Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

21 March 2018

The Cambridge Analytica Files

by Carole Cadwalladr

The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didn’t yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle. By the time I met him in person, I’d already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd.

20 March 2018

Obstacles to Mexico’s Territorial Control

Mexico City, the seat of Mexico’s government, has a very basic problem: It has a lot of territory to govern and many physical obstacles between itself and much of that territory.

19 March 2018

Trump has decided to remove national security adviser General H.R. McMaster - Washington Post

Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig

President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration. Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said. The turbulence is part of a broader potential shake-up under consideration by Trump that is likely to include senior officials at the White House, where staffers are gripped by fear and un­certainty as they await the next move from an impulsive president who enjoys stoking conflict.

18 March 2018

How the U.S. Can Help End the Syrian Civil War

by James Stavridis

Eastern Ghouta is burning. In the region just east of Damascus, thousands of civilians are dying as Syrian government forces crush the remaining rebels. The U.N. Security Council ceasefire passed on March 3rd was dead on arrival. With no enforcement mechanism or means to hold Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable, pro-Assad forces continue to shell the area with impunity. A ground offensive has ramped up, and a monitoring group has reported chemical attack in East Ghouta. Russia, which is the Syrian regime’s principal backer and arms supplier, proposed a humanitarian “pause” from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, with a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to flee the besieged areas. But the fighting simply rages on.

William Astore, The Fog of War in America

by William Astore

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: This is your last chance to get your own signed, personalized copy of James Carroll's moving new novel, The Cloister, his vivid retelling of the medieval love story of Abelard and Héloïse, set against the grim backdrop of the Crusades. The offer will end on Monday. In the meantime, donate $100 to this website ($125 if you live outside the United States) and the book is yours. Check out Carroll's recent TD piece on our modern version of the Crusades, then think about receiving a genuinely rivetting novel and, while you're at it, giving TD a helping hand in tough times. Go to our donation page for the details. Tom]

Tillerson’s Ouster Could Kill the Iran Nuclear Deal

The secretary of state’s would-be replacement, Mike Pompeo, is an ardent hawk who says the agreement is ‘disastrous.’ That, at least, is one potential upshot of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ouster and likely replacement by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Friends and foes alike of the nuclear deal say the switch might clear the path for President Donald Trump to act on his oft-expressed desire to abandon the July 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran, a signature achievement of President Barack Obama that Trump has called “the worst deal ever.” When Trump spoke about Tillerson at the White House on Tuesday, he mentioned only one specific point of contention with his deposed diplomat. “We disagreed on things,” Trump said. “When you look at the Iran deal—I think it’s terrible; I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”

After a year of gripes, Trump’s hands now free to reshape CIA, NSA

Tim Johnson

Fourteen months into his term, President Donald Trump is reshaping America’s two largest intelligence agencies, both of them facing internal troubles and a cascade of global threats. Trump on Tuesday tapped CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become secretary of state, and elevated Pompeo’s deputy, Gina Haspel, to become the agency’s first-ever female director. Later this spring, the top-secret National Security Agency will also get a new director. Both agencies have been, at times, vilified by Trump, and faced a series of leaks and disclosures in recent years that have battered morale. Yet for all of Trump’s complaints, he has chosen insiders rather than bomb-throwers to take their helms, signaling a muscular — but not disruptive — approach to intelligence gathering.

State Department employees have one main reaction to Rex Tillerson’s ouster as secretary of state: “Good riddance.”

Nahal Toosi

President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the top U.S. diplomat sent a wave of hope through a department battered by low morale under Tillerson, who dismissed the expertise of career diplomats and sought to downsize the department. “There is strong sense of relief at State. The last year has been traumatic to put it mildly. It was as though ‘T-Rex’ stomped through Foggy Bottom devouring staff and structures,” said Brett Bruen, a former State Department official. Several current State officials said they also hope to bid farewell to Tillerson’s top aides, including chief of staff Margaret Peterlin and policy chief Brian Hook, whom they criticize for forming a protective and secretive clique around the secretary during his nearly 14-month tenure.

Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Turn to N Korea Deserves Acclaim

Nicholas Burns

Donald Trump is right about North Korea, of course. It never made sense for the US to launch a “bloody nose” military strike against Kim Jong Un’s isolated country without having tried diplomacy first. America and North Korea were on a collision course to war. A unilateral US attack, which had been considered seriously in Washington for months, would have brought with it incalculable risks. The powerful North Korean military would probably have struck back. China might have intervened to defend its border, producing a potential stand-off between Beijing and Washington. US military leaders predicted such a clash would cause tens of thousands of casualties in both South and North Korea. It could have been catastrophic for Mr Trump to choose war before talks on a bitterly divided Korean peninsula.

17 March 2018

Fact: In 2017, the U.S. and China Traded $711 Billion Worth of Goods and Services

Riley Walters

It’s true that the U.S. and China continue to have problems with access to certain areas of the Chinese market and that intellectual-property theft is a problem. It’s also true that China’s state-led capitalism diverts both its own markets and international markets. We have to find ways to address these problems, but in the process, we cannot lose focus on the bigger picture. Here are five things you should know about trade between the U.S. and China:

I Knew the Cold War. This Is No Cold War.

Stephen M. Walt

A lot of smart people seem to think the United States and Russia are in a "new Cold War." You can find articles on the subject in Politico, the New Yorker, and the Nation, and a quick Google search will take you to an entire website devoted to the topic, yet the more balanced views of a couple of years ago are harder to find these days. Politicians in both countries are using increasingly harsh language to describe each other and people on both sides are convinced the other is engaged in various dark plots against them. There are even signs of a new arms race, with Russian President Vladimir Putin boasting about sophisticated new nuclear weaponry and the United States preparing to launch a costly program of nuclear modernization....

