Nobody likes Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds — not even the ‘Blob’

Foreign policy and national-security issues are on the back burner during the Democratic primary debates as candidates focus on healthcare, taxation, guns, border issues and cosmic love.

Despite the candidates’ early lack of attention to America’s overseas engagement, foreign policy is always on the minds of a Washington-dominated set of grand poohbahs and brainiacs known as “The Blob” — a disdainful term coined during the Obama administration.

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The Blob has recently criticized President Trump for throwing Syria’s ISIS-defeating Kurds to the Turkish wolves. Trump’s break with presidential convention — and possibly constitutional law — to curry personal and political favor with foreign powers has further exercised an already hyperventilating Blob. READ MORE

Trump has robust, sensible foreign policy goals. But he doesn’t have any follow-through

Donald Trump’s successful 2016 road to the White House was paved with irreverent campaign rhetoric and a world of good intentions regarding American foreign policy. Like Barack Obama before him, he called the Iraq War a mistake and recognized China as a rising global competitor. Where Trump differs with his predecessor on foreign-policy goals is mostly reflected in an approach toward personnel and a highly personal style that forswears process and favors disruption.

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The president’s critics should realize, however, that when it comes to both Trump’s instincts and intentions, his desired foreign-policy outcomes are mostly aligned with those of past presidents and in sync with longstanding American goals. READ MORE

While the U.S. snoozes, Putin and Xi are having a bromance and flexing their global muscle

America is looking inward, resembling a sullen, sometimes confused navel-gazing couch-potato. It’s tired of going outside and bored with the world.

The president of the United States went to the United Nations this week to let foreign leaders know we were picking up our marbles and going home. He just told the entire world that globalism is dead. Long-live insular, parochial patriotism!

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National pride, defense and attention to domestic issues are keenly important, of course. But America’s two wide oceans and friendly neighbors do not divorce us from the rest of the world’s trade, economy or politics, even if our national “Netflix and Chill ” attitude makes foreigners seem distant and irrelevant. READ MORE

Believe it or not, democracy will live or die at the shopping mall

Globally, malls have become renewed public squares. They also are where a revived Chinese democracy movement is finding a home. Demonstrators, peacefully gathering , singing songs of freedom and waving Hong Kong flags, are defying Beijing by packing into places like the Amoy Plaza megamall.

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For the past few years, it has seemed as though China’s powerful economic engine — with projections that it will soon overtake America — propelled the Communist Party’s message and made mainland China look like an unstoppable force. In the shadow of these regular mass protests, the People’s Republic of China now seems like a powerful and towering Goliath facing down Hong Kong’s David.

Thank the shopping mall.

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Bolton’s baby was bombing Iran. Now what?

Iran and America are entering an intense face-off phase now that the NSC’s John Bolton is no longer around to push for bombing Tehran.

President Trump is hoping American pressure and the ongoing trash-talking between the U.S. and Iran can lead to the eventual smoking of a peace pipe.

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Wars of words can sometimes lead to shooting wars, or they can raise the stakes so high that negotiations and lowered tensions can follow. Which will it be with Iran? Talks or continued terror? Or both?

Upcoming U.N. General Assembly sideline huddles or principal meetings might take place, especially now that Bolton can no longer undermine the U.S. president’s photo-ops and off-the-cuff concessions. With Bolton gone, the White House’s “bad cop, worse cop” act is over. Trump’s instincts and near absolute power in foreign policy now take over on Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. READ MORE

Hong Kong protesters teach China a thing or two, but they need their own history lessons, too

Pencils sharpened. Check.

Lunches packed. Check.

Yellow helmets and gas masks. Check.

Students in Hong Kong may be skipping the American trend of hauling bulletproof backpacks to school, but they have prepared themselves for both an education and further police confrontation at the start of the school year. This year’s school gear is meant for struggle and survival.

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They have chosen to strike against their classrooms to strengthen the ongoing demand for peace and freedom. Some would argue they are protesting for survival. Adorned in their school uniforms — dress whites with ties — they stand out in contrast to the all-black clothing and black face masks donned by the daily street demonstrators. Umbrellas and tennis rackets are optional attire, used both to shield from water cannons and to volley back tear gas canisters toward the police.

Gearing up for a continuing fight is a necessity. These students — and all Hong Kong protesters — are on their own. Hong Kongers need to plan on self-sufficiency because the world mostly has taken a pass at supporting their fight to preserve their rights and democracy. READ MORE

Don’t be fooled by Kim’s boyish grin . . .

Chairman Kim’s Future Golf Paradise

Dateline: Late Summer, Year 2045 - Wonsan, North Korea

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Dog legs were first mistaken by the youthful American delegation to be a unique delicacy on the North Korean dinner menu. Pyongyang’s foreign minister, bemused, clarified for the 48 red-capped youths representing every state but New York and California that they were a recurring feature of the new Trump Wonsan Golf Paradise.

The clarification was greatly appreciated by the synchronous applauding and carefully selected American spectators on this auspicious day — the Grand Opening and Inaugural Round dedicated personally by America’s 46th president, Ivanka Trump, who entered office following the passage of the constitutional 2024 “Presidential Succession Act.” READ MORE

Kabul Wedding Bells and Bombs

Weddings on a summer eve remind us of the excitement of young romantic love. The bride’s smile, the groom’s unbounded enthusiasm. It’s all so lovely. Unless, of course, a wedding turns into a bloodbath, murdering nearly everyone in the party and reminding the world that ISIS kills not only people, but beauty and hope, too.

