Yes, indeed, it’s an astonishing political turn for the Republican Party

No issue is more important in American politics right now than to get a complete picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S elections.

But, instead, as the prominent, conservative, foreign policy scholar Robert Kagan writes in the Washington Post today, the Republican Party, traditionally hard-line anti-Soviet and anti-Communist, is “astonishingly” running interference for Russia and is becoming Putin’s accomplices by its actions, or, rather, inactions, on the vital question of Russia’s role in the elections.

This question is a national security issue, according to Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and it is “essential to get a full picture” of what Russia did and is capable of doing well before this year’s European elections and the 2018 mid-term elections here in the United States.

“It’s time for the (Republican) party to put national security above partisan interest…The stakes are too high for politics as usual,” Kagan concludes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-becoming-russias-accomplices/2017/03/06/8616c2f4-027a-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.d62e989c8ff2

Obama’s historic speech in Havana — finally!

The tragedy in Brussels and the endless election campaign came to overshadow President Obama’s historic speech in Havana, Cuba, yesterday.

So I am posting it here because of its  importance. Finally, the United States and Cuba have broken with the past and started on the road towards a new, constructive relationship.

I am also posting it because of its eloquence, Obama at his best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEw3H0C-Lj8

 

Geneva in 2013 like Munich in 1938 — come on!

Comparing the US/Iran nuclear agreement in Geneva with Munich in 1938!

“If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it’s because the West is being led by the same sort of men, minus the umbrellas,” writes the Wall Street Journal editorial writer Bret Stephens.

What planet does he live on? Alas, his comments are another example of the low, and sad, level of the Republican comments after the US plus the European Union, Russia, and China came to an agreement over the weekend with the Iranians. In fact, as Dana Milbank writes today in the Washington Post, the GOP has opposed the Iran deal, “sight unseen.”  As always, I could add, when it comes to the President and the Republicans, and Andrew Sullivan on his blog The Dish writes that it very much looks like “sabotage.”

Sullivan is shocked that “some Americans take the side of a foreign country and not their own,” such as when John Bolton, former UN Ambassador under George W. Bush urged Israel in an article in The Weekly Standard to launch a war against Iran “in order to scupper his own country’s core negotiations with Iran.” This is attempted active sabotage through a foreign country,” writes Sullivan, who adds that this even pertains to members of the President’s own party and cites New York Senator Chuck Schumer, “vowing to destroy the foreign policy of a president of his own party.”

Sullivan despairs and how can one not despair? So it is important to point out what some wise commentators have to say about the Iran deal, like New York Times’ Roger Cohen:

“Let us be clear. This is the best deal that could be had. Nothing, not even sustained Israeli bombardment, can reverse the nuclear know-how Iran possesses. The objective must be to ring-fence the acquired capability so its use can only be peaceful.”

And Trita Parsi, author and president of the National Iranian American Council, writes on Reuters that the deal is about much more than Iran nuclear program.

“A successful nuclear deal can become the first step in a long and arduous – but necessary – journey to break the institutionalized enmity between the United States and Iran.”

That’s what’s really important.

Obama won the last debate but will it matter?

And so the last of the four TV-debates in the presidential election campaign is over and in only two weeks, America will choose a new president.

The debates have played an important role in this campaign, more important, perhaps, than in many a year, maybe since John F Kennedy met Richard Nixon in the very first debate in 1960 and upset the favorite, the sitting vice president.

In the first debate in this year’s campaign, the challenger Mitt Romney knocked the socks off a sleepy Barack Obama and became a serious challenger to the president. Obama’s listless performance let Romney into the race, a race that the president at that time led comfortably. And then, Romney held his ground pretty well, although the judgment is that Obama won the two following debates –last night’s by 48 percent to 40, according to CNN’s first quick poll, and by 53 percent to 23 according to CBS News.

Still, it was a fairly even debate where neither candidate committed any major mistakes. In fact, you could argue that there was no real debate, for Romney had decided to hold back, lie low, be cautious, and be presidential, or something. All his earlier criticism of Obama’s foreign policy was gone, replaced by broad consensus between the two about America’s role in the world and president Obama’s foreign policy.

On Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, the war on terror including the drone attacks against terrorists in various countries, and, yes, even on Libya, Romney took positions very close to Obama’s. By refraining from attacking Obama, Romney had clearly made a decision not to seem like a war hawk, not to seem belligerent and someone seeking new conflicts and new wars for America in the Middle East. By doing so, he moved towards the political center, towards a more moderate policy – he became a “man of peace,” as someone said, probably jokingly, afterwards.

