NBA player goes one-on-one with the petulant President Erdoğan

Shoot a 3-pointer, go to jail.

If Turkey’s spoiled-sport president gets his way, he will soon be locking up Enes Kanter, a Turkish-American star center for the New York Knicks.

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The reason for a just-requested Interpol “Red Notice” arrest warrant is not Kanter’s aggressive defensive style, it is his offensive speech calling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, among other things, the “Hitler of our century.” Erdogan returned the favor and labeled Kanter “a terrorist.

Unlike in the United States, where public figures can’t be libeled, criticism of the Turkish president is illegal. I can write that President Trump is a boob and feel pretty secure that the black helicopters won’t descend on my home. Well, maybe not totally secure as the U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr recently told the Senate that he “can conceive” of instances where journalists might be arrested. READ MORE

Trump’s foreign policy is all about him. That’s not good for us, or the rest of the world

Snap troop withdrawal from Syria? Overnight decisions for a dramatic military draw-down in Afghanistan?

America’s foreign-policy and national-security establishment is reeling from the rapid-fire changes, declarations and White House edicts. Our allies are shocked, too.

While President Trump’s tweet-from-the-hip policy-making is shocking and shaking-up the world, no one should be surprised.

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The truth is, Donald Trump has never lied to us about his foreign-policy priorities. We may not have wanted to believe him, we may ultimately find out that they were improperly influenced, we may even disagree with them. But the reality is that he has not simply intimated or coyly indicated how he sees the world and what he wants to do. He has told us. Repeatedly.

Treaties? Tear them up. READ MORE

Think doomsday scenarios are just some film fantasy? Think again.

Security threats do not always come from a determined adversary or sworn enemy. What if, like in the age of dinosaurs, we faced an external threat? A huge, hurtling meteor, for example, that could destroy most life on Earth as it did 66 million years ago?

It’s a scary thought to contemplate this early in the new year, but the question of whether we humans could deal with a real and credible global threat to our species is both timely and real. 

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Global threats, however, just aren’t very high up on today’s worldwide political agenda, where nationalism is on the rise - whether Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda or Xi Jinping’s “Made in China 2025” domination strategy.

But what happens if - or when - the entire Earth’s existence is threatened? If a meteor is hurtling toward this blue marble of a planet and only collective action and coordinated efforts can save humanity? When dollars can’t buy you out of a survival fix and opposing militaries can’t fight for primacy in a world left for ashes. READ MORE

The West has long militarized space. China plans to weaponize it. Not good.

Neil Armstrong brought the world to the moon. As the first man to tread on that rocky surface, he reminded us that this was not only an American achievement but another link in humanity’s aspirational chain. It was “one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”

That happened almost 50 years ago.

Lunar landings are now back in the news, not because the marginal scientific or symbolic value of the current missions is high for mankind on Earth. Rather, it’s because national pride is driving America’s strategic competitors to escape gravity.

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China and Iran both are hard at work launching and lobbing rockets into space to show that America no longer has a monopoly on technological leadership. They are also using these blast-offs and landings to warn us of their ability to match and surpass America’s scientific prowess. For good measure, they also want to remind us that they can easily land a nuke on the U.S. homeland.

If the Apollo program was the height of astronauts exhibiting the right stuff, the Beijing rocket program is looking like a perfect example of the wrong stuff. READ MORE

Russian President Vladimir Putin praises and warns U.S. at end-of-year press conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his year-end press conference, where he praised President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. He also warned of the growing threat of nuclear war between Russia and the United States. Markos Kounalakis, a foreign affairs columnist for McClatchy News and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, joins CBSN with analysis. VIEW HERE

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This is not what Vladimir Putin wanted for Christmas

Vladimir Putin won’t find many great presents under the Christmas tree this year.

Orthodox Christian religious leaders worldwide are weakening an important institution that gave him outsize power and legitimacy.

