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Hawks circle over Iran talks extension

Pro-Israel and Republican hawks are calling for Washington to ramp up economic pressure on Tehran even while talks over Iran's nuclear program continue, and to give Congress a veto on any final accord. New sanctions legislation will likely sabotage the talks, which Iran and international powers agreed to extend until July 1 after failing this week to seal a comprehensive agreement in Vienna. - Jim Lobe (Nov 25, '14)

Washington's daydream believers
The ruling elite in the United States is lost in a world of its own concerning the threat of terrorism and interests that are vital to security. Yet its fantasies are so widely and deeply held that they are guaranteed to lead ever further into the mire of the Middle East. Thinking about the region has gone desperately astray because people in Washington refuse to embrace reality.
- Andrew Bacevich (Nov 24, '14)

Dumbing it away
Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars,
by Daniel P Bolger
A current of Russian and Chinese opinion, including some foreign-policy specialists, holds that the US chose to destabilize the Middle East intentionally. That is paranoid nonsense. How could the Americans be so stupid? We could, and were. Lieutenant-General Daniel Bolger's insider explanation of the blunders that led to the present situation in the region is convincing and should be circulated as an antidote to the paranoia. (Nov 21, '14)

Myanmar regime in test of solidarity

With one year remaining before Myanmar's general election there is growing skepticism both internationally and domestically that the reform process is at best beginning to stagnate and at worst rolling back in some critical areas. This was highlighted earlier this month during the visit of President Barack Obama, when opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi voiced concerns that the reform process had stalled over the past two years. - Adam P MacDonald (Nov 24, '14)

The rise and fall of Palestine's socialists
When news reports alleged that the two cousins behind the Jerusalem synagogue attack on November 18 were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a level of confusion reigned. Why the PFLP? Why now?
- Ramzy Baroud (Nov 24, '14)

US plays Russian roulette
Washington loaded the gun long before Vladimir Putin accused the United States of provoking him to pick it up - and long before most watching the game of Russian roulette could identify the weapon as caliber Cold War 2.0. With the bullet marked once for "Eurasian integration" and twice to target "regime change", Barack Obama is holding tensions high. When Hillary Clinton seizes the day, all bets will be off.
- Pepe Escobar (Nov 21, '14)

Iran takes center stage in East-West struggle
The Atlanticist camp is only now realizing Iran’s economic and geostrategic worth as momentum shifts towards the emerging Eurasian juggernaut. Tehran may covet the massive US energy market, but the decades when the West tried to Balkanize the country won’t be forgotten overnight. - Ramin Davoodi (Nov 21, '14)

Mediate for peace in Kashmir
International mediation is the right path to end the stalemate between India and Pakistan over disputed territory in Kashmir, bringing increased trust, trade and prosperity. Since third-party involvement has been so successful in resolving other disputes in Asian, it is more than "unfortunate" - as the United States puts it - that India continues to reject such advances.
- Brian Cloughley (Nov 21, '14)

Xi proves strong,
now comes 'soft' power

The success of a climate deal with the United States now under his belt and the gesture that Asia is "big enough" for both powers bolster Chinese President Xi Jinping's reputation as a strong leader. The next bold step for Xi is to ensure that China increases its "soft power" wisely by converting its hard cash into credit that Asia can use. - Francesco Sisci (Nov 19, '14)

Western bloodlust and a third intifada
Musings by US media on the nature of Palestinian uprisings, or intifadas, ignore that these are driven neither by a clear political agenda nor defined goals. Until intifadas are understood more aptly as the awakening of a divided society - rather than a call for violence targeting Israelis - outsiders will continue to misinterpret them. - Ramzy Baroud (Nov 21, '14)

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Hot money mocks Xi's 'rule of law' vow
President Xi Jinping recently launched a drive for legal reforms and obedience to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, vowing to "comprehensively advance the rule of law". Yet, within days, reports of rampant trade fraud surfaced, citing the familiar ruse of filing fake invoices to hide flows of "hot money" and evade China's currency rules.
- Michael Lelyveld (Nov 21, '14)

India opts out of admonishing Israel
India's pursuit of deeper trade, political and military relations with Israel contrasts with the distance other allies have sought following the brutal assault on Gaza this summer. The Indian approach to relations, which seemingly equates the Palestinian struggle with cross-border terrorism, will not only damage India's global image - it could also lead to flawed internal policy decisions. - Ninan Koshy (Nov 19, '14)

Obama, Iraq, and the Gulf region
Surging US public support for air strikes in Iraq may silence opportunistic conservatives who argued that Barack Obama's withdrawal of troops allowed Islamic State to thrive there. The myth of a need for global American might is re-emerging, even though the US president and the American people are not prepared for the real implications of climbing back into the saddle.
- Brian M Downing (Nov 19, '14)

