Politics http://nationalinterest.org/topic/politics en GOP Hawks Gear Up for War on Rand Paul http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/gop-hawks-gear-war-rand-paul-10265 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/w-james-antle-iii'>W. James Antle III</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/rand_paul_gage_cc_41614.jpg" alt="" title=" Flickr/Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>The long knives are out for Rand Paul. The period in which the most hawkish Republicans eyed the junior senator from Kentucky warily is over.</p> <p>As one GOP bundler<a href="http://time.com/43216/rand-paul-2016-rjc-sheldon-adelson/"> </a><a href="http://time.com/43216/rand-paul-2016-rjc-sheldon-adelson/">told</a> <i>Time</i>, “we’ll be ready to take Paul down.” The money men may not have started yet, but their print-and-pixels auxiliary has already mobilized against him.</p> <p>The <i>Washington Post</i>’s Jennifer Rubin<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/04/14/rand-paul-gives-an-interview-that-will-haunt-him/"> </a><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/04/14/rand-paul-gives-an-interview-that-will-haunt-him/">warns</a> of an interview that will “haunt” Paul, whom she decried as “far, far out of the mainstream.” Bret Stephens of the <i>Wall Street Journal</i> decried the senator’s “bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton” and<a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303663604579501441901549788"> </a><a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303663604579501441901549788">suggested</a> his nomination would deliver Republicans “another humbling landslide defeat.”</p> <p>Paul’s critics definitely smell blood in the water with his 2009 comments about Dick Cheney and Halliburton. They’ve already been used not just to link him to his father, but to<a href="http://freebeacon.com/blog/courting-the-truther-vote/"> </a><a href="http://freebeacon.com/blog/courting-the-truther-vote/">9/11 truthers</a>.</p> <p>There has also been a concerted effort to isolate and marginalize Paul within the party on Iran.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/gop-hawks-gear-war-rand-paul-10265" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/gop-hawks-gear-war-rand-paul-10265#comments Domestic Politics The Presidency Politics United States Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 W. James Antle III 10265 at http://nationalinterest.org The Rand Paul Threat http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/the-rand-paul-threat-10273 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/jacob-heilbrunn'>Jacob Heilbrunn</a> </div> </div><p>Sen. Rand Paul should be pleased by the wilding that conservatives have attempted against him in the past week. Paul is attracting numerous brickbats from the likes of Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, Bret Stephens, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and Rep. Peter King. The attention suggests that his opponents are worried--worried that Paul may be making friends and influencing people both inside and outside the GOP.</p> <p>Lowry weighed into to accuse Paul of "dewey-eyed foolishness" and "blame America first libertarianism." Stephens complains that he might well lead the GOP to a "landslide defeat." And King says his views are "disastrous."</p> <p>What's all the fuss about?&nbsp;</p> <p>The proximate cause of the latest fusillade against Paul are his recent comments about the possibility of the containment of Iran. To even suggest that containment might be a viable strategy is apparently heresy inside the GOP, or at least that's the way it's supposed to be. Paul himself says that he wasn't endorsing containment, in a Washington Post op-ed. He says he hasn't precluded anything. "Nuance," he says, is what he's after. Connoisseurs of the Bush presidency may recall that 43 famously declared, "I don't do nuance." Look where that got him.</p> <p>Still, nuance is not what tends to win you presidential elections. A clear stance does. And the truth is that in a sense Paul's critics are right. He does represent a sharp break with the party's stands since 2001. While it's too much to dub him an isolationist--the boo word of American foreign policy debates--he clearly is enunicating stands that are at variance with the Bush-Cheney legacy. Until now, the GOP--emblematic in Peter King's vociferous remarks--has preferred to act as though everything was hunky-dory during the Bush era. Perhaps the Iraq War could have been conducted better, but it was a noble effort. Torture is unpleasant, but only sissies would complain about it. And so on.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/the-rand-paul-threat-10273" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/the-rand-paul-threat-10273#comments Jacob Heilbrunn Congress United States Thu, 17 Apr 2014 02:35:42 +0000 Jacob Heilbrunn 10273 at http://nationalinterest.org Korean and Japanese Legislators Working Together http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/korean-japanese-legislators-working-together-10250 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/jiun-bang'>Jiun Bang</a> </div> </div><p><i><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/diet_japan_cc_41414.jpg" alt="" title=" Wikimedia Commons/Chris 73. CC BY-SA 3.0." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>Editor’s Note: TNI has teamed up with Japan-ROK Working Group at the </i><a href="http://csis.org/program/pacific-forum-csis"><i>Pacific Forum CSIS</i></a><i> in order to preview its upcoming report focused on improving bilateral relations through targeted engagement on a range of areas. The “Japan-ROK Series” will feature five timely articles summarizing these recommendations in fields such as cooperation on North Korea, missile defense, counterpiracy, energy security and inter-parliamentary ties. This is the third article in the series.