The Russian Orthodox Church is being broken up, and an independent Ukraine Orthodox Church will be established. The Ukrainian flock soon will be led not by the Moscow-based church and Patriarchate, but rather by its own independent church and youthful leadership. Ukraine and its political class are suddenly freed from an influential Russian institution that has been fiercely loyal to Putin.

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This was not on Putin’s Christmas list. Instead, the news is like a lump of coal in his stocking.

Russia’s wider designs on — and power over — Ukraine have included a wide hybrid war from the Donbass to the recent naval blockade in the Black Sea. Moscow has its fingerprints on the shoot-down of the Malaysian MH-17 passenger plane over Ukrainian territory and its paw prints on an annexed Crimea. Every step of the way, Putin has found legitimacy in his actions and the nation’s military activity through reignited Russian nationalism and the silent acquiescence of Moscow’s spiritual leadership and clergy. READ MORE

High-flying U.S. car execs often crash when when they run into foreign laws

Mary Barra runs a global auto company that has fallen out of favor with both the American public and president. Barra runs General Motors and she argues that shutting down plants will prevent her from shutting down business.

Americans think of General Motors as an American company that boldly asserted that what’s good for GM is “good for the country.” Born of Detroit, built up during and after World War II and bailed out by President Obama with taxpayer cash. Its headquarters — and its heart — are in the United States. But its head is in China and other emerging global markets. In this time of impending trade wars and active geostrategic competition, this is a worrisome development.

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Car execs operate with near impunity in America, but they are selling their souls to a China that is less accommodating. They are also selling out their workers and America’s economic advantage and technological edge in the process. If that’s not enough, brash auto executives may find that their leadership style and attitude doesn’t play as well overseas. READ MORE

George H.W. Bush, Pearl Harbor and America’s other fallen

George H.W. Bush survived an airplane crash in Japan’s Pacific Ocean in September of 1944. Seventy-four years later, on Wednesday of this week, two Marines were recovered in the same Bush-ditched cold waters when a couple of planes went down in a mid-air collision. 

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In both incidents, the majority of the crew went missing. Time teaches us that some soldiers are remembered more than others, but that everyone’s military sacrifice must be recognized and revered.

Men who go on to greatness and achieve power are remembered in remarkable ways, with eloquent words, in lasting tributes. READ MORE

Nicaragua’s ‘House of Cards’ stars another corrupt and powerful couple

Nicaragua is a political stage where a real-life “House of Cards” is now in its second season. President Daniel Ortega and his wife and partner in crime, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have together run the country as an increasingly violent family business for the last couple of years. Ortega has been continuously in power for the past decade and, all in all, for four long terms with no term limits. The next elections are scheduled for 2021.

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Ortega and Murillo make the Netflix series’ Frank and Claire Underwood seem like law-abiding, Constitution-respecting, selfless public servants. The Ortega family runs everything, owns the ruling Sandinista Party, dominates media, monopolizes power, skims profits and loots the nation. They are living proof of Lord Acton’s axiom that, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The United States has now decided to shut down parts of the Ortega-Murillo gang’s operation by freezing funds and flummoxing any financial transactions using American banks or brokers. READ HERE

The truth of Khashoggi‘s death is buried under a mountain of Saudi lies

Osama bin Laden was killed by American special forces on foreign soil. His body was secreted off to a U.S. Navy ship and received ablutions, prayers. It was wrapped in a white sheet out of respect for the dead and flollowing Islamic custom. He was then given a sea burial and returned to his maker.

Jamal Khashoggi‘s body remains desecrated and his spirit despoiled.

This is the sad tale of the death of two Saudis, one a targeted terrorist, the other an innocent journalist. 

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No matter how you feel about giving mass murderer bin Laden a proper and respectful burial, you have to credit the United States for giving a sworn enemy his last rites. It’s only a small part of what makes America great. It’s also what makes America big. READ MORE


Under Trump’s “sovereignty doctrine,” foreign tyrants have nothing to worry about

Jamal Khashoggi’s horrific murder was a message to journalists, dissidents and regime critics everywhere. You are never safe. Anywhere, anytime.

