Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Time to worry North Korea might be crazy enough to act on its crazy talk?

Americans have heard dramatic, bellicose pronouncements from North Korea so many times before that, if you’re like me, you tend to dismiss them as part our natural background noise. It’d almost be more noteworthy not to hear them.

That said, the recent saber-rattling by Kim Jong Un, the young ruler who assumed the throne from his late father about 15 months ago, is even more shrill than usual. While the war between North K0rea and South Korea has technically continued for the past 60 years, as hostilities were only halted by an armistice rather than ended by a peace treaty, North Korea’s state-run media late last week carried this warning:

Any issues regarding North and South will be treated in accordance to the state of war. … The condition, which was neither war nor peace, has ended.

Is it time to worry this time is different?

I’ve read of no analysts who believe North Korea has the wherewithal — yet — to carry out its threats against U.S. soil, whether that means Guam, …

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CPAC 2013: Where does conservative military policy go from here?

Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster last week, in which he demanded the Obama administration clarify if it believes it has the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil with drones, sparked blowback from some of his fellow Republicans, including Sen. John McCain. That has sparked debate about whether the GOP is moving in a new direction regarding foreign and military policy, or drifting apart into two, ahem, warring camps.

But foreign-policy and military experts speaking on a Thursday morning panel at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference sounded a relatively consistent line of thinking, albeit more about the use of force overseas while largely staying away from the topic of domestic drones.

“The proper natural end of war is your peace, the peace according to you, the peace you want,” said Angelo Codevilla, professor of international relations at Boston University. “Victory is that achievement. And defeat is in fact letting the enemy achieve his version of peace. …

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From Italy, your latest warning about the danger of having three (or four, or five . . .) political parties

Every time you think our political system produces too much gridlock, or that more political parties might somehow make things better, there’s a good chance some European country is holding an election whose results will prove you wrong.

This week, it’s Italy. If you didn’t notice what happened there, your 401(k) almost certainly did yesterday. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s explanation of the election results there:

Early Tuesday, the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party’s Pier Luigi Bersani appeared to have gained a razor-thin victory in the lower house of parliament over the center-right coalition headed by Mr. Berlusconi — 29.6% to 29.2%, final data from the Interior Ministry showed. By leading the vote count in the lower house, the Democratic Party will automatically get the majority of 340 out 630 seats and, therefore, will likely receive the mandate to form a government.

The Senate, however, appeared headed for political impasse. The Democratic Party was …

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The enduring fragility of freedom

Freedom doesn’t grow naturally in the course of human events. On the contrary.

If to err is human, so is to over-correct. And such over-correction almost always turns its back on liberty.

I’m given to such ruminations after the news this past week of a British judge’s recommendations following the 2011 phone-hacking scandal by a tabloid newspaper in that country. Reporters for the News of the World were found to have illegally accessed the voice-mail boxes of cellphones belonging to celebrities, victims of terrorism and, finally, a 13-year-old girl who had gone missing and turned out to have been murdered.

The scandal became a global sensation because the London-based News of the World was owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media magnate whose U.S. properties include the Wall Street Journal, the Fox News Channel and 20th Century Fox movie studios. Murdoch and his son James wound up testifying before the British Parliament. Adding to the intrigue, a comedian in the …

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Obama gets it right on EU airline tax

For those of you who say I never write anything complimentary about President Obama: He done good this time. From The Hill:

President Obama has signed into law a bill that requires U.S. airlines be excluded from European carbon emissions fees.

Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president’s commitment to fighting climate change in his second term and urged him to veto it. Obama quietly signed it Tuesday over their objections.

The European Union has been trying since I was living in Brussels to tax any airline, regardless of where it’s based, for the entirety of any flight that enters EU airspace, regardless of how little time the flight actually spends in EU airspace. So, a flight from Los Angeles to London would be taxed for the entire length of the trip, even though only a fraction of it was spent in EU skies.

I don’t think it diminishes what Obama did here to add: He really had no choice. Allowing another government to tax our businesses in this …

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In an agitated region, Israel-Gaza conflict has dangerous potential; U.S. leadership needed

While we sort out who in our national security and defense hierarchy has been sleeping with whom, it appears Israel and terrorists in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip are heading into a full-fledged war. As night falls in the region, Israeli officials have confirmed the first rocket attacks on Tel Aviv since the 1991 Gulf War. The Times of Israel has a running live blog of the action.

Those attacks followed yesterday’s Israeli strikes on terrorist targets in Gaza, including one that killed the leader of the military arm of Hamas. Both Hamas and another group called Islamic Jihad previously had ramped up their sporadic firing of rockets into southern Israel; as of mid-October, Israeli officials said there had been more than 800 rocket attacks on their country from Gaza this year.

Given the civil war in Syria, to Israel’s east; the new Egyptian government’s support of its fellow Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, Hamas; and Iran’s ties to both the Syrian government and the …

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Emails show White House knew of terrorists’ Benghazi claim within two hours. So why blame a video for two weeks?

The Obama administration/campaign’s story about what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11 keeps having run-ins with the facts. The latest comes from Reuters:

Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out …

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Why George W. Bush was one winner of last night’s debate

First, a PSA: Jay and I, along with Aaron Gould Sheinin, are about to record a video chat discussing last night’s debate. We’ll both be posting that on our respective blogs around noon.

But before we get to that, one more thought about the debate:

You could argue that the winner of last night’s debate was George W. Bush. Before you tell me that’s ridiculous, let me explain:

One reason Mitt Romney was so quick to agree with President Obama on so many issues is that his clear goal for the night was not to damage his candidacy by not appearing “presidential” or believable as the commander-in-chief. He didn’t want to come across as a war-monger — as I wrote last night, that seemed to have been drilled into his head by his aides — and he made that point several times. He still has to win this election on the economy, and his aim regarding foreign policy was not to provide a distraction from that. I think he did that.

Another reason is that foreign policy is one area on which voters …

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Poll Position: How should Obama respond to embassy attacks?

The big story this week was the series of attacks on U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa: from Libya, where our ambassador was killed, to Egypt, Yemen and, today, Tunisia and Sudan. In Libya, the government is cooperating with the investigation into the murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The responses from the other countries have been mixed, but they have been rather tepid on the whole.

How should Obama respond to the attacks on our embassies?

  • Cut foreign aid (255 Votes)
  • Pursue the killers in Libya; otherwise, lie low (173 Votes)
  • Stop issuing travel visas for people from those countries (130 Votes)
  • Bomb ‘em (108 Votes)
  • Economic sanctions (106 Votes)
  • Too soon to say (102 Votes)
  • Cut diplomatic ties (91 Votes)
  • Increase foreign aid (5 Votes)

Total Voters: 517

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President Obama made a mistake Wednesday evening when he said of the Egyptian government, which has been in place less than three months, “I …

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From Benghazi to Cairo to Jerusalem to Damascus, a question: Where does America stand? (Updated)

In March 2011, the U.S. and our allies intervened in Libya’s burgeoning civil war to prevent a massacre of civilians by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in the coastal city of Banghazi. Yesterday, militants in that city — including, perhaps, some of the more extremist elements of the rebels whose cause we took up last year — showed their gratitude by killing four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya.

“Lafayette, we are here,” it was not.

The murders in Benghazi followed a siege earlier in the day of the U.S. embassy in Cairo in neighboring Egypt. Both attacks were blamed on Islamic extremists angered by a film hardly anyone in America had heard of, made by someone hardly anyone in America had heard of or discussed, that purportedly insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad. (See screen grab below, a Google search for the name of the movie in question. Note: I stopped at Sept. 5 because results in the days after that date begin to include references to the attacks, which …

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