</i></p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/korean-japanese-legislators-working-together-10250" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/korean-japanese-legislators-working-together-10250#comments Congress Domestic Politics Public Opinion Politics Japan South Korea Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Jiun Bang 10250 at http://nationalinterest.org Be Prepared for an Independent Scotland http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/be-prepared-independent-scotland-10246 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/kevin-lees'>Kevin A. Lees</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/scottish_bagpipes_kim_traynor_041414.jpg" alt="" title=" Wikimedia Commons/Kim Traynor/CC by-sa 3.0" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>The Scottish independence referendum on September 18 is five months away, with polls showing that the ‘Yes’ camp is <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/scottish-independence-yes-campaign-gaining-momentum-with-vote-now-neck-and-neck-9241723.html">gaining ground</a>. Scottish first minister Alex Salmond recently visited <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/04/05/uk-scotland-independence-salmond-idUKBREA3401J20140405">the United States</a> to take his case for Scottish independence to Washington, D.C.—and to celebrate Tartan Day in New York.</p> <p>When Salmond and British prime minister David Cameron agreed to the terms of the plebiscite last May, polls showed that Scots largely opposed independence. Cameron won plaudits from unionists for refusing to concede a third option to Scottish voters—a wishy-washy version of what’s called ‘devolution max,’ which would have given the Scottish government even more powers and greater autonomy. Under the devolution legislation enacted in the first months of former prime minister Tony Blair’s government in 1997, the United Kingdom established a Scottish parliament for the first time in the nation’s history.</p> <p>Though polls still show that the ‘No’ camp is leading, U.S. policymakers should be taking the possibility of an independent Scotland more seriously and, accordingly, preparing for the possible repercussions of a successful ‘Yes’ vote for U.S.-Scottish relations.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/be-prepared-independent-scotland-10246" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/be-prepared-independent-scotland-10246#comments Elections Politics United Kingdom Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Kevin A. Lees 10246 at http://nationalinterest.org The Arabs' 1848 http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-arabs-1848-10243 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/azar-gat'>Azar Gat</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/1848_flag_pd_41114.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>The Arab upheaval has been the cause of profound bewilderment in the developed world and among policy makers, not least in Washington. Great enthusiasm for the Arab Spring was quickly replaced by confusion and concern regarding Islamic democracy or an Islamist Winter, depending on one's perspective. This was as quickly supplanted by disconcert and despair in the face of military takeovers and ferocious civil wars. The European revolutions of 1848, the 'Spring of Nations', with their great hopes and dashed dreams, have often been cited as an analog. But indeed, what can the European experience of modernization and regime change during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries teach us about the contemporary Arab world? History does not quite repeat itself, as differences of conditions, place and time are as significant as similarities. Still, history is the best we have got.</p> <p>What makes nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe and the current Middle East similar is their relative position on the road to modernization. According to the most authoritative estimates, by Angus Maddison, real GDP per capita in non-oil producing Arab countries is in the same range as mid- to late-nineteenth-century Europe (roughly one-tenth of today's affluent world). Urbanization rates in Egypt and Syria are, respectively, just below and above 50 percent, a level crossed by the United Kingdom around 1850 and by Germany around 1900. Illiteracy in the major Arab countries still hovers between 20 to 30 percent (greater among women than men), again in the same range as in mid-nineteenth century Europe (with the exception of the continent's highly literate northern countries).</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-arabs-1848-10243" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-arabs-1848-10243#comments Autocracy Civil Society Democracy Economic Development History Political Theory Politics Society Middle East Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Azar Gat 10243 at http://nationalinterest.org Khamenei's Nuclear Dilemma http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/khameneis-nuclear-dilemma-10239 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/muhammad-sahimi'>Muhammad Sahimi</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/khamenei_pensive_ir_41114.jpg" alt="" title="Iranian photo." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>As nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany) continue, both sides have offered hope that they’ll reach a comprehensive agreement. The <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304026304579451790332258028">International Atomic Energy Agency</a> (IAEA) and Wendy Sherman, Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs who heads the U.S. delegation have both <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/17/world/meast/iran-nuclear-talks/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_world+%28RSS%3A+World%29">admitted that Iran has kept its promises</a> under the <a href="http://www.imenews.com/articles_show.php?gid=204">Geneva Accord</a>, signed between the two sides last November. The U.S. and its allies have also delivered on their part of the deal, hence providing Iran with slight, but still significant, relief from the crippling sanctions that they have imposed on Iran.