Khashoggi was guilty of practicing journalism. He mistakenly bet he would be safe traveling to a NATO member nation to take care of personal business. Why? Because nations generally follow both international law and formal diplomatic practices that respect foreign laws and sovereignty.

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Increasingly, however, more nations are exporting fear and practicing lethal intimidation with a new form of global vigilantism. They go abroad to get outlaw revenge.

The Khashoggi case is the latest example of exceptional and perverse murderous state-related behavior that targets and takes out perceived opponents living in exile. It’s not just journalists abroad practicing their profession that are singled-out for murder. Turncoats living in other countries are targets, and killing them, too, is a clear warning to future defectors and detractors. READ MORE

The impatience of China’s Xi Jinping

China is a methodical nation that cautiously plays the long game. That’s the story China likes to tell about itself and the one it would like the world to believe. Unfortunately for China, that once-credible narrative is now a full-blown myth.

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A common trope about a historically hyper-aware and confident China is that it thinks in millennial terms. But China’s traditional long view and patient plan for global domination has just accelerated, even as parts of the country steadily continue to plod along on in their “Hundred-Year Marathon.”

The rise of President Xi Jinping, however, is accelerating China’s long march pace to a fast-paced sprint. The dizzying velocity of change has China rapidly implementing a tech AI and robotics “Made in China 2025” plan and a strategy to make China a leading global power by 2050.

As a result, President Xi’s picked-up pace in his nation’s marathon might hit the wall because a patient plan requires one key element: Patience. READ MORE

Italy’s impudence will take down the global economy

Wall Street is preparing for the next global recession. Reliable Saudi oil supplies are threatened, China’s domestic economy is ripe for a reckoning and American tariff wars are cranking up. The last thing the global economic system needs right now is a petulant, provocative, debt-ridden and budget-busting Italy.

The world has just gotten the last thing it needs. 

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Italy’s relatively new, untested and full-on nationalist coalition government is pursuing an aggressive and expensive nativist agenda while unconvincingly promising to grow out of its economic troubles. It is in the early stages of extorting the European Union and holding the euro currency hostage. The result of the fresh Italian-led European political and economic crisis will not end well for anyone. This is a real-time stress test. READ MORE

Haley leaves the stage as America prepares to assert a harsher global vision

Nikki Haley is getting out just in time.

With Venezuela on the brink of collapse and renewed Iran sanctions kicking in on Nov. 5, Haley will be on her way out the U.N. door as the world comes knocking on it to call for greater American accountability and support.

Haley could handle it, of course — she gives as good as she gets. However, it might just be a good time for her to be sipping mint juleps on a South Carolina back porch as this administration executes a more-assertive foreign policy — one the United Nations will not look upon kindly.

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The Trump administration is actively advocating for and catalyzing regime change in several countries, but with no plans to participate in follow-on nation building.

The administration clearly is disregarding Colin Powell’s famous use of the Pottery Barn rule, “You break it, you own it.” There are plenty of plans to break Iran and Venezuela, for example, but no clear plans to take ownership for the nation building that needs to follow any traumatic or violent event in an already-struggling society. READ MORE

In Cold War 2.0 between the U.S. and China, put your money on Beyoncé

Beyoncé and Jay Z are proving that America has the diversity and creativity to survive the new China challenge. The musical duo inspires a new generation, shows America’s cultural strength, resilience and power — and just may help lead the world out of the new Cold War.

American culture and free commerce proved an attractive model during the first Cold War against the Soviets. “Lemonade” and the Carter couple’s just-finished five-month “On the Run II” tour are just two recent American cultural products that will help check China’s 21st century rise and prove America’s creative pre-eminence.

