Blog No. 103. Reflections on Orlando

It was unsurprising, perhaps inevitable, that much of the commentary about the tragedy in Orlando would pass through a prism of preexisting political positions. Republicans tended to view it as a result of the ineffectiveness of the Administration’s responses to ISIS, while Democrats associated it with Republican unwillingness to support any form of gun control legislation. Having our own distinctive prism, we are inclined to believe that there is something to the assertions of each, but perhaps not as much as either appears to claim. […]

Special Bulletin. Terrorism in Paris

We were drafting some comments on the most recent GOP debate and the troubling questions as to the direction of the Party. We expect to post those comments in a day or so, but when the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris began to come in, those comments seemed for the moment considerably less urgent.

Whenever a mass killing in this country occurs, and prompts cries for gun control, those demands are met with a reproach not to “politicize” the event. Yet politicizing—a call for political action—is exactly what we believe is called for in response to such tragedies. So […]

Blog No. 61 The National Security Strategy, the Islamic State and Ukraine

Part I. The National Security Strategy and The Islamic State

We believe that the assaults by the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and by Russia and its proxies in Ukraine, represent clear and present dangers to the national security of the United States. The circumstances in each area of conflict are obviously quite different, but they have in common the absence of any clear strategy on the part of the Administration for dealing with them. Indeed, despite routine expressions of disapproval, and sometimes condemnation, the concern of the Administration more often seems to be one of almost studied nonchalance. That is clearly the tone of the National Security Strategy (NSS) issued on February 6. Apart from vague references to coalitions and partnerships, the emphasis seems more on what we will not do than what we will do. The NSS received relatively little attention in the media when it appeared, and the members of the public who have actually read it could probably fit without crowding into a rather small stadium. Yet it is an important document that should be read, if not in its full 28 pages, at least for the 2 page personal Introduction by the President. It is available here. […]

Blog No. 59. The State of the Union Address: Barack Obama’s Parallel Universe and the Challenge for Republicans

On the day of the President’s State of the Union address, a writer in The Washington Post was moved to wonder “Do we even need a State of the Union address anymore?” It is unlikely that the writer’s doubts were assuaged by the President’s performance that evening. The President assured us on the one hand that everything was really quite splendid both at home and abroad, but also insisted that our domestic tranquility requires a lengthy and expensive set of initiatives. Indeed, listening to the address, one had the feeling that it might have been titled “No Proposal Left Behind.” In fact, however, the President declined to renew many of the proposals that he had presented a year ago and which had been largely ignored by the 113th Congress. (A PBS NewsHour analysis indicated that out of 18 proposals urged in 2014, only 2 rather minor ones had been adopted.) Now that Republicans control the Senate as well as the House, and enjoy an even larger majority in the House, the President’s prospects for legislative achievements are hardly brighter. […]

Blog No. 58 Charlie Hebdo, Barack Obama, and Radical Islam

In the wake of the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo and other attacks in Paris, President Obama was been robustly criticized for his failure to attend the rally of solidarity in Paris, or even to send a high level representative. We believe that the criticism was justified. Indeed, even the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, acknowledged that a mistake had been made, a remarkable admission for a White House from which mea culpas do not escape easily. Earnest, however, did not offer any credible explanation of how or why the mistake had been made. It may be plausible to claim that adequate security for the President could not be provided on short notice, but presumably the security needs of Vice President Biden could have been satisfied by the arrangements put in place for forty world leaders. And one of the more curious footnotes was the unexplained failure to attend even by Attorney General Holder who was already in Paris. […]