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How It Looks From Afar

Posted February 29th, 2016 at 3:33 pm (UTC-4)
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A crucial part of the job of President of the United States is steering relations with allies and enemies alike.

American foreign policy, diplomacy, military action and much more all depend on perceptions. President Barack Obama was hailed as decisive and bold in 2011 when he signed off on a risky, and ultimately successful, covert operation to take out America’s most wanted man, Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, who was living in plain view in Pakistan.

Five years later, Obama is taken to task by some, including current 2016 presidential hopefuls, for refusing to deploy a full-scale military effort to stop Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Which raises the question: how is the rise of the most unorthodox presidential hopeful ever, billionaire and reality television star Donald J. Trump, playing across the pond?

Time to Fire Trump

The Editors – The Economist

When pollsters ask voters to choose in a face-off between Mr Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner wins by less than three percentage points. Mr Trump would have plenty of time to try to close that gap. An economy that falls back into recession or an indictment for Mrs Clinton might do it for him.

That is an appalling prospect. The things Mr Trump has said in this campaign make him unworthy of leading one of the world’s great political parties, let alone America. One way to judge politicians is by whether they appeal to our better natures: Mr Trump has prospered by inciting hatred and violence. He is so unpredictable that the thought of him anywhere near high office is terrifying.

He must be stopped.

 

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada  on Feb. 22, 2016. (Reuters)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 22, 2016. (Reuters)

Trump’s Foreign Soulmates

Alexei Bayer and Bill Humphrey  – The Globalist

Cuba's President Raul Castro, front, waves after a summit in Caracas, Venezuela on Feb. 5, 2012. Behind Castro is Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.(AP)

Cuba’s President Raul Castro, front, waves after a summit in Caracas, Venezuela on Feb. 5, 2012. Behind Castro is Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.(AP)

…In order to understand Trump and above all the folks who cast their votes for him – it is fitting to look at other modern commodity-export-dependent nations, such as oil-rich Russia, Venezuela and so on….

Chavez in particular is remembered for his hours-long teach-ins, often rambling, yet also often engaging, to the entire nation broadcast on live TV.

That is not unlike Trump campaign events, which are really off-the-cuff chats with the audience….

As is the case with commodity-exporting nations, so it is with the United States. Both sport huge income differentials.

And the rich like to use their enormous financial resources to perpetuate the status quo, mainly by buying the political system and getting their puppets elected rulers.

 

Faces Behind the Voices: GOP Edition

Joseph Ricci – RT America

Recently Ryan Kerr and I, producers for RT America’s Watching the Hawks,” decided to go beyond the voices and contact a variety of supporters for the various GOP candidates. Our goal was to tell the story of the American voter in their own voices.

What we found was a lot more human and interesting than the blithe and sometimes hostile banter of the candidates. Take for example the story of Ross Kaplan, a young businessman and Trump supporter.

Ross supports Trump because of his “transparency” and “negotiation style.” That doesn’t mean he is lockstep in line with all of the Donald’s views, however.

“I wouldn’t want him to ban all Muslims. I have a lot of friends who are Muslims and I want them to come visit me,” Ross says….

Ryan and I learned that supporters of Trump, Cruz and Rubio are a lot more diverse and a lot more complicated than how the mainstream media characterizes the candidates.

A woman waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign event at Plymouth State University on Feb. 7, 2016, in N.H.  (AP)

A woman waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign event at Plymouth State University on Feb. 7, 2016, in N.H. (AP)

Could a Donald Trump Presidency Improve US-China Ties? Chinese Netizens Say Yes

Ding Ding Chen – The Diplomat

Trump is quietly gaining unexpected support in a far-away country: China…. This might sound odd to many Americans because Trump is against foreigners–certainly, illegal immigrants….

To start with, many Chinese netizens like Trump because he is rich and successful. Although not without controversy, Trump has been a successful businessman for many decades and Chinese people, like U.S. voters apparently, like success. Many think that a good businessman like Trump might be able to improve the U.S. economy, thus benefiting China’s economy too. At a personal level, Trump seems be to strong and brave and such qualities are what most Chinese people want to see in a leader as well.

Many Chinese netizens like Trump’s anti-establishment image, even though it might not be true. This affinity might reflect many Chinese people’s deep level desire for change in their own country, particularly in an era of huge economic and social inequalities.

The American and Chinese flags fly in Beijing, China. (AP/file)

The American and Chinese flags fly in Beijing, China. (AP/file)

What a Trump Presidency Means for the Gulf

Sultan Al Qassemi – Middle East Institute

Trump’s comments about the Gulf states have been less than reassuring. In extensive remarks on Saudi Arabia, Trump stated in August 2015 that he “wasn’t a big fan” of the country and that the United States had paid too much to “back them up.” Trump predicted that Saudi Arabia “is going to be in big trouble pretty soon and they’re going to need help … We get nothing for it and they’re making a billion dollars a day.” He added that “the primary reason we’re with Saudi Arabia is because we need the oil. Now we don’t need the oil so much.”

Despite their alarm, there may be some convergence between the positions of the Gulf states and Trump on Iran. Although publicly welcoming it, the GCC, save for Oman, has serious reservations about neighboring Iran’s nuclear deal that was negotiated without seeking their counsel. For Gulf leaders, the nuclear negotiations were a missed opportunity to commit Iran to refrain from interfering in the affairs of Arab states. To that extent. Trump and GCC leaders may see eye-to-eye.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a  parade marking the Victory Day in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2014. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a parade marking the Victory Day in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2014. (AP)

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