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Today in History: Barack Tops Pablo

 

Today is the third anniversary of a particularly proud moment US history in which our President Obama smashed Pablo Escobar’s personal record for most cash plastic-wrapped on shipping palettes in a single delivery. Four hundred million dollars in mixed currencies arrived in Tehran at the same time that the departure of a plane with four Americans held hostage was coincidentally delayed.

Critics of Mr. Obama said that this was a cash-for-hostages arrangement. However, in fairness, the Obama Administration had already agreed to surrender $1.7 billion in frozen funds in exchange for Iran’s acceptance of the US dropping all sanctions and leverage of any kind over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. (Is John Kerry a tough-minded genius or what?)

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Welcome to the United Empire of Stalemate

 

Richard N. Haass is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to that was he was Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush and the National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs. For that, Bush 41 gave him the Presidential Citizens Medal for developing and explaining US policy during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

In 2000 he called for a new “American Empire” to be designed and operated on the model of the British Empire of the 19th Century. He further said it would have to be “informal” because “American democracy could not underwrite an imperial order that required constant, costly applications of military power.” Now he has changed his tune a bit.

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Saudi Arabian flag statue removed from World Trade Center grounds

 

Ha! The other day I posted how appalling it was that the Port Authority put these inane candy statues featuring flags of countries from the G20 at the World Trade Center. What made it appalling was that one of the candy statues was of Saudi Arabia’s flag with it’s motto “There is no god but Allah, […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and naming two stellar judges to the Florida Supreme Court. They also discuss Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joining the 2020 presidential race and how her defense of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad could impact the campaign. And as many breathlessly await the Mueller report on Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that the report will likely be anti-climactic.

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A Sculpture Celebrating Saudi Arabia Has Been Erected on Ground Zero

 

From The Observer: A sculpture celebrating Saudi Arabia’s place in the G20 Summit was erected on the World Trade Center grounds last week, a stone’s throw away from the 9/11 memorial. More

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While Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has come under deserved fire for defending Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are applauding Gabbard today for being the only Democrat willing to stand up to Senate Democrats who contend that being a member of the Knights of Columbus is disqualifying for service as a federal judge. They also brace for the imminent presidential campaign of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is very liberal but is one of only a few Democrats with a legitimate shot at the nomination. And, as more stories emerge of the fiscal hardship of federal employees going without pay during the partial shutdown, they are staggered by statistics showing that nearly 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and over 60 percent don’t have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America think President Trump did alright in his speech and agree that his presentation was better than the stiff stares of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They also shake their heads in wonder as more Democrats embrace huge tax increases and government-run health care and Jim breaks down the truly radical ideas contained in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. And speaking of the new congresswoman, Jim unleashes a fantastic rant after Ocasio-Cortez suggests on national television that the people trying to enter the U.S. illegally are more American than people who want a border wall.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see President Trump making a detailed case for border wall funding in tonight’s televised address, a more effective strategy than tweets and sound bites. They also like National Security Adviser John Bolton’s clarification that the Trump administration does want to get our troops out of Syria but we also have no intention of letting ISIS grow again or letting Turkey slaughter the Kurds. They slam the door behind failed Virginia GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart, who says he will not run for re-election to his local office and is getting out of politics. And Jim is in rare form as he and Greg discuss the fact that every year is an election year in Virginia.

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Syria Withrawal or Not?

 

The Washington Post reports John Bolton has outlined conditions on our withdrawal from Syria, including protection of the Kurds, that could delay any withdrawal indefinitely. I think this is a wonderful development, I opposed the withdrawal, but have a few questions for my fellow Ricocheti? More

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Bibi Was Trump Before Trump

 

Populist winds took down the Clintons and are now taking down Merkel, Macron, and May. Bibi, who is cruising to reelection (assuming he can stay out of jail) doesn’t have to worry about being taken down by nationalist populist insurgents because he is the nationalist populist insurgent who took down the establishment. He just did it earlier. Bibi was Trump before Trump.

