Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Help That Hurts: The Case of US Food Aid

President Trump’s discretionary budget proposal includes a $182 million cut to the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, eliminating the program entirely. Whatever else one thinks of Trump’s budget, this is a good idea.

It will save taxpayers a small amount of money, which is nice. But far more importantly, canceling the program will also likely help the former recipients.

Continue reading Help That Hurts: The Case of US Food Aid

What the Immigration and Gun Control Debates Have in Common

President Trump is poised to issue a new executive order on immigration this week. It’s likely to be less sweeping than the initial ban so it has a better chance at passing legal muster. It will be implemented in the name of national security, but it will likely be based on the same dubious premise as before–that the people being barred, who are mostly Muslim, pose a significant threat to Americans, even if the evidence does not support this.

Continue reading What the Immigration and Gun Control Debates Have in Common

Civility and Hypocrisy in the Age of Trump

As Democrats and NeverTrumpers of all stripes stand up against President Trump’s executive order on immigration, one reaction has been quite common: “Where were you when President Obama did [insert cruel/illegal/destructive foreign policy decision here]?”

The question is a good one, but it’s not as good as you might think.

Continue reading Civility and Hypocrisy in the Age of Trump

Obama Finally Spares a Whistleblower

On Tuesday, President Obama decided to commute the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s remaining prison sentence. Although rumors of the decision had been circulating for weeks, it was a very surprising change of heart for an administration that has earned a reputation for zealously prosecuting whistleblowers.

Continue reading Obama Finally Spares a Whistleblower

Reject the Binary in US Foreign Policy

On Twitter over the weekend, Donald Trump issued a series of tweets on Russia that were a cause for both relief and frustration:

Of course, he is right that it is important for the US to have a good relationship with Russia. Amidst all the hysteria over alleged Russian hacking, it’s a very good sign that the President-elect still seems to be holding firm on his plans to improve relations.

The problem is that the improvement only needs to go so far. The goal is trade and peace with Russia, not an overt alliance. Trump’s suggestion, here and previously, that the US and Russia should work together is an ominous one.

The worst case scenario is a new and expanded War on Terror with Russia as a partner. This would be useless as far as counterterrorism is concerned, since the War on Terror itself has proven to be one of the most effective recruitment tools for jihadists. And it would require the US getting in bed with yet another repressive government–and one that happens to have its own reputation for using heavy-handed tactics against predominantly Muslim populations.  Few things would be more useful for fulfilling the extremist narrative of a modern-day crusade against Islam.

The risk of a US-Russian alliance exists, in large part, because of US politicians’ unwillingness to pursue relations outside the bounds of “either with us or against us.”

It’s high time for some imagination here. There is a third way between alliance and animosity. That third way is simply peace. And it should be the goal with Russia and everyone else.

Obama’s Legacy: Symbolism Over Substance

President Obama’s decision not to veto the recent UN resolution on Israeli settlements generated significant outrage on both sides of the aisle. Lost in the furor, however, was the simple fact that the resolution did not actually do anything. It was just another symbolic gesture without substance.

Continue reading Obama’s Legacy: Symbolism Over Substance

Rex Tillerson and Russia: Conflict or Confluence of Interest?

Politics breeds bad incentives.

While not everyone may agree with that statement, we all routinely witness its unhappy results. Economic policies are passed that benefit a small minority of business interests while raising prices for all consumers. Government officials are often allowed to break even the most serious laws with impunity. And on the most important issue of war and peace, politicians have started wars on false pretenses, even after being elected on an antiwar platform.

Continue reading Rex Tillerson and Russia: Conflict or Confluence of Interest?