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May 29, 2009

NSN Daily Update 5/29/2009
Posted by The National Security Network

See today's complete daily update here.

What We’re Reading

President Obama met with PLA President Mahmoud Abbas and called for swift progress towards Middle East peace talks.  He also continued to push Israel on the settlement issue.

President Obama called for increased cybersecurity, and will announce the creation of a “Cyber Czar” position.

A new study finds that global warming already costs $125 billion annually and kills 300,000 people every year and predicts that those figures will rise.  Another new report claims that climate change could spawn a refugee crisis.

The London Times presents evidence of mass war crimes committed by the government in Sri Lanka that allegedly resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 civilians in the last stages of the war.

Commentary of the Day

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedeman argue that the leaked Pentagon detainee recidivism rate from Guantanamo of 14% is grossly exaggerated.

Richard Lloyd Parry blames former President George W. Bush for the current situation in North Korea.

Con Coughlin says that the North Korea crisis is China’s chance to take a positive global leadership role.

May 28, 2009

Gammons Slams Will on Sotomayor, Baseball
Posted by Adam Blickstein

Willbaseball Ok, this is slightly out of the international and national security purview of Democracy Arsenal, but I couldn't resist. George Will yesterday struggled to repackage conservative talking points on Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in terms of her "saving baseball," arguing that her pro-union, anti-capitalist decision to force MLB owner's hands during the 1994-1995 player's strike hindered, not rehabilitated the sport:

Will says that "in fact, what she did was take sides, took union's side against the management, and in so-doing, wasted 262 days of negotiations. That, far from saving baseball, consigned baseball to seven more years of an unreformed economic system, which happened to be the seven worst years in terms of competitive balance."

Sotomayor, Will says, "delayed the restructuring of baseball. So I would say that far from her saving baseball, as the president says, that in fact, baseball thrives now because we got over the damage that her judicial activism did in that strike."

Lack of context and historical accuracy on Will's part aside (negotiations between the owners and players basically dried up in December of 1994 and the owners and management were far from unified in using replacement players, which would have further splintered, fractured, and decimated baseball's future), his ridiculous assertions were slammed yesterday, though not directly, by real baseball expert Peter Gammons:

She didn't necessarily save baseball; she saved the owners from themselves. The people who tried to rig the system with collusion, pay-for-performance and the artificial attempt to implement their own labor system were, as usual, ill-advised and leaderless. When Sotomayor forced the game to resume and charged that they bargain in real faith, baseball under Selig went from a $1.3 billion to $7.5 billion business.

Hard to argue with those facts from Gammons. But as we all know, Will isn't one to use facts with terrible accuracy. I think he's just bitter cause his Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Maybe he should stick to lambasting Levis and not the Major Leagues.

NSN Daily Update 5/28/2009
Posted by The National Security Network

See today's complete daily update here.

What We’re Reading

South Korea and the U.S. raised their alert level on North KoreaRussia considers toughening its stance on last weekend’s nuclear tests.

Israel rejected Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for a freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

The torture photos that President Obama seeks to keep secret allegedly graphically depict the rape and sexual abuse of detainees.

Amnesty International released a new report warning that the global financial crisis exacerbates human rights abuses.

Commentary of the Day

Prime Minister Gordon Brown describes the importance of global trade to solving the financial crisis and warns against trade barriers.

Ruth Marcus deconstructs former Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security arguments.

David Pilling looks at the national consciousness in South Korea following former President Roh Moo-hyun’s suicide.

The Boston Globe opines about possible peace negotiations between the Karazai government and the Taliban, stating that any final deal must include protections for Afghan woman and girls.

May 27, 2009

NSN Daily Update 5/27/2009
Posted by The National Security Network

See today's complete daily update here.

What We’re Reading

North Korea “abandoned” the 1953 armistice that effectively ended the Korean War, restarted its nuclear reactor, and threatened to attack South Korea if any of its ships are searched for WMDs, just days after conducing nuclear and missile tests.  The New York Times examines what internal leadership struggles might be behind these aggressive moves.

A suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan killed at least 30 people.

Mexico arrested ten mayors suspected of involvement in the drug trade.

Commentary of the Day

William J. Perry, Brent Scowcroft, and Charles D. Ferguson discuss how to reduce the nuclear threat in the face of North Korea’s recent actions.

Tim Reid visited Guantanamo and describes how much has changed since the days of harsh interrogations.  He adds that the new human rights issue is Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

May 26, 2009

Kristol's Credibility Gap
Posted by Patrick Barry

If someone told you that the best way for the U.S. to deal with North Korea was to preemptively attack them with Star Wars-style lasers, or suggested that the entire world was in a "giant conspiracy" of Dan Brown proportions to attempt diplomacy with Iran, 'credible' is probably the last thing you would call them.  Yet by pointing to Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney as paragons of conservatives' command over national security issues, Bill Kristol did exactly that:

But the most successful conservative intervention in the first four months of the Obama presidency has been -- counter to predictions by consultants and pundits -- that of Dick Cheney on national security policy. He may be the only Republican so far who’s really forced Obama onto the defensive. And most conservatives and Republicans would, I think, agree that the other Republican who’s effectively -- if episodically -- challenged Obama on foreign and national security policy has been Newt Gingrich.

