from The Great Debate:

U.S.-Cuba deal: What the two sides get out of it

December 18, 2014

A vintage car drives by a mural showing Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro in Havana

President Barack Obama has inverted U.S. policy on Cuba. His Wednesday speech adopted the proposals of those who have spent a half-century arguing for a rethinking of Cuba policy. The president recognized Washington’s failure to achieve its goal of bringing political and economic openness to Cuba.

from The Great Debate:

Secret meetings with Cuba finally pay off

December 17, 2014

A rainbow is pictured in the sky over Havana

 

Presidents frequently conduct sensitive diplomatic dialogues in secret, because the furor of public attention makes it politically impossible to reach the compromises necessary for agreement. These secret talks are often crucial for diplomatic advances -- as we learned Wednesday with the stunning revelations about the impending talks between Washington and Havana that have been underway secretly for the past few months. President Barack Obama's far-reading initiatives are reminiscent of the secret talks Henry Kissinger held with Beijing to lay the groundwork for President Richard M. Nixon's historic diplomatic opening to China.

from MacroScope:

The only way is down?

December 17, 2014

A man walks out of a building past a board showing currency exchange rates in Moscow

No further dramatic interventions by the Russian authorities overnight with the result that the rouble has opened five percent weaker against the dollar in Moscow.

from The Great Debate:

Top 5 political predictions for 2015

December 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton speaks on "Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership"  at Georgetown University in Washington

1. The Obama boom will finally arrive.  Only it will be more like a boomlet.

Americans have been waiting for the boom since they elected President Barack Obama in the teeth of the 2008 financial meltdown. After all, we elected Ronald Reagan during an economic downturn in 1980, and by his second term, the economy had turned around (“Morning in America”).  We elected Bill Clinton in an economic downturn in 1992, and by his second term, the economy had come roaring back (the “dot-com boom,” now known as the “dot-com bubble”).  Now we're deep into Obama's second term. Where's da boom?

from The Great Debate:

Hunting for scapegoats, Obama bagged the wrong guy in Hagel

November 24, 2014

U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel listens as President Obama announces Hagel's resignation at the White House in Washington

The timing of Chuck Hagel’s resignation as secretary of defense may have been a surprise, but the fact that he was on his way out has been rumored for weeks. The real issue is why he either stepped down or was forced to leave after such a comparatively short time in office.

from John Lloyd:

The problem(s) with Israel

November 20, 2014

Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jews carry the body of Rabbi Mosheh Twersky onto a vehicle during his funeral in Jerusalem

Israel had grown accustomed to an absence of terrorist attacks in its cities: so the bloody murder of four worshippers and wounding of eight more at a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday was a shock. It illuminates the fragile, fractious state of the country, including the fact that the cabinet is riven, and may collapse soon.

from The Great Debate:

Immigration effort shows a president who is fighting back

November 20, 2014

latinos-4obama

Demographics is long. Politics is short. That's what President Barack Obama is counting on with his executive action on immigration.

from The Great Debate:

Despite the headlines, progress in Myanmar isn’t slipping away

November 19, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi hold a press conference after their meeting at her residence in Yangon

Is Myanmar’s reform effort going into reverse?

Not even close. Yet if international support for its political transition seriously weakens in the face of recent setbacks, the prophecies of Myanmar’s critics may be fulfilled. The international community needs to show staying power and accept that the road to reform is long.

from The Great Debate:

Metaphor meets reality: U.S. and China are clearing the air

November 17, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama arrive for a group photo at the G20 summit in Brisbane

History has no on-off buttons. Change is never instantaneous. But President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent accord on greenhouse gases may allow the world to start dialing down dangerous carbon emissions.

from The Great Debate:

Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell

November 14, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Organizing for Action's "National Organizing Summit" in Washington

President Barack Obama brought the U.S. commitment against torture into sharper focus on Wednesday. For a president who prohibited torture as one of his first official acts, this shouldn’t be news. But it is.