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Michael Brenner
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Entries by Michael Brenner

What the US Should Do in the Middle East

(16) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 2:25 PM

American foreign policy is stymied everywhere in the Middle East. On Palestine, U.S. subservience to Israel's radical nationalist leadership registers mounting costs to the United States' credibility and standing while perpetuating a conflict that reverberates throughout the region. On democracy promotion, its hopes of reconciling political Islam with liberal constitutionalism...

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Europe and Its Discontents

(2) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 1:03 PM

The European Union is suffering from a malaise. A mood of disquiet pervades the continent's political elites. Its symptoms are flagging confidence and anxiety about its future viability. The apprehension has taken a sharp edge with the shock outcome of the European Parliamentary elections that saw a breakout by fringe...

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Packaging Sport

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 11:42 AM

Sport can be spectacular. Sport also can be dramatic, inspiring or dispiriting. Every sports fan over the decades has known that in his soul. These days, though, sports are being promoted as a series of "happenings" -- celebrations. Athletes and the games they compete in are being primed, packaged and...

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Intelligence Failure in Iraq

(5) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 1:14 PM

The big unreported story of the Iraqi crisis is the failure of American intelligence agencies to foresee the ISIS campaign. Indeed, the ISIS phenomenon from its emergence two years ago until now has largely passed under the radar of the CIA, NSA et al. Officials are quoted as admitting that...

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To Untie the Gordian Knot

(2) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 10:51 AM

Crises are not conducive to long-term thinking. That is doubly so when a conflict involves multiple parties of varied hues - some with mixed allegiances. We need to get an intellectual fix on the main ingredients of the present situation that at least provides some reference marks for appraising what...

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Obama and the Iraqi Gordian Knot

(26) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 9:08 AM

We all are acutely aware that Washington is in a serious jam because of the mounting threat to the Baghdad regime amidst signs of military and political unraveling. The United States is reaping the whirlwind from its 12 years of reckless "War On Terror" in the Middle East. The disastrous...

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'Divide and Conquer' Vs. 'Consolidate and Strengthen'

(1) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 2:14 PM

"Divide and conquer" is a venerable political adage. The Obama administration has taken a different, quite novel course in dealing with rivals: "consolidate and strengthen." Washington has performed this feat in a manner that quickly has borne fruit. How and with what implications?

The blockbuster energy deal between Russia and...

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Obama at West Point

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 10:49 AM

President Obama presented the case for his foreign policy last week -- again. He addressed the cadet corps at West Point in what was billed as a comprehensive strategic statement for the balance of his tenure in office, and for America's future. Obama's speech came just over a week after...

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Modi Takes Delhi

(2) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 11:00 AM

The sweeping victory of Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set journalists and commentators searching for themes and motifs. How else to fix readers' attention on a political phenomenon as multi-layered as that unfolding in the vastness of India without saturating them with masses of largely indigestible...

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Stardust: The 2016 Astrology Chart

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 11:10 AM

The decathlon that is an American presidential campaign already has seen its first events. In this early phase, the hopefuls engage in the preliminaries: consulting the oracles, cozying up to deep pocket benefactors, floating various trial balloons, sounding out possible political consultants and operatives with dubious credentials, popping up on...

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Americans in Sickness and in Health

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 11:54 AM

Americans have an odd mix of attitudes toward questions of health and illness. The national creed proclaims that all works out for the best, that a remedy exists for every ill and that maybe immortality itself is within reach of those with abundant faith and willpower. Yet, they are obsessed...

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"Disappearing" What Irks You -- College Rape, Iraq, Spying

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 10:02 AM

"Disappear" as a transitive verb is often seen in stories about the brutal practices of Latin America dictatorships which kidnapped and killed opponents -- real or suspect -- by the thousands to secure their rule. The Soviet Union, for its part, "disappeared" people by the millions. Physical removal from the...

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Russia: Obama Re-Resets the Relationship

(8) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 11:40 AM

"Russia is never as strong as it appears; Russia is never as weak as it appears. Its diplomacy is always relentless." ~ Ernest RENAN

Vladimir Putin's audacious moves on Ukraine continue to unsettle the White House. Not only did Obama fail to anticipate his boldness, the President and his advisers...

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The Adventure of the Missing Algorithm

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 12:00 PM

We warmed ourselves before the fire late of an April evening in this the chilliest spring Georgetown had known since Coolidge's day. My companion lay sprawled in the wicker chair puffing on his favorite Calabash pipe. The distinctive aroma of organic, shade grown Sobranie wafted through the salon. I knew...

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Motion vs. Action at Foggy Bottom

(2) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 12:06 PM

Americans are congenitally movers and doers. That "pro-active" impulse is part of the national personality. "Getting with it," and "self- starting" and "can-do" are terms that convey the same ethos. Activity is considered a virtue in itself. That explains the high value that we place on extra-curricular "activities" or annals...

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Undercutting the Iran Nuclear Talks

(10) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 1:58 PM

The Obama administration is toughening its stance on the terms of a prospective nuclear accord with Iran. As the talks move into a critical phase that will make or break this historic engagement, reports are circulating that Washington is raising its demands and stiffening its resistance to further compromise, e.g....

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Obama's NSA "Reform" -- Another Shell Game

(8) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 11:30 AM

President Obama last week stated his attention to recommend to Congress some small modifications in the NSA's current modus operandi re: metadata collection. It has received a warm reception from those critical of present practices. There are slim grounds, though, for high expectations. Indeed, if acted upon by Congress, they...

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Obama, the CIA, Congress, and the Constitution

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 11:34 AM

The President of the United States has one overriding obligation: to uphold the Constitution and to enforce the laws of the land. That is the oath he swears on Inauguration Day. Failure to meet fully that obligation breaks the contract between him and the citizenry from whom he derives his...

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The Sins of Arrogance Bear Bitter Fruit

(45) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 10:59 AM

Arrogance is a natural accompaniment to power. The ability to control others encourages a sense of superiority. It exalts prowess. It arouses the impulse to dictate, to direct and to take liberties. For these reasons, the stronger always is inclined to bully the weaker. Especially so in international relations where...

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Energy in the Ukraine -- Sanctions Equation

(11) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 11:49 AM

The United States along with allied governments is considering the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine. It is a strategy that trails skeptical question marks. The historical record tells us that sanctions rarely are effective. They can cause much pain and suffering but...

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