A (Potentially Premature) Defense of Clinton

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Tonight is the first night I’ve been able to see any of the Democratic convention. First things first: I really didn’t like the video tribute to Hillary Clinton that was aired tonight. It was all about Hillary Clinton, the woman candidate — which does Hillary Clinton, the brilliant policymaker and effective advocate, a great disservice. With due respect to the filmmakers and those who were legitimately moved by it (there are surely many), if the video had a tagline, it…

The View From My New Window

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Apart from this, I haven’t posted at all recently, in part because I’ve been moving back to New York and into a new apartment. On the plus side, $2 for ten delicious dumplings, the world’s best pickles and world class soccer are right around the corner (my half-serious goal is to break into the floating Steve Nash/Claudio Reyna pickup game this summer). The big strikes against the new place are Williamsburg bridge traffic noise, carrying my furniture up six flights…

Dems Feeling Unintended Consequences of Foreign Oil Rhetoric

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Here’s a challenge: find a poltician who currently campaigns on energy issues and doesn’t promise to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil. I doubt it’s possible. The rhetorical drumbeat for and promises to achieve “energy independence” have gotten louder and more frequent. Yet it has become more and more clear that such a goal is unachievable and also complicates efforts to minimize dependence on oil altogether, which is where our policy ought to be taking us. I’ve written on this…

Bolton for Free!

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I just accomplished a goal that I set over a year ago — getting a copy of John Bolton’s book without paying for it. My good friend in the publishing industry who requested it for me reported happily that she got the impression it was the first such request his publisher had received for it and they were downright excited that someone outside movement conservatism actually wanted to read it. The first thing I noticed, by the way, is that…

Gates Is Not Alone

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(U.S. Global Leadership Campaign Director Liz Schrayer and pollster Geoff Garin explain U.S. military leadership attitudes on U.S. national security — partial video) Bob Gates sent shockwaves through the national security community last year at Kansas State University when he dared suggest that the non-military instruments of power are under-resourced. Turns out, he’s not alone. Earlier this year, I learned that Rep. Jack Murtha, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, worked with Rep. Nita Lowey, who chairs the Foreign Ops….

Indy Goes Internationalist

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I don’t usually plug organizational promotions, but this is just a bit too cool to keep to myself. Hopefully candidates for office — especially Congressional candidates, who don’t have large bureaucracies or pools of advisors to educate them — will take this quiz and do well. It may seem trivial, but basic knowledge of World Heritage sites (and other historically significant landmarks) is seen as a kind of international common ground and cultural currency that our partners expect us to…

From Portland — A Presidential Priorities Thread

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I’m in Portland, Maine, heading back through Boston tomorrow to New York on Tuesday. Between apartment hunting, work and traveling, I’ve finally had a free second to take a peek at the latest of the promising presidential transition-related initiatives, this one launched by the power players at the Connect US Fund. I know the American Friends Service Committee, among others, have already begun compiling briefing books on security and foreign policy for the incoming administration. In any case, the Connect…

ICC Prosecutor to Seek Arrest Warrant for Bashir

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The week shouldn’t go by without some acknowledgement of International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s decision to seek an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Bashir, who stands accused of crimes against humanity and genocide, is the first Head of State to be charged by the ICC. Objections that this will obstruct Darfur peace negotiations are off base, and this report from the ENOUGH Project outlines the reasons why. While the historical examples that the report cites…

Communists Are Nicer

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Or at least, so says an informal, unscientific (and thus at least partially worthless, but still interesting) survey of people in four countries transitioning to a market economy that I conducted last month. Most people in China, Uzbekistan and Russia seem to be glad that they’ve got communism in their rear view mirror, while the Kyrgyz, who lack a big money natural resource, seem to wish they could turn back the clock. However, people in all four countries are nostalgic…

The Changing Face of Moscow

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The monstrous Hotel Rossiya — Europe’s largest hotel with 3,200 rooms — was demolished in 2006. My Muscovite friends tell me that when it was taken down, every building within a half-mile was immediately overrun with cockroaches. Gross. Two years earlier, the Moskva was taken down to make room for a new Four Seasons. The Moskva was famously designed in four architectural styles because no architect had the courage to ask Stalin which of the four he preferred after he…