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

Russia’s got the gas and is ready to set fire to our system of democracy

Every morning I wake up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee from my Moscow-manufactured coffeemaker and commute in my Russian car while making hands-free calls on my latest Siberian smartphone.

Just kidding.
 

Russia makes nothing I own. Nothing I need. Nothing I consume. I don’t watch Russian movies and don’t use Russian software. Look around your own home. How many Russian appliances, food stuffs, or clothes are made in the world’s largest landmass nation? Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

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If you’re worried that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is poised to take over the world, rest assured. It is not. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, once called Russia “a gas station masquerading as a country.”

He’s right. Russia today is mostly a great big oil and gas conglomerate. Energy resources make up around 70 percent of Russia’s total exports and more than half its budget revenues.

Russia also has a lot of bombs. Really big bad ones. Weapons of mass destruction.  READ MORE

CNN Newsroom: A look at NATO & Montenegro

Kounalakis on if US should defend NATO countries: "We answered that question a long time ago"

 Markos Kounalakis, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discusses the uncertainty around President Trump's comments about NATO.     CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Markos Kounalakis, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discusses the uncertainty around President Trump's comments about NATO.   CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering

As most long-standing news outlets have shuttered their foreign bureaus and print operations, the role of global news networks (GNNs) as information collectors and policy influencers has changed in tandem. Western GNNs are honored for being untethered to government entities and their ability to produce accurate yet critical situational analyses. However, with the emergence of non-Western GNNs and their direct relationships to the state, the independent nature of our global news cycle has been vastly manipulated.

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In Spin Wars & Spy Games, Kounalakis uses his interviews with an expansive and diverse set of GNN professionals to deliver a vivid depiction of the momentous sea change in mass media production. He traces the evolution of global news networks from the twentieth century to now, revealing today’s drastically altered news business model that places precedence on networks leveraging global power. This eye-opening narrative transforms our understanding of why countries like Russia and China invest heavily in their news media, and how the GNN framework operates in conjunction with state strategy and diplomatic sensitivity.

Profoundly meticulous and insightful, this seminal work on the current state of transnational journalism gives readers a first-hand look at how global media powers shape policy and morph the public’s consumption of information.  READ MORE & PURCHASE

McCain & American Century struggle to survive

Independence Day brings out this country’s most patriotic expressions, from marching flag-wavers to parades of fez-wearing Shriners in mini-cars. This year, America celebrates its 242nd birthday, a year when the country actively redefines its concept of greatness.

America’s role in the world is rapidly changing, going from being the world’s policeman to loutish neighborhood beat cop. No one exemplifies the post-WWII generation of public servants who understood and promoted American global leadership than the now terminally ill U.S. Senator John McCain.

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He would be the first to admit that he is an imperfect man, but the last to believe that America’s role is obsolete, immoral, or defined strictly by economic interests and presidential whim. He has sacrificed his time and his body to fight against the shrill and the small-minded who argue that America’s sins and historic mistakes are anywhere near morally equivalent to the Mao massacres, Stalin scourge, or Hitler holocaustREAD MORE

Cut the charade and crown the president

Wow! Did the Supreme Court just give the president the power of decree? Finally, a branch of the United States government that recognizes its junior status and accedes to the supreme authority of the executive branch. The travel ban ruling is a parsed argument that effectively states the president of the United States has the authority to proclaim that his national security policies are overarching and that his being is infallible.

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A malleable, rubber-stamping Congress and a freshly quiescent Judiciary have now fully abdicated their roles as a check on presidential power and collectively put a bow around a now fully-evolved imperial presidency. They just packaged and presented this generous gift to President Donald J. Trump.

Yes, the travel ban ruling is a reasoned and narrow decision that focuses on the executive’s authority over immigration. But the effect of the ruling ignores the express intention of the president’s ban. It also fails to acknowledge that the current Oval Office occupant defies reason, while, ignores previously limiting checks, and takes every opportunity to expand the powers of his office. Justice may be blind, but it is not supposed to be deaf and dumb, too.  READ MORE

Be outraged about kids in cages. But save some ire for the worst refugee offender: China

Caging kids at the U.S. border is reprehensible. But as first ladies, governors, celebrities, and citizens of all political stripes line up and strike out against the inhumane practice of separating children from parents seeking refuge, everyone should save some ire and outrage for one of the world’s greatest offenders and dissemblers of refugee rights: China.

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Despite having signed onto the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, China has gone to incredible lengths to redefine and reclassify foreigners who seek asylum on Chinese territory, allowing an appearance of having received “foreign” refugees. In fact, China is practicing the same type of refugee policy it pursues when it comes to international trade. It is willing to export its massive population at high numbers, send them abroad for education, work, and to establish cultural beachheads and corporate outposts (as with steel), but is unwilling and vehemently opposed to accepting a modicum of duty-free imports or unwashed masses.

China, unfortunately, is not alone. Russia and Turkey use refugees as weapons, Italy’s new government is stalking them and preparing them for deportation, Hungary makes it clear that they are unwelcome public targets. Increasingly, the rest of the West sees them as an unmanageable burden or parasitic horde who threaten nativist cultures, take jobs, drain welfare, change the national character, overwhelm communities, breed terrorists, and create chaos. Refugees and their children are having a hard time finding a new home.  READ MORE

Guess who's coming to a White House dinner? Dictators and despots

Kim Jong Un just got one of the most coveted invitations for any foreign leader — a White House visit. If the Singapore Summit delivers results and continues to serve President Trump politically, that door will stay open and the invitation will remain valid. That would make Kim the latest in a string of despots and dictators who over the years get to pose for an Oval Office grip and grin.

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Washington, D.C., is no stranger to accommodating the dangerous and despised and Kim would feel right at home in a city that bends to the brutal and barbarous. The capital has never reflected the homegrown values of heartland America or the general piety of her people. It is guided by a moral compass that sometimes points to True North. More often than not, however, that “compass” resembles a moral weathervane. Cynicism is an established trait in the nation’s capital, where power is the currency of the realm and no amount of moral outrage will change the political need and diplomatic necessity to practice the unsatisfying art of the possible.

So strike up the band and hang the bunting for the next state visit by a foreign deplorable.  READ MORE