Monday, October 7, 2013
Political turmoil at home has undercut a plan by the United States to focus more on Asia as a growing and dynamic factor in world affairs. White House energies and strategies had “pivoted” in preparation for world power shifts away from the traditional pre-occupations with Europe and the Middle East to the faster growing Pacific Basin. Doubts about US policies are fed by American preoccupations with relatively unimportant nations like Syria and Israel absorbing US attention and energies. Asian allies of the US worry about US absence in their affairs: will the US help them when they are under pressure from China? Will the US retreat from its desire to act as a superpower in the Pacific area? Will it get its fiscal house in order to maintain its hegemony in the world? As President Obama made apologetic calls to Asia to cancel his long planned trip to the region, China's leader, Xi-JinPing was the substitute star in many of the same countries, offering commercial and military deals for closer relationships and billions of dollars in trade. China's trade with those countries has grown so quickly that many now regard China as its leading trading partner. Obama’s “pivot” strategy involves organizing Asiatic nations but not China (a must noteworthy exception) for joint commercial, aesthetic and military programs. We must continue to support such activities all over the Pacific for commercial, military and aesthetic reasons. Where is Obama, the China leader might answer, “Busy with Syria and the Republicans.”
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 2:31 PM
Friday, October 4, 2013
Under no circumstances can the Democrats or President Obama cave in to Republican demands to undo or delay Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Healthcare Act. Republican politicians and their media supporters endlessly misrepresent the objective accurate facts that Obamacare will increase the percentage of Americans who have access to health insurance at a reasonable and affordable price. Obamacare goes a long way towards making sickness and health crises affordable financially for the American citizen staving off bankruptcies in health emergencies. Obamacare will reduce the number of deaths caused by an ineffective health system. Obamacare has been approved by the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Supreme Court and is currently successfully and efficiently operating in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, endorsed by millions of doctors and medical specialists around the world. The Republicans have a reckless obsession with destroying health reform and wounding President Obama. The public is angry over this unnecessary crisis that will damage a long overdue medical reform to install Obamacare immediately to improve America's health. Generations after generation of Americans have wrestled with this problem. Let us do it now for a better America. Better late than never.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 5:52 PM
Thursday, September 19, 2013
War Weary By Jerome Grossman The Wall Street Journal reports in its survey of popular opinion polls that Americans across the board think the US is doing too much abroad, a shift from eight years ago. On the question of a strike on Syria, majorities of Republicans, independents and even men all say military action is not in the national interest. Even the elites of both parties, who tend to favor an assertive American role abroad because of investment opportunities, now say they favor focus on problems and investment at home. Republican Senator John McCain calls attention to the battle between the “non-interventionist wing of the party and the traditional internationalists who have carried American power into every world sector. Gallup and other pollsters find that the public has turned skeptical of wars, resents the casualties and the enormous cost to taxpayers. No longer can support be generated by playing the Star-Spangled Banner or putting the President on television. The steady stream of wars and the threats that precede them has fostered a certain weariness that has seeped across the US. A new kind of anti-intervention alliance has taken root. That hardly means Americans won't support military action at all, but it does mean that this President and probably his successor will find the case harder to make even though this new reality is not fundamentally partisan in nature. Obviously, politicians must consider these changes in public opinion. Yet, in the Syria crisis, President Obama asked the US Senate and House of Representatives for authorization to attack Syria, a power he did not receive. Given the public opinion numbers, Obama's difficulties were predictable - a surprising failure of political judgment and national unity, this time for peace for a war weary people.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 9:22 PM
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
President Barack Obama's handling of the Syria crisis had little resonance with his primary audiences. His Arab audiences puzzled over his focus on death by chemical weapons much more than the deaths and suffering of countless others. Moreover, they contrasted the quick reaction to rebellion in Syria to the chaos in Egypt and the Middle East. Obama asked the US Congress to authorize what then Senator John Kerry called an “unbelievably small strike” alienating Republicans and Democrats alike and left Israel rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The Obama administration then took two steps back from its push for an immediate attack on Syria allowing weeks to slip by without the diplomacy that should have been the first choice for pressure on Syria. Obama and his team even lost the public-relations battle to the Russians who initiated proposals that defused the crisis and made it possible to initiate diplomacy and to defer military action. As Winston Churchill said famously and repeatedly,” talk talk is better than war war”. The world was impressed and mighty surprised