Bibi and Trump have some similarities in style and character.

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Are Terrorists Coming Through the Southern Border—or Not?

 

It’s nearly impossible to get a straight story about whether terrorists are coming through the southern border. I thought I’d explain the reasons for the difficulty, and why the lack of transparency might be a serious problem for our country.

Part of the problem in getting accurate information, as described in The Federalist, is due to our government’s unwillingness to publicize anything that assists the terrorists, so they label the information classified or “in line with standard practice to protect ongoing investigations and operations.”

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After noting the start of a new Congress with Democrats running the House, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for realizing he had no chance of winning the 2020 Democratic nomination and deciding not to run. They also note O’Malley is urging Beto O’Rourke to run for president, saying it’s time for a new generation of leadership. Jim and Greg also shudder as President Trump not only thinks that the Soviet Union collapsed because of its failed efforts in Afghanistan but thinks the Soviets were right to invade in the first place. And they practice their shocked faces as Democrats start pursuing the impeachment of President Trump on the first day of the new Congress.

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Simon Whistler

 

Does anyone else on Ricochet follow this guy? I’ve subscribed to his VisualPolitik EN channel on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to go and hunt for his videos when I want to see one. And that’s how I found this last one from a few days ago: “How is Putin isolating Ukraine.” […]

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How to Play 8D Chess: Syria

 

President Trump’s decision to fully remove US troops from Syria has a been controversial on both the right and left. The critics include SecDef Mattis and Sen. McCaskill. And while changing the status quo is scary and risky, when you examine the strategy, you will see how it is for the best.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2018 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, Jim and Greg offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for 2018.

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Christmas Eve 1968: Remember the USS Pueblo

 

Fifty years ago today, Christmas Eve, 1968, the USS Pueblo crew arrived home in San Diego, California. They had been held and tortured by the North Koreans during the past 11 months. This incident happened in the context of the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive and uprisings and unrest across Europe and the United States. The Pueblo’s crew was returned after the election of Richard Nixon to be President.

The USS Pueblo incident began on January 23, 1968.

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Welcome Christmas celebrants to the Harvard Lunch Club Political podcast for Christmas Eve, 2018 it is number 205, the Shutdown Mad Dog edition of the show with your frothing at the mouth hosts Todd Feinburg, east coast WTIC radio guy and Mike Stopa, west coast AI guy. We come to you every week with the conversation, the chatter, the *philosophy* that you need to hear.

This week we discuss Mad Dog, aka James Mattis and his resignation. We discuss Syria (the proximal cause of Mad Dog’s departure) and whether the grand old F.P.E. (foreign policy establishment) will ever finish sitting in the corner, holding their breath and turning blue. We are skeptical.

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Syria

 

I invested nearly two decades of experience in the region into this show and we look at what forces are there, how we got involved, regional context, possible paths, consequences, ISIS, Congress and POTUS rolls, and much more. Curious on your takes? Please take the time to really listen to this episode, the media coverage […]

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Kicking Allies

 

President Trump’s behavior is unprecedented, but his decision to withdraw our troops from Syria, while unprecedentedly abrupt, is actually part of a tradition of unforced errors in American foreign policy.

Out of spite, or sometimes as a smokescreen to evade responsibility, Congress and past presidents have managed to lose wars that could have gone the other way. Seeking to make partisan points, we have cost ourselves dearly.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America fume as President Trump says ISIS is defeated in Syria on Wednesday and Thursday he claims that Russia, Iran, and Syria can handle the fight. They’re also disgusted as Trump’s insistence on $5 billion for a border wall seems to be shifting and congressional Republicans appear to have no interest in this fight despite promising one just before the midterm elections. And they hold the door open for Sen. Jeff Flake to leave and never come back as the retiring Arizona lawmaker proposes a new carbon tax just days before leaving office.

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