of executive action. (Photo: Marc Nozell / Flickr)

There was something for everyone — Democrats and progressives in general — to dislike about Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Conventional wisdom holds that it was an exercise in political opportunism and that, like many in Congress, including a number of Democrats, she had no intention of bucking the post-9/11 tenor of the times. For progressives, her willingness to reap the benefits of supporting a popular president while putting both the United States and the Middle East at almost certain risk of war for reasons obscure to most of us was the kiss of death.
Read More

Hillary Clinton’s Foreign-Policy Experience Is Like a Bad Trip

The term “experienced” carries no value judgment with it: It can be good or bad. (Photo: Zimbio)

The term “experienced” carries no value judgment with it: It can be good or bad. (Photo: Zimbio)

It has become conventional wisdom to label Bernie Sanders weak and Hillary Clinton strong on foreign policy. Yet, besides Ms. Clinton’s characteristically cautious tenure as secretary of state, in the foreign-policy arena she is mainly known for her 2002 vote for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. In the process of outlining the reasons Clinton supporters excuse that vote at Foreign Policy in Focus, Stephen Zunes provides crucial insights about what that vote revealed about Clinton.
Read More

Page 1 of 21512345...102030...Last »