that Vladimir Putin of Moscow and the KGB would turn out to be a better politician than Barack Obama of Chicago, satisfying his own constituency impressing the world with his ability to develop and implement solutions to intractable problems without the use of force. In an earlier crisis in the Middle East, Harvard professor and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “Let’s be slow to war”, urging support for diplomatic solution in the similar crisis of 1990. Among his supporters in 1990 was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts who also pressed for diplomacy and negotiations. Until the military face-off ends, we cannot be sure that the horrors of war will not be visited on our troops, the opposing troops, and the region's inhabitants. Diplomacy took over. Inside the White House, confusion reigned as US policy changed on Syria and chemical weapons. On the same day, a potential breakthrough via a diplomatic opening provided by Russia, the Obama administration sent a memo to Congress highlighting why Russia should not be trusted on Syria. Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an eleventh hour break; the US stumbled on the solution, emerging from the brink of war to making a deal with its biggest adversary.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 8:11 AM
Thursday, August 8, 2013
A World Without Work By Jerome Grossman Our society may soon be rich enough that fewer and fewer people will need to work, where leisure becomes universally accessible, where part time jobs replace the regimented work week and where living standards keep rising even though more people have left the work-force altogether. If such a utopia were possible, one would expect that it would be achieved first among the upper classes, then the middle class and finally even high school dropouts would be able to sleep late, take four-day weekends for their adventures. The decline of available work is a basic reality of American life that promises to continue. This decline isn't unemployment in the usual sense where people look for work and can't find it. It's a kind of post-employment in which people drop out of the workforce and find ways to live, more or less permanently without a steady job, so instead of spreading leisure time, wanted or unwanted is expanding from the bottom up. Leisure time, wanted or unwanted is expanding from the bottom up. Long hours are increasingly the province of the rich. The decline in blue-collar work is often portrayed as a failure to supply good- paying jobs as well as a failure of the American work ethic But even disappointing growth rates are likely to leave more American generations much richer then today. Those riches will probably find paths to subsidize blue-collar workers as well as governmental and private assistance. However it is unstable to give up on unemployment, altogether. Remember, the right not to have a boss is actually the hardest won of modern freedoms. The decline of work carries social costs as well as a price tag, providing every day structure for people who live alone and a place for socialization and friendship. In many ways, human flourishing and fulfillment is threatened by the slow decline of work, of workers, and the social institutions that bind us.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 6:40 PM
Friday, July 26, 2013
Fifty years ago some investment bonds were less a piece of clever financial engineering than elaborate tax dodges. The increasing movement of money into speculative trading activities by the big banks, and the cost of decreasing traditional business activity that support higher levels of employment are troubling. Some call the trend a gambling device more easily manipulated than investment in production of goods and services. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that seeks to return the financial industry, particularly the big banks, to a time when there was a strict divide between traditional conservative banking based on industrial needs instead of speculative activities looking for manipulated big hits. Warren’s liberal bill is also sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and other conservatives to protect the vast sums guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), that would minimize the real cost of bank bailouts. For about 70 years, similar legislation, the Glass-Steagall Bill, managed to keep the riskier aspects of Wall Street operations away from the historic traditional form of business financing. Glass-Steagall, passed by the New Deal, operated with good and fair results until it was repealed in 1999 at the urging of President Bill Clinton. The Warren bill would force deposit-taking banks to cease most of their derivative trading and other risky financial activities. The new bill would not stop all questionable financial instruments but it would go a long way in reestablishing diminished public confidence
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 9:41 AM
Friday, July 12, 2013
US intervention in the civil war in Syria has been promoted by a propaganda campaign between the Russians and the USA accusing dictator Assad of using poison gas against the rebels. The accusation has been effective in developing support for the rebels in the US and Europe. Now Russia, Assad’s primary ally has responded with a scientific analysis indicating rebel use of Saran nerve gas. These deaths and casualties have become a focal point in the Civil War. Both sides are using these repellent arms as evidence of their special brutality on the sick and the young. These insidious weapons are beyond the pale of civilized warfare, if such a description actually fits the horrors of contemporary war. Whichever side is proven to use poison gas should lose all political credibility as well as weapons and other material support. Both sides should open their arsenals to complete inspection and whatever side proves guilty of using such weapons should face the full vengeance of society. The United Nations has estimated that at least 93,000 people have been killed and millions dispatched or displaced in Syria. A food and medical crisis exists in Syria and its neighbors. This crisis threatens our civilization and the question of who rules Syria is insufficient to gamble the future of our precious civilization for the prospect of military advantage. Chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated. Who will take the steps to avoid the ultimate catastrophe? A last chance awaits to save ourselves and our grand civilization