Deception counts
The financial and economic system has become distorted beyond belief by artificially low interest rates, excessive leverage and countless fast-buck hedge fund operations sustained by the financial bubble. The costs of these distortions have been enormous. - Martin Hutchinson (Nov 19, '14)

Af-Pak a frontline against IS goals

The Islamic State's efforts to obliterate nation states to create the Khurasan caliphate as a Sunni heartland is likely to culminate in a showdown in Afghanistan, especially at the Pakistan border. Afghanistan could emerge, together with Shi'ite Iran and the Central Asian countries, as a torchbearer in halting the militants' territorial ambitions.
- Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy (Nov 17, '14)

The siege of Julian Assange is a farce
For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, but whose true crime in the eyes of the British state is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war. (Nov 17, '14)

Turning tables on North Korea
It is obvious North Korea is on a diplomatic outreach program after the release of US citizens Kenneth Bae and Mathew Todd Miller. The natural tendency would be to spurn the gesture as inadequate to make up for the belligerence Pyongyang has shown under Kim Jung-eun's leadership. With China's help, an international strategy could yet be devised to ensure North Korea shuns nuclear and missile proliferation.
- Joseph R DeTrani (Nov 17, '14)

China's silky road to glory
Any remaining doubts about the stupidity of Western corporate media should have been banished by the puerile coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin's gentlemanly conduct at the APEC summit in Beijing. Infinitely more relevant to the real world, and largely ignored, was the fact that China got what it wanted - on all fronts.
- Pepe Escobar (Nov 14, '14)

A requiem for the Kyoto Treaty
The net result of the US-China climate change agreement is not victory; it's probably the recipe for a global temperature rise of 4 degrees - much higher than the 2 degree rise that everybody said would be very, very bad. Instead of demanding the United States help reform the binding emission targets of the Kyoto Treaty, China has acquiesced in the US strategy of killing Kyoto without making provisions for a new binding agreement. - Peter Lee (Nov 14, '14)

What Obama should tell Thein Sein
United States President Barack Obama could use his Myanmar visit this week to acknowledge the stumbling blocks and realities that have emerged amid the Asian country's much ballyhooed "democratic transition", and he could demand a halt to the ethnic persecution there. Washington's defensiveness over the end of Obama's Myanmar policy honeymoon suggests he would rather fantasize over the still largely military-run governments continued "opening".
- Maung Zarni (Nov 14, '14)

Permanent bases
for permanent war

The United States is fighting Iraq War 3.0 using a staggering network of bases built-up all over the Middle East in the past 35 years. This huge infrastructure is a formula for disaster. It makes it easy for the Barack Obama administration, or anyone in the Oval Office, to launch military strikes - such as the latest against the Islamic State - that seem guaranteed to set off new cycles of violent reaction and yet more war.
- David Vine (Nov 14, '14)

Japan is the best hope for US 'pivot'
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe possesses the dedication and the means to steer Japan towards a closer alliance with the US and take more responsibility in addressing regional and global threats. As such it makes sense for President Barack Obama to put aside mistrust and embrace the Japanese leader as the best hope to help Washington's moribund "pivot" to Asia deliver its promises. - Dmitry Filippov (Nov 14, '14)


China's graft body
finds vast wealth
at official's home

The Chinese Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog recently found 37 kilograms of gold, documents showing ownership of 68 properties and 120 million yuan (US$19.5 million) in cash at the home of an official in the northern province of Hebei who is facing a graft inquiry.

Slack stimulus
In a global financial backdrop possibly the most fragile since 2012, we've now seen 2012-style aggressive concerted central bank stimulus measures. One of these days, such measures will not have their desired impact. We might be getting close.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

Obama's timely return
to Afghan combat role

US president Barack Obama has sprung a big surprise by approving the military's plans for expanding the scope of the American military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The US forces remaining in Afghanistan will selectively undertake combat missions and American air power will continue to be deployed against the insurgent groups.
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re: Turning tables on North Korea, Nov 17, '14] Xi Jinping's haughty treatment of Barack Obama during the recent summit in Beijing should indicate that China is not interested in boxing in North Korea.
Junzo Nakamura
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Washington plays Russian roulette

2. Dumbing it away

3. China's graft body finds vast wealth at official's home

4. PFLP: the rise and fall of Palestine's socialists

5. Iran takes center stage in East-West struggle

6. Myanmar regime in test of solidarity

7. China's silky road to glory

8. Mediate for peace in Kashmir

9. Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code

10. Iran's Baloch insurgency and the IS

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Nov 25, 2014)


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