Obama Versus Osama

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Fearing a new, more formidable opponent than the often buffoonish and macho cowboy George W. Bush, the two leaders of al Qaeda have tag teamed Barack Obama with twin audiotapes condemning him. Unlike Bush—who made little effort to understand the Islamic world and whom al Qaeda could easily bait into reckless acts that raised its [...]

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict—Why the U.S. Should Care Less

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Hillary Clinton’s blunt public statement that President Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions” made for good headlines. The Israelis were shocked and upset that their slavish ally had acted slightly less obsequious and engaged in a public spat with them. This ballyhooed baby step came [...]

How the U.S. Empire Contributed to the Economic Crisis

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A few—and only a few—prescient commentators have questioned whether the U.S. can sustain its informal global empire in the wake of the most severe economic crisis since World War II. And the simultaneous quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan are leading more and more opinion leaders and taxpayers to this question. But the U.S. Empire helped [...]

Has a Stake Been Driven through Neo-Conservative Foreign Policy?

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Neo-conservatives used the Republican Party as a vehicle to promote and employ their policies of muscular nation-building overseas. But like the parasite that eventually kills its host, the Republican Party’s virtual collapse, in large part because of the failed nation-building adventure in Iraq, has left neo-conservatives discredited and facing policy extinction. Unfortunately, neo-conservatism will probably [...]

Tortured Posturing on Harsh Interrogation Techniques

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Although Barack Obama should be applauded for stopping torture by the U.S. government and pledging to close the infamous Guantanamo and worldwide CIA secret prisons, he is nevertheless playing politics with the issue to get the best of both worlds. To poke his predecessor, Obama released graphic memos from the Bush Justice Department that appallingly [...]

China’s Threat to the U.S. Is Exaggerated

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The Pentagon’s annual publication, Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009, accused China of stocking its military with weapons that can be used to intimidate or attack Taiwan and mitigate U.S. air and naval superiority near its territory. Even if the Department of Defense’s report has not exaggerated the threat from China—unlikely since [...]

How to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels—Legalize Their Activities

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While the U.S. superpower has meddled in many far-flung nations around the globe in the name of enhancing its security, as prior to 9/11, it has ignored a threat much closer to home. In recent years, the Bush administration blithely blamed Mexico for the flow of illegal drugs into the United States and virtually ignored [...]

The U.S. Should Fear Its Friends

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President Warren Harding once said, “I have no trouble with my enemies,” but noted that his friends “keep me walking the floor nights.” That maxim should have applied to U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 and even before that. It is sometimes puzzling why the U.S. government fears faraway countries that currently pose no direct threat [...]

Warning from Bosnia for Iraq

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Bosnian Serb leaders have threatened to withdraw from Bosnia-Herzegovina, the decentralized entity created by the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended a brutal civil war in the Balkans that killed more than 100,000 people in the early 1990s. Under the accords, Bosnia-Herzegovina were partitioned into a confederation of the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Critics [...]

Hypocrisy in Government

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Recent statements by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, admitting that they were going to use the economic crisis to get other things done, is at least surprisingly honest. But it is also hypocritical. Remember when some of these same people criticized George W. Bush [...]

End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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Shortly after Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he attempted to push the U.S. military to openly accept the reality that it had gays and lesbians in its ranks. Colin Powell, then Clinton’s top general, and Sam Nunn, the powerful Democratic Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, nixed the effort by arguing that coming [...]

Erasing Red Ink: Slash the Defense Budget

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A front page article in the New York Times starts out with the sentence: “The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.” Not so much. Ronald Reagan, despite his carefully crafted [...]

Obama’s Policy on Civil Liberties: Bush Lite?

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Barack Obama entered the presidency as one of the most rhetorically pro-civil liberties politicians in recent memory. And shortly after taking office, he drew applause from friends of liberty for promulgating executive orders closing Guantanamo and CIA secret prisons, ending CIA torture, suspending kangaroo proceedings at military tribunals, and pledging more openness than the secretive [...]

Misreading the Iraqi Election Results

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Now that their nemesis, George W. Bush, has left office, the mainstream media can be unbridled in their optimism about the future of Iraq. After 9/11, they chose to allow themselves to be duped by the Bush administration’s fairly lame reasons for the clearly unrelated U.S. invasion of Iraq and have been bitter about the [...]

