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America should keep an eye on these events on top of Mueller


Former special counsel Robert Mueller is on Capitol Hill for a long news cycle of pontificating, positioning, and punditry from lawmakers and the media. Lost in the mayhem is the critical and central allegation of his report, which is that there was major election meddling and a breach of our sovereignty by the Russians, and yet hardly anything has been done.

His testimony will be a combination of abstract art and a Rorschach test, with splattered blotches of red or blue flung on a canvas, and differing interpretations depending on perspective. Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. Barring any bombshells, the partisan bases on both the left and the right will be frothing. But I suspect that most people in between will be yawning. For them, the hearings will be like a car accident removed to the side of a highway, something to notice momentarily before driving on.

The impact will be in inverse proportion to where it matters. In New York, they can show the hearings on a massive digital screen in the middle of Times Square and it simply will not matter, as the Democratic presidential candidate will win New York. Down south, they can show the testimony on the scoreboard at the University of Alabama football stadium and it simply will not matter, as the Republican presidential candidate will win Alabama.

The swing voters who reside in Maricopa County in Arizona, New Hanover County in North Carolina, and Kenosha County in Wisconsin will not be paying as much attention, but their opinions will matter. The election will be won or lost among similar swing voters in similar swing counties in critical swing states. Meanwhile, in places far from the Beltway, the world wobbles uneasily. So for those already satiated by Mueller, here are three critical world events that you should know about.

United Kingdom

The global trend of electing bombastic and unpredictable national leaders continues with the ascension of Boris Johnson to the prime minister of the United Kingdom. Johnson has promised to effectuate Brexit in a “do or die” manner. It may be the latter, which has claimed the last two prime ministers. Scotland and Ireland have agitated about leaving the United Kingdom in a messy Brexit. He may have to face down a “no confidence” vote soon. The stability of a transatlantic alliance rests on Washington and London, and British politics today is beset by a deep and confusing fog.

Strait of Hormuz

A few weeks ago, President Trump canceled a military airstrike on Iran at the last minute. Since then, a British cargo ship has been confined by the Iranians, and an Iranian ship near Tunisia has been seized by the British. General David Petraeus said just this week on cable news that it is “not clear what our policy is in the Middle East” regarding the Iranian nuclear program. With escalating tensions, one thing is clear. The United States is only one miscalculation away from a potentially catastrophic outcome.

Pakistan and India

President Trump clumsily stoked major controversy when, sitting next to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, he claimed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to intervene and mediate the conflict in Kashmir. With the claim very quickly repudiated by India, President Trump has created a new fracture and new tensions with a critical regional ally.

The theatrics in Washington with Mueller are the overture to the August congressional recess, which itself is an overture to the fall session. Then there will be the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary, Super Tuesday, national political conventions, and the election. In other words, all the mayhem today is just a moment in a marathon sprint toward the future.

Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.

Tags Congress Democracy Donald Trump Robert Mueller Steve Israel Washington
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