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Archive of Articles in the "Foreign Policy" Category

Friday Talking Points -- America Is Back

[ Posted Friday, June 18th, 2021 – 17:57 UTC ]

President Joe Biden had a pretty good week all around. He began the week in Europe, where he met with the leaders of NATO, the European Union, the G7, a few royals (just to mix things up), and Vladimir Putin. That's a pretty packed schedule, but Biden seemed to manage just fine. The Europeans were both visibly thrilled and massively relieved to be visited by a United States president who was, once again, a sane adult (and not a petulant little child-man). They heaped praise upon Biden -- mostly just for being "President Not-Trump." You may laugh, but please recall President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize solely for being "President Not-Dubya," years earlier. But more seriously, Europe announced some deals with Biden (including, notably, a truce being called on the subsidy war over Boeing and Airbus airplanes). Not only were personal relationships either reaffirmed or begun, tangible diplomatic progress was made. Europe stood as one with the United States over the contentious issues of Russia and China, which only strengthened Biden's position for his meeting with Putin. The Putin summit didn't produce a whole lot in the way of tangible deliverables, but then again it didn't produce an American president willing to believe Russia's ex-K.G.B. leader over his own intelligence services either, so it has to be chalked up as a major improvement. Throughout it all, Biden stuck to one very simple slogan that summed up what his trip was supposed to be showcasing to the world: "America is back."

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Biden Wraps Up His European Trip

[ Posted Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 – 16:20 UTC ]

President Joe Biden wrapped up his tour of Europe today with a personal meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin and then a solo press conference afterwards (Putin also gave his own solo press conference, before Biden spoke). The summit meeting between the two leaders was built up with breathless anticipation in the political media, but the actual outcome was pretty mundane and more process-oriented than many might have expected. This first meeting was never supposed to be about big breakthroughs or bilateral agreements, it was designed to lay the groundwork for future negotiations and possible cooperation.

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A Return To Normalcy On The World Stage

[ Posted Tuesday, June 15th, 2021 – 15:43 UTC ]

Joe Biden has returned America's foreign policy (or at least the face of it to the rest of the world) back to normalcy. The president of the United States is once again treated respectfully by foreign leaders, mostly because he understands that allies are indispensible in the modern world -- and he knows the difference between allies and dictatorships (no matter how much dictators might try to flatter him and build up his ego). Our allies have welcomed our return to sanity and comity, and Biden's outreach is already bearing fruit on his first trip abroad. The trip's biggest test will come when he meets with Russia's Vladimir Putin, but he will do so knowing that Europe is largely backing the United States. That is all a drastic and relieving change from the past four years, when Donald Trump could barely stand to be in a room with Europe's leaders, would casually and viciously denigrate NATO and other bedrock alliances, and then throw his arms open wide for the likes of Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Or, to put it more succinctly, we are experiencing a return to normalcy.

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Friday Talking Points -- Making America Respected Again

[ Posted Friday, June 11th, 2021 – 17:56 UTC ]

President Biden is currently in Europe, in the midst of his first trip abroad since he took office. So the folks at Pew Research decided it was a good time to see how America is now viewed by the rest of the world (or the countries with advanced economies that were surveyed, at any rate). The answers are exactly what you'd expect them to be -- America's standing in the world has dramatically improved, now that a sane adult is in charge of the country once again (instead of an unstable and temperamental toddler).

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The Incredible Shrinking Trump

[ Posted Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 – 15:52 UTC ]

The biggest thing America gained with the election of President Joe Biden was the freedom to ignore Donald Trump once again. And it seems, with each passing day, that more and more people are happily exercising that freedom. Trump is fading. Call him the incredible shrinking Donald Trump. This was what went through my mind upon hearing the news that Trump's personal blog/website (all it ever really was, despite Trump touting it as a "a new social media platform") had turned out the lights and disappeared from the internet. It didn't even survive three Scaramuccis, which is a pretty short life span indeed for something Trump had promised would rival Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media platforms which had evicted Trump from their sites. A month later, Twitter, Facebook and the rest of them are doing just fine, while Trump's site is dark after only 29 days, due to lack of interest.

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Two Filibuster Reforms Worth Considering

[ Posted Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 – 16:59 UTC ]

To begin with, let's review a basic fact: the Senate filibuster was not created by the drafters of the United States Constitution. The filibuster is not actually mentioned (either by name or in any other way) in the Constitution itself. The Constitution merely states that each chamber of Congress "may determine the rules of its proceedings" -- that's it. The filibuster is merely one of those rules; one that has evolved over time. In my lifetime, the filibuster changed from requiring a two-thirds majority vote (67) to only three-fifths (60). Nothing is sacred about either one of those ratios (and I leave it for others to point out, on the grim centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the historical importance of the term "three-fifths" in the Constitution's original language). But the fact that it already has been recently changed shows that the filibuster rule is subject at any time to any changes that a majority of the Senate agrees upon. No constitutional amendment was necessary to make this change back in the 1970s, as it is merely a Senate rule. So a simple vote changed it.

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From The Archives -- Remembering Our Most Forgettable War

[ Posted Monday, May 31st, 2021 – 17:11 UTC ]

Since today is Memorial Day, I'd like to begin with a remembrance of our most forgettable war, the War of 1812. How forgettable was this war? Well, its bicentennial passed by a few years ago, but the country as a whole took little notice. That's pretty forgettable, as these things are measured. In fact, only one event during this war has become what one might call (if one were in the mood for a pun) a "Key" moment, but more on that in due course.

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Friday Talking Points -- Just Not A Good Bad Guy

[ Posted Friday, May 21st, 2021 – 17:43 UTC ]

Republicans, these days, just seem rather lost. They used to be so good at coming up with semi-cohesive talking points to use against Democrats, and they have always admirably been able to all sing from this same songbook every Sunday morning (for the political chatfest shows on television). But these days, all the issues they choose to highlight are all so incredibly short-term that the problem usually disappears before their politicization of the issue really even has a chance to take hold.

Case in point: Republicans' heavy lean on school reopenings. They've been so convinced this is going to be a big winning issue for them, they rode it all the way to getting a recall election called for California's governor (Gavin Newsom). But by the time Californians vote on it (later October or early November of this year), everyone will already be back in school again.

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The Impossibility Of Demonizing Joe Biden

[ Posted Monday, May 17th, 2021 – 17:22 UTC ]

The more I see of President Joe Biden, the more I am reminded of Ronald Reagan. Not in substance, mind you (their policies could hardly be more opposed), but rather in style. Joe Biden is just likeable, no matter what you think of his agenda. He's beyond avuncular, he's downright grandfatherly. Just like Reagan was. Where Reagan had: "There you go again," Biden has instead: "C'mon, man." Both express exactly the same (and extremely rare) political quality -- the ability to defuse a story completely, right before reframing it in a way that most average non-political Americans would agree with (or at least relate to), even if it drives the pundits bonkers. You could call this inherent skill the ability to project being a "commonsense politician," I suppose.

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Friday Talking Points -- Welcome To Cloud Cuckoo Land

[ Posted Friday, May 14th, 2021 – 18:03 UTC ]

The Republican Party has officially divorced itself from reality. They have, quite simply, moved their headquarters to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Any among their ranks who do not swear fealty to the fantastic lies they now believe must be either shunned or expelled. That is the state of one of the two major American political parties, in the twenty-first century.

Normally, such a development would be a reason for glee among the other political party, but this is not merely a matter of Republicans believing that the world is flat, the moon is made of green cheese, or tax cuts always pay for themselves -- no, this is no mere pedestrian fantasyland they have now taken up residence within. This is far more dangerous.

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