US Politics Obama Years Public date: 25.02.2019 20:17:58

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22 Jun 2010

A reckless, graceless exit

Over the weekend, I read that the Senate Armed Services Committee decided to cut $1 billion from the aid the Obama administration requested for Iraq during that country's period of transition to a new government. The cuts extend to funding for security forces. They seem absurd under the present circumstances. With the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to be halved this summer, just as Iraq is trying to form a government, how does it make sense to cut funding for Iraqi troops who are trying to fill the gap left by American units? Not surprisingly, the cuts were inspired by Committee Chariman Carl Levin. As the Washington Post's board of editors points out, they are not the product of fiscal probity -- Levin allowed almost $3 billion to be added to the overall defense appropriations bill in earmarks for projects the Pentagon didn't ask for. Instead, according to the Post, Levin was piqued by the Iraqi parliament's decision to reduce its own defense budget. But Iraq is already funding most of the cost of the military transition (as it should), and is spending much more on defense as a percentage of GDP than the U.S. Moreover, Iraq has needed bailouts from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and will have to issue new debt to cover its budget deficit in 2010. A reliable partner would not deny Iraq the $1 billion under these circumstances. And therein lies the real issue. As the Post concludes: ]T]he biggest problem with the Senate cuts is the message they send: that the long-term strategic partnership that the United States has promised Iraq is likely to be barren. As Iraqis deliberate over the nature and course of their next government, there could hardly be a worse time for Congress to give that impression. Over the weekend, I read that the Senate Armed Services Committee decided to cut $1 billion from the aid the Obama...

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7 Jun 2010

In the nick of time?

The "world," including the Obama administration, knows its mind when it comes to Israel. The important thing now is that Israel know its mind when it comes to the rest of the world. As long as Israel indulges in wishful thinking about how others, such as President Obama, view it, the government will be at a disadvantage when it comes to making good decisions about key matters like how to deal with Iran and Lebanon. The good news is that, after a tough half year, Israel seems to have developed a good understanding of how Obama, French Presient Sarkozy, and other world leaders view Israel. This, I think, explains one of the emerging talking points in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident, which is captured in the title a piece in today's Washington Post by a former U.S. ambassador to Israel - "The world is angry; why doesn't Israel care?" The answer is "you don't just read the book, the book reads you." In other words, "the world" cannot, without consequence, continuously render verdicts about Israel that Israelis considered patently unjust. The world's proclivity to do so seems finally to have produced the inevitable blowback. Consider the demand that Israel submit to an "international investigation" of the Mavi Marmara incident, which Israel has rejected out of hand. As Alan Dershowitz explains: In a world in which North Korea sinks a South Korean naval vessel killing dozens, Iran arms Islamic terrorists, who kill hundreds, Russia bombs Chechnya, killing thousands, and the United States and Great Britain, while targeting al Qaida and Taliban, kill an indeterminate number of civilians, only Israel is subjected to international "investigations" such as that conducted by Richard Goldstone and that being called for by the Security Council in the wake of the recent flotilla fiasco. Why only Israel? Why is the United Nations silent about other situations th
The "world," including the Obama administration, knows its mind when it comes to Israel. The important thing now is that...

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5 Jun 2010

Sestak Scandal Hurting Sestak?

I haven't followed closely the mini-scandals involving White House job offers to Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff. I don't actually think there is anything wrong with a White House offering a politician a job if he will stay out of (or get into) a race. It may be technically illegal, but I don't believe it is the sort of conduct that the federal statute was intended to address. Nevertheless, the news stories about Sestak and Romanoff have obviously gotten traction. That may explain why Pat Toomey has jumped to a seven-point lead over Sestak in the latest Rasmussen survey, 45-38. The Pennsylvania Senate seat would be a huge pickup for Republicans. Even if Specter hadn't changed parties, Toomey, a solid conservative, would be a major upgrade over the former senator. I haven't followed closely the mini-scandals involving White House job offers to Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff. I don't...

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