International Affairs

International Affairs

Bill Clinton to the rescue?

When I was writing Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, I spent many hours interviewing physicians about the work Bill Clinton was doing, mostly in Africa, and mostly, at that time, helping to bring down the cost of drugs used to treat HIV-positive children. No matter what one thinks about Bill Clinton, it was good, necessary and effective work. And if he continues with it — one of the smartest of the physicians I interviewed told me that he is always worried that Clinton’s interest will wane and that he’ll find something flashier on which to focus — he might even win that Nobel peace prize he so covets.


Tony Blair's messianic justifications for the Iraq war

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was widely called "George W. Bush's poodle" over the Iraq war. After watching Blair testify before the Iraq war commission of inquiry in Britain, it can now be said: Blair was not Bush's poodle. He is a hardcore neocon on Iraq.

Watching Blair repeatedly claim he made no mistakes on Iraq was sad, strange, even ridiculous to behold. His messianic zeal for the Iraq war, messianic even in retrospect, was difficult to watch. Set aside that more than 4,000 Americans and Brits died for a war that should not have been fought, which contributed to Osama bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora, and which destroyed our hard-won victory in Afghanistan and will now take a decade of blood and treasure to regain, if at all.


Q-and-A with His Excellency Husain Haqqani, ambassador of Pakistan to the United States

Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Pakistan, where he met with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as well as military officials and journalists.

Gates’s visit was intended to address Pakistani anger over tactics the U.S. military has used against militants in the country’s tribal areas, including the CIA’s increased reliance on drone attacks. More generally, Gates reassured Pakistanis that the United States is committed to a partnership with Pakistan and is prepared for the long haul in the war on terror.


Volunteers do tech to help out Haiti

765937975_trVwk-S Hey, really cool stuff is happening across the US, where technology people worked together to people useful tech for the people of Haiti.

Check out the story on

UPDATE: CNN now has the story.

Over two hundred volunteers are getting together to build useful systems to help out, working with the Sunlight Foundation and CrisisCamp.

“In the hours after the earthquake in Haiti, two primary observations within the tech community became clear," said Katie Stanton from the Department of State. "First, there are many well-intentioned projects in development by people all over the world - this information and these applications need to be consolidated so we can share it with those on the ground. The second is there is no central location for a need and have list  — essentially a Craigslist for Haiti.”

This is a work in progress, a really good example of people working together, over the 'Net, to help others out.

Disclaimer: I'm on the board of Sunlight.


How many divisions does Google have?

A Sunday New York Times headline asks: Can Google Beat China? The answer might be seen in a paraphrase of Joe Stalin’s historic quip: How many divisions does Google have?

Last week, before the Google kerfuffle, the Times complained: “As China has flooded the world with exports, it has edged out suppliers from other developing countries. This was bad enough when the world economy was growing briskly.” Now China’s strategy is doing considerably more harm, they say.


Time to play hardball with China

Google did the right thing yesterday when it said enough is enough to the Chinese government.

Chinese military assets launched a coordinated cyber-attack on Google and about 30 other multinational, mostly American companies over the last couple of weeks, probing into their databases and their computer systems.

There were reports that the Chinese were looking for information on human-rights activists, but in actuality, they were looking to steal intellectual property from American companies.


Haiti vis-à-vis healthcare reform and the bankers

The president's image purveyors were quick to remind us yesterday that he spent a very many hours bouncing between endless White House meetings. His chief executive concentration was constantly switched back and forth from the huge obstacles still confronting the final push for healthcare legislation and, of course, the unimaginable disaster in Haiti.

Surely, as he shuffled from one room to the other, he could not ignore the context, the relative magnitude of each. Maybe we should all take a moment to think about that.


Ron Christie and amateur hour

We have just finished eight years of amateur hours, so my brother Ron Christie knows whereof he speaks, in a sense.

For example: we should have killed bin Laden at Tora Bora, but didn't, because neocon amateurs had another, mistaken, war to fight. We had won the Afghan war, but neocon amateurs gave that away, too, for which we pay the price very dearly today.


The value of life

An intriguing moral drama is playing out in Israel. A young Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, was captured and has been held in seclusion by Hamas for years. Hamas proposes that they exchange the release of Schalit for the release by Israel of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Such a proposed trade would be ludicrous in most civilized places in the world, but Israel has agreed to comparable exchanges in the past.

Those who approved such prior exchanges, and advocate it again now, plead on the basis of humanity. Schalit’s mother argues that her son is the son of Israel and asks, how her country can “lay all the problems of the Middle East on our son’s narrow shoulders.” Placing a unique value on one of Israel’s children is what prompted prior disproportionate exchanges, and reflects admirably on Israel’s policy of humanity.