Last weekend’s ISIS bombing of an Afghan wedding destroyed the dreams of not only two people. It took the lives of 80, altogether. Wedding party attendants were the latest victims in America’s Afghanistan end-game. Kissing the bride turned into the kiss of death.

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In geopolitical terms, ISIS’s cynical attack was the most recent action to spoil the already tense American-led negotiations with the Taliban and to remind the world that once the United States has gone home, Kabul and the rest of the country will become its terrorist playground. READ MORE


That little fishing boat might just be a weapon of war

Deep-sea fishing charters are a staple of most American coastal marinas — from Miami to the San Francisco Bay. Boats loaded with fuel and fun rock their way out on gentle waves to open waters and ocean sunsets. Summer freedom at its finest.

Now imagine if the million registered floating funhouses in Florida and the million plus in California were suddenly impressed into the U.S. Navy to run offensive operations ramming ships or sent on snooping day-sails. If you can picture this, then you have a sense of other countries’ new hybrid navies. Around the world, fishing boats have become the new warships.

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Fighting on the high seas and in ports of call is always treacherous, but the dangers just got worse. Battling against navy ships and subs trying to sink fleets, stake out seas or show force now also means that every trawler, research vessel, fishing boat and dinghy is also a potential combatant. READ MORE

To Trump, A$AP Rocky has a face. Unfortunately, 10 million Afghans don’t

Rap-artist A$AP Rocky was never on my radar or my musical playlist until the president called Sweden to seek his release. ASAP.

Musician, entertainer, producer, model — the hard-edged A$AP Rocky was heckled and harried, painted as a victim of Sweden’s criminal justice system. His mom said his detention was “unjust,” targeted because he’s African American.

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Circumstances, upbringing, criminal record, character — when we think about a single person’s story, predicament and mother, he becomes humanized. Not so when someone is a one-in-a-million nobody like the globally countless unrecognized victims of injustice or war.

Charged with getting up in someone’s face and violently mixing it up, we learned about A$AP Rocky’s background, music and that he knows Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian. West has friends in high places and is immediately put through the White House switchboard. The result? A real person gets vouchsafed by POTUS. READ MORE

Economics + politics + a dash of presidential ego = potential disaster

Twenty-first century voodoo economic theories pushed worldwide by populist politicians are speeding the world to the edge of a global downturn. One by one, democratically elected leaders are taking down their smart economists and promoting their own questionable — and politically motivated — ideas about interest rates and banking practices.

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Turkey and the United States are the latest nations whose presidents are pressuring or pushing out their reliable economic advisers, replacing them with ideological loyalists. These presidents’ makeshift monetary mumbo-jumbo is aimed at achieving short-term economic and political gain. As a result, corrections and recessions may be temporarily delayed, but continually loom right around the corner.

From Ankara to Washington, heads of state are demanding that their previously apolitical national bankers cut interest rates to grow their economies, spur investment and combat unemployment. The message to central bankers is clear: Drop the cost of money or lose your job. It’s not an idle threat. READ MORE

As the British envoy just learned, loose lips sink diplomats

If the truth can set you free, then the British ambassador to Washington is now free as a bird. Unfortunately for him, he will no longer be soaring over America’s capital or hovering anywhere near the White House. In fact, the president made sure this British goose got cooked.

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Discretion is a key component of diplomacy, and Ambassador Kim Darroch was publicly discreet to a fault. But his private, privileged and personal observations — reserved for his ministry and his masters — now seem indiscreet because they were publicly leaked. Darroch this week resigned his Washington posting.

From Wikileaks to these recent diplo-leaks, timed and targeted news bombshells are blowing up traditional diplomatic relationships as well as politics as usual. Add indiscretion, incendiary responses, hyperventilating social media and a dash of bravado, and you have the makings of a massive diplomatic disruption between allies who for years have enjoyed a “special relationship.” It is not pretty. READ MORE

In a world of populist tyrants, this still was a good week for democracy

Democracy goes through ups and downs, even experiencing recessions like the stock market. This is a particularly tough time for democracies around the world, with some places once judged to have turned the corner on their authoritarian past coming back as bigger, badder, anti-democratic governments. Hungary, Poland, Italy, Russia, the Philippines and several other countries are riding on the edge of populist electoral sentiment.

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This week, however, was a particularly good one for people yearning to be free. It was an especially good week for those wanting to keep or to take back their government. Three nations showed us the way: Turkey, Ethiopia and the Czech Republic.

Let’s face it, democracies around the world are getting challenged by dictators and demagogues. My Hoover Institution colleague Larry Diamond’s new book, “Ill Winds,” assesses this abysmal global state of democracy, finding that these ill winds are whipping up “Russian rage, Chinese ambition, and American complacency.” READ MORE

Political power and electrical power are inextricably linked. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger

Earlier this millennium, a series of power brownouts and blackouts in California led to the recall of a sitting governor and a special election for his replacement: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Argentina’s leadership is running for reelection this October, and if it can’t keep the lights on, it may not be welcomed back to power.

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Around the world, from Argentina to Venezuela, Bulgaria to California, state and national governments need to deliver citizens electricity or face voter wrath. Argentina is now facing a political challenge more severe than the one in California a generation ago. Electrical blackouts just plunged the entire nation of 44 million people and some of its neighbors — Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile — into the dark.

One of the most important functions of any modern government is to keep the juice flowing. Electrical power is the driver of modern society, keeping industry chugging along, hospitals working round the clock and refrigerators, air conditioners and computers whirring. In most modern societies, government runs, manages or regulates the power grid. That means that any failure, disruption or collapse of that grid reasonably is pinned on government leaders. READ MORE