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China may be stealing American technologies, draining U.S. trade coffers and interfering in the 2018 midterm elections, but it will always struggle to replicate America’s creative dynamism born of unbridled social and cultural expression and experimentation. The passion and energy of a row of Beyoncé dancers, legs flying — plus lights flashing, fireworks popping, bodies cavorting, plus the thumping, driving message of emancipation, inspiration and starkly sexy imagination — beats a bunch of stiff leadership dudes at the microphone any day. READ MORE

Iran and United States play a high-stakes game of chicken

Iran and America entered a new and intense phase of word-slinging and trash-talking this week. Wars of words can sometimes lead to shooting wars or they can raise the stakes so high that negotiations become necessary to skirt conflict.

Which will it be with Iran? Future talks or terror?

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President Trump sees it only one way: “Iran has to come back and they have to talk,” he said at Wednesday’s press conference. For him, Iran’s precarious domestic conditions combined with America’s external pressure give Iran only one choice. His recent experience with Kim Jong Un informs and reinforces his firm belief that these Axis of Evil nations have no choice and no better partner for negotiations than this administration. READ MORE

Chinese agents posed as journalists in US. And the US just did something about it

China’s television network and news wire service have long worked as intelligence gathering operations around the world and in the United States. The American government just did something about it.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that the China Global Television Network (CGTN) and the Chinese Xinhua news service must now report to the U.S. government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This is a big move. A move that was a long time coming.

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My book, “Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering,” is a primer on how news organizations operate in the world and how non-Western journalistic organizations take advantage of open societies like the United States. While Western journalists are usually neither spies nor diplomats, the same cannot be said about both Russian and Chinese global news networks. READ MORE

North and South Korea take America for a ride

Typhoon Soulik recently raced towards the Korean Peninsula, but neither Seoul nor Pyongyang are letting the weather — or America — get in the way of a budding Korean romance.

In fact, North and South Korea are playing the world’s major powers against one another as Pyongyang and Seoul steadily move in near-tandem to build inter-Korean trust, economic relations, and diplomatic representation that may lead to a once-distant dream of unification. As the two Koreas affirm those binding ties, China and America are being forced to come along for the ride.

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Inter-Korean dialogue continues next week with a summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in in the North Korean capital, a stone’s throw from where the 70th anniversary Pyongyang parade was held - a parade notable for what was missing: long-range missiles capable of lobbing nukes at American troops. The North-South summit will mark the third time this year the two Korean leaders are getting together for a tête-à-tête, the first one being the remarkable meeting at the Korean DMZ where Kim and Moon did a hand-holding two-step across the border’s demarcation line and swung smilingly into each other’s territories. READ MORE

Our troops are dying for a lost cause. We’ve got to get out of Afghanistan.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was in Afghanistan to watch the Russians cut and run from a military quagmire and failed occupation that helped bring down the Soviet Union. In 2018, America is ready to walk away from a similarly failed military adventure. As Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr., the exiting American and NATO forces’ commander in Afghanistan put it: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.”
 

He’s right.

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Our longest war drags on, and President Trump’s instincts and inclinations tell him to learn from the Soviet Union’s mistake a generation earlier: Get out of Afghanistan. ASAP. With Chief of Staff John Kelly’s policy role diminished and a refreshed national security team, the White House has quieted support for a continued large U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.  READ MORE

Unfortunately, the American KKK’s brand of hate travels well

Film director Spike Lee’s most recent film about a black cop joining the Ku Klux Klan is a caustic reminder of America’s “original sin” of slavery and our raw, homegrown racism. The KKK is truly an American original, but it has not remained within U.S borders. No wall of ideas has corralled this toxic concept from jumping the Atlantic and infecting Europe, where the KKK has found a new home.

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KKK promoters do not regularly crow about their network or membership numbers. The European Klan plays a coy game, often masking its illegal affiliations and private intentions while publicly sugar-coating its rancid message. But their goals are clear. As German investigative journalist Frederick Obermaier told Deutsche Welle, “The German groups admire the American Klan, and they hope to be as big as the KKK in the U.S.” Blood and soil is their refrain.  READ MORE