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/khameneis-nuclear-dilemma-10239" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/khameneis-nuclear-dilemma-10239#comments Domestic Politics Politics Iran Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Muhammad Sahimi 10239 at http://nationalinterest.org The Aboutalebi Affair in Context http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-aboutalebi-affair-context-10244 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/paul-r-pillar'>Paul R. Pillar</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/un_flag_pd_41414.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>The Obama administration has to perform a balancing act in handling the Iran account. One one hand it has the task, along with its diplomatic partners, of completing negotiations with Iran of an agreement to place unprecedented limits on the Iranian nuclear program to assure that it remains peaceful. Although the negotiators still have to iron out many details, this is actually the more straightforward part of the act. The negotiations are on track, Iran is abiding by the terms of a preliminary agreement, and there is clear shape to a prospective agreement that would support nonproliferation goals as well as drawing down sanctions that have been damaging to the United States as well as to Iran.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-aboutalebi-affair-context-10244" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-aboutalebi-affair-context-10244#comments Paul Pillar Congress Domestic Politics UN International Law Sanctions Nuclear Proliferation Israel Iran United States Sun, 13 Apr 2014 17:44:37 +0000 Paul R. Pillar 10244 at http://nationalinterest.org Should Gorbachev Be Tried For Treason? http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/should-gorbachev-be-tried-treason-10232 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/jacob-heilbrunn'>Jacob Heilbrunn</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/gorby_cc_41114.jpg" alt="" title=" RIA Novosti archive, image #359290 / Yuryi Abramochkin / CC-BY-SA 3.0." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>In the early 1990s, the Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky wrote a diverting book review in the <em>New Republic</em> about Mikhail Gorbachev. His take was that Gorbachev, if I recall correctly, had to be an American agent. Who else would have so incompetently allowed the work of decades to crumble almost overnight?</p> <p>Now Russian legislators are hoping to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/10/russian-mps-say-mikhail-gorbachev-should-prosecuted-treason">punish</a> Gorby, as he used to be known in America, where he was always far more popular than back home. Flush with victory in Crimea, several Duma members apparently want to put the old boy on trial. Yevgeny Gydorov, a Duma member of the United Russia party, apparently <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/crimea-happy-russians-want-gorbachev-to-pay-for-loss-of-soviet-empire/2014/04/10/ffa0f545-8923-4acd-a016-4a25a937b32a_story.html">believes</a> that Gorbachev may have been an American spy. And the <em>Guardian</em> reports that Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist Party deputy, wants him to go on trial. Lawyers, not historians, need to investigate why the USSR went poof. Nor is this all. It's time to ferret out domestic enemies. He says, "The fifth column in our country has been formed and works in the open, funded by foreign money." Maybe Gorbachev was on Ronald Reagan's secret payroll?</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/should-gorbachev-be-tried-treason-10232" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/should-gorbachev-be-tried-treason-10232#comments Jacob Heilbrunn Muckety Mucks Russia Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:00:07 +0000 Jacob Heilbrunn 10232 at http://nationalinterest.org America's Greatest Living President: George H.W. Bush? http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/americas-greatest-living-president-george-hw-bush-10231 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/w-james-antle-iii'>W. James Antle III</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/ghwb_pd_41014.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>More than two decades removed from the White House, George H.W. Bush’s old friend James Baker seemingly damns him with faint praise. “Twenty-five years later, history is beginning to recognize that George Bush was the best one-term president in American history,” the former secretary of state<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/us/politics/hindsight-proves-kinder-and-gentler-to-bush-41.html?_r=0"> </a><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/us/politics/hindsight-proves-kinder-and-gentler-to-bush-41.html?_r=0">told</a> the <i>New York Times</i>.</p> <p>The <i>Times </i>piece is about Bush’s improved image on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his presidency, but it’s also a reminder of why conservatives were never taken with the man. Dick Gephart praises the forty-first president. So does Dave Obey. Tom Harkin chimes in that he was better than Ronald Reagan, “much more integral to the development of American government and the process of democracy.”</p> <p>If raising taxes and growing the regulatory state are your measures of greatness, than yes, Bush 41 outstrips Reagan. Not many conservatives this side of David Brooks grade on such a curve, however.