International Affairs

International Affairs

Russia and Syria offer a big win for Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Cantor, McCain, Reid, Kerry, America, Hollande and decency

Had the Syria vote in Congress occurred on Monday, when members had returned from recess, it would probably have narrowly passed the Senate, certainly been defeated in the House and definitely been a disaster for the worldwide credibility and deterrent capability for the U.S. and all nations opposing the criminal use of chemical weapons. 

What a difference a day makes! 

There are two key points regarding the Russian proposal for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to an international authority:


A Nobel Prize for Putin; jail the warmongers

In prelude to that cultural movement which became the Tea Party, there was much talk of the U.N., the World Court and varied enterprises that had evolved from like-minded urban dwellers across Europe and America. We had little regard, because we felt no sovereign instincts outside our own borders.

Our moral intuition about things beyond our turf was an abstraction. It is for everyone. But as rumors of invasion grew, and neocons in D.C. talked openly of randomly invading various countries in the Middle East, even with already psychologically embedded mainstream media, how could they be held back? What could be done?

We could not have cared less about the U.N.’s condemnation, but how could we stop those who were planning death abroad from our own turf? In 2003 the first claims were made in Vermont and New Hampshire that we had the constitutional and moral right as states not to participate after a Rhodes Scholar with lifelong distinguished government service in Russia and Vietnam claimed in The New Yorker that the invasion of Iraq was likely against international law. But what could we do? Could we not just throw them in jail? Could we not today?


Rand Paul: Bashar Assad's man in Washington

In my latest column, I suggested that the coming vote in Congress is one of the great moral and security moments of our time. I praised and criticized various Democrats and Republicans. 

Now I focus on one Republican in particular, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose performance this week was shameless; and to a lesser degree, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose hypocrisy in talking tough for two years and then voting against military action was a sad sight to behold.

Not long ago, Paul, who never served in the military, chastised Secretary of State John Kerry, a decorated war hero, for not remembering what combat is like. Is there any shame left in Republican presidential wannabes?


Anglosphere shifting, Canada rising, but where is 'Mr. Wonderful'? (aka Kevin O’Leary)

Canada faces a crisis. Don Cherry, "Grapes" to friends, soon turns 80. It is as primary a crisis as can come to a happy people: Recall England without Victoria. Darkness descended. Cherry is to Canada what Uncle Sam was to America. He appears every Saturday night in his Coach’s Corner segment of Hockey Night in Canada. When he passes, Canada will feel an emptiness. And it will come at an awkward time, as Canada is just now rising in the world.


John Kerry stands tall

One day our secretary of State is negotiating with intense commitment, passion and skill to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in search of peace.

The next day, the secretary of State is championing strong action to stop mass murder by Syria including barbaric and criminal use of chemical weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry, a man of military heroism and diplomatic savvy, is a man for all seasons who knows the ropes and speaks the truth. Kerry is right to make Herculean efforts for Middle East peace and to make equally Herculean efforts to hold Syrian leaders — mass murderers who commit crimes against humanity — accountable for their criminal slaughters.


Israel rising: A briefing for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Nancy Mace and the coming-of-age conservative generation

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and BFF John McCain (R-Ariz.) head to Egypt on President Obama’s orders, should not Nancy Mace, who brings Graham a primary challenge, take a trip to Israel to establish contrast? Mace has the opportunity here to educate and awaken Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the avant garde of the rising conservative generation, just as Dorothy did her erstwhile triumvirate on their journey to Oz.


Kerry's Mideast peace mission

Give a standing ovation for Secretary of State John Kerry, whose Herculean efforts have brought the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table.

Even though they are negotiating about how to continue negotiating, and even though the road will be long and hard, what Kerry has accomplished is an extraordinary achievement.


Croatia treads cautiously forward with EU membership

Today I write from Zagreb, Croatia, a sparkling testament to Croatia’s status as the crown jewel of the Balkans. As I walk the streets, there are several important characteristics of this region that strike me.

The first is the overall cleanliness. Crime and garbage on the streets are practically non-existent. The people proudly remind me at every opportunity that Croatia has the highest density of Wi-Fi in the world. 

Hearing things like this would seem to indicate that this is a wired country filled with gadgets like iPads, Kindles and all the other trappings of the modern digital age. To my surprise, though, despite the high levels of education thanks to institutions like the University of Zagreb, this is a country clinging to its parochial roots.


July 4: Before the Anglo-American revolution

The Washington Post’s offering on the Fourth, which is three days away from Canada Day, is an essay by Paul Pirie declaring “The American Revolution was a Flop.” Pirie is, the byline says, “a former historian” in Ontario. As far as the “pursuit of happiness” goes, he says, Americans are unlikely to find it, “provided that they are not rotting in jail.”  

Are Canadians happier than Americans? Possibly Canadian comics are, and approximately 1 in 3 Canadians not rotting in jail is a stand up comic. They, as representative Canadians, seem happy. Canada is rising, and we have been flailing at least since Bush II, probably Clinton I. But the American Revolution was not a flop. As the British journalist John Browne has said, it was the American Revolution that democratized England (and therefore Canada).