FM newswire for April 30, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Seeing America as others see us:  “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009”, China’s Information Office of the State Council, 13 March 2010 — Fully documented using US government records.
  2. Bad news:  “Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colonies Losses in the U.S., winter 2009-2010“, Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State, 22 April 2010
  3. Not going to happen.  No demand, no exit strategy.  “Demand an Afghanistan Exit Strategy“, Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, 26 April 2010
  4. Why Greece Will Default“, Martin Feldstein (Prof Economics, Harvard), Project Syndicate, 28 April 2010
  5. Our dysfunctional Congress attempts to make policy; the result is madness.  “Crippling, Crushing, and Suffocating Iran“, Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation, 28 April 2010
  6. The RMB and the magic of accounting identities“, Michael Pettis (Prof Finance, Peking U), 28 April 2010
  7. If we learned from teh past we might do better in the future.  But instead we prefer our myths.  “The Pentagon Book Club“, Nick Turse, The Nation, 17 May 2010 — Picking the books about Vietnam that support our preferred narrative.
  8. Rumors from Asia Times (not the most reliable of sources):  “How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal“, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, 30 April 2010
  9. Analysis of the above story:  “Iranian Weapons“, Dafydd, Registan, 29 April 2010
  10. About the mouse that the American elephant fears:  “The Almanac of Al Qaeda“, Foreign Policy, May/June 2010 — FP’s definitive guide to what’s left of the terrorist group.

Spinning the new DoD “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan”:

Today’s feature story — about the incompetence of the Obama Administration

Excerpt from “Lessons from the Failed Nomination of Dawn Johnsen“, Scott Horton, website of Harper’s Magazine, 28 April 2010:

Two weeks ago, the Obama Administration gave up its efforts to appoint Dawn Johnsen as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel.

… Dawn Johnsen was the most highly qualified nominee for the post in recent memory. … But Johnsen wanted the post largely because of her commitment to the Justice Department and her desire to undo some of the damage done to OLC during the Bush years. She had been outspoken in her criticism of OLC opinions that gave a green light to torture and other abuses. Unlike many critics, however, Johnsen had also been careful always to balance her criticism with a positive vision of OLC, its role, and the traditional posture of its opinion-making.

… Republicans opposed the nomination, citing Johnsen’s views about abortion—views that perfectly mirror those of President Obama and a large majority of Americans but allowed the G.O.P. to mobilize right-to-life advocates to oppose the nomination. Speaking with Republican staffers off the record, however, I heard a continuous refrain. Johnsen was opposed because of her analysis and criticism of Bush-era torture policy. She was “weak on national security,” they said. But their real concerns lay elsewhere: Johnsen could be a powerful voice for accountability inside the Department. And that had to be avoided at all costs.

Why did the Obama White House and Democratic Senate leadership allow the Johnsen nomination to die?

… Each of these factors points to a White House staff with weak governance instincts balanced by a love for legislative intrigue. In both respects, it compares poorly with its predecessor in its understanding of the art of governance.

Afterword

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