Archives for American Politics category

A great article by Thomas L. Friedman, you can read it at NY Times or below:

There is an old saying in the Middle East that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. That thought came to my mind as I listened to President Obama trying to explain the intervention of America and its allies in Libya — and I don’t say that as criticism. I say it with empathy. This is really hard stuff, and it’s just the beginning.

When an entire region that has been living outside the biggest global trends of free politics and free markets for half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decides to join history — and each one of these states has a different ethnic, tribal, sectarian and political orientation and a loose coalition of Western and Arab states with mixed motives trying to figure out how to help them — well, folks, you’re going to end up with some very strange-looking policy animals. And Libya is just the first of many hard choices we’re going to face in the “new” Middle East.

How could it not be? In Libya, we have to figure out whether to help rebels we do not know topple a terrible dictator we do not like, while at the same time we turn a blind eye to a monarch whom we do like in Bahrain, who has violently suppressed people we also like — Bahraini democrats — because these people we like have in their ranks people we don’t like: pro-Iranian Shiite hard-liners. All the while in Saudi Arabia, leaders we like are telling us we never should have let go of the leader who was so disliked by his own people — Hosni Mubarak — and, while we would like to tell the Saudi leaders to take a hike on this subject, we can’t because they have so much oil and money that we like. And this is a lot like our dilemma in Syria where a regime we don’t like — and which probably killed the prime minister of Lebanon whom it disliked — could be toppled by people who say what we like, but we’re not sure they all really believe what we like because among them could be Sunni fundamentalists, who, if they seize power, could suppress all those minorities in Syria whom they don’t like.

The last time the Sunni fundamentalists in Syria tried to take over in 1982, then-President Hafez al-Assad, one of those minorities, definitely did not like it, and he had 20,000 of those Sunnis killed in one city called Hama, which they certainly didn’t like, so there is a lot of bad blood between all of them that could very likely come to the surface again, although some experts say this time it’s not like that because this time, and they could be right, the Syrian people want freedom for all. But, for now, we are being cautious. We’re not trying nearly as hard to get rid of the Syrian dictator as we are the Libyan one because the situation in Syria is just not as clear as we’d like and because Syria is a real game-changer. Libya implodes. Syria explodes.

Welcome to the Middle East of 2011! You want the truth about it? You can’t handle the truth. The truth is that it’s a dangerous, violent, hope-filled and potentially hugely positive or explosive mess — fraught with moral and political ambiguities. We have to build democracy in the Middle East we’ve got, not the one we want — and this is the one we’ve got.

That’s why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky.

Unlike all of us in the armchairs, the president had to choose, and I found the way he spelled out his core argument on Monday sincere: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And, as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

I am glad we have a president who sees America that way. That argument cannot just be shrugged off, especially when confronting a dictator like Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But, at the same time, I believe that it is naïve to think that we can be humanitarians only from the air — and now we just hand the situation off to NATO, as if it were Asean and we were not the backbone of the NATO military alliance, and we’re done.

I don’t know Libya, but my gut tells me that any kind of decent outcome there will require boots on the ground — either as military help for the rebels to oust Qaddafi as we want, or as post-Qaddafi peacekeepers and referees between tribes and factions to help with any transition to democracy. Those boots cannot be ours. We absolutely cannot afford it — whether in terms of money, manpower, energy or attention. But I am deeply dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us, either. And if the fight there turns ugly, or stalemates, people will be calling for our humanitarian help again. You bomb it, you own it.

Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky. I hope Qaddafi’s regime collapses like a sand castle, that the Libyan opposition turns out to be decent and united and that they require just a bare minimum of international help to get on their feet. Then U.S. prestige will be enhanced and this humanitarian mission will have both saved lives and helped to lock another Arab state into the democratic camp.

Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.

A very interesting view on capitalism / socialism. Short and simple, but powerful (huh, short and simple usually is powerful…):

“You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers, 1996, from his book Ten Secrets for a Successful Family

What would be a perfect response to these five sentences? How about the “short and simple and powerful” statement, which recently was spreading with the speed of light on Facebook:

“No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”

My overall thought about the health care debate? That was a hot summer and temperature had nothing to do with it… And more seriously – I’m looking at it from an economic perspective. And with the gigantic deficit and ridiculous spending on health care I believe that any reform is better than no reform.

