With inauguration safely behind, President Biden would now start addressing America’s polarization, Covid-19, and a wrecked foreign policy. He has a far heavier agenda than many of his predecessors.
Among his major tasks in the international arena would be restoring confidence in the Washington’s foreign policy steadiness and charting a reasonable course in relations with China and Russia. Washington’s traditional Western allies, disillusioned with the Trump presidency, would give Mr. Biden more than a warm welcome while anxiously watching domestic developments in the US. Because according to a CNN poll, 47% of Republicans still say the party should continue to treat Trump as the leader of the party. And remains to be seen whether going ahead with a second impeachment, though more than justified, was a politically wise decision.
I often look up for words, synonyms, antonyms in Merriam-Webster. Yesterday, I looked up for a word and the column titled “Trending Now” caught my attention because on top of the list was the word “sedition”. This is what followed:
“Why are people looking up sedition?
“Sedition once again rose through the ranks and became one of our top lookups, in the first week of 2021, after making numerous appearances in articles on political upheaval.”
On December 24, President Trump issued pardons to more than 90 people. The Washington Post said 60 have gone to petitioners who have a personal tie to Mr. Trump or who helped his political aims, according to a tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith. One recipient of a pardon was a family member, Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, was guilty of 16 counts of tax evasion. Many slammed the pardons as antithetical to the rule of law. Others called for an overhaul of the pardon power, saying Trump has so corrupted it that it should be amended or even stripped from the Constitution. Had this been all, the damage they did to America’s global image aside, the pardons would have been an essentially domestic issue. Unfortunately, there was more.
The main foreign policy topics of the past decade have been China’s ascendancy, relations between the West and a resurgent Russia, the rise of authoritarianism, democracy’s decline, the failure of multilateralism and climate change. With the Trump White House, most of the questions raised in recent years focused on Washington. People started asking “what went wrong?” to use the title of Bernard Lewis’s remarkable book on the clash between Islam and modernity in the Middle East. Pundits in the West, including the US, started talking about Washington’s external military interventions and their political/diplomatic/economic cost, racism, gridlock. Some of the questions raised went beyond the Trump years. With major foreign and security policy challenges and 251,000 new coronavirus cases recorded last Friday, Mr. Biden will not be moving to a dream house on January 20.
On August 4, only two days before the 75th anniversary of the dropping of world’s first atomic bomb, Beirut experienced its own Hiroshima. Exactly a month ago Turkey had its own tragedy when 6 were killed and 97 injured in a fireworks factory blast. Although the devastation and the death tolls are incomparable, underlying reasons are the same: mismanagement and negligence.
These, of course, are only part of the fundamental problem of the Middle East, the lack of democracy with its many subtitles. Prominently among them are: Okumaya devam et →
The Iraq-Iran war started on September 22, 1980. It lasted eight years. In August 1991 Iraq invaded Kuwait. A massive US-led military campaign forced Iraq to withdraw in February 1991. It was followed by years of no-fly zones, sanctions and the food for oil program. In March 2003 US invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, only to mark the start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power. In June 2004 Czar Paul Bremmer III handed sovereignty to the interim government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Okumaya devam et →
The Arab Spring began on December 17, 2010 in Tunisia as street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the arbitrary seizing of his vegetable stand by police. Mass protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to resign in January 2011, after 23 years in power and go into exile in Saudi Arabia.
In February 2011, mass protests forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign after three decades in power. Okumaya devam et →
The 74th regular Session of the UN General Assembly opens tomorrow in the wake of the drone attacks which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil output raising the risk of further regional confrontation. It will close on December 16 after thirteen weeks. World’s attention will focus on New York only during the week of “General Debate” which starts on September 24 because that is when world leaders are there to address the UNGA and hold their bilateral and group meetings. The rest will be business as usual. Okumaya devam et →
In a couple of years, the world could well be speaking of a decade of conflict in Syria in which regional and external powers were involved either directly or through proxies.
The Islamic State remains a threat. Thousands and thousands of jihadist fighters not only from those directly involved but also from distant countries traveled to Syria to take part in the fighting. Their return home has now become a security challenge. Specialist monitors at the UN have warned that a recent pause in international terrorist violence may soon end, with the possibility of a new wave of attacks before the end of the year. What this portends for the clash or dialogue of civilizations remains to be seen. Okumaya devam et →
President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria seems to have surprised even shocked many, particularly in Washington. His brief announcement left many questions unanswered. Had he been a consistent leader steering his administration in close consultation with a steady team of senior officials, explaining the rational of his policies using conventional methods instead of tweets, maintaining close consultation/cooperation with allies, the reaction could have been different.
In response to criticism he tweeted: “Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years…”
He was not the only one. This is precisely why David E. Sanger’s New York Times article of December 19 carried the title, “A Strategy of Retreat in Syria, With Echoes of Obama”, whom Mr. Trump has constantly reviled. Okumaya devam et →