The Foreign Policy President?

April 3, 2012 by

Elections are decided by economics. Voters respond to pocketbook issues and are swayed by the huge sums that candidates lavish on advertising. Foreign policy issues, by contrast, are what the British call “noises off,” those sounds from off-stage that you hear occasionally to punctuate the main actions, sounds like exploding bombs and the distant cries of suffering people. According to recent polling, global issues barely register at all with Americans right now.

Commentary: The Credible Conservative

March 25, 2012 by

Following the primary election held in Louisiana on Saturday one thing is abundantly clear; the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination is a two-man race. Though Rick Santorum was the big winner in Louisiana, Romney played well in Peoria on Tuesday with his equally impressive victory in Illinois. Neither candidate gained a majority of votes cast in either contest, but their wins were decisive. The other presidential candidates on the ballots were walloped.

Video: U.S. Commanders brief Congress on Afghanistan

March 21, 2012 by

Gen. John Allen and Defense Department Policy Undersecretary James Miller testified on Tuesday in front of the House Armed Services Committee on updates on the Afghan War following the alleged tragic shooting of 16 civilians by an American soldier. Congress is seeking updates from commanders on the ground in Afghanistan on a war that is increasingly unpopular after a decade of fighting.

Polling Shows Little Support for Syrian Intervention

March 20, 2012 by

Despite strenuous efforts by prominent neo-conservatives and other hawks, a war-weary U.S. public is clearly very leery of any armed intervention in what many experts believe is rapidly becoming a civil war in Syria, according to recent polls. In a survey released last week, the Pew Research Center found that only 25 percent of respondents said they believed the U.S. has a “responsibility to do something” about the year-old violence in Syria.

On Power and Delusions of Grandeur

March 18, 2012 by

First the video of United States Marines urinating on bodies of Afghans who had been killed. Then the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burned at Bagram Air Base, which also serves as an American prison camp in Afghanistan. Nearly thirty Afghans and several NATO troops died in the violent reaction. And as I mentioned in my column of March 4, the BBC Kabul correspondent described these events, and the violent public reaction to them, as the tipping point for NATO in the Afghan War.

The GOP’s Ménage à Trois Continues

March 14, 2012 by

The Alabama and Mississippi GOP voters delivered their verdicts on Tuesday. While GOP voters sort of like Rick Santorum, they really don’t like Newt Gingrich nor Mitt Romney, and they consider Ron Paul a fringe candidate. Mitt Romney is still the favorite to secure the nomination having a sizeable lead in delegates.

More Bad News on the Afghan Front

March 13, 2012 by

While U.S. officials insisted their counterinsurgency strategy is still working, Sunday’s pre-dawn massacre by a U.S. staff sergeant of 16 people, including nine children, in their homes in Kandahar province has dealt yet another body blow to Washington’s hopes to sustain a significant military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Following Shooting in Afghanistan, Overall Question is Whether the Mission is Doable

March 12, 2012 by

The shooting of 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday by a U.S. soldier and the Koran burning on the Bagram air base several weeks ago have American officials questioning whether these two events will make it next to impossible for coalition forces to carry through with the mission as planned until 2014, when the U.S. is expected to leave Afghanistan.

Romney’s Problems on “Main Street”

March 6, 2012 by

In Republican voting so far this year, it has been evident that Mitt Romney can draw votes in metropolitan areas with their large numbers of well-off, well educated voters. But the Republican front-runner has struggled mightily in many states to win votes in rural areas and small towns, Main Street America if you will. The dynamic was first apparent with Romney’s virtual tie with Rick Santorum in Iowa. Santorum swept nearly two-thirds of the 99 counties, but Romney carried the five leading counties (in terms of the size of the Republican caucus vote).

The Santorum Surge and Its Larger Meaning

February 23, 2012 by

What a long, strange trip it’s been — and it is only February. Real votes make clear what polls cannot fully pick up. The Republican election season has been shaped by two forces, other than the obvious one to oust President Obama. First, the strongest potential candidates did not enter the fray, and the remaining contenders do not satisfy most GOP voters. At every polling opportunity, Republicans have expressed their desire for a wider choice.

Can Romney make a credible pivot to the center?

February 22, 2012 by

To secure the GOP nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney has had to make a hard shift to the right to convince social, economic and foreign policy conservatives that he’s their guy and can be trusted to uphold their values in the general election against President Obama. The shift has been transparent and increasingly awkward for a politician who many consider to be personally awkward.

The Straw that Broke the War on Women’s Backs

February 7, 2012 by

Last week, the United States saw the culmination of the GOP War on Planned Parenthood (also known as the War on Women) when the Susan G. Komen foundation, which supports breast health for women of all incomes, defunded and, 48 hours later, refunded Planned Parenthood. Komen had supported Planned Parenthood in delivering breast exams and breast health services to low-income women who would be otherwise unable to afford such care.

The Symbolism of the Keystone XL Pipeline

January 20, 2012 by

The Obama administration has rejected the application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline—but without fanfare. If President Obama continues to quiet the issue when so many others are raising its volume level, he will miss a grand political opportunity for his reelection campaign and the U.S. environmental movement. Public policy concerns of such inherent symbolism come once in a generation.

South Carolina primary: can a divided Republican house unite around Romney?

January 19, 2012 by

By rights, Mitt Romney should be on the ropes. In the years leading up to the Republican presidential primaries, he supported small-l liberal positions on anything from abortion and gun control to climate mitigation and big spending stimulus packages. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he signed into law a healthcare plan not dissimilar to what Tea Partiers call “Obamacare.” He once even distanced himself from Ronald Reagan, something that amounts to heresy in conservative circles.

The aura of inevitability

January 18, 2012 by

Some presidential election campaigns will end here in South Carolina. The candidate or candidates will come to the realisation that they cannot win the Republican nomination, that their vision of America has not been accepted by the majority, and that despite the hopes and dreams, the hands shaken and the interviews given, that it is finally over. Jon Huntsman has already left the field, lacking money and supporters, his “ticket out of New Hampshire” not even good for a week.

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