Romney’s transition seemed to startle Obama a bit, although the president kept up his attacks, calling Romney’s foreign policy “all over the map” and charging him for trying to “air brush history.” And while expressing his satisfaction that Romney now supported the administration’s diplomatic efforts in that volatile region, Obama could not refrain from sticking it to Romney when possible. Romney’s charge that the U.S. navy now has fewer ships since 1916 was met by, maybe, the “zinger” of the evening – Obama saying that the military now also had fewer bayonets and horses than in 1916…

Why the subdued, cautious Romney? Was he playing it safe in a race that now seemed more even than ever? Maybe. But as a result, he came to stand in stark contrast to a firm, straight talking, decisive president, who said he had done what he promised to do when he became president, and that he was the best one to lead America in the next four years.

Will what happened in this final debate matter? We don’t know yet. The two previous debates between Obama and Romney had each been watched by almost 70 million people. Last night’s debate most likely had fewer viewers. Foreign policy is not the main theme of this campaign. And most voters seem to have made up their minds by now. The number of undecided are very few and the remaining two weeks of the campaign will be more about getting out the vote — turnout can decide this election, which is so crucial for America and this country’s future.

Too bad on such a fine professor…

The two best speeches so far on the Republican convention have been given by women, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It was hard not to like about Ann Romney and her speech about the love for the man she has been married to for over 40 years, without revealing anything really new about her husband.

It was Ann Romney’s day, that first convention day. She outshone New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yes, she outshone her husband, who has never given a speech like that. It remains to see how Mitt Romney succeeds tonight in his big opportunity to explain to the American people why they should vote for him in November.

Condoleezza Rice’s speech was also very good. But it made me sad, that after many times having heard her lecture as professor of foreign policy during my years at Stanford University, my image of her, a prominent academic, has now changed into a Republican standard-bearer, a Republican spokeswoman. Yes, she was national security adviser and secretary of state, but, in my view, she never seemed to be hardline partisan, though she has never hid her Republican sympathies.

But now? To me, she finally made the move from academia to partisan politics, and although she denies it, it is quite possible that she has now also launched a political career with 2016 in view.

When I say that her speech was very good, that does not mean that I didn’t have big problems with her uncritical history of recent foreign policy, of her description of the years during George W. Bush, and of the current foreign policy situation and on U.S. standing in the world. Not a positive word about President Obama, not one.

The excellent foreign policy commentator in Slate Magazine, Fred Kaplan, was deeply upset in a piece today, “Condoleezza Rice Has a Lot of Nerve.”

One can only gasp at the magnitude of “chutzpah” in one woman. Condi Rice, a top adviser in the most disastrous, reputation-crippling foreign policy management in decades, has no business lecturing anybody on this score.

The New York Times’ former editor Bill Keller describes in “Condi’s World” the foreign policy dilemma in the Republican Party and the fact that Rice now, as with George W. Bush before that, “endorsed another would-be president unschooled in world affairs – conspicuously, embarrassingly so – and this one is Already seemingly in thrall to the hard-liners. “

Too bad on such a fine professor.

Here is her speech:

Mitt Romney’s “disastrous” foreign trip: son like father?

Mitt Romney is back from his foreign trip to London, Israel, and Poland, a trip that is generally considered to have been a “disaster.”

Romney managed the impossible, writes veteran Michael Hirsh in National Journal, who cannot think of anything like it since the father, George Romney, came home from Vietnam and said that the U.S. military there had “brainwashed” him. That spelled the end of George Romney’s presidential candidacy.

The question now is whether Mitt Romney’s candidacy is heading towards the same fate as his father’s did. His “gaffes,” described in detail by John Cassidy on his blog in The New Yorker, will likely not have the same impact. But it is clear that Romney’s foreign trip has not strengthened his presidential candidacy, and it will be interesting to see if and how this is reflected in the next polls.

Already before the trip, the latest figures today from Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News show that Obama has strengthened his position in key states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania is very large, 11 percent, while the lead in the other two is 6 percent.

“There is a guy called Mitt Romney…”

I know Mitt Romney’s disastrous start on his European trip is already all over the Internet, but it won’t go away, and I can’t resist showing it, too. I just love the way London mayor Boris Johnson says, “there is a guy called Mitt Romney…”

And, of course, the Democrats could not sit idly by. Romney’s bumbling was just too good to be true, so here is a spot released by the National Democratic Committee!

Now, on to Israel and Poland — I can’t wait!