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting that much of Bush’s rehabilitation has been a result of his pleasant personality and personal decency. He is the nice old man who jumps out of airplanes, wears funny socks, and shaves his head in support of a young boy suffering from cancer.</p> <p>Yet Bush was a temperamental conservative in the way that his more ideologically minded successors, ranging from Newt Gingrich to his own son, were not. The old Dana Carvey sketches about Bush featured the president saying, “Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.”</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/americas-greatest-living-president-george-hw-bush-10231" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/americas-greatest-living-president-george-hw-bush-10231#comments The Presidency Politics United States Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:01:00 +0000 W. James Antle III 10231 at http://nationalinterest.org China Not Full of Raging Nationalists http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/china-not-full-raging-nationalists-10217 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/peter-mattis'>Peter Mattis</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/china_anti_japan_rally_cc_4814.jpg" alt="" title=" Wikimedia Commons/Shujenchang. CC BY-SA." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>Are China’s leaders really being pushed around by a nationalistic, rowdy public? On March 25 at the Jamestown Foundation’s<a href="http://www.jamestown.org/press/events/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=41996&amp;tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=19&amp;cHash=42cb83f648ccb36fc00d013f62da057a"> </a><a href="http://www.jamestown.org/press/events/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=41996&amp;tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=19&amp;cHash=42cb83f648ccb36fc00d013f62da057a">annual conference on Chinese defense and security issues</a>, Australian analyst Andrew Chubb made a provocative presentation that challenged the official narrative that they are. Chubb presented survey results from five Chinese cities on how ordinary citizens view the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Startlingly, in an era of social media and mobile Internet access, most people still get their news from CCTV—not the fiery commercial news outlets—and agree in principle that the government should seek compromise over China’s maritime territorial disputes.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/china-not-full-raging-nationalists-10217" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/china-not-full-raging-nationalists-10217#comments Domestic Politics Politics China Wed, 09 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Peter Mattis 10217 at http://nationalinterest.org A Peril to the Iran Nuclear Deal http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/peril-the-iran-nuclear-deal-10211 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/paul-r-pillar'>Paul R. Pillar</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/rouhani_speech_ir_4814.jpg" alt="" title="Iranian presidential website." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>There exists, right now, a problem with one side's obligations not being fulfilled as provided for under the preliminary agreement, known as the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/24/world/meast/iran-deal-text/" target="_blank">Joint Plan of Action</a>, that Iran reached with the United States and its negotiating partners (the P5+1) last November. This lack of fulfillment endangers the process of negotiating a final agreement. It is an understandable source of consternation to the other side, which will increasingly doubt the first side's ability and willingness to make good on its commitments, including in any final deal. Hardliners on the second side will pounce on any non-fulfillment of the terms of the JPA as a reason to scuttle the whole process.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/peril-the-iran-nuclear-deal-10211" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/peril-the-iran-nuclear-deal-10211#comments Paul Pillar Congress Sanctions Nuclear Proliferation Iran United States Mon, 07 Apr 2014 23:25:54 +0000 Paul R. Pillar 10211 at http://nationalinterest.org Turkey: Atop a Powder Keg? http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/turkey-atop-powder-keg-10190 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/selim-can-sazak'>Selim Can Sazak</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/police_turkyey_cc_4414.jpg" alt="" title=" Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov. CC BY-SA 3.0." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>Last weekend, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed another landslide victory in a nationwide round of local elections, with his Justice and Development Party (AKP) pulling in just over 45 percent of the vote. Erdogan’s allies had been expected to perform poorly—and possibly to get the boot in general elections later this year. The last few months have not been kind to Erdogan, with street protests in the summer and a slew of leaked tape-recordings implicating Erdogan in corruption schemes with his son Bilal and some of his leading confidantes. Most recently, a tape leaked of a conversation among top members of Erdogan’s national-security team in which Turkish intelligence head Hakan Fidan <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-syria-crisis-turkey-idUSBREA2Q17420140327">proposes</a> staging an attack on Turkey to provide a pretext for intervention in Syria.