Both Cheney and Gingrich have the background and stature to address credibly national security issues.

Of course, back in reality things are different.  In reality, lasers don't exist, and U.S. policy is dictated by interests, not by a mysterious cabal of anti-Cheneyite world leaders.  In reality, positions like Cheney's and Gingrich's have led Americans to widely reject conservatives' approach to foreign policy, supporting President Obama's agenda so vociferously that progressives have finally closed the trust gap on national security.  As long as conservatives continue to define credibility as existing in an unreality of fantasy weapons and wild-eyed conspiracy theories, then they will continue their nosedive into irrelevance.  

Soccer Diplomacy with Iran
Posted by Max Bergmann

1998_3a

We had ping pong diplomacy with China, and now we may soon engage in soccer diplomacy with Iran.

Reports out of Tehran indicate that the US Soccer Federation has inquired about the possibility of holding a friendly with Iran sometime in October and November. The AP reported:

A soccer game between the United States and Iran this fall could be in the works. The possibility exists after the head of Iran's soccer federation said Monday he received a proposal from his U.S. counterpart about an exhibtion game in October or November... Iran Football Federation chief Ali Kafashian told the Fars news agency the Iranians are considering the offer. But USSF spokesman Neil Buethe would neither confirm nor deny the offer... a soccer match would be an extremely high-profile event in Iran, where the sport is a national passion.

In 1971 - a year before Nixon went to China - US table tennis players visited China in what marked a thaw in tensions between U.S. and China. Soccer is the biggest sport in Iran and the public has tremendous pride in the Iranian national team. Having the U.S. team travel to Tehran would to send a signal that both sides are ready for a significant thaw in relations. Perhaps a high-level American dignitary would go as well.   Ahmadinejad

To make this even more interesting, having struggled in World Cup qualifying, Iran recently replaced their coach with an American citizen. Yes an American citizen is coaching the Iranian national soccer team. Afshin Ghotbi was born in Iran but gained American citizenship after living in the U.S. since a teenager - he even played soccer at UCLA and was an assistant coach for the U.S. in the 1998 world cup when we lost to Iran.

If the game goes forward, not only would it be smart diplomacy on the part of the U.S., it would also be smart preparation by coach Bob Bradley in the run-up to the World Cup. The Iranian side is quite good and will expose the U.S. team to a different style of play. Additionally, I can't think of an environment that would better prepare the U.S. for the world cup then playing in Tehran. All in all seems like a great idea. Hopefully, the Iranians - despite their world cup qualifying difficulties - take us up on the offer. 

And to top it off maybe we can finally avenge that 2-1 1998 world cup loss.


NSN Daily Update 5/26/2009
Posted by The National Security Network

See today's complete daily update here.

What We’re Reading

North Korea fired more missiles following its nuclear and missile test this weekend.

Pakistan lifted the election ban on opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

Iranian moderate candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi drew huge crowds at a campaign stop in northern Iran.

A report from a group of Chinese scholars challenges the government line on Tibet.

Commentary of the Day

The New York Times argues against protectionism and for foreign trade to help the economy.

Gideon Rachman analyzes the U.S. resistance to austerity.

Anne Applebaum discusses the British MP expenses row.

May 22, 2009

NSN Daily Update 5/22/2009
Posted by The National Security Network

See today's complete daily update here.

What We’re Reading

Somalia’s weak, Western-backed government launched a counter-attack on Islamist militants in Mogadishu.

Vice President Joe Biden visited Lebanon and voiced strong U.S. support for their democracy and upcoming free elections.

McClatchy Newspapers reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security speech yesterday contained numerous errors, omissions, misstatements and exaggerations.

The U.N. appealed for $543 million in aid for Pakistan.

Commentary of the Day

David Brooks says that President Obama has made America more secure and discusses the Bush-Cheney disagreements on national security.

The Washington Post applauds President Obama’s intent on forging a legal framework for detainees.

The LA Times interviewed Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish who gave daily radio interviews when in hiding in Gaza during the recent fighting and is now an advocate for peace.

Fact Checking Cheney II
Posted by James Lamond

Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel at McClatchy did a little fact checking of their own. 
Two good points from their article that that I missed in yesterday's post are:

Cheney accused Obama of "the selective release" of documents on Bush administration detainee policies, charging that Obama withheld records that Cheney claimed prove that information gained from the harsh interrogation methods prevented terrorist attacks.

"I've formally asked that (the information) be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained," Cheney said. "Last week, that request was formally rejected."

However, the decision to withhold the documents was announced by the CIA , which said that it was obliged to do so by a 2003 executive order issued by former President George W. Bush prohibiting the release of materials that are the subject of lawsuits.

And

Cheney said that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries

May 21, 2009

Fact Checking Cheney
Posted by James Lamond

In his speech today at AEI, Dick Cheney made a few claims that are, a little contradictory to what others have been saying.

Continue reading "Fact Checking Cheney" »

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