Guns and Butter (Again)

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When you stop to think about it, people measure how well their lives are going not by their absolute state of being but by their situation relative to their expectations. For example, a poor person in a developing country may be ecstatic about getting a pair of shoes for the first time; in contrast, a [...]

Prosecute George W. Bush for Illegal Acts

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The Obama administration is reluctant to turn over too many rocks in the Bush administration’s conduct in the War on Terror. Obama has pledged to reach a post-partisan nirvana, and Republicans could condemn any investigation of Bush administration abuse of the republic as a partisan witch-hunt. Also, the Obama administration has a conflict of interest [...]

Who Should Obama Look to for Advice?: Jimmy Carter

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At the request of President-elect Barack Obama, President George W. Bush convened an awkward meeting of all living former presidents at the White House to meet, and presumably give advice and encouragement to, the new guy. The body language of the participants in the summit photo, taken in the Oval Office, said it all. The [...]

We Can No Longer Afford the Empire

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Somebody is going to have to whisper in President-elect Obama’s ear that the unipolar moment has passed and that the United States can no longer afford its informal worldwide empire. Even though the looming economic meltdown will likely be serious—and maybe even cataclysmic—the foreign policy chattering classes of both parties are on autopilot and have [...]

Is Israeli Policy Crazy?

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by Ivan Eland – The “Israeli model” has long been held up by hawks in the United States as the gold standard for dealing with adversarial nation-states, guerrillas, and terrorists. The storyline goes that Israel is a small country surrounded by aggressive enemies that use unfair measures (including terrorism) to try to wipe it off [...]

Shoehorning the Bush Legacy

the worst presiden in history

Although we thought that the signature moment of George W. Bush’s presidency would have been his standing in a flight suit before the “Mission Accomplished” banner on an aircraft carrier after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, this episode may well have been booted to the side by the scene of the president being [...]

Lessons on the Battlefield Need to Be Learned at a Higher Level

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General David Petraeus, the former military commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and author of the military’s most recent counterinsurgency manual, learned the lessons of the successful British counterinsurgency experience in Malaya in the 1950s. He was able to reduce the violence in Iraq by instituting a policy of U.S. military restraint in that country.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

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by Ivan Eland – As rage coursed through India after the Mumbai terrorist bombings, Condoleezza Rice, the Bush administration’s Secretary of State, flew to India and cautioned the Indian government on avoiding a knee-jerk and counterproductive response. She warned the Indians that “any response needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention and also [...]

Heed Russia’s Warnings About Further NATO Expansion

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by Ivan Eland – Upon Barack Obama’s election, the Russians made threats to U.S. allies over their acceptance of a U.S. missile defense system. Also, Russia recently sent its first large military force to Latin America since the end of the Cold War to participate in naval exercises off the Venezuelan coast. Is this a [...]

Military Action May Sometimes Be Moral and Constitutional, But Not Smart

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by Ivan Eland – President-elect Barack Obama—showing the obligatory toughness toward foreign “evildoers” needed (especially by Democrats) in American political campaigns—pledged to use the American military to go after al Qaeda in Pakistan. Of all people, his hawkish rival, Senator John McCain, who supported the unprovoked U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, criticized Obama’s approach [...]

Obama’s Challenges Are Unprecedented in U.S. History

Few incoming presidents have been left by their predecessors with as many challenges as Barack Obama. In fact, with the daunting terrain facing the incoming president, one wonders why Obama and John McCain even wanted the office. Other presidents facing an uphill task when taking office were (clockwise from upper left): George Washington, who had [...]

Good Bye Neoconservatives. Hello to Their Liberal Brethren?

The media and the Washington foreign policy elite breathed a sigh of relief when Barack Obama thumped John McCain in the election. Had John McCain won, there was always the chance that the neoconservatives would have beaten out the Republican realists for his foreign policy soul. With a victory by the liberal Obama, however, the [...]

Herbert Hoover Redux

Herbert Hoover converted a mundane recession into the greatest economic disaster in modern history—the Great Depression. Unfortunately for all of us, George W. Bush is headed down that same path.

Is George W. Bush the Worst President in U.S. History?

In the twilight of his eight-year term, George W. Bush is the loneliest guy in town these days. Remember him? With the economy in the tank, the Iraq War dragging on with casualties at 2004 levels (which we were all horrified about back then), Bush’s popularity is in the cellar and holding. Republican presidential candidate [...]

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