US Opinion and Commentary

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From Russia Without Love

Posted December 12th, 2016 at 11:47 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Almost everything about this political year has shattered precedent. Still, the CIA’s conclusion that Russian government-instigated cyber warriors actively promoted Donald Trump’s victory throws our system into truly frightening, uncharted territory. It has been known for months that Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, […]

The End of the Iran Deal?

Posted December 8th, 2016 at 1:24 pm (UTC-4)
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[W]ithin a year of its implementation, the hope that the nuclear pact could usher in a new era of relations with Iran appears to be defunct. The only remaining question is whether the agreement will survive at all…

‘General’ Concerns About Trump’s National Security Team

Posted December 6th, 2016 at 1:28 pm (UTC-4)
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As President-elect Donald Trump’s list for secretary of state grows, so do questions about others in his national security team. Specifically, the number of generals Trump is surrounding himself with.

Trump has named two retired generals to his team: Michael Flynn as national security adviser and James Mattis as defense secretary. Two other retired generals and a retired admiral are being considered for national security team positions.

The specific issue is Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in March 2013. U.S. law requires seven years of separation from active duty for any secretary of defense. For Mattis to be appointed, Congress would need to waive the requirement.

The U.S. Constitution empowers the President of the United states with the duties of Commander-in-Chief, ensuring civilian control of the military and the government. How might the presence of top military brass in the cabinet room impact the Trump administration?

Making China Great Again

Posted December 5th, 2016 at 11:05 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Even before he held a provocative phone call with the president of Taiwan on Friday, President-elect Donald Trump espoused policies that, if implemented, will likely strengthen China’s regional and global influence at the expense of the United States. Trump’s apparent insistence on negotiating individual trade treaties as a substitute for the Trans-Pacific […]

Mattis as Defense Secretary: What it Means for Us, the Military, and for Trump

Posted December 2nd, 2016 at 10:15 am (UTC-4)
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Mattis says what he thinks. That is President-elect Trump’s reputation, but I think the fact of the matter is Trump actually says what sounds good. There’s a big difference….  He is a rarity in that he is a genuine strategic thinker, pushing himself and others to stretch their minds. This tendency is not always welcomed.

Recounting the Election

Posted November 30th, 2016 at 5:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Recounts of votes cast three weeks ago in the U.S. election are set to begin. Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein has raised more than six million dollars to fund the effort in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

While most experts believe the recount will not change the bottom-line result of the election, Stein says the recount effort is to show “how untrustworthy the U.S. election system is.”

While they are examining the election results, Hillary Clinton’s campaign decided against calling for a recount on its own. But it is participating in the Green Party’s effort “to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”

On Twitter, President-elect Donald Trump called the Green Party’s recount effort a “scam” in order to raise money. And he also claimed that millions of people voted illegally — an allegation that no one has been able to prove.

How all this impacts the American public’s confidence in the election process is yet to be seen.

Cuba Shows Fallacy of Sanctions, Regime Change

Posted November 28th, 2016 at 10:47 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Friday’s death of the world’s last revolutionary icon, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, offers important foreign policy lessons to the incoming administration of Donald Trump. For nearly 60 years, U.S. administrations struggled to overturn, contain or convert the bearded strongman and export a more democratic, capitalist form of government to the island nation of […]

Democrats’ Dilemma

Posted November 21st, 2016 at 3:29 pm (UTC-4)
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10 days from now, on November 30, Democrats in the House of Representatives will decide on a leader.

Nancy Pelosi from California has been the Democrats’ leader for the past 14 years. She is the first woman to be leader of either party in Congress and the first woman Speaker of the House.

Challenging Pelosi is Tim Ryan from Ohio. He began serving in Congress the same year Pelosi was elected party leader (2003). He represents counties in Ohio that had been reliably Democratic until Trump won them in 2016. Ryan says the Democrats will experience more election disappointment without a change of leadership.

What can Democrats do to reverse their fortunes? And how can they do it during the presidency of Donald Trump?

Make Trump Inc. Great Again

Posted November 21st, 2016 at 11:06 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin In between Twitter outbursts at the Broadway hit Hamilton, President-elect Donald Trump has been interviewing Cabinet picks — and meeting investors in his far-flung business empire. A week after his upset win over Hillary Clinton, Trump greeted Indian partners Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta at Trump Tower in New York. […]

Japan’s Shinzo Abe First to Call on Donald Trump

Posted November 17th, 2016 at 4:38 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump’s first meeting as president-elect with a head of state will be closely scrutinized for both style and substance.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the initiative to be the first to meet with Trump for practical reasons. During the election campaign, Trump criticized Japan for its trade practices and for how much it was paying the U.S. for its defense. Abe wants to understand the level of Trump’s commitment to defend Japan. He wants to, in his words, “build trust” with incoming U.S. president and highlight the importance of strong relations between the countries.

Trump needs to get used to seeing Abe. New rules will allow Abe to run for a third term, which means he will likely lead Japan throughout Trump’s first term. How the two leaders get along will speak volumes about how Trump deals with fellow world leaders — and how they might deal with him.

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Donald Trump

Posted November 16th, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-4)
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Before handing the keys to the White House to Donald Trump, Barack Obama is taking a final, presidential lap around the world.

Obama started his three country trip in the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Then it’s on to Berlin to thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her support during his term. The pair will also meet with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Afterward, Obama flies to Peru for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In each stop, American allies, and perhaps some foes, will seek reassurance from Obama about the future under a Trump presidency.

With names like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley floated as possible choices for Trump’s Secretary of State, there is no shortage of foreign policy speculation and suggestions.

Trump Transition Gets Off to Shaky Start

Posted November 15th, 2016 at 4:34 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin It has only been a week since the election, but it feels like an eternity. Despite some gestures toward those who voted against him, Donald Trump appears to be having great difficulty simply putting together a team to organize the transition from the current administration. His choice of Stephen Bannon, editor of […]

Trump Triumphant

Posted November 9th, 2016 at 5:08 pm (UTC-4)
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At 6:21 am Eastern Standard Time on November 9, 2016, the sun cast its first light on the United States atop Maine’s Cadillac Mountain, and a new day began in America with Donald Trump as it’s next president.

Pollsters, pundits and political junkies are left trying to explain how they so badly missed seeing the strength of Trump’s support. So far, Hillary Clinton has a slight lead in the overall popular vote, but she was unable to attract enough votes in the usually reliable Democratic strongholds of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to win the Electoral College.

Americans spoke loudly Tuesday in favor of change. They gave Republicans control of the White House, Congress and the opportunity to stack the Supreme Court with like-minded justices. Expectations are high. Can Trump and his political party meet those expectations? And what kind of change will we see?

A Leap into the Void with Trump

Posted November 9th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin President Donald Trump. The words, I must admit, stick in my throat and prospect of him as commander in chief for the next four years is frightening. The people of the United States have narrowly voted for a man who campaigned on a platform of xenophobia and isolationism, who says he will […]

Hillary Clinton: Pro & Con

Posted November 7th, 2016 at 4:12 pm (UTC-4)
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Hillary Clinton has been called the most qualified person to be president of the United States by the current president, Barack Obama, the Libertarian vice presidential candidate, William Weld, among others.

Clinton promises to make the “biggest investment” in jobs since World War II, propose immigration reform with a pathway for citizenship and establish a no-fly zone in Syria to “save lives and hasten the end of the conflict.”

Donald Trump, among others, calls her “the most corrupt candidate” to ever run for president.

She has been cleared, again, by the FBI Director regarding her private email server while secretary of state. Can Clinton dispel the doubts about her trustworthiness to become the first woman president of the United States?