Poor California

California is in a lot of trouble and it’s just getting worse and worse. I just read that Carly Fiorina, the former disgraced CEO of Hewlett-Packard decided to run for the Senate in California. There’s a number of reasons why it makes me angry:

  • Personality – Carly Fiorina got fired from the McCain campaign last summer for saying that none of the presidential candidates have the experience to run a major company like Hewlett-Packard. Now, I’ll go into her extraordinary leadership skills in a moment, but, hey, how far from diplomatic you mindset needs to be for you to say something like this?! Read more… »

With a very heated debate about Health Care in the United States it is good to remind everyone the meaning of the terms used during the town hall, White House and household discussions. Below you can find a short article by Monica Oss, CEO of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP):

There are four basic terms that shape the debate: health care system; health insurance; universal coverage; and nationalized health care system. So here it goes:

Health Care System. The term refers Read more… »

The Central and Eastern European region of the world was perceived as one of the most pro-American in the world in the beginning of the 90′s. Fall of the Berlin wall, iron curtain shuttered into pieces, democracy movements and the implementation of a new free market economy all contributed to a rapid economic development combined with the creation of new, more civilized, political standards.

Yet, the region also experienced the wave of anti-americanism in the last few years and was not immune to it. With the new administration and a new approach towards foreign policy (hitting the “reset” button in relations with Russia) the former leaders of the CEE countries wrote an open letter to the Obama Administration. The letter by itself is very interesting and I encourage anyone interested in geopolitics to read it. I believe this might be a document reprinted in history books in the years to come, as it is a perfect example of how geopolitics shifts. Here are the points, which I found most important in the letter:

  • Russia remains a concern for the CEE region and is (quote) “pursuing a 19th century agenda by using 21st century technology”.
  • The relations between CEE and America are generally positive, but the region is not a top priority for the US anymore.
  • The role of NATO and its strength is being questioned – should its mission be redefined?
  • A more systemic and deeper relation between the US and EU is needed…
  • …and it would be beneficial for the EU if it started speaking in one voice.

Read more… »

I’ve been thinking about writing this one for quite some time, but I guess the fact that I’m writing it right now was sparked yesterday when I was watching President Obama’s speech on peace in the Middle East.

Before I discuss the speech let me draw your attention to a very interesting, demographic fact. The Muslim community, especially in Europe, is growing stronger and this has nothing to do in politics although it affects politics and policy dramatically. Their rising influence is thanks to nothing else, but perfectly natural causes… Birth rate. While the amount of children per family in the developed world in steadily declining or standing at a level guaranteeing nothing else, but the extinction of a culture the Muslims are having a very steady growth. Now, these are only words, therefore I would like to draw your attention to the following video on YouTube, which presents an overview of world demographics with focus on the Muslims: Read more… »

Some time ago I came across a couple of interesting videos on YouTube. As I already mentioned in one of my previous posts I believe that we need to wait for the effects of President Obama’s economic policies, but one thing can be said for sure – the budget is growing BIG. These videos show the scale in a very entertaining way.


Associate Justice David SouterNot too long after I wrote about Pres. Obama’s 100 days he has been faced with another gigantic challenge – his first Supreme Court Justice nomination. Due to the nature of the Supreme Court pretty much every president gets to appoint a justice at least once per term (Ronald Reagan got 3; George H.W. Bush got 2, despite being one term in office; Bill Clinton got 2; George W. Bush got 2). Appointing a justice (so-called associate justice) to the Supreme Court is a big thing and always shapes the President’s legacy and how historians assess the presidency in the future. There’s no wonder it works this way – appointing a judge, who deals with the constitution and shapes the law is a matter of ideology and politics. It very often happens that a judge retires on purely political grounds. Whether that’s the case with 69-year-old justice David Souter we will never know, although one might suspect it is not. Read more… »

All the media will be making a huge hype about this on Wednesday. It’s been considered a check point for every administration since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His program “The New Deal” was supposed to bring major effects during the first 100 days and since 1932 every President has been assessed after 2400 hours in office. Well… I’m happy to make my first 100-day summary ever. The overall grade is good.

President Obama’s current approval ratings are hovering around 64%. A number, which brings warmth to one’s heart, since for the past couple of years we would usually operate in the 30-40% range when talking about approval ratings. President Obama is also 10 times more popular than alcohol, which seems to be a very interesting fact (10 times more Facebook fans of Pres. Obama than of alcohol).

As I already mentioned I’m happy about the current state and direction in which America is going, even though I did not vote for Mr. Obama. During his first 100 hundred days we saw some remarkable achievements and some unnecessary defeats. Yet the overall grade I would give today is B+ / A- and if a pollster called me and asked whether I approve of the President’s actions he would receive a positive response. Read more… »

“The Economist” has great covers, but the latest edition made my heart start beating a little faster and made me sweat a little. Change in geopolitics is coming and it will be dramatic. By the way – the article itself is very insightful. (Click on the image to enlarge it).

The Economist Cover


 

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Beginning February 2011 I have started a new job at Google in its EU HQ in Dublin, Ireland. I will be responsible for AdWords-related issues for the UK / Ireland market.

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