The harsh reality: Donald Trump does mean Europe harm

Natalie Nougayrède

The emerging crisis between the United States and Europe is multifaceted; its contours fast evolving; its outcome hard to predict. And if that were true on Monday, it is more so now, following the firing by Donald Trump of Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, who had unequivocally expressed his horror about the nerve agent poisoning in the UK – and openly pledged the solidarity of his office with a European ally.  The American president, by contrast, long stayed silent, even after Theresa May announced that Russia was “highly likely” to be responsible for the attack. This merits sustained reflection. While several European governments were closing ranks with the UK, united in the face of an unprecedented assault involving the use of a military grade substance in a western country, the scenario many dreaded was becoming reality. 

COFFEE HOUSE Brexit Britain: confused and alone

Nick Cohen

Hello David, My name is Juliia Popova. I represent Russian state TV channel. Would appreciate it if Matt Singh or any other political analist [sic] could give us a short comment on the matter of the following. We will be happy to know why the British government tries to blame Russian government for the attempted murder of ex-Russian spy, why is it happening right now when even USA on behalf of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says that so far there is no evidence to accuse Russia of that. The interview wouldn’t take much time, usually it is 5-10 min via Skype. We need it today,

Most of America’s Fruit Is Now Imported. Is That a Bad Thing?


More than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables Americans buy now come from other countries. CreditJens Mortensen for The New York Times; Styled by Mariana Vera It’s obvious to anyone who visits an American supermarket in winter — past displays brimming with Chilean grapes, Mexican berries and Vietnamese dragon fruit — that foreign farms supply much of our produce. Imports have increased steadily for decades, but the extent of the change may be surprising: More than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables Americans buy now come from other countries.

16 March 2018

When Shall We Overcome?


In 1968, the year after riots erupted in cities throughout the US, the Kerner Commission, established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, famously concluded that the country was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.” Sadly, it is a conclusion that still rings true.  In 1967, riots erupted in cities throughout the United States, from Newark, New Jersey, to Detroit and Minneapolis in the Midwest – all two years after the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles exploded in violence. In response, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a commission, headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, to investigate the causes and propose measures to address them. Fifty years ago, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (more widely known as the Kerner Commission), issued its report, providing a stark account of the conditions in America that had led to the disorders.

Rand Paul: It's Time for a New American Foreign Policy

Rand Paul

What kind of job can you have where you are consistently wrong, yet get to still go on TV talking endlessly and making more wild predictions that will no doubt lead to the same failed result? If you guessed “TV Weatherman” you’re close…but the job I’m referring to is “Neocon Foreign Policy Expert” Being a neocon means never having to say you’re sorry, even trillions of dollars and decades into doomed wars.


14 March 2018

US, Russia Remain World’s Top Exporters Of Weapons


The United States remains the world’s top weapons seller, accounting for 34 percent of global arms sales over the past five years, a new study shows. Russia was the second-largest exporter with about 20 percent global arms deliveries, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on March 11 in its latest overview of global weapons transfers. The U.S. share of arms sales is up from 30 percent recorded in the 2008-12 period, SIPRI said. “Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, U.S. arms deliveries in 2013–17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s,’ said Aude Fleurant (EDS: a woman), director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

13 March 2018

Rand Paul: Washington Must Move beyond the Old Foreign Policy Consensus

Matthew Reisener

Ever since the end of the cold war, America has debated its role in the world. Should it intervene abroad on behalf of democracy and freedom, as liberal hawks and neoconservatives urge? Or should it focus on rebuilding at home and protecting its vital national interests?  Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky spoke at length at a dinner hosted by the Center for the National Interest on March 7 about the need actively to engage states with which America has substantial disagreements, while rejecting the “monolithic foreign policy that has ruled this town (Washington DC) for over seventy years.” Paul has long been one of the most articulate spokesmen for a change in Washington's approach abroad. The true isolationists, according to Senator Paul, are those who refuse to seek out avenues for dialogue and diplomacy with rival nations and limit all interactions with such states to efforts at regime change, which often have dire, unintended consequences. As an alternative, the Senator expressed a vision for a realist, non-interventionist American foreign policy emphasizing diplomacy, military restraint, and increased congressional oversight.

12 March 2018

The View From Olympus: The Greatest Strategic Danger

William S. Lind

Director of National Intelligence and former U.S. Senator Dan Coates recently told Congress that the greatest threat our country faces is our own vast and growing national debt. During the 2016 Presidential campaign JCS Chairman General Joseph Dunford gave the same message to both candidates. No one, it seems, is listening. When I served on Capitol Hill as a staffer in the 1970s and 1980s, the two parties fought fiercely over whether to fund more domestic programs and cut defense spending or do the opposite. Now, that fight is over. Both parties in Congress agree that we will just give everyone whatever they want and borrow the money to pay for it. The latest budget deal is merely one example.

11 March 2018

America’s Other Espionage Challenge: China


With all the focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the damage done by China’s vigorous and continuing espionage against the United States has taken a back seat. The preoccupation with Russia, in fact, has obscured the significant inroads made by Chinese intelligence and cyberspies. In some cases, China has proved more skillful than Russia in infiltrating American intelligence. A case involving a former C.I.A. officer named Jerry Chun Shing Lee is a perfect example. Beginning in 2010, C.I.A. sources in China began disappearing; a dozen were reported executed and several more imprisoned. What had seemed a major success in establishing a network of C.I.A. spies inside China had been turned into a devastating intelligence failure. The C.I.A. and F.B.I., suspecting a mole, went on a secret hunt.