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 6:15 PM
Monday, July 1, 2013
International security in the post-Cold War era is driven by the deadly mix of nuclear proliferation, rogue states, and international terrorists. The second concern the potentially disruptive impact that China will have if it emerges as a peer competitor to the United States, challenging the international order established during the era of US dominance. While China remains relatively weak, the greatest danger in Chinese American relations is the possibility that the two countries will find themselves in a crisis that could escalate to open military conflict, based on debatable claims about the intentions of the two countries and uncertain forecasts about big shifts in their normal capabilities, the danger of mutual instability in a war threatening crisis and it's escalation to catastrophic consequences. Disputes in the East and South China Sea suggest the danger of a military confrontation in the Western Pacific may be on the rise, involving a serious threat to vital national interests. A short time for resolution would sharply increase the risk of war. Stability is greatest when both sides strongly prefer to continue bargaining, instability is greatest when they are tempted to resort to the use of military force. The dangers of conflict are not likely to be based on the status of Taiwan. That tension has diminished as Chinese relations have improved with commercial and political ties. More important have become American operations in territories claimed by China. The fundamental disagreements are about rights of passage through maritime areas.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 2:22 PM
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Pressures are increasing on President Barack Obama to intervene militarily in the Civil War in Syria, a war that seeks to topple the dynasty that has ruled Syria for generations with brutal and undemocratic procedures. The risks that are holding back Obama on Syria are similar to those faced by the United States in its failed interventions in other Arab countries, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan where billions of dollars and thousands of lives were wasted in American attempts to conquer and reform nations with values and practices quite different from American values. American interventions in the affairs of such states have generally been failures except for the access to raw materials and the profits accruing to oil businesses. Sectarian violence spreading from Syria and similar countries threaten to swamp the region and spread international horrors like the murders of September 11. Some in Washington are pushing for arming the opposition to reigning dictators. The US has the power to step in to help those revolting overthrow the local dictatorships. It looks easy given US military superiority. However, in strategic planning, administration officials cite three big problems that have given President Obama pause. • As a superpower, in fact the prime superpower, the US can't afford to go into battle small, that is, without a complete commitment. If America exerts force it has to be enough to be decisive for a total and complete victory in the shortest span of time. If this is not possible, the US risks appearing to be an inadequate superpower, incapable of accomplishing its objectives and other conflicts like Iran or North Korea, affecting its ability to win wars and to carry out its threats. • If the US goes in big as it should, it will end up arming some disreputable elements who will involve the US in the formation of the successor government. The US will have the uneasy problem of picking and choosing the next leadership. • When you go in big as a super power, you own the problem indefinitely, if not forever. Other nations who have been part of the attacking coalition will tend to pull back their contributions of men and materials and leave final resolution to Washington. The US will surely learn from its difficult experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan that intervention in the affairs of other countries can be, perhaps always will be a risky affair at home and abroad. The results are usually unpredictable in the intervened countries and in the domestic political effects on the intervenor. Even when it is the all powerful USA.
Posted by Jerome Grossman at 11:23 AM
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
We may never know why the brothers Tsarnaev performed their murderous actions at the Boston Marathon. These men, we imagine were sick and distant but before the murders they seemed to be one of us. How do small numbers of young men become radicalized? How do they lose their humanity and become killers without conscience, disaffected and apart? Some of these educated young people did evil things. Others did great things. Sometimes they were the same kids. Sometimes a young man will lose his social connections to family or friends. Sometimes they become young warriors for violent jihad to change leaders corrupt or committed to violence. Yes, some Muslim youths were deeply angered and upset with US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so upset by American actions in a third country they just had to go to Boylston Street and blow up people including Muslims who had nothing to do with it. What kind of madness is this? These young Muhadeen should weigh their ideals against the deaths of innocents. However, only a tiny handful ever expresses regrets. And we may never know why.