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/turkey-atop-powder-keg-10190" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/turkey-atop-powder-keg-10190#comments Politics Turkey Sat, 05 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Selim Can Sazak 10190 at http://nationalinterest.org Obamacare: The Fight Is Hardly Over http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/obamacare-the-fight-hardly-over-10187 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/w-james-antle-iii'>W. James Antle III</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/pulse_thing_pd_4314.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>Obamacare’s brief existence has been fraught with near-death experiences. At various points, it seemed unlikely to pass despite three-fifths Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The coalition behind the Affordable Care Act, stretching from pro-life Democrats to liberals who preferred single payer, appeared to be unraveling.</p> <p>Once enacted, Obamacare had to survive a constitutional challenge. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had a bad day defending the law in court, inviting unflattering comparisons to the bumbling, stumbling lawyer in <i>My Cousin Vinny</i>. (Googling to double-check the spelling of Verrilli’s name, the search engine prompts me to look for “Donald Verrilli incompetent.”)</p> <p>Even the liberal Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical of the Obama administration’s legal reasoning. Court watchers began to suspect the law would be struck down. If all the conservative Republican appointees had stuck together, it would have been struck down.</p> <p>After the controversial health care law survived both the Supreme Court and the 2012 presidential election, it looked like it might be killed by its own implementation. The year began with more private health insurance plans cancelled due to Obamacare than enrollees in the insurance exchanges. Abysmal enrollment figures, a premium “death spiral” and even a net reduction in the insured all seemed possible just a few weeks ago.</p> <p>With the Obama administration now announcing 7.1 million people have signed up for the exchanges, the direst scenarios have been averted (at least for now). The law still isn’t working exactly as advertised, and those enrollment figures may well wilt under serious outside scrutiny, but it is working well enough to survive.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/obamacare-the-fight-hardly-over-10187" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/obamacare-the-fight-hardly-over-10187#comments Politics United States Fri, 04 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 W. James Antle III 10187 at http://nationalinterest.org Xi's Corruption Crackdown http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/xis-corruption-crackdown-10178 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/jonathan-sullivan'>Jonathan Sullivan</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/zhou_cc_4214.jpg" alt="" title=" Flickr/thierry ehrmann. CC BY 2.0." class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>Last autumn saw the conclusion of China’s most politically charged trial in decades when former rising political star Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of “bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power”. Looming on the horizon is an even more sensational tale of official corruption that promises to relegate Bo to a lurid footnote. In pursuing former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, President Xi Jinping has given a demonstration of his power and a popular face-value commitment to cleaning house. In doing so he risks further exposing the rotten core of the ruling Communist Party and establishing a worrying precedent for powerful leaders with skeletons in their closets. Former leaders Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin are reported to have sent Xi a warning not to overreach or do anything to endanger the Party’s capacity to rule and to stay in power. </p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/xis-corruption-crackdown-10178" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/xis-corruption-crackdown-10178#comments Politics China Thu, 03 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Jonathan Sullivan 10178 at http://nationalinterest.org The Forgotten Principles of Deterrence http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-forgotten-principles-deterrence-10148 <div class='field field-type-userreference field-field-author'> <div class='field-items'><a href='http://nationalinterest.org/profile/paul-r-pillar'>Paul R. Pillar</a> </div> </div><p><span class="insert image-resize-340"><img src="http://nationalinterest.org/files/imagecache/resize-340/images/navy_ceremony_pd_33114.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache-resize-340" /><span class="image-caption"></span></span>An irony of how the events in Ukraine and the associated altercation with Russia have thrown many commentators and policy critics into a Cold War mode is that those same commentators and critics seem to have forgotten (or never learned) much relevant doctrine that was developed and honed during the real Cold War. The doctrine in question embraces many principles involving any attempt to exert power and to exercise influence over other states. The most relevant aspects of doctrine involve deterrence—using threats to dissuade someone from doing something we do not want done—as well as some related concepts also involving coercive methods of trying to influence an adversary's behavior.</p> <p><a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-forgotten-principles-deterrence-10148" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-forgotten-principles-deterrence-10148#comments Paul Pillar Congress Defense Great Powers Sanctions Russia Iran United States Ukraine Fri, 28 Mar 2014 17:27:41 +0000 Paul R. Pillar 10148 at http://nationalinterest.org